€272.75 million from EU funds to promote regional cooperation in the Western Balkans

A series of measures to promote regional cooperation between Western Balkan countries totalling €272.75 million for the period 2012-2013 were finalised by the European Commission. This European institution highlighted that the funds will support among others cooperation with international financial institutions to mobilise funding and help develop civil society.

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MEPs proposed to fund the cleaner scrapping of old ships by a recycling levy

Environment Committee at the European Parliament approved a draft legislation that includes an EU fund to be financed by levies on all ships visiting EU ports, that would make scrapping ships in EU-approved facilities competitive. MEPs proposed that the scheme will be funded by a recycling levy, in line with the "polluter pays" principle.

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€48 million, the second part of the 2013 assistance package for Palestine, adopted by the EU

In order to ensure that critical support to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for the provision of vital services in the area of health, education and social services to the Palestinian people is not interrupted, the European Union has adopted the second part of its 2013 assistance package for Palestine.

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Commission presented a proposal for financial discipline to ensure that CAP spending remains within budget limits

The European Commission has tabled a proposal for "Financial Discipline" to ensure that spending remains within budget limits. The proposal aims to introduce a linear cut in CAP Direct Payments in order to ensure that the ceiling for the CAP's first pillar in the forthcoming year is respected.

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The Commission will monitor closely the imposed restrictive measures on capital movements in Cyprus

The European Commission reminded in a statement made on 28 March that an exception to the principle of the free movement of capital must be interpreted very strictly and be non-discriminatory, suitable, proportionate and applied for the shortest possible period. This statement was made in the light of the capital controls imposed by the Republic of Cyprus that will remain in force for 7 days.

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Public consultation launched on how to make EU merger control even more business-friendly

The European Commission launched a public consultation on the proposal for simplifying procedures under the EU Merger Regulation. The proposed initiative is a technical reform within the existing framework of EU merger control as defined by the Merger Regulation. In particular, the Commission proposes to update the Notice on a simplified procedure for treatment of certain mergers.

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New initiatives proposed to improve the effective trade mark protection in the EU

The European Commission presented a package of initiatives to make trade mark registration systems all over the European Union cheaper, quicker, more reliable and predictable. Among them, as regards fees, the Commission is proposing a principle of "one-class-per-fee" that will apply both for Community trade mark applications and for national trade mark applications.

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The compromise text on the "CRD 4" package, approved by the Permanent Representatives Committee of the Council

With the exception of the United Kingdom, the Permanent Representatives Committee of the Council approved the agreement already reached by the European Parliament and the Council on the "CRD 4" package amending the EU's rules on capital requirements for banks and investment firms.

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A Commission's study highlights that the employment and social situation in the EU remained critical

The European Commission's latest Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Review published by the European Commission shows that the employment and social situation in the EU remained critical in the fourth quarter of 2012 with employment receding overall and unemployment rising further. Among other things, the report highlights that the tightening of public budgets has adversely affected employment both directly through reduced public sector employment and indirectly through lower aggregate macroeconomic demand.

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Commission raised key questions on the designing of the new international agreement to combat climate change

The European Commission published a consultative paper that launches a public debate on how best to design a new international agreement to combat climate change, which is to be completed by the end of 2015 and to apply from 2020.

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New rules proposed to cut broadband installation costs in the EU

The European Commission presented a draft regulation aimed at cutting by 30% the cost of rolling out high-speed Internet. The new rules leave organisational issues very much to the discretion of member states.

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Croatia is ready to join the EU, according to the European Commission

The European Commission's last Monitoring Report on Croatia's preparations for joining the EU show that this country has completed the ten priority actions identified in the previous report in October, and has shown the will and ability to fulfil all outstanding commitments in good time before accession.

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