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Daily News – 25.05.2016

European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 25 / 05 / 2016

Brussels, 25 May 2016

Digital Single Market: Commission takes action on e-commerce, audiovisual media rules and online platforms

The European Commission today made an important step towards a Digital Single Market. The Commission has tabled a three-pronged plan to boost e-commerce by tackling geoblocking, making cross-border parcel delivery more affordable and efficient and promoting customer trust through better protection and enforcement. Furthermore, the Commission has proposed an update of EU audiovisual rules to create a fairer environment for all players, promote European films, protect children and tackle hate speech better. And the Commission has also presented a new approach to online platforms. Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: "All too often people are blocked from accessing the best offers when shopping online or decide not to buy cross-border because the delivery prices are too high or they are worried about how to claim their rights if something goes wrong. We want to solve the problems that are preventing consumers and businesses from fully enjoying the opportunities of buying and selling products and services online. We also want online platforms and the audiovisual and creative sectors to be powerhouses in the digital economy, not weigh them down with unnecessary rules. They need the certainty of a modern and fair legal environment: that is what we are providing today." A press release on the e-commerce package is available here (in all EU languages) along with a video and a set of questions and answers. A press release on the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive and on policy guidance on online platforms is available here (in all EU languages) with a set of questions and answers. (For more information: Lucia Caudet –Tel.: +32 229 56182; Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Marie Frenay – Tel.: +32 229 64532; Heli Pietila – Tel.: +32 229 64950)

 

Completion of the first review of the ESM programme for Greece: Eurogroup reaches breakthrough

Today’s Eurogroup agreement represents a breakthrough in several ways. It opens the way not only for the disbursement of the second tranche of the ESM programme amounting to EUR 10.3 bn but also for measures on debt relief, which will be implemented on a gradual basis. Above all, it will serve to create the conditions for the return of confidence, which is essential for a lasting economic recovery in Greece. Finally, the IMF management confirmed its intention to recommend to the IMF Executive Board to approve a financial arrangement before the end of the year that will support the implementation of the agreed fiscal and structural reforms in Greece. The details of the agreement are set out in a statement. Subject to the full implementation of the outstanding prior actions and to the completion of national procedures, a disbursement of a first instalment will be made in June (EUR 7.5 bn). A supplemental Memorandum of Understanding, which is due to be endorsed by the ESM Board shortly, will complement the framework for the programme implementation. Commissioner Moscovici participated in the press conference concluding the meeting. His opening remarks are available here. (For more information Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Audrey Augier – Tel.: + 32 229 71607; Annikky Lamp - Tel.: +32 229 56151)

 

Investment Plan for Europe: £525 million in EU financing to new windfarm in Scotland, UK

The European Investment Bank has agreed to provide £525 million to build the new Beatrice windfarm 14 km off the Caithness coast, near Wick in north-east Scotland, UK. This transaction benefits from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe. The 86 turbine Beatrice windfarm will generate up to 588MW of renewable electricity equivalent to the energy needs of more than 475 thousand homes and is expected to be fully operational in 2019. Maroš Šefcovic, European Commission Vice-President responsible for Energy Union, said: "Thanks to the Investment Plan and the European Investment Bank, we are getting closer to reaching our COP21 goals. Already the European Fund for Strategic Investments has helped to finance sustainable, green investments across the EU worth billions of euros. Indeed more than half of the EFSI projects approved so far are in renewable energy, energy efficiency and green investment. There's a business case; it's time to invest!"(For more information see here or contact Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: + 32 229 57361)

 

Forty years of investments have improved Europe’s bathing water

The bathing water report for 2016 published today from the Commission and the European Environment Agency proves the value of the legislation and the years of investment in waste water infrastructure and other pollution reduction measures. It shows that bathing water quality has improved continuously over time leading to 96 % of monitored bathing sites in the EU meeting the minimum standards for water quality and more than 90% in eight Member States to have excellent quality. The report assesses bathing water quality at more than 21 000 coastal and inland bathing. The share of sites rated ‘poor’ dropped to only 1.6% in 2015. Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: “European bathing water is at 96 % acceptable and 84 % excellent standards. That is the result of 40 years investing in water and waste water infrastructure. It is a sign of EU legislation working well. And it is a perfect testimony to the fact that a highly evolved economic area such as ours can produce equally high environmental standards.” A press release is available and the full report, including country-specific chapters, can be found on EEA website(For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Iris Petsa - Tel.: +32 229 93321)

 

Space: Successful Galileo launch brings EU closer to initial services

The total number of Galileo satellites now in orbit has reached 14, following the successful launch of two more satellites from Europe's Spaceport in French Guyana yesterday. Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: “With another successful launch, we are a step closer to Galileo becoming operational, with initial services available later this year. Initial services will allow businesses to prepare, test and work on their applications for a strong market uptake. Our space policy aims to deliver for consumers, businesses and the economy at large.” Galileo is the EU programme to develop a global satellite navigation system. In-car navigation devices and mobile phones will benefit from the extra accuracy provided by Galileo's positioning and timing information. The satellite navigation data will also help road and rail transport systems become safer and improve the EU response to emergency situations. Galileo acts as a catalyst for research and development by high-tech companies and the creation of highly qualified jobs. Initial services are expected to be available for users by the end of 2016, starting with the services for search and rescue operation, emergency services and police forces, and freely accessible satellite data on positioning, velocity and timing. The full Galileo services will be available by 2020, using the Galileo network of 24 satellites complemented by six in orbit spares and their supporting ground stations. Also later in 2016, the Commission will present a Space Strategy for Europe for the next years.(For more information: Lucía Caudet –Tel.: +32 229 56182; Heli Pietilä – Tel.: +32 229 64950)

 

Antitrust: Commission fines Pometon € 6.2 million for participation in steel abrasives cartel [updated: 25/05/2016 12:08]

The European Commission has found that Italian abrasives producer Pometon S.p.A. breached EU antitrust rules by participating in a cartel to coordinate steel abrasives prices in Europe for almost four years. The Commission has imposed a fine of € 6197000.Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in charge of competition policy said: "The steel abrasives cartel adversely affected a wide range of European manufacturing industries to the ultimate detriment of consumers. Today's decision once again shows the Commission's determination to sanction cartels and impose fines on all participants." In April 2014, the Commission adopted a settlement decision concerning the participation in the same cartel of Ervin, Winoa, Metalltechnik Schmidt and Eisenwerk Würth. Pometon chose not to settle and consequently the investigation continued under the normal cartel procedure. In December 2014, the Commission sent Pometon a statement of objections, giving it the opportunity to exercise its rights of defence.  A full press release is available in EN, FR, DE and IT. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)

 

Mergers: Commission conditionally clears AB InBev/SABMiller deal

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of SABMiller, the world's second largest brewer, by AB InBev, the world's largest brewer. The clearance is conditional on AB InBev selling practically the entire SABMiller beer business in Europe. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy said: "Today's decision will ensure that competition is not weakened in these markets and that EU consumers are not worse off. Europeans buy around 125 billion euros of beer every year, so even a relatively small price increase could cause considerable harm to consumers. It was therefore very important to ensure that AB InBev's takeover of SABMiller did not reduce competition on European beer markets." The Commission had concerns that the transaction, as initially notified, could have led to higher beer prices in Member States where SABMiller is currently active, because it would have removed an important competitor and made tacit co-ordination between the leading international brewers more likely. By offering to divest practically all of SABMiller's beer business in Europe, AB InBev has addressed these concerns. In view of the remedies proposed, the Commission concluded that the proposed transaction, as modified, would no longer raise competition concerns. Indeed, following the transaction, the intensity of competition in the European beer market will remain unchanged. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information will be available on the competition website, in the Commission's public case register under the case number M.7881. The full press release is available online in EN, FR, DE and NL. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)

 

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Onninen by Kesko

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Onninen Oy by Kesko Oyj, both of Finland. The Commission reviewed the transaction with respect to markets outside of Finland. The Commission had referred the review of the markets within Finland to the Finnish competition authority for assessment under national law. The Finnish authority cleared this part of the transaction in April 2016. Kesko sells building and installation products primarily to consumers. Onninen sells installation products solely to professional customers. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given the modest market shares and low increments resulting from the proposed transaction in markets where the parties' activities overlap and the presence of a number of players on all markets concerned. The operation was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7910. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)

 

EUROSTAT: 4e trimestre 2015 comparé au 3e trimestre 2015, 18% des chômeurs dans l’UE ont trouvé un emploi

Parmi toutes les personnes dans l’Union européenne (UE) qui étaient au chômage au troisième trimestre 2015, 64,0% (12,5 millions de personnes) étaient toujours au chômage au quatrième trimestre 2015, tandis que 17,7% (3,5 millions) avaient trouvé un emploi et que 18,4% (3,6 millions) avaient évolué vers l’inactivité économique au cours de cette même période. Sur toutes les personnes initialement en situation d’emploi, 95,8% (169,7 millions de personnes) sont restées en emploi, alors que 1,7% (3,0 millions) de celles pourvues d’un emploi au troisième trimestre se sont révélées être au chômage au quatrième trimestre et que 2,5% (4,4 millions) ont opéré une transition vers l’inactivité économique. Aujourd’hui, Eurostat, l'office statistique de l'Union européenne, publie des statistiques des flux trimestriels sur le marché du travail, établies à partir des données du marché du travail non corrigées des variations saisonnières provenant de l’enquête européenne sur les forces de travail. 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)

 

Commission appoints Tommaso Valletti as new Chief Economist of DG Competition

The European Commission has appointed Professor Tommaso Valletti as the new Chief Economist of the Directorate General for Competition. Professor Valletti , who is an Italian national, currently holds teaching positions at both Imperial College Business School and at the University of Rome "Tor Vergata". He is also an Academic Director at the Centre for Regulation in Europe (CERRE) in Brussels, sits in the panel of academic advisors of OFCOM, the UK’s communications regulator and is a member of DG Competition’s Economic Advisory Group on Competition Policy. He will take up his duties as the fifth competition Chief Economist on 1 September 2016. The role entails assisting in the evaluation of the economic impact of the Commission’s actions in the competition field and providing independent guidance on methodological issues of economics and econometrics in the application of EU competition rules. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265; Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100)

 

Commission appoints Director in DG Research and Innovation

The European Commission today appointed Ms Anna Panagopoulou to the position of Director 'Common Support Centre' at DG Research and Innovation (DG RTD), starting date to be decided. Ms Panagopoulou, Greek, joined the Commission from the private sector in 1997. Between 1999 and 2009 she worked in the then DG MOVE before joining the Trans-European Transport Network Executive Agency (now Innovation and Networks Executive Agency, INEA) as a Head of Unit in 2009. Since 2014, Ms Panagopoulou is Head of Department for Programme Support and Resources at INEA. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265; Andreana Stankova – Tel.: +32 229 57857)

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Commission advances work on tackling violent radicalisation 

Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, will tomorrow host a colloquium in Brussels to discuss concrete ways of tackling violent radicalisation through formal and informal learning. The event will bring together about 150 stakeholders and comes just over one year after the Commissioner and all EU Education Ministers committed to promoting inclusion and fundamental values through education, following the terrorist attacks in Paris and Copenhagen in early 2015. Commissioner Navracsics said: "Promoting our values is one of the strongest instruments we have in our hands to fight violent radicalisation. This lies at the heart of initiatives taken at EU-level, such as the use of Erasmusfunding to support projects fostering social inclusion across Europe and beyond." During the colloquium, policy makers, practitioners, local actors, academics and representatives of youth organisations and civil society will take stock of progress made. Stakeholders will also showcase some innovative and inspiring practices and formulate policy messages to support further work at national and EU levels. At the Colloquium, Commissioner Navracsics will announce a series of actions to raise awareness of best practices. They include boosting support of teachers and schools mobilising universities, strengthening youth work and volunteering and fostering inclusion through sport. The Commissioner will announce specific initiatives establishing a network of "Ambassadors for Inclusion" under the Erasmus+ programme to support direct contacts with positive role models for young people. The Commission is examining the potential to create "Erasmus+ Virtual Exchanges" to promote online engagement with young people outside the EU with the aim of reaching 200,000 young people by 2019. More information on the programme as well as a leaflet is available online.(For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt - Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein - Tel.: +32 229 56184)

 

Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete in Bulgaria to discuss energy market reforms and infrastructure

On 25-26 May, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete will travel to Sofia. He will hold meetings with President Plevneliev, Prime Minister Borissov, Deputy Prime Minister Donchev, Foreign Minister Mitov, Energy Minister Petkova and Environment Minister Vassileva. The meetings will focus both on the Bulgarian energy market reforms and improving the functioning of the electricity sector as well as key gas infrastructure projects. In particular, the gradual process of liberalisation of the electricity market and protection of vulnerable consumers will be discussed. Commissioner Arias Cañete said: "The Commission welcomes the efforts of the Bulgarian authorities on working towards opening up its electricity market to competition. A competitive market is essential not only for modernising the Bulgarian electricity system, but also to lead towards a fully-integrated EU energy market. Overall, this is crucial to offering consumers high quality services and fair prices." Views will be also exchanged on the state of the gas sector and Bulgarian gas hub project. Only 7% of Bulgaria's gross inland gas consumption is covered by domestic production. Due to a lack of interconnections with neighbouring countries, Bulgaria is dependent on a single gas supplier. This makes Bulgaria particularly vulnerable in terms of security of supply. As part of itsEnergy Union efforts to diversify Member States' energy supplies the Commission is therefore pushing for completion of key infrastructure projects that will help diversification such as the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB), i.a. through works of the Central Eastern and South-Eastern European Gas Connectivity (CESEC) group. Meetings will also include a discussion on emissions targets for the sectors not included in the Emissions Trading System (ETS) in view of the upcoming Effort Sharing Decision proposal, which is the next step in delivering on the EU's target to reduce emissions by at least 40% by 2030. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

 

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

MEX/16/1909