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Daily News – 27.05.2016

European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 27 / 05 / 2016

Brussels, 27 May 2016

Investment Plan for Europe: EIF and Equa bank sign an agreement to benefit Czech SMEs

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Equa bank have signed a COSME agreement in the Czech Republic, benefiting from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), a key pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe which aims to revive investment in strategic projects around Europe. The COSME agreement will allow Equa bank to provide CZK 1.8bn (ca. EUR 66.5m) of loans to SMEs over the next two years with substantially reduced collateral requirements. Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: "This EFSI-backed COSME deal demonstrates once again that the EU actively supports small businesses, the biggest job creators in the Czech Republic and across the EU. Thanks to this agreement, more than 250 small companies in the Czech Republic will gain access to the finance they need to grow their businesses, which is great news."(For more information see here or contact Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: + 32 229 6151)


Launch of European Platform on Undeclared Work: Commission joins forces with Member States to fight social dumping

Following the approval of the Commission's proposal to create a platform to enhance cooperation in combatting undeclared work, today marks its launch. The platform aims to turn undeclared work into declared work, to ensure social protection for millions of Europeans who lose out through various kinds of risky job arrangements, including dependent work relationships hidden as self-employment. Chaired by the Commission, the platform will enable discussions on the ways and means to improve policies and measures tackling undeclared work and foster cooperation between national authorities and other actors, including those related to cross-border aspects of undeclared work. Additionally, the platform focuses on increasing public awareness of the issue. Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said at the launch event this morning: "This Commission vowed to put people at the heart of our policymaking and here, we have taken bold action to defend our social values and to strengthen fairness in our common market. For us it is clear: there is no place for unfair working conditions and social dumping in our European Union." The platform is composed of the relevant authorities of all Member States and representatives of cross-industry social partners on EU level. Commissioner Thyssen's speech can be found here. More information can be found here. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)


Outcome of the G7 summit in Japan

In Ise-Shima, the G7 summit concluded with the adoption of a Leaders' Declaration and outreach working sessions with Asian partners and international organisations. The EU, as a full G7 member represented by Presidents Juncker and Tusk, has inspired an ambitious outcome of the summit and welcomes its results. The G7 Leaders' Declaration notably stresses the special responsibility of the G7 to lead international efforts to tackle global challenges. Under the G7 Ise-Shima Economic Initiative leaders agreed a number of measures to boost strong and sustainable global growth, including by boosting investment and implementing commitments on fair and transparent taxation. They also agreed to enhance G7 assistance to tackle the global refugee crisis. They reaffirmed their commitment to open and fair global trade and called for swift progress on various regional trade agreements, including the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement and TTIP. Leaders recognised that global excess capacity in industrial sectors, especially steel, is a pressing structural challenge with global implications that needs to be urgently addressed through elimination of market distorting measures. They reaffirmed their desire to lead by example and implement swiftly the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change. The G7 also took a clear position on a number of foreign policy issues and adopted an Action Plan on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism. Presidents Juncker and Tusk had a number of bilateral meetings, including with Japan, Canada and Vietnam. Read the G7 Leaders' Declaration. More information on: (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524)


EU announces new funding to support post-conflict process in Colombia

During an official visit to Colombia on 26-27 May, HR/VP Mogherini announced that the EU will provide an overall package of over €575 million to support Colombia's post-conflict and peace building efforts. This package brings together cooperation funds provided by the EU Trust Fund, the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (€18 million) in support of the Colombian Government`s Rapid Response Plan and loans offered by the European Investment Bank together with ongoing cooperation (€67 million for period 2014-2017). During her visit, HR/VP Mogherini said: "The EU has supported the current peace process since the beginning and it will continue to accompany Colombia in the post conflict phase. Solid peace can only be built if the final peace agreement is effectively implemented and the EU has vast experience in peace building. We are determined to stand by Colombia, a close partner and ally, in its noble pursuit of bringing durable and lasting peace as well new opportunities to all Colombians." Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica also added: "Today's announcement sends a clear signal of the EU's ongoing and increasing commitment to Colombia - both over the short term, in helping to promote peace in areas affected by conflict, and over the long term, supporting durable and sustainable peace in the country". A press release is available here. (For more information: Catherine Ray Tel.: +32 229 69921; Sharon Zarb – Tel.: +32 229 69140)


Commission implementation tool launched to help Member States comply with EU environmental legislation 

Today the European Commission is launching the Environmental Implementation Review which will give the first comprehensive overview on the state-of-play of how key environmental policies and laws have been implemented on the ground in Member States. The aim of this process is to help Member States comply with the rules, anticipate problems and identify solutions and priorities before formal infringement proceedings are initiated. Full implementation of EU environmental legislation could save the EU economy €50 billion every year in health costs and direct costs to the environment. Commissioner Vella said: "The Environmental Implementation Review shows that grassroots efforts help environmental policies to take hold. For example, if EU water legislation were to be fully implemented, the combined annual benefits to society could reach € 2.8 billion. If Natura 2000 sites were to be fully manned and managed our biodiversity trends would improve. If air quality rules were followed we could reduce respiratory illness among our population. We need to step up our work with Member States to close the gaps. The earlier we act, the less costly it will be." (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Iris Petsa - Tel.: +32 229 93321)


As Blue Fin Tuna season opens Vella asks to push for more effort to protect Mediterranean fish stocks

Fish stocks in the Mediterranean are deteriorating at an alarming rate, threatening the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of fishermen. Taking the #MEdfish4ever campaign to the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean(GFCM) in Malta on Monday (30 May), Karmenu Vella, the Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries will urge representatives to increase fish stock recovery effort. Citing the successful recovery of Blue Fin Tuna, as shown by ICCAT agreement to an increase of 60% of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) over three years. Vella stated that; "As the blue fin tuna season opens we see that thanks to our joint efforts, fishermen can take to the sea with renewed sense of purpose. Our task this week and over the coming months, is to extend this success story to other Mediterranean stocks". The blue fin tuna campaign for purse seiner vessels will run this year from 26 May to 24 June in the Mediterranean and the Eastern Atlantic.  The Medfish4ever campaign was launched at Seafood expo. Efforts are largely focussed towards a major Ministerial declaration in spring of next year. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Iris Petsa - Tel.: +32 229 93321)


State aid: Commission clears closure of lignite-fired power plants in Germany

The European Commission has found German plans to grant €1.6 billion public financing for mothballing and subsequently closing eight lignite-fired power plants to be in line with EU state aid rules. Under the plans notified by Germany in November 2015 eight lignite-fired power plants would be mothballed and closed. With the mothballing and closure of the eight power plants the German Government aims to reduce CO2-emissions by 11 - 12.5 million tons per year as of the year 2020, when all eight plants will have stopped operating. This constitutes more than half of the additional contribution that the German energy sector still needs to make in order to meet the national emission target for 2020. The operators of these power plants would be compensated for foregone profits as they cannot continue to sell electricity on the market. The Commission found that the remuneration is primarily based on the foregone profits that the operators of the eight plants would have earned, had they continued operating in the electricity market for four more years, which is less than the average expected lifetime of the plants. On this basis, the Commission concluded that the measure promotes EU environmental objectives, as it helps Germany to achieve its CO2 emission target, without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market. The press release is available online in EN, FR and DE. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)


State aid: Commission clears €2.13 billion aid to alleviate social and economic impact of closing 26 uncompetitive coal mines in Spain

The Commission has found Spanish plans to grant €2.13 billion for the orderly closure of 26 uncompetitive coal mines to be in line with EU state aid rules. The aid aims to alleviate the social and environmental impact of the mine closures without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market. In April 2016 Spain notified plans to grant public support to the operators of 26 coal mines that are due to be shut down until 2018. The aid aims to ease the closure process by covering production losses of the mines until closure. It will also provide financial support to those workers, who have lost or will lose their jobs due to the closures, by funding severance payments and social security benefits. Furthermore, it will finance the safety and remediation works necessary after the mine closures. The Commission concluded that the plans are in line with EU state aid rules, in particular Council Decision 2010/787/EU. The press release is available online in EN, FR, DE and ES. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)


Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of building materials group Italcementi by HeidelbergCement, subject to conditions

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Italian building materials group Italcementi by its German competitor HeidelbergCement. The clearance is conditional on HeidelbergCement selling Italcementi's entire business in Belgium. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy said: "Competitive markets for cement and concrete are essential for the EU's construction sector. I welcome the proposed commitments as they will ensure that HeidelbergCement's multibillion euro takeover of Italcementi will not harm effective competition." The Commission had concerns that the merged entity would have faced insufficient competition from the remaining players and that the takeover would have led to higher prices for cement and ready-mix concrete in in Belgium and its neighbouring regions. The Commission found that the commitments offered by HeidelbergCement address the competition concerns identified and concluded that the proposed transaction, as modified by the commitments, would raise no competition concerns. A press release is available online in EN, FR, DE and IT. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)


Mergers: Commission approves joint venture of the non-US asset management businesses of Warburg Pincus, General Atlantic, Santander and Unicredit

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a joint venture combining the non-US asset management businesses of SAM Investment Holdings Limited and Pioneer Global Asset Management S.p.A.. SAM is currently jointly controlled by the private equity firms Warburg Pincus LLC and General Atlantic LLC, both of the US, and by the banking group Banco Santander S.A., of Spain. Pioneer is currently solely controlled by the banking group UniCredit S.p.A. of Italy. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given the companies' moderate combined market shares, in particular on the concerned markets in Poland, and the presence of a number of strong competitors. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7877. In March 2016, the Commission already cleared the parallel acquisition of Pioneer's US asset management business by Warburg Pincus, General Atlantic and UniCredit (M.7874). (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)


Eurostat: Le prix de l’électricité à usage domestique a augmenté de 2,4%...tandis que celui du gaz a baissé de 1,7%

Dans l’Union européenne (UE), le prix de l’électricité facturée aux ménages a connu une majoration moyenne de 2,4% entre le second semestre 2014 et le second semestre 2015, atteignant 21,1 euros les 100 kWh. Depuis 2008, le prix de l’électricité dans l’UE a augmenté de 33%. Parmi les États membres de l’UE, le prix de l’électricité à usage domestique était compris, au second semestre 2015, entre moins de 10 euros les 100 kWh en Bulgarie et plus de 30 euros les 100 kWh au Danemark. Le prix du gaz facturé aux ménages a quant à lui diminué de 1,7% en moyenne dans l’UE entre les seconds semestres 2014 et 2015 pour s'établir à 7,1 euros les 100 kWh. Depuis 2008, le prix du gaz dans l’UE a augmenté de 32%. Parmi les États membres de l’UE, le prix du gaz à usage domestique s’échelonnait au second semestre 2015 entre un peu plus de 3 euros les 100 kWh en Roumanie et Hongrie et près de 12 euros les 100 kWh en Suède. Les diverses taxes et redevances représentaient en moyenne un tiers (33%) du prix de l’électricité facturée aux ménages dans l’UE au second semestre 2015, et quasiment un quart (23%) du prix du gaz. Un communiqué de presse d'EUROSTAT est disponible en ligne. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: +32 229 67094)




Le Commissaire Pierre Moscovici est en déplacement à Nancy aujourd’hui

Pour ce cinquième déplacement en région en France visant à rapprocher l'Europe de ses territoires, le Commissaire Pierre Moscovici se rend à Nancy, dans le Grand-Est, région ouverte sur trois Etats-membres : l’Allemagne, la Belgique et le Luxembourg et qui a également une porte sur la Suisse. Il visitera notamment une entreprise spécialisée dans l’ingénierie acoustique, qui a bénéficié du soutien du Plan Juncker d'investissement pour le lancement  d'un projet innovant sur les études acoustiques des parcs éoliens. Le Commissaire s’entretiendra aussi avec un groupe de chefs d'entreprises et de responsables locaux sur le rôle essentiel que joue l’Union européenne dans le développement économique des territoires. Ce déplacement fera également une large place au dialogue avec les citoyens, puisque le Commissaire participera à une conférence étudiante organisée par l'ISAM-IAE (Université de Lorraine) sur le thème « L’Europe face aux crises ou crise de l’Europe ? ». Dans la perspective de ce déplacement, Pierre Moscovici a déclaré : «il est indispensable de présenter sur le terrain ce que fait l'Europe au quotidien pour ses acteurs économiques et pour ses citoyens. Les projets bénéficiant du Plan Juncker constituent un excellent terreau pour ces échanges. Je me réjouis de me rendre une nouvelle fois dans les régions françaises, dans le but de réconcilier l'Europe et les citoyens, en expliquant ce qu'elle fait pour eux pour soutenir l'innovation et relancer la croissance et l'emploi ». (Pour plus d'information Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Audrey Augier – Tel.: + 32 229 71607)


Commissioner Jonathan Hill to meet Welsh Government officials, financial sector representatives and students in Cardiff

Jonathan Hill, Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability and Capital Markets Union, is in Cardiff today to meet Welsh Government officials, financial services representatives as well as students of financial regulation. In all these meetings, he will set out the importance of the Single Market for financial services and set out his plans for a Capital Markets Union across Europe and other measures to encourage financial services. Commissioner Hill will also take this opportunity to discover what lies behind the growing success of Cardiff's financial sector, which is the fastest-growing in the UK, while listening to any concerns about the EU's role in this area. (For more information: Vanessa Mock - +32 229 56194; Letizia Lupini - +32 229 51958)


Open Day 2016 of the European Institutions: 28 May

As part of Open Day 2016, the European Commission's Berlaymont building will be open to the public from 10 am to 6 pm with the following highlights: opening ceremony with Vice-President Šefčovič, guided tours of the 13th floor including the room where the College of Commissioners meets, walking tour through five 'villages' illustrating the Commission's main priorities, various musical performances, and a series of mini-dialogues and meetings attended by prominent figures from the Commission, including Vice-Presidents Katainen and Šefčovič. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein Tel.: +32 229 93265)


Upcoming events of the European Commission (ex-Top News)



The Commissioners' weekly activities