EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS – 16 OCTOBER

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EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS - 16 OCTOBER
16 Oct 2014

EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS – 16 OCTOBER

Brussels Daily

EU research turning food waste into feed

Global demand for food is expected to increase by 70% by 2050, while a steep increase in biomass use will also put pressure on agriculture. Feeding the world without damaging the environment is the focus of World Food Day 2014 – and the goal of several EU-funded research projects. The EU is investing over €4 billion in research and innovation for a European bioeconomy that makes the most of our renewable biological resources. Agriculture is a key component, securing food production, ensuring the sustainable management of natural resources, and supporting development in rural areas. The EU is the source of 18% of world food exports, worth €76 billion. But in the EU and elsewhere, agricultural waste is holding farmers back and costing taxpayers money – between €55 and €99 per tonne. Turning agricultural waste into animal feed – the solution favoured by EU-funded research project NOSHAN – would open up new opportunities for farmers while cutting Europe’s dependence on feed imports. This would, in turn, create new green jobs in waste collection, treatment plants and feed manufacturing. The concept will be particularly welcome in rural areas, where growth is less intensive than in urban areas, and where the feed industry is a powerful economic engine.

Gas stress test: Cooperation is key to cope with supply interruption

What will happen if Russian gas supplies are interrupted this winter? Will homes and companies have the energy they need? What can the EU and Member States do? The Commission’s report on the resilience of the European gas system issued today, gives answers: More gas will continue to be delivered to homes and companies, if Member States cooperate and allow the market forces to work as long as possible. Government intervention should be carefully prepared on a regional basis and only kick in, if needed. The report includes concrete short-term recommendations for the most vulnerable EU Member States and neighbouring countries.

Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for Energy, Günther H. Oettinger said: “This report shows that we are not waiting but do everything we can do to be prepared. For the very first time, we have a complete picture of the risks and possible solutions. If we work together, show solidarity and implement the recommendations of this report, no household in the EU has to be left out in the cold this winter.”

Read the full press release at IP/14/1162 , Q&A in MEMO/14/593 , The report will be online in a few minutes at http://ec.europa.eu/energy/stress_tests_en.htm

President Barroso participates in Asia-Europe Business Forum, 10th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit

Today, President Barroso speaks at the closing ceremony of the in the Asia-Europe Business Forum (AEBF) , together with President Van Rompuy and the Prime Ministers of Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan and Italy. The AEBF is expected to attract around 300 high-level business representatives and CEOs from Europe and Asia. The overall theme of the AEBF will be “Enhancing business relations to foster economic integration between Europe and Asia”.

In the afternoon, President Barroso takes part in the 10th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit . The Summit is chaired by President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, who represents the European Union together with President Barroso. The meeting is hosted by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the Government of Italy. The Summit brings together Heads of State and Government from 51 Asian and European partners and the ASEAN Secretary General. ASEM will be an excellent opportunity for dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe, as ASEM partners represent approx. 60% of world population, GDP and trade. President Barroso speaks at the Opening Session, at 2pm.

In the margins of the Summit, President Barroso meets with the Prime Minister of Poland Ewa Kopacz, the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina.

Tonight, a dinner for the ASEM leaders will be hosted by the President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano.

Tomorrow at 1pm, President Barroso will speak at the summit press conference.

Infringements decisions: Commission acts for full and proper implementation of European legislation

The Commission has decided today to refer 9 Members States to the EU Court of Justice, and in the case of The Netherlands and Portugal has requested that the Court imposes financial penalties. The other referrals concern Austria, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania and Sweden. The Commission will also send 39 reasoned opinions to 19 countries: BG, CY, CZ, DE, EE, EL, ES, HU, IT, LT, LU, LV, NL, PL, PT, RO, SI, SK and UK. With a total of 140 decisions, the Commission aims at ensuring proper application of EU law for the benefit of citizens and businesses.

A summary of the main decisions can be found in the MEMO/14/589 . On the general infringement procedure, see MEMO/12/12 .

Other news

Draft budget 2015: Commission amends its proposal

The European Commission is proposing to amend the 2015 EU draft budget, taking into consideration updated forecasts and estimates via “amending letter no. 1”. This a classical amending letter that updates estimated needs for the agriculture expenditure. Moreover it foresees the financing of the crisis measures in agriculture (estimated at EUR 344 million) from the specific agricultural crisis reserve. The additional resources becoming available (amounting to EUR 448,5 million compared to the draft budget 2015) allow for redeployment of payment appropriations to meet the most pressing needs elsewhere in the budget and finance programmes in other headings.  Thanks to the proposed redeployment, past and current commitments can be honoured and beneficiaries can receive the funds envisaged by the agreed EU policies.

For more details see

September 2014: Euro area annual inflation down to 0.3% – EU down to 0.4%

Euro area annual inflation was 0.3% in September 2014, down from 0.4% in August. This is the lowest rate recorded since October 2009. In September 2013 the rate was 1.1%. Monthly inflation was 0.4% in September 2014. European Union annual inflation was 0.4% in September 2014, down from 0.5% in August. This is the lowest rate recorded since September 2009 In September 2013 the rate was 1.3%. Monthly inflation was 0.3% in September 2014. These figures come from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

August 2014: Euro area international trade in goods surplus €9.2 bn, €8.9 bn deficit for EU28

The first estimate for the euro area (EA18) trade in goods balance with the rest of the world in August 2014 gave a €9.2 billion surplus, compared with +€7.3 bn in August 2013. The July 2014 balance was +€21.6 bn, compared with +€18.0 bn in July 2013. In August 2014 compared with July 2014, seasonally adjusted exports fell by 0.9% and imports by 3.1%. These data are released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. The first estimate for the August 2014 extra-EU28 trade balance was a €8.9 bn deficit, compared with -€2.3 bn in August 2013. In July 20142 the balance was +€1.6 bn, compared with +€10.7 bn in July 2013. In August 2014 compared with July 2014, seasonally adjusted exports fell by 2.1% and imports by 4.0%.

ECJ rules favourably for the Commission over the German barriers to trade in construction products

German requirements that construction products must have additional national marks or approvals, despite the fact that they already have a CE-mark and are legally marketed in other Member States are breaching the European rules of free movement of goods. This was confirmed by the European Court of Justice today. Such an outcome represents a significant step forwards for the consolidation of the Internal Market for construction products and the Commission services will work closely with the German authorities to effectively address the needs brought about by the Court judgement. Under the newly adopted Construction Products Regulation (305/2011/EU), Member States retain competence to establish performance requirements for construction products, but on condition that Member States do not impede the free movement of CE-marked products, the proper function of which is ensured by harmonised European standards. These introduce a “ common technical language ” for expressing and defining the performance of construction products. If Member States require products covered by a harmonised standard to undergo additional testing, in spite of having been CE-marked, it creates barriers of trade within the Single Market. Before the Commission decided to refer Germany to the Court there were extensive exchanges of information between the Commission and Germany, in which the German authorities acknowledged the use of and reliance on the national system of Bauregellisten, necessitating Ü marks for certain construction products. This national system requires construction products that are already CE-marked to undergo additional testing and acquire national approval, before they can be marketed in Germany. The Commission had received numerous complaints from manufacturers and importers of construction products, who have had difficulties to sell their products on the German market. Today´s case focused on construction products covered by certain harmonised European standards (notably doors, gates and thermal insulation products). However, as the Commission had been receiving a large number of similar complaints regarding the German treatment of products covered by several other harmonised standards, the judgement of the Court impacts the whole German system of Bauregellisten.

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of a real estate portfolio by AXA and Hammerson

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of a real estate portfolio located in Bristol, United Kingdom, by AXA of France and Hammerson of the UK. AXA is a global insurance group which also operates in investment management. Hammerson develops, rents and operates its own commercial real estate. The target portfolio comprises a shopping centre and other residential and retail assets, including a multi-storey car park and surrounding land in the centre of Bristol.The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns because of its small impact on the market structure. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7372 .

Mayors sign commitments to tackle climate change in European cities

Commissioner Connie Hedgeaard is today welcoming European mayors at the official signing ceremony of the Mayors Adapt initiative. This marks a major milestone, with over 100 cities now committed to building up their resilience against climate change. The list of signatory cities runs from Agueda in Portugal to Zwijndrecht in Belgium and includes Barcelona, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Lisbon, Munich and Naples. During the day-long event, participants will also have the opportunity to share experience on climate adaptation and discuss further cooperation within the initiative. They have also been joined by Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York and Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC through video recordings while Commissioner Johannes Hahn will later participate in the closing of the event.

Undeclared work: Commissioner Andor welcomes Council’s agreement on EU Platform for better prevention and deterrence

European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor has welcomed the agreement reached today by the EU’s Council of Employment and Social Policy Ministers on a so-called ‘general–approach’ to establish a European Platform to better prevent and deter undeclared work. The Platform seeks to bring together various national enforcement bodies involved in the fight against undeclared work, which causes serious damage to working conditions, fair competition and public budgets. “With the Council’s agreement on a general approach, the Platform is one step closer to becoming a reality. Undeclared work is a serious challenge to all Member States, depriving workers of social protection and decent working conditions, undermining fair competition for business and putting the sustainability of public finances at risk. Therefore, it is essential that all Member States actively participate in the new Platform’s activities, especially since undeclared work is not just an internal concern but has a cross-border dimension. By joining forces, we’ll be better placed to fight this scourge“, said Andor.

State aid: Commission approves restructuring aid scheme for Irish credit unions

The European Commission has found an Irish scheme aimed at restructuring the credit union sector to be in line with EU State aid rules. In particular, the Commission concluded that the scheme will strengthen the Irish financial sector, while limiting the risk of distorting competition in the Single Market. This is the first scheme that a Member State puts in place for the restructuring of small financial institutions as foreseen in the Commission’s 2013 Communication on state aid rules to support measures in favour of banks in the context of the financial crisis (the so-called 2013 “Banking Communication” see IP/13/672   and MEMO/13/886).

What Commissioners said

World Food Day: Joint statement by Commissioners Andris Piebalgs and Kristalina Georgieva

At the occasion of World Food Day today, Commissioners Andris Piebalgs and Kristalina Georgieva, said: “Today is an opportunity to reflect on how European Union aid is alleviating the world’s greatest solvable problem: hunger. Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger is the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG). With the MDG deadline now less than 500 days away, we have to up our game. Back in 2009 the number of hungry people in the world hit the critical one billion mark. Since then, this number has fallen to 805 million, or one in nine people worldwide. That’s still 805 million people too many. But the numbers show that the international community – including the EU – is going in the right direction. ”

Read the full statement here: STATEMENT/14/319

Opening Speaking Note by Commissioner Tonio Borg at the Ebola High Level Co-ordination Meeting

“The EU is fully committed to fight the spread of Ebola in those affected countries now and in the months ahead,  but at the same time I believe it is also our duty to ensure that Europe is prepared to deal with Ebola”, according to Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner Tonio BORG. Opening the Ebola High Level Co-ordinating Meeting in Brussels today, attended by 21 Ministerial representatives, the Commissioner reiterated that decisions on measures to guard one’s borders against the Ebola virus disease remain exclusively up to Member States. However, the Commission does have a responsibility to consult with Member States to help co-ordinate efforts “to develop, strengthen and maintain their capacities for monitoring, early warning, assessment and response to serious cross-border threats to health”. In that sense today’s meeting will not take any decisions, but provides an important forum to discuss the possible options to address the issues. “We need to ensure that laboratories, primary care, hospitals and public health services stand ready to react rapidly and effectively to protect our citizens and stop Ebola from spreading if and when it arrives. In addition, if we are to consider putting in place other measures at entry points, it is clear that such measures cannot be effective in isolation.”

Read the full speech here: SPEECH/14/698

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