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EXME 12 / 24.10
Midday Express of 2012-10-24
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
In its monthly package of infringement decisions, the European Commission is pursuing legal action against Member States for failing to comply properly with their obligations under EU law. These decisions covering many sectors aim at ensuring proper application of EU law for the benefit of citizens and businesses. The Commission has taken today 162 decisions, including 25 reasoned opinions and 10 referrals to the European Union's Court of Justice. Below is a summary of the main decisions. For more information on infringements procedure, see MEMO/12/12 .
The European Commission has informed Microsoft of its preliminary view that Microsoft has failed to comply with its commitments to offer users a choice screen enabling them to easily choose their preferred web browser. In 2009, the Commission had made these commitments legally binding on Microsoft (see IP/09/1941). The sending of a statement of objections does not prejudge the final outcome of the investigation.
The European Commission has proposed to set up a Fund to help the most deprived persons in the EU. The Fund would support Member State schemes providing food to the most deprived people and clothing and other essential goods to homeless people and materially-deprived children. The proposal now goes to the European Parliament and the European Union's Council of Ministers for approval.
The European Commission announced that applications for the Erasmus Mundus scholarships for Syrian students are now open. The European Commission is keen to ensure that during the current conflict, Syrian students – including those exiled or displaced inside Syria – are able to apply to the Erasmus Mundus programme and benefit from its scholarships.
The European Commission has proposed fishing opportunities for 2013 for certain fish stocks in the Atlantic and the North Sea. Today's proposal sets levels of total allowable catch (TAC) and fishing effort for stocks managed exclusively by the EU. In line with scientific advice, the Commission proposes to increase or maintain the TACs for 16 stocks (including certain stocks of cod, Norway lobster, and sole), and reduce them for 47 stocks.
Commission clears acquisition of Wilsonart by CD&R
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by CD&R Wimbledon Holdings III, L.P. (Cayman Islands), belonging to the US group Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, of Wilsonart International Holdings, also of the US. CD&R is a private investment group. Wilsonart is a manufacturer of decorative surfacing materials and biocomposite panels for home furniture, office and retail space, countertops, flooring, exterior cladding and other applications. In the EEA, it is primarily active through its subsidiaries Polyrey (France), Resopal (Germany) and Wilsonart UK (UK). The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Commission clears acquisition of DuPont Performance Coatings Business by The Carlyle Group
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of the US based company DuPont Performance Coatings Business ("DPC") by Flash Bermuda, an acquisition vehicle owned and controlled by funds managed by The Carlyle Group ("Carlyle"). DPC is active in the manufacture and sale of liquid and powder coatings for a variety of industrial and consumer applications. Carlyle is a US alternative asset manager which sponsors funds that invest globally in a range of industries. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Shipping errors and defective products remain the main hitch for online shoppers
The European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net) presented its analysis of consumers’ complaints in its report “European Online Marketplace – Consumer Complaints 2010-2011”, published today. Over 2010 and 2011, an average 31,000 complaints were received per year. Of these, 56% concerned online shopping and approximately two thirds of reported online issues related to shipping errors and defective products and services. The top five countries that received most complaints were the top-ranking e-commerce markets, i.e. Germany, France, the UK, Luxemburg and the Netherlands. Because the ECC-network spans the whole European Union, as well as Norway and Iceland, its work provides the European Commission and national authorities with a unique and valuable set of data documenting EU consumers’ needs and issues. The newly published ECC-Net report seeks to support existing policies that boost consumers’ confidence in cross-border online shopping and help them obtain redress in case their purchasing rights have been infringed upon. Such European policies are already in place, including the European Small Claims procedure for cross-border disputes. Others, like the Alternative Dispute Resolution and Online Dispute Resolution Regulation (ADR/ODR) are in the pipeline. More information about: the report " European Online Marketplace – Consumer complaints 2010-2011 "; EU actions on ADR / ODR
Enregistrement d'une dénomination de produit agricole
La Commission européenne a ajouté une dénomination de produit agricole et alimentaire à la liste des indications géographiques protégées (IGP). Il s'agit, pour l'Allemagne, du chou " Filderkraut / Filderspitzkraut ". Cette dénomination s'ajoute à la liste de plus de 1000 produits déjà protégés en vertu de la législation sur la protection des indications géographiques, des appellations d'origine et des spécialités traditionnelles. Des renseignements sur les produits de qualité ainsi que la liste des dénominations protégées sont disponibles sur l'internet à l'adresse: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/quality/schemes/index_fr.htm
At the end of the second quarter of 2012, the government debt to GDP ratio in the euro area (EA17) stood at 90.0%, compared with 88.2% at the end of the first quarter of 2012. In the EU27 the ratio increased from 83.5% to 84.9%. Compared with the second quarter of 2011, the government debt to GDP ratio rose in both the euro area (from 87.1% to 90.0%) and the EU27 (from 81.4% to 84.9%). These data are released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. At the end of the second quarter of 2012, securities other than shares accounted for 78.6% of euro area and for 80.1% of EU27 general government debt. Loans made up 18.6% of euro area and 16.1% of EU27 government debt. Currency and deposits represented 2.8% of euro area and 3.7% of EU27 government debt. Due to the involvement of EU governments in financial assistance to certain Member States, and in order to obtain a more complete picture of the evolution of government debt, quarterly data on intergovernmental lending (IGL) is also published. The share of IGL in GDP at the end of the second quarter of 2012 amounts to 1.6% for the euro area and to 1.2% for EU27.
The 10 Member States that wish to apply an EU financial transaction tax (FTT) through enhanced cooperation should be allowed to do so, because all the legal conditions for such a move are met. This is the conclusion of the proposal for a Council Decision adopted by the Commission today. Moreover, enhanced cooperation on the FTT would not only bring "immediate, tangible advantages" for those countries that participate, but would also contribute to a better functioning Single Market for the Union as a whole, the proposal states.
Online gambling is one of the fastest growing service activities in the EU, with annual growth rates of almost 15% and an estimated €13 billion in annual revenues in 2015. It continues to develop alongside the fast-paced progress of online technology. Online gambling services cover a range of games of chance such as sports betting and poker, casino and lotteries, with 6.8 million consumers participating in one or more types of online gambling. However, there are also thousands of unregulated gambling websites, often from outside the EU, to which consumers are exposed and which carry significant risks such as fraud and money laundering.
The Commission has adopted today an amending budget to enable it to meet its legal obligations towards beneficiaries of EU funds. This is in line with the joint statement the Council and the European parliament adopted the day the EU budget for 2012 was adopted inviting the Commission to request additional money "in an amending budget if the appropriations entered in the 2012 budget are insufficient to cover expenditure".
In October 2012, the DG ECFIN flash estimate of the consumer confidence indicator remained broadly stable in both the EU (-24.2 after -24.0 in September 2012) and the euro area (-25.6 after -25.9 in September 2012).
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