Daily News of 2014-01-22
European Commission - MEX/14/0122 22/01/2014
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EXME 14 / 22.01
22 / 01 / 14
The European Commission is proposing today an ambitious and realistic framework for climate and energy policies beyond 2020 and up to 2030. The 2030 policy framework aims to drive continued progress towards a low carbon economy and a competitive and secure energy system that ensures affordable energy for households and industry, increases the security of the EU’s energy supplies, reduces our dependence on energy imports, provides security for investors and creates new opportunities for growth and jobs. This package includes a recommendation to enable Member States to draw on the opportunities of shale gas operations while ensuring that proper environmental and climate standards are in place. "Climate action is central for the future of our planet, while a truly European energy policy is key for our competitiveness. Today's package proves that tackling the two issues simultaneously is not contradictory, but mutually reinforcing", said President Barroso.
President Barroso, Commissioner Oettinger and Commissioner Hedegaard will present the 2030 framework during a press conference at 12:00, which will be transmitted live via EbS Statement by President Barroso will be available afterwards on Rapid.
Available press material:
Q&A: The 2030 framework
Press release: Recommendation on shale gas
Q&A: Shale gas
The European Commission is urging Member States to recognise the central importance of industry for creating jobs and growth and to mainstream industry-related competitiveness concerns across all policy areas. This is the key message of the Communication For a European Industrial Renaissance , adopted today. The Commission calls on the Council and the Parliament to adopt proposals on energy, transport, space and digital communications networks as well as implement and enforce legislation to complete the internal market. Furthermore industrial modernisation must be pursued by investing in innovation, resource efficiency, new technologies, skills and access to finance, accelerated by the use of dedicated EU funds. The Communication promotes a more business friendly Europe through actions to simplify the legislative framework and improve the efficiency of public administration at EU, national and regional levels. Easier access to third country markets through harmonisation of international standards, open public procurement, patent protection and economic diplomacy are also key issues.
Joint press conference by President Barroso and Vice-President Tajani is scheduled for 13:00 and will be transmitted live on EbS . President Barroso 's and Vice-President Tajani 's statements will be available later.
Available press material:
Cooperation and Verification Reports for Bulgaria and Romania
European Commission adopted today the latest reports for Bulgaria and Romania under the cooperation and verification mechanism.
Today's report concludes that since the Commission's last report in July 2012, Bulgaria has taken a few steps forward; however, overall progress has not yet been sufficient and remains fragile. Romania has made progress in many areas since the previous cooperation and verification mechanism reports, however concerns about judicial independence remain and there are many examples of resistance to integrity and anti-corruption measures.
The report is available here .
After an in-depth investigation, the European Commission has concluded that part of the support measures that Sardinia had granted to the maritime company Saremar in 2011 and 2012 was incompatible with EU state aid rules. In particular, a capital injection not approved on market conditions and the compensation for carrying out certain maritime services have provided an undue economic advantage to Saremar that its competitors did not have. Saremar needs to pay back this undue advantage of around €10.8 million in total, to remedy the distortion of competition this has created.
The European Commission has found a regional law compensating bus and tram companies in the German Land Rhineland-Palatinate that are obliged to offer tickets at a reduced price to pupils, students and trainees, to be in line with EU State aid rules. The measure ensures affordable school bus transport in Rhineland-Palatinate, while limiting competition distortions in the Single Market.
The European Commission has found that Polish plans to allocate free of charge 404.6 million carbon emission allowances for modernising the electricity sector are in line with EU state aid rules. Today, 90% of Poland's electricity generation is based on coal-fired power stations, which are very carbon-intensive. The Polish investment plan includes more than 340 investment projects with a total value exceeding €28 billion (PLN 119 billion). Those investments will be partially funded through the allocation of free greenhouse gas emission allowances. The Commission found that the funds granted will be used to modernise production infrastructure, diversify the energy mix or build new installations. This will contribute to liberalising energy markets, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the security of supply, in line with EU objectives, without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market.
The European Commission has found several amendments to a UK scheme allowing publicly-backed funds to invest in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) affected by a market failure, to be in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission found, in particular, that the measure encourages private investment in SMEs while limiting distortions of competition in the Single Market.
The European Commission has approved Slovakia's map for granting state aid between 2014 and 2020 within the framework of the new regional aid guidelines adopted by the Commission in June 2013 (see IP/13/569). The new guidelines set out under which conditions Member States can grant state aid to businesses for regional development purposes. They aim to foster growth and promote greater cohesion in the Single Market.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Toshiba Television Central Europe by Compal Electronics
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Toshiba Television Central Europe sp. z o.o. of Poland by Compal Electronics Inc. of Taiwan. Toshiba Television Central Europe manufactures TVs in the European Economic Area (EEA). Compal Electronics is an original design manufacturer of notebooks, tablets, smart phones and TVs. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns, in particular because of the limited overlaps between the parties' activities. 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.7131 .
Third quarter of 2013 compared with second quarter of 2013 - Euro area government debt down to 92.7% of GDP, EU28 up to 86.8% of GDP - First decrease for the euro area since the fourth quarter of 2007First decrease in absolute terms for the euro area since fourth quarter of 2007
At the end of the third quarter of 2013, the government debt to GDP ratio in the euro area (EA17) stood at 92.7%, compared with 93.4% at the end of the second quarter of 2013, the first fall since the fourth quarter of 2007. In the EU28 the ratio increased from 86.7% to 86.8%, mainly due to exchange rate effects. Compared with the third quarter of 2012, the government debt to GDP ratio rose in both the euro area (from 90.0% to 92.7%) and the EU28 (from 84.9% to 86.8%). At the end of the third quarter of 2013, securities other than shares accounted for 79.3% of euro area government debt, loans for 17.9% and currency and deposits for 2.7%. EU28 government debt was made up of 80.9% securities other than shares, 15.5% loans and 3.6% currency and deposits.
Legal certainty for cross border transactions: VAT pilot project extended
The Commission has today announced that the EU VAT Forum extended for another year a pilot project aimed at improving legal certainty for SMEs in particular in their cross border VAT transactions. The pilot project has also been opened to other Member States than the ones already participating. Finland has decided to join the 13 other Member States participating so far. Names of other Member States will be added on the Europa-website as soon as they confirm their participation. Now 14 Member States (Belgium, Estonia, Spain, France, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Finland and the United Kingdom) are engaged in the project. Simplifying VAT for businesses – particularly SMEs – is a high priority for the Commission, as reflected in the work underway to reform the VAT system. The pilot project, which was launched in June 2013, entails Member States providing their advance opinion on the VAT treatment of complex cross-border transactions submitted by small businesses. Businesses who want to engage in a complex cross-border transaction involving two or more Member States may submit their project to the tax administration of their country of residence. On this basis tax authorities, after consulting with tax administrations of other Member States involved, will give businesses reassurance on the appropriate VAT treatment and applicable obligations in all Member States concerned. A mid-term review of the experiment will be made in June 2014. If the results are positive, the Commission may recommend to further develop this practice. More details on the procedure here .
Animal Health: EU earmarks additional €1.1m to combat rabies in Russia
The EU has agreed to allocate a further €1.1m to fund a wildlife rabies vaccination programme in the Kaliningrad region of Russia. Rabies is potentially fatal disease usually transmitted through infected animal bites. Most common carriers in Europe are the red fox and bats. Through the co-financing of oral vaccination programmes within EU countries, the EU has gradually eradicated wildlife rabies from Western, Central and a large part of Eastern Europe over the last three decades. To safeguard this status, the EU has provided approximately €3.5 m to rabies vaccination programmes in Kaliningrad during 2007-2014. As a result, rabies in Kaliningrad and neighbouring areas of Lithuania and Poland is now significantly improved. This latest allocation will extend the EU's commitment to this programme for a further 2 years with a view to eradicating rabies in this region.
Energy is an important issue in the macroeconomic surveillance of Member States. It affects the macroeconomic performance through several channels, the main one being the link to competitiveness, since energy costs affect the production costs of industries and services, as well as the purchasing power of households and the overall external balance. The report "Energy Economic Development in Europe" provides analysis and evidence for the economic impact of energy cost developments, including the energy and climate policy, in EU Member States, over the past few years. For more information see: http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/european_economy/2014/energy-economic-developments-in-europe_en.htm .
What Commissioners said
Today at Davos, Vice President Neelie Kroes will set out her vision for Europe. She will point to Europeans' increasing frustration with politicians since the crisis, and offer her views on what the EU should do to help young people by growing the digital economy, and making a connected, open and secure Europe.
"Europe is about founding a new kind of community – one not constrained by historical legacies, or geographic limits – one without borders or barriers. And we also now have a technological tool to do that too: to unite people, help them, improve their lives, and boost our economy: the amazing power of the Internet... There are many things that are uncertain about the future. But it is clear to me that the future lies online.
Europe's leaders have recognised the large and growing role digital plays in our economy. And they have supported our plans to bring down the barriers that stand in the way. 2014 could be the year when MEPs and national ministers agree to make that happen. To create a connected continent. To ensure resilient and secure networks and systems. To adapt to the benefits of a new open era. To prevent unfair blocking of online services. And to make roaming rip-offs a thing of the past in Europe. Most of all, to ensure Europe the infrastructure it needs to face the future, creating a connected competitive continent. I hope they agree to do so."