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Daily News – 28.08.2015

European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 28 / 08 / 15

Brussels, 28 August 2015

Outcome of the bilateral EU-Ukraine gas meeting in Vienna

Yesterday, European Commission Vice-President for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič chaired talks on energy security with Ukraine in Vienna. Ukraine was represented by the Minister for Energy and Coal Industries, Mr Vladimir Demchyshyn as well as the CEO from Naftogaz, Mr Andriy Kobolyev. The meeting was conducted in a constructive atmosphere and focused on the necessary actions to ensure stable gas supplies to Ukraine and via Ukraine to the EU during winter. The meeting was organised at the initiative of the European Commission and served as an intermediate step in view of preparing for the next round of trilateral gas negotiations between the European Commission, Russia and Ukraine. Yesterday’s meeting will be followed by a bilateral meeting with the Russian Energy Minister on 11 September in Vienna. The European Commission acts as a mediator in the latest round of trilateral talks that started in March 2015. The Commission aims at facilitating a new protocol on gas deliveries from Russia to Ukraine for the next heating season until the end of March 2016. The Commission remains convinced that a follow-up to the winter 2014 package would enables all parties to find an acceptable framework for gas trade and purchase. Energy security was also touched upon in a meeting between President Jean-Claude Juncker and the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko yesterday morning in Brussels. Press statements are available on Europe by Satellite. (For more information: Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589; akub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595)

New survey shows potential for cross-border access to online content, mainly among young people

Considering a paid subscription to watch films, listen to music, play games or read e-books online? For almost one in three Europeans, it would be important to be able to use this subscription when travelling in another EU country. The younger the people are, the more they are attracted by cross-border opportunities. The figure goes up to 58 % amongst the 15-24 year olds and 46 % of those aged 25-39. These are some of the findings of a Eurobarometer survey published today by the European Commission. Data also shows that cross-border access to online content is still an uneasy experience: 56% of Europeans who have tried to access a service meant for users in another EU country met problems. While 8% of all European Internet users have tried to access such services, young people (15-24 years old) are the most likely to have tried – almost one in five. This shows the potential demand for cross-border access to legal content which is expected to grow as the market flourishes. Subscriptions to online content – in particular for audio-visual and music – are growing fast: consumer spending on digital video subscriptions increased by 147.5 % in 2013, according to another independent study. As part of its Digital Single Market Strategy announced in May, the European Commission will modernise EU copyright rules in the light of the digital revolution. The new rules, to be presented in the coming months, will ensure portability of online subscriptions across the EU as well as facilitate cross-border access to online content. (For more information Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Marie Frenay – Tel.: +32 229 64532)

Commission invests €36 million for quicker market access of 16 innovative projects

The European Commission is awarding €36 million to bring innovative ideas to market quicker. In total, 16 innovative projects, involving partners from 19 countries, will receive up to €3 million each under the first round of the Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) scheme, run under the EU's research and innovation programme Horizon 2020. Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "Across Europe, we need to nurture innovative ideas and make more of them become a reality. Today we are giving top innovative businesses a head start in the race to market by providing faster access to €36 million in EU funding." The projects include launching an airborne wind energy system, protecting people from disease-carrying mosquitoes, making sustainable, renewable and cheaper plastics from wood, and developing intelligent needle tracking for anaesthetics. More details are available here. (For more information Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278)

Commission consults the public on tax rules for alcoholic beverages

The European Commission has launched a public consultation to assess whether some of the rules on excise duty on beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages should be changed to fight tax fraud and reduce the sale of counterfeit alcohol. The Commission also wants to look into whether small and home producers of alcohol could benefit from simpler rules and lower excise duties. The consultation is part of the Commission's 'Better Regulation' agenda which aims to simplify EU laws to reduce regulatory costs and protect consumers. Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs said: "Current rules on the classification and excise structure of alcoholic beverages can be open to interpretation, so that some producers can exploit tax loopholes by producing and selling counterfeit alcohol. By taking part in this public consultation, interested parties and consumers can have a real impact on reducing fraud in this area. We also want to look at ways to lighten the burden for our smaller producers." The public consultation will run for 12 weeks and ends on 27 November 2015. A press release is available here. (For more information Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Patrick Mc Cullough – Tel.: +32 229 87183)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of C&W by DTZ in real estate sector

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Cushman & Wakefield ("C&W") by DTZ, both of the US.  C&W is a provider of real estate services, generating the majority of its revenues in North America. DTZ is a provider of real estate services in Asia, Europe and North America.  The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because of the companies' low combined market shares 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.7663. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100)

Mergers: Commission clears two joint ventures between Evo Payments and Raiffeisen

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of two separate joint ventures by EVO Payments International with, respectively, the Polish and the Czech subsidiaries of Raiffeisen Bank International AG, an Austrian based bank with international activities. EVO provides payment and acquiring services. The two joint ventures will provide payment card processing services in Poland and in the Czech Republic. The Commission concluded that the proposed transactions would not raise competition concerns because the activities of EVO and Raiffeisen overlap only to a limited extent on the concerned markets. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7679(For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100)


Announcements

Commissioner Vella in Alaska for Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience Conference

Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, willattend the conference 'Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience (GLACIER)', in Anchorage, Alaska on 30 August to 1 September, highlighting the strategic importance of the Arctic region as the Arctic Ocean becomes increasingly 'ice-free' and accessible. Commissioner Vella will address Ministers on behalf of the Vice President High Representative Federica Mogherini; in particular, he will emphasise the EU's strong commitment to ensuring the Arctic region's sustainable development while safeguarding its fragile environment. His visit comes amid increasing challenges faced by the Arctic region today, be it on climate change, fisheries or international cooperation. With climate change on top of the international agenda in 2015, the high level meeting in Anchorage provides an opportunity to enhance political momentum and visibility for COP21. Organised by the US Department of State, hosted by Secretary of State Kerry, with President Obama also due to make an appearance, the event will be an important occasion to highlight the impacts of climate change in the Arctic and demonstrate the profound implications of these on the rest of the world. With a number of Foreign Ministers expected to attend, the meeting will serve as an important and useful forum to undertake climate diplomacy outreach at the highest political level in advance of the Paris COP 21. For the US, it will also serve to draw attention to their Chairmanship of the Arctic Council and to showcase Alaska. The conference and related side events will also provide an opportunity for the EU to outline its key priorities for the Arctic region in the context of the ongoing further development of the EU's Arctic Policy. A separate meeting with local communities will offer an opportunity for outreach to the indigenous population, a priority of the EU's Arctic Policy.  (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Clemence Robin - Tel.: +32 229 52509)


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