Archive pour avril 2011

Flash estimate - April 2011 Euro area inflation estimated at 2.8%

Samedi 30 avril 2011

STAT/11/63 29 April 2011 Euro area1 annual inflation2 is expected to be 2.8% in April 2011 according to a flash estimate issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. It was 2.7% in March3….

Lire l’article complet

March 2011 Euro area unemployment rate at 9.9% EU27 at 9.5%

Samedi 30 avril 2011

STAT/11/62 29 April 2011 The euro area1 (EA17) seasonally-adjusted2 unemployment rate3 was 9.9% in March 2011, unchanged compared with February4. It was 10.1% in March 2010. The EU271 unemployment rate was 9….

Lire l’article complet

Improvement of air traffic over Central Europe : the success of a EU project

Vendredi 29 avril 2011

Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovenia participate in a study aiming at identifying solutions to implement the Single European Sky II (SES II) legislation. The EU co-financing is worth 1.4 million euro. The main objective is to improve safety, capacity, environmental performance, as well as reduce air transport costs.

4 December 2012 is the deadline fixed by the European Commission to establish the Functional Airspace Blocks (FAB) all over Europe so that air traffic management services can be harmonised throughout the continent. The “FAB Central Europe (FAB CE) Implementation of Static Area of Responsibility Scenario” study involves four Member States (Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovenia). It aims to devise solutions to implement the performance targets of the SES II legislation, in particular in the areas of safety, capacity, flight efficiency, environment, and cost effectiveness. After obtaining the first results through the Feasibility Study Master Plan in 2010, this study is the last major phase to meet the deadline.

A study chosen under the 2010 TEN-T Multi-Annual Call, it will deal specifically with the FAB CE pre-implementation phase which will prepare the establishment of common airspace design and airspace planning processes, lay the foundations for an advanced level of interoperability to enable cross-border operations in the FAB, and will develop coordinated approaches and harmonisation of systems and methodologies.

More specifically, the main objectives of the FAB CE and the concerned Air National Service Providers (ANSP) are:
* Connecting the currently fragmented ANSP activities of the four countries within the FAB Network
* Improving the civil-military coordination by connecting the FAB activity with military airspace users needs and by the applying a flexible use of airspace management
* Harmonising and coordinating the capacity planning process
* Coordinating the FAB-FAB interface prior to the appointment of a network manager
* Working towards achieving full operational interoperability of the Air Traffic Management (ATM) systems by optimising existing functionalities
* Implementing the relevant parts of the Implementation Package 1 (IP1) concept defined in the SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research) Master Plan to improve performance

While optimising flights movements and reducing air transport costs, this project will have a direct impact on safety, capacity and environmental performance, reducing gas emissions and fuel consumption.

This study takes place in the global framework of the Single European Sky legislation which requires Member States and Air National Service Providers to develop policies to coordinate their services, with the aim of implementing their FABs by 2012.

Less terrorism, but threat remains serious - Europol

Vendredi 29 avril 2011

“Nearly 10 years after the 9-11 attacks, terrorism continues to pose a serious threat to the EU and its citizens,” Europol /director Rob Wainwright told MEPs 19 April. He underlined the connection between terror, organised crime and drug trafficking, and the growing use of the internet as a recruiting tool. But he noted that a number of attacks were prevented in 2010, and that more individuals planning terrorism were arrested.

Mr Wainwright was in Parliament to present the latest “EU Terrorism and Situation Report”. He drew a picture of the terrorist threat in Europe as a mosaic, with separatism as well as Islamism and anarchist terrorism behind the majority of the 249 attacks registered in the EU in 2010, in which seven people died and many others were injured. Two attacks in Sweden and one in Denmark were attributed to Islamist terrorist groups, and were aimed at “causing mass casualties”.

Although the numbers and threat remain high, “in overall terms the number of attacks in the EU represents a decrease on the figure for 2009, due largely to a significant decrease in the number of attacks attributed to ETA”, he said.

Financing

Mr Wainwright warned that terrorist groups are becoming more diverse and flexible, and there are signs of increased international collaboration between groups and growing links between organised crime and terrorism.

“Separatist terrorist groups such as the PKK and LTTE are involved in the trafficking of drugs and human beings to raise funds for their terrorism activities,” he said. Contact and collaboration are also reported between “ETA in Spain and FARC in Colombia”, “international drug trafficking groups and Islamist terrorist groups in West Africa” and “violent left-wing groups in Italy, Greece and Spain”.

Spanish EPP member Agustín Díaz de Mera said it is vital “not to underestimate the threat…international cooperation is of the utmost importance”, while Portuguese Socialist Ana Gomes asked if offshore havens will be controlled “so that they won’t be an instrument” used by criminal groups for such international cooperation.

Internet

Mr Wainwright also underlined the increasing role of the Internet: It “is developing into a critical facilitator” for terrorist groups, who are “demonstrating increased professionalism in using web-based technologies” as propaganda and recruiting tools. Right wing extremist groups are also “becoming very active on the Internet and social networks.”

Instability in North Africa

“The current and future flow of immigrants originating from North Africa could have an influence on the EU’s security situation,” according to Europol.

Maltese EPP member Simon Busuttil and British Conservative Timothy Kirkhope asked whether there was any evidence about how the risk is increasing for Europe. “The activities of Islamist groups in the EU are certainly affected by the international situation,” Mr Wainwright said. The current situation “at least provides opportunities to organised crime groups.”

“A Europol operational team has been deployed to Lampedusa and mainland Italy,” which have faced a huge influx of refugees, where it works with EU border agency Frontex and the Italian authorities.

Consultation on best practices for cooperation among EU national competition authorities

Vendredi 29 avril 2011

The European Commission has made public a set of draft best practices aimed at fostering and facilitating information sharing between national competition authorities (”NCAs”) within the European Union, for mergers that are not subject to EU merger control but require clearance in several Member States.

The Commission is seeking the opinion of interested parties on draft best practices drawn up by the recently set up Merger Working Group, composed of the Commission and EU national competition authorities. The best practices are intended to foster and facilitate information sharing between national competition authorities in the EU when they are engaged in the review of the same merger or acquisition that does not qualify for the one-stop shop review by the Commission at EU level, but needs approval in several national jurisdictions. Information that might be usefully shared would include important developments relating to the timing of the review process, the substantive assessment and, where applicable, remedies.

Mergers where cooperation is likely to be beneficial include those which have the potential to affect competition in more than one Member State, or where remedies need to be designed in more than one Member State. The best practices do not therefore envisage cooperation in all multijurisdictional cases. NCAs will decide on a case-by-case basis whether a well targeted cooperation could enhance the review process.

The success of cooperation will depend to a great extent on the goodwill and cooperation of the merging parties, who have an important role to play. Cooperation is in the interest of merging parties and NCAs alike, as it can increase the overall efficiency, transparency and effectiveness of the merger review process. It will be particularly effective where the merging parties permit the NCAs to exchange confidential information. The timing of notifications is also an important area where merging parties can facilitate cooperation between NCAs.

The Merger Working Group was established in Brussels in January 2010. It consists of representatives of the European Commission and the NCAs of the European Union together with observers from the competition authorities of the European Economic Area. The Group’s aim is to foster increased cooperation and convergence of merger control in the EU. The Working Group is chaired by the Commission, with Ireland and Germany as current joint vice chairs.

The EU’s 20-year-old Merger Regulation created a one-stop-shop for the regulatory review of mergers and acquisitions above certain turnover thresholds. Last year, the Commission reviewed 274 mergers, still down from a peak of 402 in 2007 as the economic and financial situation slowed down the M&A activity. The same year at least 240 transactions fell outside the Commission’s exclusive competence and needed to be notified with two or more NCAs. Celebrating the anniversary of Merger Regulation Joaquín Almunia, Commission Vice President in charge of Competition Policy, said last month that EU merger control was one of the EU’s success stories, while noting the important role played by the national competition authorities.

However VP Almunia also acknowledged that companies call for more cooperation among national competition authorities and more convergence in their approach to merger control.

In light of the submissions, the Working Group will review the proposals with a view to publishing a final version in the autumn of 2011.

Ombudsman criticises Commission’s misleading information to air passengers during volcanic ash crisis

Vendredi 29 avril 2011

EO/11/8 28 April 2011 The European Ombudsman, P.Nikiforos Diamandouros, has criticised the misleading information given to air passengers by the European Commission during the volcanic ash crisis in 2010….

Lire l’article complet

Free movement for workers from the eight countries that joined the European Union in 2004

Jeudi 28 avril 2011

From the 1st of May 2011, the right to freedom of movement will be effective for workers from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia. The Commission is however not expecting a mass influx of workers from these eight countries.

Speaking at a labour market conference in Budapest, László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion welcomed the end of the transitional period. “The removal of these final obstacles for workers from the EU-8 is a great opportunity for each individual but also for the EU as a whole. Mobility is a key driver for employment growth and in countries like Germany and Austria it will help fill serious skills gaps and job vacancies”

As part of the 2003 Accession Treaty and to alleviate concerns about the negative impact that the full application of EU law on free movement of workers could have on the labour markets and the social situation of the EU’s then 15 Member States, a seven-year transitional period was agreed during which countries could gradually introduce the free movement of workers.

Some Member States opened up their labour markets straight away to the EU-8 workers from the very start. Only Germany and Austria (and to a lesser extent the UK with its registration requirement of the UK’s Worker Registration Scheme) did not apply EU law on free movement to workers from the 8 EU countries until the end of this seven-year period.

As the transitional period draws to a close, the Commission has concluded that initial fears of massive flows of workers form the East were exaggerated. In its two reports from 2006 and 2008 which look at the impact of free movement of workers in the context of enlargement, it found that mobile workers from these countries have had an overwhelmingly positive impact on Member States’ economies and have not led to serious disturbances on their labour markets. On the contrary, these workers have made a significant contribution to sustained economic growth. They did not aggravate unemployment or drive down wages and open labour markets have also helped efforts to stamp out undeclared work.

Figures show that inflows of workers from the EU-8 countries have been relatively limited. Their number has increased quite rapidly (especially in some Member States as Ireland or UK) from around 1 million in 2004 (0.3% of the total population) to a bit more than 2.3 million in 2010 (0.6% of the total population). However, it remains low compared to 19 million non-EU nationals residing in EU-15 countries (a bit less than 5% of the total population).

Looking ahead, the Commission does not expect a massive new wave of workers moving from EU-8 to EU-15 countries after 1 May 2011. According to current estimates, the total stock of nationals from EU-8 countries living in EU-15 Member States will increase to 3.3 million in 2015 and 3.9 million in 2020 and their share in the total population from currently 0.6% to 0.8% in 2015 and a bit less than 1% in 2020.

Massive inflows are also not to be expected to Germany and Austria. Any future mobility is likely to be a positive development in these countries in particular which have some of the lowest unemployment rates and highest numbers of job vacancies.

Background

The 2003 Accession Treaty allowed Member States to restrict during a seven-year transitional period the right of workers from 8 of the 10 countries that joined the EU in 2004 (EU-8) to freely move to another Member State to work (namely Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia).

The aim of these transitional arrangements was to allow Member States to gradually introduce free movement step-by-step during this period, to avoid labour market disturbances by a sudden inflow of workers following accession to the EU. Such transitional arrangements have applied in most of the EU’s enlargements. There were three phases (2+3+2 years) in the 2003 transitional arrangements during which different, increasingly stricter conditions applied as to the conditions under which Member States could restrict labour market access. Member States could, however, open their labour markets at any stage. Typically Member States that restricted access to their labour markets applied work permit schemes.

3 Member States (Ireland, UK and Sweden) opened their labour markets from the beginning on 1 May 2004 while the remaining 12 restricted access to their labour markets. In turn, 3 of the EU-8 Member States (Hungary, Poland and Slovenia) used reciprocal measures and restricted access to their labour markets for nationals from those Member States that restricted labour market access for their nationals.

During the course of the second phase, i.e. the three years from 2006 to 2009, EU-8 workers were gradually given free access to the labour markets in a total of 8 more Member States (2006: Greece, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Italy, 2007: Netherlands, Luxembourg, 2008: France) and the reciprocal measures were dropped by Slovenia and Poland.

From the beginning of the final third phase from 1 May 2009 two more Member States (Belgium and Denmark) ended restrictions and opened their labour markets for EU-8 workers and Hungary ended reciprocal measures. Therefore, during the final two years of the transitional period, only two Member States (Germany and Austria) continued to apply substantial restrictions on labour market access.

Visiting the EP?

Jeudi 28 avril 2011

Each working day, the European Parliament welcomes hundreds of visitors to its premises in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg. Over five years the number of visitors has increased by almost 13%, with more than 300,000 people coming through the doors in 2010. But what do citizens make of their time in the EP? One bright Wednesday morning in April, we asked some of them.

Veni, vidi…vici

The EP attracts many student visitors, like Hanna and Felix from Bavaria, who came to Brussels as part of a scholarship programme. Hanna wanted to know “how the EU works and what say Bavaria has in the EU”, while 24-year-old physics and bionics student Felix was “really eager to learn more about the European system”.

Costantino from Udine in Italy was visiting as part of a school project. It was his first visit abroad with the school and he was very excited to be in Brussels, which is “one of the best cities in the world”.

Tracy, a teacher from the UK was here with 16 and 17-year-old students, not only because it is part of the curriculum, but because “they are coming up to voting age (and the visit) gives them an insight into politics”.

Visitors aren’t just from schools and universities, the EP attracts plenty of pensioners, party activists, journalists and even soldiers and priests. We accidently interviewed a politician, “disguised” as a regular visitor. As a Czech MP Pavel Staněk often visits the Parliament and although he is a eurosceptic, he would recommend all citizens visit to “see where their taxes are spent and how the decisions are taken in the EU”.

Hille from Denmark first visited the EP last year and enjoyed it so much that she decided to come back for more. The best part of the visit was the opportunity to meet her MEP in person. She was overawed by the size of the EP. “It is all very big,” she said.

Interested?

Book your group visit on-line or come and take the multimedia-guided individual visit (in Brussels) in any of the 23 official languages. Information visits for groups have proven very successful, but don’t expect a traditional guided tour.

Of course the EP is a workplace for thousands of people, so not all of its premises are open to visitors. That certainly doesn’t mean that there is nothing to see and an official is always available to give you a full briefing on the hows and whys of the institution. You will also get to visit the plenary chamber’s public gallery.

Open Days 2011

Once a year the EP throws open its doors to all comers. This year’s Open Days are on 7 May in Brussels and 8 May in Strasbourg, so if you are nearby on either of those days why not pop in and check out the EP.

European workers: Young, brilliant … but unemployed?

Jeudi 28 avril 2011

For many, the youth is the prime of life. Yet this assertion is undermined when it comes to finding a job: over 20% of those under 25 are unemployed in Europe. The European Union is trying to improve the prospects of young job seekers with the initiative “Youth in Motion. “

This article is only available in French.

European workers: Young, brilliant … but unemployed?

Jeudi 28 avril 2011

For many, the youth is the prime of life. Yet this assertion is undermined when it comes to finding a job: over 20% of those under 25 are unemployed in Europe. The European Union is trying to improve the prospects of young job seekers with the initiative “Youth in Motion. “

This article is only available in French.