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European Union Business News from EUbusiness.com

EU approves Procter & Gamble's Sara Lee acquisition
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the Sara Lee Air Care business by Procter & Gamble, both of the US.

EU ups its stake in COST science programme
The EU will add EUR 40 million to its contribution to the international Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) programme. This was announced by the Spanish Secretary of State for Research, Felipe Pétriz, at the COST Ministerial Conference on 15 June in Palma de Majorca (Spain), organised by the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Commission approves RBS Sempra sale to JP Morgan
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of RBS Sempra Commodities LLP, the commodities trading arm of UK-based Royal Bank of Scotland, by JP Morgan Chase & Co.

EU-US Open Skies: MEPs call for open markets
The European Parliament regrets continuing US restrictions on EU companies' ownership of stakes in US airlines, calls for better protection of air passengers' personal data, and says airlines from both sides should be included in emission trading rules, in a resolution passed on Thursday.

EU must enforce rail liberalisation, say MEPs
The European Commission should launch infringement proceedings without delay against EU Member States who have not yet opened up their rail networks to competition, says the European Parliament in a resolution adopted on Thursday.

EU approves Italian retail gas joint venture between A2A and Gazprom
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation an Italian gas retail supply company between A2A Spa of Italy and Gazprom Germania GmbH, a subsidiary of Gazprom.

Airport scanners receive conditional support from EC
The deployment and operation of airport scanners must be based on common standards, says the European Commission in a Communication out today. In a statement of conditional support for the scanners, it makes clear that EU Member States must also ensure compliance with European fundamental rights and health provisions.

EU aims for safer electric cars
The European Commission proposed today to ensure that electric cars placed on the European market are safe and that consumers are protected against direct contacts with parts of the car under voltage.

EU to tighten derivatives trading regulation
Proposed EU rules on derivatives trading must be made clearer and tougher, so as to reduce speculative trading and ensure that as many derivatives as possible are traded through open channels that are subject to rules, the European Parliament said in a resolution adopted on Tuesday.

Euro-MPs back new technology for storing product information
The European Parliament gave its backing today to the development of an "internet of things", the new information technology which will allow all the information on a product to be stored, received and transmitted in wireless mode via a chip.

EU quest for food security begins with research
The Scientific Advisory Board for the new EU Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change held its maiden meeting in Paris, France on 10 June where it launched a joint research effort targeting a safe and sustainable food supply in Europe. The European Commission, which was instrumental in driving forward the JPI, has pledged some EUR 2 million to help bring this goal to fruition.

EU launches forestry sustainable development tool
EU researchers have developed a tool to help governments and industry make sustainable development the number one goal of the EU forestry sector.

EU approves acquisition of Tarmac of Germany
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation part of the proposed acquisition of the aggregate activities of Tarmac, part of the UK-based Anglo American group, by Eurovia, part of the French Vinci group.

EU urges Member States to give a boost to small businesses
The EU published today its annual SME report, estimating the loss of jobs in the SME sector over 2009 and 2010 to 3.25 million. The report stresses that EU Member States should take action to boost the small and medium enterprises sector in order to generate new employment opportunities.

Spain to label certain products in Braille
At a Seminar on Consumer Safety in Palma de Mallorca Spain's Minister of Health and Social Policy, Trinidad Jiménez, said the Spanish Government is drawing up a decree for certain products to be labelled in Braille.

EU okays Latvian state aid for exporting firms
The European Commission has authorised, under EU State aid rules, a measure adopted by Latvia to limit the adverse impact of the current financial crisis on exporting firms.

Bulgaria and Romania move a step closer to Schengen area
Bulgaria and Romania have moved a step closer to having their border checks with the borderless Schengen area lifted. An EU Council decision that both comply with data security requirements for joining the "Schengen Information System" border control database was approved by the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee on Thursday.

Euro-MPs urge application of common EU energy rules
The EU should accelerate the application of common energy policy rules, and the policy itself must aim to improve competitiveness, security of supply and sustainability, concluded a joint meeting of over 250 MEPs and MPs from EU Member States in Brussels on Tuesday.

EU approves EUR 16m for new Fiat transmission unit
The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, EUR 16 million of regional investment aid, which the Italian authorities intend to grant to Fiat Powertrain Technologies, a subsidiary of the Fiat Group, for the production of car transmissions in Verrone, Italy.

Hungary Mining Act violates EU state aid rules: EC
The European Commission has concluded that a 2005 agreement between the Hungarian government and the Oil and Gas Company MOL conferred a financial advantage on the company that cannot be exempted under EU State aid rules.

New rules in the EU to provide high-quality cross-border healthcare
EU Health Ministers today agreed on a draft directive which aims to facilitate the access to safe and high-quality cross-border healthcare and to promote cooperation on healthcare between member states.

EU to strengthen cross-border cooperation on VAT fraud
EU Finance Ministers today reached an agreement on a draft regulation which will enable EU member states to combine efforts in combating fraud with regard to value-added taxation (VAT).

Sustainable fishing practices cannot be postponed: European Commission
The European Commission calls on EU Member States to urgently take action in implementing the EU 'Mediterranean Regulation', adopted in 2006, which aims to fight overfishing.

Europeans welcome new science education web portal
A new, multilingual web portal has been launched that will help those involved in science education in the EU to share materials, resources and experiences. Called SCIENTIX ('The community for science education in Europe'), the portal was set up with funding from the Science in Society (SIS) Programme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). The initiative is managed by European Schoolnet (EUN), a network of 31 European education ministries.

EU takes action against Suez Environnement for antitrust practices
The European Commission has opened formal proceedings against French group Suez Environnement over an alleged breach of a seal affixed during an inspection by the Commission in April at the premises of the French group's subsidiary, Lyonnaise des Eaux.