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MEx 14 / 19.06


19 / 06 / 14

News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne

EU, US and China agree to continue trilateral cooperation on consumer product safety

EU Consumer Policy Commissioner Neven Mimica, Elliot F. Kaye, Executive Director and Chairman-Designate of the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, and Sun Dawei, Vice-Minister General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) of the People’s Republic of China participated today in the biannual trilateral Summit on Consumer product safety. The Summit agenda included discussions on the different elements within the trilateral cooperation on consumer product safety. The three parties agreed to take stock of previous achievements and to build on them to deepen the trilateral cooperation in the area of consumer product safety. The specific actions to be taken include continued exchange of information on a regular basis, cooperation to implement the concept of seamless surveillance, ongoing education for industry stakeholders, further discussions on relevant standards for consumer products of shared concern, continued efforts to reinforce consumer product traceability and engagement with other relevant product safety organisations to foster cooperation in the area. The meeting took part within the International Product Safety Week, running in Brussels between 16 and 20 June.

More information: websites of the trilateral cooperation and International Product Safety Week

Other news

Rail transport: Commission adopts bi-annual Rail Market Monitoring Scheme (RMMS) Report

The report published today shows that passenger railways have experienced significant growth rates since the mid-nineties in countries like the UK (+70%), Sweden (+42%) or France (+37%). While it is undeniable that rail is growing, there is room for improvement in terms of efficiency and service quality in several Member States. The report also highlights that open competition and increased public tendering result in better services for passengers.

Sport as a growth engine for EU economy

Sport is an important economic sector in the EU in its own right, with a share in the national economies which is comparable to agriculture, forestry and fisheries combined. Moreover, its share is expected to rise in the future. Overall the sports sector accounts for 2% of the EU global GDP, while the total employment generated by sports activities is 7.3 million-equivalent to 3.5% of the total EU employment. Despite these impressive figures, the economic impact of the sport-related industries is often underestimated. To underpin the role of sport-related industry as an economic driver, a High Level Meeting of stakeholders on the impact of sport and sport-related industries took place in Brussels. The meeting was aimed at taking stock of the progress made since the first meeting of the European Sport Industries on 21 January 2014. Furthermore, the meeting offered the opportunity to present an industry-led Action Plan on the economic impact of sport and sport-related industries. The meeting highlighted the role of sport as a powerful lever for innovation, industrial competitiveness and employment.

Eurostat - Consumer price levels

In 2013, price levels for consumer goods and services differed widely across Member States. Denmark (140% of the EU28 average) had the highest price level, followed by Sweden (130%), Luxembourg and Finland (both 123%). Price levels of 10% to 20% above the EU28 average were found in Ireland (118%), the United Kingdom (114%) and the Netherlands (110%), while Belgium and France (both 109%), Austria (107%), Italy (103%) and Germany (102%) had levels less than 10% above the average. Spain (95%) was just below the EU28 average, while Greece (89%), Cyprus and Portugal (both 86%), Slovenia (83%), Estonia and Malta (both 80%) were between 10% and 20% below. Price levels at around 30% to 35% below the average were observed in the Czech Republic, Latvia and Slovakia (all 71%), Croatia (68%) and Lithuania (65%), and levels at around 40% below in Hungary (60%), Poland and Romania (both 57%). The lowest price level was found in Bulgaria (48%).

Eurostat Asylum decisions in the EU28

EU Member States granted protection to 135 700 asylum seekers in 2013 - Syrians main beneficiaries. The EU28 Member States granted protection to 135 700 asylum seekers in 2013, compared with 116 200 in 2012. Over the last five years, more than 570 000 asylum seekers were granted protection status1 in the EU.

Patient safety: progress made, more needed

"When our citizens go to a hospital, they expect safe healthcare. The good news is that most Member States now have patient safety programmes in place. The bad news is that, despite such progress, there are still adverse events in healthcare settings and patient safety is seldom part of healthcare workers training. We therefore need to pursue efforts to ensure greater safety for our citizens in healthcare settings", said Tonio Borg, European Commissioner for Health. A patient safety package published today by the European Commission highlights how the Commission and EU countries are addressing the challenge of patient safety, progress made since 2012 and barriers to overcome to improve patient safety as foreseen in a Council Recommendation of 2009. While significant progress was made in terms of shaping national programmes for patient safety and putting in place systems for patients to report adverse effects, there is a still a long way to go in terms of implementing provisions on patient empowerment and in particular on education and training of healthcare workers. The documents published today will feed into the reflection process currently underway on future EU-level action on patient safety and quality of care.

Commissioner Piebalgs signs in Kenya 16 National Indicative Programmes with ACP countries

EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, and Ministers from 16 ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) countries will co-sign today and tomorrow the first National Indicative Programmes under the 11th European Development Fund for the period 2014-2020 in Nairobi (Kenya). Commissioner Piebalgs said: "This signing marks the official go-ahead for the future of EU aid in these countries. These documents lay down the priorities for our joint work for the next seven years and will allow us to move ahead with the concrete preparations of our projects and programmes. For the European Union it is essential that our programmes are drawn up in close cooperation with our partner countries, based on governments’ own policies and strategies and reflecting their stated needs." Read the rest of the statement here . The signing ceremony will take place in the margins of the meeting of the Joint Council of Ministers of the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and the EU, in Nairobi (Kenya).

Mergers: Commission approves joint venture between Fresenius and Sistema

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a joint venture between Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA of Germany and Sistema JSFC of the Russian Federation. The joint venture will manufacture and distribute pharmaceutical products, in particular hepatitis B vaccines and a range of biotech medications, as well as infusion and blood substitution solutions, parenteral and enteral nutrition and generic oncological treatments in the Russian Federation and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Fresenius is a global healthcare group that develops and sells medicines and technologies for infusion, transfusion and clinical nutrition, with the main focus on dialysis treatments, including hospital care and medical care of patients at home. Sistema is a publically listed investment group whose portfolio comprises stakes in predominantly Russian businesses in various sectors, including telecommunications, oil, electric power, consumer goods, high tech, and biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would not raise competition concerns, since the joint venture's activities are located entirely outside 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.7247 .

EU Sustainable Energy Week 2014: Focus on future of energy efficiency policies

This year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will take place from 23 to 27 June 2014. EUSEW promotes the EU's energy and climate goals and serves as platform for the exchange of information and best practices amongst participating sustainable energy experts. EU Energy Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger will open the high-level conference "Energy Efficiency Policy – A Policy for Security of Supply, Competitiveness and Sustainability" on Tuesday 24 June 2014 at 15:00 CET in the Commission's Charlemagne building in Brussels. The session on energy efficiency will focus on options for future energy efficiency policies in light of the 2030 energy and climate Communication, the review of the EU's Energy Efficiency Directive and the recent developments in the discussion on energy security.

The conference is open to for media representatives. Please register to the EUSEW media relations desk . For more information and the conference program see MEMO/14/434 and the EUSEW website .

Serbia first non-EU country to sign Creative Europe agreement

Serbia is the first non-European Union country to sign up and participate in the new Creative Europe programme. Minister for Culture and Information Ivan Tasovac will sign an agreement in Brussels today (14:00) with European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou for the country to join the scheme, which provides grants for transnational cooperation projects involving organisations in the cultural and creative sectors. The European Commission envisages similar agreements in the near future with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Turkey, Georgia and Moldova, while preparatory talks with several other countries are ongoing.

Commission urges Member States to improve quality and access to early childhood education and care

Only eight European countries - Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Malta, Slovenia, Finland, Sweden and Norway - guarantee a legal right to Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) soon after a child's birth, normally after the end of paid maternity or parental leave. In all other countries, the gap between the end of maternity / parental leave and legal entitlement to ECEC is more than two years. This is one of the main findings of a new report published by the European Commission.

The European Commission publishes rules for "mountain product" label and clarifies other elements of EU quality labels

The European Commission has published a decision today defining new rules for using the optional quality term "mountain product" for food products coming from mountain areas. This is the first optional quality term to be introduced, as provided under the 2012 "Quality Regulation" aimed at highlighting to consumers products which have an important added value, but are not covered under other EU quality labels. The Commission has also adopted two other legal acts today which clarify and simplify applications for protecting names as designations of origin (PDO) or geographical indications (PGI) for foodstuffs. "I am happy to confirm that the detailed rules for using the term "mountain product" on food labels are now in place. I hope this will facilitate the uptake of this new tool. I strongly believe it has the potential to provide an extra boost to farmers in mountain areas – for example in the dairy sector, but not only – and it will also help inform consumers about the added value of such products. With the other decisions today the rules for registration and effective protection of geographical indications for foodstuffs are now complete", said Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Cioloş.

Click here for more information.

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