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AGENDA/07/16
Brussels, Friday 27 April

Top News from the European Commission
30 April – 27 May 2007

Background notes from the Spokesperson’s service for journalists
The European Commission reserves the right to make changes

Monday 30 April: EU-US Summit in Washington

The news:
On the agenda of the EU-US Summit in Washington are EU-US relations including the signing of the first stage of the EU-US Air Transport Agreement and the adoption of a Framework for advancing Transatlantic Economic Integration. Discussions during the meeting will cover a whole range of issues including energy and climate change, Doha, Visa Waiver Programme and foreign policy topics like Kosovo, Sudan/Darfur, Iran, Middle East and Russia.

The event:
The EU-US Summit will take place at the White House in Washington D.C. on 30 April 2007. The Summit will be hosted by US President George W. Bush, accompanied by Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condolezza Rice. The EU will be represented by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso and High Representative Javier Solana. German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, External Relations and European Neighbourhood Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson will also be attending.


There will be a press conference following the lunch discussions.

The sources:
European Commission websites:
http://ec.europa.eu/comm/external_relations/us/intro/index.htm
http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat

The contacts:
Christiane Hohmann +32 2 299 11 96; Concha Fernandez +32 2 295 29 77

Wednesday 2 May 2007 (tbc): Restructuring scheme for the sugar industry

The news:
As part of the reform of the Common Market Organisation for sugar, a restructuring scheme for the sugar industry was established in 2006. Its aim was to provide incentives for less competitive sugar producers to leave the sector – as part of the necessary reduction in EU sugar production.
During the first two years of the scheme, reductions in quota will still be below the objective of 6 million tonnes. Therefore, it becomes necessary to improve the attractiveness of the fund for the industry and for the growers.
The mechanism will be adapted to better achieve the objective of market balance during the transition period.

The event:
Adoption of the revised scheme by the Commission.Tbc
Press release.

The sources:

European Commission websites:

http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/capreform/sugar/index_en.htm

http://blogs.ec.europa.eu/blog_fischerboel/

IP/05/1473 "EU radically reforms its sugar sector to give producers long-term competitive future"

IP/06/194 "CAP Reform: EU agriculture ministers adopt groundbreaking sugar reform"

The contacts:
Michael Mann+32 2 299 97 80; Johan Reyniers +32 2 295 67 28

Wednesday 2 May: Proposed Budget 2008: Growth and employment at the heart of EU spending

The news:

The European Commissioner for Financial Programming and Budget, Dalia Grybauskaité, will present the proposed budget for 2008. This is the first step in the budgetary procedure for the budget to be finally approved by the European Parliament and the Council.

The 2008 budget is aimed at boosting growth and employment through the renewed Lisbon Strategy. Both commitment and payment appropriations will exceed those of 2007. Specific changes include an increase in spending on research, energy networks, transport networks, lifelong learning and new EU cohesion programmes. Similarly, expenditure will be increased for freedom, security and justice, citizenship programmes and actions on external relations.

The calendar for the discussion and approval of the budget is the following:

13 July: Conciliation meeting between the EU Council and the European Parliament. A first reading of the budget by the Council establishes the Draft Budget.

22-25 October: EP plenary and Parliament’s first reading.

23 November: Conciliation meeting between the Council and Parliament, and the Council’s second reading.

10-13 December: EP plenary and Parliament’s second reading; the final adoption of the EU budget.

The event:

Press conference with Commissioner for Financial Programming and Budget, Dalia Grybauskaité at 13.00 in the press room, Berlaymont, Brussels.

  • Ebs coverage

The source:
European Commission website:
http://europa.eu/pol/financ/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Robert Soltyk +32 2 296 16 19; Roger Nunn +32 2 295 36 47

Wednesday 2 May: Common Corporate Tax Base: the European Commission presents a progress report and seeks political orientation towards making a legislative proposal in 2008

The news:

Following the progress report in 2006, the European Commission will adopt a second report on the progress towards a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB).

In this report, the Commission also seeks further political orientation from the other EU institutions before making a formal legislative proposal in 2008.

The CCCTB would constitute a comprehensive solution to tackle all company tax obstacles arising when companies carry out cross-border activities within the Internal Market. It would enable companies to follow the same rules for calculating the tax base for all their EU-wide activities, rather than in accordance with up to the existing 27 systems, thereby improving efficiency and reducing compliance costs

The Commission's policy with regard to taxation is an integral part of its comprehensive strategy to create more growth and jobs in the EU and to boost the competitiveness of EU companies. The Commission concentrates on the improvement of a more favourable tax environment so that business and citizens can benefit from the full potential of the internal market. Attracting investment can be done in many ways and taxation plays a part in this.

The event:

Press conference at 11:30 (or following the midday briefing) in the Press Room, Berlaymont, Brussels with Commissioner Kovacs

  • Ebs coverage

The source:

IP/06/448 "Progress report"

IP/04/1091 "European Tax Survey highlights need"
European Commission website:
http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/taxation/company_tax/common_tax_base/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Maria Assimakopoulou +32 2 295 98 42; Roger Nunn +32 2 295 36 47

Wednesday 2 May: High-level Conference on "The Future Maritime Policy of the EU: A European Vision for Oceans and Seas" opens in Bremen

The news:
The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel will open a major international conference on the Future Maritime Policy of the EU in Bremen.
The German government is hosting the Conference as its key contribution to the consultation process on the Commission's Green Paper on a future Maritime Policy for Europe.
The aim of the conference is to promote dialogue on the added value of an integrated maritime policy, identify new potential for sustainable development in the maritime sector, and review the preliminary results of the ongoing process of consultation.
The event will run from Wednesday 2 May to Friday 4 May and will bring together political leaders, scientific experts, and stakeholders' representatives from across the EU. Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the European Commission, and Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Joe Borg, will be speaking, as will the German Minister for Transport Wolfgang Tiefensee and Ministers from other Member States.

The two days of debate will be divided into four thematic sections: Employment and Competitiveness; Research and Innovation; Shared responsibility for the maritime environment; and Life on the coasts. The contributions and conclusions of the conference will considerably influence the future activities of the European Commission and the Portuguese Council Presidency in the second half of 2007.

The event:
International conference with high-level speakers from across Europe (open to journalists). Registration: https://events.bmvbs.de/meerespol/

Venues: Rathaus (opening ceremony), Congress Centrum Bremen (proceedings).

A side event on 2nd May will be the opening of a marine science exhibition (17.00, House of Science) by German Transport Minister Tiefensee, Commissioner Borg and the Mayor of Bremen Börnsen.
Further on, Workshops on sea-use planning, surveillance of the sea, marine (blue) biotechnology, marine science and maritime logistics will take place in Schütting.

  • EbS coverage.

The sources:

European Commission website:

http://ec.europa.eu/maritimeaffairs/index_en.html

Bremen conference details and programme:

http://ec.europa.eu/maritimeaffairs/conference_bremen_en.html

The contacts:
Mireille Thom +32 2 299 16 30; Lone Mikkelsen +32 2 296 05 67

Wednesday 2 May: Commission sets out environmental priorities up to 2012

The news
The EU's Sixth Environment Action Programme (6EAP), running from 2002 to 2012, fixes objectives for tackling climate change, protecting nature and halting biodiversity loss, reducing environmental impacts on health and reversing the unsustainable management of natural resources and wastes.
As foreseen in the 6EAP, the Commission has undertaken a mid-term review of progress achieved so far towards these targets. In the light of this analysis it will set out its priorities for the remainder of the 6EAP's lifetime up to 2012.

The event:
Adoption by the Commission, publication of IP and MEMO.

The sources:
Sixth Environment Action Programme (6EAP) website:
http://ec.europa.eu/environment/newprg/index.htm
Environment Policy Review website
http://ec.europa.eu/environment/lisbon.htm

The contacts:

Barbara Helfferich +32 2 298 2010; Lone Mikkelsen +32 2 296 0567

Thursday 3 May 2007: Award of the Lorenzo Natali Prize for Journalism

The news

Commissioner Louis Michel is to award the Lorenzo Natali Prize, a token of the Commission's belief in quality journalism as a guardian of democracy and human rights.

The Lorenzo Natali Prize for Journalism rewards journalists for outstanding work on behalf of human rights, democracy and development.

It was established in 1992 by the European Union to promote quality journalism and commemorate the dedication of Lorenzo Natali, former Commission vice-president in charge of development cooperation between 1985 and 1989.

This year, the prize will be awarded to written and on-line press journalists who published an article defending human rights or democracy between 1 September 2005 and 31 December 2006.

More than 1 500 journalists entered for the prize, 50% more than last year.

The event

Commissioner Michel will award the Lorenzo Natali Prize for Journalism at a ceremony to be held on Thursday 3 May 2007 from 3.45pm to 4.30pm in the Commission Press Room.

  • EbS coverage.

The sources :

Commission website:

www.prixnatali.eu

The contacts:

Amadeu Altafaj +32 2 295 26 58; Marc Lognoul +32 2 295 64 93

Thursday 3 May: Annual Statement on the Euro Area

The news:

For the second consecutive year, the European Commission will publish an Annual Statement on the Euro Area, outlining its views on the collective challenges facing the Member States that share the single currency.

The Annual Statement is designed to inform the debate on the euro-area's economic performance and the functioning of EMU.

Subsequently, it will be presented and discussed with the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) on May 7, 3:00 pm (that day, Commissioner Almunia will also present to ECON the spring economic forecasts to be published earlier the same day).

The event:
Press Conference by Commissioner Joaquín Almunia at the Berlaymont Press Room, Brussels at 12.15 hrs – IP note.

  • Video and photo coverage by EbS.

The sources:

European Commission websites:

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/index_en.htm

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/europeaneconomy_en.htm

IP/06/976 "The euro: a currency in search of a deeper market, enhanced economic reform and a stronger voice on the world stage" First Annual Statement on the euro area, 12 July 2006.

The contacts:
Amelia Torres + 32 2 295 46 29; Marisa González + 32 2 295 19 25

Thursday 3 May: Green paper Retail financial Services

The news:

Retail financial services are an essential part of everyday life of EU citizens. Despite significant progress in delivering a single market for financial services in recent years, studies show that retail financial services integration appears not to have yet reached its potential and that competition seems insufficient in some areas.

Building on existing work, the Green Paper aims to strengthen and deepen our understanding of the problems faced by consumers and industry in the field of retail financial services and to establish the scope for and impediments to further initiatives in this area.

The Green Paper on Retail Financial Services in the Single Market will help launch a debate on the Commission's future policy on retail financial services and will provide an important contribution to the Single Market Review.

The Commission will hold a hearing on 19 September to draw the conclusions of the consultation launched by the Green Paper and discuss with all stakeholders which initiatives are needed to bring about a more efficient internal market for retail financial services. The results of the consultative process will be incorporated into the Single Market Review, to be published in autumn.

The event:
Press release.

The sources:
European Commission website:
http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/finservices-retail/index_en.htm

The contacts:
Oliver Drewes +32 2 299 24 21; Catherine Bunyan +32 2 299 65 12

Friday 4 May: European meeting of people experiencing poverty

The news:
The 6th edition of the European meeting of people experiencing poverty, organised by the European Commission and the German Presidency will take place on 4-5 May in Brussels. Entitled “Tackling Poverty and Social Exclusion: Progress made, future steps”, this year’s meeting aims at assessing the results achieved so far and elaborating strategies for the future.
16% of Europeans live under the poverty threshold (defined as 60% of their country's median income) and 10% live in jobless households. Across the EU, 19% of children are at risk of poverty. Having a job does not always protect people from the risk-of-poverty: 8% of Europeans in employment (aged 18 and over) live under the poverty threshold.
The meeting will be attended by over 200 people, including delegations of people experiencing poverty from 25 countries, together with representatives of national governments, EU institutions and European NGOs.

The event:
Press conference with participation of Commissioner Špidla and German Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Müntefering at 10.30 in the Palais d’Egmont, Place du Petit Sablon, 1000 Brussels

The source:
European Commission website:
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/social_inclusion/events_en.htm

The contacts:
Katharina von Schnurbein + 32 2 298 14 08; Carmel Dunne +32 2 299 88 94

Saturday 5 May: The Commission opens its doors to the public for the Europe Day Celebration

The news:

To mark the Europe day Celebration, on Saturday the 5th of May, as tradition the Berlaymont building opens its doors to the public. This year, the Belgian Queen Paola will honour the day with her presence. She will be welcomed at the Berlaymont by President Barroso.

In the heart of the European quarter different performances for young and old will take place. The event will see the participation of pop and Dixieland bands. To celebrate their entrance in the European Union on January 1st, 2007, Bulgarian dancers and a Romanian orchestra will also be present.

The Libramont fair - the European rural fair – will take place with its stands and animals: there will be free fruits, tasting of rural products, and actions to raise awareness of health and food safety issues. Horse-and-carriage tours, and games for the little ones, will complete the day. Visitors to the Berlaymont can enter the "holiest of holy", the meeting room of the European Commission.

The event:

The building will open its doors from 10 am to 6 pm.

The last authorized entry will be at 17.30.

The Belgian Queen Paola will honour the day with her presence. She will be welcomed at the Berlaymont by President Barroso

  • EbS coverage

The source:

European Commission website:

http://ec.europa.eu/belgium

The contacts:

Mikolaj Dowgielewicz +32 2 295 0051; Julie Arnaud +32 2 298 7749

Willy Hélin +32 2 295 3844



Monday 7 May : Spring 2007 Economic Forecast

The news:

Twice a year, in the spring and the autumn, the European Commission produces economic forecasts for the individual European Union Member States as well as the aggregate figures for the EU and the euro zone.

On Monday May 7th, the Commission will publish its spring forecast for the 2006-2008 period, including economic growth, inflation, (un)employment, as well as general government debt and deficit.

The Commission also publishes interim forecasts twice a year, updating the fully-fledged forecasts for GDP and inflation for the largest Member States. The interim forecast published in February this year, revised economic growth up by 0.3 percentage point to 2.7% in the EU in 2007 and 2.4% in the euro area.

This upward revision is partly explained by the strong economic growth recorded in 2006: 2.9% in the EU and 2.6% in the euro area, the highest growth in both areas since 2000.

The event:
Press Conference by Commissioner Joaquín Almunia at the Berlaymont in Brussels at 12.15
IP and economic forecasts on the day

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

European Commission websites:

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/index_en.htm http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/european_economy/forecasts_en.htm

IP/06/1508 Autumn 2006 Economic Forecast (6 November 2006)

IP/07/197 Interim Forecasts (16 February 2007)

The contacts:
Amelia Torres + 32 2 295 4629; Marisa González + 32 2 295 1925

Wednesday 9 May: Conference on "Strong Regions – Bridgeheads for Europe", Hof (Germany)

The news:

The conference is organised by the German Presidency with approximately 400 international experts and will mark the start of the new programming period for EU Cohesion Policy 2007-2013 for Germany.

Speakers include the German Federal Economics Minister Michael Glos, the Polish Regional Ministers Grazyna Gesika and Czech Minister Jiri Cunek, as well as the German Minister Presidents Edmund Stoiber and Georg Milbradt.

Other Ministers and State Secretaries from Bulgaria, Austria, Lithuania, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia and Slovenia will also be present.

The event:
The Conference is organised by the German Presidency in the presence of Mrs Danuta Hübner, Member of the Commission responsible for Regional Policy

The sources:

European Commission website:

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/index_fr.htm

Website German Presidency

www.eu2007-wirtschaft.de/hof

The contacts:
Ana-Paula Laissy + 32 2 295 32 58; Constantina Avraam + 32 2 295 96 67

Wednesday 9 and Thursday 10 May 2007: EU Roaming Regulation - the European Parliament will vote on the Commission proposal to lower prices by up to 70%

The news:
785 European Parliamentarians will debate (in the afternoon of 9 May – Europe Day) and then vote (in the morning of 10 May) on the European Commission's proposal for an EU Roaming Regulation at the Parliament's plenary session in Brussels.
Consumers are currently charged 4-5 times more for using their mobile phones abroad in the EU than in their home country. This is why the Commission proposed, on 12 July 2006, to lower the excessive prices charged by operators by up to 70% as from this summer.
The European Parliament vote is expected to be the last step before the EU Telecom Ministers formally endorses the EU Roaming Regulation at their meeting in Luxembourg on 7 June.

The event:
The European Parliament roaming debate in Brussels on 9 May in the afternoon and the plenary vote on 10 May in the morning.

TV interviews:

If you are interested in a TV interview on 10 May with EU Telecom Commissioner Viviane Reding (in English, French, German or Luxembourgish), with her Director-General Fabio Colasanti (in Italian) or with her Spokesman Martin Selmayr (English, French, German), please register with mona.lund@ec.europa.eu.
Radio interviews:
If you are interested in a radio interview with a European Commission expert or spokesman on roaming on 9 or 10 May, please register with mona.lund@ec.europa.eu.

The sources:
European Commission website:
http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/roaming/
Recent news on the roaming votes in the European Parliament: http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/newsroom/cf/itemlongdetail.cfm?item_id=3352
http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/newsroom/cf/itemdetail.cfm?item_id=3313
http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/newsroom/cf/itemdetail.cfm?item_id=3309
Roaming press packs:
http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/roaming/press
Roaming animations:
http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/roaming/clips/index_en.htm

The contacts:
Martin Selmayr +32 2 298 12 30; Mona Lund +32 2 299 90 20

Thursday 10 May 2007: Adoption of the European agenda for culture in a globalizing world

The news:

The European Commission will adopt a communication on Culture and Europe in a globalising world which will underline the central role of culture in the European project and propose a common cultural agenda for Europe, including its relations with third countries.

Indeed, awareness is growing that the EU has a unique role to play in promoting its cultural richness and diversity, both within Europe and world-wide. There is also acknowledgement that culture is an indispensable feature to achieve the EU's strategic objectives of prosperity, solidarity and security, while ensuring a stronger presence on the international scene.

Basis of the communication is an extensive consultation process with stakeholders. These consultations have confirmed that cultural stakeholders perceive that the time has come to move on – from rhetoric to action. Further on, there exists consensus among Member States for greater cooperation.

Recurring to this information, the Commission was able to identify three major objectives to be pursued by the Commission, Member States and stakeholders:

  • Promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue;
  • Promotion of culture as a catalyst for creativity in the framework of the Lisbon Strategy;
  • Promotion of culture as a vital element in the EU's international relations.

This communication will permit to establish new partnerships and methods for cooperation with all stakeholders, and regular reporting mechanisms will allow to progress towards achieving these identified objectives. It also proposes a stronger and more visible external dimension, with a view to making culture an even stronger part of political dialogue with partner countries and regions, promoting cultural exchanges, and systematically integrating culture in development programmes and projects.

The event:
Press Conference at11:30 am in the Berlaymont’s press room (tbc).

  • EbS coverage of the Press Conference.

The source:
European Commission website:
http://ec.europa.eu/culture/eac/index_fr.html

The contact:
Frédéric Vincent: + 32 298 71 66

Thursday 10 - Friday 11 May: ERIK Network Conference - Knowledge for regional innovation – Towards "Regions for Economic Change"

The news:

The two-day ERIK Conference represents a forum for actors from all over Europe and outside, to debate the future role of regions in promoting economic growth through innovation, entrepreneurship and the growth of the knowledge economy – with particular emphasis being placed on the evolution of the European Commission initiative "Regions for Economic Change".

The conference will welcome around 50 speakers, representing the worlds of research, enterprise and public government. The ERIK (European Regions Knowledge Based Innovation) Network offers participants the chance to make a real contribution to improve regional policy for innovation and knowledge.

To this end, four thematic workshops are scheduled – Industry Science Relations, Support for Start-Ups and Spin-Offs, Clusters and Business Networks and Innovation Finance. Further on a plenary session "Knowledge for Regional Innovation" will be held – bringing together representatives from the three sides of the "triple helix" of innovation policy; a Round Table – with a debate on ERIK Policy Recommendations in the framework of "Regions of Economic Change", and an Exhibition of Good practices, which assembles over 30 good practices collected from around Europe, two ERIK prizes for good practice and an exhibition poster.

The event:
The 2-day Conference will be held at the Hotel Bristol (91-93 Av. Louise – 1050 Brussels). Regional policy Commissioner Danuta Hübner will participate and deliver a speech on Friday May 11.

Online registration: http://www.eriknetwork.net/frontend/formConference.php

The sources:

European Commission website: 

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/index_en.htm

http://www.eriknetwork.net

The contacts:
Ana-Paula Laissy + 32 2 2£95 32 58; Constantina Avraam + 32 2 295 96 67

Friday 11 May: Zagreb Summit of the South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP)

The news:

President Barroso and Commissioner Rehn will participate at the Summit of Heads of State and Government in Zagreb where the new Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) will be established.

The Summit will appoint the first Secretary General of the Regional Co-operation Council and will designate its seat.

The RCC will take over the tasks of the Stability Pact for South East Europe. This reflects the changes in the political situation in the region, where focus is now shifting from conflict prevention and confidence building initiatives of the International Community to enhanced local ownership in regional co-operation in areas such as economic and social development, infrastructure and justice and home affairs.

In 2003 at the Thessaloniki Summit, the EU took an unequivocal commitment to the European Perspective of the Western Balkan countries, with the ultimate goal of EU membership, provided the accession conditions are fulfilled. Relating to this, further measures to foster trade, economic development, movement of persons, education and research, regional co-operation and civil society dialogue were proposed in Salzburg in March 2006. The Zagreb summit is a forum for stocktaking on the achievements: The Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) was signed in December 2006, for most of the countries visa facilitation and readmission agreement negotiations were concluded in 2007 and financial assistance has continued in support of European integration.

In the margins of the SEECP summit meeting, Commissioner Olli Rehn, Croatian Minister of Foreign Affairs and representatives of the Stability Pact will participate in a debate with students from the Western Balkans, Turkey and from EU Member States. The aim is to highlight the importance of education for reconciliation and mutual understanding in the context of European integration.

The event:
The Summit is organised by the Croatian Chairmanship in office of the SEECP.

Zagreb Summit, Zagreb International Expocentre (Hypo XXI), Slavonska Avenija 6, Zagreb

The sources:

IP/03/860 "The Thessaloniki Summit: a milestone in the EU's relations with the Western Balkans"

IP/06/1837 "EU welcomes signing of new (CEFTA)

IP/07/497  "Initialling ceremony for agreements on visa facilitation and readmission between the European Community and 3 Western Balkans Countries

http://www.eu2006.at/en/News/Press_Releases/March/1103EUWesternBalkansStatement.html Salzburg Declaration

http://www.stabilitypact.org/rt/ Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe http://www.mvpei.hr/seecp/predst_aktivnosti_eng.htm Croatian Chairmanship office SEECP

The contacts:
Krisztina Nagy +32 2 298 86 63; Noora Häyrinen +32 2 295 84 37

Friday 11 and Saturday 12 May: "Together in Science – 50 years after the Treaties of Rome". High level symposium and Open Doors at the Joint Research Centre, Ispra (Italy)

The news
To mark the 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, the European Commission's Joint Research Centre Ispra site will host two special events:
On Friday, 11th May, the anniversary of the JRC's birth certificate – the Euratom Treaty – will be celebrated with a high-level symposium.

The following day, the JRC's biggest ever Open Day will take place – focusing on the research topics undertaken in the institutes of the Joint Research Centre. Its various research fields – ranging from food safety, chemical products and health, environment and sustainability to public security and antifraud – all support European policies with the aim to make Europe environmentally friendly, safe and competitive.

The event
Friday 11th May: Symposium with the Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Potočnik, the Italian Minister for Research and University, Fabio Mussi, the Secretary General of the European Research Council, Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker and other high level representatives from research and industry.

Saturday 12th May: JRC Open Day 2007

Find out how new biometric passports work, how electronic identification of animals contributes to a safe food chain from 'farm to fork', and how the same technology – RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) – can improve the mobility of the visually impaired. Get first hand expert information on future energy resources to feed your high-tech gadgets and household appliances, on methods to ensure your shampoo is harmless without testing it on animals, or how each of us can help to protect our environment.

The younger visitors can put on a white lab coat and study cell cultures under the microscope, discover how animals and plants can be used to verify the health of lakes and rivers, build structures of different materials and test their earthquake resistance on a small shaking table.

The sources:
European Commission websites:
http://www.jrc.ec.europa.eu/
http://www.jrc.ec.europa.eu/ispra-openday-2007

The contact:
Antonia Mochan +32 2 296 99 21

Tuesday 14 and Wednesday 15 May: Conference on Bridging the Broadband Gap - Benefits of broadband for rural areas and less developed regions

The news:
Broadband is the backbone of the knowledge society, providing access to advanced public services and richer multimedia content for entertainment, training and work. With broadband connections, new forms of business innovation can transform the life of individuals, increase social cohesion and contribute to economic growth. But the communities whose economies are most likely to benefit from broadband are currently the worst placed to profit from the Information Society due to socio-economic factors and lack of connectivity.
The EU is determined to bridge the ‘broadband gap’, mobilising all relevant policy instruments, programmes and stakeholders. This is why the event has high-level endorsement from European Commissioners in four relevant fields (Information Society and Media; Agriculture and Rural Development; Regional Policy; Competition). In addition, 600 delegates will be present, including expert speakers who will explore how the strategic use of ICTs can support regional and local development and infrastructure, overcome geographical obstacles, and make these areas more attractive to business and individuals alike.


This event will bring together different communities concerned with information society, regional and rural development policies to:

  • launch a strong political message: increasing the strategic dimension that ICTs should have in the next programming period for both rural and structural funds; highlighting their role in reorienting economic activity, enabling the emergence of more productive sectors and increasing the added value of existing products and services;
  • contribute to the development of synergies among relevant Community policies in the fields of information society, cohesion, rural development and competition;
  • contribute to the identification of best practices and examples showcasing the benefits of ICT for the promotion of rural and regional/local development. Examples include the creation of new opportunities for business and the development of advanced public services.

The event:
Conference organized at the Charlemagne Building. Four Commissioners will address the conference during the 2-day event (V.Reding, M.Fischer Boel, D.Hübner and N.Kroes).

The sources:
European Commission websites:
http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/events/broadband_gap_2007/index_en.htm http://blogs.ec.europa.eu/blog_fischerboel/page/fischerboel

The contacts:
Martin Selmayr +32 2 298 1230; Mona Lund +32 2 299 9020
Michael Mann+32 2 299 9780; Johan Reyniers +32 2 295 6728
Ana-Paula Laissy + 32 2 295 32 58; Constantina Avraam + 32 2 295 96 67
Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07; Linda Cain +32 2 299 90 19

Wednesday 16 May: Towards a comprehensive EU migration policy

The news:
All Member States of the European Union are affected by the flow of international migration. They have agreed to develop a common immigration policy at EU level. As a response to three different requests made by the last December’s European Council, the Commission will make proposals to develop this policy:

A Communication on legal movements of people:
The European Council invited the Commission "to present detailed proposals on how to better organize and inform about the various forms of legal movement between the EU and third countries by June 2007". The Communication will look at ways to facilitate circular migration, which offers interesting potential to help fulfil labour needs in Europe while responding to the development needs of countries of origin in terms of skill transfers and of mitigating the impact of brain drain.

A Proposal for a Directive providing for sanctions against employers of third-country nationals who are illegally staying or working in breach of their residence status:
Illegal employment is perhaps one of the most important factors encouraging illegal immigration into the EU. The Proposal will present actions to intensify measures against illegal employment. At the same time, it tackles the serious and sad problem of over-exploitation of illegal migrants unable to protect themselves. The aim is to ensure that all Member States introduce similar penalties for employers of third-country nationals who are illegally staying or working in breach of their residence status.

A Proposal to apply the Global Approach to migration from the East and South-East:
In December 2005, the European Council established the Global Approach to Migration, which initially focused on Africa and the Mediterranean region. One year later, the European Council called on the Commission "to make proposals on enhanced dialogue and concrete measures" with regard to applying the Global Approach to the eastern and south-eastern regions neighbouring the EU.

The event:
Press conference held by VP Frattini followed by a technical briefing on the Commission proposals.

The sources:
European Commission website: http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/fsj/immigration/fsj_immigration_intro_en.htm
December 2006 European Council:
http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/ec/92202.pdf
Policy plan on legal migration:
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/site/en/com/2005/com2005_0669en01.pdf

The contacts:
Friso Roscam Abbing +32 2 296 67 46; Riccardo Mosca +32 2 296 14 04

Wednesday 16 May: Convergence Reports assessing whether Cyprus and Malta are ready to adopt the Euro

The news:

After careful examination, the Commission will publish reports, assessing whether the economies of Cyprus and Malta have sufficiently converged towards EU levels – according to the criteria set in the EU Treaty – to adopt the euro on the 1st of January 2008, as it is their wish.

Cyprus and Malta requested the Commission, respectively on 13 and 27 February 2007, to produce individual Convergence Reports assessing their readiness to adopt the Euro according to the economic and legal criteria set out in the treaty. The European Central Bank must produce its own report, expected to be published the same day.

The reports assess, whether the two countries have achieved a "high degree of sustainable convergence" by reference to economic criteria: regarding price stability, public finances, exchange rate stability and long-term interest rates. National legislation must also be in line with EU Economic and Monetary Union rules, and the statutes of the European System of Central Banks and the ECB.

If the Commission concludes that Cyprus and Malta fulfil the conditions, it will propose to the Council that they are ready adopt the Euro. Traditionally, this would be the subject of a discussion at the European Council in June, followed by a formal decision by the EU finance ministers in July. The latter would also decide on the rate at which the Cyprus pound and the Maltese lira would be converted into the Euro.

In January, Slovenia became the first of the Member States that joined the EU in May 2004 to adopt the Euro. Slovakia plans to adopt the Euro in 2009.

The event:
Press Conference by Commissioner Joaquín Almunia at the Berlaymont in Brussels at 12.15 hrs.

  • Video and photo coverage by EbS.

The sources:

European Commission website:

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/convergencereports_en.htm

The contacts:
Amelia Torres : +32 2 295 46 29; Marisa Gonzalez: +32 2 205 19 25

Tuesday 22 May: Package on road transport – making market access more coherent and transparent

The news:
Since the implementation of the internal road transport market, the shape of the road sector has undergone profound changes. Road transport services have increased and diversified their offers, responding to customers’ needs for just-in-time services. The road haulage market has expanded on average by 3.4% a year, creating new business opportunities. Shippers and the whole economy have gained.
Nevertheless, operators still face disparate national rules on access to the profession and the market. Licensing authorities do not monitor in an even way the good repute of road transport undertakings and their records of offences. Cabotage rules are unequally applied and enforced.

These heterogeneous rules cause distortion of competition and lead to a higher propensity of non-resident undertakings poorly complying with road safety and social rules. This gives rise to a degree of opacity on the market and to a certain amount of mistrust vis-à-vis operators from other Member States. In that sense, customers and the economy in general are unable to reap the full benefits of a genuinely transparent and integrated road transport market.

For these reasons, the Commission is planning to adopt a Road Transport Package including a Report on Directive 2002/15/EC on the organisation of working time of persons performing mobile road transport activities, as well as three Proposals for Regulations on common rules for: 1/ admission to the occupation of road transport operator; 2/ access to the road haulage market (recast); 3/ access to the market in coach and bus services (recast).

The objective of these proposals is to simplify and clarify the legal provisions contained in the current Directive on the admission to the occupation, and the four Regulations on the access to the market, making them more enforceable and completing them when needed.

The more operational objectives are to:

contribute to a level playing field and reduce distortion of competition;

raise the level of professional qualifications of road transport managers;

reduce the administrative burden;

enhance compliance with safety, social and technical rules;

take into consideration the environmental impact of road, notably empty returns of vehicles.

The event:

Publication of a press release.

The source:
European Commission website:
http://ec.europa.eu/transport/road/policy/index_en.htm

The contacts:
Michele Cercone +32 2 298 09 63; Marja Quillinan-Meiland +32 2 299 40 14

Friday 25 May - Saturday 26 May 2007: Informal Ministerial for Urban Development and Territorial Cohesion – Leipzig, Germany

The news:

The German EU Presidency convened a 2-day informal Ministerial meeting. Ministers for urban and spatial development from the EU, accession countries and other neighbouring countries are invited to the meeting along with representatives from the European institutions and some non-governmental organizations.

The objective of the meeting is to politically emphasise the fact that European cities represents our economic, social and cultural model, and the need to strengthen the identity and diversity of European regions by future EU policies. The political messages of the ministerial meeting are to strengthen regional identities and to include distinctive urban and territorial characteristics in the early states of development policy programmes.

Two political documents will be presented:

The Leipzig Charter on sustainable European cities, which will focus on the strategy of integrated and sustainable urban development and on special areas of action for deprived urban areas.

Key themes are:

  • strategies for upgrading buildings in the face of pressures resulting from economic change and the challenges of building culture requirements;
  • enhancing local economies and labour market policies as mainstays of sustainable urban development;
  • sustainable urban development policies through proactive policies on children, adolescents, education and training
  • socially responsible urban transport, and
  • integration of migrants into the community as a cross-sector issue.

The EU Territorial Agenda that will present approaches which support all EU regions in contributing more to sustained economic growth and positive development of the labour market; enable growth zones by creating a network of urban regions; exercise a modern understanding of urban and spatial development, on where business, science, social groups and administration offices all cooperate to advance regional development.

The event:
The 2-day Ministerial meeting will be held in Leipzig. Regional Policy Commissioner Danuta Hübner will take part.

The sources:

European Commission website: 

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/index_en.htm

http://www.eu2007.de/en/News/download_docs/Mai/0524-AN/060Hintergrundinfo.pdf

http://www.eu2007.de/fr/News/download_docs/Mai/0524-AN/060Hintergrundinfo.pdf

The contacts:
Ana-Paula Laissy + 32 2 295 32 58 – Constantina Avraam + 32 2 295 96 67


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