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EXME 14 / 12.09
12 / 09 / 14
Reinforced restrictive measures against Russia
Strengthened EU sanctions against Russia, entered into force this morning upon publication of the legal acts in the EU Official Journal. They include strengthened restrictions on Russia's access to EU capital markets, a ban on EU nationals and companies providing loans to five major Russian state-owned banks, new restrictions on trade in bonds, equity or similar financial instruments, issued by the same banks, with restrictions extended to some major Russian defence and energy companies. 24 persons have been added to the list of those subject to a travel ban and an asset freeze, bringing the total to 119 as well as 23 entities.
At the same time, the Council will before the end of the month carry out a comprehensive review of the implementation of the peace plan agreed in Minsk, on the basis of an assessment carried out by the European External Action Service . The EU's measures are scalable and reversible: in light of the review and if the situation on the ground so warrants, the Commission and the EEAS will put forward proposals to amend, suspend or repeal the set of sanctions in force, in all or in part.
President Barroso in Kiev
On Friday afternoon, President Barroso meets with President Petro Poroshenko. A joint press point scheduled for 13:30 CET (14:30 local time) which will be broadcast on EBS .
On Saturday morning, President Barroso meets with Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk. During these bilateral talks, leaders will discuss the security situation and the current cease fire, the political and economic situation in Ukraine and the EU/Ukraine relations – namely the EU support and the next steps on the agreements. The President will be accompanied by Commissioner Stefan Fule.
EU-Russia-Ukraine talks on the effects of the implementation on the EU-Ukraine Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area
Today, Commissioner De Gucht will meet his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts to continue discussions regarding issues related to the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, which is part of the Association Agreement. These trilateral discussions have been taking place on technical and ministerial level for a couple of months, the latest in Minsk on 26 August and in Brussels on 11 July . The aim of the today's meeting is to discuss outstanding issues related to the implementation of the agreement. The meetings will take place in the afternoon and Commissioner De Gucht will debrief the press after the meeting. The journalists will be informed about exact timing of a press event via 'espresso'.
"As promised, this is another lesson drawn from last year's horse meat fraud: the rules endorsed by the member States will strengthen the horse passport system in place. I believe that closer cooperation will enhance the safeguards which prevent non-food quality horse meat from ending up on our plates", said EU Commissioner in charge of Health, Tonio Borg. A Commission proposal to revise the rules for the identification of horses was endorsed yesterday by EU Member States' experts (Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health). This revised Regulation provides a more reliable and safer European system for the registration and identification of horses in the EU. One of the basic aims is to prevent the inadvertent or fraudulent slaughter for human consumption of horses which must be excluded from the food chain. The Regulation will apply from 1 January 2016. However, EU countries not already having a centralised database will have until 1 July 2016 to put one in place.
EU and national authorities prevented losses of over €80 million in customs duties, during a major joint customs operation (JCO) coordinated by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). This joint customs operation had particular significance as, for the first time ever, it also involved Chinese customs authorities. Operation "SNAKE" specifically targeted the undervaluation of imported goods, which causes huge losses to public budgets every year. Over a one month period, OLAF and the participating customs authorities detected more than 1,500 containers where the declared customs value was heavily undervalued. This included false descriptions of goods, false weights and quantities, and counterfeit goods. In addition, customs authorities succeeded in identifying several so-called missing traders and non-existent importers, triggering a number of criminal and administrative investigations in several countries.
In July 2014 compared with June 2014, seasonally adjusted industrial production rose by 1.0% in the euro area (EA18) and by 0.7% in the EU28, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In June 2014 industrial production fell by 0.3% and 0.1% respectively. In July 2014 compared with July 2013, industrial production grew by 2.2% in the euro area and by 2.0% in the EU28.
The number of persons employed increased by 0.2% in the euro area (EA18) and by 0.3% in the EU28 in the second quarter of 2014 compared with the previous quarter, according to national accounts estimates published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the first quarter of 2014, employment rose by 0.1% in the euro area and 0.2% in the EU28. These figures are seasonally adjusted. Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, employment grew by 0.4% in the euro area and by 0.7% in the EU28 in the second quarter of 2014 (after +0.1% and +0.6% respectively in the first quarter of 2014). Eurostat estimates that, in the second quarter of 2014, 224.9 million men and women were employed in the EU28, of which 146.5 million were in the euro area. These figures are seasonally adjusted.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the hazelnuts trading and processing company Oltan by Ferrero International S.A. of Luxembourg. Ferrero is a rival of Oltan, through Stelliferi, in the procurement and supply of hazelnuts and, at the same time, a customer of Oltan. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise any competition concerns, in particular because the merged entity will continue to face sufficiently strong competition after the merger and customers will still have sufficient alternative suppliers in all markets concerned.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of CTE by Kaindl and DB Mobility
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of CTE Container Terminal Enns GmbH of Austria by M. Kaindl KG of Austria and DB Mobility Logistics AG of Germany. CTE will operate the Enns Container Terminal in Austria. Kaindl is a holding company mainly active in the timber processing and trade sectors. DB Mobility offers mobility and logistics services. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, in particular because of its small impact on the market structure. 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.7361 .
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed merger between Hapag Lloyd, a German shipping company with worldwide activities, and rival Compañia Sud Americana de Vapores S.A. ("CSAV") of Chile. The clearance is conditional upon the withdrawal of CSAV from two consortia on the trade between Northern Europe and the Caribbean and South America's West Coast, where the merged entity would have faced insufficient competitive constraint to avoid a risk of price raises. The commitments offered by the two companies address these concerns.
The European Commission has authorised under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Sky Deutschland AG and Sky Italia S.r.l. by Sky Broadcasting Group plc ("BSkyB") of the UK. All three companies are media companies, active primarily in the pay TV sector. Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia are currently owned by 21st Century Fox of the US. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns, since the activities of the three companies are geographically complementary.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Noble Agri by COFCO Corporation of China
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Noble Agri belonging to the Noble Group by COFCO Corporation of China. COFCO is a large supplier of diversified products and services in agricultural products and the food industry in China. Noble Agri conducts all of Noble Group's global agriculture commodities businesses and trades agricultural commodities from grains and oilseeds to cotton and distributes products mainly in Asia and the Middle East. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns because COFCO has very limited activities in the European Economic Area (EEA). 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 case number M.7300 .
Visit by President of the Philippines Benigno Aquino III
On Monday 15 September, President Barroso will receive the President of the Philippines Benigno Aquino III for a bilateral meeting here in the Berlaymont. Philippines Benigno Aquino visits Brussels to mark the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the Philippine Embassy in Belgium. This meeting will be followed by a VIP corner of the two Presidents at 15:45.
Leaders will discuss bilateral issues, in particular some priority aspects of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (which was signed in 2012), the Mindanao Peace negotiations, trade and investment, bilateral development cooperation and maritime issues. They will also address EU and Asia relations.
President Barroso last met President Aquino in the margins of the ASEM summit in November 2012 in Laos.
Quality food products: «Pescabivona» and « Zázrivské vojky » get EU protection
The European Commission has approved the addition of two new quality food products to the register of protected designations of origin (PDOs) and protected geographical indications (PGIs). These are, for Italy, ' Pescabivona ' (PGI), which notes fruits of the following four peach ecotypes: Murtiddara or Primizia Bianca, Bianca, Agostina, Settembrina. The geographical area is located within inland Sicily and is characterised by hilly and mountainous terrain; the product’s reputation is associate with its colouring, its taste, and with its remarkably firm flesh. For Slovakia, ' Zázrivské vojky ' (PGI), a steamed cheese product made from lump cheese, smoked or unsmoked, in the form of strings; they are produced in the municipality of Zázrivá a typical mountain region. ‘Zázrivské vojky’ is prepared by a traditional, almost exclusively manual, method comprising the steaming of lump cheese in hot water and the drawing of the cheese into strings (vojky). The denominations will be added to the list of more than 1,200 products already protected. More information: webpages on quality products and DOOR database of protected products.
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