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Midday Express of 2013-05-15
Commission Européenne - MEX/13/0515 15/05/2013
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EXME 13 / 15.05
15 / 05 / 13
Le Président François Hollande est à Bruxelles aujourd'hui pour rencontrer le Président Barroso et le Collège. Cette visite est l’occasion d’aborder les grands chantiers concrets de l'Europe: comment sortir ensemble de la crise? Comment relancer la croissance sans creuser les déficits et la dette? Comment répondre à l'urgence du chômage des jeunes? Comment lutter contre l'évasion fiscale et mettre en place une véritable politique énergétique européenne? Quelle politique européenne pour l'industrie de l'acier? Autant de questions sur lesquelles la Commission et la France souhaitent travailler ensemble pour faire avancer l'Europe.
Cette rencontre sera suivie par une conférence de presse du Président Français et du Président Barroso à 15:00 qui sera retransmise via EBS . Les deux Présidents participent également à la Conférence des donateurs "Ensemble pour le Renouveau du Mali".
Today the European Union and France organise a high-level donor international donor conference for the development of Mali. The conference will mobilise and coordinate support from the whole international community for Mali’s development.
The conference starts at 9:00 and it ends with a signature ceremony of four financial agreements with Commissioner Piebalgs and Malian Minister of Foreign Affairs Coulibaly. A press conference is foreseen at 16:45 with Presidents José Manuel Barroso, François Hollande, and Dioncounda Traoré.
On the eve of European Patients' Rights Day, let's take a look at the benefits to patients of being a citizen of the EU. As an EU citizen, you can expect: a high level of health protection; the right to benefit from medical treatment; access to healthcare - preventive, diagnostic and curative treatment regardless of financial means, gender or nationality. These principles are enshrined in the European Union's Treaty and its Charter of Fundamental Rights and the EU institutions are bound to them in their actions.
European Business Summit: Tajani announces actions to promote industry
As part of the European Commission’s target to raise industry’s contribution to the EU’s GDP from 15.2% to 20% by 2020, at the annual European Business Summit, Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani will preview the forthcoming action plan to improve the competitiveness of the EU’s steel industry. This industry, a significant element of the European Community for Steel and Coal, was a formative part of the birth of the European project more than 60 years ago. Today, the EU is the second world's largest producer of steel and the industry is a huge employer of a skilled workforce, directly employing over 360 000 people at more than 500 European sites across 23 Member States. This afternoon and tomorrow, in the presence of 400 CEOs from the steel sector, Tajani will underline that in line with our new industrial policy strategy we need to avoid the decline of such key sectors. The steel action plan will be followed by an "Industrial Renaissance" industrial policy conference on 6 June, to take stock of the actions and initiatives already launched and help determine what further actions can immediately benefit industrial growth in Europe. More information on the new industrial policy
Thirteen films supported by the European Union's MEDIA programme for cinema will be screened at the Cannes International Film Festival (15-26 May), including seven films in competition for the Palme d'Or. Among them is Le Passé by Asghar Farhadi, winner of last year's European Union Prix MEDIA for the best new film project.
The future of the EU's youth policy, doping in sport and the proposed EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – these are just some of the issues which will be in the spotlight at the EYCS Council (16-17 May). Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou (Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth) and Vice-President Joaquín Almunia (Competition) will represent the Commission.
The European Commission today launched its new Emergency Response Centre (ERC). The new centre will provide a better coordinated, faster and more efficient European Response to disasters in Europe and around the world. It will serve as the new "operational heart" of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The ERC will be active on a 24/7 basis, and is capable of dealing with up to three simultaneous emergencies in different time zones. It will dispatch assessment and coordination experts to disaster areas, provide early warning about upcoming disasters and facilitate the delivery of assistance from Member States in response to major emergencies. The ERC will also support close coordination between the different Commission services responding to emergencies. In MEMO/13/427 , you will find more information.
"The European Commission promotes the roll-out of intelligent information services for Europe's drivers. Rules adopted today ensure such information services will be compatible across Europe. These information services for motorists include real-time warnings about traffic conditions, and the location of safe and secure parking places for trucks. Estimates suggest that intelligent information services could reduce the number of road deaths by up to 7%." For more information see also MEMO/13/436.
Today the European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding and Commissioner László Andor are hosting a Roma Roundtable with key players from civil society to discuss Roma integration in Europe. The Roundtable is open to press. Roma integration is high on the Commission's political agenda and this event comes ahead of the next Commission report on progress in implementing national strategies for Roma integration, due to be presented before the end of the year. "Roma integration cannot be left to Sunday speeches that are not followed up come Monday morning. The organisations' input will translate into actions - to make a difference in the daily lives of the millions of Roma people in Europe" said Vice-President Viviane Reding.
Transport: Marco Polo programme – results and outlook
The European Commission has published a Communication on the Marco Polo programme (2003–13) , helping companies shift freight off the road and on to more environmentally friendly modes, like short-sea shipping, rail and inland waterways. From 2003 to 2012, 172 grants were awarded to over 650 companies. The communication also outlines the next steps beyond the current multiannual financial framework. Marco Polo is the only EU funding instrument supporting actions in the freight transport, logistics and other relevant markets. Funding focused in particular on shifting freight off the road; developing innovative motorways of the sea for large-volume and high-frequency transport services; developing traffic avoidance actions; and promoting common learning actions to share knowhow in the freight logistics sector.
The European Commission approved today an equity investment by the Italian public investor – Istituto Sviluppo Agroalimentare - in the share capital of the company NewCo, controlled by the Ferrarini Group. The Commission concluded that the investment proposed by the Italian government does not constitute State aid, as it would have been acceptable to a private investor operating under normal market conditions.
Commission appoints new head of financial irregularities panel
The College has decided to appoint Mr Juan RAMALLO MASSANET as Special Adviser to the Commission. He has been chosen to assist Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič as Chair of the Commission's Specialised Financial Irregularities Panel. This Panel is a consultative body which provides the institution with the necessary expertise regarding financial irregularities. Mr Ramallo Massanet is a former Member of the Court of Auditors, making him particularly qualified for this function. The decision takes effect immediately.
The European Commission can confirm that, on 14 May 2013, Commission officials carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of several companies active in and providing services to the crude oil, refined oil products and biofuels sectors. These inspections took place in two EU Member States. At the Commission's request, inspections were also carried out on its behalf by the EFTA Surveillance Authority in one European Economic Area (EEA) Member State. The Commission has concerns that the companies may have colluded in reporting distorted prices to a Price Reporting Agency to manipulate the published prices for a number of oil and biofuel products. Furthermore, the Commission has concerns that the companies may have prevented others from participating in the price assessment process, with a view to distorting published prices. Any such behaviour, if established, may amount to violations of European antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices and abuses of a dominant market position (Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU and Articles 53 and 54 of the EEA Agreement).
Without prejudice to a future political decision on possible signature, the Commission adopts today two proposals for Council Decisions on (i) the signing and provisional application as well as (ii) the conclusion of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, which will be transmitted to the Council for further processing. With today's decision, the EU is taking a necessary preparatory step in order to be technically ready for the possible signing of the Association Agreement (including its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area) at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius in six months from now.
The European Commission has concluded that a rescue loan of PLN 400 million (around €100 million) granted by the Polish government to LOT Polish Airlines was in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission found, in particular, that the aid was limited in time and scope. The Commission has approved the measure temporarily, until it can take a position on the restructuring plan to be submitted by Poland by 20 June 2013 (i.e. within six months from implementation of the measure).
The European Commission has opened a formal investigation to examine whether Spanish plans to grant public financing to the Ford group for an investment project in the Valencia region are in line with EU state aid rules. The opening of a formal investigation gives interested third parties the possibility to comment on the proposed measure. It does not prejudge the outcome of the procedure.
The European Commission has decided that the aid granted by France to the P.I.V.E.R.T. Institut d’Excellence en Énergies Décarbonées (IEED, institute of excellence in the field of low-carbon energy) to conduct the Genesys research and development programme complies with the EU rules on state aid. The aim of the project is to develop a new generation of biorefineries using biomass to produce, among other things, clean energy. The aid addresses a genuine market failure without giving rise to an undue distortion of competition.
The European Commission has concluded that the proposed public co-financing of a new multiarena in Copenhagen, Denmark was in line with EU state aid rules. In particular, the Commission found that the public funding was both proportionate to the objective pursued and limited to the minimum necessary to attain that objective.
After the annulment of its 2008 decision to authorise a regional investment aid granted by Germany to Propapier for the construction of a paper mill in Eisenhüttenstadt (Brandenburg, Germany), the European Commission has opened an investigation to reassess the measure in light of the guidance provided by the judgment of the EU General Court (case T-304/08). The Commission will assess whether the positive effects of the aid on regional development outweigh the potential distortion of competition and negative effect on trade between Member States created by the selective advantage granted to Propapier. The opening of a formal investigation gives interested third parties a possibility to comment on the measure. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the Parlophone Label Group ("PLG") by Access Industries Inc., the ultimate owner of Warner Music Group ("WMG"). The Commission's investigation confirmed that the proposed transaction would not raise competition concerns, in particular because following the acquisition, WMG will continue to face competition from the two remaining major music companies, namely Universal Music Group ("UMG") and Sony, as well as from independent music labels.
2. Commission clears acquisition of joint control over the Verna Group 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 the Verna Group 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. The TPG Group is a global private investment firm. TPG Lundy, based in the Cayman Islands, is a newly formed investment vehicle. The Verna Group, based in the UK, is active in the design, manufacture and supply of human waste management solutions for the healthcare industry, as well as the supply of medical trolley chairs to healthcare facilities. 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 or vertically related markets as the Verna Group. 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.6842 .
What Commissioners said
Following the debate at the Council of Finance Ministers, Commissioner Šemeta said "I cannot honestly say that expectations were fully met at today´s ECOFIN, but we did have some success. I am extremely pleased that, after 2 years, Member States have agreed on a mandate which will allow the Commission to negotiate stronger savings tax agreements with Switzerland, San Marino, Andorra, Lichtenstein and Monaco. Nonetheless, we cannot – we must not – make our progress within the EU dependent on our progress with third countries. So it was with great disappointed that I watched agreement on the revised EU Savings Directive being blocked on this basis today. In the battle against tax evasion, what we achieved today was undoubtedly a step forward. Let's hope that what our leaders agree at the Summit next week is more like a giant leap."