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MEx 14 / 16.05
16 / 05 / 14
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
Commissioner Füle visits Kiev
Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle is visiting Kiev in the follow-up to the unprecedented joint meeting on Tuesday 13th of May between the Commission and the Ukrainian government in Brussels.
In Kiev he will focus on the operationalisation of the conclusions from this meeting - implementation of the European Agenda for reforms and to prepare for the implementation of the Association Agreement . He will meet with President Turchynov, Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, representatives of the Civil Society and Crimean Tatars.
He will also participate in the commemoration event on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the Crimean Tatars.
Meeting between the European Commission and the Government of Georgia on 21 May
The European Commission will meet the Government of Georgia, led by Prime Minister Garibashvili, in Brussels on Wednesday 21 May.
The meeting confirms Georgia's unique relationship with the EU. The European Commission is fully committed to political association and economic integration with Georgia, and to support Georgia's programme of key political, judicial and economic reforms. The EU and Georgia share the common objective of a democratic, stable and prosperous Georgia and look forward to the early signature of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement . These will be the main subjects for discussion at the meeting which will be followed by a press conference by President Barroso and Prime Minister Garibashvili.
EU and Chinese trusted traders will enjoy lower costs, simplified procedures and greater predictability in their activities, thanks to a mutual recognition agreement signed today. Under the agreement, the EU and China commit to recognising each other's certified safe traders, thereby allowing these companies to benefit from faster controls and reduced administration for customs clearance. Mutual recognition of trusted traders also allows customs to focus their resources on real risk areas, thereby improving supply chain security on both sides. The EU is the first trading partner to enter into such an agreement with China, having already signed similar deals with the USA (2012) and Japan (2011). EU Commissioner for Taxation and Customs, Algirdas Šemeta, was at the Joint Customs Cooperation Committee (JCCC) meeting in Beijing, for the signing of the agreement. See IP/14/555 , MEMO/14/353 and SPEECH/14/386 .
The first estimate for the euro area (EA18) trade in goods balance with the rest of the world in March 2014 gave a 17.1 billion euro surplus, compared with +21.9 bn in March 2013. The February 2014 balance was +14.2 bn, compared with +9.8 bn in February 2013. In March 2014 compared with February 2014, seasonally adjusted exports fell by 0.5% and imports by 0.6%. These data are released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. The first estimate for the March 2014 extra-EU28 trade balance was a 3.9 bn euro surplus, compared with +14.7 bn in March 2013. In February 2014 the balance was +4.7 bn, compared with +1.2 bn in February 2013. In March 2014 compared with February 2014, seasonally adjusted exports fell by 1.2% while imports remained stable.
Mergers: Commission clears joint venture between Agroenergi and Neova Pellets in Swedish wood pellets sector
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the creation of a joint venture by Agroenergi AB, owned by Lantmännen ek för, and Neova Pellets, all of Sweden. Agroenergi and Neova Pellets produce and sell wood pellets in Sweden, Agroenergi also in Latvia. The joint venture will produce and sell wood pellets in Sweden. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, even though the joint venture will be the largest player on the Swedish market for wood pellets, as the parties will continue to face a significant number of competitors, barriers to entry are low and substantial amounts of wood pellets sold in Sweden are imported from the Baltic States and Russia. 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.7185 .
Mergers: The Commission clears acquisition of the Warranty Group Inc. by TPG Advisors VI-AIV, Inc.
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of the Warranty Group, Inc (Warranty) of the USA, by TPG Advisors VI-AIV, Inc (TPG VI-AIV), of the Cayman Islands. In Europe, Warranty underwrites and administers extended warranty products and programs that protect motor vehicles, consumer electronics, and appliances. TPG VI-AIV, affiliated with TPG Capital of the USA, is a global private investment firm which manages funds that invest in businesses through acquisitions and corporate restructuring. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns given the very low combined market shares resulting from the 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.7237 .
The Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting of May 2014 will take place in Brussels on 19th May 2014. The Commission will be represented by Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş, the Commissioner for Health, Tonio Borg. A press conference will be held in the afternoon at the end of the discussions. The public debates and the press conference can be followed by video streaming: http://video.consilium.europa.eu
The European Commission is hosting a high level conference on Mobilising Social Policy Innovation on 19-20 May in Brussels . The conference will discuss how social policy innovation helps to catalyse social policy reforms for better economic and social outcomes. It will present experiences gained across the EU and will look at how social policy innovations can best contribute to achieving the Europe 2020 Strategy employment and social goals. Ahead of the conference, Commissioner Andor said "The current economic and social situation calls for new, innovative approaches in the way our social systems are shaped to better address the needs of individuals and of our changing societies. We have underlined in our Social Investment Package that social policy innovation and social enterprises play a key role in this regard. The Conference will be an opportunity to examine how the European Union can further support Member States' efforts to apply social policy innovation and experimentation, in terms of knowledge-sharing, funding, capacity building and advisory services. This support should help the Member States to better deliver on the objectives we have set in the Europe 2020 strategy."
Energy: Conference "Paving the way for a European Energy Security Strategy"
The European Commission will host a high level conference on Energy Security on 21 May 2014 in Brussels. Key note speakers are European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger. Following the March European Council conclusions the European Commission will conduct an in-depth study of EU energy security and present by June 2014 a comprehensive plan for the reduction of EU energy dependence. This Conference aims at providing input to the European Energy Security Strategy which the European Commission will present ahead of the June European Council. The Conference takes place from 15:00-16:00 in the Commission's Charlemagne Building, Room de Gasperi and is open to media upon registration. See media invitation in MEMO/14/358
Commissioners' weekly activities
Upcoming Commission activities for the weeks ahead
What Commissioners said
During his visit to Macao, Commissioner Šemeta delivered a keynote speech at the EU Macao Chamber of commerce on global taxation. 'Global developments on corporate taxation should not be seen as a fight against the business world. This is about fairer taxation and fairer competition between businesses. It is about clarifying rules and closing loopholes, to create greater legal certainty for companies' he stated. 'Certainly', he added, 'questions of corporate social responsibility and honest practices arise around some companies. But the fact that our tax rules are out of sync with the modern economy also creates ambiguity and grey lines, which tax planners can choose to cross. Policy-makers have a responsibility, therefore, to ensure clear and airtight tax rules for all businesses. If our rules don't match the reality, then we need to fix them. That’s what businesses expect: legal security, stability of rules and a global approach for a level playing field.'
Speaking at the University of London on 15 May, László Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, said: "The current young generation is the best-educated, technologically adept and most travelled ever, but there are still large pockets of vulnerable and disadvantaged and alienated young people in every country in the EU. (...) We are slowly emerging from the worst economic crisis since the 1930's and as is the case after severe economic downturns, jobs are being created with considerable time lag. We cannot afford to be complacent. Tackling youth unemployment is absolutely essential and remains a policy priority". Commissioner Andor continued: "Clearly, what young people need is focused, effective assistance to ease the impact of the crisis on their lives. If we don't help this generation to get a foothold on the labour market now, their employability, productivity and life-time prospects will be damaged for years and decades to come. The key measure to combat youth unemployment is the Youth Guarantee scheme set up by the Commission and European Heads of State and Government".
"There can be no recovery in the depressed economies in the EU without a skilled workforce. This means that the core idea of the Lisbon Strategy remains valid: the main source of competitiveness in the EU is human capital and we need to invest in it", said Commissioner Andor in a speech to the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) in London today. "There is no point in a country's firms making big profits if the country has high social costs due to unemployment and poverty or poor performance in terms of workers’ health and safety. There is no point in having an apparently competitive economy if it is achieved at the expense of social cohesion, since this is just simply not sustainable. These ideas were the basis for the Commission’s Social Investment Package , which shows that social spending is largely an investment that can bring a significant return and savings over time. Social policy can provide activating and enabling support to people at all stages of their lives. Where it is well designed, it can have a significant impact on improving people’s skills and employability, as well as preventing hardship and reducing people’s need to call on social support", he continued.
Speaking at the Conference on Ensuring Sustainable Finance in Transition Economies, Michel Barnier launched a call today in Warsaw for an EU industrial strategy and a European Energy Union. He said “for four years together we rebuilt together financial stability and trust in the system. Now we are on more solid footing, we must focus on accelerating economic growth.” He proposed two economic priorities for the next Commission and the next European Parliament, to be developed with national governments. First, an industrial strategy based on common investment in research, key technologies, and strategic sectors. “We also need to monitor together all foreign investment. There should be no protectionism, but we should not be naive either." On the other hand, we need a European Energy Union to regain our energy independence and security, as well as our industrial competiveness. Echoing the proposals of the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, he concluded “that means the capability, and first and foremost the will to invest together, to produce more and better together, and to negotiate together.”