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EXME 11 / 25.01
Midday Express of 2011-01-25
News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication
Alternative fuels have the potential to gradually replace fossil energy sources and make transport sustainable by 2050, according to a report presented to the European Commission today by the stakeholder expert group on future transport fuels. The EU will need an oil-free and largely CO2-free energy supply for transport by 2050 due to the need to reduce its impact on the environment and concerns about the security of energy supply. The expert group has for the first time developed a comprehensive approach covering the whole transport sector. Expected demand from all transport modes could be met through a combination of electricity (batteries or hydrogen/fuel cells) and biofuels as main options, synthetic fuels (increasingly from renewable resources) as a bridging option, methane (natural gas and biomethane) as complementary fuel, and LPG as supplement.
Two important European Commission-funded projects were launched in January 2011 for the implementation of Europe's Global Monitoring system for Environment and Security, GMES, following the recent signature of two contracts worth €2 million each. The Icemar project paves the way, for example, for a shortened safe shipping line between Europe and China by bringing better iceberg forecasts to ships in the Arctic Ocean and the Baltic seas. The obsAIRve project will provide real time air quality information and alerts on levels of pollutant emissions, primarily Sulphur Oxides (SOx), Nitrogen Oxide (NOx), Ozone (O3), Carbon Monoxide (CO), and Particulate Matter (PM), delivered directly to the user online, via smart phone platforms and SMS messages. Icemar and obsAIRve services will be available to citizens by the end of 2012.
Reducing double taxation for cross-border companies remains high on Commission's agenda
Today, the Commission decided to extend the mandate of the EU Joint Transfer Pricing Forum (JTPF) until March 2015, so that it can continue its important work in resolving double taxation problems for businesses across Europe. The JTPF, which is made up of national tax administrations and business representatives, helps to solve problems linked to the taxation of cross-border transactions between same-group and associated companies within the EU. Currently, there is a complex system for deciding how to tax such transactions, and differences between Member States' transfer pricing rules can result in double taxation and heavy administrative burdens for businesses. The planned proposal for a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB), which Commissioner Šemeta intends to bring forward this year, will help provide a permanent solution to many of the problems that businesses face in this respect. However, in the meantime, the work of the JTPF is crucial in providing businesses with greater certainty and consistency when it comes to the taxation of their cross-border operations. The Commission also adopted a Communication today setting out guidelines on some technical issues related to transfer pricing taxation. For more information, see: http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/index_en.htm
Commission approves prolongation of Hungarian scheme to grant loans with subsidised interest rate to the real economy
The European Commission has authorised under EU state aid rules a twelve-month extension until 31 December 2011 of a temporary Hungarian scheme for granting aid in the form of loans with subsidised interest rates. The reduced interest rates may be applied for interest payments until 31 December 2013 at the latest. The extended scheme does not apply to companies in difficulties and excludes working capital loans for large companies from the benefit of the subsidised interest rates. The Commission therefore found the extension of the scheme, initially approved on 24 February 2009 (see IP/09/325), to be in line with the stricter conditions of its Temporary Framework for businesses' access to finance during the crisis, adopted in December 2010, to stimulate a gradual return to market conditions (see IP/10/1636).
La Commission approuve l'acquisition du contrôle conjoint de la Société d'Énergie et d'Eau du Gabon par Veolia Eau et EDF
La Commission européenne a autorisé conformément au Règlement Concentrations l'acquisition du contrôle en commun de la Société d'Énergie et d'Eau du Gabon ("SEEG") par Veolia Eau et EDF via l'acquisition en commun de la société Veolia Water India Africa S.A. ("VWIA") actuellement exclusivement contrôlée par Veolia Eau. SEEG est une société anonyme de droit gabonais, qui assure la délégation de service public de production, de transport et de distribution d'eau potable et d'électricité au Gabon. SEEG est actuellement exclusivement contrôlée par VWIA, qui détient 51% de son capital. Les 49% restants sont détenus par des actionnaires gabonais, personnes morales ou personnes physiques. L'Etat gabonais détient une action dans SEEG. Par la transaction notifiée, EDF et Veolia Eau en acquièrent le contrôle conjoint. Bien que SEEG n'exerce aucune activité sur le territoire de l'EEE, la transaction a été notifiée à la Commission parce que les chiffres d'affaire de Veolia Eau et EDF sont supérieurs aux seuils prévus par le Règlement Concentrations. L'opération a été examinée selon la procédure simplifiée.
eHealth - an answer to EU healthcare and demographic challenges
Telecoms operators have a key role to play in the implementation of eHealth solutions, Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, will say at the European Telecommunications Network Operators Association (ETNO) Innovation Day in Brussels today. "You run the essential infrastructure – broadband and other communications networks – which can revolutionise how health is managed", she underlined. "Our health systems are guaranteed to collapse if we do not make radical changes", she noted. "Sustainable eHealth investment clearly requires a lot more than finance alone. It requires more efficient patenting, the right data laws, smarter procurement, de-fragmenting markets, and quicker standard-setting. Such personal health solutions do more than improve lives - they both save and make money at the same time. They depend on new broadband business models that can generate win-win-win for healthcare providers, end-users and telecoms companies. The size and strength in today's increasingly ICT-driven economy places you in a powerful position to instigate positive change. If you and I want to experience the care we know is possible – we really have to get our act together." Embargo 14h30 CET (see SPEECH/10/43)
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