EXME 10 / 05.11
Midday Express of 2010-11-05
News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication
Dans le cadre du travail qu’il leur reste à accomplir pour assainir le système financier, les services de la Commission ont lancé aujourd’hui une vaste consultation sur les agences de notation de crédit. Ces agences sont des acteurs importants des marchés financiers; il est apparu, lors de la crise de la dette qui a touché la zone euro, qu’un réexamen de certains aspects du cadre réglementaire peut s’avérer nécessaire. On redoute de plus en plus que les établissements financiers et les investisseurs institutionnels s’appuient d’une manière excessive sur des notations externes au détriment d’une évaluation interne du risque de crédit, ce qui peut entraîner une volatilité des marchés et l’instabilité du système financier. En organisant cette consultation, la Commission veut élargir le débat et recueillir le point de vue de toutes les parties concernées afin de préciser la portée et le degré d’ambition de toute nouvelle initiative législative qu’elle pourrait prendre dans le domaine des agences de notation de crédit. Les enjeux sont semblables à ceux évoqués à l’échelle mondiale dans le récent rapport sur la stabilité financière. Le délai de réponse est le 7 janvier 2011.
The European Commission has extended its ongoing state aid investigation into Westdeutsche Landesbank (WestLB) after reaching the conclusion that the bank has received an estimated €3.4 billion more in state subsidies than was initially foreseen in the process of transferring its portfolio of impaired assets to a bad bank. Before the Commission can approve the aid, which comes on top of the support received by the bank since the start of the financial crisis, further restructuring measures to address the distortions of competition, or alternatively, its gradual reimbursement, should be considered. In the meantime the Commission continues to doubt the viability of the bank.
The European Commission has approved today an application from Spain for €382,200 of assistance from the European Globalisation adjustment Fund (EGF). The application was submitted after 515 employees involved in the production of electrical equipment for cars were made redundant by Lear Automotive in Roquetes, the county of Baix Ebre in Catalonia. The application will now go to the European Parliament and the Member States (the EU's Budgetary Authority) for approval.
The European Commission has approved an application from Poland for assistance from the European Globalisation adjustment Fund (EGF). The €114 250 requested by the Polish authorities will help 189 former workers of H.Cegielski-Poznań and four of its suppliers from the shipbuilding industry find a job. The Commission will now make proposals to the European Parliament and the Council to mobilise the budgetary resources.
A total of € 578.5 million of EU farm money unduly spent by Member States is claimed back as a result of a decision adopted today by the European Commission. This money returns to the EU budget because of non-compliance with EU rules or inadequate control procedures on agricultural expenditure. Member States are responsible for paying out and checking expenditure under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and the Commission is required to ensure that Member States have made correct use of the funds.
Financial services: Commission launches second consultation on new legal framework for intermediated securities
The Commission services have launched today a public consultation to seek stakeholders' views on the harmonisation of the legal framework for securities holding and transactions. Currently, EU Member State laws on the holding and disposition of securities (such as stocks, bonds, options, futures etc) differ considerably. This fragmentation could lead to legal uncertainty in cross-border situations, for example when investors have difficulty in exercising their rights attached to securities acquired in another Member State (receipt of dividends or interests, voting, agreeing to corporate measures like stock splits, etc). Following a request by the Economic and Financial Affairs (ECOFIN) Council, the Commission will come forward with a legislative proposal before summer 2011 to increase legal certainty and efficiency of securities holding and improve protection of investors' rights, as well as address some other related aspects. A first consultation in 2009, based on a questionnaire, helped the Commission to draw a map of the existing legal practices and obstacles encountered by the market for cross-border transfers of securities. The second consultation now contains a list of principles that the Commission would like to submit to stakeholders for further evaluation before further preparing its legal proposal. More information is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/financial-markets/securities-law/index_en.htm
School Fruit Scheme: Call for applications for a group of experts
The Commission launched a call for applications in order to select the members of the EU group of experts for technical advice on the School Fruit Scheme (SFS). The group's task shall be to assist the Commission with the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the SFS and with the elaboration - before 31 August 2012 - of a report on the application of the SFS. Deadline for submission of applications is 20 November 2010. The call has been published in the Official journal C 206 of 30 October , where all the details are available.
Commission proposes opening negotiations with Switzerland on linking emission trading systems
The European Commission today proposed opening negotiations on linking the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS) with Switzerland's domestic trading system. The proposal will now be sent to the Council and a negotiating mandate requested. While Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are already covered by the EU ETS through their membership of the European Economic Area agreement, this would be the first formal process to link the EU ETS with the emissions trading system of a third country. This possibility is foreseen in the EU Emissions Trading Directive . If the mandate is approved by Council, the negotiations will be opened with a view to linking the two systems once Switzerland has completed a legislative review of its system. Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, said: “Linking the EU ETS with the Swiss system is a another step towards building an OECD-wide emissions trading market which can later be extended to include more advanced developing countries. As the carbon market is the key tool for delivering emission reductions at least cost, these developments will facilitate international action to achieve the deep emission cuts that will be needed to keep global warming below 2°C."
A digital world of opportunities
“We must ensure that copyright serves as a building block, not a stumbling block - we need action to promote a legal digital Single Market in Europe” European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes said today at the prestigious Forum D’Avignon, on the subject of how digital technology represents an opportunity rather than a threat to culture. Kroes underlined the need to modernise the copyright system so that it helps rather than hinders artists within the EU's Single Market. “My goal, in promoting cultural diversity and content adapted to the digital age, is for European creativity to be even stronger”, Kroes said. “Today our fragmented copyright system is ill-adapted to the real essence of art, which has no frontiers. Instead that system has ended up giving a more prominent role to intermediaries than to artists. It irritates the public, who often cannot access what artists want to offer and leaves a vacuum which is served by illegal content, depriving artists of their well-deserved remuneration. It may suit some vested interests to avoid a debate, or to frame the debate in moralistic terms that merely demonise millions of citizens. But that is not a sustainable approach. Time alone will not solve the problems that have emerged." SPEECH/10/619
Communication from the Commission on Mutual Accountability and Transparency
Today, the Commission adopted a proposal for a common approach and shared methodology to be used by the EU and Member States enabling harmonised publication of development aid data and mutual accountability between the EU and developing countries. This proposal puts in practice internationally agreed principles to improve aid effectiveness at EU and global level. Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said: "Enhancing transparency and mutual accountability of donors and partner countries, both towards each other and towards their citizens, is essential to ensure higher impact of development assistance".
In September 2010, compared with August 2010, the volume of retail trade1 decreased by 0.2% in the euro area2 (EA16) and by 0.1% in the EU272. In August3 retail trade fell by 0.2% in both zones. In September 20104, compared with September 2009, the retail sales index rose by 1.1% in the euro area and by 1.3% in the EU27.
Commission clears a joint venture between Züblin AG and VMT GmbH
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the creation of a joint venture between the Ed. Züblin AG (Germany), controlled by STRABAG SE (Austria), and VMT GmbH, controlled by Herrenknecht AG (both of Germany). The ITC Engineering GmbH & Co. KG is a joint venture that will develop and market process data management software for monitoring and managing projects in the construction sector and other industries. Züblin is a globally active construction company which operates in building construction and civil engineering as well as in construction related services. VMT is a globally active undertaking supplying survey technology, specialising in steering systems for tunnel boring machinery. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of joint control by Topaz Energy Group Limited of Ireland over Shell Aviation Ireland Limited (SAIL), currently wholly-owned by Royal Dutch Shell plc (Shell Group). The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.
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