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Daily News of 2014-07-17

European Commission - MEX/14/0717   17/07/2014

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MEX 14 / 17.07

DAILY NEWS

17 / 07 / 14

President Barroso meets President Dilma Rousseff in Brasil

President Barroso travels today to Brazil, where he will be on official visit until 21 July. He will first meet with President Dilma Rousseff in Brasília to discuss the EU-Brazil relations. Afterwards, he will travel to Rio de Janeiro to meet Governor Luiz Fernando de Souza and Mayor Eduardo Paes.

President Barroso and President Rousseff will discuss the relations between the EU and Brazil, as well as the negotiations of the EU-Mercosur's Association Agreement. In February this year, at the 7th EU-Brazil Summit, the two Presidents committed to the reinforcement of the economic and commercial ties between the EU and Brazil. In Brasília, President Barroso will also be awarded the title of Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Brasília.

President Barroso will travel afterwards to Rio de Janeiro, where he will be received by Mayor Eduardo Paes and will meet Governor Luiz Fernando de Souza. He will also deliver the opening remarks in a seminar on the EU's and Brazil's role in the current international scene, organised by the Getúlio Vargas Foundation, and will participate in a lunch meeting with the business community.

Fighting fraud: Major progress in anti-fraud policy but Member States must do more to combat fraud

Member States must step up their work to prevent, detect and report fraud affecting EU funds, according to the Commission's annual report on the protection of financial interests (PIF report). The report sets out detailed recommendations on areas that national authorities should particularly focus on in this respect. The report finds that detected fraud in EU spending accounts for less than 0.2% of all funds. Nevertheless, the Commission believes that greater efforts at national level both on combatting and detecting fraud should be deployed. The annual PIF report therefore recommends, amongst other things, that Member States review their controls to ensure they are risk-based and well-targeted. See IP/14/835 and MEMO/14/487 .

Commission publishes guidelines to encourage re-use of public sector data

Today, the European Commission is publishing guidelines to help Member States benefit from the revised Directive on the re-use of public sector information (PSI Directive). These guidelines explain how to give access to weather data, traffic data, property asset data and maps, for example. The guidelines published today are based on a detailed consultation and cover issues such as Licencing, data sets and cost. By contributing to the opening up of public sector datasets, this initiative complements the recently announced EU action aimed at building up a data-driven economy , including funding under the Connecting Europe Facility . European Commission Vice President @NeelieKroesEU said: "This guidance will help all of us benefit from the wealth of information public bodies hold. Opening and re-using this data will lead to many new businesses and convenient services."

June 2014: Euro area annual inflation stable at 0.5% - EU up to 0.7%

Euro area annual inflation was 0.5% in June 2014, stable compared with May. A year earlier the rate was 1.6%. Monthly inflation was 0.1% in June 2014. European Union annual inflation was 0.7% in June 2014, up from 0.6% in May. A year earlier the rate was 1.7%. Monthly inflation was 0.1% in June 2014. These figures come from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

Single Market Scoreboard: EU countries are dismantling barriers to the European Single Market

Since last summer, EU countries have stepped up their efforts to make it easier to live, work or do business in another EU country, according to the latest edition of the Single Market Scoreboard released by the European Commission today. During the last six months the average transposition deficit - the percentage of Single Market Directives that have not been transposed into national law in time - has remained unchanged at 0.7%. Despite having joined the EU only recently, Croatia scores best with only 0.1% while Italy reached its best result ever (0.7%) by halving its previous deficit. Greece, Finland and the United Kingdom also reached their best result ever. On Single Market related infringement proceedings, the EU average number of pending cases has increased for the first time since November 2008, which shows that, after a constant decrease of this global number (mainly due to the establishment of early problem-solving systems like SOLVIT and EU-Pilot), the situation seems to have stabilised. The major concerns continue to be mainly in the areas of the environment, taxation and transport.

Saving Pompeii with EU Regional Funds: Commissioner Hahn to sign Action Plan with Italy to preserve 'jewel of European cultural heritage'

Today, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, is travelling to Pompeii - the world famous archaeological site, to sign an "Action Plan" with the Italian authorities to accelerate work on the EU's major project to preserve the site. The Action Plan sets down specific measures and targets to complete the project, which is being supported by €78 million worth of investment through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Speaking ahead of the visit, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn said: "The importance of Pompeii and the EU supported major project to preserve it cannot be overstated. There is a real urgency to accelerate and intensify our efforts. This site is of crucial importance for Campania and its local economy - for Italy and the world. Quite simply it is one of the crowning jewels of Europe's cultural heritage. That's why I am determined to do what I can to make the EU supported major project here a success. The Action Plan we are signing today with the Italian authorities sets down clear targets and deadlines for the way ahead and a series of measures to ensure that those deadlines are respected. It should act as a spur to action and a motivator. I urge all those to seize the challenge and take up their responsibility."

May 2014 compared with April 2014: Production in construction down by 1.5% in euro area - Down by 1.6% in EU28

In May 2014 compared with April 2014, seasonally adjusted production in the construction sector fell by 1.5% in the euro area (EA18) and by 1.6% in the EU28, according to first estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In April 2014, production in construction rose by 0.4% and 0.3% respectively. In May 2014 compared with May 2013, production in construction increased by 3.5% in the euro area and by 3.2% in the EU28.

Statement by Commissioner Connie Hedegaard on Australia's carbon tax repeal

Today, the Australian senate voted to confirm the repeal of the country's carbon pricing mechanismCommenting on the repeal, EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said: ''The European Union regrets the repeal of Australia's carbon pricing mechanism just as new carbon pricing initiatives are emerging all around the world. The EU is convinced that pricing carbon is not only the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions, but also THE tool to make the economic paradigm shift the world needs.  This is why the EU will continue to work towards global carbon pricing with all international partners. With today's repeal of the Carbon Pricing Mechanism, the discussions to link the Australian system and Europe's carbon market will evidently be discontinued.''

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Foster Wheeler by rival AMEC

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Foster Wheeler AG of Switzerland by AMEC plc of the United Kingdom. AMEC is a global supplier of consultancy, engineering and project management services to customers in the sectors of oil and gas, mining, clean energy and environment and infrastructure. Foster Wheeler is a global engineering, construction and project management contractor and power equipment supplier, amongst others in the sectors of oil and gas, chemicals, power, environment and pharmaceuticals. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, because of the moderate combined market positions 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.7215 . M.7215 .

State aid: Commission approves additional liquidation aid for resolution of Lithuanian bank Ukio bankas

The European Commission has concluded that LTL 128,5 million (around €37 million) additional compensation granted by Lithuania to Siauliu bank in the context of the resolution of Ukio bankas was in line with EU rules on state aid to banks during the crisis (see IP/08/1495 , IP/08/1901 , IP/09/322 , IP/10/1636 , IP/11/1488 and IP/13/672). In August 2013, the Commission had authorised state aid supporting the resolution of the Lithuanian bank AB Ukio Bankas (see MEX/13/0814). The bank had been declared insolvent in February 2013 and part of its assets and liabilities have been taken over by another Lithuanian bank, AB Siauliu Bankas, selected in a competitive process. The cash grant of LTL 799 million (around €231.4 million) foreseen by Lithuania intended to bridge the gap between the value of the transferred assets and liabilities. However, the final valuation of assets and liabilities determined that the difference was in fact LTL 128.5 million larger than estimated. The original agreement foresaw that the parties should compensate Siauliu bank for this difference or Siauliu bank could terminate the agreement. The Lithuanian authorities chose to compensate Siauliu bank with an additional cash grant of LTL 128.5 million. The Commission found that the additional compensation represented the difference in value of the transferred assets and liabilities and was necessary for an orderly resolution of Ukio. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register, under the case number SA.38664 .

State aid: Commission approves prolongation of Irish credit union resolution scheme

The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, the prolongation of the Irish credit union resolution scheme until 31 December 2014. The Commission found the prolongation of the scheme, initially approved on 20 December 2011 (see IP/11/1574) and last prolonged in January 2014 (see MEX/14/16.01), to be in line with its guidance on state aid to banks during the crisis. In particular, the prolonged measures are well targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register, under the case number SA.38985 .

What Commissioners said

President Barroso on the outcome of the special meeting of the European Council

At the press conference following the special meeting of the European Council, President Barroso touched upon the implementation of the Association Agreement with Ukraine – including the DCFTA – and also the energy trilateral talks and the energy situation, namely regarding the impact of the crisis between Russia and Ukraine on Europe.

The full speech is available on RAPID and the video of his intervention can be watched on EBS .

Embracing the open opportunity: speech by Vice President Neelie Kroes

Speaking at the Open Knowledge Festival in Berlin, Neelie Kroes sets out the advantages of being open– transparency, fairness and innovation – and how the European Commission has promoted it: promoting open public data, open science, net neutrality, and open education. She also launches new EU guidelines to encourage public administrations to make public information freely available, see IP/14/840 and Q&A for more detail MEMO/14/491 .


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