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EXME 13 / 05.06


05 / 06 / 13

Visit of the Spanish Government

Today the Spanish Government is visiting the European Commission. This will be an opportunity to address together a number of key issues regarding the political and economic situation in Europe, such as the fight against youth unemployment, how to ensure that small and medium enterprises can have access to funding, or the contribution of European policies to economic growth and job creation. The preparation of the upcoming European Council will also be an important element of the discussions. A press conference by President Barroso and Prime Minister Rajoy will take place at 14:30.

Latvian convergence report

Today, the European Commission publishes its 2013 Convergence Report on Latvia. Vice President Rehn will present the report conclusions at 13.00 in the press room. The Commission has assessed whether Latvia fulfils the criteria for adopting the euro. This is an important phase of the procedure which started in early March: if the assessment is positive, Vice President Rehn will announce that the Commission proposes that the Council decide on Latvia’s adoption of the euro as from 1 January 2014.

Press material including a press release and a memo will also be available at 13.00.

Other news

State aid: Commission approves investment aid for infrastructure project at German airport Memmingen

The European Commission has found that investment aid totalling €7.75 million to finance an infrastructure project at Memmingen airport is in line with EU state aid rules. Memmingen airport is a small regional airport located in South Germany, with annual passenger traffic below one million. The investment to upgrade and enhance its infrastructure aims to accommodate the increasing demand of airlines and passengers. The state aid granted by the Free State of Bavaria will improve regional connectivity without unduly distorting competition in the internal market.

State aid: Commission gives the Walloon Region permission to convert a €43.5 million claim against Sonaca into equity

The European Commission has approved a plan by the Walloon Region to convert into equity a residual claim of €43.5 million held against the Belgian aeronautics company Sonaca, in which the Region has a 92.29% holding. The Commission did not consider that this conversion constituted State aid because a private investor would have taken the same action in the same circumstances.

Fight against illicit drugs: EU signs new agreement with Russia

The EU and Russia have completed signature of a new cooperation agreement on the control of drug precursors, at the EU-Russia Summit in Yekaterinburg. The agreement will strengthen co-operation between the EU and Russia in preventing drug precursors from being trafficked for the manufacture of illegal drugs such as methamphetamines, heroin or cocaine. It will enable competent authorities to exchange more practical, technical and scientific information on 23 chemicals, and to ensure that they are only used for legitimate production of a wide range of products such as pharmaceuticals, perfumes, plastics, and cosmetics.

Second estimate for the first quarter of 2013 - Euro area GDP down by 0.2% and EU27 down by 0.1% / -1.1% and -0.7% respectively compared with the first quarter of 2012

GDP fell by 0.2% in the euro area (EA17) and by 0.1% in the EU27 during the first quarter of 2013, compared with the previous quarter, according to second estimates published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the fourth quarter of 2012, growth rates were -0.6% and -0.5% respectively. Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, GDP fell by 1.1% in the euro area and by 0.7% in the EU27 in the first quarter of 2013, after -1.0% and -0.7% respectively in the previous quarter. During the first quarter of 2013, GDP in the United States grew by 0.6% compared with the previous quarter (after +0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2012). Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, GDP rose by 1.8% (after +1.7% in the previous quarter).

1.7 million vacancies unfilled in the EU, but recruitment is declining in public and private sectors

Despite record unemployment in Europe, 1.7 million vacancies are unfilled in the EU. This is one of the main findings of the European Vacancy Monitor published today by the European Commission. The report shows that both employment and hiring are increasing in the areas of administration, teaching, business, health care as well as engineering. However, the number of unfilled vacancies is 4% lower than at the same period last year.

The June issue of the European Job Mobility Bulletin , based on an analysis of the vacancies published on the EURES job search portal , shows that some sectors are recovering from the economic crisis. Good job opportunities are available for finance and sales associate professionals, architects, engineers, housekeeping and restaurant service workers, personal care and related workers and computing professionals. Finance and sales associate professionals are particularly in high demand in the United Kingdom, Germany and France.

April 2013 compared with March 2013 - Volume of retail trade down by 0.5% in euro area - Down by 0.7% in EU27

In April 2013, compared with March 2013, the volume of retail trade fell by 0.5% in the euro area (EA17) and by 0.7% in the EU27, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In March retail trade decreased by 0.2% and 0.1% respectively. In April 2013, compared with April 2012, the retail sales index dropped by 1.1% in the euro area and by 0.6% in the EU27.

Les "Tortas de aceite de Castilleja de la Cuesta" reconnues comme spécialité traditionnelle garantie

La Commission européenne a approuvé  la demande d'enregistrement dans la liste des spécialités traditionnelles garanties (STG) des " Tortas de aceite de Castilleja de la Cuesta ", pâtisseries traditionnelles d'Andalousie élaborées de façon manuelle et à partir d'huile d'olive vierge extra. La décision de la Commission devrait être publiée dans les prochains jours dans le Journal Officiel de l'Union Européenne. Ce nom rejoindra alors la liste de plus de 1100 produits déjà protégés en vertu de la législation sur la protection des indications géographiques, des appellations d'origine et des spécialités traditionnelles. Des renseignements sur les produits de qualité ainsi que la liste des dénominations protégées sont disponibles en ligne à l'adresse:

Progress report on "Better internet for Kids" Coalition between tech CEOs and European Commission

CEOs and senior board members from the world's digital, media and tech companies ( IP/11/1485) have met in Brussels to report directly to Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes on how they are making the internet a better, and safer, place for kids, through the work of the CEO Coalition set up by the Vice-President at the end of 2011. Children now go online at very young ages, and the CEO Coalition has been working on: strong, simple reporting tools for users who experience problems; a choice of age-appropriate privacy setting; wider use of content classification so users and their parents know what to expect while surfing online; wider availability and use of parental controls; and more effective takedown systems for child sexual abuse material.

EIT: Commissioner Vassiliou visits sustainable energy hub in Kraków

European Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou (Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth) will make a fact-finding visit to Kraków in Poland on 5-6 June to meet representatives of business, research and academia involved in the city's branch of the sustainable energy knowledge and innovation community (KIC InnoEnergy), part of the ground-breaking European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). During her visit, Commissioner Vassiliou will also meet Barbara Kudrycka, Minister for Science and Higher Education. They will hold a joint press conference at the KIC centre (Ul. Czerwone Maki 84, Kraków) on 6 June at 12:30. Poland also has a regional branch of the EIT's Climate KIC, focused on climate change, in Lower Silesia. Polish partners in the KICs include the Jagiellonian University (Kraków), which the Commissioner will visit, AGH University of Science and Technology (Kraków), the Silesian University of Technology (Gliwice), Wroclaw University of Technology, the Lower Silesia Regional Development Agency, the Institute for Chemical Production of Coal, the Central Mining Institute, as well as leading companies Tauron (energy), Lotos (oil), Rafako (boiler manufacturer) and PGNiG (oil and gas). Across the EU, the EIT's three existing KICs – the other focuses on ICT ‑ bring together nearly 300 partners from education, research and business. In just two years, 27 start-up companies have been created and 35 patents are in the pipeline. 1 900 students will have enrolled in the KICs' education and training programmes by the end of the year. By 2020, the EIT aims to create 600 start-ups as well as supporting 10 000 Master's students and 10 000 PhDs focused on science and entrepreneurship. The EIT has received just over €300 million from the EU budget since its launch in 2008. It is expected to be allocated more than €2 billion in 2014-2020, allowing it to launch six additional KICs. More information: European Institute of Innovation & Technology's website , KIC InnoEnergy , Climate-KIC , EIT ICT Labs , DG Education and Culture , Commissioner Vassiliou's website , Twitter @VassiliouEU

Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič meets stakeholders to prepare review of Transparency Register

This year will see the launch of a review of the Commission's and European Parliament's Joint Transparency Register (of organisations involved in interest representation, advocacy, lobbying etc.). To ensure, on top of a previous public consultation, that stakeholders have a voice in this process, Vice-President Šefčovič will today meet representatives of several European-wide umbrella organisations which reflect different categories of the register. These include among others Transparency International and the Civil Society Contact Group for NGOs, trade union body ETUC, the European Public Affairs Consultancies' Association and the Society of European Affairs Professionals for professional consultancies, the Council of Bars and Law societies of Europe, the Belgian Federation of International Associations as well as BusinessEurope for in-house lobbyists. European Parliament officials, forming part of the joint secretariat of the Register, will also attend. The meeting is an opportunity to listen to the various organisations' views on issues for the review, and to provide input for the inter-institutional working group to start its work. There are currently about 5,700 registered organisations in the Transparency Register, binding more than 28,000 individual actors to a single code of conduct.

Commissioner Borg visits China

Tonio Borg, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumers is visiting China from the 4th to the 8th of June 2013 where he will take part in a number of high level meetings with Chinese officials. The visit will touch upon important issues of mutual interest in the Health and Consumer portfolio including export of active pharmaceutical ingredients, market access of cosmetics and medical devices, issues related to global health governance and cross-border health threats and cooperation in the area of animal diseases control and anti-microbial resistance.

Digital Agenda: EU Telecoms Council, Luxembourg, 6 June 2013

Ministers will meet in Luxembourg on Thursday 6 June under the mandate of the Irish Presidency. Vice-President Neelie Kroes, responsible for the Digital Agenda, will represent the European Commission and will participate in a policy debate on a telecoms Single Market and the role of ICT in the implementation of the Digital Agenda. She will also take part in the debate on web accessibility, cybersecurity and electronic identification and trust services for transactions in the internal market (eIDAS).

Justice and Home Affairs Council 6-7 June 2013 in Luxembourg

European Union Justice and Home Affairs ministers will meet in Luxembourg on 6 and 7 June 2013. The European Commission will be represented by Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU Justice Commissioner and Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs. The main items for Justice Ministers are: Reform of EU data protection rules; Ensuring fair trial rights in the EU – Access to a lawyer; Fighting fraud against the EU budget; Recovering cross-border debts; Cross-border insolvency law; Simplifying acceptance of certain public documents. The main items for Home Affairs Ministers are: Common European Asylum System; Schengen governance package; EU-Morocco Mobility Partnership. For more information: MEMO/13/500

New Director-General among several senior management appointments

The College has decided to transfer Mr Christian DANIELSSON to the post of Director-General of the Enlargement Directorate-General. Mr Danielsson, who is Swedish, is currently Deputy Secretary-General in the Secretariat-General, a post he has occupied since 2010. Before that he was a Director in the Enlargement DG, deputy Head of Cabinet of former Commission Vice-President Gunther Verheugen, and a Member of Cabinet of Anita Gradin, the first Swedish Commissioner. The decision takes effect on 1 October 2013. Mr Danielsson will replace Italian national Mr Stefano SANNINO, who is taking unpaid leave from the Commission from 1 July 2013, to serve as Italy's Permanent Representative to the EU. Mr Henrik HOLOLEI, the Estonian Head of Cabinet for Vice-President Kallas, will replace Mr Danielsson as Deputy Secretary-General. Before joining the Commission in 2004, Mr Hololei was the Estonian Minister of Economy and Chief Government Counsellor on EU Affairs. The decision will take effect on 16 November 2013. In other senior management decisions, the College decided to appoint Mr Kurt KÖNIG as Director "Core Business Services" in the Publications Office in Luxembourg. Mr König, a German national, is currently the Acting Director "Resources" of the Publications Office. Mr António CARNEIRO has been appointed as Director "Dissemination and Reuse" in the Publications Office. Mr Carneiro, who is Portuguese, is currently the acting Director of that department. Both decisions take effect on 16 June 2013. Finally, Ms Maria Angeles BENITEZ SALAS, currently Director "Sustainability and quality of agriculture and rural development" in the Agriculture and Rural Development Directorate-General, will transfer to the Bureau of European Policy Advisers, to become the Deputy Head. Ms Benitez Salas started her Commission career in 1986, in the Cabinet of former Commissioner Abel Matutes, and has worked in the fields of enlargement, fisheries and transparency. The decision takes effect on 1 July 2013.

What Commissioners said

Vice-President Reding during the third annual conference on missing children and 116000 hotlines

"In 2011, a quarter of a million cases of missing children were officially reported in the EU. It is now six years since the adoption of the Commission Decision on the 116 telephone numbers and the introduction of the 116000 hotline. There are now 23 hotlines operational and a further three will be launched shortly. That leaves Finland as the only Member State which has not come close to achieving this goal. Unfortunately, this undermines the efforts and commitments made by all others. The Missing Children hotline only works if we ALL join forces and do our share."  For more information: SPEECH/13/503

Commissioner Šemeta calls for strengthening tools for decision making that can support recovery in Greece

Speaking at the Hellenic Parliament about Greek tax reforms Commissioner Šemeta said "There are road-signs that Greece, like every other Member State, should follow in implementing its tax reforms. We can already see movement in the right direction. However, there is a long road still to be travelled before Greece has a tax system that can be considered fully fit for purpose". On the reform of the Greek statistical system, Commissioner Šemeta said: "I can only applaud Greece for the progress it has made in this field. Impressive reforms have been implemented, in line with the Joint Overall Statistical Greek Action Plan, and through close cooperation between Eurostat and Elstat. As a result, Eurostat has been able to publish Greek EDP data without reservation for the past 6 consecutive notifications. This is an unequivocal indication that the quality and reliability of Greek government statistics are no longer disputed."

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