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Daily News – 02.04.2019

European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 02 / 04 / 2019

Brussels, 2 April 2019

Commission adopts €4 billion investment package for infrastructure projects across 10 Member States

Today the EU Cohesion Policy invests €4 billion of EU funds in 25 large infrastructure projects in 10 Member States.The investment package involves Bulgaria, Czechia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Poland, Portugal and Romania. The projects cover a wide range of areas: health, transport, research, environment and energy. With national co-financing, the total investment in these projects amounts to €8 billion.Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu said: “These 25 projects are as many examples of how the EU is working to improve everyday life for our citizens from better drinking water to faster rail transport and modern hospitals. In the current budget period, I have adopted 258 large infrastructure projects worth €32 billion of EU funds; they are, in a way, the ambassadors of Cohesion Policy and I'm proud of each and every one of them.” A full press release as well as more information on the adopted projects are available online. (For more information: Christian Spahr – Tel.: +32 2 295 00 55; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)


New Deal for Consumers: European Commission welcomes provisional agreement on strengthening EU consumer protection rules 

The European Parliament and the Council have reached a provisional agreement on stronger and better enforced consumer protection rules, which has today been supported by the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee of the European Parliament. The main improvements will be more transparency for consumers when buying online, effective penalties and clear rules to tackle the issue of dual quality of products in the EU. The European Commission proposed the new rules in April last year as part of the New Deal for Consumers. First Vice-President Timmermans said: “This is about protecting consumers through more transparency, and robust enforcement if customers are duped. With this New Deal consumers will know what they're buying and from whom they're buying it.” Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality added: With this deal the days of double standards in the Single Market are numbered. Consumers should no longer be misled by different products presented as identical. Traders who will continue to cheat will face high sanctions. The New Deal will also beef up consumer protection in the online world and make online shopping more transparent." The adopted measures will bring tangible benefits for consumers: 1/ with effective penalties for violations of EU consumer law; 2/ by tackling dual quality of consumer goods; 3/ with strengthened consumer rights online. A full press release is available online(For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Melanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)


The Juncker Plan supports renewable energy solutions in Slovenia

The Investment Plan for Europe – the Juncker Plan – is supporting a €6 million European Investment Bank (EIB) loan to energy services provider Resalta. The financing, backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Juncker Plan, will help Resalta, a promising start-up, grow into a major provider of independent energy services and renewable energy solutions, contributing towards an energy efficient Europe. Resalta has already developed and implemented solutions saving 300GWH of electric energy and reducing CO2 emissions by 30,000 tons a year – equal to planting 3,400 ha of forest. Commissioner for Climate action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said:  "The Juncker Plan is helping us reach our EU-wide goals of clean energy use. Today, the Juncker Plan is supporting Resalta, a Slovenian start-up, to grow, innovate and develop renewable energy solutions. I congratulate Resalta for seizing this opportunity and I hope more innovative companies will follow suit.”  A press release is available here. As of March 2019, the Juncker Plan has mobilised €390 billion of additional investments, including €941 million in Slovenia, and supported 929,000 enterprises across Europe. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)


Global Report on Food Crises: acute hunger still affecting over 100 million people worldwide

A report presented today jointly by the European Union, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and the UN World Food Programme finds that around 113 million people in 53 countries experienced acute food insecurity in 2018, compared to 124 million in 2017. Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, said: “Food insecurity remains a global challenge. That's why, from 2014 to 2020, the EU will have provided nearly €9 billion for initiatives on food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture in over 60 countries. Today's Global Report highlights the need for a strengthened cooperation between humanitarian, development and peace actors to reverse and prevent food crises. A stronger Global Network can help deliver change on the ground for the people who really need it.” Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, added: “[…] The EU continues to step up its humanitarian efforts. Over the last three years, the EU allocated the biggest humanitarian food and nutrition assistance budget ever, with nearly €2 billion overall. Food crises are becoming more acute and complex and we need innovative ways to tackle and prevent them from happening. […]” The report's findings are a powerful call for strengthened cooperation to link together prevention, preparedness and response to address urgent humanitarian needs and root causes. Find out more about the key findings of the report in the joint press release. The launch of the report is followed by a press conference taking place at 12:00 and which will be broadcast on EbS. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)


TRADE: European Union launches WTO cases on ICT and pharmaceuticals

Today, the EU has brought two disputes in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against India and Turkey, respectively targeting unlawful import duties on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) products and unlawful measures on pharmaceuticals. Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: "Today the EU is showing once again that it will not hesitate to use the multilateral system to enforce the rules when others violate them. India must abide by its own commitment to allow duty free trade in ICT products. Technological innovation keeps our companies competitive in the global market and supports hundreds of thousands of high value jobs across Europe. Turkey is discriminating against EU pharmaceuticals producers by forcing them to move production there. This is a clear violation of WTO rules and puts many EU jobs at risk. We hope that we will be able to resolve both cases during the upcoming WTO consultations.”In the case against India, the EU is challenging the introduction of import duties on a wide range of ICT products, for instance mobile phones and components, base stations, integrated circuits and optical instruments. The case against Turkey concerns measures that force foreign producers of pharmaceuticals to move their production to the country, if they want their medicines to be eligible for reimbursement for consumers under the Turkish health system. In both cases, there are significant economic interests and important legal principles at stake for the EU. The total value of affected European exports is estimated to be more than €1 billion a year.  For more information see a full press release available online and pages dedicated to enforcement of trade rules.(For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska – Tel: +32 229 51383)


La Commission approuve une nouvelle appellation d'origine protégée de Bulgarie

La Commission européenne a approuvé la demande d'inscription du « Странджанскимановмед » (Strandzhanski manov med)/« MaновмедотСтранджа » (Manov med ot Strandzha) dans le registre des appellations d'origine protégées (AOP). Le « Strandzhanski manov med » appelé aussi « Manov med ot Strandzha » est un miel à la couleur brun foncé produit dans le massif de la Strandzha situé dans le sud-est de la Bulgarie. Il est récolté durant les mois de juin, juillet et août. Le massif de la Strandzha fait partie du réseau écologique paneuropéen de Natura 2000. L'apiculture est depuis longtemps un moyen de subsistance dans la région, comme en témoignent encore les paniers-ruches et les ruches-troncs datant de la fin du 19e siècle. Le commissaire en charge de l'agriculture, Phil Hogan, et la commissaire en charge de l'économie et de la société numériques, Mariya Gabriel, remettront officiellement demain à Bruxelles le certificat d'enregistrement du produit à M. Manol Todorov, président de l'association des producteurs de ce miel, et à Mme Elka Bojilova, représentante du ministère bulgare de l'agriculture. Cette nouvelle appellation va rejoindre plus de 1445 produits déjà protégés dont la liste est disponible dans la base de données DOOR. Pour plus d'informations, voir aussi les pages sur la politique de qualité. (Pour plus d'information: Daniel Rosario – Tél: +32 2 29 56 185; Clémence Robin – Tél: +32 229 52 509)


State aid: Commission concludes part of UK tax scheme gave illegal tax advantages to certain multinational companies; remaining part does not constitute aid

The European Commission has found that a UK tax scheme is partly justified and does not constitute State aid. However, the Commission found that the scheme unduly exempted certain multinational groups from these UK rules targeting tax avoidance, in breach of EU State aid rules. The general purpose of the UK's Controlled Foreign Company (CFC) rules is to prevent UK companies from using a subsidiary, based in a low or no tax jurisdiction, to avoid taxation in the UK. These rules establish two tests to determine how much of the financing profits from loans granted by an offshore subsidiary are to be reallocated to the UK parent company and, hence, taxed in the UK, namely: (i) The extent to which lending activities, which are generating the financing income, are located in the UK (“UK activities test”); or (ii) The extent to which loans are financed with funds or assets, which derive from capital contributions from the UK (“UK connected capital test”). Between 2013 and 2018, the Group Financing Exemption provided a derogation from the general CFC rules. It partially (75%) or fully exempted from taxation in the UK financing income received by an offshore subsidiary from another foreign group company, even if this income is derived from “UK activities” or the capital being used is “UK connected”. Therefore, a multinational active in the UK using this exemption was able to provide financing to a foreign group company via an offshore subsidiary paying little or no tax on the profits from these transactions. In October 2017, the Commission opened an in-depthinvestigation to verify whether the Group Financing Exemption complied with EU State aid rules. The Commission's investigation has concluded that the Group Financing Exemption and, hence, the different treatment, was partially justified. At the same time, the exemption grants a selective advantage to certain multinational companies. In particular, the Commission found that when financing income from a foreign group company, channelled through an offshore subsidiary, is financed with UK connected capital and there are no UK activities involved in generating the finance profits, the Group Financing Exemption is justified and does not constitute State aid under EU rules. Conversely, the Commission found that when financing income from a foreign group company, channelled through an offshore subsidiary, derives from UK activities, the Group Financing Exemption is not justified and constitutes State aid under EU rules. The Commission therefore concluded that multinationals claiming the Group Financing Exemption while meeting the “UK activities test” received an unjustified preferential tax treatment that is illegal under EU State aid rules. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in charge of competition policy said: "Anti–tax avoidance rules are important to ensure that all companies pay their fair share of tax. But they must apply equally to all taxpayers. The UK gave certain multinationals a selective advantage by granting them an unjustified exemption from UK anti–tax avoidance rules. This is illegal under EU State aid rules. The UK must now recover the undue tax benefits." The full press release is available online. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Astuti - Tel.: +32 229 55344)


State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into Slovakia's tax on the food retail sector

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation into a tax on the food retail sector in Slovakia. The tax, adopted by Slovakia in December 2018, applies to food retailers that operate in the country. It entered into force on 1 January 2019, and the first payment would have been due by the end of April 2019. The Commission has also today issued an injunction, requiring Slovakia to suspend the application of the measure until the Commission has concluded its assessment under EU State aid rules. Under the tax, food retailers would pay a quarterly tax amounting to 2.5% of their total turnover. However, food retailers would be fully or partially exempted from the payment of the tax, if they fulfil one of several conditions concerning, for example, their size. Furthermore, retailers that are members of trading alliances or franchises would also not pay the tax, despite the fact that their combined turnover is comparable to that of the largest retailers. The Commission started to look into the matter following information it received from stakeholders. In December 2018, the Commission also received a formal complaint. At this stage, the Commission has concerns that the application of the Slovak food retail tax with its exemptions confers a selective advantage on companies that are exempted from the tax and therefore involves State aid within the meaning of EU rules. The Commission is also concerned that the measure may affect consumers negatively, notably through an increase in prices or a reduction of consumer choice on the Slovak retail market. The Commission will now investigate further to determine whether its initial concerns are confirmed. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives interested third parties the opportunity to comment on the measures under assessment. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. The full press release is available online. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Astuti - Tel.: +32 229 55344)


Eurostat : Les prix à la production industrielle en hausse de 0,1% dans la zone euro, en hausse de 0,2% dans l'UE28(février 2019 comparé à janvier 2019)

En février 2019 par rapport à janvier 2019, les prix à la production industrielle ont augmenté de 0,1% dans la zone euro (ZE19) et de 0,2% dans l'UE28, selon les estimations d'Eurostat, l'office statistique de l'Union européenne. En janvier 2019, les prix avaient augmenté de 0,3% tant dans la zone euro que dans l'UE28. En février 2019 par rapport à janvier 2018, les prix à la production industrielle ont augmenté de 3,0% dans la zone euro et de 3,1% dans l'UE28. Un communiqué de presse est disponible en ligne. (Pour plus d'informations: Lucía Caudet – Tél. +32 229 56182; Victoria von Hammerstein-Gesmold - Tél.: +32 229 55040)




Le commissaire Moscovici à Nantes, en France, aujourd'hui

Aujourd'hui, le commissaire Pierre Moscovici, en charge des affaires économiques et financières est à Nantes, en France, pour visiter différents projets financés par l'UE. Il sera accueilli par M. Claude d'Harcourt, préfet de la région Pays de la Loire et de la Loire-Atlantique, puis il se rendra sur le site de l'usine DAHER qui a bénéficié d'un prêt de 60 millions d'euros dans le cadre du Plan Juncker pour construire une presse permettant de tester et sélectionner de nouveaux matériaux thermoplastiques. Il visitera ensuite le Centre de Formation et d'Apprentissage BTP et l'incubateur d'entreprises Atlanpole. Le commissaire s'entretiendra également avec la maire de Nantes, Mme Johanna Rolland et rencontrera des chefs d'entreprise, des élus et des représentants du monde universitaire et associatif nantais autour du thème « Comment favoriser le développement de l'économie locale avec l'Europe ? ». Enfin, il animera une conférence étudiante sur le thème « L'Europe face au défi de la démocratie » à l'école de commerce AUDENCIA. (Pour plus d'informations: Annika Breidthardt – Tél.: +32 229-56153; Johannes Bahrke – Tél.: +32 229 58615; Enda McNamara – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Patrick McCullough – Tél.: +32 229 87183)


Financial technology: European Commission and European Supervisory Authorities launch new platform to improve cooperation on technological innovation in the financial sector

Today the European Commission and the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) are launching the European Forum for Innovation Facilitators (EFIF), with the objective to improve cooperation and coordination in support of the application of new technological developments in the EU financial sector. Innovation facilitators usually take the form of ‘innovation hubs' and ‘regulatory sandboxes'. Innovation hubs provide a dedicated point of contact for financial firms to raise enquiries with competent authorities on financial technology (FinTech) issues. Regulatory sandboxes are schemes set up by competent authorities to provide firms with the opportunity to test innovative products and services related to the financial sector. Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said: “There are 21 innovation hubs and five regulatory sandboxes in the EU. By creating the European Forum for Innovation Facilitators, we aim to create a favourable environment for Fintech start-ups to scale-up and flourish in Europe. Innovation is a key component of the engine supporting the economic growth of the EU". The EFIF is intended to provide a platform for participating authorities to collaborate and share experiences from engagement with firms through innovation facilitators. The establishment of EFIF follows up on the 2019 ESA's joint report on regulatory sandboxes and innovation hubs and it is in line with the Commission's FinTech Action Plan's objectives to support the competitiveness of the European financial sector and contribute to make Europe a hub for future innovation in FinTech. The ESAs and National Competent Authorities will be the members of the EFIF. In addition, and on ad-hoc basis, representatives from third-countries' competent authorities will be invited to participate in the EFIF meetings. More information here. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Letizia Lupini – Tel.: +32 229 51958)



Upcoming events of the European Commission (ex-Top News)