Daily News of 2013-12-19
European Commission - MEX/13/1219 19/12/2013
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MEX/ 13 /1912
19 / 12 / 13
Progress made in recent days on the Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM) and a whole host of financial files is unprecedented. Commissioner Barnier said "We are introducing revolutionary changes to Europe's financial sector. I have now delivered 28 proposals to better regulate, supervise, and govern the financial sector and a more integrated, less fragmented single market. So that taxpayers no longer foot the bill when banks make mistakes. Ending the era of massive bail-outs." Last night, the Council agreed a general approach on a Single Resolution Mechanism. With last night’s outcome, we have lived up to the calendar set by the European Council and we have reached all the milestones of the legislative work which underpins the banking union. The text agreed last night allows negotiations with the European Parliament to begin. Both institutions are committed to banking union and they will have to show flexibility to reach final agreement before the end of this legislature. After agreement on the Single Supervisory Mechanism, the first leg of the banking union, we are halfway to reaching final agreement on the SRM, which will complete the banking union. It is essential to get to the finish line to create long-lasting financial stability so banks can lend to the real economy to consolidate the economic recovery.
Together with the remarks made by Commissioner Barnier at last night press conference, we will be publishing later a revised version of a comprehensive memo presenting the reinforced regulatory framework for all EU banks and the architecture of the banking union in the Eurozone. This memo (MEMO/13/1189) is meant as an information tool and as an illustration of today technical briefing.
President Barroso will represent the European Commission at the European Council meeting today and tomorrow in Brussels. The EU leaders will discuss the Common Security and Defence Policy and Economic and Monetary Union. After the usual exchange of views with European Parliament President Martin Schulz, the Summit meeting will kick-off with an exchange of views with the Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. The European Council will then discuss priority actions to ensure the further development of a credible and effective Common Security and Defence Policy, including enhancing cooperation and strengthening the technological and industrial base for defence. Over dinner, leaders will discuss Economic and Monetary Union, including Banking Union and the Partnership for Growth, Jobs and Competitiveness.
The European Council summit will continue on Friday. EU leaders will address the remaining agenda items, which will include economic and social policy, migration flows, enlargement and recent international developments.
The EU today requested consultations with the Government of Brazil under the dispute settlement provisions of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on tax measures that discriminate against imported goods and provide prohibited support to Brazilian exporters. In recent years, Brazil has increased its use of the tax system in ways which are incompatible with its WTO obligations, providing advantages to domestic industries and sheltering them from competition. This is mainly done through selective exemptions or reductions from taxes on domestic goods. The EU has raised the issue in bilateral talks with Brasilia and in WTO bodies, but so far this has not brought progress. The EU’s decision to request WTO consultations is aimed at engaging with the Brazilian Government in consultations with a view to ensuring the respect of WTO.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Aannemingsmaatschappij CFE by Ackermans & Van Haaren
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Aannemingsmaatschappij CFE ("CFE") by Ackermans & Van Haaren (AvH). Both AvH and CFE are headquartered in Belgium and are active in a wide range of activities, comprising among others construction services, electrical and mechanical installations and real estate services. Already prior to the acquisition, AvH and CFE jointly controlled a dredging services provider, CEME. The Commission assessed the effects of the proposed transaction on competition in each of these markets and came to the conclusion that the transaction would not raise competition concerns because of the limited market shares of the merged entity in all relevant markets. 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.7089 .
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition by ENI ULX of LIVERPOOL BAY JV
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control by Eni ULX Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Eni S.p.A. of Italy over Liverpool Bay Ltd. of UK. ENI is an Italian integrated energy group operating worldwide in the activities of finding, producing, transporting, transforming and marketing oil and gas, electricity generation, petrochemicals, oilfield services, construction and engineering industries. LBL is active in the offshore production of oil and gas fields located in Liverpool Bay. 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.7096 .
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Swissport Bulgaria by Bulgarian Airways Group and Swissport
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Swissport Bulgaria AD by Bulgarian Airways Group EAD (BAG), both of Bulgaria and Swissport International AG of Switzerland. Swissport Bulgaria provides ground handling, cargo handling, and related services to airlines at the Letishte Sofia-Vrazhdebna airport in Bulgaria. BAG's core business is international and domestic air transport and related activities. Swissport provides airport ground handling, cargo handling and related services to airlines. The Commission assessed the effects of the proposed transaction on the markets for ground handling and cargo handling services in Sofia airport and the market for air transport services. The Commission found that Swissport Bulgaria will continue to face competition from other ground and cargo handlers at Sofia airport after the transaction, so that it will be unable to restrict other airlines' access to ground handling and cargo handling services. The Commission also found that besides Bulgaria Air, a sufficient number of other airlines operate at Sofia airport, so that the other ground and cargo handlers will not be deprived of an adequate customer base. The Commission thus concluded that the proposed transaction would not raise competition concerns. 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.7079 .
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Gramex and GFI by ARX and Darby
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of the Hungary-based undertakings Gramex and G.F. Investment ("GFI") by the private equity firms ARX and Darby. Gramex manufactures and distributes non-alcoholic beverages whilst GFI provides bottling services for private label manufacturers and distributors. ARX (Jersey) and Darby, which is part of the US group Franklin Resources, focus on private equity investments in Central and Eastern Europe. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns as the parties' activities do not overlap. 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_7099 .
State aid: Commission approves restructuring plan of Dutch bank insurance company SNS REAAL
The European Commission has found the restructuring plan of the Dutch bank insurance company SNS REAAL to be in line with EU state aid rules. The plan notified by the Dutch authorities will enable the company to become viable in the long term without unduly distorting competition in the EU internal market. On this basis, the Commission has concluded that the aid measures granted by the Dutch state to SNS REAAL are in line with its rules on state aid for the restructuring of banks during the crisis.
(for more information: IP/13/1280 - A. Colombani – Tel. +32 229 74513 – Mobile +32 460 75 2063)
State aid: Commission approves extension of Portuguese guarantee scheme
The European Commission has authorised, under EU State aid rules, the extension until 30 June 2014 of a guarantee scheme for credit institutions in Portugal. The scheme was initially approved in October 2008 (see IP/08/1601) and prolonged several times, the last being in August 2013 (see MEX/13/0801). The Commission found the extension of the measures to be in line with its guidance on state aid to banks during the crisis (see IP/08/1495 and IP/11/1488). In particular, the extended measure is well targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. The Commission therefore concluded that it represents an appropriate means of remedying a serious disturbance in the Portuguese economy and is as such compatible with the internal market pursuant to Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
Protected quality farm products: Commission approves 3 new applications (from Greece, UK and the first from Turkey)
The European Commission has approved the addition of 3 new quality farm products to the register of protected designations of origin (PDOs) and protected geographical indications (PGIs). These are, for Greece, " Tomataki Santorinis " ("Τοματάκι Σαντορίνης", PDO), a small tomato grown on the volcanic soil and in the specific microclimate of several islands of the Cyclades in the South Aegean Region ; for the United Kingdon, " Yorkshire Wensleydale " (PGI), a pressed cheese with a creamy-white colour made from fresh raw or pasteurised cow’s milk in Wensleydale (North Yorkshire), which dates back to the settling of Cistercian monks in the area in the 11th and 12th centuries ; and for Turkey, " Antep Baklavasi " / " Gaziantep Baklavasi ", a sweet pastry made of layers of filo pastry filled with semolina cream and Antep pistachio made in the province of Gaziantep, south-east Anatolia. " Antep Baklavasi " / " Gaziantep Baklavasi is the first Turkish product registered in the EU and the 16th non-EU food name receiving the protected status, which include for example Darjeeling tea from India. The denominations will be added to the list of more than 1,200 products already protected. More information: webpages on quality products and DOOR database of protected products.
The European Union's rules determining which countries pay less or no duty when exporting to the 28 country trade bloc, and for which products, will change on 1 January 2014. The changes to the EU's so-called "Generalised System of Preferences" (GSP) have been agreed with the European Parliament and the Council in October 2012. The GSP scheme is providing the world's poorest countries with preferential access to the EU's market of 500 million consumers. The new scheme will be focused on fewer beneficiaries (90 countries) to ensure more impact on countries most in need. At the same time, more support will be provided to countries which are serious about implementing international human rights, labour rights and environment and good governance conventions ("GSP+").
EU28 international trade in services increased in 2012, with EU28 exports of services to the rest of the world rising by 9%, from 609 billion euro in 2011 to 662 bn in 2012, and EU28 imports by 6%, from 478 bn to 509 bn. As a result, EU28 trade in services recorded a surplus of 153 bn in 2012, compared with +131 bn in 2011 and +109 bn in 2010. These data, issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, are subject to revision. The surplus in 2012 was mainly due to surpluses in "other business services", which includes miscellaneous business, professional & technical services (+64 bn euro), financial services (+32 bn), transportation and computer & information services (both +26 bn), insurance services (+13 bn), construction services (+9 bn), travel (+5 bn) and communication services (+3 bn). These surpluses were slightly offset by a deficit in royalties & licence fees (-8 bn). In 2012, the EU28 recorded surpluses in trade in services with all its main partners. The highest surpluses were observed with the EFTA countries (+31 bn euro), Russia and the USA (both +14 bn), China and Japan (both +9 bn), Brazil and Canada (both +7 bn).
Today, on the first anniversary of the creation of EU Children of Peace, Luxembourg is the first Member State to join the EU Children of Peace initiative, the lasting legacy of the Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded to the EU in 2012. The initiative funds humanitarian projects helping children in conflict zones to gain access to education.
The EUR 500 000 contributed by Luxembourg, will be used to enlarge the EU's support to projects implemented under the umbrella of EU Children of Peace.
"I warmly welcome the decision of Luxembourg to join this important initiative which reaches out to tens of thousands of the most vulnerable in any crisis and conflict – children", said Kristalina Georgieva, Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, who is leading the initiative.
During the past year, more than 28 000 children from Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Columbia, Ecuador and Syrian refugee children in Iraq have received support through the EU Children of Peace initiative.