Midday Express of 2013-06-13
European Commission - MEX/13/0613 13/06/2013
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EXME 13 / 13.06
13 / 06 / 13
Today the Commission proposes new rules to ensure that wherever nuclear energy is used in the EU it meets the highest safety standards. The proposal defines the European framework which operators of nuclear plants and national regulators need to respect to allow for nuclear energy being produced and used in an utmost safe manner. In the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear accident, the European Council asked the Commission "to review the existing legal and regulatory framework for the safety of nuclear installations" and to propose any necessary improvements. Following the nuclear stress tests exercise and an in-depth review of the current legislation, the Commission now proposes amendments to the existing Nuclear Safety Directive in order to ensure the highest possible safety levels in Europe. Press material will be available at the beginning of the press conference by EU Energy Commissioner Oettinger at 14:00.
President Barroso meets today the President of Portugal Cavaco Silva. They will mainly discuss economic topics, namely the situation in Portugal, the progress of the Economic Adjustment Programme and the European responses to the crisis: fight against unemployment and deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union. President's Barroso speech will be available after the press point.
To help mitigate the consequences of serious road accidents across the EU, today the European Commission adopted two proposals to ensure that, by October 2015, cars will automatically call emergency services in case of a serious crash. The "eCall" system automatically dials 112 - Europe's single emergency number - in the event of a serious accident. It communicates the vehicle's location to emergency services, even if the driver is unconscious or unable to make a phone call. It is estimated that it could save up to 2500 lives a year ( MEMO/13/547).
The European Commission is contributing €77 million from its 7th R&D Framework Programme (FP7) to help high-tech small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) exploit the potential of ICTs. The "I4MS" initiative (ICT for Manufacturing SMEs) will help 200 SMEs across Europe. (IP/13/533)
The new OECD report analyses recent trends in international migration, the labour market situation of migrants, the fiscal impact of migration and how to tackle discrimination again immigrants. Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: "The question is not whether we need migrants, but how to make the most of migration. We of course need to make use of the skills and talents we already have in Europe, but at the same time, in order to ensure our future prosperity and economic growth, we need to establish a demand driven labour immigration policy." Commissioner Andor added: "The OECD report underlines how labour mobility benefits both the individual workers and Member States' economies. It rebuts the myth that migrants constitute a burden for the welfare states - they are not more recipients of benefits than natives. This is even truer for EU mobile citizens as most of them are workers."
The European Union and Côte d'Ivoire announced today that they will launch negotiations of a new trade agreement to combat illegal logging. This scourge affects millions of poor people who depend on forests for their livelihoods, deprives governments of billions of euros every year and the associated deforestation worsens climate change. In the last 50 years, the country has seen its forests reduced by 75%, due among other factors to pressures from the exploitation of timber and fuel wood. European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs said: “Illegal logging continues to have a devastating impact on some of the world’s most valuable forests, and the people who depend on them to live and to make a living. Côte d'Ivoire exports 80% of its forestry products to the EU and as one of the biggest global markets for timber, the EU is part of both the problem and the solution. I hope that these negotiations will deliver a new agreement, which will be a crucial step forward in protecting this valuable forest before it’s too late”.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from the EU27 to the rest of the world reached 171 billion euro in 2012, while investment from the rest of the world into the EU27 was 159 bn in 2012. Investment from the euro area (EA17) to the rest of the world amounted to 238 bn while investment from the rest of the world into the euro area was 193 bn. In 2012, the main destinations of EU27 investments were the Offshore financial centres3 (18 bn euro), Canada and India (both 16 bn), the USA (15 bn), China and Hong Kong (both 10 bn) and Russia (9 bn). Disinvestments were recorded with Switzerland (-3 bn) and Japan (-2 bn). The main investor into the EU27 was by far the USA (99 bn), followed by Canada (19 bn), Japan (8 bn), Russia and Hong Kong (both 7 bn). Disinvestments were registered with Switzerland (-6 bn), India (-3 bn) and Brazil (-1 bn).
The European Commission has closed an antitrust investigation opened in September 2011 to examine the standardisation process for payments over the internet (e-payments) carried out by the European Payments Council (EPC). The EPC is the decision-making and coordination body of the European banking industry in relation to payments. The Commission had concerns that through its work on standards for e-payments, and in particular the e-Payments Framework, the EPC could exclude new entrants not linked to a bank from the e-payments market.
The European Commission is inviting comments from interested parties on commitments offered by Visa Europe. Visa Europe has offered to significantly cut its multilateral interchange fees (MIFs) for credit card payments, to a level of 0.3% of the value of the transaction (a reduction of about 40 to 60%) and to reform its rules in order to facilitate cross-border competition. The proposals by Visa follow the sending of a supplementary statement of objections by the Commission in July 2012 (see IP/12/871). As announced in May 2013 (see MEMO/13/431 and Video statement by VP Almunia) the Commission is now seeking feedback on these proposals from interested parties through a market test. If the proposals address the Commission's competition concerns, the Commission may decide to make them legally binding on Visa Europe.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of D.E. Master Blenders by Donata
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of D.E. Master Blenders 1753 N.V. ("DEMB") of The Netherlands by Donata Holding of Austria. DEMB is an international coffee and tea company and Donata is an Austrian holding company of the Joh. A. Benckiser group, focused on investing in premium brands in the fast moving consumer goods sector. 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.6936
European Union and the United States ministers will meet in Dublin on 13-14 June to discuss data protection, rights of victims of crime and judicial cooperation in criminal and civil matters. EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding will represent the European Commission, while the Irish Minister of Justice, Alan Shatter will attend on behalf of the EU Presidency, the incoming Lithuanian Presidency will also be represented. The United States will be represented by Attorney General Eric Holder.
Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič in two-day visit to Croatia
Vice-President Šefčovič will today travel to Zagreb for a two-day visit to what will soon be the EU's 28th Member State. He will meet Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanović as well as First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Vesna Pusić. Vice-President Šefčovič will also meet his future colleague, Deputy Prime Minister and Commissioner-designate Neven Mimica, and Speaker of the Parliament Josip Leko. This afternoon, he will deliver a lecture on European integration to the VERN University of Applied Sciences, followed by a panel discussion. Tomorrow morning, he will address the Croatian Parliament's Committees on European Integration and Foreign Affairs, detailing final preparations for accession. Croatia's elected MEPs will also attend the meeting. Both speeches will be made available in RAPID at 12h on Friday.
What Commissioners said
The Commissioner has continued his visit to Greece's 13 regions this week to help business and local representatives make the best use of EU Structural Funds for the country's recovery. After a visit to the Eastern Macedonia-Thrace region - one of the most remote parts of the country, Commissioner Hahn is in Athens today to meet Prime Minister Samaras, Minister of Development Hatzidakis, and to address 3 parliamentary committees. He told the MPs: “From the very beginning, EU Regional Policy has been about growth … promoting the economy with sustainable projects that will contribute to Greece's transformation.” Speaking to members of the Environment, EU Affairs and Regional Development committees, the Commissioner underlined the need both to speed up the use of EU investment in the current period and to ensure that no time is lost in planning for the next round of programmes.