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EXME 13 / 28.02
Midday Express of 2013-02-28
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
The EU is moving towards a more modern and efficient border management by using state-of-the-art technology. Today, the Commission proposed a 'smart border package' to speed-up, facilitate and reinforce border check procedures for foreigners travelling to the EU. The package consists of a Registered Traveller Programme (RTP) and an Entry/Exit System (EES) that will simplify life for frequent third country travellers at the Schengen external borders and enhance EU border security.
The European Commission has today, on Rare Disease Day 2013 , announced €144 million of new funding for 26 research projects on rare diseases. The projects will help improve the lives of some of the 30 million Europeans suffering from a rare disease. The selected projects bring together over 300 participants from 29 countries in Europe and beyond, including teams from leading academic institutions, SMEs and patients' groups. The goal is to pool resources and work beyond borders, to get a better understanding of rare diseases and find adequate treatments.
Today, the European Commission proposed measures to keep Europe's space industry competitive and to set up a European satellite collision avoidance system. While the EU is a strong player in the global market for commercial launchers and telecommunication satellites and services, it faces increasing competition from emerging industrial actors in countries such as China and India - competition posing a challenge to the further development of the EU's industry. To address this issue, the Commission proposes a new industrial policy for the European space sector, with a number of targets: to increase industry skill levels, to make finance and investment more readily available, to ensure the EU's independence in space and also to reshape the EU's legislative framework to make it a driver for industry - for example with legislation to promote the production and dissemination of data from satellites for commercial purposes.
The European Commission published today new guidelines on how Member States should use financial incentives to best increase demand for low CO2 emission vehicles. Currently, rules on financial incentives differ across the EU, but a common framework could help facilitate the assembly of larger quantities of such vehicles, prompting lower prices for consumers. Incentives can be useful instruments to foster the low CO2 producing vehicle industry, but they can also create trade distortions. To address this issue, mandatory principles under the guidelines include non-discrimination with regard to the origin of the vehicle, the respect of EU state aid and procurement rules, and building on best practices in this domain. Member States must consider these principles in order not to violate the EU Treaty provisions, while other principles are recommended.
Trade barriers between the EU and Peru will be lifted as of 1 March 2013, when the EU's ambitious and comprehensive trade agreement concluded with Peru and Colombia in 2012 will be provisionally applied with Peru. The Agreement will open up markets for both EU and Peruvian exporters eventually bringing annual savings of more than €500m. But it is the improved, more stable conditions for trade and investment that are expected to bring the biggest gains.
Euro area annual inflation was 2.0% in January 2013, down from 2.2% in December 2012. A year earlier the rate was 2.7%. Monthly inflation was -1.0% in January 2013. EU annual inflation was 2.1% in January 2013, down from 2.3% in December 2012. A year earlier the rate was 2.9%. Monthly inflation was -0.8% in January 2013. In January 2013, the lowest annual rates were observed in Greece (0.0%), Portugal (0.4%) and Latvia (0.6%), and the highest in Romania (5.1%), Estonia (3.7%) and the Netherlands (3.2%). Compared with December 2012, annual inflation fell in twenty-three Member States, remained stable in one and rose in three. The lowest 12-month average rates up to January 2013 were registered in Greece and Sweden (both 0.9%) and Ireland (1.9%), and the highest in Hungary (5.4%), Estonia (4.1%), Romania and Slovakia (both 3.6%).
Commission clears acquisition by EQT Infrastructure II over E.ON Energy from Waste
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control by EQT Infrastructure II, ("EQT", The Netherlands) over E.ON Energy from Waste AG ("EEW", Germany). EEW is currently indirectly wholly-owned by E.ON SE.
EQT is an investment fund. EEW is a private company that owns and/or operates energy from waste plants in Germany, Luxembourg and The Netherlands that, using thermal treatment, convert the
energy potential of waste into electricity, district heating and process steam. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Commission clears acquisition of joint control of LR by Bregal Fund III and Quadriga Capital Fund IV
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by Bregal Fund III LP of the UK and Quadriga Capital Private Equity Fund IV LP based in Jersey of joint control of LR Global Holding GmbH ("LR"). Bregal Fund III and Quadriga Capital Fund IV are private equity funds. LR is a company based in Germany which procures and distributes supplements, cosmetics, jewellery and accessories via a multi-level marketing model. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Commission study shows cooperatives help farmers to capture more value added in food chain
The European Commission is publishing today a comprehensive study on "Support for Farmers' Cooperatives". The objective is to provide background knowledge to help farmers organising themselves in cooperatives, so that they can rely on a solid market income. The study, conducted in response to a request from the European Parliament to launch a pilot project on this topic, examines the situation of farmers' cooperatives in the food supply chain across the EU and analyses key success factors. The main conclusions are as follows: farmers’ cooperatives play an important role in helping farmers to capture a larger share of value added in the food supply chain. Agrifood supply chains are generally characterised by bargaining imbalances between farmers and their upstream and downstream partners, so cooperatives are key in strengthening their bargaining power. However, cooperatives' power vis-à-vis retailers tends to remain limited. Efforts to strengthen it further will most likely lead to more mergers between cooperatives. These mergers also allow seeking economies of scale in Research and Development and branding. If they are to support farmers in this trend, legal definitions of producer organisations and support measures should not discriminate against large cooperatives. The growth process is often accompanied by changes in the member-cooperative relationship, boards of cooperatives should therefore be aware of the risk that growth entails for member control. The full text of the study can be found at: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/external-studies/support-farmers-coop_en.htm
The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, has announced today the creation of a Science and Technology Advisory Council. This informal advisory body held its first meeting today in Brussels. President Barroso said: "Science and innovation are key drivers for European competitiveness, economic growth and the creation of new jobs. This Advisory Council will focus on science and technology related topics that are of cross-cutting nature, with a clear societal dimension. It will identify the issues of value where science, research and innovation can contribute to support future development in Europe".
The European Commission has prohibited, on the basis of the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed takeover of the Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus by the low-cost airline Ryanair. The acquisition would have combined the two leading airlines operating from Ireland. The Commission concluded that the merger would have harmed consumers by creating a monopoly or a dominant position on 46 routes where, currently, Aer Lingus and Ryanair compete vigorously against each other. This would have reduced choice and, most likely, would have led to price increases for consumers travelling on these routes. During the investigation, Ryanair offered remedies. The Commission assessed them thoroughly and carried out several market tests. However the remedies proposed fell short of addressing the competition concerns raised by the Commission.
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