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EXME 14 / 05.05


05 / 05 / 14

Spring 2014 forecast: Growth becoming broader-based

Today, Vice-President Siim Kallas presented the Commission's Spring Economic Forecast. The forecast points to a continuing economic recovery in the EU following its emergence from recession one year ago. Real GDP growth is set to reach 1.6% in the EU and 1.2% in the euro area in 2014, and to improve further in 2015 to 2.0% and 1.7% respectively. The forecast covers the years 2013, 2014 and 2015. It rests on the assumption that the agreed policy measures will be implemented by Member States and the EU, taking forward the necessary adjustment. 

Vice-President Kallas said: "The recovery has now taken hold. Deficits have declined, investment is rebounding and, importantly, the employment situation has started improving. Continued reform efforts by Member States and the EU itself are paying off. This ongoing structural change reminds me of the profound adjustment that the central and eastern European economies undertook in the 1990s and in subsequent years, linked to their joining the EU exactly 10 years ago. Their experience shows how important it is to embrace structural reforms early on and to stay the course, whatever challenges may be faced along the way. In this spirit, we must not lessen our efforts to create more jobs for Europeans and strengthen growth potential."

This forecast provides the background for our economic surveillance. On the basis of this forecast, the Commission will evaluate Member States' commitments under the Stability and Growth Pact. The Commission will present its conclusions from this ongoing analysis on 2 June when we present the country-specific recommendations as part of the European Semester.

Meeting between the European Commission and the Ukrainian Government on 13 May

The European Commission will meet the Ukrainian Government, led by Prime Minister Yatseniuk, in Brussels, next week, on Tuesday 13 May.

The European Commission is determined to help Ukraine, and to make sure that Ukraine has all the support it needs, in the short- and long- term, to undertake the political and economic reforms that are necessary for the country, with the common objective of a democratic, independent and prosperous Ukraine. This will be the main subject of the meeting, which will be followed by a press conference by President Barroso and Prime Minister Yatseniuk.

Debating the future of Europe: EU Commission President Barroso to deliver contribution at Humboldt University on 8 May

In his State of the Union address in 2013, President Barroso announced a contribution to the debate over the future of Europe, including the question of the approach to further treaty change.

Based on his experience and key lessons drawn from heading the European Commission over almost 10 years, President Barroso will deliver a speech on the future of Europe at Humboldt University in Berlin on Thursday 8 May.  

Setting the scene for Europe Day on 9 May, a few weeks ahead of decisive European elections, President Barroso will present his ideas to foster the political ownership and the popular backing which are needed to keep Europe open, united and strong, preserving its values and society model. The President will share reflections on how the community method and community approach to joint major challenges facing the EU and its member states can be best anchored and deepened in the longer term, achieving over time a political union.  

The speech will be made available online as soon as delivered by the President.

President Barroso will continue the debate on 9 May in Florence, participating in the 2014 State of the Union Conference and in Krakow on 10 May. 

Other news

The European Commission opens investigation on the Czech Telecoms Regulator

The Commission has opened an investigation on the Czech regulatory authority's - Czech Telecommunication Office's (CTU) - proposal for defining the market for terminating segments of wholesale leased lines and imposing regulatory obligations under article 7 procedure of the Framework Directive. The Commission has serious doubts whether the relevant product market has been defined in accordance with the principles of competition law and therefore whether it complies with the Regulatory Framework. Moreover, the Commission is concerned that an inappropriately defined market may lead to the designation with significant market power of an operator which could potentially not have such a position on a properly defined market. The availability of regulated services in a market characterised by a strong presence of alternative providers would negatively impact on the ability of the latter to expand their networks and offer services to their customers (including pan-European and other cross-border services) and would therefore create distortions in the internal market. The Commission now has two months to further investigate the draft measure and may at the end of the extended investigation period either lift its reservations or take a decision requiring CTU to withdraw the draft measure. Before issuing a decision, the Commission shall take utmost account of the opinion of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC).

Statement by Vice-President Siim Kallas on Portugal's decision regarding programme exit

Portuguese authorities took their decision concerning programme exit. The Commission and the Eurogroup said on many occasions that they will support Portugal's decision regarding the post-programme arrangement, irrespective of the option chosen. In a short statement, Vice-president Kallas reiterates the European Commission’s support and underlines the progress made by the Portuguese economy during the past years: “ The European Commission takes note of this decision and, as previously stated, will support the Portuguese authorities and people in this sovereign choice….“During the past three years, the external current account has moved from a large deficit into surplus, the budget deficit has been more than halved, and access to sovereign debt markets has improved markedly. Moreover, Portugal is experiencing a moderate economic recovery and unemployment is declining, on the back of improved competitiveness, financial stability and sounder public finances.” Policy continuity will be most important for ensuring a sustained and robust recovery in growth and employment.

G7 Energy Minister Meeting in Rome from 5-6 May

EU Energy Commissioner Oettinger will attend the G7 Energy Minister Meeting which is hosted by Italian Ministry of Economic Development on 5 and 6 May 2014 in Rome. Following-up on the G7 Leaders’ The Hague declaration of March 24, the Energy Ministers will meet in order to discuss ways to strengthen the collective energy security in the context of the current international developments. Conclusions of the Energy Ministers Meeting will be brought before the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Brussels in June 2014. Read more about The Hague Declaration in STATEMENT/14/82

European Commission adopts EU's first ‘Partnership Agreement’ on using EU Structural and Investment Funds for growth and jobs in 2014-2020

The European Commission has adopted the first of 28 "Partnership Agreements" that set down the strategies in EU member states and regions for European Structural and Investment Funds. Today’s agreement with Denmark will pave the way for investments under Cohesion Policy, Fisheries and Maritime, as well as Rural Development. The strategy adopted will boost competitiveness and growth through investments in innovation and business development; promoting entrepreneurship and fostering the agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture sectors. Investments will also promote inclusion of people at the margins of the labour market through training to enhance employability; while Denmark’s global reputation as a leading green economy will be strengthened through better resource-efficiency and environmental protection. Commissioners Hahn, Andor, Ciolos and Damanaki who oversee the 5 European Structural and Investment Funds, have welcomed the agreement which reflects recent reforms to how the funds are managed and directed towards smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. See also MEMO/14/331 and ESIF Portal

Commission launches public consultation on Europe 2020 growth and jobs plan

The Commission has today launched an online public consultation on the Europe 2020 strategy, the EU's long-term growth and jobs plan. The consultation will run from 5 May until 31 October 2014 to gather the views of all interested people and organisations on how the strategy has been working for the past four years, and on what its focus should be in the coming years. Now is the right time to gather this information, as we approach the halfway point of the strategy. It is timely also because the EU is emerging from the worst crisis in living memory, and is preparing for new political leaders to take over following the European Parliament's elections. The consultation follows a 5 March communication taking stock of the Europe 2020 strategy, which showed that progress on meeting its five headline targets has been mixed. The Commission will draw on the contributions it receives during the public consultation when it presents proposals for the mid-term review of the Europe 2020 strategy early in 2015. This will be followed by a discussion at next year's spring European Council.

Please also refer to MEMO/14/149 and to take part in the consultation, please see: .

Commission adopts report on the feasibility of a network of smaller credit rating agencies

The Commission has today adopted a report addressed to the European Parliament and the Council on the feasibility of a network of smaller credit rating agencies (CRAs) in the EU. The report assesses how the establishment of such a network could contribute to the strengthening of smaller CRAs, facilitating their growth to become more competitive market players. The report proposes the establishment of a regulatory dialogue with smaller CRAs. It also recommends that a full assessment of the feasibility to establish a more integrated network of smaller CRAs be carried out within the medium to long term when the overall impact of the recently enacted legislation ( Regulation 462/2013 and Directive 2013/14/EU) can be effectively analysed.

Mergers: Commission clears joint venture between Agrifirm and BayWa

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a full-function joint venture, Agrimec Group B.V., between Agrifirm Group B.V. of the Netherlands and BayWa AG of Germany. Agrimec Group B.V. is currently a wholly-owned subsidiary of Agrifirm Group B.V., a cooperative enterprise of Dutch farmers and horticulturalists, which provides products and services in the agricultural sector. BayWa AG is mainly active in agricultural products, energy products and building materials. The joint venture will import and distribute agricultural machinery and provide related after-sales services mainly in the Netherlands. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, due to the parties' moderate combined market positions resulting from the proposed transaction. 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.7180 .

Mergers: Commission clears change from joint to sole control over Galderma by Nestlé

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of sole control over the swiss-based Galderma by Nestlé. Galderama is currently jointly controlled by Nestlé and L'Oréal. Galderma produces, markets and sells dermatological products as well as cosmetic and personal care products such as shampoos, soaps, bath, shower and skin care products. Nestlé is active globally in the production, marketing and sale of a large variety of food and beverage products, including dairy products, coffee beverages, packaged water, cereals, healthcare nutrition products, etc. Through its subsidiary Bübchen, Nestlé is also active on the market for cosmetics and personal care products for babies, kids and pregnant women. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns because there are only limited overlaps between the parties' activities. 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.7199 .

March 2014 compared with February 2014: Industrial producer prices down by 0.2% in euro area - Down by 0.3% in EU28

In March 2014, compared with February 2014, industrial producer prices fell by 0.2% in the euro area (EA18) and by 0.3% in the EU28, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In February prices decreased by 0.2% and 0.1% respectively. In March 2014, compared with March 2013, industrial producer prices decreased by 1.6% in both zones.

22nd EU – Japan Summit. Brussels, 7 May 2014

On 7 May in Brussels, Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, will meet Japanese Prime Minister Abe for the twenty second summit meeting between the European Union and Japan. The Summit is the culmination of a nine-day visit of Prime Minister Abe to six EU Member States. The ongoing twin negotiations for a Strategic Partnership Agreement and a Free Trade Agreement, launched in April 2013, will be at the centre of the Summit's agenda.  Please see also MEMO/14/332 .

Vienna: Plácido Domingo and Androulla Vassiliou present EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards

The winners of the 2014 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards will be honoured this evening during a ceremony in Vienna. Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, and Plácido Domingo, the opera singer and President of Europa Nostra, will present the awards to the 27 winners assembled at the Austrian capital's Burgtheater. They will for the first time reveal the names of the six 'Grand Prix' laureates and winner of the public choice award, chosen in an online poll from among this year’s winning projects. Around 1 000 people are expected to attend the ceremony, which is held under the patronage of the Federal President of Austria, Heinz Fischer. The 27 winners, who will each receive a plaque, include the Gustav Klimt Memorial Society from Austria. ( IP/14/510 – Embargo 20:30 CET).

Boosting Europe's defence against terrorism

How can the EU better respond to threats posed by terrorist exploitation of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear materials and explosives (CBRN-E)? The terrorist attacks witnessed in Madrid, London, Moscow and at the Boston Marathon, illustrate the high level of innovation and opportunism of attackers, and the relative ease with which some CBRN-E materials and components might be obtained. That is why today, the Commission is proposing to facilitate work and practical cooperation for the detection and mitigation of CBRN-E risks at EU level, including with the industry, operators and other stakeholders. "In today's society, we must be able to evolve and adapt with the clear interest that terrorists and criminal organisations have in trading, developing and using CBRN-E weaponry, in order minimise the risks and prevent incidents in the future," said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs

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