Daily News of 2014-01-30
European Commission - MEX/14/0130 30/01/2014
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EXME 14 / 30.01
30 / 01 / 14
The European Commission today published a proposal bringing together two currently separate school schemes, the School Fruit Scheme and the School Milk Scheme , under a joint framework. In a context of declining consumption among children for these products, the aim is to address poor nutrition more effectively, to reinforce the educational elements of the programmes and to contribute to fight against obesity. With the slogan "Eat well - feel good", this enhanced scheme from farm to school will put greater focus on educational measures to improve children's awareness of healthy eating habits, the range of farm produce available, as well as sustainability, environmental and food waste issues.
Today, the President of the Commission will meet the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. At the request of the Polish side, the situation in Ukraine will be the main topic of this working meeting. The President and the Prime Minister will also discuss the economic situation in the EU ahead of the upcoming European Council in March. The meeting will be followed by a joint press point of the President and Prime Minister at 14.15. President Barroso's statement will be available afterwards.
State aid: Commission approves prolongation of Danish bank support schemes
The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, the prolongation until 30 June 2014 of a Danish scheme for the winding-up of banks, including a compensation scheme, and two other mechanisms facilitating the sale of failing banks. The measures aim at enabling market-based solutions for ailing banks, be it via an orderly winding-down or by a full or partial sale, through a competitive process. The measures constitute an appropriate and proportionate response to remedy a serious disturbance in the Danish economy. The Commission therefore concluded that they were compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union as stated in, the Commission guidance on state aid to banks during the crisis (see IP/13/672). The Commission initially approved the winding-up scheme in September 2010 (see IP/10/1266). It was amended in August 2011, introducing a compensation scheme (see MEX/11/0801) and in December 2011, introducing two further mechanisms to support the sale of ailing banks (see MEX/11/1209)."
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control in Financiera El Corte Inglés by Santander Customer Finance and El Corte Inglés
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Financiera El Corte Inglés, E.F.C., S.A. "FECI" by Santander Customer Finance, S.A. "Santander" and El Corte Inglés S.A., all of Spain. FECI, which is currently solely controlled by El Corte Inglés, provides credit services, namely loans and financing through private purchasing cards, in connection with purchases made in stores of the El Corte Inglés Group or with retailers based on bilateral agreements. El Corte Inglés is a retail distributor using the department store model (various types of products and services are offered at a single store) and is active in Spain and Portugal. SCF belongs to Santander Group, an international banking group based in Spain and active in the European Economic Area (EEA), the US and Latin America. SCF provides credit services and various finance products directly to customers or at points of sale. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not significantly change the market structure and there will be a number of strong players in the markets for card issuing and consumer credit as well as in their respective sub-segments. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7078.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Globalvía by USS, OPTrust, PGGM and Global Vía Infraestructuras
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Globalvía Inversiones, by USS Nero Limited, OPSEU Pension Plan Trust Fund, PGGM N.V. and Global Vía Infraestructuras. USS, OPTrust and PGGM are based in the United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands respectively and manage pension funds. The Spanish-based Global Vía Infraestructuras and Globalvía Inversiones are both active in the construction and management of infrastructure concessions. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, because of the low individual and combined market shares of the parties in all the markets concerned. 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.7103 .
Report on the fifth and last review of the financial sector programme for Spain
The Spanish financial sector programme formally concluded after 18 months on 22 January. The final review report published yesterday provides an assessment of the progress during the last phase of the programme implementation. It also takes stock of the remaining challenges for the financial sector and the Spanish economy as a whole, which the European Commission will continue monitoring under all relevant EU surveillance processes. Compliance with the horizontal policy requirements in the Memorandum of Understanding has contributed to a thorough overhaul of the governance, regulatory adnd supervisory framework of the Spanish banking sector. As VP Rehn said “The programme has achieved its twin objectives of repairing and reforming the Spanish financial sector, and in so doing, helping to create a sound basis for the economic recovery. These efforts have been carried out alongside major structural reforms aimed at restoring competitiveness, and significant fiscal consolidation to ensure the sustainability of public finances.” ( MEMO/14/51) These results should be considered as an encouragement to maintain the reform momentum.
The number of counterfeit euro coins removed from circulation in 2013 decreased by 4% compared to the year before. In 2013, national authorities in all Euro zone countries withdrew a total of 175 900 fake euro coins. With 16.8 billion genuine euro coins currently in circulation, the counterfeit ratio is 1 for every 100 000 genuine coins. While the absolute number of removed coins decreased for every single denomination, the 2 euro denomination remains by far the most affected by this criminal activity, representing 2 out of 3 counterfeit euro coins detected (67,6% of the total). The proportion of counterfeit 50 euro cent increased (16,7% of the total) and that of 1-euro coins decreased (15,6% of the total).
Umeå (Sweden): 'City of Winter' promises a warm welcome as it launches year as European Capital of Culture
Guests from across Europe and beyond will join the people of Umeå in Sweden as the city launches its year as 2014 European Capital of Culture this weekend, with festivities taking place day and night. The opening 'Burning Snow' ceremony on Saturday will be a high point and the 'City of Winter' will be transformed with artworks using snow, ice, fire and video. The Umeälven River will be the focus of a festival of light and music, while the heart of the city will be turned into a Sami village with reindeer and cauldrons. The full programme is available on the Umeå 2014 website . The European Commission will be represented at the launch by Jan Truszczynski, Director General for Education and Culture, who will be welcomed by Marie-Louise Rönnmark, the Mayor of Umeå, Stefan Mikaelsson, Chair of the Sami Parliament, and Lena Elisabeth Adelsohn Liljeroth, the Swedish Minister for Culture and Sports. Jan Truszczynski and Marie-Louise Rönnmark will hold a press conference on 1 February (09:00) at the Scandic Plaza hotel. Umeå shares the title of 2014 European Capital of Culture with Riga (Latvia). To find out more: European Capitals of Culture ; Androulla Vassiliou's website ; Follow Androulla Vassiliou on Twitter @VassiliouEU .
Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič meets Maltese Prime Minister
Vice-President Šefčovič met Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat along with Deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech today, at the start of a two-day trip to Malta. On the agenda was this year's European Parliament elections and the current state of inter-institutional relations in the EU. The Vice-President will also meet the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Honourable Anglu Farrugia, and address the House Foreign and European Affairs Committee on the Commission work programme for 2014 and the role of national parliaments in the European decision-making process. Tomorrow, Vice-President Šefčovič will meet leader of the opposition Dr Simon Busuttil before taking part in a public dialogue with students in the Aula Magna of the University of Malta, on the theme of learning from Europe's past to help create a better future.
In January the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) increased by 0.5 points in the euro area (to 100.9) and by 0.9 points in the EU (to 104.7). While the upward trend observed since May 2013 has been continued, the magnitude and sectoral scope of the improvement in confidence has moderated somewhat.
In January 2014 the Business Climate Indicator (BCI) for the euro area remained virtually unchanged at +0.19. Managers' production expectations, their appraisal of the past production and their assessment of the level of both overall and export order books remained broadly unchanged. The level of the stocks of finished products was assessed more negatively.
What Commissioners said
President Barroso and the College of Commissioners received the Italian government yesterday. In a press point with Prime Minister Enrico Letta, President Barroso summarised the meeting as follows: "At the heart of our discussions were our efforts to promote growth and jobs in Europe. We all agreed that 2014 can mark a real turning point, for Europe and for Italy. Our comprehensive crisis strategy consisting of fiscal consolidation, structural reforms and targeted investment has started to show some positive results." President Barroso also congratulated the Italian Prime Minister for having taken very important steps towards ensuring growth and jobs and encouraged the government to maintain the momentum for implementing reforms and reduce the high level of public debt: "Even if we are coming closer to the finish line, the marathon is by far not over".
Président Barroso a participé hier dans un événement sur l'Exposition Universelle Milano 2015 au Parlement européen, avec le Premier Ministre de l'Italie, Enrico Letta, le Président du Conseil européen, Herman van Rompuy et le Vice-Président du Parlement européen Gianni Pittella. "C'est avec une forte conviction que nous nous inscrivons dans le débat sur l'alimentation et la durabilité lors de l'EXPO 2015 - qui sera une exposition universelle - donc c'est pour nous une occasion d'aller vers le reste du monde mais, bien sûr, c'est une exposition avec une grande marque italienne et européenne", a dit le Président. Il a aussi annoncé un événement majeur sur le futur de la science, à organiser conjointement avec la Présidence italienne en automne 2014.