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Daily News – 30.03.2015

European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 30 / 03 / 2015

Brussels, 30 March 2015

Two Galileo satellites successfully launched

Galileo, the EU's satellite navigation programme, placed two more satellites into orbit in the night from Friday 27 to Saturday 28 March. Elżbieta Bieńkowska, European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, commented: "The successful launch of two Galileo satellites takes us one step closer to a global European satellite navigation system. We have demonstrated again that Europe has state-of-the-art know-how, cutting edge technology, and the vision and determination to accomplish great things." Galileo is the EU programme to develop a global satellite navigation system under European civilian control. The improved positioning and timing information supplied by Galileo will have positive implications for many services and users: in-car navigation devices, mobile phones, road and rail transport systems, and search and rescue functions. The next launch of Galileo satellites is scheduled for September 2015. The Commission aims to ensure the provision of initial Galileo services by 2016 and full services by 2020, by which time the Galileo network of 30 satellites and their supporting ground stations will be completed. A press release and a fact sheet are available online. (for more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182)


OTHER NEWS

 

Factsheet on EU security measures in civil airliners

What EU legislation on the presence of aircraft crew members required in the cockpit is currently in place? Which safety and security rules apply to the cockpit doors of airliners? Who carries out investigations of air crashes in the EU? Find answers to these questions in the factsheet on EU security measures in civil airliners which is available online. (for more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595, Joshua Salsby – Tel.: +32 229 72459)

Commissioner Bieńkowska launches high-level group on defence research

A competitive and efficient European defence and technological industrial base requires more investment in research and innovation. However, over the last years this investment has seen dramatic reductions in Europe accompanied by rapidly deteriorating security context. Against this backdrop Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, has set up a high level group of politicians, academics, think tankers and defence company CEOs to advise on how the EU can support research related to the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Commissioner Bieńkowska said: "Securing the long-term future for our defence industry is in all our interests. Both nationally and collectively. The Commission can play an important supporting role to reinforce national defence industries and research capacities. I am delighted to draw on the experience of these high-level personalities to propose core objectives for defence research and ideas for next steps ahead of submitting the proposal to the European Parliament and Council early next year." Commenting on the launch of the Group, High Representative and Vice President Federica Mogherini added: "I consider the work of this high level group extremely important. The EU has evolved into a security provider and is expected to do even more. To provide security, we need political will but also capabilities and a solid defence industrial base. Supporting investment today is crucial to obtain the capabilities we will need tomorrow." The creation of the group follows the conclusions of the December 2013 European Council calling for the creation of a so-called Preparatory Action - a term used to describe the testing of a new policy approach requiring financial resources - linked to defence research outside Horizon 2020. In addition to drawing on the expertise of the high-level group and President Juncker's Special Adviser on European Defence and Security Policy Michel Barnier, Commissioner Bieńkowska is supporting the EU's industrial defence base through the implementation of the defence directives (on defence procurement, and on EU transfers of defence-related products). Commissioner Bieńkowska will be chairing the first meeting of the Group of Personalities today, Monday 30 March. The list of members of the high-level group is available online. (for more information: Lucia Caudet - Tel.: +32 229 56182) 

State aid: Commission orders Romania to recover incompatible state aid granted in compensation for abolished investment aid scheme

Following an in-depth investigation, the European Commission has concluded that compensation paid by Romania to two Swedish investors for an abolished investment aid scheme breaches EU state aid rules. The beneficiaries have to pay back all amounts already received, which are equivalent to those granted by the abolished aid scheme. A full press release is available here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.38517 in the State Aid Register on the competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News. (for more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of orthopaedic implants producer Biomet by Zimmer, subject to conditions

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Biomet Inc by Zimmer Holdings Inc., both of the United States. Both companies produce orthopaedic implants and related surgical products. The approval is conditional upon a commitments package submitted by Zimmer. The Commission had concerns that the merger, as initially notified, could have resulted in price increases for a number of orthopaedic implants in the European Economic Area (EEA). The commitments offered by Zimmer remove these concerns. Throughout the proceedings the Commission cooperated closely with the US Federal Trade Commission and the Japanese Fair Trade Commission. A full press release is available here. More information on this case is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7265.(for more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

Mergers: Commission clears restructuring of Swisscard joint venture between American Express and Credit Suisse

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the reorganisation of Swisscard, a joint venture based in Switzerland which is jointly controlled by American Express of the US and Credit Suisse of Switzerland. The reorganisation will result in Swisscard becoming a full functioning joint venture and therefore needs prior Commission approval under the EU Merger Regulation.  American Express provides financial services, issues payment cards and is active in merchant acquiring services worldwide. Credit Suisse provides financial services worldwide. Swisscard is active in card issuing and merchant acquiring activities in Switzerland and Lichtenstein. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because there are no appreciable overlaps between the activities of Swisscard and its parent companies and because of Swisscard's limited presence in the European Economic Area (EEA). 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.7514. (for more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

Mergers: Commission clears joint venture between Global infrastructure Management and ACS in renewable energy sector

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a joint venture by Global Infrastructure Management of the US and ACS, Servicios, Comunicaciones y Energía of Spain. The joint venture will develop, build and operate renewable energy assets. Global Infrastructure Management manages equity funds that invest in infrastructure assets in the energy, transport and waste sectors. ACS provides engineering services in manifold sectors such as energy, mining, water treatment and other energy infrastructures. The assets of the joint venture were previously owned by ACS. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns, because it creates no new overlaps between the activities of the joint venture and its parent companies. 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.7539. (for more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

EUROSTAT: Labour costs in the EU - Hourly labour costs ranged from €3.8 to €40.3 across the EU Member States in 2014, lowest in Bulgaria, highest in Denmark

In 2014, average hourly labour costs in the whole economy (excluding agriculture and public administration) were estimated to be €24.6 in the European Union (EU) and €29.2 in the euro area (EA18). However, this average masks significant gaps between EU Member States, with the lowest hourly labour costs recorded in Bulgaria (€3.8), Romania (€4.6), Lithuania (€6.5) and Latvia (€6.6) and the highest in Denmark (€40.3), Belgium (€39.1), Sweden (€37.4) and Luxembourg (€35.9). Within the business economy, labour costs per hour were highest in industry (€25.5 in the EU and €32.0 in the euro area), followed by services (€24.3 and €28.2 respectively) and construction (€22.0 and €25.8). In the mainly non-business economy (excluding public administration), labour costs per hour were €24.7 in the EU and €29.1 in the euro area in 2014. Labour costs are made up of wages & salaries and non-wage costs such as employers' social contributions. The share of non-wage costs in the whole economy was 24.4% in the EU and 26.1% in the euro area, with the lowest in Malta (6.9%) and Denmark (13.1%) and the highest in Sweden (31.6%) and France (33.1%). A EUROSTAT press release is available online. (for more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764)

Plant Health: EU experts endorse measures to prevent the spread of the Asian longhorn beetle

EU Member States' experts endorsed on Friday detailed emergency measures, proposed by the Commission, to prevent the further introduction and spread within the EU of the Asian longhorn beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis), a quarantine insect pest harmful to broad-leaved trees, including many important tree species in Europe. Outbreaks and findings of the Asian longhorn beetle have so far been reported by six Member States (Austria, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom). The Commission has developed a detailed management strategy on the eradication and containment of this quarantine pest, including a requirement to raise public awareness about the Asian longhorn beetle. Last year, the EU co-financed ten eradication campaigns in five Member States to the value of 1.12 million euro. The new EU measures will apply from the date of publication in the Official Journal in May 2015 and will provide Member States with harmonised EU legal guidance on the eradication measures to be taken in case of an outbreak. They include obligations to notify any outbreak, official annual surveys, demarcation of infested areas, monitoring, as well as removal and destruction of infested plants. The measures also provide conditions on the import and movement of particular plants, wood and wood packaging materials which host this insect. Read more on plant health and biosecurity. (for more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel. +32 229 87624)

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Commissioner Thyssen intervenes at the UN Economic and Social Council meeting in New York on 30 March

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Labour Mobility and Skills, Marianne Thyssen, will participate in the 2015 Integration Segment of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) which takes place in New York from 30 March to 1 April focusing on achieving sustainable development through employment creation and decent work for all. The Commissioner will highlight the Juncker Commission's priority to boost growth and jobs through investment, fiscal consolidation and structural reforms, as well as the importance of developing people's skills and strengthening social dialogue. Other panelists include the Nobel prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, the Director-General of the International Labour Organization, Guy Ryder, and the Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Min Zhu. On 31 March, Commissioner Thyssen will attend a meeting of the Group of Friends on Decent Work, bringing together 33 countries in both North and South and the EU, where she will reiterate the EU's commitment to promote decent work for all across the world in order to fight against poverty and exclusion and to achieve wider sustainable development. Commissioner Thyssen's intervention at the UN ECOSOC will be available online at 18hCET. (for more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764)

Commissioner Moscovici visits Lisbon on 31 March

Commissioner Pierre Moscovici will be travelling to Lisbon on Tuesday for his first official visit to Portugal as Commissioner for Financial and Economic Affairs, Taxation and Customs. The focus of the visit will be on issues related to the European Semester, ahead of Portugal's submission of its National Reform Programme and Stability Programme in April. The Commissioner will meet with Maria Luis Albuquerque, Minister of Finance; Bruno Maçães, Secretary of State for European Affairs; and with members of the Budget, Finance and Public Administration, and European Affairs Committees of the Portuguese Parliament. The exchange with the Members of Parliament will be followed by a press point. (for more information: Annika Breidthardt, Tel.: +32 229 56153; Johannes Bahrke, Tel.: +32 229 58615)

Commissioner Creţu in the Czech Republic on 30 and 31 March

Following her visit to Slovakia last week, Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu is now visiting the Czech Republic to promote a better implementation of EU Cohesion Policy. She will meet Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Minister for Regional Development Karla Šlechtová. Like Slovakia, the Czech Republic is part of the eight Member States involved in the Task Force on Better Implementation. "The Task Force seeks to find, in close cooperation with the Czech authorities, the most efficient ways to both speed up the implementation of the available allocation and make sure that the funds are spent in a way that really improves the Czech citizens' lives", she said ahead of her visit. The Czech Republic will benefit from 22 billion euro from Cohesion Policy funds for 2014-2020. More information on Cohesion Policy and the Czech Republic is available online. (for more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

MEX/15/4728

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