Prior notification of a concentration between Berkshire Hathaway, Munich Re and GAUM

On 9th June 2008, the Commission received a notification of a proposed concentration by which the undertaking Northern States Agency, Inc. (‘Northern States’, USA) controlled by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (‘Berkshire Hathaway’, USA) and the undertaking Münchener Rückversicherungs-Gesellschaft AG (‘Munich Re’, Germany) acquire joint control of the undertaking Global Aerospace Underwriting Managers Limited (‘GAUM’, United Kingdom) by way of purchase of shares.

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Parliament backs Slovakia’s euro area membership

MEPs have approved Slovakia's bid to adopt the euro on 1 January 2009. At the same time, they stressed that Slovakia should make further efforts to keep its rate of inflation down and continue structural reforms to its economy. In a report drawn up by David Casa (EPP-ED, MT), Parliament agrees with the Commission that Slovakia has met the criteria to join the euro.

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Commission welcomes EP vote on revision of waste directive

The European Commission welcomes the European Parliament's second reading vote today approving the agreement reached with the Council on the revision of the waste framework directive, the central pillar of EU waste management policy.

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Commission outlines emergency measures to address the fuel crisis

The European Commission has agreed in principle on the contents of an emergency package of measures to tackle the immediate social and economic hardship triggered by the dramatic rise in the price of oil while also tackling the underlying structural problems of the European fleet. The main measures will consist of temporary derogations to the rules of the European Fisheries Fund so as to support faster adaptation of the EU fleet to the present situation and provide temporary relief during the transitional phase. European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Joe Borg will present the elements of this package at the Council of Fisheries Ministers in Luxembourg on 24 June, and the Commission plans to adopt a formal proposal on this subject early in July.

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EP backs plans to designate 2010 as the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion

"Wealth inequalities and severe poverty are matters of growing concern across the Union", says the European Parliament backing a first-reading compromise negotiated with the Council beforehand which designates 2010 as the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion. The EU will provide €17 million for events, information campaigns and studies. 78 million EU citizens live at risk of poverty, 19 million of them are children, stresses the co-decision report. The initiative also was granted the Highest budget ever to a European Year.

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Taking forward the common immigration and asylum policy for Europe

On the 17th June 2008, the Commission adopted a Communication on "A Common immigration policy for Europe: principles, actions and tools" and a Policy Plan "Asylum – an integrated approach to protection across the EU". The Communication puts forward ten Common Principles on which to base the common immigration policy, grouped under the three main strands of EU policy: prosperity, solidarity and security.

The Policy Plan on Asylum provides for the architecture of the second phase of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). Both address the remaining elements on immigration and asylum of The Hague Programme. They should be endorsed by the European Council of 15th October 2008 and will, in the course of 2009, feed into a new five-year Programme in the Justice, Freedom and Security area.

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Commission welcomes EP vote on water quality standards

The European Commission welcomes the European Parliament's second reading vote today approving the agreement reached with the Council on the proposed directive on environmental quality standards in the field of water. The directive will better protect rivers, lakes and coastal waters against pollution from a range of chemical substances.

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Euro area external trade surplus 2.3 bn euro (15.4 bn euro deficit for EU27)

According to Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities, the first estimate from for the euro area1 (EA15) trade balance with the rest of the world in April 2008 gave a 2.3 bn euro surplus, compared with +2.0 bn in April 2007. The March 20082 balance was -1.5 bn, compared with +7.5 bn in March 2007. In April 2008 compared with March 2008, seasonally adjusted exports rose by 6.2% and imports by 3.6%.

The first estimate for the April 2008 extra-EU271 trade balance was a deficit of 15.4 bn euro, compared with -12.9 bn in April 2007. In March 20082, the balance was -20.8 bn, compared with -10.5 bn in March 2007. In April 2008 compared with March 2008, seasonally adjusted exports rose by 5.1% and imports by 1.4%.

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Commission starts public dialogue on nanotechnologies

Nanotechnologies have enormous potential benefits for manufacturers, consumers, employees, patients and the environment. They will bring more energy and resource efficient processes, improve computer memories and processors and could usher in a new age of customized pharmaceuticals and medical procedures.

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Bluefin tuna campaign: Commission announces closure of purse seine fishery

The European Commission has on the 17th June 2008, announced that it is closing the bluefin tuna fishery in the Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic for the purse seine fleets, as it deems that the quotas allocated to them will shortly have been exhausted. Purse seiners from Greece, France, Italy, Cyprus and Malta will be prohibited from fishing as of 00h00 16 June, and purse seiners from Spain will be prohibited from fishing as of 00h00 23rd June. So as to ensure that the closure is effective in preventing overfishing, the Regulation also prohibits EU operators from accepting landings, placing in cages for fattening or farming, and transhipments of bluefin tuna caught by purse seiners whatever flag they are flying (EU or third country) as of 00h00 16 June, with the exception of Spanish purse seiners which may continue to land, transfer and tranship until 00h00 23rd June.

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Opinion of the EESC on the Green Paper on Retail Financial Services in the Single Market

On 30th April 2007 the European Commission decided to consult the European Economic and Social Committee, under Article 262 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the Green Paper on Retail Financial Services in the Single Market The Section for the Single Market, Production and Consumption, which was responsible for preparing the Committee's work on the subject, adopted its opinion on 3 December 2007. At its 441st plenary session, held on 16th and 17th January 2008 (meeting of 16 January), the European Economic and Social Committee adopted the following opinion by 129 votes to one with one abstention.

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Broadband in Scotland — Extending Broadband Reach

On the 17th June 2008, the European Commission published notification of an Authorisation for State aid pursuant to Articles 87 and 88 of the EC Treaty Cases where the Commission raises no objections. The decision was adopted on the 30th April 2008 to execute an aid scheme in the form of a direct grant for "Extending Broadband Reach" in Scotand.

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