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EXME 11 / 09.12
Midday Express of 2011-12-09
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
The European Commission proposed today to reduce noise produced by cars, vans, buses, coaches, light and heavy trucks. Noise limit values would be lowered in two steps of each 2 dB(A) for passenger cars, vans, buses and coaches. For trucks the reduction would be 1 dB(A) in the first step and 2 dB(A) in the second step. The first step is to apply two years after the publication of the text once approved by the EP and Member States and the second step is foreseen three years thereafter. Altogether, these measures will reduce vehicle noise nuisance by some 25%. In addition, the Commission intends to introduce a new and more reliable test method to measure sound emissions. Moreover it is proposed that electric and hybrid electric vehicles can be fitted optionally with sound generating devices which would make these cars safer. Noise emissions limits have not changed since 1996 despite increasing traffic.
The European Commission has opened under EU State aid rules an in-depth investigation into several support measures that Austria had granted to Österreichische Volksbank (ÖVAG) in 2009. ÖVAG had presented a restructuring plan in autumn 2010, but it became clear in recent months that the bank is unable to implement it. The Commission had doubts, that the plan will enable the bank to become viable and that it sufficiently addresses the distortion of competition brought about by the state support. The opening of an investigation does not prejudge the outcome of the procedure.
The European Commission has authorised under EU state aid rules the prolongation of Danish winding-up and compensation schemes for credit institutions until 30 June 2012. The Commission has furthermore authorised two amendments to the scheme facilitating the sale of whole or part of a failing bank. The amendments entail compensation from the State either when an acquirer is ready to take-over the entire failing bank or when the failing bank is being split into sound and distressed parts. The Commission found the amended scheme to be compatible with EU rules that allow aid to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State. In particular, the measure is limited in time and scope, ensures adequate burden-sharing and contains sufficient safeguards to minimise distortions of competition.
The EU27 external current account recorded a deficit of 17.2 billion euro in the third quarter of 2011, compared with a deficit of 18.1 bn in the third quarter of 2010. In the third quarter of 2011, the EU27 external balance of trade in goods was in deficit by 34.5 bn euro, compared with a deficit of 31.1 bn in the third quarter of 2010. In the third quarter of 2011, the external balance of trade in services was in surplus by 25.1 bn euro, compared with a surplus of 22.6 bn in the third quarter of 2010.
Which EU regions are the most built up and which are the least? Which region has the highest proportion of the population who have completed tertiary education? In which cities is poverty considered as a problem by the citizens? And which cities are considered to have the worst air quality? The answers to these questions and many more are found in the 2011 regional yearbook from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. The publication gives an overview of the most recent economic, social and demographic developments in the 271 NUTS level 2 regions of the 27 Member States of the European Union as well as, when available, the regions in the four EFTA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) and the four candidate countries (Montenegro, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey).
Amended rules for financial conglomerates supervision enter into force today
Amended European rules on the supervision of financial conglomerates giving national financial supervisors new powers to better oversee the conglomerates' parent entities, such as holding companies, come into force today ( Directive 2011/89/EU). The new rules will allow supervisors to apply banking supervision, insurance supervision and supplementary supervision at the same time, as appropriate and necessary, thereby remedying the unintended loopholes identified during the financial crisis. In this way, supervisors should be able to obtain better information at an earlier stage should a financial conglomerate run into trouble and be better equipped to intervene. In addition, banking groups, insurance groups and conglomerates will be obliged to publish basic elements of a resolution plan for the group or conglomerate, their legal structure as compared to their business structure. Finally, managers of alternative investment funds (for example hedge fund managers) will be included in the scope of supplementary supervision when they are part of a conglomerate. Financial conglomerates are financial groups that are often active in more than one country and operate in both the insurance and banking businesses. More detailed information can be found in MEMO/10/376 and at http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/financial-conglomerates/supervision_en.htm
Commission clears acquisition of Mobil North Sea Ltd by Apache Corporation
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of Mobil North Sea Limited of UK by Apache Corporation of USA. Apache Corporation is active in exploration, development and production of natural gas, crude oil and natural gas liquids. Mobil North Sea Limited is active in production, development and sale of crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids as well as in its transportation and processing. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
On December 8th, High Representative Catherine Ashton met with Soumeylou Boubèye Maiga and Mohamed Bazoum, Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Mali and Niger respectively, as well as Abdelkader Messahel, Minister delegate for Maghreb and African Affairs of Algeria. The ministers were accompanied by the Ambassador of Mauritania, Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Brahim Khalil.
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