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Daily News of 2013-12-16

European Commission - MEX/13/1216   16/12/2013

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EXME 13 / 16.12

DAILY NEWS

16 / 12 / 13

EU triples funding for rail research and innovation

The European Commission today adopted "Shift to Rail", an almost €1 billion programme of research and innovation to get more passengers and freight onto Europe's railways. Rail is amongst the most efficient and climate-friendly forms of transport, but currently it only carries about 10% of European cargo and 6% of passengers each year. "Shift2Rail" is an ambitious public-private partnership which will manage a 7-year work programme of targeted research and innovation to support the development of better rail services in Europe. This research is crucial to delivering the Single European Railway Area and to supporting the competitiveness of the rail sector as a whole, creating jobs and boosting exports. The project will involve virtually all of Europe’s rail industry suppliers, including innovative small and medium enterprises, to accelerate the development of new technologies and bring them to the market.

On the Road to Recovery: EU Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn approves Greece's major motorway projects

EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, has approved today EU financial support worth € 2.97 billion to allow the building of four motorways in Greece.  Following the positive vote in the Greek Parliament Commissioner Hahn said: "I am pleased to approve these investments among the most important infrastructure projects in Greece – which will be central to the country's economic recovery, connecting its regions with fast and safe motorways." The motorways have been identified as "priority projects" by the European Commission and the Greek authorities: key to creating jobs and to the development of the country and its regions. It is expected that more than 6 000 jobs will be created during the building of the motorways. The projects should be completed by the end of 2015, with around 1 700 people then employed in managing them. The Commission has also found that the financial support granted by Greece is in line with EU state aid rules.

Other news

Commission presents roadmap for completing the single market for parcel delivery

Christmas season is a time when more people than usual are sending parcels, and the delivery market is being put to the test. The Commission has today adopted a communication on completing the single market for parcel delivery to boost e-commerce in the EU, and to ensure that e-retailers and consumers have access to affordable and high-quality parcel delivery services. Internal Market and Services Commissioner Michel Barnier said: "The e-commerce driven parcel delivery market is characterised by rapid growth and innovation, but also by signs of some market failures, particularly in the area of cross-border delivery. Further action is required to provide e-retailers and consumers with high-quality, accessible and affordable parcel delivery services, taking due account of the needs of SMEs and of less-advanced or accessible regions. The industry is leading the effort, but we expect results soon and will follow up so that commitments are met." (For more information see MEMO/13/1151).

President Barroso congratulates Austrian Federal Chancellor Werner Faymann on his new term of office

The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, today sent a message of congratulations to Werner Faymann, who was sworn in as Federal Chancellor of the Republic of Austria. The President wrote that it is with pleasure that he is looking forward to continue the close cooperation with the Chancellor in person and with his federal government. "The common challenges for Europe require a close partnership of responsibilities between the European Institutions and the governments of the Member States. I am convinced that Austria will continue to play a significant role within the European Union to perform these tasks", the President added. Read the full message here .

Cecilia Malmström signs the Readmission Agreement and launches the Visa Liberalisation Dialogue with Turkey

Today EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström, in Ankara at the invitation of the Turkish authorities, signed, with the Turkish Minister of Interior Muammer Güler, the EU-Turkey readmission agreement, and initiated, jointly with the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoğlu, the EU-Turkey Visa liberalisation dialogue. "Today is a day of historical importance. The cooperation between the European Union and Turkey has made a significant step forward. We have started two initiatives in parallel which will boost the relations between Turkey and the European Union and bring benefits for their citizens," said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over a newly created joint venture by Gestamp Eólica and Banco Santander

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control of a Spanish newly created joint venture ("JV") by Gestamp Eólica S.L. and Banco Santander S.A., both of Spain. The JV will be active in the operation of wind technology energy projects in Europe. Gestamp is active in the development, financing, construction and management of wind technology energy facilities worldwide whilst Banco Santander is a holding company of an international group of banking and finance companies operating worldwide. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would not raise competition concerns, in particular because the overlaps between the parties' activities in the markets concerned are limited. 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.7070 .

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition by Pensiondanmark holding and GDF Suez of Noordgastransport

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control by PensionDanmark Holding of Denmark and GDF SUEZ S.A. of France over Noordgastransport B.V. (“NGT”) of The Netherlands. PensionDanmark is a Danish not-for-profit, labour-market-related, life-insurance limited company. GDF SUEZ is active throughout the entire energy value chain, in electricity and natural gas both inside and outside the European Union. NGT provides transport and treatment services on its subsea gas transportation pipelines and onshore treatment facilities in the Netherlands. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure, as there are only minor overlaps between the activities of the Parties to the concentration. More information is available on the Commission's competition website in the public case register under the case number M.7106 .

Mergers: Commission approves creation of a joint venture by Ferrostaal Industrieanlagen and Rheinmetall

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of Rheinmetall International Engineering, a joint venture between Rheinmetall Germany and Ferrostaal Industrieanlagen, both of Germany.  Rheinmetall is active in the manufacturing of automotive components and defence systems on a global level. Ferrostaal Industrieanlagen provides engineering, procurement and construction ("EPC") services with a focus on oil and gas exploration, as well as industrial production lines on a global level. The joint venture will take over a significant part of the activities of Ferrostaal Industrieanlagen in EPC with plans to expand into further sectors. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, because of the minor activity of the joint venture within the EEA and the limited extent of existing overlaps. 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.7077 .  

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of SZ Tower office building in Munich by AXA and Norges Bank

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over the SZ Tower office building in Munich by AXA S.A. of France and Norges Bank of Norway. AXA is a global insurance group active in life, health and other forms of insurance, as well as in investment management. Norges Bank is Norway’s central bank which also manages the investments of the Government pension fund Global. SZ Tower has an office building in Munich, Germany. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns because the parties' market shares in the real estate markets where they are both active are very limited. 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.7118

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Fender Musical Instruments by the TPG Group and Servco

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Fender Musical Instruments Corporation by the TPG Group and Servco Pacific Inc., all of the US. Fender designs, develops, manufactures and purchases musical instruments, accessories and related products for sale and distribution to wholesale and retail outlets throughout the world. TPG Group and Servco are both private investment companies.

The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, in particular because there are no 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.6981

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of controlling stake in Yamal LNG by China National Oil & Gas Exploration and Development Corporation.

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over OAO Yamal LNG of Russia by China National Oil & Gas Exploration and Development Corporation (CNODC) of China, Total E&P Yamal (Total EPY) of France and OJSC Novatek of Russia. Currently Yamal LNG is jointly controlled by Total EPY and Novatek. Through the proposed transaction CNODC will acquire a controlling stake from Novatek. Yamal LNG is active in the development and (future) exploration of hydrocarbon raw materials at the South Tambeyskoye gas and condensate field on the Yamal peninsula in Russia. CNODC has a broad range of petroleum and gas related activities on a worldwide basis. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would not raise competition concerns, in particular because the overlaps between the parties' activities in the markets concerned are limited. 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.7066 .  

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Alexander Mann Solutions by New Mountain Capital

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Newincco 780 Limited, the holding company of a group trading as Alexander Mann Solutions by New Mountain Partners IV, L.P., a fund managed by New Mountain Capital, LLC New Mountain Capital is an investment fund of the United States. Alexander Mann is headquartered in the United Kingdom and provides talent management services. The Commission assessed the effects of the proposed transaction on the markets for management consultancy, and came to the conclusion that it would not raise competition concerns because of the limited market shares of the merged entity. The operation 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.7100 .

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over 13 hotels in Germany by Starwood and Brookfield

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over 13 hotels in Germany by Starwood Capital Group Global, L.P. and Brookfield Property Partners, L.P. ("BPY"). BPY is headquartered in Bermuda and is a property company that owns, operates and invests in real estate assets. Starwood is an investment firm from the United States investing in real estate, equity and debt. The target consists of a portfolio of 13 chain hotels located in six cities in Germany (Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, Erfurt, Potsdam and Chemnitz). The Commission therefore assessed the effects of the proposed transaction on the markets for hotel accommodation services in Germany. The Commission concluded that the acquisition raised no competition concerns given the limited markets shares of the merged entity. The operation 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.7101 .

Improving Member States' accountability for the management of EU funds: New group launched to design "national declarations"

Commissioner Šemeta today opened the first session of a new working group to improve Member States' accountability in managing the EU budget, together with MEP Jan Mulder and the Lithuanian and Greek Presidencies. The group has been set up to develop a template for "national declarations". These are statements of assurance that will be issued at high national level, confirming that Member States responsibilities and obligations have been fulfilled when it comes to managing and controlling EU funds. The possibility to issue National declarations is now foreseen in the new Financial Regulation, to ensure that more ownership for the management of EU funds is taken at the highest level across Member States. Around 80% of the EU budget is under "shared management", such as agriculture, employment or regional policies, which means that Member States are first in line for dispensing, managing and checking EU spending. However, the Commission, European Parliament and Court of Auditors have repeatedly complained that Member States are not doing enough to fulfil their responsibilities in this area. The national declarations should create more accountability and incentivise better performance, thereby having a positive impact on the quality of EU spending. The Working Group will carry out detailed technical work on how such declarations should be prepared, and present a template in February 2014. It is hoped that more Member States will consider issuing national declarations from next year, to coincide with the start of the new Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020. http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/semeta/index_en.htm

October 2013 - Euro area international trade in goods surplus 17.2 bn euro - 4.3 bn euro surplus for EU28

The first estimate for the euro area (EA17) trade in goods balance with the rest of the world in October 2013 gave a 17.2 billion euro surplus, compared with +9.6 bn in October 2012. The September 2013 balance was +10.9 bn, compared with +8.6 bn in September 2012. In October 2013 compared with September 2013, seasonally adjusted exports rose by 0.2% while imports fell by 1.2%. These data3 are released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. The first estimate for the October 2013 extra-EU28 trade balance was a 4.3 bn euro surplus, compared with -10.2 bn in October 2012. In September 2013 the balance was -0.7 bn, compared with -14.7 bn in September 2012. In October 2013 compared with September 2013, seasonally adjusted exports rose by 0.5% while imports fell by 0.8%.

ICT usage in enterprises in 2013 - Social media used by 30% of enterprises in the EU28… …and almost three quarters of enterprises had a website

In 2013, almost three quarters of enterprises employing 10 persons or more in the EU28 had a website, an increase of 6 percentage points compared with 2010 (73% compared with 67%). For more than a decade there has been a shift in the content of enterprise websites from static webpages towards web applications, which include functionalities such as online ordering and links to social media. In particular, the use of social media enables enterprises to improve their image and internet presence. In the EU28, 30% of enterprises used at least one type of social media in 2013, although only 8% of enterprises had a formal policy for social media use. Looking at specific types of social media, 28% of enterprises in the EU28 used social networks (e.g. Facebook) in 2013, 11% multi-media content sharing websites (e.g. YouTube), 10% blogs or micro blogs (e.g. Twitter) and 6% wiki-based knowledge-sharing tools.


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