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Midday Express of 2013-01-22
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
The European Commission is boosting again its humanitarian aid for the Mali crisis with €20 million – a needed increase that will help respond to the escalating crisis in the country where large numbers of people are fleeing from the conflict and thousands of children are severely malnourished.
The European Research Council (ERC) is awarding €680 million to 302 senior research leaders in 24 different countries across Europe, in the latest competition for its prestigious 'Advanced Grants'. With up to €2.5 million per project, the funding allows these scientists to pursue their most ground-breaking ideas at the frontiers of knowledge together with their own teams. The projects selected cover a wide range of topics. A scientist and his team in France will develop new models to explain certain physical phenomena like superconductivity (which makes it possible for a gecko to stick to a wall for example). A team based in Latvia will bring together computer science, physics and mathematics to assess the advantages and limits of quantum devices. Another grant goes to a researcher in Italy who will look at how economic actors form and change their beliefs about their environment and about each other, by adding emotional and psychological features to the existing models.
At the end of 2011, the EU27 held Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) stocks of 4 983 billion euro in the rest of the world, while stocks held by the rest of the world in the EU27 amounted to 3 807 bn, meaning that the EU27 is a net investor in the rest of the world. Both stocks held by the EU27 and those held by the rest of the world have risen steadily between 2008 and 2011, increasing by about 50%, while EU27 stocks held in another Member State have risen by around 20% during the same period. It should be noted however that stocks held in the rest of the world represent about 40% of total EU27 FDI stocks, with 60% held in another EU Member State. FDI stocks help to quantify the impact of globalisation and provide a measurement of longstanding economic links between countries. They measure the accumulated value of all FDI carried out in the past.
State aid: Commission approves prolongation of Greek guarantee and bond loan schemes for credit institutions
The European Commission has authorised until 30 June 2013, the extension of a support scheme for credit institutions in Greece which includes a guarantee scheme and a bond loan scheme. The scheme was initially approved in November 2008 (see IP/08/1742), and prolonged several times, the last one being in July 2012. The Commission found the prolongation of the guarantee and the bond loan scheme to be in line with its guidance on state aid to banks during the crisis (see IP/08/1495 and IP/11/1488). In particular, the measures are well targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. The Commission has therefore concluded that the schemes represent an appropriate means of remedying a serious disturbance in the Greek economy and as such are compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
State aid: Commission authorises first prolongation of Cypriot bank guarantee scheme
The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, the first prolongation of a Cyprus guarantee scheme for credit institutions until 30 June 2013. The purpose of the scheme is to facilitate credit institutions' access to funding. The original scheme was approved on 6 November 2012 (see IP/12/1171). The Commission found the prolongation of the measure to be in line with its guidance on support measures for banks during the financial crisis. In particular, the prolonged measure is targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. The Commission has, therefore, concluded that the guarantee scheme represents an appropriate means of remedying a serious disturbance in the Cyprus economy and as a such, is compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU). During the application of the extraordinary crisis rules for state aid to banks, the Commission has been authorising guarantee schemes on banks’ liabilities for periods of six months in order to be able to monitor developments and adjust conditions accordingly.
Commission clears acquisition of Kew Green by Goldman Sachs, TPG and Barclays
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by Goldman Sachs, TPG and Barclays of joint control over Kew Green. Goldman Sachs and TPG are global investment firms. Barclays is a major global financial services provider. Kew Green is owner and operator of hotels in the UK. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Commission clears acquisition of Infinity by Vitronet
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of Infinity by Vitronet, both German companies. Vitronet is active in the planning and construction of glass fibre cables and networks and the supply of bitstream products in Germany. Vitronet is jointly controlled by RWE, which is active is active in the electricity and gas sector, and by Aesop Sàrl, a private equity fund. Infinity, the target company, is active in IT software and IT services in Germany. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
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