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EXME 14 / 09.01


09 / 01 / 14

Latvia's euro entry to be marked by European Commission in Riga

Latvia's membership of the euro area will be celebrated by President Barroso and Vice-President Rehn on Friday when they travel to Riga for a working visit. Latvia adopted the euro on 1 January, becoming the 18th member of the single currency. According to a Commission survey, the changeover has been smooth, with two-thirds of cash payments being made in euro only just four days into membership and more than a third of citizens now carrying only euro cash in their wallets.

While there, President Barroso will have a joint meeting with Mr Dombrovskis and European Council president Herman Van Rompuy to discuss Latvia's entry to the euro area and the economic situation in the EU and Latvia. This will be followed by a joint press conference at 15.30 CET (16.30 Riga). Vice President Rehn will deliver a lecture at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, when he will underline Latvia's successful transition to the euro area and the remarkable turnaround in the Latvian economy in recent years. In the evening, they will both participate in a solemn ceremony to mark the introduction of the euro in Latvia. President Barroso will take part in a panel discussion with Prime Minister Dombrovskis and President Van Rompuy during the solemn ceremony. The press statement and speech will be available online, and the press conference will be broadcast live on EbS.

Other news

Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA): Commission introduces an additional transition period of six months to ensure minimal disruption for consumers and businesses

The Commission has today adopted a proposal to give an extra transition period of six months during which payments which differ from the SEPA format can still be accepted so as to minimise any possible risk of disruption to payments for consumers and businesses. The proposal does not change the formal deadline for migration, which according to the SEPA Regulation is 1 February 2014, the point at which all credit transfers and direct debits in euro should be made under the same format: SEPA Credit Transfers (SCT) and SEPA Direct Debits (SDD).

Internal Market and Services Commissioner Michel Barnier said: "An efficient Single Market needs an efficient SEPA. The entire payments chain - consumers, banks, and businesses - will benefit from SEPA and its cheaper and faster payments. Cross-border payments are no longer exceptional events which is why an efficient cross-border regime is needed. As of today, migration rates for credit transfers and direct debits are not high enough to ensure a smooth transition to SEPA despite the important work already carried out by all involved. (…) I have warned many times that migration was happening too slowly and call once more on Member States to fully assume their responsibilities and accelerate and intensify efforts to migrate to SEPA so that all can enjoy its benefits, that is, faster and cheaper payments across Europe. The transition period will not be extended after 1 August."

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of iNTERTAIN by Goldman Sachs, TPG Lundy and Barclays

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over iNTERTAIN Limited of the UK by Goldman Sachs Group, TPG Lundy CO L.P., both of the United States, and Barclays PLC of the UK. iNTERTAIN operates bars and comedy venues in the UK. Goldman Sachs is a global investment banking, securities and investment management firm. TPG Lundy is an investment vehicle belonging to the TPG Group, a global private investment firm that manages a family of funds. Barclays is the operating company of the Barclays Group that is a global financial services provider. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would not raise competition concerns, in particular, because it would not significantly alter the market structure. 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.6927 . case register under the case number M.6927 .

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of part of NextiraOne Group's IT service business by NTT

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of certain businesses providing IT services of the NextiraOne Group by Dimension Data Holdings Nederland B.V. of the Netherlands, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Group (NTT) of Japan. NTT is a Japan-based holding company which provides IT and telecommunications services. Dimension Data is a wholly-owned subsidiary of NTT active in IT and communications services. The NextiraOne businesses to be acquired are active in the provision of IT services. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns because of the limited combined market share of the parties in the market for the provision of IT services. 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.7080 .  

Concentrations: la Commission approuve l'acquisition du contrôle en commun de l'entreprise Netproassur par les sociétés Allianz, Axa, Covea, Generali et la CSCA

La Commission européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement de l’UE sur les concentrations, l'acquisition du contrôle en commun de l'entreprise Netproassur SASU par les compagnies d'assurances Allianz IARD SA, Axa France IARD SA, Covea Risk SA, Generali France Assurances SA et la Chambre Syndicale des Courtiers d'Assurances ("CSCA"), toutes basées en France. Allianz IARD, Axa France IARD, Covea Risk et Generali France sont des compagnies d'assurances commercialisant entre autres des assurances de biens et de responsabilité en France. La CSCA est l'organisation patronale française du courtage en assurances. L'objectif de l'entreprise commune est la mise en œuvre d'une plate-forme virtuelle qui permettra aux compagnies d'assurances et aux courtiers adhérents d'échanger en temps réel des messages électroniques standardisés. Au vu de la faible part de marché de l'entreprise commune et du caractère ouvert de la plate-forme, la Commission a conclu que l'opération ne donnera lieu à aucun risque de verrouillage sur le marché des logiciels médiateurs. La Commission a aussi conclu que l'opération ne donnera lieu à aucun risque de coordination du comportement concurrentiel des sociétés mères sur le marché de l'assurance en France, notamment du fait de la présence de garde-fous empêchant le flux d'informations sensibles entre elles. L'opération a été analysée sous la procédure simplifiée. Des informations supplémentaires sont disponibles sur la page concurrence du site internet de la Commission, dans le registre public des affaires sous le numéro d'affaire M.6817 .

December 2013: Economic Sentiment rises further in both the euro area and the EU

In December the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) increased by 1.6 points in the euro area (to 100.0) and 1.4 points in the EU (to 103.5).

Sentiment in the euro area is thus back to its long-term average for the first time since July 2011. In the EU, the average had already been passed in September.

Business Climate Indicator broadly unchanged in December

In December 2013, the Business Climate Indicator (BCI) for the euro area remained broadly unchanged at +0.27. The level of overall order books and the stocks of finished products were assessed more positively. The appraisal of past production and production expectations, on the other hand, deteriorated, while there was no change in the assessment of the level of export order books.

Four years on from the Haiti earthquake: The EU’s response

On 12 January 2010, Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake that took 222,750 people's lives, injured many thousands and made 1.7 million homeless. Since day one, the European Union has responded to the needs of the Haitian population; providing both immediate humanitarian relief on a massive scale, while boosting its development aid. To this day, EU action has helped to save lives, provide shelter, food and health services, rebuild roads, schools and hospitals and support the Haitian authorities in the reconstruction process. Besides responding to the post-earthquake humanitarian crisis, the European Union has continued to provide cooperation aid to Haiti, aiming to eradicate poverty, improve living standards and encourage long-term socio-economic development. EU aid reaches one Haitian in every two.

Since 2010, the EU has committed €570 million for financing projects in a number of priority areas essential for the recovery and development of the country. The EU recently announced that it will provide €420 million between 2014 and 2020 to further support these development efforts, under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF).

New members appointed for the ERC Scientific Council

The European Commission has appointed three new members of the Scientific Council, the governing body of the European Research Council (ERC). The term of office of the new members runs from the beginning of January 2014 until the end of 2017. The new members are: Professor Nils Chr. Stenseth, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (University of Oslo), Professor Martin Stokhof, Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities (University of Amsterdam) and Professor Michel Wieviorka, Centre for Sociological Analysis and Intervention (CADIS-Paris). The new members have been identified by an independent Identification Committee, composed of six high level scientists and appointed by the European Commission. The scientific community was consulted in this identification process. The ERC Scientific Council is composed of the President of the ERC and 21 other members, who are all distinguished scientists and scholars. The outgoing members are Dr Daniel Estève, Professor Carlos Duarte and Professor Alain Peyraube. In addition, Professor Helga Nowotny has been replaced by Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon as ERC President as of 1 January 2014. More information:

Most EU countries are falling short of flu vaccination targets, reveals EC report

Published today, a progress report on the 2009 Council Recommendation on seasonal influenza vaccination reveals that of the 18 Member States who provided data on vaccination coverage for older age groups for the 2011-2012 flu season, only one – the Netherlands - has met the target of 75% coverage. The United Kingdom comes close, with 74% coverage, whereas the coverage reported by the remaining 16 countries ranges between 1.7% and 64.1%. For the other priority groups identified in the Recommendation – people with chronic conditions and healthcare workers, data was scarce (reports from only five and six countries, respectively), and reinforced the perception that little or no progress is being made to improve vaccination coverage among the target population. For more information and to read the full report:

Latvian «Salinātā rudzu rupjmaize» gets protected as a quality product

The European Commission has approved the request for registration of " Salinātā rudzu rupjmaize " into the list of Traditional Specialties Guaranteed, making it the second Latvian food name protected at EU level. "Salinātā rudzu rupjmaize" is a rye bread with a dark crust and a hint of caraway. The decision will be published in the Official Journal in the next few days. 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.

Leading Parliamentary Committee backs criminal sanctions for market abuse

Today the leading committee of the European Parliament for Economic matters unanimously backed the European Commission's proposal for criminal sanctions to tackle the abuse and manipulation of financial markets. The agreement is now expected to be confirmed by the European Parliament in plenary in February 2014. Vice-President Reding and Commissioner Barnier said: "We welcome today’s vote in favour of the Commission’s proposal, which confirms that Europe is willing to take all measures necessary to counter insider dealing and market abuse in its financial markets."

Commissioner Lewandowski in Warsaw to present the Commission work programme for 2014 to the Polish Parliament

On Friday (10/01) Commissioner Lewandowski will discuss the Commission work programme for 2014 and also the EU's annual growth survey with both chambers of the Polish Parliament (the Sejm and the Senat) in Warsaw. The Commissioner will present the legislative priorities of the Commission for the current year. These will include, among others, promoting growth and jobs, especially among young unemployed, and thus continuing the process of crisis recovery across Europe. In addition, the European Commission will focus on implementing the new multiannual financial framework for 2014-2020 which is an essential investment tool for towns and regions, businesses, Small and Medium Enterprises, researchers, students and hundreds of thousands other beneficiaries of the EU budget. In 2014, the Commission is also to propose climate and energy package to ensure consumers' access to a fully integrated energy market and provide a framework ahead of negotiations for an international climate agreement in 2015. After the meetings Commissioner Lewandowski will answer journalists' question during the press conference which will take place at 12.00. For more information about the press conference please contact Angelika Chomicka at

What Commissioners said

President Barroso welcomes start of Greek EU presidency

President Barroso has welcomed the start of the Greek EU presidency, saying he is confident that it will be a success for Greece and for Europe. "Let's not forget that not so much time ago, people were making speculations about a Greek exit, about the implosion of the euro, also about the implosion of the European Union," he said following a series of meetings between the college of commissioners and the Greek government in Athens. "The very fact that we are here in Athens today celebrating the beginning of the Greek presidency - of a full member of the European Union and a full member of the euro area – is clear evidence that those predictions were wrong and that Greece was able to make notable efforts," he said, adding that "we are on the right track".

Commissioner Piebalgs to stress the need to fight poverty while ensuring sustainable development at the anniversary of a think tank on development research

Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs will participate in a symposium that celebrates the tenth anniversary of the Foundation for Study and Research in International Development (FERDI), an independent European think tank for development policy research.  The event, held in France, has as the overall theme "Sustainable development, vulnerable development”. In his opening speech, Commissioner Piebalgs will stress the need to address poverty eradication and sustainable development together in a global agenda after 2015, highlighting that an agreement should be based on a participatory process that involves civil society. The speech will be available this afternoon here .

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