EXME 13 / 02.04
Midday Express of 2013-04-02
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
The euro area (EA17) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 12.0% in February 2013, stable compared with January. The EU27 unemployment rate was 10.9%, up from 10.8% in the previous month. In both zones, rates have risen markedly compared with February 2012, when they were 10.9% and 10.2% respectively. Eurostat estimates that 26.338 million men and women in the EU27, of whom 19.071 million were in the euro area, were unemployed in February 2013. Compared with January 2013, the number of persons unemployed increased by 76 000 in the EU27 and by 33 000 in the euro area. Compared with February 2012, unemployment rose by 1.805 million in the EU27 and by 1.775 million in the euro area.
Commission tables proposal on "Financial Discipline" for CAP Direct Payments
With the forecast for spending on CAP Direct Payments & Market measures in 2014 higher than the provisional ceiling for 2014 agreed by EU heads of government*, the European Commission has tabled a proposal for "Financial Discipline" to ensure that spending remains within those budget limits. The concept, established in 2003 but never triggered until now, requires the Commission to make a proposal before the end of March introducing a linear cut in CAP Direct Payments in order to ensure that the ceiling for the so-called 1st Pillar for the forthcoming year is respected. The Commission proposal, which includes a threshold to exempt the first €5 000 of farmers' Direct Payments from any reduction, foresees a reduction of just under 5% (4.98%) in all Direct Payments – or an overall reduction of €1 471.4 million. This proposal relates to applications for Direct Payments in 2013, to be submitted by farmers in May 2013, and usually paid out in December 2013 (from the 2014 budget), but will not apply for Bulgaria, Romania (and Croatia) because the system of CAP Direct Payments is still being phased-in. This move for 2014 follows the accord among EU heads of government on the MFF* to reduce the budget by roughly €800 million from the Commission proposal and to include the creation of a new market crisis reserve (worth €425 million) within the CAP budget, rather than from a separate reserve as originally proposed by the Commission. Under the Regulation, the proposal needs to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council by 30 June 2013. If not, the Commission is empowered to set the adjustment rate. The Commission will update its forecasts for market and direct payment spending for 2014 in the autumn, as usual, and, if necessary, propose an adjustment to the rate of financial discipline, which would then need to be adopted by the Council by December 1. * NB The February 7/8 Conclusions of the European Council on the 2014-2020 Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) is still subject to the consent of the European Parliament. Nevertheless, the Commission has to take a realistic figure on which to base its calculations. It has therefore taken the budget sub-ceiling for the 1st Pillar in the Feb 8 Council Conclusions as the best working hypothesis. If need be, this figure can be updated when the MFF is definitively adopted.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Countryside Properties by Oaktree Capital Group
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of Countryside Properties by Oaktree Group of the USA. Countryside Properties is active in property development, building of residential properties and urban regeneration, mainly in UK. Oaktree Capital Group global alternative and non-traditional investment manager with interests in a number of businesses that are active in the real estate and construction sectors, including Countrywide, Pegasus Retirement Homes, Knightsbridge Student Housing Ltd. and Titlestone Property Finance Ltd. More information is available on the Commission's competition website in the public case register under the case number M.6865 .
Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of automotive financial services company PERL by VWFS and PON
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Pon Equipment Rental & Lease BV (PERL) of the Netherlands by the German-based Volkswagen Financial Services Company (VWFS), belonging to Volkswagen Group, and the Dutch-based PON Holdings BV Company. VWFS and PON intend to acquire PERL through their joint venture Volkswagen Pon Financial Services BV (VWPFS), based in the Netherlands. The parties' activities overlap for the provision of operational and financial leasing of trucks and buses over 3.5 tons as well as for the sale of used trucks and buses above 3.5 tons in the Netherlands. The transaction would also create a vertical relationship arising from the parties' upstream activities related to the distribution of trucks and buses in the Netherlands. However, given the parties' rather modest combined market shares and the presence of a number of credible competitors, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns. The case was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.6763
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