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EXME 13 / 27.03
Midday Express of 2013-03-27
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
The European Commission invites the public to comment on a proposal to simplify certain procedures for notifying mergers under the EU Merger Regulation. The proposal aims to make EU merger control even more business-friendly by cutting red tape and streamlining procedures. The proposed changes could allow up to 70% of all notified mergers to qualify for review under the Commission's simplified procedure, i.e. about 10% more than today. This could result in savings for the merging companies concerned, cutting lawyers' fees by up to one half and reducing preparatory in-house work. In addition, the Commission proposes to reduce the net amount of information required to notify all mergers, which will significantly lessen the administrative burden. This initiative is part of the Commission’s overall effort to make administrative procedures less burdensome for business, thereby stimulating growth and making Europe more competitive.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Petrochem Carless Holdings Limited of the UK by Haltermann Holding GmbH of Germany, a wholly owned subsidiary of HIG Europe Capital Partners. The parties are active in the chemicals sector. The Commission's investigation confirmed that the proposed operation would not raise competition concerns as it would not significantly alter the structure of the relevant markets.
Today the Commission proposed to make the EU law enforcement Agency (Europol) more effective at collecting information, analysing it and sharing these analyses with the Member States. This will let Europol provide more concrete and targeted support to the national law enforcement authorities in their cross-border cooperation and investigations. At the same time the proposal increases Europol's accountability to the European Parliament and the national Parliaments and strengthens the protection of personal data. The new Regulation also reinforces the link between training and support to operational cooperation, by merging the European Police College (Cepol) within Europol and by making Europol responsible for joint training and exchange programmes for police and other law enforcement personnel.
The European Commission has today unveiled a new comparative tool to promote effective justice systems in the European Union and thereby reinforce economic growth. The ‘European Justice Scoreboard’ will provide objective, reliable and comparable data on the functioning of the justice systems in the EU’s 27 Member States. Improving the quality, independence and efficiency of judicial systems already forms part of the EU’s economic policy coordination process under the European Semester, which is aimed at laying the foundations for a return to growth and job creation.
The Commission today adopted its first report setting out the state-of-play of administrative preparations for the accession of Croatia to the EU. The report concludes that preparations are on the right track, and that all measures will be in place before Croatia accedes on 1 July 2013. In fact preparatory measures are already in place in the large majority of fields: organisation for competitions for Administrators and Assistants for generalist and specialist profiles; stipulation of rights and obligations for staff from the new Member State; recruitment of staff in the Transition Team and the new Commission Representation in Zagreb; preparation of integration services for Croatian staff; arrangements for real estate; preparatory measures in respect of libraries, European Schools and childcare facilities; adaptation of information and communication technology for new staff and the new language; and publication of information in Croatian.
An extra EURO 11.2 billion is required for the EU budget to reimburse beneficiaries of EU funded programmes completed across Europe in 2012 as well as to honour the Cohesion Policy claims that will fall due in 2013. The bulk of the draft amending budget presented by the European Commission today, if agreed in full by the Parliament and Council, will allow all the legal obligations left pending at the end of 2012, as well as those arising before the end of 2013, to be covered in this year's budget. It covers claims from beneficiaries of EU funds (Member States, regions and towns, universities and scientists, NGOs…) for projects completed across Europe; it also includes Member States’ estimates for payments they will expect from the EU this year.
The European Commission has finalised a series of measures to promote regional cooperation between Western Balkan countries totalling €272.75 million for the period 2012-2013.
The European Union has today adopted the second part of its 2013 assistance package for Palestine. It will ensure that critical support to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for the provision of vital services in the area of health, education and social services to the Palestinian people is not interrupted.
Quarterly Report finds low productivity growth and capital misallocation harmed euro area convergence
The focus section of this edition takes a look at the growth convergence experiences of euro area Member States following the introduction of the euro. Income gaps narrowed less within the euro area than for the EU as a whole in the pre-crisis decade. This mainly reflects a poor growth performance of catching-up countries due to disappointing productivity and Total Factory Productivity growth. There is also evidence of capital misallocation, with the accumulation process becoming gradually less efficient in terms of growth during the first decade of the euro. Special topics in the report focus on a number of macro financial topics. A special topic looks at explanations for the divergence in bank lending rates across the euro area, finding that country-specific macroeconomic factors can cause divergent lending rates in spite of a unified monetary policy. A further section examines the ongoing balance sheet adjustment processes in the non-financial sector of the euro area, with a focus on underlying supply and demand conditions and their policy implications. A final section looks at the growth impact of fiscal consolidation in times of close linkages between sovereign risk premia and banks’ balance sheets, finding that the pursuit of credible front-loaded consolidation strategies can be preferable in terms of short-term growth benefits. http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/qr_euro_area/2013/qrea1_en.htm
EU calls for input on ‘conflict minerals’
The European Commission is today launching a public consultation on so-called 'conflict minerals'. The aim of the consultation is get interested parties' views on a potential EU initiative for responsible sourcing of minerals coming from conflict zones and high-risk areas – for example, war zones, post-war zones, and areas vulnerable to political instability or civil unrest. The Commission wants to deepen its understanding of issues such as the sourcing and security of supply of minerals, supply chain transparency and good governance. The Commission will use the results to help it decide whether and how, in a reasonable and effective manner, to complement and to continue on-going due diligence initiatives and support for good governance in mineral mining, especially in developing countries affected by conflict. The consultation is open until 26 June 2013 and will be managed by the Commission's Directorate-General for Trade: http://trade.ec.europa.eu/consultations/
The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation under the EU Merger Regulation into the planned acquisition by Nynas AB of Sweden of refinery assets located in Hamburg/Harburg (Germany) and currently owned by Shell Deutschland Oil GmbH. The Commission’s initial investigation revealed possible competition concerns in the markets for naphthenic base oils, naphthenic process oils and transformer oils ('TFO') where the merged entity would have very high market shares in the European Economic Area (EEA). These oils are used for the production of industrial greases, metalworking fluids, adhesives, inks, insoluble sulphur, industrial rubber, fertilisers, defoamers and additives. The decision to open an in-depth inquiry does not prejudge the result of the investigation. The Commission now has 90 working days, until 8 August 2013, to take a final decision on whether the merger would significantly impede effective competition in the EEA.
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Memo "Joint Statement by the Spokespersons of High Representative/Vice President Catherine Ashton and Commissioner Štefan Füle on the unanimous adoption of an amendment to Georgia's Constitution" – rediffusion