EXME 12 / 31.07
Midday Express of 2012-07-31
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
Low energy buildings with high CO2 and energy cost saving potential still have a limited market uptake, despite their economic and environmental advantages. Construction comprises of more than 10% of total employment in the EU. Therefore, to promote the construction sector as a driving force in the creation of jobs and for sustained growth for the economy in general, the European Commission tabled today a strategy to boost the sector.
A proposal for a Quick Reaction Mechanism (QRM), that would enable Member States to respond more swiftly and efficiently to VAT fraud, was adopted by the Commission today. Under the QRM, a Member State faced with a serious case of sudden and massive VAT fraud would be able to implement certain emergency measures, in a way which they are currently not allowed to under VAT legislation. In this context, the proposal provides that Member States would be able to apply, within the space of a month, a "reverse charge mechanism" which makes the recipient rather than the supplier of the goods or services liable for VAT. This would significantly improve their chances of effectively tackling complex fraud schemes, such as carrousel fraud, and of reducing otherwise irreparable financial losses. In order to deal with possible new forms of fraud in the future, it is also foreseen that other anti-fraud measures could be authorised and established under the QRM.
The European Commission is delivering on its promise to help the Horn of Africa recover from the destructive drought of 2011, overcome its chronic problems and set out on the path of development. Today the Commission is adding €22 million to its humanitarian aid in the region. The new money will help build the resilience to future disasters of at least one million Kenyans and Somalis.
The European Commission has informed Visa of its additional objections in the investigation into multilateral interchange fees (MIFs). The supplementary statement of objections (SSO) concerns MIFs set by Visa for transactions with consumer credit cards in the European Economic Area (EEA). MIFs are an important part of the total cost that retailers must pay for accepting Visa's consumer payment cards and establish a minimum price for retailers. The Commission's preliminary view is that these MIFs restrict competition between banks and infringe European antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices. At this stage, the Commission also doubts that Visa's MIFs are necessary to create efficiencies that benefit merchants and consumers and could therefore be entitled to an exception from these rules. The sending of a supplementary statement of objections does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.
In the context of its state aid modernisation initiative (SAM) (see IP/12/458), the European Commission is reviewing the EU Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection (see MEMO/08/31). The review starts with a public consultation, seeking stakeholders' views on the functioning of the guidelines since their adoption in 2008. In light of the submissions received and its own experience in applying the guidelines, the Commission will propose revised draft guidelines in 2013, with a view to contributing to the objectives of modernising state aid rules. Submissions to the consultation can be made until 23 October 2012.
Commission clears the acquisition by Austrian bank Raiffeisen Bank International AG of Polish bank Raiffeisen Bank Polska S.A.
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by Raiffeisen Bank International AG, a financial group based in Austria and active internationally, of Raiffeisen Bank Polska S.A., a Polish bank with a focus on serving corporate customers and small and medium-sized enterprises. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Euro area annual inflation is expected to be 2.4% in July 2012 according to a flash estimate issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. It was also 2.4% in June. Computation of flash estimates Euro area inflation is measured by the Monetary Union Index of Consumer Prices (MUICP). To compute the MUICP flash estimates, Eurostat uses early price information relating to the reference month from Member States for which data are available as well as early information about energy prices. The flash estimation procedure for the MUICP combines historical information with partial information on price developments in the most recent months to give a total index for the euro area. No detailed breakdown is available. Experience has shown the procedure to be reliable (19 times exactly anticipating the inflation rate and 5 times differing by 0.1 over the last two years). Further information can be found in Eurostat News Release 113/2001 of 5 December 2001.
The euro area (EA17) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 11.2% in June 2012, stable compared with May4. It was 10.0% in June 2011. The EU271 unemployment rate was 10.4% in June 2012, also stable compared with May4. It was 9.5% in June 2011. Eurostat estimates that 25.112 million men and women in the EU27, of whom 17.801 million were in the euro area, were unemployed in June 2012. Compared with May 2012, the number of persons unemployed increased by 127 000 in the EU27 and by 123 000 in the euro area. Compared with June 2011, unemployment rose by 2.165 million in the EU27 and by 2.024 million in the euro area.
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