EC supports a voluntary agreement on safe storage of mercury

The European Commission welcomes a voluntary agreement to ensure the safe storage of surplus mercury from the European chlor-alkali industry, once a ban on exports of the highly toxic metal from the European Union takes effect (2011). The legislation requires that mercury that is no longer used, be stored in a way preventing its release.

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EU Early Warning System

The Official Journal of the European Union has published last 20th december 2008 the  Commission Decision of of 16 December 2008 on the Early Warning System for the use of authorising officers of the Commission and the executive agencies.

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Erasmus Mundus 2009-2013 Programme published in the OJEU

The Official Journal of the European Union, OJEU, published on December, 19th, 2008, Decision Nº 1298/2008/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of December, 16th, 2008, establishing the Erasmus Mundus 2009-2013 Action Programme for the enhancement of quality in higher education and the promotion of intercultural understanding through cooperation with third countries, which replaces Erasmus Mundus Action Programme for the period 2004-2008.

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EP adopts EU Budget 2009

The European Parliament adopted at second-reading the 2009 general EU budget, whose level of payments is set at €116.096 billion, representing almos 0.9% of the European Union's Gross National Income (GNI). The level of commitments has been set at €133.845 billion, which is 1.03 % EU GNI. EP President Hans-Gert Pöttering signed off the official 2009 EU budget in Strasbourg.

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10th Euro anniversary will see Slovakia joining the EU16

In less that two weeks the euro area will have two reasons to celebrate: the number of European Union countries sharing the same currency will grow to 16 with Slovakia, and we will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the euro. A special €2 coin has been issued to commemorate the anniversary and a documentary film describing the road to the euro and its benefits was screened December, 18th. In the meantime, preparations are in full swing in Slovakia.

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EC calls for flexibility in the application of TV rules

One year after the entry into force of a new EU Directive meant to liberalise TV rules and remove outdated and bureaucratic restrictions on the provision of digital TV over the internet, video on demand and mobile TV in Europe, EU Member States have made little progress in adapting national rules. The European Commission asks, within this context, the Member states to rule with a light hand while updating TV rules in 2009.

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Commission clears acquisition of Bradford & Bingley Assets by Banco Santander subsidiary Abbey

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of certain assets of UK mortgage bank Bradford & Bingley plc by Abbey National plc, the UK arm of Banco Santander. After examining the operation, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.

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EP blocks Working Time Directive and rejects opt-out to the 48-hours maximum working week

The European Parliament voted on December, 17th, against the Council's proposal on working time regulation, adopting by absolute majority the amendments proposed by Spanish rapporteur Alejando Cercas.  MEPs expressed their disagreement to exceptions to the 48 hours-maximum working time calculated over a reference period of 12 months and say the opt-out must end three years after adoption of the directive, adding that any period of on-call time should count as working time. A conciliation committee with the Council is now likely.

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MEPs call for coordinated action against misleading advertising by business directory companies

The European Parliament, further to 400 complaints from small firms across Europe reporting they had been misled into committing themselves to pay for adverts costing 1,000€ per year, has decided to take action on those behaviours. MEPs also call upon the Commission to introduce a blacklist of such misleading practices, and upon victims to report business scams.

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EC improves EGF to help more European workers who lose their jobs

The European Commission moved to help those citizens who lost their jobs as a result of the economic crisis by improving the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). The proposal to revise the EGF aims to bring its operations closer into line with its objective of solidarity towards workers who have lost their jobs, specially in these times of economic crisis. The new proposals will make the EGF a more effective crisis response instrument, helping more people to find their way back into the labour market.

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EC presents a proposal to strengthen EU Single Market for defence related products

The European Commission wants to tackle obstacles to cross frontier trade in defence related products within the EU, thereby facilitating cross-border procurement of Member States’ armed forces and industrial cooperation in Europe. So far, the circulation of defence related products within the internal market is constrained by a web of heterogeneous and disproportionate national licensing procedures.

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EU launches an initiative to boost Intelligent Transport Systems and Services

The European Commission has taken a major step towards the deployment and use of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) in road transport. ITS can significantly contribute to a cleaner, safer and more efficient transport system. The action plan adopted suggests a set of concrete measures and a Directive laying down the framework for their implementation.

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