EXME08 / 13.10
News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication
13 / 10 / 08
The current adverse global economic and financial environment is impacting on financial markets in Hungary. The Council and the Commission are monitoring the situation closely, and support Hungary’ efforts in tackling current challenges. In this respect, the ECOFIN welcomes the readiness of the IMF to consider providing technical and financial assistance as needed to Hungary, thereby supporting confidence and stability, and buttressing the adjustment policies implemented by the Hungarian authorities.
Employment ministers from 45 countries in Europe and Asia will tomorrow meet to discuss the social dimension of globalisation and global employment issues. The second Asia-Europe (ASEM) Labour and Employment Ministers Meeting (14-15 October 2008 in Bali, Indonesia) will contribute to broader cooperation between the two regions on improving living and working conditions. European Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Vladimír Špidla will participate in the meeting.
- Danuta Hübner, en visite régionale en Picardie (France), félicite la région pour sa "stratégie régionale d'innovation"
La Commissaire Danuta Hübner, responsable de la politique régionale, visite aujourd'hui la région Picardie en France, pour dresser un bilan des résultats obtenus par la région, grâce au soutien de la politique régionale européenne. La Commissaire s’entretiendra avec le Préfet, M. Henri-Michel Comet, et le Président de Région, M. Claude Gewerc, au sujet de la nouvelle stratégie régionale d'innovation ainsi que l'actuel programme de cohésion pour la période 2007-2013.
Aujourd'hui à l’occasion de la septième session du Conseil d’Association entre l’UE et le Maroc, l’UE approuve un paquet de mesures visant à renforcer le partenariat avec le Maroc. Ces mesures concernent en particulier la coopération en matière politique et de sécurité, la préparation d’un accord de libre échange global et approfondi, l’intégration progressive du Maroc dans plusieurs politiques sectorielles de l’UE, et le développement des échanges entre les peuples. Elles visent à appuyer concrètement le processus de modernisation et de transition démocratique entrepris par le Maroc depuis plusieurs années, et pour lequel le Maroc demande un appui plus conséquent de la part de l’Europe.
Selon un calcul provisoire de la Commission européenne, basé sur les déclarations annuelles des États membres, le montant des prélèvements applicables aux États membres ayant dépassé leurs quotas de production laitière s’élèverait à un peu plus de 340 millions € pour la campagne de commercialisation 2007/2008. L’an dernier, le montant total de ces prélèvements était de 221 millions €. Sept États membres (Autriche, Chypre, Irlande, Italie, Allemagne, Luxembourg et Pays Bas) ont dépassé le quota qui leur a été attribué pour les livraisons. Globalement, le dépassement est de 1 217 000 tonnes, donnant lieu à un prélèvement de 338,7 millions €. Le dépassement est imputable à hauteur d’environ 47 % aux livraisons excédentaires réalisées en Italie; par ailleurs, le prélèvement à acquitter par l’Allemagne atteint 30 % du total. L’Italie a dépassé de 5,7 % le quota qui lui a été attribué, Chypre de 3,9 % et l’Autriche de 3,2 %. En ce qui concerne les ventes directes aux consommateurs, seuls Chypre, le Luxembourg et les Pays Bas ont signalé des dépassements; ceux-ci se montent au total à 4 673 tonnes et donnent lieu à un prélèvement de 1,3 million € au titre des ventes directes, dont 92 % sont à acquitter par les Pays Bas.
Aujourd'hui marque la deuxième journée européenne de la sécurité routière. A cette occasion, la Commission européenne organise à Paris, en collaboration avec la Présidence française, une conférence réunissant plus de 600 personnes autour du thème de la sécurité routière en ville. Aux côtés d'Antonio Tajani, Vice-président de la Commission en charge des transports et du Vice-président Jacques Barrot, en charge de la justice, de la liberté et de la sécurité, participent également Dominique Bussereau, Secrétaire d'Etat français aux transports et Altero Matteoli, ministre italien des Transports.
- Monnaie électronique: la Commission propose un cadre juridique clair pour des solutions de paiement innovantes (voir MEMO/08/616)
La Commission européenne a présenté une proposition qui réexamine les règles régissant actuellement les conditions d'émission de monnaie électronique dans l'UE. La proposition fait suite à une longue consultation (voir IP/05/930) qui a montré que les règles actuelles, datant de 2000, ont freiné le développement du marché de la monnaie électronique et entravé l'innovation technologique. Les règles révisées faciliteront l'entrée sur le marché de nouveaux prestataires et contribueront à développer un secteur dont le chiffre d'affaires pourrait atteindre 10 milliards d'euros en 2012.
Listening to personal music players at a high volume over a sustained period can lead to permanent hearing damage, according to an opinion of the EU Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) released today. The scientific opinion shows that 5-10% of personal music player listeners risk permanent hearing loss, if they listen to a personal music player for more than one hour per day each week at high volume settings for at least 5 years. The European Commission had asked the independent scientific committee to examine this issue, given the widespread use of personal music players and the surge in the number of young people exposed to such noise. Scientists confirm that there is cause for concern and the European Commission will now examine with Member States and stakeholders, possible measures that could be taken to better protect children and adolescents from exposure to noise from personal music players and other similar devices.
- REACH: Additional substances exempted from registration; three substances removed from exemptions list
A number of additional substances have been exempted from registration under the EU's new chemical legislation REACH. Reviewed annexes IV and V of the legislation - which set out substances and groups of substances that are exempted from registration, evaluation and downstream user provisions of REACH – were adopted by the European Commission on Wednesday. The review was carried out by the European Commission and involved Member States and other stakeholders over a 12-month period. As a result of the review, the list of those substances that will not need to be registered was expanded to include certain vegetable and animal oils, fats and waxes, as well as certain types of glass and ceramic frits. Three substances, Vitamin A, carbon and graphite, were removed from the list of exemptions and will be subject to registration. Manufacturers or importers of chemicals have to pre-register them by December 1 if they want to continue manufacturing or importing. Only firms that have pre-registered chemicals will be able to benefit from staggered registration deadlines. REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical Substances) aims to improve the protection of human health and the environment through the better and earlier identification of the intrinsic properties of chemical substances. The REACH Regulation gives greater responsibility to industry to manage the risks from chemicals and to provide safety information on the substances. For more information on the REACH reviews see: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/reach/reviews_en.htm http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/reach/com_reviews_en.htm
- Commission clears acquisition of Megapharm by Alliance Boots
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of Megapharm GmbH Pharmazeutische Erzeugnisse (Megapharm) of Germany by Alliance Boot Holdings Ltd (Alliance Boots) of the UK. Alliance Boots is active in the wholesaling of pharmaceutical products and the retailing of health and beauty products. Megapharm provides a range of specialised wholesaling and logistics services for oncology products and related services. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
- Commission clears acquisition of TopTorony and Shaza by Allianz and Generali
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of TopTorony Ingatlanhasznosító Zrt. (TopTorony) of Hungary and Shaza Ingatlanhasznosító Zrt.( Shaza), also of Hungary by Allianz Lebensversicherungs-AG and Allianz Versicherungs-AG belonging to Allianz Group of Germany and GLL AMB Generali Holding Bank Center S.à.r.l belonging to Generali Group of Italy. Generali and Allianz are both active in insurance and financial products. TopTorony and Shaza are only active in the rental for commercial use of the premises located in Bank Center, an office building in Budapest. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
- Commission submitted updated measures on China milk products to the Member States
Last Friday, the European Commission discussed how to update the existing measures to respond to the melamine contaminated milk from China with the Member States. The set of reinforced measures discussed and agreed by Member States, will replace the interim measures provisionally adopted by the Commission on 26 September last (Decision 2008/757/EC). The new proposed measures update and supplement the measures adopted two weeks ago, which consisted of a ban on imports of products intended for the particular nutritional uses of infants or young children and of systematic checks on other composite products containing milk prior to import into the Community. Member States may also perform random checks on other products which, because of their high protein content, could have been subject to adulteration practices similar to those applied to the milk products, although there is at present no evidence that this has been the case. Whilst controls were, pursuant to Decision 2008/757/EC, limited to products containing at least 15% of milk products, Member States have been reporting significant difficulties in establishing the exact milk product content of a number of composite products targeted by the interim measures. The new proposed measures will streamline and simplify control tasks imposed on Member States by the interim measures adopted on 26 September. On the one hand such controls will have to be carried out on a limited number of control points specifically designated for that purpose by the Member States. On the other hand, Member States will not have to establish the exact amount of milk product content on imported products in order to decide whether analytical tests are required, as the new measures will require systematic checks on all milk containing products irrespective of the exact amount of such content. The measures shall be regularly reassessed in the light of the results of the controls carried out by the Member States. The proposed measures are currently being scrutinised by the European Parliament, and are expected to be adopted next Wednesday.
The European Commission has approved under EC Treaty state aid rules a Danish scheme aimed at restoring confidence in the Danish financial markets in order to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of Denmark. The scheme would provide liquidity facilities for banks operating in Denmark and protect depositors and ordinary creditors in case of insolvency. The Danish authorities notified the measure on 8 October and it was approved within two days by the Commission under a new simplified procedure for emergency rescue measures. The Commission found the scheme to be compatible with EU state aid rules because it is the most appropriate means to address the risk of a severe disturbance in the Danish economy, while keeping potential distortions of competition to a minimum through effective safeguard mechanisms. The Commission took into particular account that the guarantee scheme is limited to fundamentally sound financial institutions while insolvent banks need to be immediately unwound, that it is open to all banks established in Denmark but that it requires a significant financial contribution which ensures that an adequate premium is paid for the guarantee. Moreover, the scheme ensures that the participating banks can neither on an individual nor on an aggregate level significantly expand their activities, as measured against established benchmarks The scheme will be remain in force for two years.
- Accord du Conseil sur le paquet énergie : un pas crucial a été franchi vers un marché interne de l'énergie
Le président Barroso et le Commissaire Andris Piebalgs, chargé de l’énergie, ont accueilli avec satisfaction l’accord auquel les ministres de l’énergie de l’UE sont parvenus sur le paquet législatif 2007 de la Commission relatif au marché du gaz et de l’électricité dans l’Union européenne. Cet accord permettra de bénéficier de nombreux avantages offerts par un marché ouvert et concurrentiel, à savoir notamment des prix équitables pour les particuliers et pour les entreprises, des perspectives commerciales pour les nouvelles ou les petites entreprises (par exemple, l'investissement dans les énergies renouvelables) ou encore des conditions d’investissement claires pour les nouvelles centrales et les réseaux de transport afin d’accroître la sécurité d’approvisionnement et de diminuer les risques de coupure.
- EU and Norway reaffirm their determination to reduce discards
At a meeting in Brussels today, scientists, administrators and control experts from the EU and Norway there was general agreement on the urgent need to consider concrete measures at the earliest opportunity, such as real-time closures and improved gear selectivity, to tackle the problem of discards in the North Sea. Whilst both parties have agreed that it is very difficult to entirely eliminate discarding, they have nevertheless recognised that the huge current waste of valuable food resources cannot be allowed to continue. Some of these measures to address this problem discussed at the meeting are currently being tested by individual EU Member States. The EU has already proposed a new regulation on the types of fishing gear which would be allowed in the North Sea. This regulation would simplify existing measures and improve the escapement of young fish. "Discarding means a waste of great quantities of valuable fish. It is a major environmental scandal that we must strongly tackle," said European Commissioner responsible for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Joe Borg. "I am very pleased at the good technical groundwork which has been developed during today's discussions. I believe this will allow the EU and Norway to decide jointly upon effective measures to reduce discarding by our fishermen as soon as possible. Discussions with our Norwegian partners have been extremely constructive and have led to a positive result."
- Avian Influenza: Highly pathogenic H5N1 virus confirmed in Saxony
The European Commission adopted today a decision confirming the risk areas set up by the German authorities in relation to an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza on a poultry farm in the commune of Markersdorf, in Saxony, close to the Polish border. The German authorities informed the Commission yesterday about a suspected outbreak of highly pathogenic avian flu. Germany's national laboratory confirmed today that the outbreak concerns the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian influenza. The German authorities applied immediately the necessary control measures laid down in EU legislation and set up risk areas around the outbreak. The situation will be reviewed at the next Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) on 15 October. Last night, the German authorities culled all poultry on the farm – i.e. 800 geese, 550 ducks, 60 chicken and 24 turkeys. The measures laid down in the Avian Influenza Directive 2005/94/EC and the additional measures for the H5N1 virus have been applied. They entail the establishment of a protection zone of 3 km radius and a surveillance zone of 10 km around the infected holding. The area covered by the protection zone and the surveillance zone is classified as a high risk area (area A), which is surrounded by a low risk area (area B) acting as a buffer zone to the disease-free parts of the country. Strict movement controls are in place. Poultry must be kept indoors, gatherings of poultry and other birds are banned, and on-farm bio security measures are strengthened. Today's Commission decision confirms the areas A and B set up in Germany. This is the first outbreak of the highly avian influenza H5N1 in a poultry holding in the EU in 2008. The last outbreak in a poultry farm caused by this virus was confirmed on 25 December 2007 in Germany in the land of Brandenburg. In wild birds the last case was detected at the end of February 2008 in the UK. For more information, see: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/health_consumer/dyna/influenza/index.cfm
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