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EXME 12 / 21.09
Midday Express of 2012-09-21
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of EMI's recorded music business by Universal Music Group. The approval is conditional upon the divestment of EMI's Parlophone label and numerous other music assets on a worldwide level. The Commission had concerns that the transaction, as initially notified, would have allowed Universal to significantly worsen the licensing terms it offers to digital platforms that sell music to consumers. To meet these concerns, Universal offered substantial commitments. In light of these commitments, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns anymore.
Hunting for cross-border bargains is a way for consumers to get the 'best deal' across the EU's internal market. Shopping online makes these bargains ever more accessible. But sometimes things can go wrong: there might be a problem with the goods or with delivery. To avoid difficult, costly and time-consuming legal procedures, the European Union is facilitating access to justice for consumers in Europe, so that they can effectively enforce their rights. The European Small Claims Procedure is one of the solutions available to resolve cross-border disputes in cases involving €2,000 or less. However, a new report from the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net), released today, shows that this user-friendly procedure, available since 1 January 2009, is often under used. This is mainly because judges are not aware of the procedure - something the Commission intends to tackle vigorously.
A proposal to amend rules on honey to clarify the true nature of pollen following a European Court of Justice preliminary ruling was adopted today by the European Commission. In line with international WTO standards, the proposal defines pollen as a natural constituent of honey and not as an ingredient.
Alcohol contamination in Czech Republic: Commission welcomes adoption of national safeguard measure
Following a series of recent fatalities where 23 people died after drinking alcohol contaminated with methanol, the Czech national authorities have extended the ban on national sales to cover all exports with immediate effect. EU Health and Consumer Commissioner John Dalli said "I welcome the measures adopted by the Czech national authorities following intensive discussions over the past few days. Protecting EU citizens is my priority and we must do everything in our power to provide the best possible guarantees of safety for all products on our market. Our thoughts and sympathies are with the victims and their families and I look forward a swift conclusion to this crisis." Investigations have been on-going since the Czech authorities alerted the European Commission and EU Member States through the EU's Rapid Alert System for food and feed (RASFF) about lethal concentrations of methanol found in alcoholic beverages. The beverages were marked with counterfeit labels, indicating possible fraudulent tampering at some stage in the distribution chain. The Commission has been closely monitoring the situation since a notification was issued through the RASFF and has kept in constant contact with national authorities in the Czech Republic and neighbouring countries, in particular, Poland and the Slovak Republic. Investigations involving all relevant authorities (food authorities, police and customs) are underway. Member States have been informed of the situation through the RASFF, as well as in ad hoc meetings of the Health and Security Committee and the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCOFAH). Latest official figures reported by the Czech authorities to the Commission revealed 23 fatalities and 35 hospitalised cases. The Czech Republic reacted rapidly to the crisis from the start by introducing a national ban on sales of spirits containing 20 % and more of ethanol. The poisoned alcoholic beverages have been withdrawn from the market, small shops selling the product have been closed and a public warning has been issued. Toxicology centres and hospitals are involved providing support to citizens. Constant dialogue with the Commission and the Czech Republic led to this new emergency measure which was discussed this morning in the EU expert committee (SCOFAH).
Food Safety: Latest controls of fruit and vegetable imports shows system is better protecting European consumers
It is reassuring for EU citizens to know that the EU system to check fruit and vegetable imports (from outside the EU) in order to protect them from food safety risks, is working well. A report published today by the European Commission, presents the results of checks carried out by Member States in 2011. Over 88,300 consignments of imports coming from non-EU countries which are subject to reinforced border checks reached EU borders in 2011. 13,144 of those were sampled for laboratory analysis and 892 (i.e. 6.7%) were found in breach of EU legislation and were prevented from entering the EU market. Some products have achieved satisfactory levels of compliance and consequently increased border controls have been eased - nuts from Argentina (controlled for the presence of aflatoxins), basmati rice from Pakistan (aflatoxins), and mangos from Dominican Republic (pesticides). Other products were added to the list of imports targeted for controls due to the risks associated with them (tea and pomelos from China, Indian okra and peppers from Egypt and Thailand - all for pesticides). This second annual report is issued in the framework of Regulation (EC) No 669/2009 on an increased level of official controls on certain imports of feed and food of non-animal origin. This Regulation contains the list of imports subject to increased border controls which is reviewed on a quarterly basis. For the full Report: http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/controls/increased_checks/docs/results_ms_border_controls_2011_en.pdf . For more information: http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/controls/increased_checks/index_en.htm
The Last Mile towards the Fourth Railway Package –decision makers meet before the big leap forward
Decision makers, business leaders, representatives of railway passengers and workers will meet in Brussels on Monday 24 September to discuss the forthcoming railway package, before the Commission adopts its proposals at the end of the year. The discussion will cover the latest thinking on measures to open domestic passenger rail markets to competition, to reduce the time-to-market of the rolling stock and to set up optimal rail infrastructure managers. At the conference Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas will be joined by members of the European Parliament, ministers and other high-level representatives as well as more than 300 participants. The conference programme includes a debate on how the railway industry contributes to growth in Europe and specific sessions devoted to the three pillars of the forthcoming measures. These three pillars are: revising the role of supervision of the European Railway Agency; setting up optimal infrastructure managers; and opening up the domestic passenger rail markets. For more information please see: http://www.railsconference2012.eu/home.html .
In September 2012, the DG ECFIN flash estimate1 of the consumer confidence indicator2 declined in both the EU (to -23.9 from -22.7 in August 2012) and the euro area (to -25.9 from -24.6 in August 2012).Item Title
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed creation of a joint venture between Verbund, the largest Austrian electricity provider, and Siemens of Germany, to provide e-mobility services across Austria. E-mobility services are needed for operating electric vehicles, including the provision of charging infrastructure, electricity from renewable sources and information services. The Commission's investigation confirmed that the operation did not give rise to any competition concerns, in particular because there is no overlap between the parties' activities.
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