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EXME 13 / 24.10


24 / 10 / 13

Commission position at the European Council 24-25 October

President Barroso will present the European commission's position at the European council today and tomorrow.  This week's European Council will discuss a range of very important topics: the digital economy, innovation, services, youth unemployment, financing of the economy, regulatory fitness, EMU and economic governance, EMU and the social dimension, the Banking Union, Eastern Partnership and migration.  This evening, President Barroso will make a presentation on the digital agenda which will be made available via espresso.

Read the full speech and watch the video of the speech made at the European parliament plenary debate on 23 October 2013.

EU and China to hold high-level economic and trade talks

The European Commission and the Chinese Government will today meet for the 4th High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue (HED) to discuss the economic and trade relations between the European Union and China. It is the first such meeting since the change in the Chinese leadership and is a key opportunity to address the economic challenges the EU and China face in an increasingly interconnected world economy. Topics on the agenda are macro-economic challenges, future sources of growth, industrial policy questions as well as trade and investment issues, and customs cooperation. The Dialogue will be co-chaired by Vice-President Rehn and Commissioner De Gucht as well as Chinese Vice-Premier Ma Kai. Commissioner Šemeta and a further seven Chinese Ministers and Vice-Ministers will participate in the dialogue. The HED will also prepare the forthcoming EU-China Summit, where both sides expect to be able to launch the negotiations for an investment agreement. A photo opportunity will take place at 15:00 hrs at the VIP Corner, and Vice-President Rehn, Commissioner De Gucht and Chinese Vice-Premier Ma Kai will hold a press point at 19:15 hrs (VIP Corner).

Other news

President Barroso to meet social partners ahead of European Council

President Barroso will today [Thursday] meet trades unions and employers' organisations (the social partners) for talks on how to strengthen the social dimension of the EU. At the Tripartite Social Summit, which takes place twice a year, President Barroso will also meet European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė before they attend a summit of all 28 EU leaders the same day. Talks will focus on the Commission's recent Communication on strengthening the social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union [ IP/13/893 ]. The Communication proposed to strengthen the EU's economic governance system by creating a scoreboard of employment and social indicators and better involving the social partners at the EU and national levels.

A press conference will take place at 12:30 in the Council.

Read the press release for more information (available at the time of the press conference). President Barroso's press statement will be available in the afternoon.

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of G+J/RBA and National Geographic Buchgesellschaft by Piper

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over G+J/RBA and of sole control over National Geographic Buchgesellschaft, both of Germany, by Piper, belonging to the Bonnier Group of Sweden,. G+J/RBA publishes the German edition of the National Geographic magazines and National Geographic Buchgesellschaft is active in the publishes of books under the National Geographic brand, in particular travel guides, calendars and illustrated books, in Germany. Piper is active in book publishing in Germany and Austria. The Bonnier Group is active in the publishing of books, newspapers and periodicals mainly in the European Economic Area (EEA) . The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns given the moderate combined market position of Piper and National Geographic Buchgesellschaft in the markets for the acquisition of publishing rights for German-language books and for the sale of German-language books in Germany and Austria, where in they are both active, and given that neither Piper nor Bonnier is active in the publishing of German-language magazines. 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.6941 .

The European Commission selects the best climate solutions in Europe

Three low carbon projects from Belgium , Poland and Portugal are the finalists selected among the best European projects in the contest World you like Challenge, which looks for creative low-carbon innovations across the EU. The winner of the challenge will be announced at the Sustania Award Ceremony in Copenhagen on 7th November and will get a chance to make a video and receive media support to promote the project. The award will be presented by the Award Committee of the campaign partner Sustania which consists of EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard, former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland and the Chair of the UN's climate panel Dr. Rajendra Pachauri.

October 2013: Flash Consumer Confidence Indicator

In October 2013, the DG ECFIN flash estimate of the consumer confidence indicator improved slightly in the euro area (-14.5 after -14.9 in September 2013) and remained unchanged in the EU (at 11.7).

Statement on the 2013 Aid Transparency Index

Today the independent watchdog organisation Publish What You Fund published a report on Aid Transparency where several departments of the European Commission are examined. The report concludes that the European Commission is managing taxpayers' money in foreign policy in a transparent manner. Indeed, transparency has always been very high on the EU's agenda and even more in times of economic downturn. We are pleased to note that many European Commission departments have made commendable improvements this year, by publishing more information in accessible and comparable formats, including through the International Aid Transparency Initiative.

European Commission welcomes EP vote on new Fund for Fisheries and Maritime policies

European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, has welcomed the outcome of the vote in the European Parliament on the 2014-2020 European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF): "I am pleased with the overall outcome of the vote. In particular, I welcome the decision to reject spending EU taxpayers' money on building new fishing vessels and to cap the amount of funds Member States can spend on fishing fleets. This will allow the EMFF to focus on funding projects which promote a sustainable future for the fishing industry and coastal communities. I also welcome that Parliament decided that all stakeholders should be able to benefit from support contributing to their participation in Advisory Councils". This vote is a crucial step to securing political agreement by the end of the year which would allow the fund to be in place as of January 2014.

Animal Welfare: Commission organises landmark conference on the welfare of dogs and cats in the EU

A web streamed conference dedicated to the welfare of dogs and cats in the EU: building a Europe that cares for companion animals will take place in Brussels on 28 October 2013. In conjunction with the Lithuanian Presidency, this conference will bring together stakeholders, government authorities, NGOs and those with a professional or personal interest - with an opportunity to discuss for the first time at pan-European level issues of dog and cat welfare. Amongst the distinguished keynote speakers, Tonio Borg, European Commissioner for Health, and Prince Laurent of Belgium, a keen animal welfare supporter, will deliver opening addresses. It is estimated that there are over 100 million owned dogs and cats in the EU. The rise in their lucrative trade has however produced problems such as: genetic selection, puppy farming, mutilation and inhumane disposal having far reaching consequences. Today, there is no harmonised EU legislation to address these welfare concerns. The conference will also provide the platform to launch a study into the welfare of dogs and cats involved in commercial practices. Based on the results of the study and this conference's proceedings, the Commission will consider what further action is necessary in order to improve welfare conditions of companion animals.

Latest EU Agricultural Brief: Farms getting fewer, but growing in size and economic terms

The average farm size in the EU has increased by 3.8% per year in recent years, and the standard economic output has increased by 5.2% per year, according to the latest EU Agricultural Economics Brief published today by the European Commission.  Based on the most recent available statistics (2010), the Brief confirms that there is a higher rate of change in the Member States that joined the EU in 2004 & 2007, with a rise in economic output of more than 10% in a handful of Member States – albeit from a much lower base. In terms of age structure, the report shows that around 30% of farm managers are over 65 and confirms that smaller farms tend to be held by older farmers. Other figures show that the average size of organic farms is greater than the average for all farms taken together. In 2010, there were 12 million farms in the EU-27, stretching over 172 million hectares of land and employing 25 million people.

What Commissioners said

Vice-President Kallas: Building a competitive future for Europe’s ports

Ports are the trade gateways to Europe’s single market. But they cannot be allowed to become bottlenecks because of poor or congested connections to their surrounding areas, or because of under-performing services.

They must be seen in a pan-European, not a national context, Vice-President Siim Kallas – the EU transport commissioner – told an audience at the Netherlands’ Permanent Representation to the EU, in the presence of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. “Not all ports offer the same high-level service as Rotterdam – or Antwerp or Hamburg. Efficiency and performance vary a lot around Europe. There is a real EU divide,” Kallas told the meeting, organised by the Port of Rotterdam, Europe's largest port. “If under-performing ports became more efficient, the entire sector would benefit.” The Commission’s proposed ports policy review was not about disrupting longstanding business models if they were working well, or interfering with ports’ commercial freedom, he said. “But it is about respecting basic principles of the internal market, compatible with all forms of port organisation. It is also about having clearer definitions, greater transparency and fewer restrictions, to remove barriers for new entrants wanting to tender fairly and openly for port services,” Kallas said.

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