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EXME 14 / 27.06
27 / 06 / 14
At the European Council meeting in Brussels today, the Association Agreements with Georgia and with the Republic of Moldova have been signed and the signature process with Ukraine completed, each providing for a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. President Barroso called it "a historic day: for the three countries themselves, for the European Union and for the whole of Europe. For our three partners, it is recognition of the significant progress made over recent years and of their strong political determination to come closer to the European Union; their shared outlook on a prosperous economic model; and their desire to live by the European spirit and with the European values." He also reminded that these "Agreements are positive agreements. They are meant to add more momentum to our partners' established international relations, not to compete with - or intrude in - our partners' relations with any neighbour. These agreements are for something. They are not against anyone."
A press conference on the outcome of the meeting is foreseen, exact time to be confirmed .
President Barroso to visit Serbia and Albania
On 29 June, President Barroso will visit Serbia, where he is scheduled to meet the country's Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and visit the areas which suffered under the worst floods in over a century this May. On 30 June, he will continue to Albania, to meet with the country's President Bujar Nishani, with Prime Minister Edi Rama, Parliament Speaker Meta and Democratic Party leader Basha.
Improving Member States' accountability for the management of EU funds: Working Group presents guidance for "national declarations"
Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner responsible for audit, has welcomed the successful outcome of the inter-institutional Working Group on National Declarations, set up to assist Member States in taking more responsibility for the EU budget. "National Declarations" are statements of assurance issued at the highest level (e.g. Ministers of Finance), confirming that all national obligations have been met when it comes to managing and controlling EU funds. The possibility of issuing National Declarations is foreseen in the new Financial Regulation, in order to improve accountability and transparency on the way the EU budget is spent in the Member States. Yesterday, the Working Group – which was composed of representatives from the Commission, Parliament and Council – adopted recommendations and templates to help Member States to issue these National Declarations. Around 80% of the EU budget is under "shared management", such as agriculture, employment or regional policies. This means that Member States are first in line for dispensing, managing and checking EU spending in these areas. However, the Commission, European Parliament and Court of Auditors have repeatedly complained that Member States are not doing enough to fulfil their responsibilities in this respect. National Declarations should create more accountability and incentivise better performance, thereby having a positive impact on the quality of EU spending. The recommendations will now be sent to the European Parliament, Council, Court of Auditors and the Member States. The Commission will press Member States who do not yet issue these declarations to join the group of Member States who already do.
Additional information is available online .
State aid: Commission closes investigation of Polish steel maker Buczek
The European Commission has closed today an investigation into state aid granted by Poland to Buczek Automotive sp. z o.o. because it has become without object after the company was declared bankrupt in 2012. The Commission had re-opened the investigation in 2013, after the EU General Court partly annulled its initial decision of 2007 (case T-1/08) that had found the aid granted to the Polish steel producer Technologie Buczek Group to be incompatible with EU state aid rules and had ordered Poland to recover the aid from the group's constituent companies: Technologie Buczek S.A., Huta Buczek sp. z o.o. and Buczek Automotive sp. z o.o. (see IP/07/1590). In 2013 the EU Court of Justice confirmed the General Court's judgment on appeal (case C-405/11P).
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Motorola Mobility by Lenovo
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Motorola Mobility Holdings LLC of the US by Lenovo Group Limited of China. Motorola Mobility is a supplier of smart mobile devices. Lenovo manufactures and markets desktop and notebook PCs, workstations, servers, storage drives, and IT management software. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns in relation to smart mobile devices (smartphones and tablets), given the limited market position of the parties and the presence of other strong suppliers in the market. Moreover, the proposed transaction will not lead to shutting out competitors from the market for smart mobile devices given the limited number of (not standard essential) patents acquired by Lenovo as a result of the merger and the limited size of Motorola Mobility's smart mobile device business. The transaction 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.7202 .
In June the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) decreased in the euro area (by 0.6 points to 102.0), while it remained broadly stable in the EU (-0.1 points at 106.4).
In 2012, EU28 residents made 1.2 billion trips of one night or more. Almost half of these trips (48%) were for holidays and leisure, 35% for visits to relatives and friends, 13% for business and 4% for other reasons. The average trip length was 5.2 nights. The most common means of transport for trips was private or rented cars (65%), followed by air planes (15%), trains (12%), buses (6%) and water vessels (2%). Of the number of total trips, 76% were made within the country of residence (domestic trips), while 24% were made outside (outbound trips). For these outbound trips, the main destination for EU28 residents was clearly Europe (85.4%), then followed Asia (4.5%), Africa (4.1%), North America (3.8%), Central and South America (1.9%) and Oceania (0.4%). More specifically, the top 3 destinations for outbound trips for residents of the EU28 were Spain, France and Italy.
In June 2014 the Business Climate Indicator (BCI) for the euro area decreased by 0.14 points to +0.22. Managers' evaluation of all five components of the BCI deteriorated. Caution increased in particular with regard to the level of past production, production expectations and overall order books. Export order books and the stocks of finished products were assessed only slightly more negatively.
Commissioner Damanaki and Global Ocean Commission send warning over international ocean governance
On the upcoming Monday, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, will stress the urgency of putting in place the right rules to protect the oceans at international level. Together with Trevor Manuel and José Maria Figueres of the Global Ocean Commission (GOC), she will co-host the conference “Re-energising the Oceans” on global ocean governance in Brussels on 30 June, which will be followed by a press conference at the Berlaymont press room at 12:30. The conference will debate around the Global Ocean Commission’s recommendations for ocean health. According to Commissioner Damanaki, "the EU has shown international leadership in fighting overfishing, fighting illegal fishing, and getting rules in place to fish sustainably. But all this will not be enough if we do not update our rules at international level. There are important legal gaps which make that parts of the high seas is legal ‘no-man’s land’”. Further information: draft programme and details here
Commissioners' weekly activities
Upcoming Commission activities for the weeks ahead
What Commissioners said
EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, highlighted the achievements and challenges of the EU Danube Strategy at his speech at the Round Table "Industry meets Policy" in the margins of the 3rd Annual Danube Forum. Addressing the audience – business representatives, industry and stakeholders – the Commissioner stated: "Improving navigability while protecting the environment is our challenge. The first priority to improve navigability is to ensure adequate maintenance and in this respect I am glad to see the Austrian and Romanian Priority Area co-ordinators working with their partner countries on a Fairway Maintenance Master Plan for the Danube. Maintenance though, is not the whole story. The EU has financed a special research and development project on the Danube vessels of the future. And we will present the three most promising flagship projects of an innovative Danube vessel for the first time here at the Danube Forum. They would help to adapt their speed to the water levels and lead to significant fuel, energy and cost savings, including considerable reduction of CO² emissions. Finally let me stress how important it is to ensure the commitment and engagement by all Danube partners at all levels to make our vision come true of a Danube which is the economic artery through this region without losing its precious beauty and environmental value".