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EXME 13 / 23.04
Midday Express of 2013-04-23
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
As part of its concerted drive against tax evasion and avoidance, the Commission today set up the new Platform for Tax Good Governance. The Platform will monitor Member States' progress in tackling aggressive tax planning and clamping down on tax havens, in line with the Recommendations presented by the Commission last year (see IP/12/1325). The aim is to ensure that real and effective action is taken by Member States to address these problems, within a coordinated EU framework. The Platform will be comprised of a wide cross-section of interested parties - national tax authorities, European Parliament, businesses, academics, NGOs and other stakeholders. This will also facilitate dialogue and exchange of expertise, which can feed into a more coordinated and effective EU approach against tax evasion and avoidance.
Partners in 11 countries have joined forces to launch the first pan-European 'MOOCs' (Massive Open Online Courses) initiative, with the support of the European Commission. MOOCs are online university courses which enable people to access quality education without having to leave their homes. Around 40 courses, covering a wide variety of subjects, will be available free of charge and in 12 different languages. The initiative is led by the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU) and mostly involves open universities. The partners are based in the following countries: France, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, UK, Russia, Turkey and Israel. Detailed information about the initiative and the courses on offer is available on the portal www.OpenupEd.eu .
In April 2013, the DG ECFIN flash estimate of the consumer confidence indicator improved by 1.2 points in both the EU (-20.4 after -21.6 in March 2013) and the euro area (-22.3 after -23.5 in March 2013).
Commission presents report on progress towards a Digital Single Market
The Commission has today published a report outlining the state of play on the implementation of the e-commerce action plan 2012-2015, presented in January 2012 (see IP/12/10 and MEMO/12/5), to accelerate the development of on-line services and in particular of e-commerce. A functioning Digital Single Market promises a more prosperous and competitive Europe. The report shows that many important actions set out in the action plan have already been initiated (for example in the areas of reinforcing consumer protection; improving parcel delivery and payments; fighting abuse; and integrating technological developments). In 2013, the Commission intends to bring forward more proposals to remove further obstacles to the Digital Single Market. Payments, delivery, and removal of illegal content are three key subjects to be tackled this year. The report is available at http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/e-commerce/communications/2012/index_en.htm .
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Tulloch Homes by Goldman Sachs and TPG Lundy
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the proposed acquisition of joint control over Tulloch Homes Group Limited by The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. of the US and TPG Lundy, ultimately controlled by the TPG Group, based in the US. Goldman Sachs provides financial services as a global investment banking, securities and investment management firm. TPG Group is a global private investment firm. TPG Lundy, based in the Cayman Islands, is a newly formed investment vehicle. Tulloch Homes, based in the UK, is active in the development and construction of residential houses and apartments in the UK. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, in particular because none of the companies controlled by Goldman Sachs or the TPG Group is active in the same markets as Tulloch Homes and the only vertical relationship involved leads to low market shares. The operation was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.6841
Commissioner Piebalgs signs financing agreement to support the largest solar plant in sub-Saharan Africa
European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, will meet today Lamoussa Salif Kaboré, Minister for Energy of Burkina Faso, to sign the financing agreement to support the construction of a solar power plant in that country. The project, announced by the end of last year, will provide between 22 and 33 megawatt peak (MWp) per year, the equivalent of 6% of the country's current electricity production. This will cover the energy consumption of around 400,000 people. The photovoltaic power plant located in Zagtouli, on the outskirts of Ouagadougou, will be operated by the national electricity company Sonabel. The EU will provide 40% of the funds (€25 million) for the construction of which will be the largest solar plant in sub-Saharan Africa. During the meeting with Minister Kaboré, Commissioner Piebalgs will highlight this project as an example of the good cooperation between the EU and partner countries in the field of energy, and the benefits of co-financing by banking entities (blending of funds). This project is a step forward towards achieving the EU target within the UN initiative 'Sustainable Energy For All' (SE4ALL), of helping developing countries to provide access to sustainable energy services to 500 million people by 2030. A short statement by Commissioner Piebalgs and Minister Kaboré will be available on EbS later today.
The European Commission and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy issued today joint reports on the progress in European integration made by Serbia and Kosovo, three days after Belgrade and Pristina struck a landmark deal in the EU-facilitated dialogue.
EU Member States have sent very positive signals that could trigger the start of the final round of negotiations on the next financial period (MFF 2014-2020) between the Member States and the European Parliament this week". This is what EU Commissioner for the Budget Janusz Lewandowski stated at the outcome of the General Affairs Council (GAC) today in Luxembourg. In its oral conclusions to the meeting, the Irish Presidency expressed the Council's willingness to discuss various issues of crucial importance to the European Parliament such as future flexibility of the EU budget, a mid-term review of the financial framework, the unity of the budget and own resources. Also, on the issue of the draft amending budget to cover the needs for 2013, the vast majority of EU Member States agreed that past commitments of the EU must be honoured.
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