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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 07 / 01 / 2016

Brussels, 7 January 2016

EU to invest €1 billion in regions along its external borders

The European Commission has adopted a series of cross-border cooperation programmes totalling €1 billion, supporting social and economic development in the regions on both sides of the EU's external borders. "Cross-border cooperation plays a key role in avoiding the creation of new dividing lines. This new funding will further contribute to a more integrated and sustainable regional development in the neighbouring border regions and to a more harmonious territorial cooperation on EU's external borders.'' said Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn. "I am very glad that the European Regional Development Fund can contribute to bringing the EU and its neighbours closer together. Cross border cooperation programmes are concrete examples of how the EU is working to help citizens address common challenges, hence creating a real sense of solidarity, while boosting the competitiveness of local economies." said Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu. A press release is available here. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Alceo Smerilli - Tel.: +32 229 64587)

Record €12.7 billion investment in transport now ready to deliver better mobility, new jobs and growth

Announced in June 2015, the Commission's investment plan for the transport sector is now fully operational, after the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) finalised the signature of all grant agreements for projects selected under the 2014 Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). A total of €12.7 billion of EU investment will support 263 transport projects contributing to faster, safer and greener mobility in the EU. This will also play a major role in bridging the investment gap in Europe, which is one of the Commission's top priorities. EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said "I am glad that today the largest investment ever made by the EU in the transport area is becoming a reality. All these projects will better connect Europe and boost competitiveness, growth and jobs. By contributing to the decarbonisation of the transport sector through greener fuels and digital integration, they will also advance on two priorities of the Commission: Energy Union and Digital Agenda." Among the beneficiaries are flagship initiatives such as Rail Baltica as well as smaller-scale projects, such as the Groningen-Bremen rail connection. All will directly benefit European citizens and businesses. More details can be found here. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen ff - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Alexis Perier - Tel.: +32 229 69143)


Investment Plan: €225 million for microbusinesses in the Netherlands

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has agreed a €100 million loan facility with Dutch micro-financing company Qredits, while the European Investment Fund has also signed an agreement with Qredits to cover part of the credit risk of new loans worth €25 million for small businesses and SMEs. Both operations are backed by the guarantee of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Commission’s Investment Plan for Europe. EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen said: "Boosting investment - especially in start-ups and SMEs - is a key pre-condition to boost economic growth and create jobs. With Qredits we want to support all those entrepreneurs who dare to challenge the status quo and provide them the best conditions for establishing or developing their business and recruit new employees.” The agreements are being signed today in Amsterdam in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands and Commissioner Marianne Thyssen. (For more information see press release or contact Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: + 32 229 57361)


EU contributes €100,000 to increase transparency in investor-to-state disputes

The EU will contribute €100,000 to finance a publicly accessible register of documents related to international investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) cases and decisions of ISDS tribunals. The register supports the implementation of the ISDS transparency rules of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), in force since April 2014. Transparency is at the core of the European investment policy. For that reason, the EU has been in the driving seat as regards development and adoption of the UNCITRAL international transparency standards, in addition to the reform of the EU's own approach to investment disputes. The EU incorporates the UNCITRAL transparency standards into all its trade and investment agreements under negotiation. The UNCITRAL transparency rules apply to all investment treaties concluded after 1 April 2014 using the UNCITRAL arbitration rules. The progressive ratification of the 2015 Mauritius Convention would extend their applicability also to the disputes under the existing agreements. Publicising the documents and opening the hearings of the ISDS tribunals to civil society organisations increases their legitimacy and accountability. The availability of information also brings consistency between awards and predictability necessary for investors, stakeholders, states and investment tribunals. The EU financial support to the public register contributes to these objectives. More information on the ISDS public registry, the UNCITRAL Transparency Rules and the EU investment policy is available online. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel: +32 229 56 172; Joseph Waldstein – Tel: +32 229 56184)

Mergers: Commission clears joint venture by Triton and KKR in maritime transport.

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over a newly created joint venture by Embarcadero Maritime LLC ("EM") of the Marshall Islands, ultimately controlled by KKR &Co L.P. of the US and Nordic Tankers A/S ("NT") of Denmark, ultimately controlled by Triton Managers III Limited and TTF III Limited of Jersey. KKR is a global investment firm. EM operates a fleet of container, chemical, product and LPG vessels. Triton is a group of independent European private equity funds and companies dedicated to investing in medium-sized businesses in Northern Europe. NT is a fully integrated shipping company active in the transport of specialized liquid products in bulks. Through the joint venture, EM and NT would combine some of their stainless steel chemical tankers business in Europe, with focus on North-Western Europe and the Baltic region. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given the ' moderate market positions in the tramp shipping sector resulting from the transaction. 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.7760. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel. +32 229 56182; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)


EUROSTAT: Euro area unemployment rate at 10.5%

The euro area (EA19) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 10.5% in November 2015, down from 10.6% in October 2015, and from 11.5% in November 2014. This is the lowest rate recorded in the euro area since October 2011. The EU28 unemployment rate was 9.1% in November 2015, down from 9.2% in October 2015,and from 10.0% in November 2014. This is the lowest rate recorded in the EU28 since July 2009. These figures are published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Eurostat estimates that 22.159 million men and women in the EU28, of whom 16.924 million were in the euro area, were unemployed in November 2015. Compared with October 2015, the number of persons unemployed decreased by 179 000 in the EU28 and by 130 000 in the euro area. Compared with November 2014, unemployment fell by 2.146 million in the EU28 and by 1.573 million in the euro area. A Eurostat press release can be found here. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Justyna Milanowska – Tel.: +32 229 94246)


EUROSTAT: Volume of retail trade down by 0.3% in euro area

In November 2015 compared with October 2015, the seasonally adjusted volume of retail trade decreased by 0.3% in the euro area (EA19), while it rose by 0.2% in the EU28, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In October retail trade fell by 0.2% in the euro area and remained stable in the EU28. In November 2015 compared with November 2014 the retail sales index increased by 1.4% in the euro area and by 2.6% in the EU28. A Eurostat press release can be found here. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Siobhan Millbright - Tel.: +32 229 57361)



First Vice-President Timmermans participates in Citizens' Dialogue in The Hague as the Netherlands takes over the Council Presidency

On Thursday 7 January, at 18:30, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans takes part in a Citizens' Dialogue in The Hague. The event coincides with the College of Commissioners travelling to the Netherlands for meetings with the Dutch Government and Parliament. On 1 January, the Netherlands took over the rotating Presidency of the EU for the next six months. Citizens' Dialogues are an opportunity for members of the public to engage directly with Commissioners and to discuss and debate key EU policy issues. The Commission has organised 45 such events during its first year in office, in an effort to boost direct engagement with European citizens. This will be the 7th Citizens Dialogue that First Vice-President Timmermans has taken part in. Registration for this event is now closed, but the discussion can be followed in a live online video here and through social media using the hashtag #EUdialogues. (For more information: Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602)


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