Daily News of 2013-12-13
European Commission - MEX/13/1213 13/12/2013
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EXME 13 / 13.12
13 / 12 / 13
Commission publishes final review of programme for Ireland – gives green light for final disbursement
Today the Commission adopted a decision authorising the final disbursement under the financial assistance programme for Ireland. The disbursement amounts to €0.8 billion (from the EFSM) out of a total of €67.5 made available over the past three years from the EFSM, the EFSF, the IMF and bilateral loans. Alongside European lenders, the IMF will also disburse the last payment of €0.6 billion under the programme. In parallel, the Commission publishes the 12th and final report reviewing implementation of the EU-IMF financial assistance programme for Ireland. The report gives an overview of the country's very good programme performance over the last three years and details recent economic developments and outlook for Ireland. The final review mission (that took place in Dublin 29 October – 7 November) concluded that programme implementation remains robust overall, although there remain domestic vulnerabilities and external risks which require on-going commitment from the authorities to reforms after the programme expires.
President Barroso said (full statement here): "I congratulate the Irish government and the Irish people for this achievement. Thanks to their efforts and sacrifices, Ireland will now be able to finance itself through its own efforts. Today's result would not have been possible without the solidarity and significant financial support of the other EU Member States. I would also like to pay tribute the efforts and contribution of the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund to the wide-ranging reform programme, which has now been successfully completed."
Vice-President Rehn said following the last Eurogroup, "the successful conclusion of the Irish programme is a strong signal that our common response to the crisis is delivering results."
For more information:
Today the Commission proposed a framework to harmonise customs infringements and align the 28 national sets of related sanctions. The proposed Directive sets out acts that must be considered infringements of the Union's customs rules, as well as a framework for imposing sanctions when these occur.
The Product Market Review (PMR) is published every two years by the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs of the European Commission. It focuses on the impact of product market reforms on economic performance. This edition's focus is on the interaction between the real economy and the financial sector. It explores the extent to which the crisis in the financial sector casts a shadow on economic activity. For more information: http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/european_economy/2013/ee8_en.htm
Best practices for anticipating company restructuring and minimising their impact on workers and social conditions have been outlined today by the European Commission in the form of an EU Quality Framework for anticipation of Change and Restructuring (QFR). The Quality Framework offers guidance to companies, workers, trade unions, employers' organisations and public administrations in order to facilitate the process of restructuring for businesses and workers via better anticipation and investment in human capital, while minimising the social impact. The Commission urges Member States to support and promote the implementation of the Quality Framework, and to consider applying it to public sector employees. It also calls on all stakeholders to cooperate on the basis of these guidelines. "In the context of "In the context of the current economic crisis, it is more necessary than ever to ensure that company restructuring is managed in a responsible way to minimise the social cost", said László Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. "I urge companies, trade unions, workers and public administrations to work together on the basis of this Quality Framework in order to better foresee future labour and skills needs, and to help workers back into work when redundancies are unavoidable. I call on Member States to apply these principles that will help us to meet the targets in the Europe 2020 strategy".
Employment: EU Globalisation Fund pays €840,000 to help 300 redundant workers in building materials industry in Comunidad Valenciana (Spain).
The European Commission has made a payment to Spain from the European Globalisation adjustment Fund (EGF). The total amount of €840,000 will help 300 workers back into employment, following their dismissal in the manufacture of building materials sector. The Commission had made the EGF support proposal on 16 September 2013 (see IP/13/835), which has been approved by the European Parliament and the Council on 20 November 2013.
The EU will today confirm that it will provide €12.5 million through the African Peace Facility to improve the management of African-led peace support operations. These funds will concretely support the establishment of a 'Command, Control, Communication and Information System' (C3IS) over a period of 2 years. The C3IS will provide secure data, voice and video services through satellite communication between the African Union, the sub-regional organisations and the peace missions deployed at country level. It will also provide IT systems to convey orders, generate reports and maps for the management of the operations on the ground. This way, the new EU funds will contribute to better equipping African regional organisations in the area of peace of security.
In 2008/2009, the Commission adopted a temporary state aid framework to enable Member States to deal with financial problems in systemic banks, as well as support access to finance for real economy firms. The crisis rules for banks, which were tightened in July and December 2010, extended on 1 December 2011, were adapted as from 1 August 2013. The Temporary Framework for state aid measures to support access to finance in the current financial and economic crisis expired in December 2011.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of NHL by CBRE
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Norland Holdings Limited ("NHL") of the United Kingdom, by CBRE Group, Inc. ("CBRE") of the United States. NHL is a facilities management services provider active in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Singapore and the United States. CBRE is active in the real estate sector in several countries including the United Kingdom and Ireland where it also provides facilities management services sourced in from third parties. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, because of the low individual and combined market shares of the parties in all the markets concerned. 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.7085 .
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of two plants of RIO TINTO ALCAN by TRIMET and EDF
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over two aluminium production facilities located in France of the RIO TINTO ALCAN group (RTA) by the TRIMET group of Germany and Electricité de France S.A. (EDF) of France. TRIMET manufactures aluminium including extrusion billets, rolling ingots, remelting ingots, liquid aluminium and die-cast parts, trades aluminium products and scraps as well as copper products. EDF is active in Europe and mainly in France in the generation, wholesale, transmission, distribution and retail supply of electricity and the wholesale and retail of natural gas. RTA produces aluminium products in France. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, in particular because the overlaps between the parties' activities are moderate. 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.7019 .
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Grohe Group by LIXIL and DBJ
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Grohe Group of Luxembourg by LIXIL Group Corporation of Japan and Development Bank of Japan Inc.of Japan. Grohe is a supplier of water technology products for bathrooms and kitchens, in particular of sanitary fittings (such as faucets, showers and shower systems) and behind-the-wall flushing and installation systems. LIXIL is a supplier of building materials and housing equipment, including sanitary products. DBJ is a state-owned financial institution active in the banking sector. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, in particular because there are only minimal overlaps between the activities carried out by the parties. 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.7092 .
The number of persons employed remained stable in both the euro area (EA17) and the EU28 in the third quarter of 2013 compared with the previous quarter, according to national accounts estimates published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the second quarter of 2013, employment was also stable in both zones. These figures are seasonally adjusted. Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, employment fell by 0.8% in the euro area and by 0.3% in the EU28 in the third quarter of 2013 (after -1.1% and -0.6% respectively in the second quarter of 2013). Eurostat estimates that, in the third quarter of 2013, 223.2 million men and women were employed in the EU28, of which 145.0 million were in the euro area. These figures are seasonally adjusted.
EU28 real agricultural income per worker has decreased by 1.3% in 2013, after an increase of 0.3% in 2012, according to first estimates2 issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. This decrease results from a fall in real agricultural income (-2.1%), together with a reduction in agricultural labour input (-0.9%). These estimates for the EU28 are based on data supplied by the national authorities in the Member States. Between 2005 and 2013, EU28 real agricultural income per worker is estimated to have increased by 29.2%, while agricultural labour input has fallen by 20.8%. The decrease in EU28 real agricultural income in 2013 is mainly the result of higher increase in real terms in input costs (+0.8%) than in the value of the output of the agricultural sector at producer prices (+0.1%). Real agricultural income per worker in 2013 is estimated to have risen in fifteen Member States and fallen in thirteen. The highest increases are expected in the Netherlands (+11.4%), Romania (+10.4%), Spain (+10.0%) and Italy (+8.9%), and the steepest decreases in Estonia (-17.2%), France (-16.4%), Croatia (-16.2%) and Germany (-10.0%).
Two consultations on EU tourism policies launched
The European Commission has launched two public consultations on the future of European Tourism and on reducing administrative burden for the sector.
1. The European Tourism of the Future: The main objective of this consultation is to better identify the key challenges and opportunities for the European tourism industry. More information
2. Regulatory and Administrative Framework on Tourism Businesses: Tourism is also regulated by non-legislative acts, standards, guidelines and administrative practices. Therefore, the objective of this public consultation is to identify all the EU, national, regional and local policy initiatives (legislative or not) and administrative practices, where there may still be scope for further reducing the burden for SMEs, and in particular for micro businesses, as well as for EU tourism destinations, public administrations and tourists visiting EU Member States from within or outside Europe. More information
President Barroso visits Panama today and tomorrow
The European Commission President will first meet President Martinelli in Panama City to discuss bilateral issues and to sign the EU-Panama agreement on security (scheduled at 16:45 Brussels time). The joint press conference of the Presidents is scheduled for 17:00 Brussels time.
President Barroso will afterwards travel to Buenaventura to attend the EU-SICA (Sistema de Integración Centroamericano) summit. The EU will be granted the status of observer to SICA. A press conference by President Barroso is scheduled at 01:00 Brussels time.
On Saturday December 14, President Barroso participates in the 42nd Summit of SICA, with six Central American countries with whom the EU has concluded its first ever region-to-region association agreement (Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala), plus two other SICA members, Belize and Dominican Republic, that belong to the group of ACP countries.
On the same day, President Barroso will also visit the works of expansion of the Panama Canal scheduled to be completed by 2015. The expansion aims to double the cargo going through the canal which was first opened in 1914. The international trade and the maritime industry will benefit directly from the expansion through lower shipping costs, and global consumers will eventually benefit from the greater capacity and efficiency of the Panama Canal.
President Barroso’s speeches will be made available after delivery.
Supporting consumers in the energy market
Across Europe consumers are increasingly seeking to shape the domestic energy market and the European Commission is working with them to achieve this. This is the main message that Commissioner for Consumer Policy, Neven Mimica, will deliver to the Citizen's Energy Forum in London on 16th December. There are two core challenges to be addressed: First, making sure that consumers trust the market by ensuring that their rights are respected and enforced; Second, ensuring transparency and giving consumers the tools to look for the offer that best suits their individual needs. The Commissioner's intervention and the subsequent discussions in the forum will study these issues in more detail. From clearer billing information, to facilitating switching the focus will be on helping consumers find the best deal for them. For information on the Citizens’ Energy Forum: http://ec.europa.eu/energy/gas_electricity/forum_citizen_energy_en.htm . For information on energy and consumers in DG SANCO: http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/citizen/my_rights/energy_en.htm
Shoppers across Europe now have a new set of consumer rights, with today marking the deadline for Member States to introduce the European Union’s Consumer Rights Directive into national law. The new rules will for example ensure an EU-wide withdrawal period of 14 days meaning that consumers can return goods for whatever reason if they change their minds. Vice-President Reding said: "The new rules on consumer rights are excellent news for Europe's 507 million consumers: No more pre-ticked boxes when you buy a plane ticket and no more rip-offs when you are paying with your credit card online - this is Europe's Christmas present ahead of the holidays."
The Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting of December 2013 will take place in Brussels on 16-17th December 2013. The Commission will be represented by Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, Health Commissioner Tonio Borg, and Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş. A press conference on agriculture points will be held at the end of the discussions on Monday around midday and on fisheries points at the end of the Council meeting. The public debates and the press conferences can be followed by video streaming: http://video.consilium.europa.eu .
After a full review of the Joint Transparency Register, which lists all groups and organisations wishing to influence the decision making process at the European Parliament and the European Commission, a working group of the EP Bureau and the Commission has come up with some 30 immediate improvements including strong incentives to encourage organisations to register.
On 1 January 2014, Ms Angela Filote will take up office as Head of Representation in Romania. With over 20 years' experience in corporate communication management, Ms Filote worked in Romania, Turkey and Egypt before arriving at the European Commission's headquarters in Brussels in 2010.
Commissioners' weekly activities
Upcoming Commission activities for the weeks ahead
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