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Midday Express of 2013-06-18
Commission Européenne - MEX/13/0618 18/06/2013
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EXME 13 / 18.06
18/ 06 / 13
Just one and a half years after the Commission made its proposal, new rules on credit rating agencies will enter into force. Under the new legislation, credit rating agencies will have to be more transparent and accountable when rating sovereign states. The new rules will also contribute to increased competition in the ratings industry currently dominated by a few market players and will reduce the over-reliance on ratings by financial market participants. This is an important step towards restoring financial stability and trust in financial institutions and will help to avoid further crises.
On his second day at the G8 summit in Lough Erne, President Barroso, who represents the EU together with European Council President Van Rompuy, will participate in talks on counter-terrorism and the fight against tax evasion. Also on the agenda today will be development, trade, food security and accountability issues – matters that will be discussed with leaders from African countries and international organisations. In the early afternoon, Presidents Barroso and Van Rompuy will hold a bilateral meeting with Canada (see MEMO/13/573). Yesterday, both Presidents together with US President Obama officially announced the start of the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership next month (see SPEECH/13/543). Last night, a bilateral meeting between the EU and Japan took place (read the joint statement from Presidents Barroso and Van Rompuy: MEMO/13/575 , and a background note: MEMO/13/572). Further today we will issue a joint written statement from the two Presidents on the outcome of the G8 summit.
The EU high-level group on modernisation of higher education publishes its first report today on improving the quality of teaching and learning in universities. The group, chaired by former President of Ireland Mary McAleese, makes 16 recommendations which include a call for mandatory certified training for professors and other higher education teaching staff, more focus on helping students to develop entrepreneurial and innovative skills, and the creation of a European Academy of Teaching and Learning.
Railways should be an integral and vital part of a sustainable pan-European transport network. They have to be safe, efficient, reliable and offer high-quality services that give customers value for money. We have already achieved a lot – but the economic crisis has brought renewed challenges that we need to address urgently, Vice-President Siim Kallas, in charge of transport, told an event to mark the 25th anniversary of the CER rail industry association in Brussels. “Rail is still one of the best opportunities for unlocking a new age of sustainable economic development,” Kallas said in a speech outlining the proposed Fourth Railway Package . “We can take the tough decisions now that are needed to restructure Europe's railway market to encourage innovation and the provision of better services,” Kallas said. “Or we can accept an irreversible slide down the slippery slope to a Europe where railways are a luxury toy for a few rich countries - and are unaffordable for most in the face of scarce public money.”
European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, will sign a new agreement to support smallholder farmers and promote agricultural conservation in Zambia, during his first ever visit to the country this week. Thanks to this partnership, which will be signed with the UN’s Food and Agriculture organisation (FAO), local farmers will benefit from an average increase of 40% in household revenue. This new initiative will receive €11.1 million in EU funding. Commissioner Piebalgs said: "In recent years, Zambia has made huge progress in development; particularly in mining and agriculture. Yet despite its remarkable economic growth, Zambia is one of the most unequal countries in the world. I hope that today’s agreements will help to make sure that from now on, the country’s growth benefits the whole population; not just the few.”
The EU27 Member States granted protection to 102 700 asylum seekers in 2012, compared with 84 300 in 2011. In 2012, the highest number of persons granted protection status was registered in Germany (22 200), followed by Sweden (15 300), the United Kingdom (14 600) and France (14 300). All together, these four Member States accounted for nearly two thirds of all those granted protection status in the EU27. The largest groups of beneficiaries of protection status in the EU27 were citizens of Syria (18 700 persons or 18% of the total number of persons granted protection status), Afghanistan (13 500 or 13%) and Somalia (8 100 or 8%). These data on the results of asylum decisions in the EU27 are released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union on the occasion of the World Refugee Day on 20 June 2013.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Befesa by Triton
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of Befesa Medio Ambiente, S.L.U. of Spain by Triton Group of Jersey. Triton is a private equity investment firm, active in Northern Europe (Austria, Germany, Switzerland and the Nordic countries). Befesa is a recycling company (in particular, recycling of steel and aluminium waste, as well as management of other industrial wastes) mainly active in Germany, Spain, Sweden, France, the United Kingdom and Turkey. 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.6943.Enter body text here