Daily News of 2014-02-27
European Commission - MEX/14/0227 27/02/2014
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EXME 14 / 27.02
27 / 02 / 14
In 2011, GDP per capita, expressed in terms of purchasing power standards, in the EU28's 272 NUTS-23 regions ranged from 29% of the EU28 average in the regions of Severozapaden in Bulgaria and Nord-Est in Romania, to 321% of the average in Inner London in the United Kingdom.
In February the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) remained broadly unchanged, marking a marginal increase of 0.2 points in both the euro area (to 101.2) and the EU (to 105.0).
In February 2014 the Business Climate Indicator (BCI) for the euro area increased slightly by 0.12 points to +0.37. Managers' appraisal of the past production, the stocks of finished products as well as the current level of overall order books and export order books marked an improvement; production expectations were virtually unchanged.
The European Commission is inviting comments on a proposal to prolong an exemption of liner shipping consortia from the application of EU antitrust rules that prohibit certain agreements between companies. The maritime consortia block exemption regulation allows shipping lines to enter into cooperation for the purpose of providing a joint service (so-called "consortia"). In light of the comments received, the Commission will then adopt a new Regulation before the expiry of the current Regulation in April 2015. Please find the draft Regulation online .
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of sole control of Sicilian gas-fired power plant and utility servicing business by Lukoil
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of sole control over ISAB Energy and ISAB Energy Services of Italy by Lukoil of Russia. Lukoil is active in the exploration and production of oil and gas, as well as the production, sale and marketing of petroleum products. ISAB Energy owns and operates the Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle power generation plant in Sicily and ISAB Energy Services is involved in the provision of operating and maintenance services for utilities, electric power and steam plants, as well as refineries. The Commission concluded that the proposed concentration would not raise competition concerns, given that the potential overlap in the parties' electricity production and sales activities is very limited. 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.7168 .
An expert group set up by the European Commission to examine barriers to cross-border trade in insurance law across Member States delivered its comprehensive report today. The report finds that differences in contract laws impede the cross-border supply of insurance products by increasing costs, creating legal uncertainty and making it hard for consumers and businesses to take out insurance in other EU Member States. Vice-President Reding said: "There is a large potential for the provision of cross-border insurance products. Let's make sure we do our best to exploit it. This is crucial for maintaining the competitive position of the EU's top insurers in the global market."
Independent evaluation of European Innovation Partnerships published
A group of independent experts headed by former Finnish Prime Minister Esko Aho has today released its review of European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs) established under the European Union's Innovation Union initiative. The five partnerships in the areas of Active and Healthy Ageing, Water, Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability, Raw Materials and Smart Cities and Communities aim to focus interested stakeholders on accelerating the development and deployment of innovative solutions to societal challenges. The group was asked to analyse the working methods of the EIPs, review provisional and actual results, draw lessons, assess measures to improve the functioning of the current EIPs, and identify criteria for future EIPs. The findings of the group are expected to be discussed with EIP stakeholders before being brought to the attention of EU research ministers. Please find the report online.
The European Commission is meeting today and tomorrow (27 and 28 February) with national enforcement authorities and large tech companies in order to discuss concerns raised by citizens regarding the app industry, such as misleading games advertisement, directly encouraging children to buy games, or purchases being debited through default settings. Industry will be asked to commit to providing solutions within a clear timeframe so as to ensure proper consumer protection for apps customers. Vice-President Reding said: "Europe’s app industry has enormous potential, both to generate jobs and growth, and to improve our daily lives through innovative technology (...) Misleading consumers is clearly the wrong business model and also goes against the spirit of EU rules on consumer protection." Commissioner Mimica added "Consumers and in particular children need better protection against unexpected costs from in-app purchases (…) Coming up with concrete solutions as soon as possible will be a win-win for all.”
As the European Parliament prepares to vote on telecoms single market reform, a new survey of more than 20,000 European internet users shows 1 in 4 still experience blocking of internet content (such as videos, music or other applications). 9% experience problems using Internet-delivered phone calls. The survey found that while users feel there have been small improvements in the quality of their internet access, 60% do not know the Internet speed they pay for. Of those who know their speed, 26% say that they do not get a speed which matches the terms of their contract. European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said: “We need a law that protects the open internet for everyone in Europe. We need a law that gives you the internet user the right to access what you want and also gives companies enough freedom to innovate, so users get more of what they want in future.”
European Rare Diseases Day: Top facts on EU Action
A disease or disorder is defined as rare in the EU when it affects less than five in every 10 000 citizens. Yet, because there are so many different rare diseases – between 6 000 and 8 000 – taken together they affect a significant share of the population. Between 30 and 40 million people in the EU, many of whom are children, suffer from rare diseases. Most rare diseases have genetic origins while others are the result of infections, allergies and environmental causes. They are usually chronically debilitating or even life-threatening. The impact of such diseases on sufferers, their families and carers is substantial and patients often go undiagnosed due to lack of scientific and medical knowledge or to difficulty in accessing expertise. The fragmentation of knowledge about rare diseases and the small numbers of patients affected by a single disease makes it indispensable to work across borders. At the European Commission we take an integrated approach to further improve access to prevention, diagnosis and treatment for patients suffering from a rare disease throughout the European Union. We do this by: MEMO/14/141
Commissioner Vassiliou goes to Harvard
Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou (Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth) will participate in two major events at Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, over the coming days. On Friday, 28 February, she will address staff and students at the US University's Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs on the role of culture in European integration and international public diplomacy, and set out the European Union's role in safeguarding diversity. Mrs Vassiliou will also be a keynote speaker at the Harvard Kennedy School's " Europe 2014: Re-Generation" conference on Saturday, 1 March. She will argue why the European Union urgently needs a new narrative as it emerges from crisis, and how public education can empower young people in both civic life and the world of work. Other speakers at the conference include Joaquín Almunia, Commission Vice-President for Competition, and two former Commissioners, Antonio Vitorino , President of the Notre Europe Jacques Delors Institute, and Erkki Liikanen, Governor of the Central Bank of Finland. The ' Europe 2014: Re-Generation' conference will be opened by João Vale de Almeida , EU Ambassador to the United States. For more information: Commissioner Vassiliou's website , European Commission: Education and Training website. Follow Androulla Vassiliou on Twitter @VassiliouEU .