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EXME 11 / 12.01
Midday Express of 2011-01-12
News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication
I. Résultats de la Commission du 12 janvier 2011 – Outcome of Commission meeting of 12 January 2011
Europe has a comprehensive plan to respond to the crisis and to speed up Europe's economic growth. It now needs to focus its efforts in a coordinated manner and with an eye on priorities. That is what the Commission is presenting today. The Annual Growth Survey charts a clear direction on where Europe should be heading in the next year, with ten pressing actions focussed on macro-economic stability and fiscal consolidation, structural reforms and growth-enhancing measures. The Annual Growth Survey is the start of the first "European Semester" which changes the way governments shape their economic and fiscal policies. Once agreed by the European Council, Member states will reflect these recommendations in both their policies and national budgets. For the first time ever, Member States and Commission will therefore jointly discuss macro-economic stability, structural reforms and boosting growth measures in a comprehensive way.
The European Commission has authorised France under EU state aid rules to provide a €25.3 million grant for the construction of a heat boiler using a renewable energy source (geothermal energy) in the Alsace region. The aid will be granted to a joint-venture between Roquette Frères, Electricité de Strasbourg and Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations. The joint-venture will sell the produced geothermal heat to the industrial site operated by Roquette Frères in Beinheim, enabling the company to partly replace its existing gas-fired heating boilers. The Commission concluded that the aid is in line with EU state aid rules, because on balance, the positive effects of the measure outweigh the potential distortions of competition and of trade between Member States.
The European Commission has authorised under EU state aid rules a support of SEK 90 million (approximately € 9.8 million) that Sweden intends to grant to the LignoBoost research and development (R&D) project. Södra Cell AB, a Swedish pulp producer, will develop a demonstration plant for the production of chemical grade lignin from pulp mill residue material. The Commission concluded that the project is compatible with the EU Framework on State aid for research, development and innovation (R&D&I) (see IP/06/1600). In particular, the aid aims at tackling a market failure and generates positive effects for the EU, notably increased research activities and environmental protection.
La Commission européenne a demandé à l'Espagne, en application des règles européennes relatives aux aides d’État, de supprimer une disposition de 2002 de l’impôt sur les sociétés qui permet aux entreprises espagnoles d’amortir le "fonds de commerce financier" résultant de l’acquisition d’une participation dans des entreprises établies dans des pays tiers. La Commission a également enjoint le pays de récupérer toute aide illégale octroyée au titre de cette disposition depuis le 21 décembre 2007 pour les participations minoritaires acquises dans des pays tiers dans lesquels aucun obstacle juridique précis n'a pu être identifié. Cette décision clôture formellement l'enquête qui avait déjà abouti à une première décision en 2009 qui avait conclu que le régime en cause constituait déjà une aide illégale en ce qui concerne les acquisitions européennes.
The European Commission has formally endorsed negotiations with Italy concerning the amount of subsidies that Augusta Westland must reimburse the Italian government for two military projects that also found civilian applications. The company received state support for two military projects - the helicopter A139 and the tilt-rotor BA609 - which also benefited civil versions. The EU Treaty says Member States may take measures for the protection of their essential interests, including defence. But the measures cannot distort the conditions of competition in the EU's internal market for products which are not intended solely for military use. As the Commission established in 2009 that the support had also benefitted civilian helicopters, a solution had to be found to compensate the distortions of competition. Following discussions between Italy and the Commission, Augusta Westland will reimburse €25 million for the project A139, a civilian version of which is already in the market. It will also pay the Italian State a progressive annual amount per each civilian version of the tilt-rotor BA 609 (still being developed), for a maximum of 20 years up to the total aid received.
Commission appoints Renate Jaeger as Chairperson of the Disciplinary Board
The Commission today appointed Renate Jaeger as Chairperson of its Disciplinary Board, which examines cases where officials may have seriously failed to comply with their obligations under the Staff Regulations and recommends a decision to the Appointing Authority. Ms Jaeger, a German national, has been a judge for the last 43 years, including at the German Federal Constitutional Court and most recently at the European Court of Human Rights, from 2004 until 2010. Her appointment begins on 16th January 2010 and lasts initially until 31st March 2012.
II. Other news
The European Commission has launched a loan guarantee fund aimed at making it easier for film producers to gain access to bank financing. The €8 million MEDIA Production Guarantee Fund will be run by the Commission in tandem with two operators with a long-standing expertise in this area, the French Institute for the Financing of Cinema and Cultural Industries (Institut pour le Financement du Cinéma et des Industries Culturelles, 'IFCIC') and Spain's Guarantee Society for the Audiovisual Sector (Sociedad de Garantia reciproca para el Sector Audiovisual, 'Audiovisual SGR'). The MEDIA Production Guarantee Fund will be available to support film producers throughout Europe. The Fund will, for example, help to cover a proportion of a loan in the event of non-payment by a producer due to bankruptcy.
Commissioner Šemeta visits Romania and Bulgaria
Algirdas Šemeta, EU Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Anti-fraud and Audit, will visit Romania and Bulgaria on 13 and 14 January 2011. One of the key objectives of his visits is to discuss the measures being taken by both countries to tackle fraud and irregularities in EU funds, and to see where the Commission can provide further guidance and support in pushing forward and consolidating improvements in these Member States. The Commissioner will also outline his agenda for taxation, customs and anti-fraud in the year ahead and exchange views with his Bulgarian and Romanian counterparts on issues such as the VAT strategy, the Common Corporate Consolidated Tax Base and Financial Sector Taxation. In Bucharest, Commissioner Šemeta will meet with Finance Minister Gheorghe Ialomitianu, Head of the Customs Authority Radu Marginean and Head of the Romanian Anti-Fraud Office (DLAF) Claudiu Dumistrescu amongst other key public figures. His visit to Sofia will include a meeting with Bulgarian Prime Minster Boyko Borissov, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Simeon Dyankov and Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov. In both countries, Commissioner Šemeta will also have discussions with a broad spectrum of key stakeholders dealing with issues covered by his portfolio.
European Border Breaker Award: "The Baseballs" receive public choice award
The 2011 European Border Breaker Awards (EBBAs), organised by the European Commission, takes place this evening at the Eurosonic Noorderslag Festival in Groningen (The Netherlands). The event, hosted by TV personality Jools Holland, will feature live performances by five of the ten winners: Caro Emerald, ZAZ, Saint LU, Stromae, The Baseballs and former EBBA winner Katie Melua. The show will be broadcast throughout Europe in the coming days and weeks. The Baseballs (Germany) were awarded the public choice award following an online vote. See the press release announcing the EBBA winners and the EBBA website for more information.
In November 2010 compared with October 2010, seasonally adjusted industrial production1 rose by 1.2% in the euro area2 (EA16) and by 1.4% in the EU272. In October3 production grew by 0.7% and 0.4% respectively. In November 2010 compared with November 2009, industrial production increased by 7.4% in the euro area and by 7.8% in the EU27.
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