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Midday Express of 2013-06-03
Commission Européenne - MEX/13/0603 03/06/2013
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EXME 13 / 03.06
03 / 06 / 13
The EU-Russia summit in Yekaterinburg today and tomorrow is expected to include debates on the economic situation in Russia and in the EU. Leaders will also discuss the overall global economic situation with a particular attention given to the upcoming G20 meeting and the Russian G20 presidency. Moreover, leaders will attend to the current state of affairs in relation to the negotiations of a New Agreement to replace the current Partnership and Cooperation Agreement; trade; the EU-Russia Energy Roadmap 2050 , mobility and global security challenges – including Syria. A drug precursors agreement will be signed at the Summit.
The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, said prior to the meeting: "Russia is our largest neighbour and a strategic partner with whom we have been building a solid and mutually beneficial relationship. It is in our common interest to develop further our bilateral relationship and the legal framework that underpins it. The best basis for a closer and reliable partnership is an ambitious and comprehensive New Agreement."
See also MEMO/13/485 on 31st EU-Russia summit.
The European Commission is today presenting its third Schengen 'health check', assessing the coherent application by Member States of the Schengen rules, visa issuance and security procedures and the situation at the external Schengen borders. The evaluation, covering the period 1 November 2012 – 30 April 2013, has not shown the type of deficiencies that would require immediate action by the Commission. This report comes after the agreement on the Schengen proposals at trilogue and Coreper level that gives the Commission a central role in making sure that no unjustified obstacles hamper the free movement within the Schengen area. "Schengen is one of the most valued and concrete European achievements. It is widely cherished by EU's citizens and makes a major contribution to our economic prosperity", said EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.
In a progress report on the availability and accessibility of childcare services at EU level the European Commission finds that just eight countries have met the so-called ‘Barcelona targets’, agreed by EU leaders in 2002, stating that childcare should be provided for 90% of children between three years old and the mandatory school age, and for 33% of children under three. “Member States have to buckle down if they want to reach the 75% employment goal they have signed up to. Childcare provision should not be seen as a cost, but as an investment in tomorrow”, said Vice-President Reding, EU Justice Commissioner. A new study also released by the Commission today sheds light on the phenomenon of the ‘gender pension gap’, showing that on average across the EU, women’s pensions are 39% lower than men’s.
President Barroso is concluding his first visit to Kazakhstan at the invitation of President Nazarbayev. This visit is expected to boost the on-going negotiations for a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between the EU and Kazakhstan - EU's most important partner in the Central Asian region.
The programme is mainly focused on the bilateral relations, notably trade, investment and energy issues, as well as regional integration and regional security.
Yesterday, President Barroso met with Prime Minister Akhmetov and with the Chairman of the Majilis, Mr. Nugmatulin. He delivered a speech at the Gumiliov Euroasian National University and he met the business community and NGO representatives as well.
His official programme ends today with a meeting with the Kazakh President Nazarbayev this morning. Following the talks, the two Presidents issued a joint declaration . President Barroso's speaking points to the press will be available soon.
Record levels for trade in goods between EU27 and Russia in 2012
Following a sharp fall in 2009, EU27 international trade in goods with Russia has grown strongly since then to reach record levels in 2012, both for exports and imports. This makes Russia the EU27's third most important trading partner after the USA and China, accounting for 7% of EU27 exports and 12% of EU27 imports. The EU27 trade deficit with Russia rose from 52 bn in 2009 to 90 bn in 2012, primarily due to EU27 imports of energy from Russia (163 bn), which are partially offset by EU27 exports of manufactured goods (108 bn).
Commissioner Hedegaard to visit Paris for climate talks
Connie Hedegaard, Commissioner for Climate Action, will visit Paris on 3-4 June for talks with government ministers. Preparation of the 2015 UN climate change conference in Paris, at which a new global climate agreement should be finalised, will be the main theme. Commissioner Hedegaard will have meetings with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, European Affairs Minister Thierry Repentin and Development Minister Pascal Canfin. Commissioner Hedegaard will address a meeting of the National Assembly's European affairs and sustainable development committees and speak at a conference on the 2015 agreement and at the Planet Workshops Global Conference 2013. She will also have a working dinner with business representatives.
Commissioner Piebalgs attends seminar to strengthen human rights in the development agenda
EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs will today make a plea to give a stronger role to internationally agreed human rights in development policy, at the seminar "Priorities for a Human Rights Based Approach in EU Development Cooperation" in Brussels, which is hosted by Denmark’s Minister for Development Cooperation, Christian Friis Bach. The promotion of human rights principles is a key commitment of the EU 'Agenda for Change' (policy document setting out a new orientation for its Development agenda). Other participants in the event include EU Special Representative for Human Rights Stavros Lambrinidis along with representatives of civil society organizations and academia.
Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle at the meeting with Jordanian king will announce new EU aid for Jordan to help it cope with the impact of the Syrian crisis and the growing number of refugees (more details at 13:00).
Mergers: Commission clears joint acquisition of food processing company Heinz by investment firms 3G Capital and Berkshire Hathaway
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the joint acquisition of the US-based H.J. Heinz Company by US investment firms 3G Capital and Berkshire Hathaway. 3G Capital’s investments focus on the retail and consumer sector, including a controlling shareholding in the quick-service restaurant chain Burger King Corporation. Berkshire Hathaway is an investment firm whose subsidiaries are engaged in a number of business activities including services and retailing. Heinz is a global food processing company whose product portfolio includes ketchup, condiments and sauces, frozen food and infant nutrition. The Commission’s investigation focused on the impact of the transaction on the markets for cold sauces and quick-service restaurants in Europe. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns given the presence of credible competitors and the existing pre-merger supply relationships between Heinz and Burger King. 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. 6895 .
Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of insurance company Irish Life by rival Canada Life
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Irish Life Group Limited, currently solely owned by the Minister for Finance of Ireland, by Canada Life Limited of the UK, ultimately controlled by the Power Corporation of Canada. Canada Life provides individual and group insurance, wealth management, retirement protection and asset management services in the UK and in Ireland. Irish Life is active mainly in life and pension insurance, both for individuals and for employers and public sector union members. It is mainly present in Ireland with some very limited activity in the UK. The Commission examined the competitive effects of the proposed acquisition in a number of life insurance market segments, namely pure risk protection products for individual and for group clients, pension products for individuals and for group clients, and the segment for saving and investment products. The Commission's investigation confirmed that the proposed transaction would not significantly alter the market structure and that upon completion there would be a sufficient number of competitors remaining on the markets concerned, including recent market entrants. The transaction 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.6883 .
Commission clears the acquisition by Borealis of Rosier and GPN
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition by Borealis AG of Austria, controlled by OMV AG and the International Petroleum Investment Company PJSC, of Rosier S.A. of Belgium and GPN S.A. of France, both of them controlled by Total Group. The parties' activities overlap in the markets for the production and sale of fertilizers, as well as on the market of industrial products, in particular aqueous ammonia and weak nitric acid. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns given the moderate market position of the Parties and the existence of other alternative suppliers in weak nitric acid and given the easiness to switch suppliers, the existence of other alternative suppliers and the competitive constraints coming from neighbouring countries in the market for aqueous ammonia. 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 under the case number M.6900 .
What Commissioners said
Speaking at the Conference "Beyond Recovery: Foundations for Inclusive Growth in Latvia" in Riga today, László Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, recalled that three out of six Country Specific Recommendations for Latvia relate to poverty, employment or education. "This shows that the Commission believes in inclusive growth and in the development of human capital as a way to achieve prosperity on a sustainable basis. Addressing employment and social challenges and investing in people is crucial for successful economies", said Andor. "It is now even more pressing to make sure that the most disadvantaged are not left behind. As the recent riots in Stockholm have shown, if we don't act to improve the lives of the most disadvantaged in our societies, the consequences can be far-reaching. Economic growth can only be sustainable if it is truly inclusive."