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Daily News – 22.04.2014

EXME 14 / 22.04


22 / 04 / 14

Maritime transport: Commission clarifies EU rules on cabotage

The European Commission has given today new guidance on the interpretation of the regulation to provide cabotage within a Member State. With the new guidance competent authorities will have more legal certainty when awarding public service contracts and imposing public service obligations. The new guidance updates the previous Commission's guidance in order to align it to recent EU law and case-law of the Court of Justice. Shipowners will also benefit from more legal clarity, allowing them to better organise their business in Europe. For more information please see MEMO/14/309 .

February 2014 compared with January 2014 - Production in construction up by 0.1% in both euro area and EU28

In February 2014 compared with January 2014, seasonally adjusted production in the construction sector grew by 0.1% in both the euro area (EA18) and the EU28, according to first estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In January, production in construction rose by 1.6% and 1.4% respectively. In February 2014 compared with February 2013, production in construction increased by 6.7% in the euro area and by 5.5% in the EU28.

Commissioner Hedegaard on official visit to China

Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard will visit China from 23 to 26 April. Meetings during the trip will discuss developments in climate action in Europe and China, opportunities for EU-China cooperation and perspectives for the global climate agreement to be adopted at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015. Commissioner Hedegaard will meet high-level Chinese public figures, such as Zhang Gaoli, Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China, Xu Shaoshi, the Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), Xie Zhenhua, the deputy chairman of the NDRC, and Li Baodong, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs. She will also meet with NGOs and give a guest lecture at the Tsinghua University. Commissioner Hedegaard will also visit the city of Zhenjiang in the Jiangsu Province, including a demonstration zone for low carbon development in industries, and the emissions trading pilot programme set up in Shanghai. The Shanghai ETS is one of the seven announced Chinese emissions trading pilots, which will eventually make up the second largest carbon market in the world after Europe's carbon market. Regular statements and extracts of the visit can be found on EbS .

New EU support to renewable energy and fighting climate change in the Pacific

European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, and New Zealand Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, will undertake a joint mission to the Pacific on 23-27 April to further strengthen development cooperation in that region. The visit will focus above all on renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, several of them co-financed by New Zealand and the EU in Samoa, Tuvalu, Kiribati (including Christmas Island) and the Cook Islands. Commissioner Piebalgs will also travel to Papua New Guinea from 28 – 30 April to discuss development challenges with members of the government and will launch two projects worth almost €60 million.

Let's Clean Up Europe on 10 May

Let's Clean up Europe is an initiative that aims to encourage clean up actions, to raise awareness about the scale of the litter and waste problems, and to encourage changes in behaviour. A number of clean-up campaigns have been organised in Europe in recent years to tackle the litter problem. Let’s Clean Up Europe ” will bring together these initiatives in a Europe-wide clean-up event to take place on the same day all over the continent, reaching as many citizens as possible. Join us on the 10th of May! To find a local action in your area, contact the national organizer in your Member State.

Opening up Education: Vassiliou welcomes 'Opening up Slovenia' initiative

Europe's schools and universities risk losing ground against their international counterparts if they fail to make the most of the digital revolution. This will be one of the themes addressed at an event promoting 'open courseware' - free-to-use educational material for teachers - in Ljubljana tomorrow, 23 April. Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, and Jernej Pikalo, the country's Minister for Education, who will unveil a new 'Opening up Slovenia' initiative to promote open educational resources, will be among the speakers."I am delighted that Slovenia has adopted a national strategy to promote open educational resources. This complements the Commission's own 'Opening up Education' initiative. Our shared objective is not to replace traditional textbooks or face-to-face teaching, but to make the most of the opportunities created by digitisation and new technologies. Europe cannot afford to lag behind its international rivals if we want to ensure our young people have the skills needed in the modern world. I hope that this Slovenian initiative is successful and inspires similar schemes in other Member States," commented Commissioner Vassiliou.

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of US spirits company Beam by Suntory of Japan

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Beam of the US by Suntory Holdings Limited of Japan. Beam produces and sells spirits with a strong presence in the US. Its top products include best-selling brands of bourbon, such as Jim Beam and Maker's Mark, and Scotch whiskies, such as Teacher's and Laphroaig. Suntory is active in various businesses worldwide, including the manufacture and wholesale of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Suntory's leading spirits brands include Japanese whiskies Yamazaki and Hakushu, the Scotch whisky Bowmore and Mozart liqueurs. Suntory currently achieves 90% of its spirits' sales in Japan. In the European Economic Area (EEA) both parties largely rely on third-party distributors for the sale of their products. Although some overlaps exist in the EEA in respect of some spirits produced and sold by both parties, their product portfolios are mainly complimentary. The Commission's investigation found that a number of strong competing players would remain in the EEA and customers would therefore still have sufficient alternative suppliers in respect of all spirits categories. The Commission therefore concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns. The operation was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More info will be available on the competition website, in the Commission's public case register under the case number M.7178 .

New Deputy Director-General appointed

The Commission has decided to appoint Ms Mariana KOTSEVA as Deputy Director-General in Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union situated in Luxembourg. Ms Kotseva, who is Bulgarian, joined the Commission in 2012 as an hors classe adviser in Eurostat. She previously headed the National Statistical Institute of Bulgaria as its President, and has been a senior adviser to the President of Bulgaria, the United Nations Development Programme and the Serbian Ministry of Labour and Employment. Ms Kotseva has a PhD in economics from the University of National and World Economy in Sofia, an MA in Economics from the University of the State of New York and Central European University - Prague, and an MA in Economics and Statistics from the University of National and World Economy. She is an Associate Professor of the latter university, and was previously visiting professor at the Central European University – Budapest. This decision takes effect on 1 July 2014.