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EXME 13 / 23.01

Midday Express of 2013-01-23

News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne

Antitrust: Commission fines Telefónica and Portugal Telecom € 79 million for illegal non-compete contract clause

The European Commission has imposed fines of € 66 894 000 on Telefónica and of € 12 290 000 on Portugal Telecom for agreeing not to compete with each other on the Iberian telecommunications markets, in breach of Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) which prohibits anti-competitive agreements. In July 2010, in the context of the acquisition by Telefónica of the Brazilian mobile operator Vivo, which was until then jointly owned by both parties, the parties inserted a clause in the contract indicating they would not compete with each other in Spain and Portugal as from the end of September 2010. The parties terminated the non-compete agreement in early February 2011, after the Commission opened antitrust proceedings.

State aid: Commission opens in-depth inquiry into public support in favour of Portuguese shipyard ENVC

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to verify whether numerous public support measures granted by Portugal in favour of the shipyard "Estaleiros Navais de Viana do Castelo S.A." (ENVC) 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 operator would have accepted under market conditions. 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.

State aid: Commission approves amendments to Finnish scheme supporting investment in cleaner ships

The European Commission has found amendments to an existing Finnish scheme supporting investment in cleaner ships to be in line with EU state aid rules. In particular, the amendments aim at giving ship-owners incentives to use less polluting fuel, ahead of the entry into force of EU standards to that effect.

State aid: Commission approves aid for closure of coal mine in Hungary

The European Commission has authorised HUF 42,247 million (approximately €140 million) of public funding for the closure of an uncompetitive coal mine in Hungary, the Márkushegy Mine. The Commission found the measure to be in line with EU state aid rules because production aid will decrease over time and Hungary committed to carry out accompanying measures to mitigate the social and environmental impact of the closure.

State aid: Commission orders The Netherlands to recover €6.9 million incompatible state aid from Schouten-de Jong Bouwfonds

The European Commission has concluded that certain public support measures granted to Schouten-de Jong Bouwfonds ("SJB") by a public private partnership ("PPP"), consisting of the Dutch municipality of Leidschendam-Voorburg and SJB, constitutes state aid that is incompatible with EU rules. These measures consist of the reduction of an agreed sales price for building land and the waiver of agreed fees for SJB. The Commission has found that the measure clearly provides SJB with an economic advantage over its competitors, which the company would not have obtained in normal market circumstances. In order to remedy the distortion of competition brought about by this undue advantage, SJB now needs to pay back the aid with interest.

State aid: Commission approves compensation for La Banque Postale of France for ensuring banking accessibility

The European Commission has found that public financing granted by France to the French bank La Banque Postale from 2009 to 2014 in order to improve banking accessibility are in line with EU state aid rules. In particular the compensation granted to La Banque Postale does not exceed the net cost for discharging the public service obligations.

State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into compensation for Sardinian airports

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to examine whether an Italian scheme granting financial support to certain airport operators in Sardinia and the air carriers operating in these airports is in line with EU state aid rules. At this stage, the Commission has concerns that such public support may procure the beneficiaries an undue economic advantage that their competitors do not have. 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.

Catherine Ashton at EUROPAN Child Nutrition Programme event in Peru

As part of her official visit to Peru, Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission, addressed an event on EU support for Peru’s Child Nutrition programme, alongside Peruvian First Lady Nadine Heredia.

Third quarter of 2012 compared with second quarter of 2012 - Euro area and EU27 government debt nearly stable at 90.0% and 85.1% of GDP respectively

At the end of the third quarter of 2012, the government debt to GDP ratio in the euro area (EA17) stood at 90.0%, compared with 89.9% at the end of the second quarter of 2012. In the EU27 the ratio was 85.1%, compared with 85.0%. Compared with the third quarter of 2011, the government debt to GDP ratio rose in both the euro area (from 86.8% to 90.0%) and the EU27 (from 81.5% to 85.1%). At the end of the third quarter of 2012, securities other than shares accounted for 78.9% of euro area and for 80.4% of EU27 general government debt. Loans made up 18.3% of euro area and 15.8% of EU27 government debt. Currency and deposits represented 2.8% of euro area and 3.8% 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) are also published. The share of IGL in GDP at the end of the third quarter of 2012 amounts to 1.7% for the euro area and to 1.3% for EU27.

Autre matériel diffusé :

Speech by HR/VP Catherine Ashton: "Remarks by Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission, following her meeting with Peruvian Foreign Minister Rafael Roncagliolo"

Speech by Commissioner A. Semeta: "Speaking points on Financial Transaction Tax" - rediffusion

Speech by Vice-President O. Rehn: "Vice-President Rehn's remarks at the ECOFIN" - rediffusion

Speech by Commissioner Malmström: "Protecting personal data in the EU: EDPS Strategy 2013-2014" – rediffusion

Speech by Commissioner Malmström: "Stand up against intolerance: a Homage to Raoul Wallenberg" – rediffusion


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