EU to implement EU-SILC regulation

The European Commission have issued, on 31st March 2008, their official report to the European Parliment and council on the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 1177/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16th June 2003.

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Euro area inflation estimated at 3.5%

Euro area annual inflation is expected to be 3.5% in March 2008 according to a flash estimate issued by Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities. It was 3.3% in February.

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Agreement between the European Community and the Kingdom of Morocco on certain aspects of air services

The European Commission published its official decision on the 29th March 2008 concerning its conclusions, approving the Agreement between the European Community and the Kingdom of Morocco on certain aspects of air services. Full details of the conclusion are availabe in the Offical Journal of the European Union.

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International Coffee Agreement 2007

The European Union published on the 27th March 2008 the Council decision on the signing and conclusion by the European Community of the International Coffee Agreement 2007.

On 28th September 2007 the International Coffee Council (ICC) adopted the text of a new 2007 Agreement replacing the International Coffee Agreement 2001 which had been extended to 30th September 2008. In the discussions on the Agreement the Community negotiated on the basis of the negotiating mandate and directives proposed by the Commission and approved by the Council on 29th January 2007.

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Commission approves proposed acquisition of Aearo by 3M

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Aearo, a US producer of protective equipment, by the US company 3M. 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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Cooperation between Eurosystem and Bank of Russia

The Eurosystem – comprising the European Central Bank (ECB) and the 15 national central banks of the euro area – and the Central Bank of the Russian Federation (Bank of Russia) launched last March 20, 2008 a three-year cooperation programme in the areas of banking supervision and internal audit.

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Better supervision of the structural funds

The Budgetary Control Committee is insisting on the setting up of a joint Parliament-Commission group to follow up in particular the supervision of the structural funds. This was the major development from Wednesday's votes in the committee, which saw all the EU's institutions and agencies accorded a recommendation that Parliament grant discharge for their financial management in 2006.

Despite repeated threats of a postponement, the Budgetary Control Committee is recommending that the Commission be granted discharge for its implementation of Community expenditure in 2006.

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Quarterly report on the euro area says headwinds gather strength

The economy has to contend with strengthening external headwinds but the euro area is showing resilience helped by strong growth in emerging markets, shows the latest Quarterly Report on the Euro Area (QREA). The most recent hard and soft data are consistent with the growth forecast announced on 21 February. The Report also looks at why growth and inflation have become more stable in industrialised countries in recent decades, a phenomenon economists refer to as the 'Great Moderation'. It shows that labour market reforms have succeeded in increasing employment levels but that there is a growing divide on the labour market, with the burden of reform falling on those not subject to standard labour contracts. It also shows that the economies of the Member States are reacting differently to the ongoing inflationary pressures. Finally, in its focus section, the QREA argues that East Asia could take inspiration from the European economic and monetary experience to the benefit of the region and indeed the whole world.

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January 2008 Euro area external trade deficit 10.7 bn euro 30.7 bn euro deficit for EU27

The first estimate for the euro area1 (EA15) trade balance with the rest of the world in January 2008 gave a 10.7 bn euro deficit, compared with -7.3 bn in January 2007. The December 2007 balance was -4.1 bn, compared with +2.3 bn in December 2006. In January 2008 compared with December 2007, seasonally adjusted exports and imports rose by 7.4%.

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Council calls for swift progress to knowledge economy

EU Heads of State and Government also called for 'swift progress' to be made in implementing a strategy to unlock Europe's innovation potential. Key aspects of this strategy include meeting national research and development (R&D) investment targets, promoting large research projects such as GALILEO and the Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs), and improving collaboration between industry and academia.

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Minimum taxes for diesel should rise to equal petrol tax minimums

The current EU-wide minimum rate of tax on diesel should be increased to match the current minimum rate for unleaded petrol, but no further, say MEPs. They also want to set a limit on further petrol and diesel tax increases in the Member States which already have the highest taxes.

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