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    Spotlight on: Statement by the EC, ECB and IMF on the Review Mission to Ireland 

Top stories
 Connecting Europe Facility: Commission adopts plan for €50 billion boost to European networks

Enterprise Commissioner Gunter Oettinger speaking at yesterday's press conferenceThe EU will invest €50bn in infrastructure – connecting Europe, boosting competitiveness and creating jobs. Smart, sustainable and interconnected transport, energy and digital networks are priorities for Europe’s economic future.

However, the financial crisis has diminished the flow of private and public funding to infrastructure projects. As a result, the Commission is proposing a new funding plan to speed up long-term investments in roads, railways, energy grids, pipelines and high-speed broadband networks.

The €50bn fund would be used to encourage investors from the private and public sectors to help finance such projects, some of which would otherwise not be built. It would also promote cleaner transport modes and renewable energy – in line with Europe 2020, the EU’s growth and jobs strategy.

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 Getting tough on insider dealing and market manipulation

Commissioner Michel BarnierIn recent years financial markets have become increasingly global, giving rise to new trading platforms and technologies. This unfortunately has also led to new possibilities to manipulate these markets. As part of its work to make financial markets more sound and transparent, the European Commission today adopted a proposal for a Regulation on insider dealing and market manipulation (i.e. market abuse). The proposal aims to update and strengthen the existing framework to ensure market integrity and investor protection provided by the Market Abuse Directive (2003/6/EC). The new framework will ensure regulation keeps pace with market developments, will strengthen the fight against market abuse across commodity and related derivative markets, reinforce the investigative and sanctioning powers of regulators and reduce administrative burdens on small and medium-sized issuers.

Internal Market and Services Commissioner Michel Barnier said: "Market abuse is not a victimless offence. By distorting market prices, insider dealing and market manipulation undermine investor confidence and market integrity. By extending and reinforcing our legislative framework, as well as toughening up the powers and sanctions available to regulators, today's proposals will equip them with the tools to keep markets clean and transparent."

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 EU survey: 90% of Irish happy with life

Couple with young childA new Eurobarometer survey published this week by the European Commission on the EU's social climate shows that 91% of Irish respondents are very or fairly satisfied with the life they lead, sixth highest in the EU. This compares to an EU average of 81%. Respondents in Finland and Sweden had the highest levels of satisfaction (97%) followed by Denmark and Luxembourg (96%) and the Netherlands (95%). Only two countries had satisfaction rates below 50% - Bulgaria (48%) and Romania (49%).

Twenty-five per cent of Irish people also expect their general life situation to get better in the next twelve months compared to an EU average of 26%; only 9% expect things to get worse which is below the EU average of 14%. Swedish respondents were most optimistic about the next twelve months (45%) and Greeks the least (7%).

On the issue of their national economy, however, Irish respondents were among the least satisfied in Europe. Only 4% were satisfied (and 95% unsatisfied) compared to an EU average of 30%. However, a few other countries scored even worse: Greece (0% satisfaction rate) and Latvia, Portugal and Spain (all 3%). Three countries had satisfaction levels of 80% or more: Germany (80%), Luxembourg (85%) and Sweden (87%).

Irish respondents (45%) were also less satisfied with their personal job situation than the EU average (56%). Greece (28%) and Hungary (26%) had the lowest levels of satisfaction with their personal job situation and Sweden (81%), Austria and Denmark (78%) the highest. When it came to the national employment situation only 3% of Irish respondents were satisfied compared to an EU average of 24%.  Only in Greece were people less happy (2%). Luxembourg (68%) and the Netherlands (69%) had the highest satisfaction ratings.

Surprisingly 63% of Irish respondents were satisfied with the financial situation of their household, only a little below the EU average of 68% and well above Hungary (30%), Bulgaria (35%) and Greece (38%). Sweden (91%), Finland (90%) and Denmark (86%) scored highest. However, 24% of Irish respondents expect their financial situation to worsen over the next 12 months.

 Ireland's productivity well above EU average

The annual EU report on competitiveness performance and policy, out recently, shows Ireland as one of the best performers in Europe. The report analyses industrial competitiveness across the EU and presents policy measures adopted by Member States to improve their competitiveness, and by implication, the competitiveness of Europe as a whole.

Among other things, the report shows that Ireland is in the top scoring group of countries for labour productivity (per person employed in manufacturing) along with the Netherlands, Austria, Finland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden and Germany. Ireland's labour productivity per hour worked is about 23 percentage points above the EU27 average and 10 percentage points above the Euro area average.

Ireland performs less well when it comes to the share of innovating companies among all companies where it is in the second highest scoring group of countries with a share higher than 50% rather than in the top group with a share higher than 60%.

On the issue of the business friendliness of government regulation Ireland is in the middle group.

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 Irish EU officials go back to school

ClassroomBrussels can seem a long way from Dublin, Cavan or Galway but those are just some of the counties that Irish EU Officials will be visiting over the next few weeks.

Commission Spokesperson Cristina Arigho will be visiting St. Joseph of Cluny Secondary School in Killiney, Dublin. Economic and policy analyst Betty Lee will visit her former school St Clare's College Ballyjamesduff, Cavan and Mary Teresa Moran who works on coordination of foreign policy for the Commission in Brussels will visit St Joseph's Patrician College (The Bish) on the 27th of October and St Mary's College Galway City on the 28th of October.

These three are amongst almost 50 Irish people working in EU-Institutions across Europe will be coming home to visit their old schools and talk to secondary school students about how the EU works and career opportunities available.

"This is the third time Irish EU officials have taken part in the 'Back-to-School' activity. It's clear that Irish people working for the EU are really keen on taking part and letting young people know what is out there for them.", said Barbara Nolan, Head of the European Commission Representation in Ireland.

 Animal welfare: Commission urges Member States to implement ban on hen cages or risk facing legal action

Hen free rangeThe European Commission once again urged today the Member States to implement a ban on un-enriched cages for laying hens, which enters into force on 1st January 2012, and warned that it will adopt measures against those that will fail to comply with the relevant EU legislation.

Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner John Dalli said during his intervention at today's Agriculture Council that experts from the Commission's inspection service, the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO), will start visiting targeted Member States as of January 2012. Any decisions on infringement procedures will be based on the outcomes of these audits.

News in brief
 Research and Development Scoreboard: top EU firms increase investment in innovation, but lag behind global competitors

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, speaking at the launch of the ScoreboardThe European Commission's 2011 "EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard". published earlier this week, shows that R&D investment by top EU companies recovered strongly in 2010, with a 6.1% rise following a 2.6% decrease in 2009. Of the top ten countries for R&D investment in the EU, companies based in Germany, the top R&D investor, increased R&D by 8.1%, well above the EU's average (5.7%). Countries whose companies increased significantly their R&D were Spain (23.7%) and Denmark (11.0%). Companies that showed negative R&D growth were from Ireland (-4.0%) which suffered a major drop in GDP in 2009 and Finland (-0.9%). Ireland's share of EU R&D investment in 2010 was 1.5%. The top ten EU Member States for R&D investment, which includes Ireland, accounted for 96.9% of the total R&D investment in the EU in 2010.

 September 2011: Ireland has lowest inflation in the EU

Euro area annual inflation was 3.0% in September 2011, up from 2.5% in August. A year earlier the rate was 1.9%. Monthly inflation was 0.8% in September 2011. EU annual inflation was 3.3% in September 2011, up from 2.9% in August. A year earlier the rate was 2.3%. Monthly inflation was 0.6% in September 2011.

In September 2011, the lowest annual rates in the EU were observed in Ireland (1.3%), Sweden (1.5%) and the Czech Republic (2.1%), and the highest in Estonia (5.4%) and Lithuania (4.7%). The lowest 12-month averages up to September 2011 were registered in Ireland (0.6%), Sweden (1.6%), the Czech Republic and Slovenia (both 1.9%), and the highest in Romania (6.9%) and Estonia (5.2%).

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 Trinity College gets EU 'blue skies' research grant

Trinity College Dublin researcher, Professor Jonathan Coleman, has won an EU grant, worth up to €150 000, for his work on electronics*.

The "Proof of Concept" grants are designed to help European researchers get good ideas to market and maximise their value.

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 Gary Finnegan is Irish finalist for EU Health Prize for Journalists

EU Health Prize for Journalists logoGary Finnegan is the Irish national finalist in the EU health prize for journalists. He has won the Irish leg of the competition for his article on antimicrobial resistance: Losing the superbug war .

His article, along with the finalists from the other Member States, will now go to compete for a place among the top three. The first prize winner will get €6,000, second €2,500 and third €1,500. The names of these will not be announced until the end of January 2012.

The EU Health Prize for Journalists 2011 is awarded to stimulate high-quality journalism that raises awareness of issues related to healthcare and patients' rights.

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

Today (Thursday) October: Governing Council of the European Central Bank, Frankfurt, Germany

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

Thursday 27 October: Seminar on Informed Public participation in Marine Resource Protection and Management, Dublin

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

Thursday, November 3 – Friday, November 5: The EU at the G-20 summit, Cannes, France

Monday 14 November: Information session on Marie Curie funding for Industry / Academic Partnerships, Dublin

Calls for tender/proposals
 Call for tenders to supply media consultancy services to the European Commission Representation in Ireland

The European Commission Representation in Ireland has launched a Call for Tenders for the “Supply of media consultancy services: technical assistance for events and campaigns”.

The Call for Tender was published on 18 October 2011 at:

The complete tender documentation can be downloaded below:

Tenderers are invited to consult this site regularly, as additional information may be published at any stage of the procedure.

The deadline for the submission of the offers is 25 November 2011.  

Spotlight on: Statement by the EC, ECB and IMF on the Review Mission to Ireland
 Statement by the EC, ECB and IMF on the Review Mission to Ireland

View of today's press conference. From left to right: Barbara Nolan, European Commission, Klaus Masuch, ECB, Istvan Szekely, European Commission and Ajai Chopra, IMFStaff teams from the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB), and International Monetary Fund (IMF) visited Dublin during October 11–20 for the regular quarterly review of the government’s economic programme. As envisaged when the mission was scheduled, policy discussions have been concluded with the exception of the specific fiscal measures to be included in Budget 2012, which are being determined by the Government and will be assessed by the three institutions in the coming weeks. Following these decisions, the EC and IMF missions will seek approval for the completion of this review from the European Council and the IMF Executive Board respectively.

Programme implementation continues to be strong. The authorities have completed the key initial phase of the comprehensive financial sector reforms launched in March. The fiscal deficit limit of 10½ percent of GDP in 2011 is expected to be met and important structural reforms are being put in place. These strong policy efforts have underpinned the decline in Irish sovereign spreads in recent months, together with improved EU financing terms.

In a welcome sign of Ireland’s strengthened competitiveness, economic growth in the first half of 2011 was stronger than expected. But the slowdown in key trading partners is likely to cool Ireland’s export growth. In addition, domestic demand is expected to contract slightly faster than was projected at the time of the previous review. Together, these factors will dampen the economic recovery with real GDP growth rate expected to be about 1 percent in both 2011 and 2012.

The authorities are firmly committed to fiscal consolidation to put the country’s debt on a downward path, by bringing the general government deficit to below 3 percent of GDP by 2015. The forthcoming 2012 Budget will make progress along that path by implementing sufficient consolidation to safely limit next year’s deficit to no more than 8.6 percent of GDP, striking a balance between debt reduction imperatives and limiting the drag on growth and job creation.

To underscore their commitment to sound fiscal policy, the authorities intent to update the medium-term fiscal consolidation plan in the coming weeks, with the supporting measures to be provided with the 2012 Budget. These measures will be guided by the authorities’ Comprehensive Review of Expenditure, enabling savings to be made in a targeted manner rather than through across-the-board cuts. We welcome the establishment of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council and the release of its first fiscal assessment report.   

The key initial phase of the comprehensive financial sector reforms launched last March has been implemented. Recapitalization of the banking sector has been completed at a lower than expected cost to the budget, benefiting from private investor participation and burden-sharing with the holders of subordinated bank debt. Deleveraging of the banking sector is progressing as planned, despite challenging conditions and banks have secured term funding reflecting improved confidence. Further progress in these areas is needed to allow banks to fulfill their essential role in the economy.

The authorities are implementing structural reforms to support job creation and growth. To help reduce unemployment sectoral wage agreements are being prepared, together with a strengthening of activation and training policies. Legislative changes are being introduced to enhance competition in the medical, legal and pharmacy sectors with the view to lowering costs.

The objectives of Ireland’s EU-IMF supported programme are to address financial sector weaknesses and to put Ireland’s economy on the path of sustainable growth, sound public finances, and job creation, while protecting the poor and most vulnerable. The programme includes loans from the European Union and EU member states amounting to €45.0 billion and a €22.5 billion Extended Fund Facility with the IMF. Ireland’s contribution is €17.5 billion. Approval of the conclusion of this review will allow the disbursement of €3.8billion by the IMF and €4.2 billion by the EU. The mission for the next programme review is scheduled for January 2012. 

A video of the press conference is available at: