Daily News of 2014-01-31
European Commission - MEX/14/0131 31/01/2014
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EXME 14 / 31.01
31 / 01 / 14
"Following the confirmation of 2 cases of African swine fever in wild boar in Lithuania on Friday 24th January, interim protective measures have been swiftly adopted by the Commission to regionalise the infected area within Lithuania. On the basis of this decision, the Lithuanian authorities immediately applied all restrictions required by EU legislation. The Commission has deployed since Monday 28th January, a team of veterinary experts to assist and advise the Lithuanian authorities. This team has been joined by Russian and Belarussian experts and experts from the World Organisation for Animal Health. It appears that the virus in Lithuania originates from neighbouring non-EU countries where the disease was not contained. At the same time, the Commission has been in constant contact with the Russian authorities over the past days to apply "regionalization" in accordance with WTO/SPS rules and World Organisation for Animal Health principles. In this framework, the Commission has proposed to provisionally exclude the infected area of the EU from certification of exports of live pigs and pork to Russia, but Russia is not ready to accept. Yesterday, the Russian authorities were again given assurances on the effectiveness of EU measures and provided with evidence indicating that the disease is confined to the southern part of Lithuania. I would like to stress that the measures taken on the EU side correspond to international standards. I call again upon the Russian authorities to take into account all the evidence presented to them, including the results of the on the spot inspections. I will today resubmit our proposal on regionalisation. I deeply regret that our Russian partners are effectively banning exports even from EU Member States which are clearly not affected by the incident. The Commission reiterates that in view of the reassurances provided, such a ban is disproportionate. I intend to meet the Russian authorities as soon as possible to agree on a reasonable solution to solve this problem."
The euro area (EA17) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 12.0% in December 2013, stable since October. It was 11.9% in December 2012. The EU28 unemployment rate was 10.7% in December 2013, down from 10.8% in November. It was 10.8% in December 2012. These figures are published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Eurostat estimates that 26.200 million men and women in the EU28, of whom 19.010 million were in the euro area, were unemployed in December 2013. Compared with November 2013, the number of persons unemployed decreased by 162 000 in the EU28 and by 129 000 in the euro area. Compared with December 2012, unemployment decreased by 173 000 in the EU28, but increased by 130 000 in the euro area.
The European Commission has rejected a request from Germany to refer the planned acquisition of E-Plus by Telefónica Deutschland (Telefónica) to the German competition authority for assessment under German competition law. The Commission concluded that it was better placed to deal with the case because of its experience in assessing mergers in the mobile telecommunications sector and the need for a consistent application of the merger control rules in the EU. The Commission has until 14 May 2014 to take a final decision.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Broadgate by GIC Realty and British Land
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Bluebutton Properties Limited ("Broadgate") by GIC (Realty) Private Limited ("GIC Realty") and The British Land Company plc ("British Land"). GIC Realty is the holding company for real estate investments made on behalf of the Government of Singapore, while British Land is a British company owning and managing a portfolio of commercial properties. Broadgate in turn consists of a complex of buildings in London. The Commission assessed the effects of the proposed transaction on the markets for real estate and concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns given the limited market shares of the merged entity. 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.7110.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over TNT Post UK by Lloyds Banking Group alongside current parent PostNL
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over TNT NN1 Limited ("TNT Post UK") by Lloyds Banking Group plc (“Lloyds”) and PostNL NV. Lloyds is a British private equity fund. PostNL is a mail, parcels and support services provider mainly active in the Netherlands. TNT Post UK is a British mail services provider, which focuses mainly on business customers. The Commission assessed the effects of the proposed transaction on the markets for mail services in the United Kingdom and on the markets for cross-border delivery of mail to or from the United Kingdom, where each of TNT Post UK and respectively G3 Worldwide Mail (UK) Ltd ("Spring") in which PostNL has a controlling interest are active. Lloyds is not active in any of these markets. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns given the limited market shares of the merged entity. In any event, the actual or potential commercial relationships between the parties predate the entry of Lloyds as a controlling shareholder in TNT Post UK, and therefore there is no change in the market structure on any of these mail delivery markets. The operation 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.7052 .
Mergers: Commission clears creation of JV between Vestas and MHI
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a joint venture by Vestas Wind Systems A/S of Denmark and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. of Japan. Vestas is active in the manufacturing, supply and servicing of wind turbine generators, both onshore and offshore. MHI is engaged in the businesses of shipbuilding and ocean development, power systems, nuclear energy systems, machinery and steel infrastructure systems, aerospace systems, and medium-volume mass production items. The JV will be active in the supply of offshore wind turbines. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, in particular because there are only minimal overlaps between the activities carried out by the parties. 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.7063 .
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of UNIT4 by Advent
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of UNIT4 N.V. (UNIT4) of the Netherlands, by Advent International Corporation (Advent), of the United States. UNIT4 is active in the provision of business software solutions and IT services across Europe, North America, Asia Pacific and Africa. Advent is a private equity fund. KMD, a portfolio company of Advent, is active in IT services in Denmark. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise any competition concerns in the provision of business software in the European Economic Area (EEA) given the low combined market shares of UNIT4 and KMD. The Commission also concluded that the transaction would not raise any competition concerns in the provision of IT services in Denmark, given the negligible activities of UNIT4 in this 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.7125 .
President Barroso meets the new Georgian Prime Minister
On Monday, President Barroso meets with the Prime Minister of Georgia, Mr. Irakli Garibashvili.Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili was appointed on November last year and this will be his first visit to Brussels.
Georgia is one of the leading performers in the Eastern Partnership. This meeting comes after the full initialling of the Association Agreement/Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area at the Vilnius Summit last November. EU and Georgia are expected to sign this Agreement in 2014.
The meeting is followed by a press point, scheduled at 15:30. Presidents Barroso's statement will be available afterwards.
President Barroso meets the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency
On Monday, President Barroso meets with Mr Yukiya Amano, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA is an independent international organisation in the United Nations system tasked with international co-operation in the nuclear field.
The EU has a long-standing co-operation with the IAEA in a number of important areas, including nuclear safety and security, and nuclear energy research.
President Barroso and Mr. Amano are expected to review EU – IAEA relations, including financial cooperation taking into account the 2013 EU-IAEA Memorandum of Understanding on Nuclear Safety.
Aviation security: First step towards easing liquid restrictions at EU airports
Starting 31 January 2014, there will be a first step towards easing the current liquids restrictions at EU airports. Most passengers who fly will notice no change at all, but in fact airports will be obliged to screen certain liquids at passenger security checkpoints. This first step is deliberately targeted at a very limited number of liquids so as to minimise any possible disruption. For passengers, the change concerns duty-free liquids bought at airports outside the EU, or onboard non-EU air carriers. Provided these duty-free liquids are packed in the security bag issued at the time of purchase, passengers may transfer with it at an EU airport onto a connecting flight. Until now, such duty-free liquids, as a general rule, have been confiscated. For example, at the moment, if a passenger buys a bottle of duty-free whiskey in Hong Kong and flies to Helsinki, before transferring to Brussels, the duty-free whiskey would normally be confiscated at Helsinki, as the EU cannot determine whether it comes from a secure source. From 31 Jan 2014, provided the duty-free is sealed in a security bag, that will not happen. The bottle of duty-free whiskey bought in Hong Kong will be screened at the passenger security checkpoint at Helsinki, as the passenger transfers to board a flight for Brussels. The change enhances security and makes it more convenient and simpler. This is a very important step towards the removal of all liquid restrictions in the future. Moreover, it enhances the level of security since it is the start of mandatory screening of liquids in the EU. If this first phase is successful, then based on the experience gained, further liquids may qualify for screening, with a view to ending all liquid restrictions by 2016.
The European Commission stands ready to give new support in the range of €25 million to the support mission in the Central African Republic led by the African Union (known as MISCA). The EU also stands ready to support the electoral process in the CAR with around €20 million. This new support will go towards putting in place voter registration, electoral operations (such as printing ballot papers, providing training, equipment and staff, as well as voter education) and involving civil society groups as domestic observers. Ahead of a donors’ conference in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) to mobilise resources for MISCA, EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs, said: "This new funding will bring the EU’s total commitments to the Central African Republic since the beginning of the crisis to around €200 million – a clear indication that we are mobilising all available resources, not just development aid, to help the people of the Central African Republic and improve their security, in a situation that has been getting worse for more than a year now", Commissioner Piebalgs said.
Euro area annual inflation is expected to be 0.7% in January 2014, down from 0.8% in December 2013, according to a flash estimate from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Looking at the main components of euro area inflation, food, alcohol & tobacco is expected to have the highest annual rate in January (1.7%, compared with 1.8% in December), followed by services (1.1%, compared with 1.0% in December), non-energy industrial goods (0.2%, compared with 0.3% in December) and energy (-1.2%, compared with 0.0% in December).
Commissioners' weekly activities
Upcoming Commission activities for the weeks ahead
What Commissioners said
Le Président Barroso a participé hier à la session plénière du Comité des Régions. A cette occasion il a rappelé que les leaders régionaux sont des leaders européens et que la politique de cohésion est une politique pour toute l'Union européenne, une politique gagnant-gagnant qui traduit un esprit et des valeurs européennes qui sont une source d'inspiration pour des millions de personnes dans le monde, à commencer par nos plus proches voisins à l'Est et au Sud.
Il a appelé à montrer de la solidarité pour le peuple ukrainien, pour les jeunes Ukrainiens qui veulent pour l'Ukraine un destin européen.
European Commission President Barroso met the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. At the request of the Polish side, the situation in Ukraine was the main topic of this working meeting. They also addressed the economic situation in the EU ahead of the upcoming European Council in March.
At the joint press point of the President and Prime Minister President Barroso stressed that “violence and intimidation must stop as they are clearly not the answer to the crisis” in Ukraine. Both the president and the Prime Minister agreed on the need to continue de-escalating the current tension in Ukraine.