Daily News of 2014-02-13
European Commission - MEX/14/0213 13/02/2014
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EXME 14 / 13.02
13 / 02 / 14
The EU's app sector has gone from zero to digital superhero in less than five years. By 2018 it could employ 4.8 million people and contribute €63 billion to the EU economy, figures released today reveal. Today the app economy employs 1 million developers, and 800,000 people in marketing and support posts. This could rise to 2.7 million developers and 2.1 million support staff by 2018. Vice President of the Commission, Neelie Kroes, welcomed this news at the conference to present the figures this morning: "In the face of increasing youth unemployment, these figures give me new hope. My message to young Europeans is: go grab yourself one of these millions of new jobs in the app economy. These are really exciting opportunities if you are ready for them. Let's show the world we can be leaders in the digital economy again!"
President Barroso to meet Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte
President Barroso will meet Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte today to discuss developments in the EU and Dutch economies and the EU's priorities for the upcoming months. Their talks are also likely to touch upon the next European Council on 20-21 March, where the main topics will be the 2014 European Semester, industrial competitiveness, climate and energy and EU-Africa relations. Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans will also attend the meeting. A press conference between President Barroso and Prime Minister Rutte will take place at 12.30pm. President Barroso's speaking points will be available online afterwards.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Greek power plant Heron II by Qatar Petroleum, GEK TERNA and GDF SUEZ
The European Commission has found the acquisition of joint control over Heron II Viotia Thermoelectric Station S.A. (Heron II) of Greece by Qatar Petroleum International Limited (QPI) of Qatar, GEK TERNA S.A. of Greece and GDF SUEZ S.A. of France to be in line with the EU Merger Regulation. QPI is a Qatar state-owned company that invests through joint-ventures in the petrochemicals, gas and power sectors. GDF SUEZ is active throughout the entire energy value chain in electricity and natural gas. GEK TERNA is mostly active in the construction, industry, concessions, real estate and energy sectors in Greece. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns, in particular because there are no overlaps between the activities of the parents and the target. 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.7053 .
Tourism has been one of the strongholds of European economy during the economic crisis, and the positive trend will continue in 2014, with only 11% of Europeans expect not to go away. According to the new Eurobarometer survey published today, the sector has been an engine of domestic demand-driven economic growth in 2013, with more people choosing to spend holidays outside of their own country but within the EU. In 2013, 38% of Europeans spent their main holiday in another EU country, which is 5 percentage points more compared to 2012. At the same time, only 42% of people spent their main holiday in their own country, a 5 percentage points decrease compared to 2012. Furthermore in 2013, only a fifth (19%) took their main holiday outside the twenty eight countries of the EU, which is a 2% decrease compared to 2012. The Eurobarometer survey on preferences of Europeans towards tourism also explores motivations and obstacles for Europeans to travel, the main destinations, the information sources used for planning a holiday, how Europeans arranged their holidays in 2013, their satisfaction with the sector and the level of safety experienced at the accommodation and services.
The EU announces new support for sustainable energy for Africa
The European Commission will provide €5 million in new funding to accelerate the use of renewable energy in Africa, meet future energy needs and increase access to modern and sustainable energy services on the continent, through the Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme (RECP).
The funding will be announced at the occasion of the Second High Level Meeting of the Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP), which takes place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, between 11th and 13th February. The video statement by EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, at the event is available HERE .
Sub Saharan Africa has the lowest electrification rate in the world, and more than 650 million people rely on traditional biomass for heating and cooking. This is why the EU has set itself the goal to help developing countries provide 500 million people with access to sustainable energy services by 2030, as part of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4ALL) led by the United Nations.
A European Commission delegation headed by Rudolf Strohmeier, Deputy Director-General for Research and Innovation, will take part in the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science "Meeting Global Challenges: Discovery and Innovation" , in US city of Chicago, 13-17 February 2014. The launch of Horizon 2020 , the EU's new programme for research and innovation, will help make Europe the destination of choice for world-class researchers and creates new opportunities for international cooperation. Commission staff will speak at a number of symposia and promote Destination Europe at an exhibition stand where conference participants can learn more about research opportunities in the EU.
State aid: Commission approves SGR Valencia's restructuring plan
The European Commission has found restructuring aid granted by Spain to SGR Valencia, a non-profit mutual guarantee company in Valencia, to be in line with EU state aid rules. SGR Valencia had received a capital injection of EUR 60 million and a EUR 200 million state guarantee. The Commission concluded that SGR Valencia's restructuring plan ensures the company's viability and provides for a sufficient own contribution to the restructuring costs. Moreover, adequate measures for addressing the competition distortions created by the state support are in place. In particular, SGR Valencia will significantly reduce its size over the course of the restructuring period and will repay existing partners not more than the value of their shares as of 31 December 2013. Furthermore, if SGR's capital level surpasses a certain threshold, all the funds above this level will be transferred into a locked reserve account with the aim of reducing the amount of state aid needed. Furthermore, Spain commits to improve corporate governance, for example by strengthening the power of SGR's independent board members and implementing qualification standards for members on the board and on the risk committee. In addition, SGR will implement a number of risk mitigation measures such as a retreat from risky market segments, a strict limit on new business with risky companies and a strengthening of its collateral policies. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the reference SA.36663 .
Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič visits Slovak Parliament
Vice-President Šefčovič is today addressing the EU Affairs Committee of the Slovak parliament, or 'National Council', as part of a programme of visits to deepen links with all national parliaments in the EU. On the agenda is the Commission's work programme for 2014, relations with national parliaments, and important topical issues like the Banking Union, including the Single Resolution Mechanism. This morning, as part of the one-day trip, Vice-President Šefčovič also met the Speaker of the National Council, Mr Pavol Paška.
Today the European Commission launches a public consultation on fragrance allergens. It is estimated that between 1-3% of the population in Europe has a skin allergy to fragrances. In this context, consumers should be made aware of the presence of additional allergens in the cosmetic product. At the request of the EC, the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) issued an opinion on fragrance allergens, which found that three allergens were considered not safe, and a number of single chemicals or natural extracts were identified as substances of special concern. The EC proposes that the three substances which were found to be unsafe should be banned from cosmetic products, and that additional allergens should be subject to the obligation of individual labelling on the package of a cosmetic product. Taking these consultations into account, an implementing act will be prepared and the proposed changes will be presented to the European Parliament and the Member States.
A network of coordinators responsible for overseeing the national Roma integration strategies from all 28 EU countries is meeting today and tomorrow in Brussels to discuss progress and challenges ahead. This 4th meeting of the national Roma contact points network will focus on how to better implement integration measures locally. The national contact points will also discuss with the national equality bodies how to effectively address discrimination towards Roma in each Member State. Vice-President Reding said: "EU action has succeeded in placing Roma inclusion high on the political agenda, both at EU and national level. We now need to see concrete results. Today's meeting is a good opportunity for those who have their eyes and ears on the ground to discuss amongst each other and with equality bodies how to make national actions more effective, and how to improve the integration of Roma across Europe."
What Commissioners said
CFTC Acting Chairman Mark Wetjen and European Commissioner Michel Barnier announce continued progress regarding European Trading Platforms under July 2013’s Path Forward Statement.
Today Acting Chairman Mark Wetjen and European Commissioner Michel Barnier announced that staff of the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and staff of the European Commission (EC) have made significant progress towards harmonizing a regulatory framework for CFTC-regulated swap execution facilities (SEFs) and EU-regulated multilateral trading facilities (MTFs), as contemplated under the Path Forward statement issued in July 2013.
Michel Barnier, European Commissioner for the Single Market and services said: “Following the trilogue agreement on MIFID2 last month, this is an important further step in implementing a joined up, consistent global approach to ensure that financial markets work for the benefit of the real economy. In particular this agreement shows how, as G20 commitments move from words to action, regulators can and should work together to ensure that their respective rules interact with each other in the most effective and efficient fashion. This needs to be done without creating regulatory overlaps or loopholes this creating a global level playing field for operators. Today is an important step but far from the final one on the road towards global convergence. We will continue to work closely with the US authorities in implementing the Path Forward agreement.”
“The two commissions have provided confirmation this week that a global race-to-the-top in derivatives regulation is possible,” said Acting Chairman Wetjen. “As the CFTC moves forward with the swap trading mandate in the United States, it must and will continue to work with its counterparts in Europe and elsewhere to meet the G20 commitments and ensure that standardized trading on regulated platforms protects global liquidity formation and provides much-needed pre-trade transparency to market participants.”