EXME 12 / 14.12
Midday Express of 2012-12-14
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
Today the Commission presented a Communication clarifying EU rules on car taxation and recommending measures to strengthen the Single Market in this area. The aim is to minimize the problems encountered by citizens and businesses moving cars between Member States and to remove obstacles for cross-border rentals.
More than two years after its entry into force, the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) and its safeguards have been properly put in place. This is the outcome of the second EU-US review of the implementation of the TFTP, carried out for the period from 1 February 2011 until 30 September 2012.
The European Commission has approved the last pre-accession and transition assistance programme for Croatia. The €46,8 million programme will focus on strengthening administrative capacity for an efficient justice system and the protection of fundamental rights. The funding will also support Croatia's on-going efforts to build a modern, transparent, and citizen-oriented public service.
The European Commission has earmarked €56 million to support reforms in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia that are key for its EU accession process, including in the justice system, the economy, the agricultural sector and the environment. The funding comes under a two year national programme of the instrument for pre-accession assistance (IPA).
L'Union européenne (UE) a approuvé un programme d'assistance financière pour la Tunisie qui vise à rénover 119 quartiers populaires et à améliorer les conditions de vie de plusieurs centaines de milliers de personnes vivant dans ces quartiers.
Euro area annual inflation was 2.2% in November 2012, down from 2.5% in October. A year earlier the rate was 3.0%. Monthly inflation was -0.2% in November 2012. EU annual inflation was 2.4% in November 2012, down from 2.6% in October. A year earlier the rate was 3.3%. Monthly inflation was -0.1% in November 2012.
The number of persons employed decreased by 0.2% in both the euro area (EA17) and the EU27 in the third quarter of 2012 compared with the previous quarter, according to national accounts estimates published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the second quarter of 2012, employment was stable in the euro area and increased by 0.1% in the EU27. These figures are seasonally adjusted. Employment decreased in most sectors, the largest fall being recorded in construction (-1.5% in the euro area and -1.3% in the EU27). Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, employment fell by 0.7% in the euro area and by 0.5% in the EU27 in the third quarter of 2012 (after -0.7% and -0.3% respectively in the second quarter of 2012). Eurostat estimates that, in the third quarter of 2012, 222.6 million men and women were employed in the EU27, of which 146.0 million were in the euro area.
Commission approves creation of a JV between the German Tönnies and OSI groups
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control by the German Tönnies and OSI groups of the undertaking Proteinunion GmbH, a newly created company constituting a joint venture. Both parent companies are active in the production, processing and supply of meat mainly in Germany. The JV will process, utilize and dispose of cattle slaughterhouse by‑products that are unsuitable for food production. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of stakes in Heathrow Airport Holdings by Qatar Holding, Ferrovial, CDPQ and Baker Street Investment
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control over Heathrow Airport Holdings (previously BAA Limited) of the United Kingdom by the global investor Qatar Holding, together with the existing shareholders Ferrovial, the Canadian institutional fund manager Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and Baker Street Investment, a subsidiary of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation. The target operates five airports in the UK (London Heathrow, London Stansted, Southampton, Glasgow and Aberdeen). The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would not raise competition concerns because none of the companies concerned are active on the same markets and vertical links between their activities are minimal. The operation was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information will be available on the competition website, in the Commission's public case register under the case number M.6723 .
Commission clears acquisition of SPP by EPH
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of Slovenský Plynárenský Priemysel a.s. (SPP), of Slovakia, by Energeticky a Prumyslovy Holding a.s. (EPH), of Czech Republic. EPH is mainly active in the heat, gas and electricity sector in the Czech Republic and in the electricity sector in Slovakia. SPP is active in the gas and electricity sector in Slovakia and in the gas sector in the Czech Republic. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Commission clears acquisition of a newly created joint venture by Clariant and Wilmar
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of a newly created joint venture (“JV”) in Singapore, by Clariant AG of Switzerland, and Wilmar International Limited of Singapore. Clariant is active, inter alia, in the production and distribution of specialty chemicals. Wilmar is active, inter alia, in the production of specialty fats, oleo chemicals and biodiesel. The JV will be active in the production of certain surfactants. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Commission approves prolongation of the Danish bank support schemes
The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, the prolongation of a Danish scheme for the winding-up of banks and of a guarantee scheme for merging banks until 30 June 2013. Both schemes aim at enabling market-based solutions for ailing banks, be it via an orderly winding-down or by keeping a bank in business by means of a merger. The Commission found that, in the persisting difficulties on the financial markets especially small and medium-sized banks in Denmark experience difficulties to access market funding and concluded that the schemes constitute an appropriate response. The Commission initially approved the winding-up scheme in September 2010 (see IP/10/1266). This scheme was further amended in August 2011, introducing the compensation scheme (see MEX/11/0801) and in December 2011, introducing two further mechanisms to support the sale of ailing banks (see MEX/11/1209). The merger scheme was initially adopted in February 2012 (see IP/12/144).
Commission prolongs UK scheme easing SMEs access to credit
The European Commission has approved the prolongation of a UK scheme aimed at reducing the cost of finance for SMEs, until 30 June 2013. The measure, called the National Loan Guarantee Scheme, was initially approved in March 2012 (see IP/12/244). The Commission found its prolongation to be in line with EU rules for state aid to banks during the crisis (see IP/11/1488), in particular because beneficiaries pay a sufficient remuneration for the state support. More information is available under case number SA.35755 in the Commission's public case register on the competition website.
Commission approves prolongation of Irish credit union resolution Scheme
The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, the prolongation of the Irish Credit Union Resolution Scheme until 30 June 2013. The Commission found the prolongation of the scheme, initially approved on 20 December 2011 and prolonged on 3 September 2012 (see IP/11/1574 and MEX/12/0903), to be in line with its guidance on state aid to banks during the crisis (see IP/08/1495). In particular, the prolonged measures are well targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. The Commission therefore concluded that they represent an appropriate means of remedying a serious disturbance in the Irish economy and are as such compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)..
Energy Infrastructure: Agreement on first gas pipeline between Bulgarian and Serbian
Today, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria, Boyko Borissov, and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia, Ivica Dačić, will signed at 13:00 CET in the presence of EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger, an agreement to put in place the first gas pipeline between Bulgaria and Serbia. The so called Nis-Dimitrovgrad-Sofia pipeline will contribute to the security of gas supply of the countries. This is particularly important given that both of them were severely affected by the 2009 gas supply disruption. This bi-directional pipeline is also critical to the development of the gas market of the entire region. It is part of the Energy Community Gas Ring concept promoted by the European Commission. The investment required for this 180- kilometre long pipeline, with a capacity of ca 1.8 billion cubic meters per annum, is estimated at 100-120 million Euro. With this agreement in place, investment decisions on both sides of the border can now be taken to enable the completion of project design and the start of construction by July 2014. The first gas should flow by the end of 2015. More information on the EU's infrastructure priorities here: http://ec.europa.eu/energy/infrastructure/strategy/2020_en.htm
L'UE contribue à l'amélioration de la santé maternelle et infantile en République Démocratique du Congo
L'UE lance un programme de lutte contre la mortalité infantile et d'amélioration de la santé maternelle en République Démocratique du Congo. L'objectif principal est d'améliorer la couverture et la qualité des services et des soins liés à la santé des mères, des nouveau-nés et des enfants. Il s'agit aussi de rendre ces services financièrement accessibles au plus grand nombre en les subventionnant. Outre des activités de vaccination, de consultations pré et post-natales, et d'accouchements assistés, le projet permettra également d'introduire la prise en charge des malnutris et la prévention de la transmission du SIDA de la mère à l'enfant. http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/documents/aap/2012/pr_aap-spe_2012_cod_p2.pdf
Tchad: L'Union européenne améliore l'accès à l'eau potable et à l'assainissement pour 1 million de personnes
L'Union européenne va soutenir un projet d'accès à l'eau potable et à l'assainissement au Tchad qui bénéficiera à plus d' 1 million de personnes, majoritairement défavorisées et à faibles revenus. Ce projet s'inscrit dans l'objectif global de lutte contre la pauvreté et l'amélioration concrètes des conditions de vie et de santé des populations. L'UE financera également une facilité de coopération technique au développement visant à fournir une formation de qualité aux principaux acteurs concernés afin de les sensibiliser aux questions de développement et aux politiques de l’UE en la matière http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/documents/aap/2012/pr_aap_2012_tcd.pdf
European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas called today on the 44 Director-Generals representatives of the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) for full engagement on the implementation of the Single European Sky, and for a positive cooperation between ECAC and the EU.
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