Daily News of 2013-08-13
European Commission - MEX/13/0813 13/08/2013
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EXME 13 / 13.08
13 / 08 / 13
A total of €180 million of EU agricultural policy funds, unduly spent by Member States, is being claimed back by the European Commission today under the so-called clearance of accounts procedure. However, because some of these amounts have already been recovered from the Member States the financial impact of today's decision will be some €169 million. This money returns to the EU budget because of non-compliance with EU rules or inadequate control procedures on agricultural expenditure. Member States are responsible for paying out and checking expenditure under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and the Commission is required to ensure that Member States have made correct use of the funds.
Europeans are increasingly eager for new technologies as shown by the latest EU-wide survey. While Europeans are open to the opportunities offered by new tools & services, as illustrated by the figures for new internet subscriptions and use of the internet for making voice calls, they still think twice before picking up the phone or going online because of the cost of these services.
The European Commission has invoked the EU review mechanism in the case of plans by the Italian telecoms regulator (AGCOM) to change current wholesale broadband prices, as such changes would negatively affect operators' ability to plan and decide on their prices in Italy.
More specifically, the Commission has concerns that AGCOM's recent decision to set 2013 prices based on its previous market review contradicts its own announcement of October 2012 that new prices will result from the new market analysis. As access prices should reflect most recent available cost information, the Commission believes that AGCOM should have set the prices on the basis of its more recent and reliable full market analysis. The Commission, in close cooperation with BEREC will, over the next three months, discuss with AGCOM how to amend its proposal.
European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes said: "In departing from the approach announced last year for setting access prices in the Italian broadband markets, AGCOM undermines the required regulatory certainty for all market players. Regulation must aim at creating a level playing field for all operators."
The European Commission has suspended a proposal from the Portuguese telecoms regulator (ANACOM) concerning regulatory remedies for the fixed termination market as it has serious concerns on the scope of the proposed access obligation.
The Commission is particularly worried that the lack of a comprehensive access obligation, including for instance interconnection through an IP network - which is standard in most other Member States - would not allow for a swift resolution of access problems and could leave consumers unable to make calls to other networks. ANACOM's proposal could also make it possible for fixed operators to refuse or delay access to a part of their networks in an attempt to eliminate their direct competitors from the market.
Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, said: "Consumers must be able to make the calls they wish. For this reason, where we have a monopoly situation like in fixed termination markets, we need to guarantee access to the network for all operators and all consumers."
In June 2013 compared with May 2013, seasonally adjusted industrial production grew by 0.7% in the euro area (EA17) and by 0.9% in the EU27, according to estimates released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In May production decreased by 0.2% and 0.4% respectively. In June 2013 compared with June 20124, industrial production increased by 0.3% in the euro area and by 0.4% in the EU27.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Chesapeake Paperboard Business by Carlyle Group
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of the Chesapeake Paperboard Business of Luxembourg by The Carlyle Group of the US. The Chesapeake Paperboard Business manufactures and sells paper-based packaging solutions. Carlyle is a global alternative asset manager. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns. 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.6998 .