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Brussels Friday 19 June 2009

Top News from the European Commission

22 June to 19 July 2009

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

Monday 22 June: How high are taxes in Europe? 2

Monday 22 and Tuesday 23 June: Restructuring Forum - Impact of Climate Change on Employment 3

Tuesday 23 June: EU-OPEC Energy Dialogue 5

Tuesday 23 to Friday 26 June: Green Week Conference, the biggest annual conference on European environmental policy 6

Wednesday 24 June: Protecting EU citizens from incidents involving chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials 7

Wednesday 24 June: Launch of the European Partnership against Cancer - a shared commitment for the second most common cause of death in Europe 8

Wednesday 24 June: Assessment of last group of Stability and Convergence Programmes + next step of Excessive Deficit Procedure 9

Friday 26 June: Launch of the European Action on Drugs 10

Monday 29 June: No disturbances in electricity supply foreseen this summer in Europe 12

Tuesday 30 June: Measures to fight second-hand tobacco smoke 13

Wednesday 1st July: EU Roaming Regulation enters into force and cuts roaming costs for SMS, calls and data downloads up to 60% 14

Wednesday 1st July 2009: Commission to allow sale of 'wonky' fruit and vegetables 15

Wednesday 8 July: Commission Green Paper: how can we make cross-border learning an opportunity for all young people in Europe? 16

Wednesday 8 to Friday 10 July: The G8 summit in Italy – Shaping responses to global challenges 17

Tuesday 14 July: Revision of security of gas supply Directive 18

Thursday 16 July: Keeping an eye on our food – 30 years Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed 19

Monday 22 June: How high are taxes in Europe?

The news:

Are tax levels increasing or decreasing? How is the tax burden shared between labour, capital and consumption? How does my country compare with the other Member States? How high are environmental taxes in my country? These and other questions are answered in the 2009 edition of the report ‘Taxation Trends in the European Union', presented by DG TAXUD.

The report contains statistics and economic analysis on the tax systems of the EU Member States (plus Norway). This year's edition also includes an overview of the tax measures adopted in the Member States to respond to the global economic and financial crisis.

The background:

Every year DG TAXUD and Eurostat publish a report on the tax systems of the Member States of the European Union and Norway. The report offers a breakdown of tax revenues by economic function (i.e. according to whether they are raised on consumption, labour or capital). It also contains indicators of the average effective tax burden on consumption, labour and capital in the countries covered, as well as data on environmental taxes.

The event:

Technical briefing in the Berlaymont Press Room at 11:00 by Jean-Pierre De Laet, DG TAXUD Head of Unit "Economic aspects of taxation" and Marco Fantini, DG TAXUD Head of sector "Quantitative analysis of taxation".

The sources:

DG TAXUD website:

STAT/08/92 : Taxation trends in the EU. EU27 tax ratio at 39.9% of GDP in 2006. Strongest year-on-year increase in ten years

Commissioner Kovacs' website:

The contact:

Maria Assimakopoulou +32 2 295 98 42

Monday 22 and Tuesday 23 June: Restructuring Forum - Impact of Climate Change on Employment

The news:

A Restructuring Forum on the Impact of Climate Change on Employment is being organised by the European Commission, since it is still a fairly new subject for policy makers. Therefore the purpose of the Forum will be to:

- raise awareness of the changes that can be expected and the new skills that will be required in the medium term to meet the needs of adjusting to a low-carbon economy,

- provide a platform for employers and trade unions to learn from other organisations that have taken on this challenge and taken positive measures to anticipate change,

- disseminate information on practices that have been used to embrace change and come up with innovative solutions, notably using new technology.

The Forum will take place immediately before the opening of Green Week 2009, an annual exhibition/conference on environmental issues organised by the European Commission. The Forum will count about 350 participants, representing social partners, national and regional public authorities, academic experts as well as the European institutions.

A study will also be presented at the event. It gathers comprehensive literature on the topic and also concrete case studies of European companies' strategies to anticipate climate change.

The background:

2007 marked the turning point in the fight to protect our planet. Governments put the issue at the top of the political agenda. Following the Commission's proposals in January 2007, all heads of state and government have committed to cutting EU emissions by 20% by 2020, or 30% as part of an international agreement. They have also committed to 20% renewable energy and a 20% increase in energy efficiency by 2020.

Labour markets and society will be affected by the transition to a low carbon economy in a similar way to the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) revolution. Europe needs to be prepared: preventive measures to reduce or minimise the short-term risks of the restructuring process will need to be taken.

The European Union is reinforcing its policies to increase individuals' adaptability and to assist regions in anticipating restructuring. A wide range of EU measures are available to limit the negative social consequences for workers. The European Social Fund can provide support for workers and companies to develop measures aimed at greening existing employment and to help retraining the workforce and allow them to acquire new skills.

The event:

The Forum takes place in the Charlemagne building, rue de la Loi 170, 1049 Brussels starting at 09.00. Journalists can gain access on production of their press passes.

The sources:

Responding to economic change:

Commissioner Špidla's website:

Video news release: green jobs - to be released soon

The contacts:

Katharina von Schnurbein +32 2 298 14 08

Carmel Dunne +32 2 299 88 94

Tuesday 23 June: EU-OPEC Energy Dialogue

The news:

The sixth meeting between the two Troïkas will take place in Vienna to examine various issues of the oil market. The impact of the current recession in oil demand and investment is more than noticeable and supply may not be able to respond to demand once economy will exit recession. Ways and means to alleviate these negative effects through dialogue and common understanding is the major issue of the EU-OPEC Energy Dialogue.

The background:

Late 2004, the then EU Presidency, supported by all EU Member States and the European Commission, proposed this dialogue, which was warmly accepted by OPEC. Since then, yearly meetings at the level of the EU Troika (Energy Ministers of the Presidency and the incoming Presidency and Energy Commissioner) examine oil markets and launch joint activities. These are:

  • Impact of Energy Policies on oil markets. In order to examine the policies adopted in both regions and assess the impact that these could have on oil markets, a two days seminar was organised in Brussels in 2007. From the EU side the energy package was presented and discussion focused on biofuels as oil competitors. Regarding the Gulf Cooperation Council policies we focused on investments in oil exploration and production.

  • Impact of financial markets on oil price and volatility. A two day workshop was organised in December 2006 in Vienna assembling participants from both sides of the Atlantic and Japan. It was the first seminar of this kind. Outcome was not clearly conclusive pointing toward some impact on prices but long term stability. A study to focus on a number of more specific issues was developed by OPEC late 2008 – early 2009. A second workshop took place in Vienna, 30 April 2009 for presenting the findings of the second study.

  • Oil refining. A study and a Round Table were jointly launched by the two sides about the impact that refining could have on crude oil prices and volatility.

  • Carbon Capture and Storage. A workshop was organised in September 2006 in Riyadh. A second event took take place in Brussels, November 2008, in association with some business missions to European CCS sites, in the offshore Norwegian Sleipner gas field and the German Oxy fuel pilot plant in Schwarze Pumpe. Saudi Arabia and UAE are currently examining to develop CCS projects in their soil intending to use the CDM mechanism of the Kyoto protocol.

  • Creation of a technology Centre. The issues are very similar with those for a technology centre with the GCC. Lately cooperation on research, education and training is discussed. DG RECH has organised information days for the 7 th FP in KSA and Qatar.

The event

The EU-OPEC Energy Dialogue will take place in Vienna with Commissioner Piebalgs.

The sources:

IP/08/999 : Further steps in the constructive EU-OPEC Energy Dialogue

European Commission's websites:

Commissioner Piebalgs' website:

The contacts:

Ferran Tarradellas Espuny +32.2 2 96 62 93

Marilyn Carruthers +32 2 299 94 51

Tuesday 23 to Friday 26 June: Green Week Conference, the biggest annual conference on European environmental policy

The news:

What are the prospects for reaching a new global deal to control climate change at the crucial Copenhagen conference in December? How can we best 'climate-proof' our economies against the impacts of present and future climate change? How can we create a carbon-free society by 2050? How can we ensure action to address climate change best serves conservation of the ecosystems that support life on Earth? These are some of the questions Green Week 2009 will be examining in three days of discussion and debate between high-level speakers from Europe and beyond.

The biggest annual conference on European environment policy turns the spotlight this year on the multi-faceted challenges of climate change.

Some 3,500 participants are expected from EU institutions, business and industry, non-governmental organisations, public authorities, the scientific community and academia.

The background:

Now in its ninth year, Green Week has established itself as a major annual forum for sharing environmental experience, expertise and best practice. 2009 is a crucial year in the battle against climate change, with negotiations on a new United Nations agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol to be concluded at the Copenhagen climate conference in December. Green Week 2009 will look at what the world must do to bring climate change under control.

The event:

Press conference by Commissioner Dimas on 23 June at 12:15 at the Berlaymont press room in Brussels.

Green Week will include more than 35 sessions and workshops, as well as a lively side events programme.

Key speakers include the Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, and President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Ashok Khosla. The closing session will feature European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas and ministers from the Czech Republic, Denmark and Sweden.

Green Week is organised by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Environment and takes place in the Charlemagne Building in the heart of the European quarter of Brussels. Entry is free but those wishing to attend must register on the Green Week conference 2009 website (see bellow).

  • Covered by EbS

The sources:

Green Week conference 2009 website:

Commissioner Dimas' website:

The contacts:

Barbara Helfferich +32 2 298 20 10

Lena De Visscher +32 2 296 36 94

Wednesday 24 June: Protecting EU citizens from incidents involving chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials

The news:

The European Commission is adopting a Communication the EU Action Plan to strengthen chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear security (CBRN) in the EU. The overall goal of the CBRN Action Plan is to enhance the protection of the citizens of the European Union from incidents involving chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials. To achieve this goal, the Action Plan sets out over 130 measures which could be taken by various stakeholders (including the Member States industry.

The Action Plan focuses on three broad areas of action:

  • prevention of unauthorised access to CBRN materials of concern;

  • detection of CBRN materials;

  • efficient response to incidents involving CBRN materials, preparedness to quick recovery.

Core elements of the CBRN Action Plan are:

  • a risk-based approach to CBRN security in the EU leading commitment in tackling priorities;

  • ensuring that CBRN materials are well protected and the potential for them being lost or stolen is limited;

  • better exchange of information between Member States on CBRN security issues in order to react more swiftly to emerging threats;

  • improving the use of detection systems across the EU;

  • introduction of tools to save lives and limit damage to property in case of CBRN incidents.

The background:

Over the last 50 years, the vast majority of terrorist attacks around the world were committed with explosive devices or firearms. Nevertheless, there is a risk that terrorist organisations may choose to use chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) materials to commit their criminal acts.

The CBRN Action Plan contains a broad range of measures which will be implemented over the next 3 years. A number of tools will be used to facilitate implementation including providing financial assistance, preparing studies and organising meetings.

After the adoption of the Action Plan, a number of preparatory activities will first be undertaken to create a basis for more detailed future work. The preparatory activities will include the prioritisation of CBRN substances of highest concern, the identification of good practices europewide and information exchange systems.

The event:

Adoption by the Commission

11:00 Technical Briefing in the Press room of the Berlaymont, Brussels.

The sources:

The EU fights against the scourge of terrorism:

Commissioner Barrot's website:

The contacts:

Michele Cercone +32 2 298 0963

Riccardo Mosca +32 2 296 1404

Wednesday 24 June: Launch of the European Partnership against Cancer - a shared commitment for the second most common cause of death in Europe

The news:

T he European Commission proposes a European Partnership for Action Against Cancer to support EU countries in their efforts to tackle the disease. The partnership shall cover the period 2009-2013 and provide a framework for sharing information as well as capacity and expertise in cancer prevention and control. It aims to engage all relevant parties across the European Union in a collective effort.

By ensuring a more a co-ordinated cooperation in cancer-related activities and actions taken by EU members, scientific experts, patient organisations and other key stakeholders, the Partnership will help to avoid scattered actions and the duplication of efforts, in an area where resources are limited and expertise is often fragmented across the Union. The main areas of work proposed under the partnership are prevention, identification and dissemination of good practice, priorities for cancer research and data collection.

The background:

Every year, around 3.2 million Europeans are diagnosed with cancer, which is the second most common cause of death in Europe. The number of cancer cases is increasing as the European population ages. In addition to the serious implications to health, cancer also represents a heavy economic burden on society. Cancer incidence and mortality vary dramatically across the Union. These inequalities exist within, as well as between, member countries. In 2005 the death rate from cancer in the worst performing EU country was double the rate found in the best country.

The event:

Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou will hold a press conference on the partnership in the Berlaymont press room, Brussels.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

IP/09/113 : Europe needs to intensify and double cancer screening, concludes Commission report

MEMO/09/20 : Overview of the current coverage of population-based screening programmes for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer across the EU

European Commission's website on Cancer

Commissioner Vassiliou's speech delivered on the 3d Cervical Cancer Summit:

The contacts:

Nina Papadoulaki +32 2 29 86378

Antonie Kerwien +32 2 29 72686

Wednesday 24 June: Assessment of last group of Stability and Convergence Programmes + next step of Excessive Deficit Procedure

The news:

The Commission is expected to adopt opinions on the Stability Programmes of Belgium, Austria, Slovenia and Slovakia and on the Convergence programme of Romania.

The Commission is also due to decide whether to recommend to the Council the existence of excessive deficits (under Articles 104.5 and 104.6) and deadlines for their correction (Article 104.7) in the cases of Malta, Lithuania, Poland and Romania . The Commission is also expected to consider a new 104.7 recommendation for Hungary.

The background:

- On Stability and Convergence Programmes

These are the last five programmes for this year. The programmes of the other 22 Members States were assessed between February and March and the opinions endorsed by EU Finance Ministers at their meetings of March and April.

- On Excessive Deficit Procedures (EDP)

Following notification to Eurostat of the preliminary 2008 national debt and deficit figures (April) and the Spring economic forecasts for 2009-2010 (May), the Commission, in May, adopted reports in accordance with Article 104.3 of the Treaty for Lithuania, Malta, Poland and Romania. Previously and on recommendations by the Commission, the Council adopted EDP procedures for France, Greece, Ireland and Spain bringing to six the number of EU countries under heightened budgetary surveillance (Hungary and the United Kingdom were already in EDP).

Commissioner Almunia said last week that he planned to recommend, in the autumn, EDP procedures for nine EU countries that plan or risk having a budget deficit above 3% in 2009. Public finances have deteriorated sharply as a result of the recession, which simultaneously reduces government revenues and increases spending, and the discretionary measures to support demand and investment. The Commission believes the EDP is the centrepiece of a credible exit strategy from high deficits and debts that Member States agree should start from the moment the recovery takes hold. The European Council has also consistently reaffirmed, including at the last Summit in March, "its strong commitment to sound public finances and to the Stability and Growth Pact framework".

The event:

Adoption by the Commission

The sources:

IP/09/274 – 18.2.2009: Commission assesses Stability and Convergence Programmes of Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Latvia and Malta; presents reports under excessive deficit procedure

IP/09/752 – 13.5.2009: Commission presents reports under the EDP procedure for LT, MT, PL and RO

IP/09/458 – 24.3.2009: Commission takes steps under EDP for FR, EL, IRL, ES and UK

Commission assessments and Council opinions on 22 Stability and Convergence

Programmes available on:

Stability and Growth Pact rules:

The contacts:

Amelia Torres +32 2 295 46 29

Marisa Gonzalez +32 2 295 19 25

Friday 26 June: Launch of the European Action on Drugs

The news:

On the International Day against Drug Abuse and Trafficking, Vice-President Barrot is to launch the European Action on Drugs (EAD) in Brussels at an event involving some one hundred people, at which declarations will be made by the Action's first signatories. These include national NGOs (such as the International Council on Security and Development ICOS, the Italian Red Cross, and the Prev-Centrum, European NGOs (such as FESAT, the European Foundation of Drug Helplines), public bodies (the City of London Drug Policy Forum, Blagoevgrad municipality), private companies (ETHIAS – BE – Insurance Company), youth organisations (Qrendi Scouts Malta) and individuals such as Jerzy Owsiak, the well-known Polish organiser of open-air music festivals with a social agenda.

Nikos Aliagas, the star presenter of "Star Academy France", will take part in the event, playing a key role in conveying the message and the aim of this initiative to the general public, especially younger people.

After this event, other European organisations will have the opportunity to sign up to the European Action on Drugs, including NGOs, representatives of national and local authorities, state institutions, leisure and sports associations, and companies in a range of sectors, such as insurance and transport, as well as individuals who wish to take practical action in their own areas of responsibility and to make a direct contribution to the goals of the European Action on Drugs. These will include celebrities, who are best placed to get the message across and influence people's behaviour, particularly in the case of the younger generation.

The aim of the European Action on Drugs is to seek a European response to a growing problem which is no respecter of borders and to the potentially devastating economic and social consequences of drug abuse, particularly among the young.

The background:

Drugs, which affect the whole of society, continue to pose a serious and growing problem in the European Union:

  • Within the EU, some 12 million people take cocaine or have done so at some time.

  • One EU citizen dies of an overdose every hour.

  • Drugs lead to between 7 000 and 8 000 deaths a year in Europe.

  • Each year there are some 3 000 new cases of drug-related HIV infection in Europe.

  • Between 1.3 and 1.7 million people in the Union are involved in problematic opiate use.

  • Over one-fifth (22 %) of adult Europeans have used cannabis.

  • 95 % of respondents to a recent Eurobarometer opinion poll said there should continue to be controls on heroin, cocaine and ecstasy in Europe.

The European Action on Drugs is a Commission initiative under the EU Drugs Action Plan for 2009-2012.

The event:

10.00: Launch of the European Action on Drugs in the Berlaymont's Schuman Room, Brussels.

12.30: Press conference to be given by Vice-President Jacques Barrot and other participants in the Berlaymont Press Room, Brussels.

  • Covered by EbS

The sources:

European Commission site:

Vice-President Barrot's site:

The contacts:

Michele Cercone +32 2 298 0963

Riccardo Mosca +32 2 296 1404

Monday 29 June: No disturbances in electricity supply foreseen this summer in Europe

The news:

European Commission convenes twice a year the so-called Electricity Cross-Border Committee meetings, where summer or winter electricity outlooks are presented. The purpose is information sharing and awareness rising with regard potential supply issues.

Summer 2009 electricity adequacy report presented by the newly founded European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) shows that no disturbances in electricity supply are expected this summer.

The background:

Rising demand for electricity and energy in general requires good coordination between European electricity companies and networks. Only in this way uninterrupted service to citizens and industry and rational use of resources available can be ensured.

With this in mind, Commissioner Piebalgs asked ENTSO-E to present to the Electricity Cross-Border Committee their analysis of the situation as well as the preparatory and coordination measures taken by their members in order to avoid or mitigate the impact of any potential disturbances in electricity supply this summer.

The seasonal summer outlook report is prepared at European level, presenting the summary of the national or regional power balances between forecast generation and peak demand on a weekly basis for the summer period.

Should situation so require, the Commission usually establish an ad-hoc "cellule de vigilance" for the critical period, in order to ensure quick information sharing between neighbouring counties and transmission operators.

ENTSO-E is a new association of electricity network operators and it was founded to strengthen their cooperation in the European electricity market. This action is a proactive step of the network operators to contribute to reliable and efficient pan-European and regional markets, ahead of the European Union Third Legislative Package of the Internal Electricity Market. Summer 2009 electricity adequacy report is the first official document produced by ENTSO-E.

The event:

The Commission will convene a meeting of the Electricity Cross-Border Committee which includes representatives of EU Member states – Ministries responsible for energy and energy regulators from 10h to 12h. ENTSO-E will present its assessment at the meeting, explaining various scenarios for electricity supply this summer.

11.00: Technical briefing for the press in the Berlaymont Press room, Brussels

The sources:

European Commission Energy website on Gas and Electricity:

Commissioner Pieblags' website:

The contacts:

Ferran Tarradellas +32 2 296 6293

Marilyn Carruthers +32 2 299 9451

Tuesday 30 June: Measures to fight second-hand tobacco smoke

The news:

In countries with no comprehensive smoke-free regulations, tobacco smoke is present in the majority of public places, most of which are also somebody's workplace. Children's and adolescents' exposure to tobacco smoke – most of which occurs in the home - is also a serious health concern. Experts estimate that roughly 80 000 people in the EU, including 19 000 non-smokers, died in 2002 because they were exposed to tobacco smoke at home (72 000) and in their workplace (7 300). Environmental tobacco smoke constitutes a significant health and financial burden to European countries. Although smoke-free legislation has become more and more common, levels of protection vary largely within the EU. It is hospitality customers and workers that suffer most: The concentration of tobacco smoke in bars and restaurants is exceptionally high and the smoke-free regulation in those venues still is limited.

Where smoke-free policies are in place they have proven to be effective in reducing the tobacco-related burden while not harming the economy. This is why the Commission proposes a Council Recommendation to help EU Members to implement smoke-free legislation at national level. Already today the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control obliges all parties to ensure protection from exposure to tobacco smoke in indoor workplaces, indoor public places, public transport and, as appropriate, other public places. This Convention was ratified by all but one EU country. The main focus of the proposed Recommendation would therefore be to ensure effective and EU-wide implementation of the WHO Convention.

The background:

Thousands of non smokers in Europe suffer from second-hand smoke, which is a significant source of mortality, morbidity and disability in the EU. The smoke contains over 4 000 compounds, including 69 known carcinogens and many toxic agents. Any exposure to environmental tobacco smoke is dangerous. It has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system of adults and leads to heart disease as well as lung cancer. But second hand smoke it is even more harmful to children, causing for instance asthma, pneumonia, and sudden infant death syndrome.

In recent years great progress towards smoke-free environments has been made throughout Europe. Comprehensive smoke-free laws, covering indoor workplaces and public places, have been adopted in over a third of EU countries.

The event:

12.30: Commissioner Vassiliou will present in a press conference, the Recommendations for smoke-free environments in the Berlaymont Press room, Brussels.

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The sources:

European Commission's website on Tobacco:

Commissioner Vassiliou's website:

The contacts:

Nina Papadoulaki +32 2 29 86378

Antonie Kerwien +32 2 29 72686

Wednesday 1 st July: EU Roaming Regulation enters into force and cuts roaming costs for SMS, calls and data downloads up to 60%

The news:

1 July 2009 is a date that all mobile phone users across Europe should mark in their calendars because then the new EU Roaming Regulation proposed by the European Commission in September 2008 and adopted in the record time of 10 months becomes effective across all 27 EU Member States. The new roaming rules will substantially cut the cost of texting and surfing the internet with your mobile phone while abroad and further reduce roaming caps for calls made and received while abroad in the EU – all of this just in time for the summer holidays.

The new roaming rules which will be directly applicable within the EU as of 1 July 2009:

  • Introduce a 'Euro-SMS tariff' limiting the price  that consumers can be charged for sending a text message while abroad to € 0.11 excluding VAT (compared to an average of around € 0.29 today) which will lead to consumer savings of around 60%

  • reduce the cost of surfing the web or downloading movies with a mobile phone while abroad by introducing a wholesale cap of € 1 per MB downloaded

  • will protect consumers from 'bill shocks' by introducing a cut-off mechanism once your bill reaches € 50 (unless the consumer opts for a different limit).

  • further reduce prices for mobile roaming calls now capped at € 0.46 for calls made abroad and € 0.22 for calls received abroad (per minute and excluding VAT).

  • introduce the principle of per-second billing after the first 30 seconds.

The background:

The first EU Roaming Regulation entered into force on 1 July 2007 introducing caps for calls made and received while travelling in the EU which has led to consumer savings of over 40% when compared to roaming prices earlier in the same year. In 2008, following an extensive review of the situation in the European market for roaming services, the European Commission concluded that competition in the market was not yet effective and therefore proposed extending the Roaming Regulation to include new rules for text messages and data roaming services. After the European Parliament voted on 22 April by an overwhelming majority in favour of the new EU roaming rules and after the Council of the EU Telecoms Ministers also approved these new rules, following publication in the EU's Official Journal, they can become law in all 27 EU Member States.

Europe is already the mobile continent: mobile phone usage as a percentage of population went up from 84.6% in 2004 to 119% in 2008 and as a result of continuously falling roaming prices, Europe's 500 million consumers are expected to make even greater use of their mobile phones.

The event:

EU Roaming ambassadors for each EU Member State will be available for radio interviews in all EU languages from 30 June to 2 July. If you are interested please send an email to

The sources:

IP/09/620 : Cost of roaming texts, calls and data services to plummet from 1 July

IP/08/1386 , MEMO/08/578 : EC acts to cut cost of texting and mobile data services abroad

MEMO/08/745 : SMS and Data Roaming: Commission welcomes swift endorsement by Telecoms Council

The European Commission's Roaming website:

The contacts:

Martin Selmayr +32 2 298 12 30

Mina Andreeva +32 2 299 13 82

Wednesday 1 st July 2009: Commission to allow sale of 'wonky' fruit and vegetables

The news:

From 1 st July, specific marketing standards will be removed for 26 types of fruit and vegetables, allowing the sale of curvy cucumbers, curious carrots and bendy beans.

The background:

Last December, the Commission repealed specific marketing standards for 26 types of fruit and vegetables, meaning the end of EU rules governing the size and shape of these products – which include cucumbers, Brussels sprouts, melons, mushrooms and garlic.

For 10 types of fruit and vegetables - apples, citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, lettuce, peaches and nectarines, pears, strawberries, sweet peppers, table grapes and tomatoes – marketing standards will remain.

But even for these 10, Member States could for the first time allow shops to sell products which do not respect the standards, as long as they are clearly labelled.

In other words, the new rules will allow national authorities to permit the sale of all fruit and vegetables, regardless of their shape and size.

This forms part of the Commission's ongoing efforts to streamline and simplify EU rules and cut red tape.

It will cut waste and allow consumers a wider choice of products.

The event:

Entry into force of new Regulation on 1 st July

The sources:

IP/08/1694 : The return of the curvy cucumber: Commission to allow sale of "wonky" fruit and vegetables

European Commission's website:

Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel's blog:

The contacts:

Michael Mann +32 2 299 97 80

Johan Reyniers +32 2 295 67 28

Wednesday 8 July: Commission Green Paper: how can we make cross-border learning an opportunity for all young people in Europe?

The news:

With this Green Paper the European Commission will launch a public consultation on how all young people in Europe can be given the opportunity of going abroad for studying and learning.

The background:

There has been a lot of reflection in political and expert circles on the benefits of learning mobility, i.e. going abroad for the purpose of acquiring new skills, and its potential to contribute to European strategies for learning and skills. A clear consensus has emerged in favour of more mobility opportunities to be offered more broadly to young people. The Council in November 2008 asked the Commission to come up with a policy proposal to reach the ambitious goal of offering mobility opportunities to all young people.

The purpose of this Green Paper is therefore to open up the debate to stakeholders and the wider public, seeking their views on how best to boost substantially the opportunities for young people to have a mobility experience. In a public consultation the Commission will invite anyone interested to give their views on how both existing and new mechanisms and instruments can be better mobilised to promote the mobility of young people and how the different levels of public authorities - the EU, national, regional and local - together with other stakeholders - businesses, civil society organisations and individuals - can be mobilised.

The scope of the Green Paper is broad; it aims to address the situation of all young people in all different learning contexts: at school, at bachelor, master and PhD levels within university studies, as well as in internships, apprenticeships, youth exchanges, volunteer work or professional training, both within and outside the European Union.

The event:

Press conference with Commissioner Figel' 12:15, in the Berlaymont Pres room, Brussels.

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The sources:

European Commission:

Conclusions of the Education, Youth and Culture Council on youth mobility, 21 November 2008:

The contacts:

John R. Macdonald +32 2 295 52 67

Sophie Andersson +32 2 295 02 08

Wednesday 8 to Friday 10 July: The G8 summit in Italy – Shaping responses to global challenges

The news:

For the fifth time, President Barroso will represent the Commission as full member of the G8 summit, which this year takes place under Italian Presidency in L'Aquila (Italy).

Alongside with the leaders of Sweden as holder of the EU Council presidency, the four European Union G8 members (France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom) as well as the United States, Russia, Canada, and Japan, President Barroso will push for a coordinated international response to common challenges related to the economic and financial crisis, trade, climate change, development/Africa and food security.

The provisional programme of the summit comprises at this stage a meeting of the G8 leaders on the first day followed by a day-long meeting of the G8 + G5 leaders (Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa) and Egypt as well as a meeting of the G8 with African leaders (Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Libya as holder of the presidency of the African Union). During the summit G8 leaders will also meet their counterparts from Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Republic of Korea and South Africa in the context of the Major Economies Forum.

In a spirit of linking the G8 with the G20 process as well as the ongoing UN climate change negotiations also the leaders of Spain, Denmark, Netherlands and Turkey will participate in parts of the programme.

The final elements of the programme and the participating countries and international organisations will be communicated by the Italian G8 presidency shortly.

The context:

The summit takes place at a time where multiple global challenges require more than ever the commitment and determination of G8 leaders and their partners to promote coordinated international action. A series of events, like the G20 process, initiated last year by the EU, and the ongoing UN climate change negotiations have been helping to shape this response. The G8 summit therefore is a crucial occasion to provide political impetus in finding and implementing solutions and to ensure a link with the other ongoing processes.

The event:

Participation of Commission President Barroso in the G8 summit in L'Aquila (Italy).

  • EbS coverage

The sources:

IP/08/1105 : President Barroso at the 2008 G8 Summit in Japan

MEMO/08/478 : FAQs: the 2008 G8 Summit in Japan

Site of the G8 summit:

Accreditation of journalists: deadline 26 June 2009 !

Site of President Barroso:

The contacts

(also on the spot in L'Aquila during the summit)

Johannes Laitenberger +32 2 296 5745

Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen +32 2 295 3070

Jens Mester +32 2 296 3973

Tuesday 14 July: Revision of security of gas supply Directive

The news:

As requested by the European Council and the European Parliament, the Commission will come up with a reinforced Security of Gas Supply instrument that will better equip the European Union to face disruptions of gas supplies and to develop solidarity mechanisms among Member States.

The background:

During the gas crisis of January 2009, a number of European citizens suffered from shortages of supply. This was the case particularly for Member States that were less interconnected with the rest of the Internal Energy Market.

During the crisis, the rules of the security of gas supply directive (like calling for the Gas Coordination Group) were applied with positive results in a number of Member States, but both Parliament and Council considered that the directive had to be reinforced to increase the security of gas supply.

The recast of this directive had already been forecast in the Second Strategic Energy Review, which was accompanied with a communication on Security of Gas Supply.

The event:

Press conference by Commissioner Piebalgs in the Press Room of the Parliament in Strasbourg, 16.00.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Security of supply package

Memo on the Communication on Security of Gas Supply


Commissioner Piebalg's website:

The contacts:

Ferran Tarradellas Espuny +32.498 96 62 93

Marilyn Carruthers +32 2 299 9451

Thursday 16 July: Keeping an eye on our food – 30 years Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed

The news:

It was in 1979 that the Commission and European countries agreed to voluntarily exchange alerts on food and feed to protect the consumer. For 30 years now the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) has served as one of the most important tools to ensure that the products we eat are safe.

To mark the anniversary of the system there will be a conference on the latest developments of the RASFF in Brussels. The system assembles all EU countries but Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and the European Food Safety Authority belong to the network as well. EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou will present the RASFF annual report 2008 in a press conference after the midday briefing.

The background:

The RASFF was put in place to provide food and feed control authorities with an effective tool to exchange information about measures taken responding to serious risks detected in relation to food or feed. This exchange of information helps Member States to act more rapidly and in a coordinated manner in response to a health threat caused by food or feed.

Its effectiveness is ensured by keeping its structure simple: it consists essentially of clearly identified contact points in the Commission and at national level in member countries, exchanging information in a structured way by means of templates. In 2007 the number of notifications to the RASFF reached an all-time high with 7354.

The event:

Conference: 30 YEARS RAPID ALERT SYSTEM FOR FOOD AND FEED, Autoworld, Brussels, from 9.00 to 19.00

Press Conference with Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou at 12.30 in the Berlaymont, Press Room

  • Available on EbS + VNR

The sources:

European Commission's website on the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed:

RASFF conference website/registration:

RASFF Annual Report 2007:

The contacts:

Nina Papadoulaki +32 2 29 86378

Antonie Kerwien +32 2 29 72686

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