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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 20 / 02 / 2015

Brussels, 20 February 2015

Building the Energy Union: Key electricity interconnection between France and Spain completed

Today Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Arias Cañete, together with Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy, French Prime Minister Valls and the Energy Minister of Spain, attended the inauguration ceremony of the Santa Llogaia – Baixàs power line in Montesquieu-des-Albères in France as well as Castillo de Perelada in Spain. This power line, a project of common European interest, doubles the existing electricity interconnection capacity between France and Spain, from 1400 megawatt to 2800 megawatt, and helps connecting the power system of the Iberian Peninsula to other European energy markets. The project has received €255 million EU support under the European Energy Programme for Recovery. Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič welcomed the completion of the interconnector. And Commissioner Arias Cañete said: "The increased interconnection capacity will allow renewable electricity to flow more freely in the European market, and make the European power system more reliable. The Juncker Commission will continue to work relentlessly to connect Europe's energy markets to give safer, cleaner and cheaper energy to our citizens, households and businesses". Energy interconnectors are crucial to build an Energy Union with a forward-looking climate policy, one of the key priorities of the new Commission as laid down by President Juncker in his political guidelines. As part of the Energy Union Strategy, the Commission will present a Communication on how to achieve an electricity interconnection of 10% in all Member States by 2020 on 25 February. The press release is available online. (for more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186, Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)


EUROSTAT: First estimate for the fourth quarter of 2014; EU28 current account surplus €33.4 bn; €40.7 bn surplus for trade in services

The EU28 seasonally adjusted external current account recorded a surplus of €33.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2014, compared with surpluses of €15.1 bn in the third quarter of 2014 and of €29.9 bn in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to first estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the fourth quarter of 2014, compared with the third quarter of 2014, based on seasonally adjusted data, the balance of the goods account moved into surplus (from -€6.5 bn to +€12.4 bn) and the surplus of the services account increased (from +€37.9 bn to +€40.7 bn). The deficit of the secondary income account improved (from -€18.8 bn to -€17.4 bn). The surplus of the primary income account turned into a deficit (from +€2.5 bn to -€2.3 bn). These data are subject to revision. A full press release is available online. (for more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153)

EUROSTAT: Facts and figures on agriculture in the European Union; Statistical book on agriculture, forestry and fishery

How many people work in the agricultural sector in each EU Member State? How have prices changed over recent years? Which Member State is the biggest producer of cereals, tomatoes, apples, meat or milk? How important are the forest resources in the European Union? How many tonnes of fish were caught and how large is aquaculture production? Answers to these questions and many more can be found in the 2014 edition of the statistical book on agriculture, forestry and fishery issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. This publication is divided into seven chapters, providing facts and figures about agricultural accounts and prices, agricultural products, agriculture and environment, forestry and fishery production. As 2014 was proclaimed the International Year of Family Farming by the United Nations, the publication also provides specific focus on family farming in the EU and an analysis of changes in farm holdings over a period of five or ten years. A full press release is available online. (for more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172)

EU announces support to secure Kariba dam and electricity generation in Zambia and Zimbabwe

A signing ceremony will take place today in Zambia to announce €64 million in EU funding for the rehabilitation of the Kariba dam, which is central to energy security and economic development in both Zambia and Zimbabwe. After 50 years in operation, the dam on the Zambezi River requires rehabilitation work for its safe operation, which is essential for hundreds of thousands of Zambians and Zimbabweans. The project will be co-financed with the African Development Bank, Sweden and the World Bank. Ahead of the signing, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said: "The Kariba dam is a vital source of energy in the region, which in turn improves living conditions and boosts growth. Our new support will help to preserve this dam and make it safe for future generations." (for more information: Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229 69921; Sharon Zarb - Tel.: +32 229 92256)

The Commission approves two new Protected Geographical Indications and one new Protected Designation of Origin

The Commission has approved the addition of three products to the register of Protected Geographical Indications (PGIs) and Protected Designations of Origin (PDOs). These are, for Italy, ‘Pecorino delle Balze Volterrane’ (PDO), a cheese produced in the province of Pisa, made exclusively with raw, whole sheep’s milk from flocks of the Sarda breed and using vegetable rennet; for Latvia, ‘Carnikavas nēģi’ (PGI), lampreys caught in the river Gauja in Carnikava municipality from 1 August to 1 February, celebrated in an annual Lamprey Festival marking the opening of the lamprey fishing season – the PGI covers both fresh lampreys and lampreys cooked in aspic; for Portugal, ‘Meloa de Santa Maria — Açores’ (PGI), a cantaloupe melon from the island of Santa Maria in the Archipelago of the Azores, characterised by its sweet, juicy taste and its high vitamin C content, relative to common melons. These three denominations will be added to the list of close to 1,200 products already protected. More information is available on the webpages on quality products and DOOR database of protected products. (for more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 229 56 185; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52 509)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of S&B Group by Imerys in industrial minerals sector

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of S&B Group of Greece by Imerys S.A. of France. Both S&B Group and Imerys extract minerals, including perlite, wollastonite, continuous casting fluxes and others, used in a wide variety of industrial applications. The Commission's investigation found that in most of the markets there are no significant overlaps between the companies' sales for the respective applications. The Commission particularly investigated perlite, where Imerys principally sells expanded perlite for filtration and S&B sells unexpanded ore for horticulture and construction/industrial applications. The Commission found that the parties will continue to compete with other significant suppliers of perlite. For similar reasons, vertical and conglomerate effects on competition are also unlikely. The case was referred to the Commission at the request of the notifying parties, pursuant to Article 4(5) of the Merger Regulation, and it 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.7456. (for more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100)




Statement by Commissioner Jourová for the European Day for victims of crime

European Day for victims of crime is celebrated on 22 February. To mark this occasion Commissioner Jourová said: "Every year 75 million people fall victim to crime across the European Union. We need to support them in any way we can. As Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, I see it as my duty to care for the vulnerable in Europe. From November this year, new EU rules guarantee a minimum level of rights for victims across the Union: the right to clear and understandable information on proceedings, the ability to participate actively in criminal proceedings and the benefit of victim support services. Member States should swiftly implement them into national law, so that people can rely on them in practice. In particular, women or men suffering violence or harassment deserve effective protection. Since January, restraining, protection and barring orders issued by one EU Member State must be recognised by all others. Such citizens need no longer fear for their safety if they live or travel abroad." A fact sheet with more information is available online. (for more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253)




First Vice-President Timmermans continues series of meetings with National Parliaments in Madrid

On Friday 20 February, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans will participate in a meeting of the Joint Committee for the European Union of the Spanish Parliament. The First Vice-President is responsible for strengthening the relations between the Commission and national Parliaments. He has recently held similar meetings in Paris, Riga and Copenhagen. During his trip to Madrid, he will also meet the Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, and the Minister for European Affairs Íñigo Méndez de Vigo. (for more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456)

High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina on 23 February

High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini, will visit Sarajevo on Monday 23 February, as the country prepares to take a step forward on its EU integration path. During her visit, HRVP Mogherini will meet the members of the BiH Presidency and the leadership of both houses of the state level Parliament. She will then, upon invitation of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, attend and address a joint session of both Houses of the Parliament. HRVP Mogherini will also meet the Presidents of the entities Republika Srpska and the Federation of BiH, and the Chairman-designate of the BiH Council of Ministers and the two incoming entity Prime Ministers. Commenting ahead of her visit, HRVP Mogherini said: "Bosnia and Herzegovina – and above all its people – deserve to move closer to the European Union and get the benefits this process will bring. The EU-related reforms will help address the fragile socio-economic situation in the country and spur jobs and investment. Good progress has been made so far in developing the written commitment to the EU agenda. Endorsement by the Parliament would open the way for the EU to take a decision on putting the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between us and BiH into full force." Read the full press release online. (for more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 66430)

Visite des Commissaires Andriukaitis, Moscovici et Hogan au Salon de l'Agriculture à Paris

Phil Hogan, Commissaire à l'Agriculture et au Développement Rural, Pierre Moscovici, Commissaire aux Affaires économiques et financières, fiscalité et douanes, et Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissaire à la Santé et la Sécurité Alimentaire, visiteront tous les trois la 52ème édition du Salon de l'Agriculture qui se déroulera à Paris du samedi 21 février au dimanche 21 mars 2015 – Phil Hogan le 22 février, Vytenis Andriukaitis le 26 février et Pierre Moscovici le 27 février – et participeront à plusieurs réunions avec des représentants du gouvernement français, dont le Ministre français de l'Agriculture, Stéphane Le Foll. Des rencontres bilatérales avec des parties prenantes auront également lieu. (pour plus d'informations: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 229 5618; Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Annika Breidthardt – Tel: + +32 229 56153)


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