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European Union Business News from EUbusiness.com

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.

EU to tighten rules on animal experimentation
The EU Council for Justice and Home Affairs has yesterday supported a draft directive for the protection of animals used for scientific purposes, aimed at strengthening the protection of animals whilst allowing research to continue playing a key role in the fight against diseases.

EU questions Italy, Poland and Germany over safety of inland waterways vessels
The European Commission has yesterday sent reasoned opinions to Italy, Poland and Germany for failing to notify measures for the implementation of EU legislation ensuring technical harmonisation and safety on EU inland waterways.

EU warns Italy on discriminatory pension age again
The European Commission has issued on Thursday a new request to Italy to comply with a 2008 European Court of Justice ruling that different pensionable ages for male and female civil servants violate the principle of equal pay.

EU on track for greenhouse gas targets: EEA
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions continue to decrease in the EU, according to the annual European Union greenhouse gas inventory 1990-2008 and inventory report 2010 published by the European Environment Agency (EEA). Analysing emission levels in 2008, the report finds that the EU-27 reduced their emissions by 11.3% compared with 1990, the Kyoto Protocol base year. The EU-15 posted a 6.5% cut in their GHG discharges in the same period.

EU warns Finland on personal tax data
The European Commission today warned Finland that its data protection law may be breaking EU rules. Finnish taxpayers’ personal data is available to the public and is being collected by businesses for sale as special publications, CDs and text messages.

EU accepts BT/Ofcom plans for fibre broadband 'virtual unbundling'
The European Commission has accepted UK telecoms regulator Ofcom's proposal to oblige British Telecom to provide 'virtual' access to its optical fibre infrastructure to alternative operators.

EU approves capital injection into Irish Educational Building Society
The European Commission has authorised under EU state aid rules an emergency recapitalisation worth €875 million in favour of the Irish Educational Building Society (EBS) for a period of six months as urgent rescue aid.

Twelve EU Member States on way to make cross-border divorces easier
European Legal Affairs MPs backed today arrangements which would enable divorcing international couples to choose which EU country's law governs their divorce.

Euro-MPs back new compensation rights for bus, coach and boat travellers
European bus, coach and boat passengers would have the same compensation rights as air passengers under proposals put forward by the European Parliament's transport committee today.