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Daily News – 26.01.2011

Midday Express of 2011-01-26

European Commission - 26/01/2011

EXME 11 / 26.01

Midday Express of 2011-01-26

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

I. Résultats de la Commission du 26 janvier 2011 – Outcome of Commission meeting of 26 January 2011

Smarter use of scarce resources: Commission launches flagship initiative for sustainable growth

Natural resources, from raw materials to food, water, air and ecosystems, are fundamental to the functioning of our economy and our quality of life. But global strains on them are increasing. Building a more resource-efficient Europe is therefore crucial to the EU’s economic and ecological security. The European Commission today set out its views on a strategic framework that should deliver a more sustainable use of natural resources and the shift towards resource-efficient, low-carbon growth in Europe.

State aid: Commission clears Spanish €37.4 million R&D support to AERNNOVA S.A.

The European Commission has authorised Spain under EU State aid rules to grant an interest-free reimbursable loan of €129 million to AERNNOVA for the development of the next-generation horizontal tail plane (HTP) of the future Airbus A350 XWB. The subsidy in the form of the foregone interest rate is estimated at €37.4 million The Commission found the State loan compatible with EU state aid rules, since the positive effects of the research and development aid outweighs any distortion of competition that the aid may bring about.

State aid: Commission finds German rule on carry forward of losses for fiscal purposes ("Sanierungsklausel") by ailing companies is incompatible under EU State aid rules

A so-called reorganisation clause, or "Sanierungsklausel", under German corporate tax law that enables an ailing company to offset losses in a given year against profits in future years despite changes in its shareholder structure amounts to State aid, the European Commission has decided on Wednesday. This is because the corporate tax law does not generally allow for losses to be offset when there has been a significant change in the ownership structure, giving a clear financial advantage to ailing firms and possibly their acquirers. The Commission orders Germany to recover any aid granted this way since the 1st of January 2008 as of when the clause came into forcee.

State aid: Commission approves €26 million French aid for district heating network in Paris

The European Commission has authorised France, under EU state aid rules, to provide a €26 million direct grant for the construction of a district heating network in the North-East of Paris. The aid will be granted to CPCU, a subsidiary of GDF Suez and the current holder of the district heating concession in Paris. The Commission concluded that the aid is in line with EU state aid rules, because on balance, the positive effects of the measure outweigh the potential distortions of competition and of trade between Member States. GDF Suez has seen its concession extended by seven years until 2024, in order to allow it to recoup the total investment of €170 million in the network. The French authorities committed to tender the concession anew in 2024 or operate it directly as of then.

State aid: Commission approves Swedish €55 million aid for «Domsjö» R&D project

The European Commission has authorised under EU state aid rules a support of SEK 500 million (about €54.6 million) that Sweden intends to grant to the Domsjö research and development (R&D) project. Domsjö Fabriker AB, a Swedish pulp producer, will develop a demonstration plant for the production of bio-methanol and other biofuels from pulp mill residue material. If successful, these second-generation biofuels will replace traditional fuel in the transport sector, thereby limiting Europe's dependency on fossil fuel and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The Commission concluded that the project is compatible with the EU Framework on State aid for research, development and innovation (R&D&I). In particular, the aid aims at tackling a market failure and generates positive effects for the EU, notably increased research activities and environmental protection.

Aides d'Etat: la Commission s'oppose aux inégalités de traitement découlant des contrats d'assurance "solidaires et responsables"

La Commission Européenne est parvenue à la conclusion qu'un projet français d'aides fiscales aux assureurs à raison de leurs activités de gestion des contrats d'assurance complémentaire santé dits "solidaires et responsables" n'est pas compatible avec les règles du traité de l'UE en matière d'aides d'Etat. Bien que la Commission ne mette pas en doute l'objectif social des mesures, son enquête a démontré que les mesures envisagées n'étaient pas de nature à garantir une répercussion effective de l'avantage fiscal sur le consommateur final. Les mesures risquaient également de créer une discrimination au profit des opérateurs historiques. La Commission a essayé de convaincre la France de modifier les deux régimes pour les rendre compatibles en proposant plusieurs pistes dont un mécanisme d'aide, approuvé par la Commission en 2007, pour couvrir le régime complémentaire santé des fonctionnaires français. Néanmoins, les autorités françaises n'ont pas accepté de modifier les mesures concernées. Les mesures d'aide n'ayant pas été mises en vigueur, il n'y a pas lieu à recouvrement.

II. Other news

La Commission approuve l'acquisition du contrôle conjoint d'Europe Avenue par Prédica et Generali Vie.

La Commission européenne a autorisé conformément au Règlement Concentrations de l'UE l'acquisition du contrôle conjoint de la société civile immobilière Europe Avenue par Prédica et Generali Vie. Europe Avenue détient et gère un ensemble immobilier à usage de bureaux situé en France, dans le département des Hauts-de-Seine (92). Prédica est la filiale assurance de personnes de Crédit Agricole SA (France), un groupe bancaire et assurantiel de dimension internationale. Generali Vie, spécialisée en produits vie, est une filiale du Groupe Generali (Italie), l'un des principaux groupes assurantiels à l'échelle internationale. La transaction a été examinée selon la procédure simplifiée.

Autre matériel diffusé :

Memo on Resource-efficient Europe

Statement on the suspension of the EU Emissions Trading System - rediffusion

Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands – rediffusion

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