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EXME 13 / 30.04
Midday Express of 2013-04-30
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
At the start of its 'European Month of the Brain' initiative, the European Commission has earmarked some €150 million of funding for 20 new international brain research projects. It will bring the total EU investment in brain research since 2007 to over €1.9 billion. The 'European Month of the Brain' (#brainmonth) will highlight European research and innovation in the area of neuroscience, cognition and related areas through over 50 events across Europe this May. The initiative aims to showcase the latest achievements in the field, but also to urge a more decisive effort to combat brain diseases. It also aims at highlighting how studying the brain can revolutionise computing. The initiative comes as the profile of brain research has been raised recently with ambitious new projects in the EU (FET Flagship Human Brain Project – IP/13/54 and MEMO/13/36) and the US (BRAIN project).
European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn has today announced an aid package from the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) of over €14.6 million in response to serious flooding in Slovenia in October and November 2012. Neighbouring countries Austria and Croatia also suffered lesser damages as a direct result of the floods and will benefit from the grant in order to fund their emergency operations in the aftermath of the disaster.
The European Commission has launched the third and final public consultation in its review of the state aid criteria it uses to assess Member States' support schemes for films and other audiovisual works. The criteria are set out in a draft Communication, on which the Commission invites comments by 28 May 2013. The final Communication is due to be adopted by the Commission in the third quarter of 2013.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over ETCG by ETC Holdings, SCPE, Pemgrofund and CSSAF
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the proposed acquisition of joint control over Export Trading Company Group (“ETCG”) by ETC Holdings (Mauritius) Limited (“ETC Holdings”), Standard Chartered Private Equity (Mauritius) III Limited (“SCPE”), PRIF AfriVest Limited (“PemgroFund”) and CSSAF Consumer I (“CSSAF”) all of which are based in Mauritius. Prior to the transaction ETC Holdings has had sole control over ETCG. ETC (i.e. ETC Holdings and ETCG) operates a vertically-integrated agriculture business across the African subcontinent including procurement, processing, warehousing, transport, distribution and merchandising of agricultural commodities. SCPE provides equity funding for expansions, acquisitions, leveraged buyouts and management buyouts across a range of industries. PemgroFund is a long term fund, with focus on investment in infrastructure and related opportunities across Africa. CSSAF is a global alternative asset manager. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.6890 .
Euro area annual inflation is expected to be 1.2% in April 2013, down from 1.7% in March, according to a flash estimate from Eurostat. Looking at the main components of euro area inflation, food, alcohol & tobacco is expected to have the highest annual rate in April (2.9% compared with 2.7% in March), followed by services (1.1% compared with 1.8% in March), non-energy industrial goods (0.8% compared with 1.0% in March) and energy (-0.4% compared with 1.7% in March).
The euro area (EA17) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 12.1% in March 2013, up from 12.0% in February. The EU27 unemployment rate was 10.9%, stable compared with February. In both zones, rates have risen markedly compared with March 2012, when they were 11.0% and 10.3% respectively. These figures are published by Eurostat. Eurostat estimates that 26.521 million men and women in the EU27, of whom 19.211 million were in the euro area, were unemployed in March 2013. Compared with February 2013, the number of persons unemployed increased by 69 000 in the EU27 and by 62 000 in the euro area. Compared with March 2012, unemployment rose by 1.814 million in the EU27 and by 1.723 million in the euro area.
Mergers: Commission clears the acquisition by Aegon Spain Holding B.V. and Santander Seguros y Reaseguros, Compania Aseguradora, S.A. of joint control over Santander Vida, Seguros Y Reaseguros, S.A and Santander Generales, Seguros Y Reaseguros, S.A.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition by Aegon Spain Holding B.V. ("Aegon Spain") and Santander Seguros y Reaseguros, Compania Aseguradora, S.A. ("Santander Seguros") of joint control over Santander Vida, Seguros Y Reaseguros, S.A and Santander Generales, Seguros Y Reaseguros, S.A., currently solely controlled by Santander Seguros. Aegon Spain belongs to the Aegon Group of insurance companies, active worldwide, mainly in the United States, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Santander Seguros is ultimately controlled by Banco Santander S.A., active in the banking and the insurance sectors internationally. Santander Vida and Santander Generales will be active in the Spanish insurance market providing life and non-life insurance respectively. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns given the very limited overlaps between the parties' activities and the presence of a number of strong competitors both in life and non-life insurance markets in Spain. The operation was examined under the normal merger review procedure More information is available on the Commission's competition website in the public case register under the case number M.6848 .
La Commission clôture l'investigation approfondie sur la gestion des services d'eau potable et d'assainissement des eaux usées
Depuis janvier 2012, la Commission a enquêté de manière approfondie sur l'existence d'éventuelles pratiques anticoncurrentielles dans le marché de la gestion déléguée des services d'eau potable et d'assainissement des eaux usées en France. Cette investigation approfondie n'a pas permis d'établir l'existence d'une infraction aux règles européenne de concurrence. En conséquence, la procédure ouverte en janvier 2012 (voir IP/12/26) a été close. A l'avenir, la Commission continuera à surveiller de près l'évolution de la situation de la concurrence dans les marchés de l'eau et de l'assainissement en France et dans les autres Etats membres.
Today, the Commission's Task Force for Greece (TFGR) presents its fourth quarterly report on technical assistance for Greece. The Task Force has made steady progress in assisting the Greek authorities, in a spirit of solidarity, to help implement a wide range of reforms agreed in the context of the economic adjustment programme for Greece and to maximise the use of EU Structural Funds. The assistance provided by the Taskforce builds on the commitment of the Greek authorities to implement these reforms, which are necessary to rebuild an economy that is conducive to growth and job creation, as set out in the Memorandum of Understanding with Greece.
Today, EU Member States did not reach a qualified majority – either in favour or against - in the Appeal Committee which discussed a Commission proposal to restrict the use of 3 neonicotinoid insecticides.
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