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EXME 14 / 10.06
10 / 06 / 14
The European Commission has today highlighted the importance of research and innovation (R&I) investments and reforms for economic recovery in the European Union, and made proposals to help EU Member States maximise the impact of their budgets at a time when many countries still face spending constraints. Increasing R&I investment is a proven driver of growth, while improving the efficiency and quality of public R&I spending is also critical if Europe is to maintain or achieve a leading position in many fields of knowledge and key technologies. The Commission has pledged support to Member States in pursuing R&I reforms best suited to their needs, including by providing policy support, world-class data and examples of best practice. See also MEMO/14/405 .
For the tenth time, on invitation by President Barroso, a High-level meeting with religious leaders and the European Institutions is taking place in the Commission’s headquarters in Brussels. Under the motto “The future of the European Union”, 19 senior representatives from Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh and Mormon religions, churches and communities are meeting with Commission President Barroso, European Council President Van Rompuy and EP Vice-President Surján. The participants observed a minute of silence in respect of the victims of the murderous attack in the Jewish museum in Brussels on 24 May and adopted a joint declaration regarding Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese Christian sentenced to death for apostasy. A press release with links to all relevant background material and a full list of participants are available online. President Barroso's remarks from the press conference at 12.00 will be available here .
Commissioner Maria Damanaki will today at 12:30, announce two further warnings to third countries that they risk being identified as countries the EU considers non-cooperative in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Today's decision highlights that these countries are not doing enough to fight illegal fishing. It identifies concrete shortcomings, such as lack of system of sanctions to deter IUU activities or lack of actions to address deficiencies in monitoring, controlling and surveillance of fisheries. The decision does not, at this stage, entail any measures affecting trade. Both countries are being given a 'yellow card' warning and a reasonable time to respond and take measures to rectify the situation. The Commission has also proposed an action plan for each country to address the shortcomings. Should the situation not improve within six months, the EU could take further steps, which could entail trade sanctions on fisheries imports, as was done recently with Guinea, Belize and Cambodia ( IP/14/304). See also IP/14/653 .
President Barroso to visit Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan
On 11-12 June in Moldova, President Barroso will meet Prime Minister Leancă, President Timofti, the Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova and the Moldova-EU International Investors' Conference. On 12-13 June, President Barroso will travel to Georgia. This is his first official visit to Georgia, where he will meet Prime Minister Garibashvili and President Margvelashvili, and hold the opening speech at the Investment Conference. More information for both Investors’ Conferences is available online . The visits to Moldova and Georgia take place ahead of the signature of the respective Association Agreements which is scheduled for 27 June.
On 14 June, President Barroso will continue his official visits to Azerbaijan to meet the country’s President Aliyev and hold a speech at the ADA University (Diplomatic Academy) on "EU-Azerbaijan – new opportunities and challenges".
Europe's brown bear, wolf, wolverine, lynx – at least one of these species can now be found in 21 EU Member States. After a lengthy period of decline their numbers are growing once more, but coexistence with man can be problematic. In an effort to solve the social and economic problems that sometimes result from this new expansion, the European Commission today launched a platform where farmers, conservationists, hunters, landowners and scientists can exchange ideas and best practices on sharing the same land with large carnivores . Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "We need to treat our natural neighbours with respect – but we also need to heed the concerns of those whose lives are genuinely affected by their close proximity.” The Platform will hold its first working session this afternoon following the official launch and ceremonial signature of the agreement this morning. It will adopt terms of reference and a work plan.
EU Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, will visit Madagascar on June 11-13 to confirm the resumption of development cooperation with the country and launch the discussions on the programming of EU funding for the period 2014-2020. The visit will contribute to mark the return to normality in the EU-Madagascar relations, following the end of the political crisis in the country. Commissioner Piebalgs said: "The European Union stands side by side with Madagascar on its new path towards stability, good governance and reform. Now it will be important to kick-start the programming of EU cooperation for the coming years and make sure we focus on those areas which can have the greatest positive impact in the country's development.” During the crisis period, official development aid was suspended by almost all donors, including the EU, but support to the vulnerable population was provided through local and international NGOs, international organisations.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Ashland's AWT unit by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Ashland Water Technologies ("AWT") of the US by the Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Group (“CD&R”), a private equity investment group based in the US. AWT is a commercial unit of Ashland Inc. supplying specialty chemicals and services to a broad range of industries, including pulp, paper, mining, food and beverage, power generation and chemical processing. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise any competition concerns, in particular because there are no horizontal overlaps between the parties' activities. The transaction was assessed under the normal merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7207 .
Before they break up for the summer, schools in Europe are being reminded that the second ever EU Code Week will take place from 11-17 October 2014, giving young people a taster in computer programming. In the US, millions of children are getting involved in the Hour of Code, and we want to match that success in Europe. This is a grassroots initiative by young advisers to EC Vice President Neelie Kroes, and has attracted the support of coding and education movements - big and small - who will offer coding taster sessions, develop learning modules and help train teachers. Kids, coders, teachers and parents are all encouraged to get involved! Go to http://codeweek.eu/ to find out more.
Come on Europe!
The European Commissioner responsible for sport, Androulla Vassiliou, has sent a good luck message to European teams taking part in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The 20th World Cup tournament kicks off at Sao Paulo on Thursday, 12 June, with the hosts, Brazil, facing Croatia in Group A. World champions Spain start the defence of their title against the Netherlands on Friday, 13 June, in Salvador. The final will take place on 13 July 2014 at Rio De Janeiro's Maracanã stadium. "This is the moment that all the players and millions of football fans across the planet have been waiting for. I am sure that we are in for a thrilling tournament and I hope that the World Cup trophy will be coming home to Europe again. I wish all the European teams the best of luck and that the fans travelling to Brazil also have a great and safe tournament," said Commissioner Vassiliou. In total 32 teams, divided into eight groups, have qualified for the finals; 13 come from the UEFA region, including 10 EU Member States: Croatia (Group A), Spain, The Netherlands (Group B), Greece (Group C), England, Italy (Group D), France (Group E), Germany, Portugal (Group G) and Belgium (Group H). The other UEFA region qualifiers are Switzerland (Group E), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Group F) and Russia (Group H).
Which European players would be in your World Cup fantasy team? Let us know via the European Commission Facebook and Google Plus pages or tweet with the hashtag # EUDreamTeam . We will present the top European XI based on your votes at the end of the group stage.
The European Commission has informed the UK based broker ICAP of its preliminary view that it may have breached EU antitrust rules by facilitating several cartel infringements in the market for interest rate derivatives denominated in the yen currency. The sending of a statement of objections does not prejudge the final outcome of the investigation. Interest rate derivatives (e.g. forward rate agreements, swaps, futures, options) are financial products which are used by banks or companies for managing the risk of interest rate fluctuations. These products are traded worldwide and play a key role in the global economy (see MEMO/13/1090). They derive their value from the level of a benchmark interest rate, such as the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) or the Tokyo Interbank Offered Rate (TIBOR) for the yen.
What Commissioners said
Vice President Olli Rehn delivered a speech on Europe's move '"from fire-fighting to structural change" at the opening session of the 2014 Brussels Economic Forum this morning. He set out the progress made in the past four years in repairing public finances, turning around current account deficits, strengthening EMU and thus creating the conditions for a sustainable recovery. He also addressed the major challenges still faced: high unemployment, high debt, a fragmented financial system and weak investment. He concluded by stressing the need to stay the reform course to boost innovation, entrepreneurship, the digital single market and green growth.
Speaking at the International Labour Conference in Geneva, László Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, recalled the EU's action to promote decent work for all workers, and welcomed the 2014 World of Work report. Andor commented: "The World of Work report makes the point that the pursuit of competitiveness must go hand in hand with promoting decent work, and we agree with that approach. Last week, in the same spirit, I presented a new Strategic Framework for Health and Safety at Work for the European Union. This new strategy aims to promote safe and healthy working conditions for all workers, ensure a level playing-field and boost productivity across the EU. It highlights the importance of closer international cooperation on health and safety at work — for instance in global supply chains." (see IP/14/641 , MEMO/14/400).