EXME 12 / 13.06
Midday Express of 2012-06-13
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
The European Commission has opened formal antitrust proceedings to investigate whether the German railway incumbent Deutsche Bahn AG and several of its subsidiaries operate an anticompetitive pricing system for traction current in Germany, in breach of EU antitrust rules. Traction current is a type of electricity used by trains on the railway network. The Commission will investigate whether the discounts applied by Deutsche Bahn lead to higher prices for its competitors, placing them at a disadvantage on the rail freight and passenger markets. The opening of proceedings does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation; it merely means that the Commission will treat the case as a matter of priority.
In Strasbourg yesterday (12), representatives from the European Parliament, the Council, and the Commission agreed on a joint statement and common approach to the EU's decentralised agencies. The agreement will greatly improve the agencies' governance and efficiency, and make them a more effective tool in implementing the policies of the EU. It will now be formally endorsed by each institution.
To improve access of EU industry to raw materials at an affordable price, the European Commission wishes to intensify cooperation with Greenland benefitting both sides, such as joint infrastructures and investments or capacity building in exploration and exploitation of raw materials. A letter of intent on co-operation in this area was signed today in Nuuk (Greenland) by Vice President Antonio Tajani and Commissioner for Development Co-operation Andris Piebalgs on behalf of the European Commission, and Prime Minister Kuupik Kleist on behalf of Greenland. Currently ca. 58 % of exploration companies operating in Greenland are Canadian or Australian companies. The share of EU companies operating in Greenland is only 15% (Denmark, Germany, Czech Republic and United Kingdom). Although of the four exploitation licences three are European, the European companies have a low involvement in on-going exploration activities and own only a few exploration licences (with most licences owned by UK, Germany and Denmark).
In April 2012 compared with March 2012, seasonally adjusted industrial production fell by 0.8% in the euro area (EA17) and by 0.4% in the EU27. In March production decreased by 0.1% and 0.2% respectively. In April 2012 compared with April 2011, industrial production dropped by 2.3% in the euro area and by 1.7% in the EU27.
After significant falls in 2010, EU27 FDI (foreign direct investment) flows more than doubled in 2011. The EU27 FDI flows to the rest of the world (outflows) reached 370 billion euro in 2011, after having decreased from 316 bn in 2009 to 146 billion in 2010. FDI into the EU27 from the rest of the world (inflows) were at 225 bn in 2011, after having declined from 234 bn in 2009 to 104 bn in 2010.
The European Commission has found a Finnish short-term export credit insurance scheme to be in line with EU state aid rules, as it is limited to insurance cover that is currently not available on the private market while the rates charged remain in line with the pricing of similar risks by private players. The Commission authorised the measure until 31 December 2012. Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy, Joaquín Almunia, said: "The export credit insurance scheme gives Finland an effective means to support firms, including SMEs, in areas where the market is currently not offering insurance cover while providing safeguards to limit distortions of competition".
The European Commission has found a UK scheme in support of renewable energy sources used to generate heat in Northern Ireland to be in line with EU state aid rules, because it furthers environmental protection and the limitation of carbon emissions, in line with the Europe 2020 strategy for sustainable growth, without unduly distorting competition in the internal market.
The European Commission has approved the State aid contained in regulated electricity tariffs for large and medium-sized energy consumers in France, subject to compliance with certain conditions relating to the reform of the French electricity market, an annual review of the standard tariffs, and, subsequently, their disappearance at the end of 2015. The tariffs in question are the “green” and “yellow” regulated standard tariffs for companies and the “TARTAM” tariffs (transitional market adjustment tariffs) that applied under the system in place between 2006 and 2011, now repealed. The Commission takes the view that the tariffs are compatible with the EU State aid rules in view of the fact that they will help to limit the power of the incumbent operator over a transitional period.
The European Commission has found a proposal by the United Kingdom to grant around €6 million of public financing for the construction of an ultra-fast broadband network in the city of Birmingham to be in line with EU state aid rules, in particular because it will be genuinely open to all operators and will therefore promote competition. "Investments in ultra-fast broadband networks contribute to promoting growth in line with the EU's Digital Agenda. If such networks are built with the help of taxpayers' money, it is important to ensure thriving competition on the subsidised networks, so that local businesses and citizens can benefit from continuously improving broadband services at competitive prices." said Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia.
The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to examine whether the marketing measures put into effect by Agrarmarkt Austria (AMA) between 1995 and 2008 are in line with EU state aid rules. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives interested parties the possibility to comment on the measure concerned. It does not however prejudge the outcome of the investigation. The AMA is a public law body controlled by the Austrian State which supervises the use of quality and organic labels in Austria; it also plans and coordinates promotion measures, produces information materials on quality programmes and labels, and commissions research on quality in agricultural production. Marketing measures for activities related to AMA's quality and organic labels as well as to generic products (such as advertising, promotion of quality products, fairs, exhibition or events) implemented between 1995 and 2008 by AMA Marketing (a subsidiary of AMA) seem to have all the characteristics of state aid. Furthermore, the parafiscal financing of the measures can be regarded as state resources. Based on the limited information available, the Commission has doubts as to whether the aid and its financing would be compatible with the internal market.
Autre matériel diffusé :