EXME 11 / 24.05
Midday Express of 2011-05-24
News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication
The Commission is proposing a package of measures aimed at a better management of migration flows from the Southern Mediterranean region, as well as amendments to the Visa Regulation to ensure that visa free travel does not lead to abuse. Solidarity with the Member States most exposed to migratory pressures and stronger cooperation with third countries remain absolutely crucial.
Intellectual property rights (IPR), which comprise patents, trademarks, designs and geographical indications, as well as copyright (authors' rights) and rights related to copyright (for performers, producers and broadcasters), have been around for centuries. Often, without our even realising, they affect our daily lives: they protect the technology we use (cars, mobile phones, trains), the food we eat and the music we listen to or the films we watch. But in the last few years, technological change and, in particular, the growing importance of online activities, have completely changed the world in which IPR operate. The existing mix of European and national rules are no longer adapted and need to be modernised. That is why the Commission has adopted today a comprehensive strategy to revamp the legal framework in which IPR operate. Our objective is to enable inventors, creators, users and consumers to adapt to the new circumstances and to enhance new business opportunities. The new rules will strike the right balance between promoting creation and innovation, in part by ensuring reward and investment for creators and, on the other hand, promoting the widest possible access to goods and services protected by IPR. Getting this balance right will make a real difference to businesses (from the individual artist working alone to the big pharmaceutical companies) by encouraging investment in innovation. This will benefit the EU's growth and competitiveness which is delivered through the single market. Consumers will benefit from wider and easier access to information and cultural content, for example online music. The strategy deals with many issues to ensure IPR are covered comprehensively - from the patent a business needs to protect an invention to tackling the misuse of such inventions via a proposal also adopted today which will strengthen action on counterfeiting and piracy. Among the first deliverables of this IPR overall strategy are today's proposals for an easier licensing system for so-called "orphan works" that will allow many cultural works to be accessible online, and for a new regulation to reinforce customs actions in fighting trade of IPR infringing goods.
The European Commission has fined Suez Environnement and its subsidiary Lyonnaise des Eaux France (LDE) €8 million for the breach of a seal affixed by the Commission during an inspection at LDE’s premises, in April 2010, in the context of an antitrust investigation. The breach of a seal is a serious infringement of EU competition law, because this undermines the effectiveness of inspections.
The European Commission has opened two in-depth investigations under EU State aid rules into a Romanian support scheme for investments in regional airports and to ascertain whether certain rebates and discounts granted by the Timisoara airport to some airlines distort competition. The Commission is particularly concerned agreements concluded between Timisoara airport and Wizz Air could procure the latter an unfair economic advantage over its competitors. Separately, the Commission approved investment aid mostly to improve access to an airport in Wales and to promote the use of rail and bus to and from the airport in Italy's Friuli Venezia Giulia region having agreed both subsidies were justified and limited in size.
La Commission européenne a conclu, au terme d'une enquête en vertu des règles de l'UE relatives aux aides d'Etat, que le Crédit Mutuel n'a pas été surcompensé pour la distribution du livret bleu en France. En 2009, la France avait déjà libéralisé la distribution du livret bleu et du livret A permettant ainsi à toutes les banques de les commercialiser. La décision d'aujourd'hui clôture l'enquête de la Commission.
The European Commission has concluded two investigations under EU state aid rules concerning Greek casinos. In one decision, the Commission found that the lower taxation of admissions in state-owned casinos is unlawful aid because it creates a fiscal discrimination in favour of public casinos without an objective justification. In the other decision, the Commission concluded that the terms of the sale of the Greek State's 49% stake in Casino Mont Parnès were market conform and therefore free of state aid.
The European Commission has decided, under EU State aid rules, to temporarily approve an already implemented additional state aid of €200 million to Austria'sHypo Alpe Adria Group (HGAA). At the same time, the Commission has extended its in-depth investigation into the bank's restructuring plan, so as to include the additional aid in its assessment.
Opening today, Green Week 2011 launches a call for citizens to “use less and live better”. During the conference’s four days, over 3500 participants will look for ways to use our planet’s resources more sustainably. This year's Green Week gathers participants from a wide variety of backgrounds, including EU institutions, business and industry, non-governmental organisations, public authorities, the scientific community, academia and the media. Some 30 events are scheduled to take place outside Brussels, including events to come in Slovenia (25-27 May, 2 June) and Poland (11 June). The conference is webstreamed in its entirety.
Commission approves amendments to liquidation aid for Roskilde Bank
The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, amendments to a liquidation aid in favour of Roskilde Bank, which was initially approved on 5 November 2008 ( see IP/08/1633). Due to the aggravation of the financial crisis after the decision, the terms originally agreed for the liquidation of the bank could not be respected. In particular, more time and capital than initially estimated proved to be needed to allow a solvent liquidation. The Commission found the amendments to be in line with its guidance on state aid to banks during the crisis (see IP/08/1495 and IP/09/1180). In particular, distortive effects due to the longer duration of the liquidation process are adequately addressed through more extensive measures to limit distortions of competition. These measures will ensure that the bank's activities that continue longer than expected and that interact with market operators are limited to the minimum.
Commission clears acquisition by Orkla of REC
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of control by the Norwegian company Orkla of Renewable Energy Corporation (REC) of Norway. Orkla operates within the branded consumer goods and aluminium solutions sectors, but also in renewable energy, speciality materials and financial investment sectors. REC is active in the solar energy industry. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Commission clears acquisition by Advent of Provimi Pet Food
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by Advent International Corporation of sole control of Provimi Pet Food S.A., namely Provimi Pet Food NL B.V. of the Netherlands, and Provimi Pet Food France S.A.S. of France. With their respective subsidiaries, these two companies are mainly active in the production of cat and dog food in the Netherlands, France, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland. Advent International Corporation is a U.S.-based international private equity group. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Commission clears acquisition of joint control by BMW and SIXT over car-sharing joint venture DriveNow
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by the German companies Bayerische Motorenwerke AG (BMW) and SIXT AG (SIXT) of joint control over the newly created joint venture DriveNow, also of Germany. BMW is a manufacturer of cars and motorcycles and is active worldwide. SIXT is worldwide active in short and long term car rental. DriveNow will be a newly established company active in the car-sharing business, starting operations in the German cities of Munich and Berlin. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
In March 2011 compared with February 2011, the euro area (EA17) industrial new orders index fell by 1.8%. In February the index grew by 0.5%. In the EU27, new orders decreased by 1.9% in March 2011, after a rise of 1.0% in February. Excluding ships, railway & aerospace equipment, for which changes tend to be more volatile, industrial new orders decreased by 1.1% in the euro area and by 1.2% in the EU27. In March 2011 compared with March 2010, industrial new orders grew by 14.1% in the euro area and by 11.3% in the EU27. Total industry excluding ships, railway & aerospace equipment4 rose by 15.2% and 13.3% respectively.These estimates are released by Eurostat.
EU Globalisation Fund pays €777,390 to help 660 redundant workers in Czech Republic and Poland
The European Commission has made payments from the EU Globalisation Fund (EGF) to the Czech Republic and Poland. The total of €777,390 will help 660 dismissed workers back into employment, following their redundancy in the sectors of food industry and production of machinery. €323,820 will help 460 former workers of Unilever ČR spol.s r.o. in the Czech Republic. Unilever decided to close its Czech factory at Nelahozeves and supply the local and EU markets from other production sites. This Unilever plant supplied food products to the entire EU market and the decline in demand for its products made it unsustainable. The economic crisis is at the base of these redundancies: from September 2008 to August 2009 retail turnover in the EU-27 declined by 3.32 %, in the Euro zone by 4.52 %, and in the Czech Republic by 5.88 %. €453,570 will help 200 workers made redundant by three machinery and equipment manufacturers in the Polish region of Podkarpackie. The dismissals were a consequence of the drop in exports, following decline in demand from the key trading partners Germany, Russia and the Ukraine, due to the global economic crisis. These payments follow approval by the Budgetary Authority - the European Parliament and the Council - on 5 April 2011. The relevant proposals were made by the Commission on 15 February 2011. EGF is an expression of EU solidarity for redundant workers. For more information see also IP/11/149 as regards Unilever and IP/11/150 regarding Podkarpackie.
Maria Damanaki welcomes Council Conclusions to boost cooperation on Maritime Surveillance
Commissioner for Maritime affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, welcomes the adoption of Conclusions by the Council of the European Union on the integration of maritime surveillance. The Council supports the 2010 Roadmap by the European Commission towards the establishment of a Common Information Sharing Environment (CISE), which would interlink surveillance data and information systems held by various authorities and bodies that are linked to safety and security at sea. The exchange of data between user communities, such as authorities dealing with transport related safety and security, fisheries control, marine pollution preparedness and control, marine environment, customs, border control, general law enforcement and defence services, will enhance effectiveness and cost efficiency of surveillance of European Seas in the long run and contribute to safer, more secure and cleaner seas as a basis for sustainable economic growth. It will allow authorities to cope more efficiently with real time events at sea. "This ambitious project involves about 420 authorities and agencies at European and national level. When in full operation, it will not only ensure safer and cleaner seas, but it will also boost economic growth and favour the development of a European digital society", said Commissioner Maria Damanaki. She underlined that "cooperation on data exchange will ultimately lead towards a new era in the governance of European seas".Further details can be found here: http://ec.europa.eu/maritimeaffairs/surveillance_en.html
Enregistrement de trois dénominations de produits agricoles italiens
La Commission européenne a ajouté trois dénominations de produits agricoles et alimentaires à la liste des appellations d'origine protégées (AOP) et indications géographiques protégées (IGP). Il s'agit de l'haricot italien "Fagiolo Cuneo" (IGP), de l'abricot hongrois "Gönci kajszibarack" (IGP) et , pour la Pologne, de la carpe "Karp zatorski" (AOP). Les trois dénominations s'ajoutent à la liste de plus de 1000 produits déjà protégés en vertu de la législation sur la protection des indications géographiques, des appellations d'origine et des spécialités traditionnelles. Des renseignements sur les produits de qualité ainsi que la liste des dénominations protégées sont disponibles sur l'internet à l'adresse: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/quality/schemes/index_fr.htm
Food Safety: EU amends regulation governing imports of Japanese food and feed
The European Commission has added Kanagawa to the list of 12 prefectures  of Japan, for which special measures on the imports of feed and food apply, after the Japanese authorities detected caesium above the accepted levels in green tea leaves originating from Kanagawa. Specifically, levels between 570 and 780 becquerels of caesium per kilo of green tea leaves (Bq/kg) were found in a batch of tea leaves. The maximum limit of caesium presence is 500 bq/kg. The Commission adopted yesterday an amendment to Regulation (EU) 297/2011 making Kanagawa the 13th prefecture on the list. All food and feed products coming from these 13 prefectures have to be tested for the presence of iodine-131, caesium-134 and caesium-137 before leaving Japan. They are also subject to a reinforced testing regime in the EU (i.e. physical checks, including laboratory analysis, are carried out on at least 10% of the consignments of food or feed coming from these prefectures). Feed and food products from the remaining 34 Japanese prefectures will have to be accompanied by a declaration stating the prefecture of origin and will be randomly tested upon arrival in the EU. The measures are applicable until 30 September 2011, but will be reviewed monthly in the meantime. The Commission underlines that for a series of reasons, food safety risks from the nuclear accident in Japan are considerably low in the EU. Nevertheless, the Commission remains vigilant and has been active in ensuring that food and feed entering the EU from Japan is safe.For more information, please see:
(  Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Miyagi, Yamagata, Niigata, Nagano, Yamanashi, Saitama, Tokyo and Chiba)
EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, welcomes today's decision of the EU foreign affairs ministers to allocate €200 million to South Sudan. This follows the proposal of the European Commission, announced by EU Commissioner Piebalgs during his visit in Juba on 13 May 2011. These funds will support the implementation of the Government of South Sudan's forthcoming "2011-13 Development Plan". They could be used for projects related to education, health, agriculture, food security and democratic governance. South Sudan will formally declare its independence on 9 July 2011, as a result of the referendum held in January 2011, part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
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