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Daily News – 14.04.2010

EXME 10 / 14.04

Midday Express of 2010-04-14

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication

I. Résultats de la Commission du 14 avril 2010 – Outcome of Commission meeting of 14 April 2010

Commission assesses Portuguese stability programme

Today the European Commission examined the updated stability programme of Portugal, which was submitted to the Commission on 29 March 2010. In line with the Commission's assessments of the Stability and Convergence Programmes of 24 Member States on 17 March (see IP/10/288) and 24 March (see IP/10/346), the evaluation takes place against the background of the economic and financial crisis which has led to a sharp deterioration of public finances since 2009 and triggered the Council decisions to open Excess Deficit Procedures (EDP) for a large majority of Member States.

Antitrust: Commission increases electricity trading capacity on the Swedish borders

The European Commission has adopted a decision rendering legally binding commitments offered by Svenska Kraftnät (SvK) that will increase trade in electricity within Sweden and between Sweden and neighbouring countries contributing to a better allocation of resources and, ultimately, to lower prices for customers and end consumers. The commitments address concerns that SvK may be abusing its dominant market position in the Swedish electricity transmission market by reducing the amount of export capacity on the interconnectors between Sweden and neighbouring EU and EEA Member States. Under the commitments, SvK will no longer limit trading, instead allowing electricity flows to adjust to transmission capacity through market prices.

State aid: Commission approves €19 million German support to Salzgitter AG for energy-saving steel production

The European Commission has authorised Germany to grant €19.1 million for an energy-saving steel production project run by Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH, a subsidiary of the Salzgitter AG group. The aid will allow Salzgitter to produce steel through an innovative production process, Direct Strip Casting (DSC), which consumes less energy than alternative processes. The aid is in line with EU guidelines on State aid for environmental objectives (see IP/08/80) because on balance, the positive effects for the environment largely outweigh potential distortions of competition.

State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into €9.8 million debt rescheduling for Bulgarian company Ruse Industry

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation into plans by Bulgaria to reschedule a debt of €9.8 million owed to the State by Ruse Industry AD, a manufacturer of metal structures and elements. The Commission has doubts that the proposed measure is in line with EU rules on rescue and restructuring aid. The opening of an in-depth investigation allows interested parties to comment on the measure under assessment. It does not prejudge the outcome of the procedure.

State aid: Commission takes Greece to Court for failure to recover illegal aid from Hellenic Shipyards

The European Commission has decided to refer Greece to the European Court of Justice for not complying with a Commission decision of 8 July 2008 (see IP/08/1078) that found that State aid was unlawfully granted to Hellenic Shipyards (HSY) and should, therefore, have been recovered.

State aid: Commission clears public R&D funding for Daher-Socata and Sogerma

The European Commission has authorised France under EU State aid rules to grant repayable advances of €35.14 million to Daher-Socata (€12.34 million) and Sogerma (€22.8 million) for the development of the next-generation Main Landing Gear Doors (MLGD) and Main Landing Gear Bay (MLGB) of the future Airbus A 350 XWB. The Commission found the repayable advances compatible with the EU Framework for State aid for research and development and innovation (see IP/06/1600 and MEMO/06/441). In particular, the aid addresses a specific market failure, is appropriate, and is limited to the minimum necessary.

II. Other news

Reaction of the Commission to OECD statistics on Development aid: Commission calls Member States to get back on track

The European Commission today reacted to the aid figures of OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) members for 2009, released by the OECD. The financial crisis has slowed aid flows, with only a increase of less than 1% in real terms by comparison with 2008. The EU donors in the DAC showed a slight decrease in their aid to developing countries, but clearly retain the EU position as most generous global donor. These EU donors account for 56% of aid.

A new strategic vision for EU's Tourism Policy

The European Tourism Stakeholders Conference, being held in Madrid today and tomorrow, will explore ways and means to strengthen the visibility of tourism at a European level and to verify how the actions to promote a competitive EU tourism industry and a sustainable growth of European tourism can be consolidated in an updated EU tourism policy framework, to be implemented in close cooperation with the national and regional authorities and the EU private tourism stakeholders.

GreenLight and GreenBuilding EU awards: winners save up to 85% of their energy consumption

These awards, launched by the European Commission in 2000 and 2005 respectively, promote the reduction of energy consumption by public and private organisations on a voluntary basis. One of the 12 award winners in the 2010 edition of the GreenLight programme is Dagda town council in Latvia, which reduced its energy consumption in lighting by 85% after joining the initiative in 2007. In the GreenBuilding category, two of the best refurbishment projects, an office building in Austria and a secondary school in Germany, have achieved over 80% of energy savings. These initiatives count over 700 participants all over Europe, who save approximately 545 GWh each year. This is equivalent to the energy used by two mid-size European cities over the same period.

Industrial production up by 0.9% in euro area

In February 2010 compared with January 2010, seasonally adjusted industrial production grew by 0.9% in the euro area (EA16) and by 0.7% in the EU27. In January 2010 production increased by 1.6% and 1.7% respectively. In February 2010 compared with February 2009, industrial production increased by 4.1% in the euro area and by 3.5% in the EU27. These estimates are released by Eurostat.

Commission clears acquisition of Menigo by Brakes Group

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of Menigo Food of Sweden by the Brakes Group of United Kingdom. Menigo is active in food service distribution in Sweden and Denmark. Brakes group is active in food distribution in UK, Ireland and France. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

State aid: Commission approves prolongation of Finnish recapitalisation scheme for financial institutions

The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, the prolongation until 31 October 2010 of a Finnish recapitalisation scheme for financial institutions. The Commission found the prolongation of the measure, initially approved on 11 September 2009 (see IP/09/1303), to be in line with its guidance on support measures for banks during the financial crisis (see IP/08/1495 and IP/08/1901). In particular, the extended measure is limited in time and scope. The Commission therefore concluded that the prolongation of the scheme represents an appropriate means of remedying a serious disturbance in the Finnish economy and as such is compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

Promotion and marketing of fisheries and aquaculture products on the menu at Madrid seminars

Today and tomorrow, the European Commission and the Spanish Presidency are holding two seminars in Madrid on the marketing and supply of fishery and aquaculture products on the EU market. The first seminar on “Promotion of fishery and aquaculture products” will deal with the state of play of promotion, image, perception and communication in the EU. It will also examine the assessment of the actions supported by the European Fisheries Fund (EFF), the adequacy of the current legal and financial framework and how to tackle promotion and communication issues in the future EFF. In addition, representatives of the sector will present their practical experiences on promotion and communication. The second seminar on "Supply to the EU market of fishery and aquaculture products" will focus on the situation, trends and prospects of the supplies to the EU market, the conditions of access to the EU market and the assessment of the competitiveness of the EU sector in view of the increasing dependence on imports. The following topics will also be discussed: is innovation the way forward? Do the current EFF aids meet the needs of the sector? What kind of aids for the future? Both seminars will gather around 110 operators from the fishing and aquaculture industry (from first sale to retail, including wholesalers, processors and distributors) and various NGOs, as well as representatives of the Member States, the Commission and the European Parliament, who will exchange views on how to improve promotion and supply aspects. Experts will present results of recent studies and industry players will share their experiences and reflexions in order to initiate a debate among participants. The events will be held at the Ministry for the Environment, Rural and Marine Environments situated in the Administrative complex "Nuevos Ministerios" in Madrid. More information:

Future Internet – the way forward

"The target is not to invent the Internet of tomorrow, but to provide the sophisticated open framework that will lead innovators to invent it themselves", European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes will explain to the Future Internet Assembly in Valencia, outlining the objectives of the Future Internet Public Private Partnership due to be launched later this year. She will underline that the PPP framework will ensure efficient use of taxpayers' money while making the most of the EU's Single Market e.g. in terms of developing and agreeing standards (as the EU previously did with the GSM and 3G standards). Kroes will conclude that her final goal will be to ensure that the technology supply and application demand work as one to build an open platform for the future Internet and call on Member States and industry to pick up the pace in the future Internet race. See: SPEECH/10/156 - EMBARGO 17.00 CET

Autre matériel diffusé :

Memo " Statement of President Barroso following the earthquake in northwest China"

Speech by Vice-President Reding " A European Law Institute: an Important Milestone for an Ever Closer Union of Law, Rights and Justice"

Speech by Vice-President Kroes "Future Internet - the way forward" - EMBARGO 17.00 CET