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Daily News – 08.08.2014

EXME 14 / 08.08


08 / 08 / 14

Statement by Commissioner Borg on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa

“Today we have learned that World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the worsening situation regarding the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.  

As European Commissioner for Health I want to reassure citizens that the risk from Ebola to EU territories is extremely low. This is both because relatively few people travelling to the EU are likely to be infected with the virus, and because of the way in which it spreads, i.e. only through direct contact with the symptomatic patient’s body fluids.

It is also important to consider that the EU has very high standards of health and preventive care.

The EU has been following the situation in West Africa for many months and, in the unlikely event of Ebola reaching the EU, we are prepared in the face of the virus."

FULL statement available on Rapid.

European Commission adopts ‘Partnership Agreement’ with France on using EU Structural and Investment Funds for growth and jobs in 2014-2020

The European Commission has adopted a "Partnership Agreement" with France setting down the strategy for the optimal use of European Structural and Investment Funds throughout the country. Today’s agreement paves the way for investing €15.9 billion in total Cohesion Policy funding over 2014-2020 (current prices, including European Territorial Cooperation funding). France also receives €11.4 billion for rural development and €588 million for fisheries and the maritime sector. The EU investments will help tackle unemployment and boost competitiveness and economic growth through support to innovation, training and education in cities, towns and rural areas. They will also promote entrepreneurship, fight social exclusion and help to develop an environmentally friendly and a resource-efficient economy. See also MEMO/14/331 .

Other news

Main findings of the review reports on the European System of Financial Supervision

The European Commission today adopted the review reports on the European System of Financial Supervision (ESFS), consisting of a report on the operation of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) – the European Banking Authority (EBA), the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA), and the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) – and a report on the mission and organisation of the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB). These two reports set out the findings of a review of the functioning of the new supervisory architecture, which was put in place in 2011 as part of the comprehensive reforms in response to the financial crisis.

Safer cruise ships thanks to EU-funded research

When choosing their summer holidays, many European opt for a cruise, or use a ferry to get where they are going. A very important aspect of passenger shipping is safety. Thanks to EU-funded research, evacuating large passenger ships could be even smoother and safer in future. EU-funded researchers are also helping to design more stable cruise ships and ferries. The three-year LYNCEUS project, which ends in early 2015, is demonstrating how low-power wireless technologies can help localise and track people on board ships, providing essential information in cases of evacuation, and improve overboard search and rescue. The aim is to revolutionise current emergency management and ship evacuation practice.  The GOALDS project, which ended in 2012, created new designs for large cruise vessels to increase their safety in the case of a collision or grounding. By redesigning the ships they would have up to 20% more chance of surviving groundings or collisions.

EU steps up its efforts to fight organised crime and drug trafficking in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean

The European Commission has announced additional funding of three million euros for the Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP), an on-going initiative in several countries of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean to help reduce trafficking in drugs and other illicit products, thanks to more effective, well-connected counter-narcotic activities. This includes connecting the participating airports to international databases and communication networks and promoting intelligence and information sharing. European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, said: "Organised crime, drug trafficking and the damage that they bring are a global problem that requires a strong and coordinated response".  So far, thanks to this programme more than 355 kg of cocaine and 1120 kg of cannabis were seized, among other results. With today's announcement, the European Commission has contributed almost €8 million to the AIRCOP project.

WTO rules against Chinese restrictions on access to rare earths and other raw materials

WTO Appellate Body ruled yesterday in the EU’s favour. It confirmed the findings made by a Panel in March 2014 that China’s export restrictions on rare earth, as well as tungsten and molybdenum, are in breach of WTO rules. Backing the claims of the EU and its co-complainants, the US and Japan, the WTO found that China’s export duties and quotas were not justified for reasons of environmental protection or conservation policy. EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht qualified the ruling as "another milestone in the EU’s efforts to ensure fair access to much-needed raw materials for its industries". 

Please see IP/14/912  and MEMO/14/504 for further information.

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of additional stakes in Estonian gas companies by Fortum

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over AS Eesti Gaas ('EG') and AS Vörguteenus Valdus ('Valdus'), both of Estonia by Fortum Corporation ('Fortum') of Finland and OAO Gazprom ('Gazprom') of Russia. Pre-transaction EG and Valdus were jointly controlled by Gazprom and E.ON. Fortum produces electricity and heat, operates and maintains power plants and offers energy-related services, mainly in the Nordic countries. Gazprom is active in the exploration, production, transportation, refining and marketing of natural gas and petrochemical products. EG is a public limited company established in Estonia that imports and sells natural gas and, to a minor extent, sells electricity. Valdus is the public gas transmission system operator in Estonia. The Commission concluded that the proposed concentration would not raise competition concerns, because the overlaps between the parties' activities and increments in market shares brought about by the transaction are limited. The transaction 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.7272 .