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EXME 13 / 09.07
09 / 07 / 13
Commission acts to improve consumer rights for 120 million holiday makers
As the summer season kicks off, the European Commission is taking action to improve protection for holiday makers by modernising EU rules on package holidays. The 1990 EU Directive on package travel has served as the bedrock for the protection offered to EU holidaymakers. But today's rules are difficult to apply in the internet age where consumers are increasingly booking customised packages online, which leaves buyers uncertain if they can count on protection and traders unclear of their obligations. Therefore, today's update of the 1990 rules is essentially about bringing the Package Travel Directive into the digital age. It means that an additional 120 million consumers who buy these customised travel arrangements will also be protected by the directive. Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner said: "EU package travel rules need to be fit for the digital age and meet consumers' expectations. Today we are boosting protection for millions of consumers booking customised travel arrangements." For more information: IP/13/663 and MEMO/13/667 .
The EU today launched a challenge to Russia’s so-called “recycling fee” on vehicles by requesting consultations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Russia introduced the fee on 1 September 2012, just days after joining the WTO. The fee is levied on cars, trucks, buses and other motor vehicles. While the fee is imposed on all imports from the EU, vehicles produced in Russia are exempted. The EU has repeatedly raised the issue of the fee in bilateral talks with Moscow but this has not brought any concrete solution. This leaves the EU no choice but to resort to the WTO's dispute settlement procedures.
Second day of EU-US trade talks in Washington
The first round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations kicked off today in Washington, D.C. with an opening plenary session emphasizing the importance of the negotiations and laying out plans for the round, which will end on Friday. The negotiating groups that met on Monday 8 July discussed investment, government procurement, cross-border services, textiles, rules of origin, energy and raw materials and legal issues. The chief negotiators from the United States and European Union also met. Meeting on Tuesday 9 July will be the negotiating groups discussing sanitary and phytosanitary measures, market access and industrial goods, government procurement, cross-border services, investment, and energy and raw materials. The negotiating groups on labor and environment also will hold a joint session. EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht emphasized in Geneva on Monday that “we are convinced that this trade agreement will result in more jobs and more growth - and that will help to get us out of the economic crisis. That would be good news for Europe, but also a very good message for the whole world economy.”
The European Commission has authorised changes to Bank of Ireland's second restructuring plan, approved in December 2011 (see IP/11/1572). In the light of various changes in the market circumstances since the 2011 decision, BOI is in particular no longer required to divest New Ireland Assurance Company (NIAC). Such a divestment would negatively affect BOI´s capital and capacity to return to profitability and would slow down progress towards long term viability. To replace this divestment, Ireland has proposed equivalent commitments which will ensure that competition distortions are limited.
The European Commission is gathering views on how to reduce the environmental impacts of buildings. Buildings use a large amount of resources when they are designed, built, used and demolished, and their impact on the environment, energy consumption and climate change is significant. Improving construction techniques is therefore important to help Europe become a more sustainable economy. The consultation asks citizens, businesses, NGOs and public authorities for ideas on how to reduce the impacts of the construction sector, make buildings more sustainable and create green opportunities for businesses. The consultation will be open until 1 October 2013 and is available here: http://www.acceptance.ec.europa.eu/environment/consultations/buildings_en.htm . The input will feed into a future Communication on Sustainable Buildings, as stated in the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe.
EU launch of UN High-level panel report on Development agenda after 2015
EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik and EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs today attend an event to present in Brussels the UN High-level panel (HLP) report on the development agenda after 2015, once the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) reach their target date. Co-organised by the European Commission and the NGO Concord, the event will bring together members of the Scientific Advisory Board of the HLP and about 60 representatives from the civil society, as well as other EU institutions. Commissioner Piebalgs will present the UN panel’s findings and recommendations, which set out a universal agenda to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030 and ensure sustainable development of the planet. The HLP recognized the need for a single agenda embodying these two strands. Building on the lessons learned from the current MDGs and taking into account the follow up of the Rio+20 outcome, 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.
200 dénominations françaises inscrites au registre européen des AOP, IGP et STG
La Commission européenne a approuvé la demande d'enregistrement des " Prés salés de la Baie de Somme " dans la liste des appellations d'origine protégées (AOP). C'est la 200ème dénomination française inscrite au registre européen. Il s'agit de viande fraîche issue d'agneaux âgés de moins de 12 mois élevés sur les marais salés de la baie de Somme et de la baie d'Authie. Le cahier des charges de l'AOP précise que la naissance, l'élevage et l'abattage des agneaux doivent avoir lieu au sein d’une aire géographique déterminée unique, à savoir la plaine maritime qui se situe dans les départements du Pas-de-Calais et de la Somme. Pour plus d'informations sur la politique européenne de qualité: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/quality/schemes/index_fr.htm
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Gardner Denver by KKR
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of Gardner Denver, Inc. by KKR & Co.L.P, both US-based companies. GDI designs, manufactures and markets compressors, blowers, fuel handling systems and pumps used in the production of oil and natural gas. KKR is active in asset management services to public and private market investors. 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.6906.
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht launched a joint initiative for improving conditions for workers in Bangladeshi garment factories in Geneva yesterday. The move is a response the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka in April which resulted in more than 1,100 deaths. The “Sustainability Compact” seeks to improve labour, health and safety conditions for workers, as well as to encourage responsible behaviour by businesses in the ready-made garment industry in the South Asian country. Joining Commissioner De Gucht in Geneva were Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni and International Labour Organisation (ILO) Director-General Guy Ryder. Representatives of Bangladeshi manufacturers, major European importers, trade unions and other key stakeholders supporting the initiative were present at the launch as well. Commissioner De Gucht underlined that the EU will support Bangladesh in its efforts, but that the EU “may consider appropriate action under the ‘Everything But Arms’ scheme, should there be no, or insufficient progress for Bangladeshi workers.”
What Commissioners said
While acknowledging the progress made in recent weeks, he also made clear the further determined implementation of measures needed to boost competitiveness and investment, and accelerate recovery and job creation. That means stepping up the reform of the tax administration, to boost its efficiency and autonomy. He said, "This is not only about increasing fiscal revenues, it is also about social fairness. It also means seeing through the modernisation of the public sector as a whole". He added, "This is not only about cost savings: it is about creating a more efficient civil service that is geared to serving the needs of citizens and businesses. And it means freeing up markets in goods and services. The adjustment process has not yet translated into lower prices for consumers."
Germany can count on EU's help to recover from floods" says Commissioner Lewandowski during his visit to Germany
Today, 9 July, Commissioner Lewandowski is in Saxony and Saxony-Anhlat to see the areas that have been hit by the recent floods. "I am devastated by the scale of the disaster here. My sympathies go to the victims of the floods who often lost their houses, their belongings and must start their lives from scratch. My overarching message to them is: The EU is ready to help Germany and its people to overcome the effects of this disaster” – said Commissioner Lewandowski. "I also want to commend German national, regional and local authorities for their efforts to deal with human and financial cost of the disaster. Janusz Lewandowski will meet the Prime Ministers of the Free State of Saxony, Stanislaw Tillich and of Saxony-Anhalt, Dr Reiner Haseloff. He will also meet representatives of the local authorities and discuss the EU's Multiannual Financial Framework (2014-2020) as well as funding opportunities for local governments. For German version, please visit Janusz Lewandowski's website: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/lewandowski/index_en.htm
Now is the time to take the right decisions to help French regions to invest in the real economy in order to create jobs
EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, held a key note speech on Tuesday, 9 July at the "French Partnership Closure Conference" in Tours. The conference addressed key actors involved in the implementation of the programmes of the next funding period including national ministers, representatives of regional and local authorities, and civil society. The Commissioner stressed in his speech in particular the need to use the structural funds for investments in the real economy in order to create jobs: "What we are here to discuss today, is the use of European funds to boost the economy, and stimulate growth. Over the last three years we succeeded in shifting Cohesion Policy from an infrastructure oriented policy to an investment policy stimulating the economy as a whole. The new Regional Policy is Europe in action to support the supply AND demand side of the labour market. The investments that we will make together in the coming financial period will support innovation, small businesses, and the low carbon economy, in order to promote the climate in which new companies can take root and new jobs can be created". The Commissioner also underlined the need to advance rapidly with the partnership agreement: "We are at a crucial moment. This is the time when decisions are being taken on how the funds will be spent. As we work on the Partnership Agreements and the programmes for the next period, let's make sure that we take the right decisions to help the French regions and let's make sure we do not delay. The earlier each country can complete its partnership agreement, the earlier we can approve projects and spending can begin. France has no time to lose". The full SPEECH is available via RAPID ( SPEECH/13/616). EbS-coverage of project visits under: http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/ebs/