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Midday Express of 2013-05-24

European Commission - MEX/13/0524   24/05/2013

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EXME 13 / 24.05

DAILY NEWS

24 / 05/ 13

President Barroso attends the 50 years of the African Union

President Barroso is personally conveying his congratulations to the African Union (AU) on its 50th Anniversary, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The President is expected to reaffirm the EU's consistent and continued support to the African Union Commission, to Africa’s integration, and to their bilateral partnership. The Organisation of African Unity was created by 32 African countries in 1963. Throughout these last decades Africa has been transforming itself for the better and the AU has played a central role in African regional integration, leading "African solutions for African challenges". A joint statement by President Barroso and Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs on the 50th anniversary of the AU will be issued this afternoon under embargo until tomorrow 10:30 (link to the statement will be available at that time). The President will also deliver a speech tomorrow (link will be active after delivery).

Other news

Bee Health: EU-wide restrictions on Pesticide use to enter into force on 1 December

A restriction on the use of three pesticides belonging to the neonicotinoid family was today adopted by the Commission. These pesticides were identified as being harmful to Europe’s honeybee population. This restriction will enter into force as from 1 December 2013 and will be reviewed, at the latest, within two years.  It targets pesticides used in the treatment of plants and cereals that are attractive to bees and pollinators.

Commissioner Hedegaard to visit Berlin and Potsdam

Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, will visit Berlin and Potsdam on 27 May. In Berlin Commissioner Hedegaard will have a meeting with the Minister-President of Brandenburg, Matthias Platzeck, and a coalition of German environmental NGOs. In Potsdam she will give a keynote speech in the opening plenary session of the 'Impacts World 2013' conference on international effects of climate change.

Statement by Vice-Presidents Viviane Reding and Neelie Kroes on International Missing Children's Day

Thanks to determined Commission action all but one of the EU's 27 Member States now have or will soon have an operational 116 000 missing children hotline. Ahead of International Missing Children’s Day (25 May), Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner and Vice-President Neelie Kroes, welcomed this significant achievement. They also called on Member States to make sure the 116 000 missing children's hotlines are not only up and running across the European Union but that they also deliver a high-quality service: "This hotline can help to save lives – but it can only work fully if all Member States do their job," said Vice-President Reding. Vice-President Neelie Kroes added: " The 116 000 hotline is a great step forward, but now national authorities need to turn their legal obligation into practical action – and ensure more people are aware of this vital service."

European elections: two out of three young people intend to vote

The European Youth Week (26 May-2 June) will focus on young people's active citizenship participation in society and will also celebrate the silver anniversary of the EU's support for youth which helped around 2.5 million young people and youth workers to participate in cross-border exchanges, European Voluntary Service and other non-formal learning activities. It will be celebrated at an event on 31st May in Brussels which will include a political debate on the value of youth participation and will award outstanding Youth in Action projects. A conference on the EU's Structured Dialogue with young people and youth organisations will take place on 27-29 May in Brussels which will share best practice in conducting the Structured Dialogue and will draw up conclusions on its future development.

Mergers: Commission approves merger of Munksjö and Ahlstrom's label and processing paper business, subject to conditions

Following an in-depth investigation (see IP/12/1338), the European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed merger of Munksjö AB of Sweden and the label and processing paper business of Ahlstrom Corporation of Finland in the specialty paper industry. The approval is conditional upon the divestment of Ahlstrom's abrasive paper backings and pre-impregnated paper ("PRIP") business located at Osnabrück, Germany. The Commission had concerns that the transaction, as initially notified, would have allowed the merged entity, Munksjö Oyj, to raise prices in heavy weight abrasive paper backings, which are used in abrasive products, and PRIP, a type of décor paper used by furniture manufacturers (e.g. IKEA). The commitments offered by the parties effectively address these concerns.

What Commissioners said

President Barroso: available EU resources for Cyprus to be mobilised as quickly as possible

Cyprus is, and stays, firmly anchored in the European Union, said President Barroso at yesterday's meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades. He reassured him that the European Union is determined to stand by Cyprus and the Cypriots in these extremely difficult times. President Barroso noted that the adjustment programme for Cyprus "is the key vehicle for a new departure for the Cypriot economy. It provides remedies that will enable Cyprus to move away from the previous situation that was proven to be unsustainable. It will help Cyprus to revise its growth model and address the vulnerability of an oversized and under-capitalised banking system." Read the full statement and watch the video of the press point .

Developing innovative solutions to our water challenges

One year after having launched the European Innovation Partnership, we can already show the first results of our efforts. We developed and adopted our Strategic Implementation Plan last December, providing us with a joint agenda on priority areas for work. 40 million Euros have been allocated to these priorities in a call under the 7th Framework Programme for Research to fund innovation and demonstration projects. We received 64 proposals involving more than 700 individual organizations. This has by far exceeded our expectations, and is very encouraging. Momentum has been created and now we must keep it up and face the remaining challenges. We need to find better ways to include the private sector and industry in this initiative by finding the right incentives. We need to make sure that we do not stop at identifying barriers to innovation but also take that crucial next step to remove them. I am confident that we will be able to make significant steps forward in facilitating the development of innovative solutions to our many water challenges while taking advantage of the market opportunities that come with them.

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