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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 15 / 04/ 2015

Brussels, 15 April 2015

Antitrust: Commission sends Statement of Objections to Google on comparison shopping service; opens separate formal investigation on Android

The European Commission has sent a Statement of Objections to Google alleging the company has abused its dominant position in the markets for general internet search services in the European Economic Area (EEA) by systematically favouring its own comparison shopping product in its general search results pages. The Commission's preliminary view is that such conduct infringes EU antitrust rules because it stifles competition and harms consumers. Sending a Statement of Objections does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. The Commission has also formally opened a separate antitrust investigation into Google's conduct as regards the mobile operating system Android. The investigation will focus on whether Google has entered into anti-competitive agreements or abused a possible dominant position in the field of operating systems, applications and services for smart mobile devices. EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said: "The Commission's objective is to apply EU antitrust rules to ensure that companies operating in Europe, wherever they may be based, do not artificially deny European consumers as wide a choice as possible or stifle innovation". A press release is available in en, fr, de and other EU languages. A factsheet on the Commission's Statement of Objections on comparison shopping is available in en, fr, and de. A factsheet on the Commission's formal investigation in relation to Android is available in en, fr, and de. You can also watch the Commissioner's press statement on Europe by Satellite. (for more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

EU-Tunisia: Disbursement of €100 million assistance approved

The European Commission, on behalf of the European Union (EU), approved the disbursement of €100 million in the form of loans to Tunisia yesterday. This amount represents the first tranche of the €300 million Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA) programme to Tunisia approved by the EU in May 2014. Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxations and Customs, said: "Europe is living up to its commitment. The assistance should help ease Tunisia's financial constraints at a time when the country is undergoing a historical political transition and implementing an ambitious economic reform agenda. It supports Tunisia's efforts to maintain macroeconomic stability while moving towards a more sustainable and socially inclusive growth model." A press release is available online. (for more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Johannes Bahrke - Tel. +32 229 58615)


EU-Ukraine: Additional €1.8 billion assistance adopted

The Commission's proposal for new macro-financial assistance (MFA) to Ukraine is adopted today, with the signatures of the President of the European Parliament, M. Martin Schulz, and of Ms. Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, Parliamentary State Secretary for the European Affairs of Latvia, on behalf of the Latvian Presidency of the Council. This follows the European Parliament's positive vote and Council agreement on the new proposal. The EU and Ukraine will now have to agree on a Memorandum of Understanding. The Commission hopes to conclude this process in the coming weeks, in order to allow for the disbursement of a first tranche of €600 million before the summer break. The new MFA comes on top of what the EU is already contributing via the State Building contract in terms of humanitarian and technical assistance and in terms of project assistance. It will also be the third MFA programme for Ukraine since 2010. In the course of 2014, the Commission disbursed €1.36 billion under the previous MFA programmes, with a final tranche of €250 million under MFA 1 to be disbursed still this month. Together the three MFA operations to Ukraine amount to €3.41 billion, which represents the largest financial assistance to a third country in such a short time. (for more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Johannes Bahrke - Tel. +32 229 58615)


Member States pay less for the 2015 EU budget

Member States will have their contributions to the 2015 EU budget reduced by a total of €1.4 billion thanks to last minute extra income received in 2014. It comes mainly from competition fines and higher amounts of customs duties collected on imports from outside the EU.  This will result in more money which national treasuries can allocate to national projects, while activities funded through the EU budget will not be impacted. This comes under one of the proposals to amend the 2015 EU budget which the European Commission presented on 15 April ("Draft Amending Budget 3"). The other proposal ("Draft Amending Budget 4") makes it possible for Bulgaria, Italy and Romania to receive the 66.5 million euro of EU help under the EU Solidarity Fund announced last week. The aid aims to partially cover the emergency costs incurred following the 2014 floods. Further information is available online. (for more information: Alexander Winterstein – Tel. +32 229 93265; Andreana Stankova – Tel.: +32 229 57857)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of L-3 Communications' marine systems business by Wärtsilä

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of the marine systems business of the US based supplier of Aerospace and Defense solutions L-3 Communications Corporation by the Finnish ship power supplier Wärtsilä. L-3 Communications' marine systems business (L-3 MSI) is headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, and delivers automation, navigation and electrical systems, as well as dynamic positioning technology, sonar and underwater communications technology for the marine, naval and offshore markets. The activities of Wärtsilä and L-3 MSI overlap in the production and supply of marine automation systems and marine electric propulsion systems, as well as in the provision of repair and maintenance service relating to marine equipment. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because those overlaps are limited. 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.7507. (for more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)


EUROSTAT: Euro area international trade in goods surplus €20.3 bn - €3.4 bn surplus for EU28

The first estimate for euro area (EA19) exports of goods to the rest of the world in February 2015 was €160.7 billion, an increase of 4% compared with February 2014 (€154.4 bn). Imports from the rest of the world stood at €140.5 bn, nearly stable compared with February 2014 (€140.0 bn). As a result, the euro area recorded a €20.3 bn surplus in trade in goods with the rest of the world in February 2015, compared with +€14.4 in February 2014. Intra-euro area trade rose to €135.9 bn in February 2015, +1% compared with February 2014. A press release is available online. (for more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 229 56185)


EUROSTAT: House prices up by 1.1% in the euro area - Up by 2.6% in the EU

House prices, as measured by the House Price Index (HPI), rose by 1.1% in the euro area and by 2.6% in the EU in the fourth quarter of 2014 compared with the same quarter of the previous year. These figures come from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. A press release is available online. (for more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194)



Five Commissioners on a working visit to Washington

In the coming days, several Members of the Commission will be travelling to Washington DC, USA. Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President for the Euro and Social dialogue, Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, and Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, are representing the Commission at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Spring Meetings on 17-19 April. On 16-17 April, Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager will give a speech at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and participate in the American Bar Association Antitrust Law Spring Meeting. Commissioner for Economic Affairs Moscovici and Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Arias Cañete will participate in the Major Economies Forum (MEF) on Energy and Climate on 17 and 19-20 April, respectively. The Members of the Commission present in Washington will all have high-level bilateral meetings, speaking engagements and other commitments. A more detailed calendar is available online. (for more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Annikky Lamp – Tel. +32 229 56151)


Commissioner Hahn's first official visit to Belarus

Johannes Hahn will visit Belarus on 16-17 April for the first time in his capacity of Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations. The visit takes place in the context of visits to all six Eastern Partnership countries ahead of the Riga Summit on 21-22 May. The main aim of this visit is to explore ways to improve EU-Belarus relations. During his visit Commissioner Hahn is scheduled to meet political leaders such as President Alexander Lukashenka and Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei as well as opposition politicians. A substantial part of the programme is dedicated to meetings with civil society representatives, human rights defenders and relatives of political prisoners. (for more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 66430)


Commissioner Corina Creţu in Romania

Today, Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu is in Romania. She is visiting the construction site of the Sebes-Turda highway, located in the North of Romania, which is part of the TEN-T core network. She is also meeting the Romanian Minister of Transport, Ioan Rus, to discuss the adoption of the Large Infrastructure Operational Programme (LIOP), an important investment package of nearly 9.5 billion euro to be used for transport, environment and energy projects in the country. Romania will benefit from nearly 23 billion euro from Cohesion Policy funds for 2014-2020. More information on Cohesion Policy and Romania and Regional Policy is available online. (for more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström participates in Citizens' Dialogue in Paris
On 15 April, in Paris, Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström will participate in the fifth Citizens' Dialogue along with Mr Michel Destot, a member of the National Assembly of France, representing the Isère department. The event entitled "Europe, Trade, TTIP. What issues? What European dynamic?" takes place from 13:15 to 14:30 at Sciences Po University and will be live streamed. These 'town hall' style events take place across Europe and give citizens the chance to talk directly with Commissioners and other politicians. During her visit to Paris, Trade Commissioner will also meet French Prime Minister Minister Manuel Valls and French Foreign Minister M. Laurent Fabius (for more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)


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