Daily News of 2013-10-10
European Commission - MEX/13/1010 10/10/2013
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EXME 13 / 10.10
10 / 10 / 13
The EU has today requested a dispute settlement panel at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to rule on the legality of the so-called ‘recycling fee’ which Russia imposes on imported vehicles. This is the next step under WTO litigation procedures, after the EU has held formal consultations with Russia in July this year. The fee, which the EU considers discriminatory towards imports, has a severe impact on EU vehicle exports to Russia, worth €10 billion a year. The EU has repeatedly raised the issue in bilateral talks with Russia, and then in formal WTO consultations. However, more than a year after the fee was introduced, the discrimination continues.
President Barroso speaks at the European Commission conference on Restoring socio-economic convergence in Europe today, elaborating on his view that safeguarding the essence of Europe's social model was one of the main elements of our crisis response and has always been one of the fundamental goals of European unification. As last week's communication on the social dimension of the EMU made clear, Europe can and must do more to strengthen social integration and institutions in view of the social fallout from the crisis and in line with reinforced economic governance. Speech will be available later this afternoon.
Suite au décès de M. Wilfried Martens, ancien Premier ministre belge, le président Barroso a envoyé un message de condoléance. Il a déclaré: "C'est avec grande émotion que je viens d'apprendre ce matin le décès de Wilfried Martens, grand homme d'Etat belge et européen pendant de nombreuses années. L'Europe a perdu un homme de conviction et de fortes valeurs, qui restera dans nos mémoires pour avoir réuni les gens afin de forger un consensus, dans son pays natal comme en Europe. Il est toujours resté fidèle à son engagement envers une Union européenne plus forte et plus approfondie et c'est un grand privilège d'avoir eu l'occasion de travailler depuis de nombreuses années en étroite collaboration avec un homme avec qui j'ai partagé ces valeurs, cette conviction et cette ambition pour l'Europe." Lees de boodschap in het Nederlands
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over London Luton Airport by AENA Internacional and AXA PE
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over London Luton Airport Group Limited of the UK ("the target") by AENA Desarrollo Internacional, S.A. of Spain and AXA Investment Managers Private Equity, S.A. of France. AENA Internacional manages airports in Spain, while AXA PE is active in private equity investment. As the target operates the London Luton airport, the Commission assessed the effects of the proposed transaction on the markets for navigation services, airport infrastructure services as well as on the market for automatic handling material systems. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns. Indeed the merged entity would not be able to shut out suppliers given its limited market shares, nor would it also be able to shut out customers because the target operates a single airport in the whole European Economic Area (EEA). The operation has been 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.7008 .
European Parliament to vote on a European Border Surveillance System
Today the European Parliament will vote on the European Commission's proposal for a Regulation establishing the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR). Once formally adopted, the new system should be operational before the end of the year. EUROSUR will equip EU authorities with better tools to fight serious crimes, such as drug trafficking and human smuggling. EUROSUR also has the clear objective of making a serious contribution to the protection and saving of lives of migrants trying to reach European shores by sea and thus will help to diminish the unacceptable death toll. For more information: MEMO/13/563 (the link will be active once the vote has taken place).
Today Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment, and Lithuanian Environment Minister Valentinas Mazuronis signed on behalf of the European Union the Minamata Convention on Mercury, in the Japanese town of Kumamoto The Convention is the first new multilateral environmental agreement to be signed for more than ten years. The new Convention, which is named after the location of the worst-ever case of mercury pollution, covers all aspects of the mercury life cycle. Once properly implemented, it will have genuinely global effects, as mercury pollution travels long distances in the air. Pregnant women, infants and children are at particular risk from mercury in the food-chain, and the Convention will bring about significant decreases to their exposure to this toxic substance in the long term.
Quality agricultural products: "Carn d’Andorra" receives protected status in the EU
Financial Discipline: 4.0% reduction in CAP Direct payments in 2014 budget year
This year's CAP Direct payments will be reduced by 4.00% [4.001079%] because the available budget is €1.47bn below budgetary requirements, according to a European Commission decision taken today. A threshold will apply to exempt the first €2000 from this "Financial Discipline" instrument. An amending letter to the 2014 draft budget, aimed at updating forecast budget requirements, is expected in mid-October, and in this context the Commission may propose to the Council to adapt the percentage reduction to be applied. The Financial Discipline mechanism was first established in the 2003 CAP reform to ensure that the programmed phasing-in of Direct Payments in the EU-12 or any unexpected market spending did not breach the budget ceilings set in the 2007-2013 EU multiannual financial framework. However, it was not triggered in that period. With the real-term reduction in the CAP amounts for the 2014-2020 period and the move within the MFF to fund the new agricultural Crisis Reserve (of €424m a year) from within the CAP 1st Pillar envelope, the mechanism has now been triggered for the 2014 budget year. The Commission made its initial proposal for Financial Discipline at the end of March (see IP/13/297). The rules required the Parliament and the Council to reach agreement on the original March proposal by the end of June, otherwise the power for adopting Financial Discipline would pass back to the Commission. As the 2 co-legislators could not reach agreement in time, the Commission is today fulfilling its responsibility through an implementing regulation, in line with the CAP reform and the initial proposal.
House prices, as measured by the House Price Index (HPI), fell by 2.2% in the euro area and by 1.3% in the EU in the second quarter of 2013 compared with the same quarter of the previous year, according to data published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Compared with the first quarter of 2013, house prices rose by 0.3% in the euro area and by 0.4% in the EU in the second quarter of 2013.
Commissioner Dacian Cioloş in the Republic of Moldova
European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş, will be in the Republic of Moldova on 11 and 12 October 2013 at the invitation of the Government in Chișinău. Commissioner Cioloş will in particular have bilateral meetings in Chișinău with the President of the Republic of Moldova Nicolae Timofti, with Prime Minister Iurie Leancă, with the Speaker of the Parliament Igor Corman and the Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry Vasile Bumacov . The visit takes place in the context of the Republic of Moldova's preparation for the initialling of the Association Agreement with the European Union, foreseen to take place at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in November 2013. "Bringing the Republic of Moldova closer to the European Union, through its accession to the European market, will not only create jobs but also improve citizens' life. With the conclusion of the Association Agreement, the Republic of Moldova will have real opportunities for economic development through unrestricted access to a market of more than half a billion consumers", stated Commissioner Cioloş before the visit. At the beginning of October, the European Commission proposed to the Council and the European Parliament to fully open the European Union's market to wine imports from the Republic of Moldova, in advance of the envisaged application of the EU - Republic of Moldova Association Agreement and the related Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). More information .
Commissioner Piebalgs to take part in the World Bank-International Monetary Fund Annual Meeting
Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, will this week take part (10-12 October) in the World Bank-International Monetary Fund Annual meetings in Washington DC. During his visit, the Commissioner will address the Development Committee (a ministerial-level Steering Committee of the World Bank Group). He will speak about questions related to the development agenda post-2015 (once the Millennium Development Goals reach their target date), seeking ways to bring together goals and targets on poverty reduction, and sustainable development in one universal framework. Commissioner Piebalgs will also reflect on the strengthened partnership with the World Bank on Africa, in particular Mali and Somalia, and will take part in a high-level discussion on why gender, specifically gender-based violence, should be a standalone goal in the post-2015 framework. Furthermore, the Development Commissioner will hold a series of bilateral meetings. Amongst others, he will meet with Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice-President for Africa, Nemat Shafik, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Deputy Managing Director and Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank. Info on the event here
Brazil is a key market for European business. Brazil is the EU's largest trading partner in Latin America: in 2011 Brazil's trade with the EU accounted for 37% of the EU's total trade with the region, and 43% of all EU's investments in Latin America went to Brazil. But the wealth of opportunities in this vibrant and growing economy are hindered by a series of challenges to both EU and Brazilian companies. European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani will therefore travel to Brasilia today 10 October to hold discussions exploring opportunities for industrial cooperation between the EU and Brazil. The EU seeks to further enhance business opportunities with Brazil during a meeting of a dedicated EU-Brazil working group, established as a pragmatic way of looking at how to further underpin the important economic bonds between Brazil and the EU. The Group, chaired by Vice-President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship, works in close liaison with the European Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht, and the Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.
What Commissioners said
Yesterday, President Barroso visited Lampedusa to pay tribute to victims and to show solidarity through concrete action and funding. He stressed that he will never forget the image of hundreds of coffins. He announced that the Commission is ready to mobilise additional funding of up to €30 million still in 2013 to help refugees in Italy. "We in the European Commission, believe that the European Union cannot accept that thousands of people die at its borders. The challenges that Lampedusa and Italy are facing are European challenges," said President Barroso at a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Letta, Minister Alfano and Commissioner Malmström and promised that the Commission will do all it can, with the means it has, to help changing the situation. He also expressed gratitude to those countries that are receiving many refugees and called for burden sharing among Member States.
President Barroso outlined the achievements so far and urged to step up action in the fields of work migration and asylum. "To find answers to these common challenges, we all need to work together, in a spirit of solidarity and responsibility," said the President and concluded that "this is in our genuine European interest and we expect Member States to act accordingly". Read more on current activities of the EU action in the fields of migration and asylum . Read the speeches of President Barroso SPEECH/13/792 and Commissioner Malmström SPEECH/13/799 .
"We face today unprecedented employment and social divergence within the European Union, and these gaps are even more amongst Euro area Member States. Employment and social disparities are so profound that they not only affect the socio-economic situation of specific Member States, but they also threaten the stability of the monetary union as a whole", said László Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, at a Brussels conference organised by the Commission on "Restoring socio-economic convergence in Europe" today. Andor recalled the Commission's Communication on Social Dimension of the EMU, which proposes to introduce a scoreboard enabling key employment and social problems in the EMU to be detected and addressed in a more focused and direct way (see IP/13/893) , MEMO/13/837). Andor concluded "we need to detect and act in a timely way on major employment and social imbalances and challenges. This is crucial for the sustainability, legitimacy but also the economic performance of the EMU".