Daily News of 2014-01-16
European Commission - MEX/14/0116 16/01/2014
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EXME 14 / 16.01
16 / 01 / 14
Today President Barroso will be awarded the Carlos V European prize of the European Academy at Yuste, in the presence of the Princes of Asturias, the President of the Spanish Government, Mr Mariano Rajoy, and the Prime Minister of Portugal, Mr Pedro Passos Coelho. The ceremony takes place at 12:00 at the Real Monasterio de Yuste and will be transmitted live .
President Barroso will say [UNDER EMBARGO: 12:45 CET]: "The European Union remains the most remarkable and original political construction, ensuring peace, democracy, solidarity and equity."
"Europe and the euro are much more than an economic and financial reality; they are a political project and a Community of destiny."
"I am well aware of the efforts of our European citizens (…) who are not responsible for the crisis and yet are too often its first victims. I want to say to all of them that Europe is not responsible for the crisis (…). Europe is not the problem, Europe is part of the solution."
More information on the award can be found here .
Erasmus+ – the EU's new funding programme for education, training, youth and sport - was launched in Athens today by Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, in the presence of Constantine Arvanitopoulos, Minister for Education, and Panos Panayiotopoulos, Minister for Culture and Sports, representing the Greek EU Presidency. More than four million people, almost twice as many as now, will get an EU grant to study, train, gain work experience or volunteer abroad over the next seven years. Erasmus+ will have a total budget of €14.7 billion – 40% more than under the previous programmes in 2017-2013. See also SPEECH/14/24 .
Latvia’s changeover from the lats to the euro has been smooth and successful. Since yesterday, it has no longer been possible to make payments in Latvian lats, the two-week dual circulation period having ended on 14 January. No major problems were encountered and banks, post offices and retailers coped well with the extra workload caused by the changeover process and the parallel handling of two currencies. Lats can be exchanged for euros without a service fee at the Bank of Latvia for an unlimited period of time. Dual display of prices in euro and lats will continue until 30 June 2014.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Salcomp by Sixth AP Fund and Nordstjernan
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Salcomp Oyj of Finland by Sixth AP Fund and Nordstjernan AB, both of Sweden. Salcomp manufactures chargers for mobile phones, tablets and other mobile devices. Sixth AP Fund is a private-equity fund, ultimately controlled by the Swedish state, responsible for the management of part of the Swedish public pension funds. Nordstjernan AB is a Swedish private equity fund. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, because neither AP6 nor Nordstjernan are active in the market for the manufacture of mobile device chargers or a related market. 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. 7116 .
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of OMV's non-retail lubricants business by OAO Lukoil
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of the non-retail lubricant business of OMV Aktiengesellschaft of Austria by OAO Lukoil of Russia. OMV's non-retail lubricant business produces and distributes automotive and industrial lubricants to non-retail customers. Lukoil is active in the exploration, development and production of oil and gas and the refining, production and marketing of crude oil and petroleum products, including automotive and industrial lubricants. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns given the parties' moderate combined market positions resulting from the proposed transaction. 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.7006 .
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Telefónica Czech Republic by the PPF Group
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of Telefónica Czech Republic a.s. and its wholly-owned subsidiary Telefónica Slovakia s.r.o) by Dutch PPF Group N.V. Telefónica CZ is a telecom operator providing mobile and fixed telecommunication services in the Czech Republic while Telefónica SK focuses on mobile telecommunication services in Slovakia. PPF is a finance and investment group active in the sectors of banking and investments, consultancy, real estate, energy, mining and retail of consumer electronics with a focus on Central and Eastern Europe and Asia. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would not raise competition concerns, because the parties' activities do not overlap. 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.7113 .
State aid: Commission approves prolongation of Irish credit union resolution scheme
The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, the prolongation of the Irish credit union resolution scheme until 30 June 2014. The Commission found the prolongation of the scheme, initially approved on 20 December 2011 and last prolonged in July 2013 (see IP/11/1574 and MEX/13/22.07), to be in line with its guidance on state aid to banks during the crisis (see IP/13/672). In particular, the prolonged measures are well targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. The Commission therefore concluded that they represent an appropriate means of remedying a serious disturbance in the Irish economy and are as such compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
Euro area annual inflation was 0.8% in December 2013, down from 0.9% in November. A year earlier the rate was 2.2%. Monthly inflation was 0.3% in December 2013. European Union annual inflation was 1.0% in December 2013, stable compared with November. A year earlier the rate was 2.3%. Monthly inflation was 0.3% in December 2013.
Protected quality farm products: Commission approves three new British applications
The European Commission has approved the addition of three new British quality farm products to the register of protected designations of origin (PDOs) and protected geographical indications (PGIs). These are " West Country Beef " (PGI), beef meat from cattle raised in UK's Western grassland peninsula with a high reliance on fresh and forage grass, giving the meat its specific quality; " West Country Lamb " (PGI), lamb meat from sheep raised in the same area, also characterized by a specific grass-based diet resulting in a particular meat quality; and " Anglesey Sea Salt" / "Halen Môn " (PDO), salt harvested from Menai Strait - the strip of water separating the Isle of Anglesey from the mainland of Wales. 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.
National accounts data are used by governments, economic and social actors, who find in these sets of harmonized and reliable statistics the necessary information on which to base their decisions and analyses. They are also source of many of the indicators that constitute the quantitative backbone of the European economic governance. In 2014, the new European System of National and Regional Accounts (ESA 2010) will replace the current system to bring the national accounts into line with the new economic environment, advances in methodological research and user needs. François LEQUILLER, Eurostat Director, is presenting the main methodological changes implied by this new system in an ON-the-record technical briefing at 11h30.
The winners of the 2014 European Border Breakers Awards ('the EBBA Awards'), highlighting the best new music acts in Europe which have achieved cross-border chart success, were honoured last evening at the Eurosonic Noorderslag festival in Groningen (Netherlands). The biggest winner of the night was Kodaline who scooped the public choice award, announced during the ceremony following an online vote to select the 'best of the best'. The Irish group, who performed live at the show, are currently on a world tour.
What Commissioners said
Regional Policy Commissioner, Johannes Hahn underlined the importance today of the partnership with Europe's Regional and Local Authorities in planning and putting into practice the programmes under the reformed Regional Policy for 2014-2020. He was meeting representatives from more than 230 Brussels-based regional representative offices. Speaking from the Albert Borschette building of the European Commission, Commissioner Hahn focused on how the new Code of Conduct on Partnership will mean regional and local authorities are consulted to ensure that future strategies and programmes reflect regional needs and investments have maximum impact. Commissioner Hahn said "We have made clear that regional and local authorities are our primary partners, and will play a central role in designing, implementing, and monitoring investment." Web stream: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/conferences/regoff2012/index_en.cfm .