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Daily News – 02.06.2016

European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 02 / 06 / 16

Brussels, 2 June 2016

A European Agenda for the collaborative economy

The European Commission today presented guidance aimed at supporting consumers, businesses and public authorities to engage confidently in the collaborative economy. The collaborative economy (sometimes called the sharing economy) refers to a new way for people to offer and use products and services through online platforms, on a profit or non-profit basis. These new business models can make an important contribution to jobs and growth in the European Union, if encouraged and developed in a responsible manner. The Communication, which was announced in the Single Market Strategy, provides guidance on how existing EU law should be applied to this dynamic and fast-evolving sector, clarifying key issues faced by market operators and public authorities alike, namely market access requirements, consumer protection, liability, labour law and tax. Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “A competitive European economy requires innovation, be it in the area of products or services. Europe's next unicorn could stem from the collaborative economy. Our role is to encourage a regulatory environment that allows new business models to develop while protecting consumers and ensuring fair taxation and employment conditions.” Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, added: “The collaborative economy is an opportunity for consumers, entrepreneurs and businesses – provided we get it right. If we allow our Single Market to be fragmented along national or even local lines, Europe as a whole risks losing out. Today we are providing legal guidance for public authorities and market operators for the balanced and sustainable development of these new business models. We invite Member States to review their regulation in the light of this guidance and stand ready to support them in this process." A press release, frequently asked questions, a factsheet and a Eurobarometer poll are available online. A press conference can be followed live on Ebs at 12:30. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182, Heli Pietila – Tel.: +32 229 64950)


Commission helps regions join forces to invest in industrial modernisation

Today during the Smart Regions conference, the European Commission is launching the Smart Specialisation Platform for Industrial Modernisation.This new initiative offers hands-on support to regions to foster interregional cooperation based on matching smart specialisation priorities related to industrial modernisation - such as Key Enabling Technologies, service innovation or resource efficiency. It will be hosted by the European Commission's Smart Specialisation Platform located in Seville. The aim of this initiative is to create an investment pipeline of mature projects in new growth areas across the EU, by providing tailored advice and helping regions establish links with the business and research communities. Particular support will be given to regions to combine different EU investment instruments, such as the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds, COSME, Horizon2020 and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan. A full press release is available here. Smart specialisation success stories in the Member States are compiled in a new "Smart Stories" brochure, also available online. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)


The European Union Youth Orchestra will be able to continue its activities

The European Commission in cooperation with the European Parliament has found yesterday short and long term solutions to keep the European Union Youth Orchestra (EUYO) alive. The President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, who gave his patronage to the EUYO when he took office, said: "For the last 40 years, the European Union Youth Orchestra has symbolised Europe's cultural diversity. The Commission has been proud to support the Orchestra from the very beginning. When I learned that the Orchestra had financial problems, I was very worried and I immediately asked my Commissioners to find a solution. Today, I am happy to announce that we have found a solution, which will allow the European Union Youth Orchestra to continue in 2016 and 2017 and even beyond." The Orchestra has been a symbol of Europe's cultural diversity for the last 40 years and has been supported by the European institutions, since its beginning in 1976. The Commission now counts on the Orchestra in these challenging times to adapt their activities and to spread the European spirit of freedom, creativity and openness in Europe and for Europe. A full press release is available here. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt - Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein - Tel.: +32 229 56184)


Commission launches consultation on cross-border investment funds

The Commission services are today launching a public consultation to see how to strengthen the single market passport for cross-border investment funds. Cross-border investment funds have an important role to play in building the Capital Markets Union: they channel savings to companies and projects that are crucial to Europe’s economic recovery. Funds have greater potential to grow when they operate cross-border, and increased competition can also deliver better value, more choice and greater innovation for investors. The EU has a successful cross-border fund market and, underpinned by legislation such as UCITS, has grown to more than EUR 13 trillion. We want to look at ways to make the passport work even better, particularly for smaller funds. The consultation will seek feedback from the public, including fund managers, investors, consumer groups, as well as from those who market and sell these funds in order to gain a fuller picture of the remaining barriers to cross-border distribution. Jonathan Hill, Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability and Capital Markets Union, said: "One of the benefits of the Single Market is that investment funds should be able to do business easily across borders. But at the moment, smaller fund managers are telling us they face challenges when trying to sell their products in different countries. So I want to use this consultation to flush out what the main barriers are to funds operating across borders, so that we can work out how best to overcome them. I want the passport for fund managers to works as well as possible so that we can build a system where investors have more choice and better value, and where investment funds can do business more easily." These barriers could include the impact of marketing rules, administrative arrangements imposed by host countries, regulatory fees and notification rules. The public consultation is open from 2 June 2016 to 2 October 2016. (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Letizia Lupini - Tel.: +32 229 51958).


Investment Plan for Europe: €165 million for 3,000 Baltic businesses

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Swedbank have signed a multi-country guarantee agreement to increase lending to small businesses in the Baltics. The agreement will provide €165 million of loans and leases to around 3,000 small businesses in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania over the next three years. This transaction benefits from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “In the Baltic States, about 80% of all jobs are provided by the SMEs. It is therefore crucial to create conditions where these enterprises can develop and grow. Today's agreement will provide one key piece of that puzzle, making access to finance much easier for many Baltic SMEs. It is also a great example of regional cooperation facilitated by the EFSI, allowing the participating countries to benefit from greater efficiency and scale." (For more information see here or contact Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: + 32 229 57361)


Commissioner Stylianides visits Lebanon, reaffirms EU's humanitarian support

Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, visited the Lebanese capital Beirut on 1 June. The Commissioner held meetings with Prime Minister Tammam Salam and Minister of Social Affairs Mr Rashid Derbas. The Commissioner visited EU humanitarian aid projects which are providing support to refugees in the areas of informal education, secondary healthcare, water and sanitation, as well as shelter to improve the living conditions of families. "The EU is committed to supporting refugees in Lebanon as well as their Lebanese host communities. This year we are providing €87 million in EU humanitarian aid for refugees in the country, which reaches around 665,000 people in need via our partner organisations. Once again I commend the efforts of Lebanon and its people for hosting over one million Syrian refugees" said Commissioner Stylianides.  Since 2012, the European Commission has provided €356.1 million in humanitarian funding in Lebanon, focusing on the most vulnerable refugees. Video and photo coverage of the visit are available. A factsheet on EU support to Lebanon is available here. (For more information: Alexandre Polack – Tel.: +32 229 90677; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)


State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into support for the Portuguese railway maintenance company EMEF

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether public measures in favour of the state-owned Portuguese railway maintenance company EMEF gave the company a selective advantage over its competitors, in breach of EU state aid rules. According to a complaint from a competitor and information received from Portugal, EMEF appears to have received public support worth around €90 million since 2005 from CP in the form of capital increases, loans and guarantees. At this stage, the Commission has concerns that the measures in favour of EMEF were not granted at market conditions and may therefore have given EMEF a selective advantage over its competitors. The Commission will now investigate further to find out whether its initial concerns are confirmed or not. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives interested parties an opportunity to comment on the measures under assessment. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. A full press release is available online in EN, FR, DE and PT. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)


Mergers: Commission approves the acquisition of Coolblue by HAL Investments

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Coolblue by HAL Investments, both of the Netherlands. Coolblue is an online retailer of a variety of consumer electronics, including computers and electrical household appliances. HAL Investments is an investment company active in a variety of sectors including media, financial services, building supplies and the maritime sector. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because none of the companies controlled by HAL Investments is active in the same markets as Coolblue. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8012. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Tyco by Johnson Controls

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Tyco International plc of Ireland by Johnson Controls, Inc of the US.  Tyco is a global provider of fire, security and life safety products and services. Johnson Controls is a global multi-industrial company with three main business segments: (i) building efficiency; (ii) automotive systems; and (iii) power solutions. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, in particular because the overlaps between the activities of Tyco and Johnson Controls are limited. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7956. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)


EUROSTAT: Les prix à la production industrielle en baisse de 0,3% dans la zone euro

En avril 2016 par rapport à mars 2016, les prix à la production industrielle ont diminué de 0,3% dans la zone euro (ZE19) et de 0,2% dans l'UE28, selon les estimations d’Eurostat, l’office statistique de l'Union européenne. En mars 2016, les prix avaient progressé de 0,3% dans la zone euro et de 0,4% dans l'UE28. En avril 2016 par rapport à avril 2015, les prix à la production industrielle ont reculé de 4,4% dans la zone euro et de 4,2% dans l’UE28. Un communiqué de presse d'EUROSTAT est disponible en ligne. (Pour plus d'informations: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Heli Pietila – Tel.: +32 229 64950)




First Vice-President Timmermans visits Sweden for Citizens Dialogue and series of meetings

On Thursday 2 June and Friday 3 June, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans is in Stockholm, Sweden. He will participate in a Citizens' Dialogue on European solutions for migration and inclusion at 12:30 today, and will then visit a refugee centre. This afternoon, the First Vice-President will meet with the Committee on EU Affairs and Committee on Constitutional Affairs of the Swedish Parliament and meet bilaterally with Mr Morgan Johansson, Swedish Minister for Justice and Migration. This evening he will hold a working dinner with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. On Friday morning, First Vice-President Timmermans meets Ms Ann Linde, Swedish Minister for EU Affairs and Trade, followed by a lunch meeting with a group of leading Swedish NGOs and companies to discuss sustainability. The Citizens Dialogue can be followed live online here. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602)


Commissioner Vella in Vienna, 2 – 3 June

Today Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella will participate at a Citizens' Dialogue in Vienna, Austriawith Andrä Rupprechter, Federal Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management. The Citizens' Dialogue will focus on the circular economy and how to make business environmentally friendly while remaining globally competitive. The event will take place at 18:30 and can be followed live here. During his two-day visit to Vienna, Commissioner Vella will also participate on Friday at the closing event of#EUGreenWeekto discuss "Sustainable Development Goals for a Green Future: Investing for Future Generations". Commissioner Vella will also participate in the inauguration of the 'Sustainable Development Goals Tree Avenue' at Vienna International Centre with one tree being planted for each of the 17 sustainable development goals. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Iris Petsa - Tel.: +32 229 93321)


Commissioner Thyssen launches network on European Fund for Aid to the most Deprived (FEAD)

Today, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, will participate in the FEAD Network launch conference, taking place from 2-3 June in Brussels. The FEAD Network brings together people working to alleviate the worst forms of poverty in European countries. It provides a space for good practice to be shared and encourages new ideas for how to provide non-financial assistance to the most deprived persons in the EU. The conference brings together 200 representatives from EU level NGOs and EU institutions, organisations interested in or delivering FEAD-funded activities and national Managing Authorities. On this occasion, Commissioner Thyssen said: "With the creation of the FEAD in 2014, the European Union has provided an instrument that directly aims at breaking the vicious circle of poverty and deprivation. It does so by providing non-financial assistance to some of the most vulnerable persons in the Union. But what makes the FEAD special is that it goes beyond this valuable basic support. Its real value lies in the concrete help it offers to those in need to leave a desperate situation behind and get a chance to progress."Commissioner Thyssen's speech can be found here. More information on the event is available here(For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt - Tel.: +32 229 67083; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)



Upcoming events of the European Commission (ex-Top News)