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EXME09 / 19.10

MIDDAY EXPRESS

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication

19 / 10 / 09

Ahead of the 4th European Development Days, a Special Eurobarometer on “Development Aid in time of economic turmoil” shows that the crisis affecting European countries did not affect public support for development aid. which still remains high.

As part of its second revision of the financial rules for EU-funded programmes, the European Commission today launched a public consultation inviting beneficiaries and managers of public funds to send in their views on how to make the rules for grants and contracts more effective for everyone. The open consultation is an opportunity for all interested parties to share their practical experience so the Commission can, among other things, improve access to grants and simplify its own handling of financial files. This is especially important as the EU begins to prepare the ground for a new generation of programmes in 2014.

The European Commission has adopted a recommendation that outlines how EU Member States could make it easier for investors resident in EU Member States to claim withholding tax relief on dividends, interest and other securities income received from other Member States. The recommendation also suggests measures to eliminate the tax barriers that financial institutions face in their securities investment activities while at the same time protecting tax revenues against errors or fraud. The recommendation is designed to provide guidance to Member States in how to ensure that procedures to verify entitlement to tax relief do not hinder the functioning of the Single Market.

The European Commission today adopted a Communication on Copyright in the Knowledge Economy aiming to tackle the important cultural and legal challenges of mass-scale digitisation and dissemination of books, in particular of European library collections. The Communication was jointly drawn up by Commissioners Charlie McCreevy and Viviane Reding. Digital libraries such as Europeana (http//www.europeana.eu) will provide researchers and consumers across Europe with new ways to gain access to knowledge. For this, however, the EU will need to find a solution for orphan works, whose uncertain copyright status means they often cannot be digitised. Improving the distribution and availability of works for persons with disabilities, particularly the visually impaired, is another cornerstone of the Communication.

  • Commissioner Kroes to open "Competition and Consumers in the 21st Century" public event in Brussels

On 21 October, Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Competition, will give a keynote speech to open the public event "Competition and Consumers in the 21st century", taking place in Brussels. This event will bring together more than two hundred attendees including consumer associations, representatives of business, academics and the legal profession. The event will contribute to awareness-raising among consumers and highlight how competition enforcement affects all consumers in their daily lives. The agenda will focus on what EU competition policy has delivered for European consumers in the past years and how to continuously improve the consumer focus within competition policy. The programme can be found on http://ec.europa.eu/competition/consumers/events/2009/index.html The event can also be followed via a live weblink from this page.

  • State aid: Commission approves prolongation of Slovenian liquidity scheme for financial sector

The European Commission has authorised, under EC Treaty state aid rules, a six months prolongation until 19 April 2010 of the Slovenian liquidity scheme for financial institutions. The Commission found the prolongation of the measure, initially approved on 20 March 2009 (see IP/09/452), to be in line with its October 2008 Guidance Communication on state aid to overcome the financial crisis (see IP/08/1495). In particular, the extended measure is limited in time and scope. The Commission has therefore concluded that it represents an appropriate means of remedying a serious disturbance in the Slovenian economy and as such is compatible with Article 87(3)(b) of the EC Treaty.

  • Commission clears acquisition of Median Clinics by Advent

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of 27 clinics currently belonging to the German Median group by Advent International Corporation (Advent) of the US. Advent is a global private equity investment company. Median operates rehabilitation and acute-care clinics in Germany. The acquisition concerns 26 rehabilitation clinics and one acute-care clinic of the 32 clinics currently belonging to the Median group. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

  • Commission clears acquisition of The Broadgate Estate by British Land and Blackstone

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of The Broadgate Estate properties in London by Blackstone Group of the US and British Land Company plc of the UK. Blackstone is a global asset manager and provider of financial advisory services. British Land is active in real estate investment, in particular management, financing and development of commercial real estate. The Broadgate Estate is a collection of office buildings in London. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Rediffusion

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition by Electrabel S.A./N.V. of Belgium of certain power plants and drawing rights on certain electricity generation capacity in Germany from E.ON AG of Germany. Drawing rights make available guaranteed volumes of electricity to the right-holder. After examining the operation, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Spring Group PLC of the UK by Adecco S.A. of Switzerland, both active in the provision of employment services. After examining the operation, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt announced today that the European Union is now ready to start negotiations with the Republic of Moldova on a New Agreement. This message was conveyed during the visit of the EU Ministerial Troika in Chisinau. The agreement will replace and go beyond the current Partnership and Cooperation Agreement which has been in place since 1998. A mandate has already been given to the European Commission and negotiations will be launched shortly.

In light of recent developments in Zimbabwe, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Karel De Gucht, has once again outlined the absolute necessity for all parties to implement the Global Political Agreement (GPA) without further delay.

  • Autre matériel diffusé

• Memo on Preparation of Eurogroup and Informal Economic and Finance Ministers Council, Luxembourg, 19 et 20 October 2009

• Memo on Simplified procedures for claiming cross-border withholding tax relief – Frequently Asked Questions (see also IP/09/1543)

• Memo on Preparation Environment Council, 21 October 2009

• Speech by Commissioner Reding 'The Need for a European Social Market Economy and a Re-Launch of the Single Market Project', Vienna

• Speech by Commissioner Fischer Boel 'Dairy market situation', Luxembourg


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