Daily News of 2013-11-08
European Commission - MEX/13/1108 08/11/2013
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EXME 13 / 08.11
08 / 11 / 13
The 7th EU-Republic of Korea Summit takes place in Brussels today. President José Manuel Barroso represents the EU together with the President of the European Council. South Korea will be represented by President Park Geun-Hye.
Ahead of the meeting, President José Manuel Barroso said: "I am looking forward to welcome President Park in Brussels in such a symbolic year when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of our bilateral relations. During this summit, we will move forward our successful cooperation in the political area as well as in the economic one where our trade agreement features as an important landmark. Korea's goal of "creative economy" and the EU's Strategy of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth are complementary and we have much to gain from cooperating with each other in areas such as research, higher education and industry. So I have very high expectations and I am confident that this Summit will set the scene and the framework for another 50 years of fruitful relations."
The Summit will start with a short tête-à-tête followed by a plenary session and press conference (11.50-12.20, at Justus Lipsius’s press room) before the Summit lunch. Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn and the Republic of Korea’s Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning Choi will sign an arrangement for the exchange of researchers in front of the press. The President's press statement will be available after delivery. Read the press release for more information.
Commissioner Piebalgs to visit Philippines and Myanmar
EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs will visit the Philippines (10-12 November) to discuss bilateral development co-operation between the two parties for the period 2014-2020. In that country, the Commissioner will hold high-level meetings with several representatives of the Government, as well as with the President of the Asian Development Bank to discuss how to enhance collaboration between the EU and the Bank in Asia, Central Asia and the Pacific. He will as well visit an EU funded project which aims at improving the laboratory facilities to control the quality of fishery exports. Commissioner Piebalgs will then travel to Myanmar (13-15 November), to participate in the EU-Myanmar Task Force which has the following three objectives: to support and foster Myanmar’s economic and democratic transition process; to reinforce EU-Myanmar development co-operation; to promote growth and business opportunities on both sides. The Commissioner will also participate in the Development Forum, to highlight EU's contribution to Myanmar's reforms towards inclusive and sustainable growth and where further financial assistance to the country during the next few years will be discussed. Press material with more details on these visits will be available next week.
Yesterday evening, Commissioner Hedegaard revealed the winner of the low-carbon World you like challenge. The title of the best climate solution in Europe was awarded to the Portuguese "Sown Biodiverse Pastures" project which has come up with climate friendly ways of improving land quality, and at the same time, raise its productivity and create jobs in many parts of Portugal. The winner was selected by a distinguished jury of climate experts who presented the honour at the ceremony in Copenhagen. A total of 269 projects participated in the challenge which was organised as part of a campaign to raise climate awareness. All these projects have revealed the wealth of existing innovative climate solutions in Europe, and their key role in building a world we like, with a climate we like.
The fourth Post-Programme Surveillance mission to Latvia was carried out by the European Commission from 4 to 7 November, together with the ECB. The assessment of post-programme developments is overall positive. For instance, the tax policy package underpinning the 2014 budget allows for a substantial reduction of taxation for low income earners, in conformity to the respective Council recommendation addressed to Latvia. The further substantial progress made and the remaining challenges for Latvia's economy and society ahead of the country's adoption of the euro are outlined in this statement. The European Commission will continue its close surveillance of reform implementation in Latvia through the European Semester framework and the Post Programme process (which will is due to end in 2015).
Staff teams from the European Commission, European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund visited Nicosia 29 October – 7 November for the 2nd quarterly review of Cyprus’s economic programme. They concluded that the programme remains on track. The programme’s objectives are to restore financial sector stability, strengthen public finance sustainability, and adopt structural reforms to support long-run growth, while protecting the welfare of the population. The conclusion of this review is expected to be considered by the Eurogroup, the ESM Board of Directors and the Executive Board of the IMF in December. Its approval would pave the way for the disbursement of €100 million by the ESM, and about €86 million by the IMF.
Every minute the world generates 1.7 million billion bytes of data, equivalent to 360,000 standard DVDs. More digitised data was created in the last two years than in the rest of human history. This trend and the mountains of data it produces is what we call "Big data". The big data sector is growing at a rate of 40% a year. Handling big data requires increased technological capacity, new tools and new skills. Even in traditional sectors like farming, the use of big data can have a huge impact. The tractor of the future will be enhanced with sensors that collect data from the machine, the soil and the crops it processes. The data will be analysed and combined with other data about weather and crop features.
Mergers: Commission clears two joint ventures between Telenor and Schibsted in the online advertising sector
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a joint venture that will provide online classified advertising services under the name of SnT, by Telenor ASA and Schibsted, all of Norway. At the same time, Telenor acquires joint control of 701 Search Pte Ltd of Singapore, a pre-existing joint venture between Schibsted and Singapore Press Holdings Ltd of Singapore. Telenor provides telecommunications and related services in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Hungary and internationally. Schibsted is an international media group. Singapore Press Holdings Limited is a South Asian media organisation. SnT will be active in Asia and South America. 701 Search Pte Ltd provides online classified advertising services in Asia. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would not raise competition concerns, in particular because the acquired companies will have no activity in the European Economic Area (EEA). 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.7071 .
Improving the competitiveness of the EU's regions through EU investments and targeted planning is underlined today by Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy. Speaking at the conference "Regions as motors of new growth through smart specialisation", in Brussels, Commissioner Hahn urges regions to identify their key assets and focus resources on them to enhance their competitive advantage. The high-level event, organised by the Commission's Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy and the Region of Flanders, takes stock of how these so called "smart specialisation" strategies are progressing across Europe's countries and regions. These are a core element in the new EU Cohesion Policy as well as a pre-condition for the use of investments under the European Regional Development Fund. Speaking ahead of the meeting Commissioner Hahn said: "European regions urgently need to move upwards on the innovation ladder. Identifying, building on and exploiting regional strengths are necessary to lead to smarter and more targeted investments, with more added value and greater impact. This will allow us to do more with less, and to activate the innovation potential of every region in Europe."
Protected quality farm products: Commission approves six new applications
The European Commission has approved the addition of six new farm products to the register of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications. These are, for Lithuania: " Lietuviškas varškės sūris " (Protected Geographical Indication, "PGI"), a traditional unripened curd cheese with a triangular prism shape ; for Spain " Pan de Alfacar " (PGI) a bread made in the north-east corner of the fertile plain of Granada ; " Queso Los Beyos " (PGI), a traditional cheese made in the area around the Los Beyos gorge ; for Italy " Melone Mantovano " (PGI), a melon grown in several municipalities in Mantua, Cremona, Modena, Bologna and Ferrara provinces; for Germany " Stromberger Pflaume " (PDO) a specific sort of plum called damson grown in the district of Stromberg in the Westphalian Lowlands and ; for Portugal " Carne de Bravo do Ribatejo " (PDO), beef meat from the Brava de Lide breed raised in specific municipalities in Ribatejo area in the centre of Portugal. The denominations will be added to the list of close to 1,200 products already protected. More information: webpages on quality products and DOOR database of protected products.
Commissioner Cioloş travels to Asia
EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloş will visit Japan (Nov 10-12) and South Korea (Nov 12-14) next week, participating in a range of events to publicise and promote EU quality agriculture products. Part of his visit will be alongside a delegation of European business leaders, to help establish trade contacts and foster exports. The value of EU agri-food exports to Japan (€5.2 billion) and Korea (€1.8 billion) has grown respectively by +26% and + 63% in the past 5 years, especially for quality products. Speaking ahead of the trip, Cioloş said: "These are important markets with a strong appreciation of quality food products and therefore with significant potential for growth. I remain optimistic that agri-food sector exports have a major role to play in generating EU growth and aiding economic recovery and so I'm delighted to have the chance to promote our culture, traditions and the wonderful tastes of European food in Asia."Commissioner Cioloş will also have a series of bilateral political meetings in Tokyo and Seoul, and will visit rural areas in both countries with the respective Ministers of agriculture. Following these visits, Commissioner Cioloş will team up with High Representative Catherine Ashton and Commissioners Piebalgs and Tajani at the EU-Myanmar Taskforce on November 15 in Nay Pyi Taw.
Ahead of the Heads of State and Government Conference on Youth taking place in Paris on 12 November, the Commission has summarised the series of measures taken to fight youth unemployment at EU level.
Commissioners' weekly activities
Upcoming Commission activities for the weeks ahead