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EXME 13 / 31.05
31 / 05 / 13
The European Commission is today launching the new EU Civil Society Platform against trafficking in human beings, where over 100 European civil society organisations are joining forces. The Europe-wide Platform, will serve as a forum for civil society organisations working at European, national and local levels, in the field of human rights, children's rights, women's rights and gender equality, migrants' rights and shelters. Participants will be able to exchange experiences and concrete ideas on how to best assist victims, expand their networks, and prevent others from falling victims to this crime. "The role of civil society is key in preventing trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims", said EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström. The Platform will ensure that they receive the necessary support, from the EU and from each other, and that their knowledge is spread across Europe.
The next European Union–Russian Federation Summit will take place on 3 and 4 June in Yekaterinburg, Russia. The EU will be represented by Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and by José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission. Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the Commission and Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger will also take part. Russia will be represented by President Vladimir Putin, accompanied by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and several other Russian ministers. See also MEMO/13/485 on 31st EU-Russia summit.
Food: EU additives – Making our food safer
A new EU list of approved additives will apply from 1 June 2013. This list contains only food additives of which their safe use has already been scientifically evaluated. Transparency is the major benefit of the new legislation, as the additives are now listed in a clear way, according to the category of food to which they may be added. Food additives are used for purposes such as; preservation; colouring and sweetening of food. The most important conditions for the use of additives requires that they are safe; technologically justified; do not mislead the consumer; and are of benefit to the consumer. In order to ensure that their use continues to be safe, an extensive re-evaluation programme by the European Food Safety Authority of the approved food additives is on-going. For more information: MEMO/13/480 ; food additives ; video
A public consultation is opening today to gather contributions from the public on the future EU policy framework on health and safety at work. "Accidents at work are at a historically low level, and the European Union’s occupational safety and health standards are a reference for the rest of the world. Investing in occupational safety pays off in terms of improved productivity and staff well-being, reduced absenteeism and staff turnover and greater job satisfaction, especially during the crisis. However, this policy area also faces challenges and together we need to find solutions to address these challenges", said László Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. All citizens and organisations are welcome to contribute to this consultation, which will close on 26 August 2013.
Following last night's publication of the final report of the UN High Level Panel on the post-2015 development agenda - in which he had the honour to serve – Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said: "I'm particularly pleased that the Panel recognized that we need a single agenda embodying poverty eradication and sustainable development. Building on the lessons learnt from the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and taking into account the follow up of the Rio+20 process, the Panel makes it clear that the post-2015 framework should address the whole range of root causes of poverty and unsustainable development, including equality, equity, human rights, peace and stability. Poverty alleviation and putting the planet on a sustainable course are relevant to everyone. The report clearly highlights that the new agenda should apply to every country and every citizen; the new agenda should be truly universal in its application and coverage." Read the full statement here and a link to the HLP report here .
EU seeks progress on commitments at Bonn climate talks
United Nations climate negotiations over the next two weeks will be largely taken up with technical work to implement decisions reached at international level over recent years. This work is essential to help ensure that countries deliver on commitments made to date. The official-level meeting, taking place in Bonn, Germany, runs from 3 to 14 June. It will also see the continuation of discussions on the new international climate agreement to be adopted in 2015, where the European Union will be looking to deepen discussions on how to ensure all countries make ambitious emission reduction or limitation commitments. The previous session, at the beginning of May, saw the emergence of ideas on how emission commitments could be developed in a step-wise fashion through a combination of national processes shaped by internationally agreed guidelines and peer review procedures in order to ensure that global warming stays below 2°C. The EU wants to deepen these discussions on the basis of a paper it submitted this week setting out how this step-wise process could work. A further EU priority will be to promote a draft decision calling on countries to press for a phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons – industrial gases which are powerful greenhouse gases – under the Montreal Protocol on ozone-depleting substances. The EU delegation will hold press briefings at 1400 Central European Summer time on 3 and 14 June. They will be webstreamed live and on-demand at www.unfccc.int .
Commissioner Piebalgs attends High Level Conference in Japan to promote African growth and development
Organised every five years, this edition of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) will take place on 1-3 June 2013 in Yokohama (near Tokyo), Japan. European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, will be present to discuss topics ranging from the post-2015 development agenda, the regional humanitarian and security situation and the possibilities for private public partnerships. The conference will be organised around three main themes: robust and sustainable economy (including for instance trade, tourism or infrastructure), inclusive and resilient society (through employment, education, health, and food security) and peace and stability. Commissioner Piebalgs will also hold meetings with Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and the President of The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Prof. Akihiko Tanaka. The EU and Japan are longstanding partners in development cooperation and they share views on development policy as true supporters of African growth and regional integration. Indeed, aid to Africa represents 20% of Japanese Official Development Assistance and TICAD has been one of the first fora for Africa development. The EU is therefore keen to ensure synergies with the EU-Africa strategy. In 2012, the EU disbursed €4.4 billion for African countries. For more information, click here .
The euro area (EA17) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 12.2% in April 2013, up from 12.1% in March. The EU27 unemployment rate was 11.0%, unchanged compared with the previous month. In both zones, rates have risen markedly compared with April 2012, when they were 11.2% and 10.3% respectively. These figures are published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Eurostat estimates that 26.588 million men and women in the EU27, of whom 19.375 million were in the euro area, were unemployed in April 2013. Compared with March 2013, the number of persons unemployed increased by 104 000 in the EU27 and by 95 000 in the euro area. Compared with April 2012, unemployment rose by 1.673 million in the EU27 and by 1.644 million in the euro area.
Euro area annual inflationis expected to be 1.4% in May 2013, up from 1.2% in April, according to a flash estimate from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Looking at the main components of euro area inflation, food, alcohol & tobacco is expected to have the highest annual rate in May (3.3% compared with 2.9% in April), followed by services (1.4% compared with 1.1% in April), non-energy industrial goods (0.9% compared with 0.8% in April) and energy (-0.2% compared with -0.4% in April).
(for more information: STAT/13/81 - S. O'Connor-Tel. +32 2296 73 59 - Mobile +32 460 767 359)
What Commissioners said
Speaking at the Assembly of the Committee of the Regions (CoR) on 30 May in the European Parliament regional policy Commissioner Hahn said: "Even if negotiations on the multiannual financial framework are still on-going, it is crucial to proceed quickly with the planning of the new regional programmes at operational level Structural funds are an essential vehicle for growth to be promoted across the European Union, a way to attract private investment as well. This is this is why we need an early agreement on the MFF. If we can get this, we can also get investments in the private sector flourishing again - that is certainly our intention. I am also aware of the voiced reservations regarding the concept of macro-economic conditionality.” He added, “I would like to reaffirm also that I share fully your conviction that the success of our measures depends largely on the active engagement our regional and local partners. The partnership agreements are based on that".
Ports are vital gateways to the rest of the world; they are crucial for European business, for Europe's competitiveness, and they have a huge potential for job creation and investment. But EU ports face some specific challenges : by 2030, cargo volumes are expected to rise by 50%, and by even more for the fast growing container market. “We are now at a “maritime crossroads”, Vice-President Siim Kallas, in charge of transport, told a ports conference in Varna, Bulgaria. While Europe was home to some of the world’s best port facilities , efficiency and performance varied a great deal and this was causing a real EU divide, he said. “We want ports to grow. We want more funding for ports, more activity and prosperity for port industries. Most importantly, we want European ports to enjoy long-term success – so that they can deliver a better service to European industry and Europe's economy,” Kallas said.
The European Union is today celebrating 25 years of support for youth through the programmes Youth for Europe, Youth, and, now, Youth in Action. Since 1988, more than 2.5 million people have received grants to gain experience and skills abroad through youth exchanges, volunteering and training. More than 90% of Youth in Action beneficiaries say these exchanges increased their knowledge of foreign languages and 75% say it it helped them identify opportunities for their personal and professional future. In a speech today, Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education. Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said the EU needs to do more to ensure young people are genuinely involved in decision-making and that no one is left behind in the crisis.
Commissioners' weekly activities
Upcoming Commission activities for the weeks ahead