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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 19 / 05 / 2015

Brussels, 19 May 2015

Better Regulation Agenda: Enhancing transparency and scrutiny for better EU law-making

Today, 19 May, The European Commission will adopt its Better Regulation Agenda. This comprehensive package of reforms covering the entire policy cycle will boost openness and transparency in the EU decision-making process, improve the quality of new laws through better impact assessments of draft legislation and amendments, and promote constant and consistent review of existing EU laws, so that EU policies achieve their objectives in the most effective and efficient way. The Agenda will be presented at a press conference at the European Parliament in Strasbourg at 16h00, which can be watched live on EbS, here. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans will say: "This Commission is determined to change both what the Union does and how it does it. Better regulation is therefore one of our top priorities. We are listening to the concerns of citizens and businesses – especially SMEs - who worry that Brussels and its institutions don't always deliver rules they can understand or apply. We want to restore their confidence in the EU's ability to deliver high quality legislation. Better regulation is not about "more" or "less" EU rules, or undermining our high social and environmental standards, our health or our fundamental rights. Better regulation is about making sure we actually deliver on the ambitious policy goals we have set ourselves in the most efficient way." A press release and memo will be issued shortly before the press conference. (for more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602)


Plovdiv (Bulgaria) and Matera (Italy) to be the two European Capitals of Culture in 2019

At its meeting today, EU Culture Ministers are expected to designate the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv and the Italian city of Matera as the two European Capitals of Culture in 2019. Plovdiv will be the first Bulgarian European Capital of Culture ever. Under the motto “Together”, Plovdiv will highlight its multicultural aspect, including its Roma communities, and create new opportunities in creative and cultural industries for local inhabitants. Matera will be the fourth Italian city to hold the title of European Capital of Culture, after Florence in 1986, Bologna in 2000 and Genoa in 2004. With the slogan "Open Future", the city aims to use this as an opportunity to show how culture can help build a better and more inclusive Europe for the future. Both cities now have nearly four years to prepare for the title-year. This will involve working with the cities’ inhabitants and their creative, social and economic communities and ensuring the full support of the respective regional and national authorities. Over the past 30 years, more than 50 cities have been European Capitals of Culture. Croatia and Ireland are the next in line to host the event in 2020. Croatia's shortlisted candidate cities will be announced on 29May, to be followed later in the year by the announcement of the Irish shortlisted cities.  (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Mirna Bratoz – Tel.: +32 229 87278)


Vice-President Ansip presented the Digital Single Market Strategy in the European Parliament plenary

This morning, Vice-President Ansip presented the DSM to the European Parliament. He detailed the main priorities of the European Commission's strategy to improve the access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services across Europe and maximise the growth potential of the digital economy, i.e. offering more protection to consumers online, reviewing telecoms rules, tackling geo-blocking or modernising copyrights rules. He insisted on the fact that the vast majority of Member States have asked for the DSM to happen and on the need to act quickly. He said: "This is a huge undertaking. We have just 18 months to prepare and take all the key decisions." You can find Vice-President Ansip's statement here. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt - Tel: + 32 2 29 67083; Marie Frenay - Tel.: +32 229 64532)


Competition: Commission approves acquisition of TSB by Sabadell; major step in restructuring plan of Lloyds Banking Group

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of TSB Banking Group plc, a British retail and commercial banking services provider, by Banco de Sabadell, S.A. of Spain. TSB is a spin-off of Lloyds Banking Group (Lloyds). With the complete divestment of TSB, Lloyds has fulfilled a key measure under its restructuring plan to limit distortions of competition created by the public aid Lloyds received during the financial crisis. Having the backing of a larger banking group like Sabadell will enhance TSB's ability to compete as a challenger bank and stimulate competition in the British retail banking markets, to the benefit of UK consumers. EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said: "Lloyds' recent progress, including the sale of its stake in TSB approved today, shows the effectiveness of EU state aid rules. Lloyds was able return to normality following the state support received. The Commission worked together with UK authorities to design a restructuring plan that ensured Lloyds' long-term viability and limited distortions to competition created by the aid." The press release is available in EN, DE, FR and ES. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso - Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Jazztel by Orange, subject to conditions

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Jazztel plc, a telecommunications company registered in the UK but mainly active in Spain, by rival Orange SA of France. The approval is conditional upon the full implementation by Orange of a number of commitments that will ensure effective competition on the fixed internet access services markets after the takeover. Orange is a provider of telecommunication services in more than 30 countries. Jazztel, through its subsidiary Jazz Telecom, S.A.U., provides telecommunication services in Spain. A press release is available in ES, EN, FR and DE. A fact sheet is available in ES, EN, FR and DE. More information on this case is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7421. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso - Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)


Mergers: Commission clears creation of two storage terminals by Oiltanking GmbH and 3i Group

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Oiltanking Ghent N.V. of Belgium and Oiltanking Terneuzen B.V. of The Netherlands by 3i Group plc of the United Kingdom and Oiltanking GmbH of Germany. 3i Group is an investment firm that makes own investments and advises and manages investment funds. Oiltanking provides storage services for petroleum products. Oiltanking Ghent operates a storage terminal for liquid oil products in Ghent (Belgium) and Oiltanking Terneuzen operates a similar facility in Terneuzen (The Netherlands). The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns, because of its limited 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.7591. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso - Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)


EUROSTAT: Euro area international trade in goods surplus €23.4 bn

The first estimate for euro area (EA19) exports of goods to the rest of the world in March 2015 was €182.4 billion, an increase of 11% compared with March 2014 (€164.4 bn). Imports from the rest of the world stood at €159.1 bn, a rise of 7% compared with March 2014 (€148.3 bn). As a result, the euro area recorded a €23.4 bn surplus in trade in goods with the rest of the world in March 2015, compared with +€16.1 in March 2014. Intra-euro area trade rose to €150.0 bn in March 2015, +5% compared with March 2014. The Eurostat press release can be found here. (for more information:Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 229 56185, Joseph Waldstein – Tel. +32 229 56184)


EUROSTAT: Annual inflation at 0.0% in the euro area

Euro area annual inflation was 0.0% in April2015, up from -0.1% in March. In April 2014 the rate was 0.7%. European Union1 annual inflation was also 0.0% in April2015, up from -0.1% in March. A year earlier the rate was 0.8%. These figures come from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In April2015, negative annual rates were observed in twelve Member States. The lowest annual rates were registered in Greece (-1.8%), Cyprus (-1.7%), Bulgaria and Poland (both -0.9%). The highest annual rates were recorded in Malta (1.4%) and Austria (0.9%). Compared with March2015, annual inflation fell in nine Member States, remained stable in one and rose in seventeen. The largest upward impacts to euro area annual inflation came from restaurants & cafés (+0.10 percentage points), rents (+0.08 pp) and vegetables (+0.07 pp), while fuels for transport (-0.42 pp), heating oil (-0.17 pp) and gas (-0.07 pp) had the biggest downward impacts.The Eurostat press release can be found here. (For more information:Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153)




Joint statement on the outcome of the Trilateral Talks on the Implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement/Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Klimkin and Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation Ulyukayev met in Brussels last Monday to continue talks on the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement/Free Trade Area (AA/DCFTA), which will be provisionally applied as of 1 January 2016. All sides have reiterated their commitment towards the development of trade in the region as a means to achieve inclusive economic growth. Moreover, all sides agreed to intensify their efforts and task their experts to achieve practical solutions to the concerns raised by Russia with regard to the AA/DCFTA, in particular in the areas of customs cooperation, technical barriers to trade, and sanitary and phytosanitary issues. Following the meeting, Commissioner Malmström said: "The meeting took place in a positive atmosphere; it provided a good occasion to clarify some misunderstandings and some fears. This process is very much about building trust and the EU is also willing to play a role in this aspect of the process. The DCFTA is going to be applied as of 1 January 2016 and I'm encouraged by the fact that all the participants in the meeting agreed with this. There are concerns raised by Russia, some related to the agreement, other to the possible consequences of the agreement but on a bilateral level between Ukraine and Russia. We stand ready to work on an answer to these concerns in the context of the existing flexibilities of the DCFTA and to assist both sides in a bilateral or trilateral context".  It was decided that technical level meetings will take place to discuss the areas identified during the meeting and to report to the political level no later than July. The full statement is available online. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 229 56185, Joseph Waldstein – Tel. +32 229 56184)



Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga: Thursday 21 - Friday 22 May
The fourth Eastern Partnership summit will be held in Riga, Latvia on 21-22 May 2015. It will bring together the leaders of the European Union and the Member States with those of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and President of the European Council Donald Tusk will travel to Riga to represent the European Union, alongside High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Frederica Mogherini, the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schultz, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn and Commissioner for Trade Cecelia Malmström. The summit will be chaired by President Tusk and hosted by the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the EU. At the same time as the Riga Summit,  Vice-President Dombrovskis will sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the latest (third) package of EU Macro-Financial Assistance of €1.8 billion to Ukraine. This follows two similar programmes of a combined EUR 1.61 billion disbursed between May 2014 and April 2015. 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. The signature will take place on Friday 22 May 10AM (Brussels time) and will be broadcast on EbS. (for more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 66430; Eamonn Prendergast – Tel.: +32 229 98851)


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