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Top stories
 Press briefing following the meeting of Barroso and Kenny

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with EC President José Manuel Barroso at this morning's press conferenceThe President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, congratulated Taoiseach Enda Kenny on Ireland's performance under the EU/IMF programme. "We have seen good steady progress in implementation of the programme and there are clear signs that this is paying off. Interest rates have come down and growth has resumed. Continued strong policy implementation remains essential, especially in the current market conditions. The agreement of European Union leaders to reduce the margin on EU loans to Ireland is a significant achievement. It will bring important savings for Irish tax payers."

President Barroso added that it was "a very timely and constructive meeting because we share the same views on the future of Europe. We believe that we have to be stronger in our response. It has to be a decisive comprehensive response. We have very similar views on what needs to be done. We exchanged ideas also on how to have a community based approach to future economic governance."

The full press briefing is available as video and audio:

Video: http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/videoplayer.cfm?ref=79956

Audio: http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/download/audio_download_en.cfm?id=188539 

 
 
 A roadmap for stability and growth

President José Manuel Barroso with Secretary General Catherine Day at the European Parliament yesterdayYesterday (Wednesday) the Commission presented a roadmap outlining the comprehensive response that is needed to restore confidence in the Euro area and the European Union as a whole. This response is designed to break the vicious circle between doubts over the sustainability of sovereign debt, the stability of the banking system and the European Union's growth prospects.

Delivering on the commitments made in President Barroso's State of the Union Address, the Commission outlined five areas of action that are interdependent and need to be implemented together and as quickly as possible. The five areas are: a decisive response to the problems in Greece; enhancing the euro area's backstops against the crisis; a coordinated approach to strengthen Europe's banks; frontloading stability and growth enhancing policies, and building robust and integrated economic governance for the future.

 
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 State aid: Commission clears aid from Irish Insurance Compensation Fund for restructuring of Quinn Insurance

The European Commission has approved under EU state aid rules support measures of over €700 million provided by the Irish Insurance Compensation Fund (ICF) for the restructuring of Quinn Insurance Limited (QIL), an Irish general insurer which ran into difficulties in 2010 and is currently in administration.

As part of the restructuring, the viable Irish general insurance part of QIL has been sold to a joint venture between the US insurer Liberty Mutual and Anglo Irish bank, while the non-viable UK operations will be wound-down. The viability of the healthcare insurance of QIL is not assessed in this decision as its own sales process is still going on.

 
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 Commissioner Olli Rehn - text of speech to Irish Bankers Federation (Wednesday)

Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli RehnYesterday (Wesnesday) Economic and Monetary Affairs Comissioner Olli Rehn delivered a speech by video conference to the Irish Bankers Federation.

In his speech the Commissioner said that Ireland had been "one of the worst hit economies in the financial and economic crisis which started in Europe in the autumn of 2008".

He went on to say that "A prerequisite for the resumption of growth and job creation is that the financial market turbulence calms down, that interest rates and asset price volatility come down and credit starts to flow to businesses and households again. This is the first part of any successful recovery."

The Commissioner added that he was "glad to note that Ireland has come far in this first part of paving the way for a sustained recovery. This is based on effective policy action to ensure the liquidity and solvency of both the sovereign and the banking sector. The EU-IMF financial assistance programme set up last autumn to help Ireland, and the strong support from the ECB, have been essential for this. But of course the biggest contribution comes from the Irish authorities and the Irish people themselves."

 
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 Irish people more concerned about economy than climate change

Image of droughtIrish people (57%) are less likely than the European average (68%) to see climate change as a very serious problem a special Eurobarometer survey published at the end of last week shows.

The poll, carried out in June 2011, also found that concern about climate change among the Irish public has remained unchanged since 2009, although it has increased on a Europe-wide basis. Furthermore for Irish respondents the economic situation remains a greater worry than climate change although the reverse is true for the EU as a whole.

Irish people are also far less likely to consider climate change to be the responsibility of business and industry (18% compared to EU average of 35%) or of themselves personally (14% compared to EU average of 21%) although they are among the most likely to have personally taken action to combat climate change in the last six months.

 
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 EU Commission wants optional common sales law to boost trade and lower prices

European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding at the press conference earlier this week on the European Contract LawTraders who are put off doing business in other EU countries are missing out on at least €26 billion every year, the European Commission said earlier this week. It went on to propose a solution: an optional Common European Sales Law.

The Common European Sales Law will offer a single set of rules for cross-border contracts in all 27 EU countries. If traders offer their products on the basis of the Common European Sales Law, consumers would have the option of choosing a user-friendly European contract with a high level of protection with just one click of a mouse.

Getting rid of the 27 different sets of contract sales law would mean lower prices and greater choices, especially in smaller national markets such as Ireland. And it would make it much easier and cheaper for small companies to do business with their EU neighbours.

 
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Spotlight on:
 European Commission proposes a new partnership between Europe and its farmers

EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos speaking at yesterday's press conferenceThe European Commission yesterday (Wednesday) presented a draft reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the period after 2013. This draft aims to strengthen the competitiveness, sustainability and permanence of agriculture throughout the EU in order to secure for European citizens a healthy and high-quality source of food, preserve the environment and develop rural areas.

'The European Commission is proposing a new partnership between Europe and its farmers in order to meet the challenges of food security, sustainable use of natural resources and growth. The next decades will be crucial for laying the foundations of a strong agricultural sector that can cope with climate change and international competition while meeting the expectations of the citizen. Europe needs its farmers. Farmers need Europe's support. The Common Agricultural Policy is what feeds us, it's the future of more than half of our territory', said Dacian CioloĊŸ, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development.

The reformed CAP will make it possible to promote innovation, strengthen both the economic and ecological competitiveness of the agricultural sector, combat climate change, and sustain employment and growth. It will thus make a decisive contribution to the Europe 2020 strategy.

The ten key points of the reform
1) More targeted income support in order to stimulate growth and employment

In order to enhance the EU's agricultural potential, the Commission is proposing to support farmers' income in a fairer, simpler and more targeted manner. Basic income support will affect only active farmers. It will reduce gradually from EUR 150 000 (degressivity), with a ceiling of EUR 300 000 per farm per year, and will take account of the number of employees created by holdings. It will also be more fairly distributed among farmers, regions and Member States.

2) More responsive and adequate crisis management tools in order to meet new economic challenges

The volatility of prices is a threat to the agricultural sector's long-term competitiveness. The Commission is proposing more effective and more responsive safety nets for the agricultural aspects of the supply chain that are most at risk of crisis (private storage and public intervention) and to promote the creation of insurance and mutual funds.

3) 'Green' payments for long-term productivity and for preserving ecosystems

In order to reinforce the ecological durability of the agricultural sector and enhance the efforts of farmers, the Commission is proposing to dedicate 30% of direct payments to practices which enable optimal use of natural resources. Those practices, which are easy to implement and are ecologically efficient, are: crop diversification, maintenance of permanent pasture, preservation of ecological reserves and landscapes.

4) Additional investment in research and innovation

In order to put in place knowledge-based farming and competitive agriculture, the Commission is proposing to double the agronomy research and innovation budget and to take steps in order to ensure that the research results are translated into practice by means of a new partnership for innovation. This funding will encourage the transfer of knowledge and advice to farmers and support research projects relevant to farmers by ensuring closer cooperation between the agricultural sector and the scientific community. 

5) A more competitive and balanced food chain

Agriculture is at the base of the food chain, but it is highly fragmented and unstructured. To strengthen the position of farmers, the Commission proposes to support producer organisations and inter-branch organisations and to develop short circuits between producers and consumers (without too many intermediaries).  Furthermore, the sugar quotas, which have lost their relevance, will not be extended beyond 2015.

6) Encouraging agri-environmental initiatives

The special nature of each territory should be taken into account and agri-environmental initiatives at national, regional and local level encouraged. In order to do this, the Commission is proposing that the preservation and the restoration of ecosystems and the fight against climate change, together with the effective use of resources, should be two of the six priorities of rural development policy.

7) Aid for young farmers setting up

Two thirds of farmers are over 55. In order to support job creation and encourage the younger generation to enter the agricultural sector, the Commission is proposing to create new start-up assistance accessible to farmers under 40 during the first five years of their project.

8) Rural employment and entrepreneurship stimulated

In order to promote employment and entrepreneurship, the Commission is proposing a number of measures to stimulate economic activity in rural areas and encourage local development initiatives. For example, a  ‘starter kit’ will be created which will provide support for micro-business projects with financing of up to EUR 70 000 over a period of five years. LEADER local action groups will be strengthened.

9) Better account taken of fragile areas

With a view to avoiding desertification and preserving the richness of our territory, the Commission is enabling the Member States to provide more support for farmers located in areas with natural handicaps by means of additional compensation. Such aid would be in addition to other subsidies already available in the context of rural development policy. 

10) A simpler and more efficient CAP

To avoid unnecessary additional administrative costs, the Commission is proposing to simplify several CAP mechanisms, including the cross-compliance rules and control systems, without sacrificing effectiveness. Moreover, support for small farmers will also be simplified. A flat-rate payment will be created for the latter, ranging from EUR 500 to 1 000 per farm per year. The sale of land by small farmers who cease agricultural activity to other farms willing to restructure their farms will be encouraged.

For more information: MEMO/11/685

For further information and documents concerning the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, see: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/cap-post-2013/legal-proposals/index_en.htm

 

 
 
 
 
 
News in brief
 New EU rules on consumer rights to enter into force

ShopperThe new EU Consumer Rights Directive was formally adopted on Monday by Member States in the EU's Council of Ministers. The new legislation will strengthen consumers' rights in all 27 EU countries, particularly when shopping online. It will eliminate surcharges for the use of credit cards and hotlines. It will also extend the period under which consumers can withdraw from a sales contract to 14 days.

After publication in the EU's Official Journal, governments will have two years to implement the rules at national level.

 
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 Ireland records second highest rise in industrial production in the EU in August

According to figures released yesterday (Wednesday) by Eurostat, in August 2011 compared with July 2011, Ireland (+4.4%) saw the second highest rise in industrial production in the EU after Portugal (+8.2%). Italy came in at third place at +4.3%. The average for the Euro area was 1.2% and 0.9% for the EU 27. Denmark (-3.0%), Sweden (-2.7%) and Bulgaria (-2.1%) saw the highest decreases.

 
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 Flight cancellations: Air passengers to be allowed to claim compensation for non-material damage in certain circumstances

Air passengerIn a judgement issued today, the European Court of Justice has ruled that, in the event of cancellation of a flight, passengers may claim, under certain conditions, compensation for non-material damage in addition to that awarded for material damage suffered

Further, a passenger may claim compensation for cancellation of a flight where his aeroplane took off but, for whatever reason, was subsequently forced to return to the airport of departure and that passenger was transferred to another flight.

 
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 EU Enlargement: European Commission recommends moving onto next stages towards EU entry

This week the European Commission recommended the opening of accession negotiations with Montenegro, and granting EU candidate status to Serbia. In a set of annual reports, the Commission reports on the progress towards EU accession made by the Western Balkans, Turkey, and Iceland over the past year.

 
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 More efficient and secure visa system goes live

Passport controlAs from last Tuesday, the Visa Information System (VIS) started operations. VIS is a system for the exchange of data on short-stay visas among Schengen States. It will enable visa applications to be processed much faster thanks to the use of biometrics (fingerprints and a digital facial image) which will facilitate the identification of visa holders and help to avoid identity theft.

 
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Agenda
 Agenda

Saturday 15 October: Volunteering Fair at the Central Library, Lady Lane, Waterford

Thursday 20 October: Governing Council of the European Central Bank, Frankfurt

Thursday 20 – Friday 21 October: Agriculture and Fisheries Council, Luxembourg

Sunday 23 October: European Council and meeting of Heads of State or Government of the Euro area, Brussels

Monday 24 – Thursday 27 October: European Parliament plenary session, Strasbourg

- Tuesday 1 November: Irish Successes Abroad exhibition visits Waterford Europe Direct Centre

 
 
 
 
 
Competitions
 Europe 2020 Online Short Film Competition: Deadline 14 October

The deadline (14 October) is fast approaching for the submission of entries to the short online film competition being organised by the European Commission Representation in Ireland and the Darklight Film Festival. The theme of the competition is 'Europe 2020' - and what it means to you.

The winning entry will win a state of the art HD Digital camera worth €1200 and have their work screened this October at the 2011 Darklight Film Festival.  There are also runners up prizes for highly commended entries.

The Representation is also holding a free panel discussion on Saturday 22nd October 2011 as part of the Darklight Festival, discussing the future of Europe and the future of filmmaking in Ireland.

 

 
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Calls for tender/proposals
 Call for tenders for the purchase of an Official Car

The European Commission Representation in Ireland has on 12 October issued a call for tenders for the purchase of a motor vehicle for official use.

The estimated maximum budget attributed to this project is €28,280 (excl. VAT).

If you are interested in this tender, please ask for the tender documents by sending an email to eu-ie-info-request@ec.europa.eu before 20 October 2011.

 
 
 
 
 
Competitions
 Europe 2020 Online Short Film Competition: Deadline 14 October

The deadline (14 October) is fast approaching for the submission of entries to the short online film competition being organised by the European Commission Representation in Ireland and the Darklight Film Festival. The theme of the competition is 'Europe 2020' - and what it means to you.

The winning entry will get a state of the art HD Digital camera worth €1200 and have their work screened this October at the 2011 Darklight Film Festival.  There are also runner up prizes for highly commended entries.

The Representation is also holding a free panel discussion on Saturday 22nd October 2011 as part of the Darklight Festival, discussing the future of Europe and the future of filmmaking in Ireland.

 
 
 
 
 
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