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Daily News – 06.02.2015

European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 06 / 02 / 2015

Brussels, 06 February 2015

New strategy mobilises all EU tools and €1 billion for Syria and Iraq

The first comprehensive strategy on tackling the crises in Syria and Iraq and the threat posed by Da'esh brings together ongoing and planned initiatives of the EU and boosts their efficiency with € 1 billion in funding for the next two years. High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini said: "This package will strengthen our actions to help restore peace and security in a region that is so close to us and that has been devastated by terrorism and violence for too long. We are now better equipped to do more together – with our Member States, regional partners and the international community – in political and diplomatic terms as well as through aid and on security. We can now better tackle the root causes of instability and violence." A press release is available here. (for more information: Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229 69921, Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570, Nabila Massrali – Tel.: +32 229 69218, Irina Novakova, +32 2 295 75 17, Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 66430)

State aid: Commission closes preliminary investigation into alleged aid to Alitalia

The European Commission has closed its preliminary investigation to assess whether measures in favour of Alitalia constitute state aid. In October 2013 the Commission opened a preliminary investigation into a guarantee by state-owned Italian postal company Poste Italiane SpA to subscribe to up to EUR 75 million of Alitalia's capital increase. The Commission received two formal complaints on the issue. In December 2014 the Commission informed the two complainants that it had come to the preliminary assessment that the measure under investigation does not seem to constitute aid within the meaning of Article 107(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. In fact, the evidence gathered by the Commission in the investigation suggests that Poste Italiane carried out an investment under the same terms and conditions as two private operators who were in a comparable situation (a so-called pari passu transaction). Public interventions can be considered free of state aid within the meaning of EU rules when they are made on terms that a private operator would have accepted under market conditions (the market economy operator principle). This position was not a definitive position taken by the Commission but only a preliminary view taken by the services of DG Competition, based on the information available at the time and pending any additional comments the complainants might have wished to make. In the absence of any reaction from the complainants within the set deadline, the complaints were deemed to be withdrawn. The Commission has therefore closed its preliminary investigation. (for more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren - Tel.: +32 229 94889)

Ten years of traceability online in Europe to have safer food

TRACES – the Commission’s free online system that enhances the safety of the food chain and facilitates trade – celebrates its 10th birthday. TRACES helps ensure that animals, food, feed and plants are traded safely and thereby help ensure that the food served on 500 million European plates is safe. Border control authorities in 28 EU countries must check health certificates and trade documents of all consignments at EU borders so that they can safely enter the food chain. Thousands of documents are managed electronically through TRACES which helps to track, like a footprint, the flow of livestock and produce imported from outside the EU and traded within the single market. With over 70 countries worldwide connected and more than 29,000 registered users, TRACES centralises data to simplify and accelerate trading processes in livestock, produce and plants. 44,000 consignments of animals and 400,000 consignments of produce of animal origin have been imported into the EU in 2014. National authorities and businesses benefit from the system as it reduces the economic burden by speeding up administrative procedures. The system can signal health threats, as well as help combat fraud by allowing the quick detection of fake certificates. It also facilitates trade which in turn contributes to economic growth. Further information and a video on TRACES are available online. (for more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel. +32 229 87624)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of CRH's bricks business by Bain Capital

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of the UK and US brick businesses of CRH of Ireland by Bain Capital Investors of the US. CRH is active in providing building products. Bain Capital Investors is a private equity firm. The two acquired businesses, which trade under the name of Ibstock in the UK and Glen-Gery in the US, manufacture and supply a range of clay and other products. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, in particular because there are no overlaps between the activities of Bain Capital and its portfolio companies and those of Ibstock and Glen-Gery. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7500(for more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100).

EUROSTAT: International Trade in Services - EU surplus up to almost €180 bn in 2013
EU international trade in services increased in 2013, with EU exports of services to the rest of the world rising by 5%, from €676 billion in 2012 to €710 bn in 2013, and EUimports by 3%, from €515 bn to €532 bn. As a result, the EU surplus in trade in services increased in 2013 to €178 bn, compared with +€161 bn in 2012. A full press release is available online. (for more information:Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 229 56185; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)




Joint Statement on the International Day against Female Genital Mutilation by High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini, Commissioner Mimica and Commissioner Jourová

The EU is fighting against female genital mutilation on many fronts, as part of a global strategy to promote gender equality. The Commission supports work by grassroots NGOs which work at the heart of communities that practice female genital mutilation and engage with women, girls, men, boys, as well as traditional and religious leaders. Besides ongoing funding for work at EU Member State level and on the ground, an additional € 4.5 million will be made available already this year to support projects that aim to prevent and combat violence against women and girls linked to harmful practices within the European Union. Full statement is available here. You can also check our factsheet. (for more information: Catherine Ray - Tel.: +32 229 69921, Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229-86570, Sharon Zarb - Tel.: +32 229 92256, Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229-62253; Melanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229-58659)



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