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Daily News of 2013-09-17

European Commission - MEX/13/0917   17/09/2013

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EXME 13 / 17.09

DAILY NEWS

17 / 09 / 13

European Commission takes decisive action against legal highs

Today the European Commission has proposed to strengthen the European Union’s ability to respond to ‘legal highs’ – new psychoactive substances used as alternatives to illicit drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy. Under the rules proposed today by the Commission, harmful psychoactive substances will be withdrawn quickly from the market, without jeopardising their various legitimate industrial and commercial uses. Vice-President Reding said: "Legal highs are a growing problem in Europe and it is young people who are most at risk. With a borderless internal market, we need common EU rules to tackle this problem."  See also: IP/13/837 , MEMO/13/790 and SPEECH/13/717 .

President Barroso to meet Prime Minister Samaras ahead of Greek presidency

President Barroso will today meet with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras ahead of Greece's Council Presidency in 2014. They will meet to discuss Greece's plans for the Presidency, which kicks off in January 2014, and will also touch upon developments in the Greek economy and the financial assistance programme. They will hold a press point after the meeting, at 14h45 at the VIP corner. Speaking points will be available online afterwards.

Other news

President Barroso welcomes the President of Kyrgyzstan, Mr Amazbek Atambayev

President Barroso welcomes today the President of Kyrgyzstan, Mr Amazbek Atambayev. They are expected to discuss the political, economic and security situation in the country and in the region in the spirit of the EU and Central Asia Strategy for a New Partnership.

Trade and investment and development assistance (through the EU's Development Cooperation Instrument, Instrument for Stability, European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights) will be also on the agenda.

A VIP corner with the two Presidents, foreseen at 12:00, will close the meeting. President Barroso's statement to the press will be available after delivery.

President Barroso meets the Prime Minister of Albania, Mr Edi Rama

President Barroso met today the Prime Minister of Albania, Mr Edi Rama. Their meeting focused on the state of play and the country's reform commitments.

Albania – along with other Western Balkans countries – was recognised as a potential candidate country for EU accession in 2003 and officially submitted a membership application in April 2009. In October 2012, Commission recommended that Albania be granted EU candidate status, subject to completion of key measures in the areas of judicial and public administration reform and revision of the parliamentary rules of procedures.

A press point with President Barroso and Prime Minister Rama took place this morning. Read President Barroso's statement .

Commission publishes report on programme for Cyprus

Tomorrow (Wednesday 18 September), the European Commission will publish the first compliance report on the economic adjustment programme for Cyprus, and which was endorsed by the Eurogroup last Friday. The programme aims to address the financial, fiscal and structural challenges facing the economy in a decisive manner in order to allow Cyprus to return to sustainable growth. In parallel with the publication of the report, its main findings will be presented in an off-the record technical briefing tomorrow at 14.00hrs in the press room.

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over CRT by SNCF and COMSA-EMTE

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over COMSA Rail Transport, S.A.U ("CRT") of Spain by the French rail transport provider SNCF and the Spanish group COMSA-EMTE T&L, S.L. Currently, CRT is solely controlled by COMSA. Both SNCF and CRT provide rail freight transport services and services ancillary to rail transport. CRT is active in Spain only. The Commission came to the conclusion that the transaction would raise no competition concerns because the merged entity will have very limited combined market shares. The operation has been 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.6960 .

Mergers: Commission approves joint-venture between the United Petrochemical Company and Grupo Petrotemex

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over a newly created joint venture by the Joint Stock Company United Petrochemical Company (UPC) of Russia and Grupo Petrotemex S.A. de C.V. (GPT) of Mexico. UPC carries out petrochemical and gas processing activities, via companies it holds in Russia, and research and analysis for investment opportunities in petrochemical businesses. GPT manufactures and sells polyester chains, in particular terephtalic acid, polyethylene telephtalate resin, polyester staple fibre, for use, among others, in food or personal care packaging and textile. GPT is mainly active in the Americas. The newly created joint venture will manufacture and sell polyester chains, in particular polyethylene telephtalate resin, in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the European Economic Area (EEA) and neighbouring countries. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, because the parties' activities have a different geographic focus and their market shares would remain low after the transaction. The transaction 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.6950 .  

Eurostat: Euro area international trade in goods surplus 18.2 bn euro - 10.4 bn euro surplus for EU28 - July 2013

The first estimate for the euro area (EA17) trade in goods balance with the rest of the world in July 2013 gave a 18.2 billion euro surplus, compared with +13.9 bn in July 2012. The June 2013 balance was +16.5 bn, compared with +12.8 bn in June 2012. In July 2013 compared with June 2013, seasonally adjusted exports fell by 1.6% and imports by 0.1%. These data are released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. The first estimate for the July 2013 extra-EU28 trade balance was a 10.4 bn euro surplus, compared with +1.3 bn in July 2012. In June 2013 the balance was +9.0 bn, compared with -1.7 bn in June 2012. In July 2013 compared with June 2013, seasonally adjusted exports fell by 1.0% while imports rose by 0.3%.

La Commission approuve trois nouvelles demandes d'enregistrement de dénominations protégées : "Weideochse vom Limpurger Rind", "Oignon de Roscoff" et "Trote del Trentino"

La Commission européenne a approuvé la demande d'enregistrement dans la liste des appellations d'origine protégées (AOP) et des indications géographiques protégées (IGP) de trois nouvelles dénominations. Il s'agit, pour l'Allemagne, du " Weideochse vom Limpurger Rind " (AOP), viande de bœuf du Jura souabe issue de la race bovine autochtone «Limpurger Rind» ; pour la France, de l'" Oignon de Roscoff " (AOP), oignon de garde issu de semences et plants provenant de la région de Roscoff et cultivé et séché dans cette même région ; et, pour l'Italie, de la " Trote del Trentino " (IGP), truite arc-en-ciel issue des rivières de la région du Trentin ainsi que de leurs affluents des vallées latérales. Ces décisions de la Commission devraient être publiées dans les prochains jours au Journal Officiel de l'Union Européenne. Ces noms rejoindront 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: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/quality/schemes/index_fr.htm

More information on your rights in the Single Market and better problem-solving

EU citizens and businesses need more information and better assistance to make full use of their rights as regards living, studying, working, travelling and doing business in the EU's Single Market. Your Europe, a wide-ranging information portal on EU rights, can help. The services offered will be further improved thanks to an Action Plan adopted today by the Commission which will make Your Europe more user-friendly, will provide more accurate data on national rules and practices and make it easier to find online. The Commission has also adopted a Recommendation for Member States on SOLVIT - a cross-border problem-solving mechanism which deals with complaints from citizens and businesses who suspect their EU rights have been breached by a public authority - with the aim of improving the quality of case-handling across Europe and of making the network more visible for citizens and businesses. For more information: Your Europe: http://europa.eu/youreurope ; SOLVIT: http://www.solvit.eu

IAEA and Commission to strengthen cooperation in nuclear safety

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the European Commission will today sign a Memorandum of Understanding on Nuclear Safety, establishing a framework for cooperation to help improve nuclear safety in Europe. The Memorandum is signed by EU Energy Commissioner Oettinger and IAEA Director General Amano. Commissioner Oettinger highlighted that such intensified cooperation is important to ensure that nuclear energy is produced safely all over the world. He added that the EU nuclear stress tests set a global benchmark and contribute to the IAEA's Action Plan on Nuclear Safety, which was endorsed unanimously by the IAEA’s Member States in September 2011. "Under the new Memorandum, all this experience will be made available to the international community. I hope that the European safety approach leads to a global initiative", Commissioner Oettinger said. The Memorandum creates an enhanced framework for planning and reviewing various forms of cooperation in nuclear safety, such as expert peer reviews and strengthening emergency preparedness and response capabilities. It will allow both organisations to coordinate and avoid duplication of effort, benefit from each other's work, and further contribute to strengthening nuclear safety worldwide, while enhancing IAEA-EU cooperation in general. The Memorandum of Understanding can be found here .

Commission proposal backed by European Parliament committee

The proposal for an optional Common European Sales Law for consumers and businesses was backed today by a large majority (19 votes for, 3 against and 2 abstentions) in the leading European Parliament committee on this proposal, the Committee for Legal Affairs (JURI). Vice-President Viviane Reding said: "Today’s vote by the Legal Affairs Committee is a real breakthrough: it is an important signal from the European Parliament that the optional Common European Sales Law, as proposed by the European Commission in October 2011, is the right tool for cutting costs for SMEs while giving Europe's consumers more opportunities to shop across borders."

Millennium Development Goals: Technical briefing ahead of UN event

As part of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, on Sept 25 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will host a special event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were agreed in the year 2000 to support the fight against poverty. We now need to take stock on where we are exactly on the achievement of these goals, so we are organising an off the record technical briefing to find out all the details about the MDG process. The European Union has been committed to the MDGs from the outset and has led the way in integrating them into its development policy and practice, to great effect, and this technical briefing (today at 15.30 in Aquarium 5) will be an opportunity to find out more about the results achieved and the remaining challenges.

What Commissioners said

László Andor: "A new model for a sustainable monetary union"

"The strategy of muddling through the Eurozone crisis has run its course", László Andor, European Commissioner of Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion will say at the FEPS "Call for Europe" conference today, adding that  "the reconstruction of the monetary union means strengthening governance but also solidarity, developing regulation but also a fiscal capacity". "Closer coordination of employment and social policy is needed in the monetary union, as well as better detecting and addressing major employment and social challenges within the European Semester procedure", will Andor continue. "It is in the collective interest to ensure that unemployment, inactivity among young people, poverty and inequality do not spiral out of control in any Member State. Worsening social problems in individual Member States need to be tackled before there is excessive waste of human capital for Europe as a whole. This is why we plan to draw up a self-standing scoreboard of key employment and social indicators of relevance to the smooth functioning of the monetary union", will he conclude. Embargo 18:00

Kallas: Making the best and fairest use of Europe’s roads

Speaking at an international road conference in Vilnius, Vice-President Siim Kallas outlined some of the Commission’s plans for Europe’s road sector to tackle major challenges such as climate change, congestion, the maintenance of road infrastructure and how to fund its maintenance. “Europe’s car, truck and road haulage industries are critical to our economy, and not only as a major producer and employer. They provide the means for millions of EU citizens to travel and thousands of businesses to prosper. They are also indispensable for our social and economic fabric,” Kallas said. But with roads still carrying most freight and passengers in Europe, trucks and buses remain one of the more polluting forms of transport, he said. “We should work harder to make road transport as clean and green as possible. With millions of trucks travelling daily on Europe’s saturated roads, we have to improve the situation. That means we must act now.”


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