Midday Express of 2012-07-24
European Commission - MEX/12/0724 24/07/2012
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EXME 12 / 24.07
Midday Express of 2012-07-24
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
In 2011, EU Customs detained almost 115 million products suspected of violating intellectual property rights (IPR) compared to 103 million in 2010. The number of intercepted cases increased by 15% compared to 2010. The value of the intercepted goods represented nearly €1.3 billion compared to €1.1 billion in 2010, according to the Commission's annual report on customs actions to enforce IPR. Today’s report also gives statistics on the type, origin and transport method of IPR infringing products detained at the EU's external borders. The top categories of articles stopped by customs were medicines (24%), packaging material (21%) and cigarettes (18%). Products for daily use and products that could be potentially dangerous to the health and safety of consumers accounted for a total of 28.6% of the total amount of detained articles, compared to 14.5% in 2010. The increase in number of detained postal packages continued in 2011, with 36% of the detentions concerning medicines.
The European Commission adopted today its 2011 report on the Instrument for Stability (IfS), a key European Union financial instrument for external assistance.
The European Commission has informed thirteen companies supplying optical disk drives in the European Economic Area (EEA) of its preliminary view that they may have infringed EU antitrust rules by participating in a worldwide cartel. Optical disk drives read or write data on CDs and DVDs. The Commission has concerns that those suppliers may have coordinated their behaviour in bidding events organised by two major original equipment manufacturers for optical disk drives used in personal computers (desktops and notebooks) and in servers. The sending of a Statement of Objections does not prejudge the final outcome of the investigation.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition by the French subsidiary of the German Allianz insurance group of a non-life insurance portfolio belonging to the French insurance company Gan Eurocourtage SA. The portfolio comprises insurance contracts and related brokerage businesses, assets and liabilities. The Commission's investigation confirmed that the notified operation would not raise competition concerns because it would not significantly alter the market structure.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the UK-based NDS Group Limited, which provides technology and software to the pay-TV sector, by the internet company Cisco Systems, Inc. of the US. The Commission's investigation confirmed that the merged entity would continue to face competition from a number of strong competitors and that customers, namely pay-TV providers, would continue to have alternative suppliers in all markets concerned.
Commission clears the creation by Lagardère and Bouygues of a joint venture in online advertising
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the creation of a joint venture by Lagardère group and Bouygues group of France. The Lagardère group is active in particular in books and magazines publishing, audio-visual production and distribution. The Bouygues group is active in television, electronic communications, construction and public works, road building, real estate, and energy and rail transport infrastructures. The joint venture, Newco, will sell through an auction mechanism and in real time unsold online advertising space on the websites of its clients. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Commission clears creation of steel wire joint venture
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the proposed creation of a Singaporean joint venture, Bekaert Southern Wire Pte Ltd., by Belgian company NV Bekaert SA and Malaysian company Southern Steel Berhad. The joint venture will be active in manufacturing and selling steel wire in the ASEAN region. Bekaert is active in producing and marketing a wide range of products in the areas of drawn steel wire, advanced metal transformation, advanced materials and coatings. Southern Steel is active in manufacturing, selling and trading in steel products. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
CAP: Commission launches a call for tenders for a study assessing the added value of PDO/PGI products
The European Commission has launched a call for tenders for assessing the added value of products under Protected Designation of Origin and Protected Geographical Indication (PDO/PGI). Geographical Indications (GIs) for agricultural products, foodstuffs and wines (PDO and PGI) aim at benefitting the rural economy, amongst others, by improving the incomes of farmers and the diversification of rural economies. Producing a GI product often involves higher costs for the producers as they need to comply with product specifications that set out detailed requirements. The main purpose of this study is to analyse the potential benefits of GI products in terms of revenues and profits for the producers in relation to the production of similar products without a geographical indication. The maximum budget attributed to this project is EUR 300 000. The deadline for submitting offers is 24 September 2012. The Commission intends to award the contract by the end of 2012, following the evaluation of the offers received. The contractor will have to carry out the study within 10 months from the signature of the contract. Details are available at: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/calls-for-tender/2012-231657_en.htm
CAP: Commission launches a call for tenders for an evaluation of the School Milk Scheme
The European Commission has launched a call for tenders for an evaluation of the School Milk Scheme (SMS) – the scheme which co-funds milk distribution to up to 17 million schoolchildren every year in 26 Member States. First introduced in 1977, the SMS was reformed in 2008 – and the budget spent for the 2010/11 school year was about € 64 million. The evaluation will examine the effects and EU value added of the implementation of the SMS, in particular the stimulation of milk consumption by young people, and its educational purpose (promoting healthy eating habits among children). The evaluation will also analyse the coherence of the implementation of the School Milk Scheme with the School Fruit Scheme, information and promotion measures, and with EU health-related policies, notably with the Strategy for Europe on nutrition, overweight and obesity (2007-2013). The evaluation will cover the period since 1 August 2008 when Commission Regulation (EC) No 657/2008 entered into force. The deadline for submitting offers is 10 September 2012, and the Commission intends to award the contract by the end of 2012. The contractor will have to carry out the study within 9 months from the signature of the contract. Details are available at: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/calls-for-tender/2012-229496_en.htm
Twelve new members of the governing board of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) were appointed today by the European Commission. The new members (see curriculum vitae in annex) will officially take up their positions on July 31.
In July 2012, the DG ECFIN flash estimate of the consumer confidence indicator decreased in the EU (to -20.3 after -19.7 in June 2012) and, more sharply, in the euro area (to -21.6 after -19.8 in June 2012).
The European Union and Angola signed yesterday a new cooperation agreement, entitled "Joint Way Forward Angola - European Union". This agreement aims to raise to a new level the relationship between Angola and the EU, by deepening the political dialogue and bilateral cooperation in areas of common interest, recognizing Angola's growing regional and international role and the importance of strengthening the bilateral relationship.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Plastal S.A.S., a French subsidiary of the Swedish Plastal group, by Faurecia SA, controlled by PSA Peugeot Citroën S.A. of France. Both companies are suppliers to the automotive sector. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns because the merged entity will continue to face a sufficient competitive constraint.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed creation of a joint venture by the electricity producer Tauron Wytwarzanie and the copper producer KGHM Polska Miedz, both of Poland. The joint venture (Elektrownia Blachownia Nowa Sp. z o.o.) will construct and operate a new 850 MW gas-fired power plant in Poland. The Commission's investigation confirmed that the transaction would not raise any competition concerns, since the market share of the newly created entity would be limited and it would face a number of credible competitors on the Polish electricity markets.
The European Commission signed an amended Visa Facilitation Agreement with Ukraine in Brussels today, further facilitating people-to-people contacts and strengthening ties between the citizens of Ukraine and the European Union.
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