Delegation of the EU to Australia newsletter 341


30 July 2012

EC President Barroso: The Greek people do not stand alone

Barroso SamarasSpeaking in Athens on 26 July following his meeting with Mr Antonis Samaras, Prime Minister of Greece, President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, said "I have been unequivocal that the European Commission will stand by Greece. You, in Greece, with our support, need to rebuild your country, your structures, your administration, your economy to increase the competitiveness of Greece. And the best hope of a return to growth and job creation is inside the euro area. Staying in the euro is the best chance to avoid worse hardship and difficulties to the Greek people."

President Barroso reiterated the European Commission's intense work towards the creation of a banking union, in early September proposing legislation for a single supervisory mechanism. "Giving to the European Central Bank the ultimate responsibility for supervision of banks in the euro area will decisively contribute to increase confidence between the banks and in this way increase the financial stability in the euro area." said Barroso. read more

Framework Agreement Negotiations Launched with New Zealand

Harvey Sabbathil

The first round of negotiations towards a Framework Agreement between the European Union and New Zealand was held on 23 & 24 July 2012 in Wellington, New Zealand. Framework Agreements are a tool that establishes a permanent legal basis for the future bilateral relationship between the European Union and the partner country. They cover all areas where the countries have dealings with each other. The EU already has a Framework Agreement with Korea and is currently negotiating FAs with Australia, Camada and India. This first Round was an opportunity to exchange initial views on the Agreement's potential content. The next talks will be later this year in Brussels. read more

Caption: Talks commence between New Zealand's lead negotiator for the Framework Agreement, Martin Harvey, and his EU counterpart, Gerhard Sabathil.

Aid for Trade to developing countries: EU maintains its leader position

The EU and its Member States have once again been confirmed as the largest provider of Aid for Trade in the world, despite the current economic crisis, according to a new monitoring report presented by the European Commission. The EU accounted for around a third of total worldwide Aid for Trade in 2010; maintaining the all-time high registered the year before and totalling some €10.7 billion committed. read more

Europe responds to the acute humanitarian needs in Syria

Syrian refugee child's drawingThe European Commission is doubling its aid for emergency medical care, shelter, food and water to those Syrians most affected by the ever-worsening crisis, both inside and outside the country. An additional €20 million of relief aid will bring the European Commission's total assistance in this crisis to €63 million (€40 million in humanitarian aid). The EU Member States have contributed to date € 27.5 million in humanitarian aid. The European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva, said: "With the violence spiralling out into a full blown civil conflict hundreds of thousands of Syrians are in a desperate situation. The needs are huge inside the country but also on the increase in the neighbouring countries which face a larger influx of Syrian refugees as I saw for myself when I met Syrian refugees in a camp at the Turkish border with Syria. The scaling up of the EU assistance is the most concrete expression of our solidarity with the Syrian people affected by the conflict ".

The additional funding will go to projects which provide food, water, sanitation, shelter, medical support and supplies, as well as psychological support for an estimated 1.5 million Syrians inside the country as well as to Syrian refugees. read more

In response to the ever increasing violence in Syria, the EU has strengthened the enforcement of the arms embargo against Syria. EU countries will be obliged to inspect vessels and aircraft heading to Syria if they suspect the cargo contains arms or equipment for internal repression. The EU has once again pledged to stand by the Syrian people in their struggle for freedom, dignity, democracy and human rights. read more

Foreign Affairs Council: EU Ministers meet in Brussels

The crisis in Syria, relations with Europe's Southern Neighbours and developments in Mali, Sudan/South Sudan and Somalia dominated the Foreign Affairs Council on Monday 23 July. Speaking on arrival, High Representative Catherine Ashton, who chairs the monthly meeting of Foreign Ministers, spoke of the "terrible situation evolving" in Syria and reiterated the EU's commitment to the Syrian people and the Annan plan. The Council welcomed the recent Libyan elections and also the progress that is being made in Zimbabwe. A portion of the discussions were devoted to the importance of energy in the EU's foreign policy. read more

Conflict prevention, crisis management and peace building

The European Commission on 24 July adopted its 2011 report on the Instrument for Stability (IfS), a key European Union financial instrument for external assistance.

AshtonCatherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, stated: "As we have seen in 2011 more than any other year, the IfS is an important tool with which the European Union can help prevent or respond to crises and emerging threats globally. It is an integral part of our comprehensive approach to external relations and crisis management, particularly in dealing with the threats of political instability and insecurity due to conflict, terrorism, organised crime and natural or man-made disasters. In the longer term it allows us to help our international partners create a safer, more stable environment in which to pursue their development goals".

The (fifth) annual IfS report to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the regions shows how, in 2011, the mobilisation of EUR 282 million has enabled the EU to prevent and respond to crises and threats worldwide. read more

Emissions Trading: Commission prepares for change of the timing for auctions of emission allowances

The European Commission initiated in mid-April the review of the auction time profile of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) and now proposes a Decision to clarify the provisions of the EU ETS Directive on the timing of auctions of emission allowances.

Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said: "The EU ETS has a growing surplus of allowances built up over the last few years. It is not wise to deliberately continue to flood a market that is already oversupplied. This is why the Commission has paved the way for changing the timing of when allowances are auctioned. This short-term measure will improve the functioning of the market. If the political will is there, all the necessary decisions can be taken before the next auctioning phase starts at the beginning of 2013. Now it is up to the European Parliament and Member States to deliver. After the summer recess, the Commission will also finalise the options for long-term structural measures.''read more

EU-backed researchers in team behind Higgs boson 'God particle' discovery

Thirty scientists supported by the European Union's Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie Actions for research training and mobility were involved in the discovery of the Higgs Boson or so-called 'God Particle', the European Commission confirmed. The sub-atomic particle, which experts believe is the basis for all matter in the Universe, was identified at CERN, the European nuclear research facility in Geneva, Switzerland. The discovery has been hailed as one of the most important breakthroughs in the history of science. The 30 scientists are part of two EU-backed initiatives, which have received €6.5 million in funding. read more

New internet service improves greatly GPS reliability

GPS data can now be obtained via the internet in addition to access via the existing satellite signal. European Commissioner Vice President Antonio Tajani on 26 July launched the European Data Access Service (EDAS) - a new commercial service of the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) – designed to make satellite navigation in Europe more reliable and thus more effective for use in commercial applications in difficult surroundings. EDAS will support new services in numerous sectors including high-precision fertiliser spraying, automatic road-tolling, fleet management, inland waterway navigation, dangerous goods transportation or accurate area measurement. Improving navigation for visually and motor impaired people is one of the many examples of practical use of the service - for more examples see MEMO/12/601. Access to GPS data will also be possible via hand-held devices, using wireless communication from added value service providers. read more

EU economic news

At the end of the first quarter of 2012, the government debt to GDP ratio in the euro area (EA17) stood at 88.2%, compared with 87.3% at the end of the fourth quarter of 2011. In the EU27 the ratio increased from 82.5% to 83.4%. Compared with the first quarter of 2011, the government debt to GDP ratio rose in both the euro area (from 86.2% to 88.2%) and the EU27 (from 80.4% to 83.4%).

The EU27 external current account recorded a deficit of 4.1 billion euro in the first quarter of 2012, compared with a deficit of 31.3 bn in the first quarter of 2011. Second estimate for the first quarter of 2012 EU27 current account deficit 4.1 bn euro 31.1 bn euro surplus for trade in services.

In the construction sector, seasonally adjusted production rose by 0.1% in the euro area (EA17) and by 1.6% in the EU27 in May 2012, compared with the previous month. In April 2012, production decreased by 3.7% and 6.9% respectively. Compared with May 2011, production in May 2012 dropped by 8.4% in the euro area and by 6.9% in the EU27.

The first estimate for the euro area (EA17) trade in goods balance with the rest of the world in May 2012 gave a 6.9 bn euro surplus, compared with -1.2 bn in May 2011. The April 2012 balance was +3.7 bn, compared with -4.5 bn in April 2011. In May 2012 compared with April 2012, seasonally adjusted exports rose by 0.3% while imports fell by 0.9%. The first estimate for the May 2012 extra-EU27 trade in goods balance was a 3.8 bn euro deficit, compared with -14.5 bn in May 2011. In April 2012 the balance was -12.6 bn, compared with -17.1 bn in April 2011. In May 2012 compared with April 2012, seasonally adjusted exports rose by 1.7% while imports fell by 1.7%.

Euro area annual inflation was 2.4% in June 2012, unchanged compared with May. A year earlier the rate was 2.7%. Monthly inflation was -0.1% in June 2012. EU annual inflation was 2.6% in June 2012, up from 2.5% in May. A year earlier the rate was 3.1%. Monthly inflation was 0.0% in June 2012. read more

Michael Shirrefs wins German Grant for Journalism 2012 Michael Shirrefs

Michael Shirrefs, presenter and series-producer of ABC Radio National's weekly arts feature program, Creative Instinct, has been awarded the German Grant for Journalism 2012. Since he joined Radio National in 1993, he has worked as a producer on a wide range of international and cross-cultural subjects.

The award, sponsored by the German Government, has been awarded annually since 1986, and includes a two week journey to Germany. Mr Shirrefs intends to get insights into German-Australian diplomacy and especially 'soft' diplomacy in the fields of science, philosophy, and art. He will visit various organisations, amongst them the Goethe Institut in Berlin, the Peace Research Foundation in Bonn, and BMW headquarters in Munich. The Ambassador of Germany to Australia, Dr Christoph Mueller, presented the grant to Michael Shirrefs on 25 July at the National Gallery of Australia. More information

Call for Entries for documentary film festival for the Asia-Pacific region funded by the EU

DocNet South East Asia is seeking submissions of documentary films of any length produced after January 2011 for the first ChopShots Festival to be held in Jakarta 5-9 December 2012. ChopShots is a new documentary film festival for the Asia-Pacific region organised by DocNet Southeast Asia – a project initiated by Goethe-Institut and funded by the European Union – and its partners from six Southeast Asian countries. The festival brings the Asian as well as the international documentary scene together to celebrate the art and business of documentary making. Many Awards of a combined 10,000 Euro up for grabs! Winning newcomers will get an opportunity to travel with their films to five countries for the ChopShots Travelling Festival: Cambodia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam. Deadline 27 August 2012 - more information


Biting Off More Than They Can ChEU? EU Attempts to Negotiate Another CAP Reform and a New Seven Year Financial Framework, presented by Professor Rob Ackrill, European Economics and Policy in the Division of Economics, Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University, UK. Tuesday 31 July 2012 Coffee served at 11.00am, lecture from 11.15am – 12.30pm

'Portrait of Spain: Masterpieces from the Prado' at Queensland Art Gallery 21 July to 4 November 2012. With more than 100 Spanish masterpieces from the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, including works by El Greco, Titian, Peter Paul Rubens, Goya, this is the largest collection of works the Prado have ever loaned.  more information

Foodjects: Design and the new cuisine in Spain: An exhibition of more than one hundred pieces curated by Spanish designer Martín Azúa. From 20 July – 25 August 2012 at Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre – Level 1, North Building, 180 London Circuit, Canberra City. For further information, please visit

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