EXME 12 / 26.04
Midday Express of 2012-04-26
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
The Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) remained stable in April in the EU at 93.2. In the euro area it decreased significantly by 1.7 points (to 92.8), thereby offsetting the gains recorded over the first quarter of 2012. The decline in the euro area was mainly driven by weakening confidence in the industry and services sectors. Confidence improved only in the retail sector. The more positive reading of the ESI in the EU reflects a strong improvement in the UK. In both regions, the ESI remains well below its long term average. Most Member States witnessed a drop in economic sentiment. Among the seven largest Members States, the ESI registered the sharpest fall in Italy (-5.7), followed by Poland (-2.3), Spain (-1.8) and Germany (-1.0). The indicator remained broadly unchanged in France (-0.4) and improved in the Netherlands (+1.2) and, particularly, in the UK (+4.2). The ESI remains above its long-term average only in Germany.
In April 2012, the Business Climate Indicator (BCI) for the euro area decreased by 0.24 points to -0.52. The decline was mainly driven by a more negative assessment of export order books, production expectations, past production and overall order books. Managers' assessment of their stocks of finished products remained broadly unchanged.
Resilience in the financial sector has improved in the aftermath of the financial crisis, and action is now focusing on longer-term growth goals, although vulnerabilities remain, according to an annual European Commission report on financial integration and stability. The European Financial Stability and Integration Report (EFSIR) will be presented at today's joint conference with the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt. The event brings together policymakers, financial market leaders and academics for discussion on financial stability and integration in Europe.
Catherine Ashton, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission, had an audience with His Majesty the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei on 26 April, while visiting the Sultanate for the EU-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting. In their discussions, the Sultan welcomed the initiative to launch negotiations on a bilateral Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA).
Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič has welcomed a vote in the European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee yesterday afternoon (25) which brings reform of the EU's civil service - and significant cost savings - a step closer. The Committee backed a report by Ms Dagmar Roth-Behrendt MEP on a package of proposals by the Commission which would save €1 billion by 2020. The proposals aim at reconciling two objectives: preserving the quality and the attractiveness of the EU civil service whilst bringing adjustments and savings required by the financial and economic crisis.
Commissioner Andor welcomes the social partner agreement on health and safety in the hairdressing sector
Representing more than one million hairdressing workers across the EU, the trade union UNI Europa Hair & Beauty and the hairdressing employers, Coiffure EU, have reached a new agreement on clear guidance for hairdressers to work in a healthy and safe environment throughout their careers. The new agreement, which is the result of an autonomous initiative on the part of the workers and employers, builds on existing national best practices in the Member States that are effective in reducing occupational health risksWelcoming the signing of the new social partner agreement, László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion today underlined that "hairdressers today experience a much higher-than-average rate of occupational skin disease and musculoskeletal disorders. The agreement is an important step in helping to reduce these risks for all workers in the hairdressing sector in the EU". The signatory parties Coiffure EU and UNI Europa Hair & Beauty will now ask the Commission for their agreement to be made legally binding in the EU. Before presenting a legislative proposal to the Council of Ministers, the Commission will carry out an assessment of the representative status of the signatory parties, their mandate and the legality of each clause of the agreement in relation to existing Union law. Hairdressing is the most high risk profession for occupational skin diseases. In some countries up to 70% of hairdressers suffer from work-related skin damage such as dermatitis at some point during their career, which is least 10 times more than the average for workers of all sectors. Almost 40% of hairdressers report musculoskeletal complaints, five times more than the rate for workers of all sectors. When implemented, today´s agreement by the European social partners will help to dramatically improve this situation.
Merger: Commission clears acquisition of R-Kioski, UAB Impress Teva and OÜ Lehepunkt by Reitan Servicehandel
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the proposed acquisition of sole control by Reitan Servicehandel of Norway, of R-kioski. (Finland), UAB Impress Teva (Lithuania) and OÜ Lehepunkt (Estonia). Reitan Servicehandel's business activity is retail sale in small stores and kiosks in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Latvia, and press distribution in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Latvia. R-kioski is a kiosk operator in Finland of franchise and directly-operated kiosks. UAB Impress Teva and OÜ Lehepunkt are conducting press distribution in Lithuania and Estonia, respectively. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Merger: Commission clears acquisition of joint control of roofing company Monier by TowerBrook, York and Apollo.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition by the private equity groups TowerBrook, York and Apollo of joint control of the Monier Group. Monier, which has its global headquarters in Luxembourg, is active in the manufacture and supplier of roofing tiles, components for roof and chimney and ventilation systems. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
The European Commission is referring Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia to the EU Court of Justice for failing to meet the December 2010 deadline to transpose the EU's Waste Framework Directive into national law. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the European Commission is asking the Court to impose penalty payments on the four countries in question. In parallel, Belgium is receiving an additional reasoned opinion for its failure to notify the Commission of its transposition of the same Directive. If Belgium fails to adopt and communicate the necessary legislation within two months, the Commission may also refer the case to the EU Court of Justice and ask for financial penalties.
Buildings are responsible for around 40% of energy consumption and 36% of the CO2 emissions in the European Union. The European legislation aims to achieve a significant reduction in the energy consumption of buildings, thus helping to combat climate change and strengthen the EU’s energy security. Large energy savings will also enable households to drastically reduce their bills. It is therefore essential that Member States fully apply this legislation. The Commission has thus decided today to refer Italy to the EU's Court of Justice for failure to fully comply with Directive 2002/91/EC on the energy performance of buildings. Italian legislation is not in line with the provisions on energy performance certificates. In addition, Italian authorities have not yet communicated any implementing measures regarding inspections of air-conditioning systems.
The European Commission is asking Italy and Malta to comply with EU rules on fluorinated gases, which are powerful greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. On the recommendation of Connie Hedegaard, Commissioner for Climate Action, the Commission is sending a 'reasoned opinion' to both Member States formally requesting that they take action to ensure full compliance with the EU's Regulation on certain fluorinated greenhouse gases ("F-Gas Regulation"). In the absence of a satisfactory response within two months, the Commission may refer the cases to the EU Court of Justice.
The Electricity and Gas Directives of the Third Energy Package had to be transposed by the Member States by 3 March 2011. As to date Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom have not informed the Commission of all the necessary transposition measures for fully transposing the two Directives and Austria and Estonia have not done so as regards the Electricity Directive. Consequently, the Commission sent today 8 reasoned opinions to these 5 Member States to urge them to comply with their legal obligation. The Member States now have two months to respond. If they fail to comply the Commission may refer them to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Nuclear safety is paramount to EU citizens and it is of major concern for EU law-makers. The EU nuclear safety directive (2009/71/Euratom) sets comprehensive and legally binding rules that ensure the safety of all nuclear installations all over the EU. In the light of on-going safety checks of all nuclear power plants it is essential that the directive is properly implemented in all Member States. Together this will enhance the EU nuclear safety regime and guarantee that workers of nuclear installations and general public as well as the environment will be protected against any risk of radioactive contamination.
The directive had to be implemented by the Member States by 22 July 2011. However, Greece, Poland and Portugal have not yet informed the European Commission of the full transposition of the Directive into their national legislation. Consequently, the Commission has decided today to send a reasoned opinion to these Member States. The three Member States will have two months to respond. If they fail to comply with their legal obligations the Commission may refer them to the Court of Justice of the European Union and ask for financial penalties
The European Commission is urging Austria to bring its national legislation on environmental impact assessment into line with EU rules. The Commission is concerned that the potential environmental effects of a development to an Austrian ski-run were not assessed as required by EU law. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is therefore sending Austria a reasoned opinion. In the absence of a satisfactory response within two months, the Commission may refer the case to the EU Court of Justice.
Some Member States are still failing to apply EU rules on sanctions and measures against employers who exploit irregular migrants. Today, the Commission decided to advance infringement proceedings and issue reasoned opinions requesting Lithuania and Poland bring their laws into line with the Employer Sanctions Directive (Directive 2009/52/EC), which should have been implemented by 20 July 2011. The Directive targets employers who take advantage of irregular migrants' precarious position and employ them for what are usually low-paid jobs with poor working conditions. It also strengthens the rights of the individual migrant by requiring employers to pay outstanding wages.
The European Commission has given the United Kingdom two months to comply with European Union rules on the free movement of EU citizens and their families across the EU or face an EU court case. The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion (the second step in the three-step EU infringement process). The Free Movement Directive (2004/38/EC) aims to ensure that EU citizens can fully enjoy their rights to freely travel, live and work anywhere in the European Union. The Commission may refer countries that are not fulfilling their obligations to the Court of Justice of the EU.
The United Kingdom has been asked to notify to the European Commission within the next two months the measures it is taking to implement EU rules on defence procurement (Directive 2009/81/EC). The Commission is concerned that it has failed to fulfil its commitments under the Directive regarding procurement of arms, munitions and war material (and related works and services) for defence purposes, and also the procurement of sensitive supplies, works and services for security purposes. If the Directive is not fully implemented in all Member States, companies and taxpayers alike cannot reap the benefits of easier access to a transparent and open – and hence more competitive - defence market. These rules are tailored to the specificities of defence and security equipment and markets. The deadline for implementing the rules in question was 20 August 2011. The United Kingdom has not yet transposed the Directive's provisions with regard to Gibraltar, which means that the Directive's measures do not cover its full territory. The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion. If the UK authorities do not notify the necessary implementing measures within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union and may request the Court to impose financial penalties.
Belgium, Spain, France, Cyprus, Poland and Portugal have been asked to notify to the European Commission within the next two months the measures they are taking to update their national legislation in conformity with the latest Directive on e-money. The Directive aims at facilitating market entry, as well as at the taking up and pursuit of the business of electronic money issuance. These rules, including their prudential dimension, are tailored to the specificities of electronic money activities and markets (2009/110/EC). Electronic money is a digital equivalent of cash, stored on an electronic device or remotely at a server. One common type of e-money is the 'electronic purse', where users store relatively small amounts of money on their payment card or other smart card, to use for making small payments. But e-money can also be stored on (and used via) mobile phones or in a payment account on the internet. The deadline for implementing the rules in question was 30 April 2011. The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion. If the national authorities do not notify the necessary implementing measures within two months, the Commission may refer the Member States to the Court of Justice of the European Union and may request the Court to impose financial penalties.
The European Commission has today acted to ensure that Greece complies with its obligations to implement EU rules on free movement of capital and the right of establishment (Articles 63 and 49 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU-TFEU). The non-compliance with EU law results from the application of a State measure, adopted in the context of Deutsche Telekom's (DT) participation in the Hellenic Telecommunication Organisation (OTE) and granting special rights (“golden share”) to the Greek State. The Commission's request to Greece takes the form of a reasoned opinion. If the national authorities do not reply satisfactorily within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
La Commission a décidé aujourd'hui de classer la procédure d'infraction contre la Grèce concernant la condition de nationalité pour l'accès à la profession de notaire. Tous les Etats membres qui avaient été condamnés par la Cour de Justice dans ses arrêts du 24 mai 2011 ont mis fin à cette discrimination en modifiant leur législation.
The European Commission has issued reasoned opinions requesting Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Poland, Portugal and Spain to take appropriate measures to apply the Working Time Directive to self-employed drivers. If these Member States fail to inform the Commission within two months about the measures taken to ensure compliance with EU law in this respect, the Commission could refer the cases to the European Court of Justice.
Today the European Commission has asked Bulgaria to ensure the correct implementation of Directive 2009/41/EC on activities around genetically modified micro-organisms such as when they are cultured, stored, transported, destroyed or used in any other way. Directive 2009/41/EC requires Member States to ensure that all measures necessary are taken in order to avoid activities around genetically modified micro-organisms having negative consequences on human health and/or the environment. The Commission's request to Bulgaria takes the form of a "Reasoned Opinion" under EU infringement proceedings. Bulgaria has now two months to inform the Commission of measures it will take to implement the Directive correctly, failing which the Commission may decide to refer Bulgaria to the European Court of Justice.
The European Commission has formally requested Belgium to remove discriminatory provisions on inheritance taxation and company taxation. The Commission's requests take the form of reasoned opinions (second step of EU infringement proceedings). In each case, in the absence of a satisfactory response within two months, the Commission may refer Belgium to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
La Commission européenne a officiellement demandé à la Bulgarie de soumettre à la TVA les activités des huissiers publics. Cette demande prend la forme d'un avis motivé, deuxième étape de la procédure d'infraction. En l'absence d'une mise en conformité dans un délai de deux mois, la Commission pourra saisir la Cour de justice de l'Union européenne.
The European Commission has today formally requested Spain to modify its rules on excise duties to bring them into line with EU legislation. The Commission has officially asked Spain to amend its legislation within two months. This request took the form of a ‘reasoned opinion’, which constitutes the second stage of infringement proceedings. In the absence of a satisfactory response within this time-limit, the Commission may refer Spain to the EU Court of Justice.
The EU's draft budget for 2013, presented today by the Commission, reflects the European Council's statements that growth and employment in the EU can only be achieved by combining fiscal consolidation and investment into future growth.
The Commission has today assessed that Hungary has taken sufficient action and commitments to enter into negotiations on precautionary balance of payment assistance.
This decision has been taken in light of commitments by Hungary, confirmed by PM Orban yesterday after his meeting with President Barroso, to take tangible steps to ensure compliance with EU law on all the issues that are relevant for the stable and independent legal environment that lies at the heart of the investors' confidence and influences macroeconomic stability.
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