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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 25 / 04 / 2016

Brussels, 25 April 2016

Protecting European consumers: toys and clothing top the list of dangerous products detected in 2015

The Commission has released new figures today showing that, in 2015, more than 2,000 dangerous products triggered EU-wide alerts. The Rapid Alert system, which since 2003 ensures that information about dangerous non-food products withdrawn from the market and/or recalled anywhere in Europe is quickly circulated between Member States and the European Commission, has revealed that toys and clothing top the list of dangerous products detected in 2015. Commenting on those findings, the EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Jourová said: "The Rapid Alert system has helped coordinate quick reactions between consumer protection authorities to remove dangerous products across Europe. Two challenges lie ahead of us: online sales bringing products directly to consumer's houses through mail and the strong presence of Chinese products signalled through the Rapid Alert system. I'm going to China in June to further step up our important cooperation with the Chinese authorities on product safety." For more information on the Rapid Alert system, please consult the press release, the Q&A, the full report and the system's search page. The press conference can be viewed online. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Melanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

 

El Niño – EU plans to step up funding in new approach to address global food crises

European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica is today opening a High Level Event in Brussels on "Innovative Ways for Sustainable Nutrition, Food Security and Inclusive Agricultural Growth", where he will propose €414 million of new money to support those countries most affected by the current food security crisis caused by El Niño and other factors.This funding comes on top of the €125 million already mobilised in December 2015, bringing the EU's total contribution to €539 million. European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides stated: "El Niño is having devastating consequences around the globe with 41 million people struggling to meet their food needs. The humanitarian situation in Africa is particularly worrying. The EU is taking action and this new support will allow us to step up our efforts and continue our support for the most vulnerable." Commissioner Mimica said: "This proposed new funding aims at combining short-term lifesaving support with strengthening long-term resilience to food crises by addressing the root causes of fragility and vulnerability. We can build on the past successes gained under our existing resilience initiatives to step up our efforts and provide a global response to this food security crisis which is currently affecting so many across the world". A press release and a factsheet are available. (For more information: Alexandre Polack Tel.: +32 229 90677; Sharon Zarb – Tel.: +32 229 92256; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)

 

Capital Markets Union: Taking stock of the progress made so far

The Commission is today taking stock of the progress made in the first six months since the adoption of the Capital Markets Union Action Plan and it is publishing the first CMU status report. The Capital Markets Union is an important element of the Commission's priority strategy to support jobs, growth and investment and is a key building block of the Investment Plan for Europe. The objective of the Capital Markets Union (CMU) is to diversify and amplify sources of finance and ensure that capital can move freely across borders in the Single Market and be put to productive use. Commissioner Jonathan Hill, responsible for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union said: "This report shows that we have made good on the pledges we set out back in September, when we launched the CMU action plan. We're on time and driving issues forward. Looking ahead, I want to start to tackle some of the longer-term issues: we have already launched a consultation on business restructuring and insolvency and we are going to shortly kick off work on laying the foundations for a stronger European personal pensions market. We will also bring forward a package of measures to stimulate European venture capital markets and launch a consultation to improve passporting rules for the cross-border distribution of investment funds. To maintain momentum, I will continue to report regularly on progress made and to back-up my policy measures with strong economic analysis."A press release is available online. (For more information: Vanessa Mock - Tel.: +32 229 56194; Letizia Lupini - Tel.: +32 229 51958)

 

State aid: Commission refers Greece to Court for failure to recover incompatible aid from LARCO and United Textiles

The European Commission has decided to refer Greece to the European Court of Justice for failure to comply with two Commission decisions, from 2014 and 2012, ordering the recovery of incompatible state aid from LARCO S.A. and United Textiles. Member States have to recover incompatible State aid within the deadline set in Commission decisions, which is usually four months. This is essential because delays in the recovery of unlawful subsidies perpetuate the distortion of competition created by the aid. LARCO is a Greek state-owned mining company that has been in financial difficulties for several years. Between 2008 and 2011, it was granted a number of State guarantees and the State participated in the company's capital increase in 2009. In March 2014, the Commission found that, in the absence of a restructuring plan capable of ensuring the company's return to viability, these measures distorted competition in the Single Market without furthering any common interest goal and were in breach of EU state aid rules. The decision required Greece to recover the undue advantage of around €136 million from LARCO, which more than two years after the decision has not been implemented. United Textiles, one of Greece's largest textile producers, has been in financial difficulties for several years. Between 2007 and 2009, the Greek authorities granted a State guarantee and rescheduled overdue social insurance obligations. In February 2012, the Commission found that these measures had procured United Textiles an undue economic advantage without restoring its long term viability, in breach of EU state aid rules. Greece was ordered to recover around €37 million from the company. In July 2012, United Textiles entered into a liquidation procedure. In December 2015, Greece decided to freeze this procedure with a view to reactivating the company's activities, without having recovered the incompatible aid. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

 

Mergers: Commission approves joint venture between Bekaert and OTPP in wire ropes

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a joint venture to operate under the name of Bridon Bekaert Ropes by NV Bekaert SA of Belgium and Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board (OTPP) of Canada. Bekaert is active worldwide in steel wire transformation and coatings, and will mainly contribute its wire rope activities to the joint venture. OTPP is a pension fund for teachers in the Canadian province of Ontario. OTPP has investments in a variety of companies worldwide, including Bridon International Ltd, a UK company active in the production and sale of wire ropes for various applications. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns because several alternative suppliers would remain active after the merger in the markets for wire ropes and rope wire. The transaction 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.7904. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Kuoni by EQT

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Kuoni Travel Holding Ltd of Switzerland by EQT of the United Kingdom. EQT is an investment fund active in northern Europe. Its portfolio companies are active in a variety of industries and one of its funds controls the hotel chain Scandic Hotel Groups, which is primarily active in northern Europe. Kuoni is a global intermediary of travel services, including hotel accommodation services, to the travel industry and is a provider of visa application outsourcing services to governments. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because the companies' activities do not overlap. Moreover, the vertical links arising from Scandic's upstream provision of hotel accommodation services and Kuoni's activities as an intermediary in the travel industry are limited. The transaction 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.7968. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

 

Eurostat: Près de 90 000 dépôts de marques UE effectués par les États membres en 2015

En 2015, l'Office de l'Union européenne pour la propriété intellectuelle (EUIPO) a reçu 89 420 demandes de protection de marque émanant des États membres de l’Union européenne (UE), soit environ quatre fois plus qu’au milieu des années 1990. Ces dernières années, le nombre de demandes d'enregistrement de marque de l'Union européenne déposées par les États membres n'a fait que s'accroître, si l'on excepte le ralentissement observé avec la crise économique et financière en 2008. Un communiqué de presse est disponible en ligne. (Pour plus d'information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

 

STATEMENTS

 

Déclaration conjointe de la Haute Représentante/ Vice-Présidente Mogherini et du Commissaire Hahn à l'occasion du 40ème anniversaire de la coopération entre l'UE et la Tunisie

A l'occasion du 40ème anniversaire de la coopération entre l'UE et la Tunisie, la Haute Représentante/ Vice-Présidente Federica Mogherini et le Commissaire responsable de la Politique Européenne de Voisinage et des négociations de l'élargissement Johannes Hahn ont fait la déclaration suivante: "Le 25 avril 1976, il y a tout juste quarante ans, la Communauté économique  européenne et la République tunisienne signaient leur premier Accord de coopération. Nos relations bilatérales se sont depuis progressivement intensifiées, reflet des liens historiques, économiques, humains et culturels qui nous unissent depuis l'Antiquité. En quarante ans, l'Europe comme la Tunisie ont connu des transformations remarquables : l'Union européenne s'est bâtie et élargie autour d'un projet de paix ancré dans les valeurs de démocratie et de liberté ; la Tunisie a développé un modèle unique alliant son héritage arabe, musulman et africain et une vision fondée notamment sur l'éducation et l'émancipation des femmes. Surtout, les Tunisiennes et les Tunisiens ont pris en main leur destin par la Révolution de 2011 et en poursuivant, dans un contexte régional fragile, une transition vers la démocratie, les droits de l'Homme, et la justice sociale. Notre Partenariat privilégié conclu en 2012 est le reflet de l'exception que représente la Tunisie dans le voisinage de l'UE. Une exception dans sa transition démocratique, que l'UE a soutenue depuis les premiers jours, mais aussi dans l'ambition que nous partageons d'approfondir et intensifier nos relations dans tous les domaines : politique, économique, social, sécuritaire, culturel, éducatif, scientifique.(…) Nous réaffirmons aujourd'hui le soutien indéfectible de l'UE à la transition tunisienne, et notre détermination à améliorer encore les moyens de cet appui.  Nous sommes déterminés à faire encore mieux, en étroite collaboration avec le gouvernement tunisien et en impliquant largement la société civile, afin que la contribution de l'UE et de ses Etats membres se traduise par des changements concrets répondant aux aspirations des Tunisiens. En cette date anniversaire, l'UE est fière de son Partenariat privilégié avec le peuple tunisien et aspire à l'intensifier encore afin d'offrir à notre jeunesse des perspectives d'avenir." La déclaration complète est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229 69921; Nabila Massrali –Tel.: +32 229 69218; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Commissioners Navracsics and Moedas honour Europe’s top new innovators in Budapest

Rewarding fresh talent in innovation supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, responsible for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, will this evening hand out the EIT Awards, along with Commissioner Carlos Moedas, responsible for Research, Science and Innovation. The awards will recognise successful entrepreneurs and innovators who are part of the EIT community, either by graduating from an EIT-labelled Masters programme, or by benefitting from business support through three of the EIT's Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) covering the fields of sustainable energy, climate mitigation, and digital technology. The EIT's KICs are established networks of businesses, educators, and research institutes that offer innovators benefits such as financial support, legal advice, training and coaching, or even office space. The 17 innovations represented at the awards include an application for early diagnosis of heart disease in patients showing no symptoms, a system for maintaining wind-turbines using drones, a solution that uses computer servers to heat homes, and an energy efficient technology that dries laundry by blowing instead of heating. The award ceremony will take place in the context of the INNOVEIT 2016, a two-day innovation forum organised for Europe’s leading innovators by the EIT in Budapest. A webstream of the nominees showcasing their work (15:00-16:00) can be found here, and the names of the winners can be found here as of Tuesday morning. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt - Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein  – Tel: +32 229 56 184)

 

Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete in Bucharest

On Tuesday 26 April, EU Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete, in charge of Climate Action and Energy, is visiting Bucharest to hold talks on climate and energy with Romania's Prime Minister, Mr Dacian Ciolos, the Minister of Energy, Mr Victor Vlad Grigorescu, and the Minister of Environment, Waters and Forests, Mrs Cristiana Pasca Palmer. The Commissioner will also attend the European League for Economic Cooperation (ELEC) conference, where he will deliver the keynote speech. Discussions on Romania’s energy priorities and climate action will take place over lunch with Prime Minister Ciolos. Energy efficiency and markets, and gas infrastructure and supply are among the topics to be discussed with Minister Grigorescu. With Minister Pasca Palmer the talks will include a follow up on the recently signed Paris Agreement and its implementation, as well as discussions on emissions targets for the sectors not included in the Emissions Trading System (ETS). The latter is to prepare the upcoming Effort Sharing Decision proposal, which is the next step in delivering on the EU's target to reduce emissions by at least 40% by 2030. Steering the EU towards a low-carbon economy is one of the priorities of this Juncker Commission as laid down in the Energy Union Strategy. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

 

Upcoming events of the European Commission (ex-Top News)

MEX/16/1563


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