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EXME 12 / 21.11
Midday Express of 2012-11-21
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 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 199 decisions, including 48 reasoned opinions and 7 referrals to the European Union's Court of Justice, out of which 5 include financial penalties. A summary of the main decisions can be found in the MEMO/12/876. On the general infringement procedure, see MEMO/12/12.
The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, two compensations received by Poste Italiane for delivering two public services in the period 2009-2011, namely a compensation of €1.1 billion for the universal postal service and a compensation of €458 million for reduced postal tariffs offered, over the same period, to publishers, not-for-profit organisations and electoral candidates. The measures were in line with EU rules on public service compensation since, in particular, they did not over-compensate Poste Italiane for providing these services, and therefore did not lead to cross-subsidisation of commercial activities.
Commission clears acquisition of controlling stake in Guardian Corporation by Koch Industries
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of Guardian Industries Corp. by the privately owned US industrial conglomerate Koch Industries. Koch is active worldwide in refined products, chemicals, pulp, paper and wood building products, man-made fibers and intermediate chemicals and polymers, crude oil services, mineral services, energy services, capital services, road and construction materials and chemical technology. Guardian is a worldwide manufacturer of float glass, fabricated glass products and coated injection moulded plastic parts for automotive and other applications. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Article 318 - European Commission adopts evaluation report on the results of its policies in 2011
Today, the Commission adopted the Evaluation report on the Union's finances based on the results achieved on the year 2011 as required by Art 318 of the TFEU. The report provides an overview of performance-related information in relation to the financial year 2011 and covers all main budget headings. This is the second report adopted by the Commission in this context. The report is available at http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/secretariat_general/evaluation/documents_en.htm .
Appointment of a new Director in DG TRADE
Ditte Juul-Jørgensen has been appointed Director for "WTO, Legal Affairs and Trade in Goods". She has been acting Director since March 2011. Mrs Juul-Jørgensen has worked for the EU for 20 years, the last 17 on trade policy, and since March 2010 has been heading the Unit for Dispute Settlement and Legal Aspects of Trade Policy. From 2007 to 2010, Ditte was Head of Unit for Trade and Sustainable Development and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Issues in DG Trade. She was posted as Economic Counsellor in the EU Delegation to the United Nations in New York from 2002 to 2006, working on trade, development and environment. Before joining DG Trade, Ditte worked in DG COMP and for the European Court of Justice. Ditte Juul-Jørgensen is a graduate of the College of Europe, Bruges, and the University of Copenhagen, Denmark; she is married and has three children. The appointment will take effect on 1 December 2012.
The youth unemployment rate is close to 23% across the European Union – yet at the same time there are more than 2 million vacancies that cannot be filled. Europe needs a radical rethink on how education and training systems can deliver the skills needed by the labour market. The challenge could not be tougher in the context of widespread austerity measures and cuts in education budgets. Today, the European Commission is launching a new strategy called Rethinking Education to encourage Member States to take immediate action to ensure that young people develop the skills and competences needed by the labour market and to achieve their targets for growth and jobs.
The European Commission has approved under EU state aid rules a €2 billion support scheme aimed at promoting the development of next generation access (NGA) broadband networks in currently underserved areas of the German region of Bavaria. The Commission found the scheme to be in line with EU state aid rules, in particular because it ensures that support is granted only in areas where no commercial NGA network rollout is foreseen in the near future. This will avoid the crowding out of private investments.
The European Commission has ruled that the new Spanish system for the early depreciation of the cost of certain assets acquired through finance leasing does not constitute state aid under EU rules, inter alia because it is not selective.
The European Commission has opened two separate in-depth investigations under EU state aid rules regarding public support measures in the region of Sulcis-Iglesiente in Sardinia, Italy. Firstly, the Commission will investigate the compliance with state aid rules of support measures amounting to over €400 million granted by Italy since 1998 in favour of Carbosulcis, the company exploiting the Nuraxi Figus coal mine. Secondly, the Commission will verify whether subsidies that Italy intends to grant for the 'Sulcis project', i.e. the construction of a coal-fired plant fitted with a Carbon Capture and Storage Demonstration (CCS) Section, are in line with EU state aid rules. The opening of in-depth inquiries gives interested third parties an opportunity to comment on the measures. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.
The European Commission has concluded that the sale of LOT Services, LOT Catering and LOT Airport Maintenance Services, subsidiaries of LOT Polish Airlines, was carried out on market terms and did therefore not involve state aid in the meaning of EU rules.
The European Commission has found that a UK umbrella support scheme for investments in next generation access (NGA) broadband networks, 'BDUK', is in line with EU state aid rules. In particular, the scheme is aimed at supporting local projects in rural and remote areas, where such networks would unlikely be developed on commercial terms.
The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to verify whether various public support measures provided by Latvia in favour of the majority State-owned airline airBaltic are in line with EU state aid rules. At this stage, the Commission has doubts that these measures were carried out on terms that a private player operating under market conditions would have accepted. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives interested third parties an opportunity to comment on the measures under assessment. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.
The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to verify whether a number of public support measures in favour of the Slovenian airline Adria Airways are in line with EU state aid rules. These measures include four capital injections between 2007 and 2011 amounting to around €85.5 million. The Commission has doubts that they were granted on market terms. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives interested third parties an opportunity to submit comments on the measures under assessment. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.
It will now be easier for EU citizens living in another Member State to stand as candidates in the 2014 European Parliament elections, following a vote on a European Commission proposal in the European Parliament today. Members of the European Parliament voted in their plenary session today with an overwhelming majority (618 votes in favour, 23 votes against and 14 abstentions) to approve the proposal. The draft law aims to simplify the procedure for non-national EU citizens to stand as candidates for the European Parliament by amending the existing rules ( Directive 93/109/EC). It is one the Commission’s initiatives to promote and facilitate participation in the European elections. Following agreement by the European Parliament, the proposal is now expected to be adopted by the Council before the end of 2012.
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