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Daily News – 14.10.2009

EXME09 / 14.10


News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

14 / 10 / 09

I. Résultats de la Commission du 14 octobre 2009 – Outcome of Commission meeting of 14 October 2009

La Commission a adopté aujourd’hui une proposition visant à simplifier considérablement le règlement des successions de dimension internationale dans l’Union européenne. Il s’agit de faciliter la vie des citoyens en définissant des règles communes permettant d’identifier aisément l’autorité compétente et la loi qui s’appliquera à la totalité des biens constitutifs d’une succession, où qu’ils soient situés. Outre que les droits des héritiers, des légataires et de toute autre personne concernée seront mieux garantis, le règlement proposé permettra au futur défunt d’envisager plus sereinement sa succession en lui offrant un choix quant à la loi qui gouvernera la transmission de l’ensemble de ses biens. La Commission propose aussi la création d’un certificat successoral européen permettant à tout héritier ou administrateur d’une succession de faire facilement la preuve de ce statut partout dans l’Union.

The European Commission has today decided not to raise any objections to the plans of the Greek authorities to cover part of the costs of the voluntary redundancy scheme that Olympic Catering SA plans to implement in respect of certain of its staff. The Commission considers that the proposed measure, which pays part of the abnormal costs of the scheme, does not prejudice the common interest and can be considered compatible with the common market. The abnormal costs in question result from certain Olympic Catering staff taking part in an early retirement voluntary redundancy scheme. These staff members enjoy a permanent status and salaries which were negotiated when the company was a state-owned undertaking and are therefore not comparable to normal market conditions.

The European Commission has adopted a decision that renders legally binding commitments offered by the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) to address Commission concerns that IACS may have infringed Article 81 of the EC Treaty and Article 53 of the EEA Agreement, prohibiting restrictive business practices. The Commission's concerns related to the ship classification market, in particular that IACS might have prevented classification societies, which are not members of IACS, from joining IACS, from participating in IACS' technical working groups and from access to technical background documents. Such behaviour would have hindered the entry and development of classification societies, which were not members of IACS, in the ship classification market. To address these concerns, IACS proposed a series of commitments, including the establishment of qualitative membership criteria and guidance for their application, the possibility for non-IACS classification societies to participate in IACS' working groups and full access to IACS' technical resolutions and related background documents. The commitments were market tested by the Commission this summer (see IP/09/898). Today's decision is based on Article 9(1) of Council Regulation (EC) 1/2003 on the implementation of the EC Treaty's antitrust rules. It ends the Commission's investigation and does not conclude whether there has been or still is an infringement of the antitrust rules. However, if IACS were to break its commitments, the Commission could impose a fine of up to 10% of IACS' total turnover without having to prove any violation of the EC Treaty's and the EEA Agreement's competition rules.

The European Commission has authorised, under the EC Treaty’s rules on state aid, a revised version of a Dutch tax incentive measure, first approved by the Commission in August 2006 as "Regeling Groenprojecten", to stimulate investments in projects that have a positive effect on nature and the environment in The Netherlands. The Commission found the various parts of the scheme to be in line respectively with its guidelines on state aid to agriculture, to fisheries, to the environment and with EC Treaty rules on state aid for the development of certain economic activities (Article 87.3.c).

The European Commission has endorsed a Finnish proposal for tax incentives for productive investment projects. Under the proposed scheme, for the fiscal years 2009 and 2010 Finland would temporarily double the depreciation rates for new factory and workshop buildings as well as new machinery and equipment used in such buildings. The aim of the proposed scheme is to stimulate investment in response to the current economic downturn. The Commission found that the tax incentive was a general measure, as it would be available to all enterprises having factory or workshop buildings regardless of their location, size and sector. The measure therefore does not constitute state aid as defined in Article 87 of the EC Treaty and can be implemented.

La Commission européenne propose aujourd'hui de marquer une nouvelle étape dans les relations de l'UE avec le Kosovo. Dans sa communication intitulée «Kosovo – Vers la concrétisation de la perspective européenne», la Commission propose d'entamer un processus qui devrait conduire les citoyens kosovars à pouvoir voyager dans l'UE sans visa et de commencer les préparatifs d'un accord commercial global dès que le Kosovo satisfera aux conditions requises à cet effet. M. Olli Rehn, commissaire européen chargé de l'élargissement, a déclaré à ce propos: «La décision prise aujourd'hui marque une nouvelle étape. Nous proposons un ensemble de mesures concrètes pour aider à améliorer le quotidien de tous les citoyens kosovars. Ces mesures montreront au Kosovo que le rapprochement avec l'UE n'est pas une abstraction, mais qu'il apportera des bénéfices réels et tangibles pour tous. Nous demandons maintenant aux États membres de l'UE d'accepter nos propositions afin de permettre au Kosovo de suivre la même évolution que l'ensemble des Balkans occidentaux.» - EMBARGO 12h15 CET

Other news

On 14 October a one day expert seminar will explore ways to "Strengthening EU-UN cooperation in the struggle against all forms of discrimination". Hosted jointly by the European Commission and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) participants will address questions like raising awareness of the public, media and stakeholders of the topics of racial discrimination, gender-based discrimination and discrimination based on disability. The close cooperation between the EU and OHCHR on these issues is underpinned by the opening of the new Regional Office of OHCHR in Brussels, the first office in the European Union.

Fiscal policymaking in the EU has, over the last year, been urgently and successfully focused on pulling the economy out of recession. Discretionary measures and in-built fiscal stimuli have cushioned the downturn in economic activity and have been a factor in the recent improvement. However, this has also led to a deterioration in government accounts which, coming on top of the projected demographic developments as populations age, makes the long-term sustainability of public finances an acute challenge, says a Commission communication on the ‘Long-term Sustainability of Public Finances for a Recovering Economy.’ Governments need to keep supporting the economy and avoid choking off the emerging recovery. But now is the time to start mapping their consolidation strategies and assess how the crisis has affected their sustainability conditions.

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition by E.ON AG of Germany from Electrabel S.A./N.V. of Belgium of two power plants and drawing rights (the making available of guaranteed volumes of electricity to the right-holder) to certain electricity generation capacity in Belgium and in The Netherlands. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the EEA or any substantial part of it.

Paweł Samecki, the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, will be in Gran Canaria on 15-16 October to attend the annual Conference of Presidents of the Outermost Regions and visit projects supported by cohesion policy funding. The Conference, which will be presided over by Paulino Rivero, President of the Government of the Canary Islands, and attended by representatives of Spain, France and Portugal and of the Swedish Presidency, marks an important step in the debate on the European Union's future strategy with regard to these regions.

The European Commission today presented a study which gives a detailed picture of the aims and objectives of arts education, its organisation, the provision of extra-curricular activities as well as initiatives for the development of such education at school. It includes information on pupil assessment and teacher education in the arts.

In line with its commitment to help the most vulnerable people, the European Commission allocated €2 million in humanitarian aid to help flood-hit people in northern Afghanistan. Many of the people there face an increasingly tough situation as winter approaches and food supplies become increasingly scarce.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas will hold an internet chat on Thursday 15 October as part of Blog Action Day '09. This year's event is dedicated to Climate Change, with a view to the Copenhagen Climate conference in December 2009. The chat will take place between 1400 and 1700 CET on the Commissioner's blog site and will be conducted in English. Blog Action Day '09 is being billed as "the largest-ever social change event on the web".

The High Level Experts' Group on Milk met for the first time in Brussels on Tuesday 13 October, holding constructive discussions on contractual relations and bargaining power in the dairy market. The HLG was established by the European Commission to look into the medium and long-term future of the dairy sector, particularly in view of the phase-out of milk quotas, which will be concluded in April 2015. Its work runs in parallel to the measures the Commission is introducing to stabilise the dairy market in the short term. The HLG is chaired by Jean-Luc Demarty, the Commission's Director-General for Agriculture and Rural Development and Member States are represented by senior officials. Further meetings are scheduled to take place once a month, and the HLG will issue its final report by the end of June 2010.

In August 2009 compared with July 2009, seasonally adjusted industrial production grew by 0.9% in the euro area (EA16) and by 0.6% in the EU27. In July production increased by 0.2% and 0.3% respectively. In August 2009 compared with August 2008, industrial production declined by 15.4% in the euro area and by 13.5% in the EU27. These estimates are released by Eurostat.

  • Commission clears acquisition of Transmark by McJunkin

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of Transmark Fcx Group BV (Transmark) of The Netherlands by McJunkin Red Man Corporation (McJunkin) of the US, controlled by Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. McJunkin distributes pipes, valves, fittings, and related products and provides services to industrial customers, primarily in North America. Transmark distributes valves and other related products and provides services to industrial customers mainly in Europe, but also in South-East Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Africa. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

  • Autre matériel diffusé

• Memo sur les règles de succession

• Memo Report on arts and cultural education at school in Europe

• Memo on Key findings of the progress reports on the candidate countries: Croatia, Turkey and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia - EMBARGO 12h15 CET

• Memo on Key findings of the progress reports on Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Kosovo - EMBARGO 12h15 CET

• Speech by Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner ' Wider Europe – the last five years', Brussels

• Statement of President Barroso at the joint Press point Prime Minister Fischer, Brussels