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EXME 12 / 30.05
Midday Express of 2012-05-30
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
In 2011, the 27 EU Member States received more than 300 000 asylum applications, a 16.2% increase from 2010. Although this remains far below the peak of 425 000 applications received in 2001, increases in asylum flows can stretch the reception capacity of some Member States. Today the Commission proposed to improve the overall efficiency of EURODAC, the system which facilitates the quick and correct identification of the Member State responsible for assessing an asylum claim.
On the eve of World No Tobacco Day, the European Commission publishes an EU study on attitudes towards tobacco. On average, 60% of citizens support measures to make tobacco less visible and attractive, such as keeping tobacco products out of sight in shops or curbing the use of attractive flavours and colours. At the same time, other figures give cause for concern: 28% of EU citizens aged 15 and over smoke, and 70% of the smokers and ex-smokers took up the habit before the age of 18.
The Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) decreased sharply in May, falling by 2.7 points in the EU and by 2.3 points in the euro area, to 90.5 and 90.6, respectively. In both zones the decline was driven by falling confidence in all business sectors, especially in industry and retail trade. By contrast, confidence increased among consumers in both the EU and the euro area. The ESI decreased in most EU Member States and in all of its largest Member States, with the UK (-4.7), Italy (-4.3) and the Netherlands (-3.9) reporting the sharpest decreases, followed by France (-1.5), Germany (-1.4), Spain (-1.0) and Poland (-0.8). The ESI remains above its long-term average only in Germany.
In May 2012, the Business Climate Indicator (BCI) for the euro area decreased by 0.26 points to -0.77. The decline was driven by a more negative assessment of all components (i.e. past production, production expectations, overall order books, export order books and stocks of finished products). The BCI is based on a factor analysis of the euro area aggregate balances (seasonally adjusted) of five of the monthly questions in the industry survey (only employment and selling-price expectations are excluded).
The European Commission has concluded that restructuring aid granted by Spain to Banco CAM in the context of the sale of its banking activities to Banco Sabadell was in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission found that the restructuring plan adequately addresses the problems that led to the bail-out of the bank in July 2011. The disappearance of Banco CAM from the market as an independent entity, the sale of its banking business to Banco Sabadell and the deep restructuring foreseen should ensure long-term viability without continued state support, whilst avoiding undue distortions of competition.
The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to examine whether a compensation decided by the Italian Consiglio di Stato in favour of Simet SpA for bus services provided between 1987 and 2003 is compatible with EU state aid rules. On the basis of available information, the Commission has doubts that a public service compensation is necessary to retroactively finance services that were provided years ago and for which it is not clear that there was a genuine public service obligation. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives interested parties the possibility to comment on the proposed measure. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.
The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether financial arrangements between public authorities and the airport of Beauvais (France), as well as rebates and marketing agreements concluded between this airport and its customer airlines, are in line with EU state aid rules. The opening of proceedings gives interested third parties an opportunity to submit comments on the measures under assessment; it does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.
State aid: Commission approves Portuguese recapitalisation scheme for credit institutions
The European Commission has authorised under EU state aid rules the Portuguese recapitalisation scheme for credit institutions until 31 December 2012. The Commission found the scheme to be in line with its guidance on state aid to banks during the crisis (see IP/08/1495 , IP/08/1901 , IP/10/1636 and IP/11/1488) because the measures are well targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. In particular, the scheme is necessary to address the current economic situation in Portugal and the conditions of the recapitalisation measures comply with the latest Commission guidelines (see IP/11/1488). The Commission therefore concluded that the scheme is compatible with Article 107(3) (b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) that allows to grant aid to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State. A first Portuguese recapitalisation scheme was approved on 20 May 2009 (see IP/09/818) and extended on 17 March 2010 (see MEX/10/0317), on 23 July 2010 (see IP/10/997), on 21 January 2011 (see MEX/11/0121) and on 30 June 2011 (see MEX/11/0630).
Publication of the first regulatory technical standards on credit rating agencies (CRAs)
Today, four Commission Delegated Regulations establishing regulatory technical standards for credit rating agencies have been published in the Official Journal of the European Union. These technical standards set out: (i) the information to be provided by a credit rating agency in its application for registration to the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA); (ii) the presentation of the information to be disclosed by credit rating agencies in a central repository (CEREP) so investors can compare the performance of different CRAs in different rating segments; (iii) how ESMA will assess rating methodologies; and (iiii) the information CRAs have to submit to ESMA and at what time intervals in order to supervise compliance. The four standards, which complement the current European regulatory framework for credit rating agencies, were developed by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) and endorsed by the European Commission on 21 March. The regulatory technical standards will ensure a level playing field, transparency and adequate protection of investors across the Union and contribute to the creation of a single rulebook for financial services. More information: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/securities/agencies/index_en.htm
New Deputy Director-General for the Joint Research Centre
The College has decided to appoint Mr Vladimir Šucha to the vacant post of Deputy Director-General in the Joint Research Centre. Mr Šucha, who is Slovak, is currently a Director in the Education and Culture Directorate-General, responsible for culture and media. The promotion makes him the most senior Slovak in the European Commission's civil service. The decision takes effect on a date to be determined later.
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