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EC approves joint venture between TOTAL and ERG
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed merger of Total Italia and Erg Petroli (EGP), both of Italy, into a new joint venture, active in the refined oil sector.

EU Attorneys General want to unify criteria to combat cross-border crime
EU attorneys general are considering the creation of a consultative forum which would enable them to unify criteria and advance towards a common European justice system to combat cross-border crime.

EU moves to strengthen maritime policy
EU Council of Ministers in June will create a financial instrument to develop a comprehensive maritime policy and will promote the inclusion of a maritime aspect in EU security and defence policies, said on Thursday the Spanish Secretary of State for the EU, Diego Lopez Garrido.

European Commission approves restructuring of Belgian insurance company Ethias
The European Commission has approved under EU state aid rules a €1.5 billion recapitalisation provided by Belgium in the context of the restructuring of Ethias, a Belgian insurer that ran into severe difficulties in 2008, in the wake of the financial crisis.

Euro-MPs call for closer ties between universities and industry
Links between business and the academic world need to be strengthened but higher education institutions must retain their autonomy and public support, says a resolution adopted on Thursday by the European Parliament.

'Digital Agenda for Europe' foresees higher investment in R&D
The European Commission unveiled its new 'Digital Agenda for Europe' on 19 May. Among other things, the agenda focuses on more investment in research and development (R&D) and the use of information and communication technology (ICT) to address challenges facing society like climate change and the ageing population.

New energy labels for EU household appliances
Labels on household appliances such as fridges, washing machines and ovens will have to include more information on energy consumption, following a vote by MEPs on Wednesday.

EU sets higher energy-saving standards for buildings built after 2020
On Tuesday, MEPs approved the EU's new energy efficiency legislation for buildings, which will help consumers cut their energy bills and the EU as a whole to hit its climate change target of using 20% less energy in ten years' time.

Parliament proposes standard maternity leave rights for self-employed women
EU Member States should grant standard social protection, including at least 14 weeks' maternity leave allowance, for self-employed women and for wives or life partners of self-employed workers, says the European Parliament in a binding proposal to update an EU directive.

EU charts path to sustainable fishing in 2011
The European Commission wants to haul EU fishing limits back to sustainable levels in 2011, in line with recommendations made by science experts.

Commission approves acquisition of NWR Energy by Dalkia Česká republika
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of NWR Energy by Dalkia Česká republika, two Czech companies active in the energy sector.

Spain tests new border control system for EU
Spain set up a pilot project on Thursday that will help travellers move faster through border crossing points within the European Union, through the use of an automated identification and document verification system, overseen by police officers.

Parliament seeks equal treatment for self-employed
Euro-MPs want to promote female entrepreneurship and are proposing new rules to bridge the gender gap for self-employed workers and their partners and to ensure everyone has social protection.

Levy on private copies may be imposed, says Advocate General
In an opinion given on 11 May 2010, Advocate General Trstenjak ruled that a levy on private copies may be imposed on digital equipment, devices and media only where it may be presumed that they are to be used for private copying.

Commissioner offers preview of Research and Innovation Strategy
The EU's forthcoming Research and Innovation Strategy for Europe will focus on the major societal challenges, have a broad definition of 'innovation' and seek to remove bottlenecks to the flow of knowledge, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn has announced.

Commission approves tax exemptions for Finnish Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)
The European Commission has authorised under EU state aid rules the introduction of "Real Estate Investment Trusts" (REITs) in Finland that will be exempted from corporate income tax in order to encourage investment in affordable rental housing.

EU clears Swedish restructuring aid for Carnegie Investment Bank
The European Commission has granted final clearance under the EU state aid rules to the Swedish aid for the restructuring of Carnegie Investment Bank.

State aid: Commission to investigate EUR 20 million capital injections into Elan of Slovenia
The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation under EU State aid rules into capital injections destined to two subsidiaries of state owned company Elan Skupina in Slovenia.

EU restricts imports of plants from China
The European Union has decided to impose stricter measures for the import from China of plants hosting the harmful citrus long horn beetle, an insect that is not native to Europe and can attack a wide range of plants.

EU ministers adopt rules to prevent injuries to healthcare workers
At a meeting of the EU Council of Education, Youth and Culture today, Ministers adopted a directive aimed at achieving the safest possible working environment for healthcare workers through prevention from injuries.

EU steers its way towards intelligent transport systems
A coherent EU-wide framework for interoperable transport systems is the aim of a proposal adopted by EU transport ministers today. Following negotiations with the European Parliament, the European Council today approved a proposal for a directive on the deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) in the field of road transport.

EU approves acquisition of 50Hertz by Elia and Industry Funds Management
The European Commission has authorised under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of joint control over the German transmission system operator 50Hertz Transmission GmbH by Elia System Operator SA/NV of Belgium and Industry Funds Management Pty Ltd (IFM) of Australia.

EU greenlights Otto's acquisition of various Quelle assets
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition by the German Otto Group of certain assets of the Swiss home-shopping companies Quelle Versand AG i.L. (in liquidation) and Spengler Versand AG.

Commission to cut research funding red tape
The European Commission has set out its plans to simplify the procedures for taking part in EU-funded research projects. The Commission hopes that cutting red tape in this way will entice the very best researchers to get involved in the framework programmes.

Commission puts ITER funding in spotlight
The European Commission on 5 May adopted a communication justifying the creation of a sustainable financial framework for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). EU Member States should provide financial support to the facility, whose expenditure is EUR 4.5 billion more than the initial EUR 2.7 billion planned, the European Commission said.