Daily News of 2013-07-25
European Commission - MEX/13/0725 25/07/2013
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EXME 13 / 25.07
25 / 07 / 13
President Barroso sent a message of condolences to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain, after the train accident in Spain. President Barroso said: "I am deeply saddened by the terrible train accident that took place yesterday evening near Santiago de Compostela. Such a serious accident, with so many people dead and injured, is a tragedy for Spain and provokes such deep emotions. In these difficult circumstances I feel very close to all Spanish people. Personally, and on behalf of the European Commission, I would like to send our most sincere condolences and express our solidarity and support to the families of the victims and those injured."
Today, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn presents the Commission proposal to change the European Solidarity Fund (EUSF). The proposed reform will significantly improve the way the fund works. Since the creation of the EUSF in 2002, 23 European countries were supported for more than 3.2 billion EUR. However the fund needs to be reformed to better make it faster and simpler to use for disaster-stricken countries and regions. Commissioner Hahn: "We must be more responsive so that countries get financial support quicker in order to achieve a speedy recovery. The proposal is a clear expression of solidarity for Member States and regions in need. The reform will make the solidarity fund faster, clearer, more responsive and simpler to use. I urge the European Parliament and Member States to approve this proposal as quickly as possible in order to implement a Solidarity Fund that will work more efficiently and effectively". There will be a press statement by Commissioner Hahn at 12.00 in the press-room of the Berlaymont which will also be covered by EBS. Experts of DG REGIO will be present after the statement to respond to more technical questions. See also MEMO/13/723 .
As European holidaymakers head to the beach and mountains for their ritual summer holidays, new figures show virtually none of them will have 4G access when they arrive. Three out of every four people living in the EU can’t access 4G/LTE mobile connections in their hometowns, and virtually no rural area has 4G. In the United States over 90% of people have 4G access.
The European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Ms. Maria Damanaki initialled today a 4-year Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA) with the Moroccan Minister for Agriculture and Maritime Fisheries, Mr. Aziz Akhannouch. Commissioner Damanaki stated: "This is an important moment for EU and Moroccan fisheries. This deal will ensure a sustainable future for the sector locally and it represents good value for money. The new protocol is in line with the principles of the reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy, by ensuring responsible international fisheries governance ". A large number of Member States (Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Netherlands, Ireland, Poland and United Kingdom) have an interest in the FPA with Morocco.
Commission proposes to increase funding for European Social Fund
The Commission has proposed today an amending budget to increase funding for the European Social Fund. The funding will support EU's efforts to combat unemployment, in particular youth unemployment, poverty and social exclusion and thus strengthen the economic, social and territorial cohesion of the Union. This amending budget is a result of the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework agreement and sets the technical details to accommodate the increase. The Commission's proposal amounts to EUR 150 million in commitments. Member States contribution to 2013 budget will not be affected by this amendment. The document is available here .
The European Commission has adopted a decision that renders legally binding the commitments offered by Penguin (United Kingdom), in the context of the Commission's investigation regarding the sale of e-books in the European Economic Area (EEA). The Commission had concerns that Penguin, together with four other publishers - Simon & Schuster (CBS Corp., USA), HarperCollins (News Corp., USA), Hachette Livre (Lagardère Publishing, France), Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck (Germany; owner of inter alia Macmillan) - and Apple may have contrived to limit retail price competition for e-books in the EEA, in breach of EU antitrust rules.
The European Commission has concluded that the restructuring plan of the Spanish bank Banco Gallego is in line with EU state aid rules, in particular because it ensures its return to long-term viability without continued state support as a part of Banco Sabadell, while foreseeing a sufficient own contribution to the cost of restructuring.
Commission approves prolongation of Greek bank guarantee and bond loan schemes
The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, the prolongation of a guarantee and a bond loan scheme for credit institutions in Greece until 31 December 2013. The purpose of the schemes is to facilitate credit institutions' access to funding. The Commission originally approved the schemes in November 2008 (see IP/08/1742). They were prolonged several times, last prolongation of the scheme was on 22 January 2013 (see MEX/13/0122). The Commission found the prolongation of the measures to be in line with its guidance on support measures for banks during the financial crisis. The prolonged measures are targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. The Commission has, therefore, concluded that they represent an appropriate means of remedying a serious disturbance in the Greek economy and are as such compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU). During the application of the extraordinary crisis rules for state aid to banks, the Commission is authorising guarantee schemes on banks’ liabilities for periods of six months in order to be able to monitor developments and adjust conditions accordingly.
Commission approves second prolongation of Cypriot bank guarantee scheme
The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, the second prolongation of a Cyprus guarantee scheme for credit institutions until 31 December 2013. The purpose of the scheme is to facilitate credit institutions' access to funding. The original scheme was approved on 6 November 2012 (see IP/12/1171) and a first prolongation on 22 January 2013 (see MEX/13/0122) . The Commission found the prolongation of the measure to be in line with its guidance on support measures for banks during the financial crisis. The prolonged measure is targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. The Commission has, therefore, concluded that the guarantee scheme represents an appropriate means of remedying a serious disturbance in the Cyprus economy and as such, is compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU). During the application of the extraordinary crisis rules for state aid to banks, the Commission is authorising guarantee schemes on banks’ liabilities for periods of six months in order to be able to monitor developments and adjust conditions accordingly.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of CeramTec by Cinven
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of CeramTec of Germany by Cinven of Guernsey. CeramTec is a global producer of high-performance advanced ceramic materials and products for use in a wide variety of applications, including in the automotive, electronics, industrial and medical sectors. Cinven is a private equity business that provides investment management services to a number of investment funds. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, because none of the Cinven controlled portfolio companies are active in the same markets as CeramTec, nor in a market directly upstream or downstream. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.6980 .
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over UK cinema operator Vue by Canadian investment funds Omers and AIMCo
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of joint control over the cinema operator Vue International Limited of the UK by Omers Administration Corporation and Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo), both of Canada. OMERS administers a leading Canadian pension fund, managing a diversified global portfolio of stocks and bonds as well as real estate, infrastructure and private equity investments. AIMCo is an institutional investment fund manager investing globally on behalf of its clients, various pension, endowment and government funds in the Canadian province of Alberta. VUE operates cinemas in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Taiwan. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would not raise competition concerns, in particular because the parties' activities do not overlap. 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.6977 .
Food safety: Commissioner Borg thanks Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle for her active and solid contribution to EFSA's work
Following yesterday's announcement by the French Government to appoint Catherine GesIain-Lanéelle as the next Directrice générale des politiques agricole, agroalimentaire et des territoires at the Ministère de l’agriculture, de l’agroalimentaire et de la forêt, Commissioner for Health Tonio Borg commented: "Under Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle's leadership since 2006, EFSA's role as an independent scientific risk assessor for food and feed safety has attained international recognition. EFSA has become a mature agency and delivers annually around 700 scientific outputs. It has improved its organisation and achieved a high level of independence, while preserving a high quality of scientific expertise. I thank Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle for her professionalism and dedication in bringing forward our shared goal to ensure a high standard of food safety and health protection in Europe. I wish her every success in her new position." Next steps : The procedure to appoint a successor will be launched by the European Commission through a call for expressions of interest published in the EU Official Journal. A list of candidates will be drawn up by the Commission which will be submitted to the EFSA Management Board. Before appointment, the candidate nominated by the Management Board will appear before the European Parliament to make a statement and answer questions put by members of the European Parliament. The appointment shall be for a period of five years and is renewable.
L'Union européenne a décidé de financer à hauteur de €5.5 millions un nouveau programme pour que les femmes enceintes et les enfants de moins de 5 ans aient plus facilement accès aux soins de santé de base en Guinée-Bissau. Le programme assurera pendant une première phase de 36 mois la disponibilité de médicaments dans les centres ruraux de santé; il facilitera aussi le travail quotidien du personnel soignant en améliorant sa formation et en fournissant du matériel. Tenant compte du fait que 52% de la population vit à plus de 5 km d'un centre de santé, ce programme inclut la formation aux soins de base de membres des communautés villageoises les plus éloignées pour répondre aux besoins immédiats. M. Andris Piebalgs, le Commissaire au Développement a dit: "Trop souvent la grossesse et l'accouchement constituent un risque pour les femmes de Guinée Bissau, et trop d'enfants de ce pays subissent les effets de la malnutrition et du manque de soins. Avec une meilleure protection des femmes et des enfants, un meilleur accès aux soins, l'Union européenne veut promouvoir un réel changement pour les générations actuelles et futures."
Green light for European satellite navigation: Yesterday, in a public demonstration in Fucino, Italy, European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani announced a successful position fix on the basis of the EU’s current four Galileo satellites. This position fix of longitude, latitude and altitude is concrete proof of the ability of Galileo - the European Commission’s programme to develop a global satellite navigation system under European civilian control - to provide highly accurate positioning data of cars or other objects. Tajani also announced that further satellite launches will bring first services by the end of 2014. They will result in an improved GPS signal and - with more precision, coverage and availability of satellite navigation signals - a whole new array of business opportunities will arise. As the benefits of Galileo are becoming tangible, providers of services and products using data from Galileo need to start preparing for these future market opportunities right now. See also MEMO/13/718 . Rediffusion