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EXME09 / 02.06
News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication
02 / 06 / 09
The European Commission has authorised under EC Treaty state aid rules an Italian scheme aimed at firms that encounter financial difficulties as a result of the credit squeeze in the current economic crisis. The measure allows national, regional and local authorities to grant aid in the form of reduced interest rates on loans concluded by 31 December 2010. The scheme meets the conditions of the Commission’s Temporary Framework for state aid measures, which gives Member States additional scope to facilitate access to financing in the present economic and financial crisis (see IP/08/1993). In particular, it is limited in time and only applies to companies that were not in difficulties before 1 July 2008. The scheme is therefore compatible with Article 87(3)(b) of the EC Treaty, which permits aid to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State.
The European Commission has allocated €8 million to support vulnerable people affected by the breakdown of essential health and water supply services in Zimbabwe. The funds will be channelled through the Commission's Humanitarian Aid department.
The Commission has appointed Francisco J. Fonseca Morillo as new Head of Representation in Madrid, Spain. He has taken on his new duties as of 1 June, 2009.
Reaching the 2020 renewable energy targets is expected to lead to around 2.8 million jobs in the renewable energy sector and generate a total value added of around 1.1% of GDP. This is the main conclusion of a European Commission's study on the impact of renewable energy policy on economic growth and employment in the European Union (Employ-RES) which is available in the internet from today. Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said: "This shows that benefits of renewables in terms of security of supply and fighting climate change can go hand in hand with economic benefits".
Following an open call for tender, the European Commission has selected the winning bid to carry out a feasibility study on the design and testing of a new multi-dimensional global university ranking. The winning bid comes from the CHERPA-Network consortium and is led by the Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies of the Twente University (NL) and the Centrum für Hochschulentwicklung (DE). The other partners in the consortium are the Centre for Science and Technology Studies of the Leiden University (NL), the Research Division INCENTIM of the Leuven University (BE), the Observatoire des Sciences et des Techniques Paris (FR), the European Federation of National Engineering Associations and the European Foundation for Management Development. The project will take 2 years and will cost approximately €1.1million. To find out more: European Commission: Calls for tender in Education and Culture: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/education_culture/calls/tenders_en.html European Commission: Higher education in Europe
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of MIBRAG B.V of The Netherlands and its subsidiary Mitteldeutsche Braunkohlengesellschaft mbH (MIBRAG Germany), collectively MIBRAG Group, by Severocèskè doly a.s. (SD) of the Czech Republic and J&T Investment Advisors s.r.o. (JTIA), also of the Czech Republic. SD is active in lignite mining in the Czech Republic. JTIA provides investment advisory services in various areas, mainly in the Czech and the Slovak Republic. MIBRAG Group is active in lignite mining in Germany. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the proposed joint venture between General Electric Company (GE) of the US and Mubadala Development Company PJSC (Mubadala) of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. GE is a diversified technology and services company. Mubadala is active in direct investments. The joint venture will provide global financial services business and the origination, acquisition, and management of commercial financial assets. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
In the EU27, social protection expenditure accounted for 26.9% of GDP in 2006. This ratio was 27.1% in 2005 and 2004 and 27.2% in 2003. The EU27 average continued to mask major disparities between Member States. Social protection expenditure as a percentage of GDP was above 30% in 2006 in France (31.1%), Sweden (30.7%) and Belgium (30.1%), and below 15% in Latvia (12.2%), Estonia (12.4%), Lithuania (13.2%) and Romania (14.0%). These disparities reflect differences in living standards, but are also indicative of the diversity of national social protection systems and of the demographic, economic, social and institutional structures specific to each Member State. In the EU27 in 2006, expenditure on old age and survivors benefits accounted for 46% of total spending on social protection benefits, sickness & health care benefits for 29%, disability benefits and family & children benefits for 8% each, unemployment benefits for 6% and housing & social exclusion benefits for 4%. This News Release is based on a report published by Eurostat.
The euro area (EA16) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 9.2% in April 2009, compared with 8.9% in March. It was 7.3% in April 2008. The EU27 unemployment rate was 8.6% in April 2009, compared with 8.4% in March. It was 6.8% in April 2008. For the euro area this is the highest rate since September 1999, and for the EU27 since January 2006. Eurostat estimates that 20.825 million men and women in the EU27, of which 14.579 million were in the euro area, were unemployed in April 2009. Compared with March, the number of persons unemployed increased by 556 000 in the EU27 and by 396 000 in the euro area. Compared with April 2008, unemployment went up by 4.653 million in the EU27 and by 3.100 million in the euro area. These figures are published by Eurostat.
The European Commission is launching an evaluation of the plant health legislation to check if its objectives have been met, to see if new objectives should be added and whether improvement is possible. Since 1977, European legislation has been in place to prevent new pests and plant diseases from entering into the EU or, if outbreaks nevertheless occur, to eradicate them rapidly and effectively. The evaluation started on 1 June 2009. A new plant health strategy will subsequently be developed, based on the principle that prevention is better than cure, to further ensure a sustainable agriculture and a healthy natural environment. Pests and plant diseases can cause serious harm to agriculture, forestry and the natural environment. As a consequence of the globalisation of trade and of climate change, more and more new pests and diseases are reaching Europe from other continents. Irreparable damage may occur if these were to spread through the EU. Currently, for instance, serious threats exist for European pine forests because of a major outbreak in Portugal of the Pine Wood Nematode, a disease which could eventually kill more than 50% of the Mediterranean pine forests. Similarly, the Red Palm Weevil is threatening the Mediterranean palms.
Le Président de la Commission, M. José Manuel Barroso, a aujourd’hui confirmé la proposition de la Commission visant à allouer 109,4 millions d’euros suite aux ravages de la tempête Klaus en janvier 2009 dans le sud-ouest de la France. Cette aide sera affectée au remboursement du coût de mesures d’urgence telles que les opérations de secours, le nettoyage des zones sinistrées et la remise en état des infrastructures de base.
The European Commission has endorsed, under EC Treaty state aid rules, a €3 billion recapitalisation and €10 billion risk shield for the German bank HSH Nordbank. Germany notified the measures as urgent rescue aid to preserve financial stability. The Commission authorised the measures as temporary rescue aid because they constitute an adequate means to rescue a bank whose failure would have been likely to provoke a serious disturbance in the German financial sector. The Commission therefore concluded that the measures were in line with its Communications on state aid for financial institutions during the current financial crisis (see IP/08/1495 and IP/08/1901) and as such compatible with EC Treaty rules that allow state aid necessary to remedy a serious disturbance of a Member State's economy (Article 87.3.b). Within three months, Germany has to submit a viable plan for the future of HSH Nordbank.
The European Commission has welcomed the agreement reached today, by the Council, on its proposal for a regulation for a community legal framework for European Research Infrastructures consortium (ERIC). The regulation will make it easier to set up European Research Infrastructures, such as cutting edge installations to test technologies for carbon dioxide capture and storage, data banks in genomics or state of the art large super computers. The proposal was made in response to requests from Member States, who wish to jointly develop world-class research facilities in Europe and were missing a common and ready-to-use legal vehicle. This tailor-made legal framework defines the criteria for a research infrastructure to qualify as an ERIC and their governing rules. Recognised European research infrastructures will be granted the status of international organisations, and the related advantages such as VAT exemption.
A disposition au secrétariat de Jonathan Todd (BERL 03/315):
Notification préalable d'une opération de concentration :