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Daily News of 2014-03-25

European Commission - MEX/14/0325   25/03/2014

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EXME 14 / 25.03


25 / 03 / 14

G7 statement, European Commission's high-level visit to Ukraine

Following their meeting in the Hague yesterday, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission issued a declaration to reaffirm their support for Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. G7 leaders condemned the illegal referendum held in Crimea in violation of Ukraine’s constitution as well as Russia’s illegal attempt to annex Crimea in contravention of international law and specific international obligations, and reaffirmed that Russia’s actions will have significant consequences. They decided to suspend their participation in the G8 until Russia changes course and the environment comes back to where the G8 is able to have a meaningful discussion, and decided to meet again in G7 format in June 2014, in Brussels.

Watch President Barroso's video statement .

As announced by President Barroso after last week's signature of the political provisions of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, Commissioner Füle visits Ukraine today Tuesday and Wednesday to work with the Ukrainian authorities on a number of issues regarding its implementation. Commissioner Füle will lead the European Commission's delegation which includes Commissioner for Financial Programming and Budget Janusz Lewandowski and high-level representatives of various Directorates-General.

"We will be talking about a number of reforms that are necessary both in the area of democratic institutions and the economy. We will start work on a roadmap for these reforms in different fields," Commissioner Füle said. He stressed that it would also be important to continue the dialogue with Verkhovna Rada and civil society both of whom play a significant role in advancing reforms. The possibility to accelerate the process of visa liberalisation and issues related to decentralisation and support of the regions should also be among the topics for discussion between the Ukrainian authorities and the delegation from the European Commission.

Pushing for consumer safety. EU Rapid Information system turns 10!

For 10 years the EU Rapid Information system (RAPEX) has been guarding European consumers against un-safe non-food products. In 2013 a total of 2,364 measures were taken by EU Member States. This figure indicates a 3.8% rise in alerts compared to 2012 and continues the increasing trend which has been apparent since the establishment of RAPEX in 2003. In 2013, clothing, textiles and fashion items and toys (both 25%), were the two main product categories for which corrective measures had to be taken. Among the most frequently notified risks caused by these products were chemical risks, risk of strangulation, risk of injury and choking. China is the number one country of origin in the alert system. Last year, 64% of the total number of notifications on dangerous products related to products coming from China. See also MEMO/14/214

Organics: Commission proposal for more and better

The European Commission has published new proposals for a new Regulation on organic production and the labelling of organic products. Consumer and producer concerns are at the heart of this new proposal, which seeks to address shortcomings of the current system. The EU organic market has quadrupled in size over the last 10 years and rules need to be updated and adjusted so that the sector can further develop and respond to future challenges.  See also  MEMO/14/215

Other news

EU-US Summit

The next EU-US Summit will take place tomorrow 26 March in Brussels. The EU will be represented by Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and by José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, and the United States will be represented by President Barack Obama. Summit discussions will cover the economy, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, global challenges and foreign policy cooperation, and a Joint Statement will be issued following the meeting. Ahead of the Summit, President Barroso said: "We have an excellent occasion to take stock of our relations, map the way ahead and highlight the strengths of the transatlantic relationship. The Summit will highlight the significant contributions that the EU-US strategic partnership makes to transatlantic and global peace and prosperity, and will be an opportunity to support and promote our negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership."

Environment in the EU28: In 2012, 42% of treated municipal waste was recycled or composted

In the EU28, 492 kg of municipal waste was generated per person in 2012, while 480 kg of municipal waste was treated per person. This municipal waste was treated in different ways: 34% was landfilled, 24% incinerated, 27% recycled and 15% composted. For the EU there has been a significant increase in the share of municipal waste recycled or composted, from 18% in 1995 to 42% in 2012.

Rivas Vaciamadrid and Ljubljana win sustainable urban mobility awards

Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas and Commissioner Janez Potočnik announced yesterday in Brussels the winners of the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) Award for 2013: Rivas Vaciamadrid, Spain, and of the European Mobility Week (EMW) Award: Ljubljana, Slovenia. The annual Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan Award is presented to local authorities which are excellent examples of how to address urban mobility challenges through developing and implementing sustainable urban mobility plans. The European Mobility Week award rewards the local authority which most actively promotes sustainable travel and introduces new measures to encourage a shift towards sustainable urban transport.

New studies reveal consumers face geographic lottery for broadband

Europe’s 400 million Internet users face a geographic lottery regarding the price, speed, and range of choice of broadband, according to EU data released today. Four studies published today show there is virtually no pattern or coherence in broadband markets across the EU. Consumers are also baffled by the varying information provided by operators, limiting their ability to make the choice that best suits them. Prices for the most common broadband connections can be up to four times higher in some Member States, even after a purchasing power is taken into account; 66% of people do not know what Internet speed they have signed up for; and on average, consumers only get 75% of the broadband speed stated in their contract. The European Parliament next week will vote on the Commission’s plans for a Connected Continent which address these problems by offering consumers more transparency, more rights and better services.European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes said: “While underlying networks are improving, the gap between advertised and actual speeds is as wide as in 2012. This confirms the need to strengthen and harmonise consumer rights as proposed in our Connected Continent package. And it is time for companies to work together to find better ways to advertise and explain their products. That’s the reaction to these findings that I am hoping for.”

Pensions: conference to review achievements and perspectives two years after White Paper

Two years after the White Paper "An Agenda for Adequate, Safe and Sustainable Pensions" , the Commission publishes a MEMO on the progress achieved in this area. A conference on the future of pensions in Europe will take place in Brussels on 26 March to review achievements and perspectives with EU and national decision-makers, renowned academic experts and senior stakeholder representatives. In the context of rapid ageing of European societies and increasing pressure of pensions on national budgets, the February 2012 White Paper put forward policy initiatives to support Member States' reforms of their pension systems, aiming to help women and men to work longer and save more for their retirement (see IP/12/140 and MEMO/12/108).

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