Midday Express of 2013-05-03
European Commission - MEX/13/0503 03/05/2013
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EXME 13 / 03.05
03 / 05 / 13
A press conference has just taken place with Olli Rehn ( see on EbS website), Vice-President for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro, on today's publication of the European Commission's spring economic forecast for 2012-2014. On this occasion, Vice-President Rehn said: "In view of the protracted recession," he said, "we must do whatever it takes to overcome the unemployment crisis in Europe. The EU’s policy mix is focused on sustainable growth and job creation. Fiscal consolidation is continuing, but its pace is slowing down. In parallel, structural reforms must be intensified to unlock growth in Europe." The forecasts serve as a basis for surveillance in the context of the Stability and Growth Pact and the Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure. In this context, the forecast will feed into the Commission's economic analysis ahead of the country-specific recommendations, which will be adopted on 29th May.
This latest dialogue comes at a crucial time for Belgians and Europeans, as the consequences of the economic crisis are being felt and the debate about the future of Europe is intensifying. The European Commission is reaching out to Belgian and EU citizens, allowing them to voice their concerns and hopes for the future, to help reinforce European solidarity during these difficult times. On 4 May 2013, Vice-President Viviane Reding will be in Brussels to hold a debate with over 300 citizens alongside Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital region Charles Picqué. This Citizens' Dialogue in Brussels, will be at the centrepiece of a "Day of Dialogue" during which the EU will open its doors to citizens. Furthermore, the Commission will hold over 10 additional events across Brussels, encouraging people to share their ideas for Europe's future.
Ahead of Europe Day on 9 May, the European Commission will, along with the other EU institutions , open its doors to citizens on Saturday 4 May, allowing them to get a glimpse of EU policy making and learn more about European integration. For the first time, the European Commission is working with the Brussels ' Iris Festival ' which will see the streets of Europe's Capital come alive with concerts and street entertainment on Sunday 5 May. On 4 May Vice-President Reding and Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič will also inaugurate the improved European Commission visitor's centre which has been relocated to be closer to the seat of the institutions.
Science for you – JRC focuses on citizen science at 4 May Open Day
On Saturday, 4 May 2013, the European Commission's in-house science arm opens its doors at the Ispra site in Italy. Thousands of visitors are expected for the traditional bi-annual Open Day. The theme this year is 'La scienza per te – Science for you', as part of the European Year of the Citizen. Interactive experiments, activities and attractions for all age groups will show how the JRC helps to ensure a healthy and safe environment, consumer protection and secure energy supply. Visits to unique laboratories, practical demonstrations, exhibitions and conferences will showcase the science behind European policy making in a spectrum of areas, from agriculture and global food security, to resource efficiency and public health and security. The JRC scientists will give insight into how they develop models and scenarios to assess policy options, analyse satellite images to predict the next big flood, test emissions from all types of vehicles and 'shake' full size three-storey buildings under earthquake simulation conditions. Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, will cut the ribbon to open the brand new JRC Visitors' Centre.
Clean, green, racing machine: Volar-e electric racing car comes to Brussels
Furthering the market uptake of innovative technologies for electric vehicles is a key priority of the EU’s strategy for clean and energy efficient vehicles. According to estimates, by 2020 between 8%-10% of vehicles sold could be electrically powered. Despite improving a lot in recent years, the electric vehicle still has to deal with consumer prejudices as regards their driving performance levels, in particular their acceleration, range and charging time. These electro-mobility concerns are addressed by the Volar-e, an electric racing car built by the Spanish company Applus Idiada with up to 50% financing by European funds. The Volar-e can reach a top speed of 300 km/h, and move from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.4 seconds, providing more than 1000 HP power. Light materials such as carbon fibre or aluminium were used to reduce weight and increase the Volar-e's range while its aerodynamics was also optimized using computer simulation tools. The racing car is also fitted with a fast charging system that enables battery recharge in only 15 minutes, the time taken for an average break in a service station. To increase public familiarity with the capacities of electric cars, the Volar-e will be on display during the EU open day on Saturday 4 May in Brussels and afterwards for several weeks at Brussels Zaventum airport.
Commissioner Hedegaard to take part in international ministerial dialogue on climate in Berlin
Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, will take part in the 4th Petersberg ministerial dialogue on climate change on 5-7 May in Berlin. The informal meeting is intended to contribute to preparations for this year's United Nations climate change conference, which Poland will host in November in Warsaw. The German and Polish environment ministers will co-chair the Petersberg dialogue and have invited ministers from some 35 countries representing the various groups in UN climate negotiations. Under the motto 'Shaping the future', the agenda focuses on four questions: how can an ambitious, effective and fair international climate agreement covering all countries be achieved by 2015 and brought into force from 2020; how can the UN climate negotiations promote greater national climate action before 2020 in order to keep global warming below 2°C; how can the international negotiations create effective incentives for more private investment to drive the transition to a low-carbon economy; and how can the Warsaw conference help achieve these goals and what are the most important milestones on the way to the 2015 agreement? German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk will both address the meeting on 6 May.
Air Traffic Management: Commission launches the deployment of SESAR
The Commission has adopted today a new Regulation establishing governance and incentive mechanisms to facilitate the effective and timely deployment of SESAR, the Union's flagship project that aims at modernising the Air Traffic Management (ATM) system and enhancing its performance. Vice President Siim Kallas, Commissioner for Transport said: "I am delighted that we are making good progress towards SESAR deployment. It has always been clear that technology is an important part of the Single European Sky, but airlines, airports and air navigation service providers want to see concrete benefits flowing from the programme to deliver on performance improvements, and with the adoption of this Regulation, those benefits got closer." SESAR contributes to increasing capacity and safety of ATM systems while reducing costs of ATM services and the impact of air transport on the environment. The SESAR project is the technological pillar of the Single European Sky (SES). The progress and success of the SES also depends on a successful deployment of SESAR. For full text, please see at http://ec.europa.eu/transport/index_en.htm
Single European Sky: Commission paves the way for more ambitious performance targets
The European Commission adopted today revised implementing Regulations on performance and charging, setting the framework for the upcoming negotiations on targets for the second reference period (2015 to 2019) of the SES Performance Scheme. The Scheme sets the framework for establishing binding targets on Member States to deliver better air navigation services, leading to cheaper flights, less delays, and the saving of unnecessary costs for airlines and passengers. In addition, the environmental impact of air traffic will be reduced because of more efficient and shorter flight paths. The proposed Regulations now foresee binding performance targets in all four key performance areas (Safety, Environment, Capacity and Cost-Efficiency) resulting in a 'gate-to-gate' approach covering the entire chain of air navigation services, including terminal services, for the first time during the next reference period. The precise targets will be established under a subsequent Commission Decision. The revised framework Regulation adopted today also strengthens the role of the Commission in scrutinising the costs of service providers charged to airlines and ultimately passengers. For full text, please see at http://ec.europa.eu/transport/index_en.htm
The European Commission has concluded that liquidation aid granted by Greece in favour of Agricultural Bank of Greece (ATE Bank) was in line with EU state aid rules. In particular, the Commission found that the aid was limited to the minimum necessary to ensure an orderly resolution. In addition, the market exit of ATE Bank limits the distortions of competition brought about by the aid.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of sole control over Evonik Industries by RAG-Stiftung
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control over Evonik Industries AG by RAG-Stiftung, both of Germany. RAG-Stiftung currently already holds joint control over Evonik together with the private equity firm CVC Capital Partners. The transaction is brought about by a change to the shareholders’ agreement between RAG-Stiftung and CVC. RAG-Stiftung is responsible for implementing the termination of subsidised German hard coal production until 2018. It wholly owns RAG AG, active in the production and import of hard coal in Germany and in the development of land use concepts for former industrial areas. Evonik is internationally active in the production and marketing of specialty chemicals for different purposes and owns and manages residential real estate in Germany. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website in the public case register under the case number M.6898 .
In March 2013, compared with February 2013, the industrial producer price index fell by 0.2% in both the euro area (EA17) and the EU27, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In February prices rose by 0.2% and 0.4% respectively. In March 2013 compared with March 2012, industrial producer prices gained 0.7% in both the euro area and the EU27.
Commissioners' weekly activities
Upcoming Commission activities for the weeks ahead
What Commissioners said
Vice President of the European Commission, Antonio Tajani, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship, will give a speech at the SME Finance Forum in Dublin on May 2nd. He'll stress the crucial aspect of access to finance for SMEs to boost jobs. He'll explain how SMEs benefitted from the measures the EC provided them with in terms of access to finance, and he'll also present the next financial instruments for the period 2014-2020.
"Investing as early as possible to prevent hardship from arising later and 'preparing' people to cope with life's risks rather than simply 'repairing', is the most effective way forward. Conversely, the lack of a coherent social investment strategy may result in significant economic and social damage", said László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion at the Irish Presidency Conference on the Social Investment Package on 3 May 2013. The Social Investment Package adopted by the European Commission on 20 February 2013 ( IP/13/125 , MEMO/13/117 , MEMO/13/118) gives guidance to the Member States on how to carry out the structural reforms needed to make their social policy more effective and efficient. "Besides policy guidance, the EU also provides the Member States with financial support to their social investments", continued Andor, stressing that "if the EU’s efforts to meet its quantified objective for reducing poverty are to be credible, a minimum percentage of Cohesion Policy funding — amounting to at least 25% — must be devoted to investing in people and employment and social reform through the European Social Fund." On the relevance of the Social Investment Package to EMU, Commissioner Andor concluded: "what the social dimension of genuine Economic and Monetary Union means is that its rules, governance mechanisms, fiscal capacity and other policy instruments will work both for economic efficiency and for social fairness. The reform of EMU needs to go hand in hand with further steps to foster its legitimacy and accountability in the eyes of our fellow Europeans". See SPEECH/13/382 - Embargo 12:30 CET.