Daily News of 2013-10-01
European Commission - MEX/13/1001 01/10/2013
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EXME 13 / 01.10
01 / 10 / 13
The euro area (EA17) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 12.0% in August 2013, stable compared with July. The EU28 unemployment rate was 10.9%, also stable compared with July. In both zones, rates have risen compared with August 2012, when they were 11.5% and 10.6% respectively. These figures are published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.
In August 2013, 26.595 million men and women were unemployed in the EU28, of whom 19.178 million were in the euro area. Compared with July 2013, the number of persons unemployed remained nearly stable in both the EU28 and the euro area. Compared with August 2012, unemployment rose by 882 000 in the EU28 and by 895 000 in the euro area.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Morpol, the largest salmon processor in the European Economic Area (EEA), by the leading EEA salmon farmer Marine Harvest, both of Norway. The clearance is conditional upon the divestment of the majority of Morpol's salmon farming activities in Scotland. The Commission had concerns that the transaction, as originally notified, would have significantly reduced competition in the market for farming and primary processing of Scottish salmon. The commitments offered by the merging companies address these concerns.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of EWOS by Bain Capital and Altor Fund III
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of EWOS of Norway, by Bain Capital of the US and Altor Fund III of Jersey. Both Bain Capital, through its various funds, and Altor Fund III, invest in companies active in a variety of industries. EWOS produces and supplies fish feed and nutrition for farmed fish, primarily for salmon and trout. Bain Capital owns a company active in the supply of lysine and tapioca starch which are used as inputs in many different products, including fish feed. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns given the moderate market shares of the parties in the lysine and tapioca starch markets and the presence of alternative customers which use lysine and tapioca starch as inputs. 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.7015
A delegation from the European Commission, in liaison with the European Central Bank, carried out the fourth review of the financial sector assistance programme for Spain from 16 September to 27 September 2013. The International Monetary Fund also participated in the review, fulfilling its role as an independent monitor. Meetings were also attended by the European Stability Mechanism and the European Banking Authority. On the basis of the review, it can be concluded that the programme remains on track.
Five Member States - Austria, Germany, Denmark, Poland and Cyprus, - exceeded their milk quotas for deliveries in 2012/2013, and must therefore pay penalties ("superlevy") totalling roughly € 46 million. Despite the overrun of the quotas in these Member States, total EU deliveries remained well below (-6.0%) the total quota volumes, compared with -4.7% in 2011/12.
The European Commission has suspended a proposal from the Czech telecoms regulator (ČTÚ) concerning regulatory remedies for the fixed termination markets as it has serious concerns on the scope of the proposed access obligation with regard to alternative network operators.
In its proposal, ČTÚ imposes a new price regulation on fixed alternative operators, but without imposing on them a corresponding access obligation. The Commission is particularly worried that these operators might then be able to circumvent the price regulation by refusing to provide access to their competitors. That could lead to consumers being prevented from making calls to the networks of alternative operators.
New EU support to forestry in Honduras
The European Union will today sign an agreement with Honduras to provide €47m of new funding to help protect forests in the country. The project, known as Eurofor, will cost €49.1 m in total, and will help local forest communities, together with civil society groups, to better manage the forests by improving research on forestry and agro forestry and providing better employment opportunities and increased food security through access to water and sustainable forest systems (such as environmental services, effective implementation of national and local management plans, reforestation initiatives). The project will also enable those who depend on forests to make a living to better adapt to the effects of climate change, by helping them to better manage their natural resources in order to provide themselves with better living conditions and at the same time preserve biodiversity. The financial agreement will be signed by Director of Latin America and the Caribbean in the Development and Cooperation Directorate-General of the Commission, Jolita Butkeviciene, and the Honduran Minister of Forestry, Mr Suazo. Honduras has been identified as the third most vulnerable country in the world in terms of climate change. Almost half of the territory of the country is covered by forests, but they are reducing steadily and it has the highest annual deforestation rate in Latin America. This week, Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs will visit Central America to discuss future EU cooperation.
What Commissioners said
“In a time of crisis and political tensions, some countries might be tempted to find ‘opting out’ solutions. But we - the European Union – have decided to ‘opt in’. We opt in for resource efficiency. The Europe 2020 Strategy is a green growth strategy that will not only help us create a strong economy for the long-term but also offers concrete business opportunities to exit from the current crisis – and this time, in a sustainable way. Today's conference will deliver ‘wake‑up’ calls to Europe on the innovation front. Smart implementation of new policies and instruments is the key to achieving the maximum of Europe’s innovation potential. We all know why we need innovation: Current production and consumption patterns are not sustainable. We need to change them. By 2030 three billion more middle class consumers will be joining we Europeans in enjoying a better life. The cornerstones of a truly sustainable economy as described by the Resource Efficiency Roadmap are included in our proposal for a 7th Environment Action Programme. Here we have set out a vision of where we should be in the long term and we clearly identify the instruments that need to be set in place for our stated objective: "living well, within the limits of our planet".
The focus of the upcoming second round of negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) on 7-11 October is for the European Union and the United States negotiators to make progress on regulatory issues and standards. After his yesterday’s meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, Commissioner De Gucht emphasised that this is what will make TTIP different from traditional trade agreements: “Our main ambition - beyond simply reducing tariffs across the board - is to make the EU and the US regulatory systems more compatible and to help shape global rules in trade”. But be it on food safety, financial services such as the regulation of derivatives or standards for electric cars, the aim is to strive for a mutual recognition on the basis of the current standards, not to water down any regulation. “The reality is that over the last decades, Europe has seen its standards rise to a level of global excellence and leadership. And it's on this basis that both sides agree to use such a transformative process to raise their game.” He also added that “in many ways, Europe has 'been there, seen that and done that' in its early preparations during the 1980s for a Single Market.” Even if neither side had the ambition to go that far in TTIP, “our aim should still be to progressively build a more integrated transatlantic marketplace”. Commissioner De Gucht expects the negotiators to provide an outline of the regulatory and rules component of TTIP for political review in January 2014. “On that basis, the political guidance can be given to try to make a maximum of progress throughout next year." After the second round of talks on 7-11 October in Brussels, another round of negotiations is planned for December 2013 in Washington DC.