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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 10 / 02 / 2016

Brussels, 10 February 2016

Implementing the European Agenda on Migration: Commission reports on progress on priority actions

In view of next week's European Council, the Commission is today reporting on the implementation of priority actions under the European Agenda for Migration and highlighting key areas where immediate action is needed to restore control of the situation. The Commission has adopted a Chapeau Communication (Press Release), a series of reports on the implementation of priority actions (Press Release) in Greece (Factsheet), Italy (Factsheet)  and the Western Balkans (Factsheet), and a report on the implementation of the EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan (Press Release & Factsheet). The College also took a series of infringement decisions (Press Release & Factsheet) and discussed management of the Schengen Borders (factsheet). A factsheet on spending on the refugee crisis in 2015 and 2016 is available here. The press conference taking place after the College meeting with Commissioner Avramopoulos can be viewed live on EbS here. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423)


Commission opens a public consultation on future measures to prevent dumped imports from China

The European Commission today launched an online public consultation as regards the methods used in the EU's antidumping procedures concerning China. The question is whether, and if so, how, the EU should change the treatment of China as a market economy in its anti-dumping investigations after December 2016. The online consultation, which will be open for ten weeks, invites stakeholders to give their opinion on the various options being considered by the Commission. This public consultation is part of an in-depth impact assessment that will include a careful study of the economic effects of any potential changebroken down by Member States, with a particular focus on jobs. The decision to carry out an impact assessment concerning a possible change of the treatment of China in anti-dumping investigations is a result of the orientation debate that took place in the Commission's College on 13 January. The College of Commissioners will return to the matter this summer. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185, Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)


Agriculture: The Commission approves new Protected Geographical Indication from Germany

The Commission has today approved the addition of a new German product to the register of Protected Geographical Indications (PGIs). 'Aachener Weihnachts-Leberwurst'/'Oecher Weihnachtsleberwurst' is a spreadable pork and pig's liver sausage speciality, produced in the city of Aachen, and traditionally made and sold only in the Christmas season. The cutting of an ‘Aachener Weihnachts-Leberwurst’/‘Oecher Weihnachtsleberwurst’ by the Mayor of Aachen in the Town Hall signals the start of the season each year. Some variations of ‘Aachener Weihnachts-Leberwurst/Oecher Weihnachtsleberwurst’ are smoked. This denomination will be added to the list of over 1,300 products already protected. For more information: 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)


Commission extends by one year the application date for the MiFID II package

The European Commission has today proposed granting national competent authorities and market participants one additional year to comply with the rules set out in the revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, known as MiFID II. The new deadline is 3 January 2018. The reason for the extension lies in the complex technical infrastructure that needs to be set up for the MiFID II package to work effectively. The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has to collect data from about 300 trading venues on about 15 million financial instruments. To achieve this result, ESMA must work closely with national competent authorities and the trading venues themselves. Jonathan Hill, Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability and Capital Markets Union said: "Given the complexity of the technical challenges highlighted by ESMA, it makes sense to extend the deadline for MiFID II. We will therefore give people another year to prepare properly and make the necessary changes to their systems. Meanwhile, we are pressing ahead with the level II legislation to implement MiFID II and expect to announce those measures shortly." A press release is available here. (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel: +32 229 56 194; Letizia Lupini – Tel: +32 229 51 958)


State aid: Commission approves impaired asset management measures for banks in Hungary and Italy

The European Commission has found Hungarian and Italian plans aimed at transferring nonperforming loans off the balance sheets of Hungarian and Italian banks to be free of any state aid. The Commission concluded that the pricing models used by the Hungarian asset management company ensure it will buy non-performing loans at market prices. The Commission also decided that under the state guarantee scheme chosen by the Italian authorities, the State will be remunerated in line with market conditions for the risk it will assume by granting a guarantee on securitised non-performing loans. This formalises an understanding reached between Commissioner Vestager and Minister Padoan on 26 January 2016. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, stated: "Today's decisions show that EU rules offer Member States different tools to kick-start the clean-up of bank balance sheets, either with or without the use of state aid. The Commission's role is simply to ensure that the choice made by the national government does not unduly burden the public purse or distort the level playing field in the EU." Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue, said: "High levels of non-performing loans in some Member States are weighing on banks' balance sheets and hampering their ability to lend to businesses and households. This has also been highlighted in the past, not least in recommendations of the European Commission. The measures planned by the Hungarian and Italian authorities and approved by the Commission show that Member States are paying more attention to this issue, and demonstrate the possibility to design solutions that do not rely on state aid. The effectiveness of these schemes will be improved by flanking reforms in the banking sector and the wider economy." A full press release is available in EN, DE, FR, HU and IT. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)


Mergers: Commission approves Staples' acquisition of Office Depot, subject to conditions

Following an in-depth review, the European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of office supplies distributor Office Depot by Staples, subject to the divestment of Office Depot's contract distribution business in Europe and entire business in Sweden.  Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "The substantial remedies package offered will ensure that effective competition is maintained, in particular on the EU's international office supplies market. This will allow European companies to continue to benefit from the Single Market by procuring their office supplies internationally and to reduce costs." The Commission's investigation focused on the effects of the transaction in the international contract sales channel as well as in the national contract sales channel in the Netherlands and Sweden.  The Commission concluded that the commitments remove the entire overlap between the merging companies in all markets where concerns were raised, thus ensuring that an important alternative will remain available on these highly concentrated markets. More information on this case is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7555. The full press release is available online in EN, FR and DE. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Ergo Italia by Cinven 

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Ergo Italia S.p.A., an Italian insurance company that also distributes insurance products of other companies by Cinven Capital Management (V) General Partner Limited, a private equity firm which is part of the Cinven Group. The Commission concluded that the transaction would raise no competition concerns, given that there are no overlaps between the activities of Ergo Italia and the activities of portfolio companies controlled by Cinven. 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.7894. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)


EUROSTAT: Share of renewables in energy consumption in the EU rose further to 16% in 2014

In 2014, the share of energy from renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy reached 16.0% in the European Union (EU), almost double that of 2004 (8.5%), the first year for which the data is available. The share of renewables in gross final consumption of energy is one of the headline indicators of the Europe 2020 strategy. The target to be reached by 2020 for the EU is a share of 20% energy from renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy. However, renewables will continue to play a key role in helping the EU meet its energy needs beyond 2020. For this reason, Member States have already agreed on a new EU renewable energy target of at least 27% by 2030. A Eurostat press release is available here. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)




European Commission appoints two Directors and proposes an extension of EFCA's Executive Director term of office

The European Commission appointed today Mr Eric Mamer to the position of Director for Competitiveness and European Semester, and Mr Sławomir Tokarski to the position of Director for Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing, both of them in the Directorate-General for "Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs" (DG GROW). The Commission also proposed to the Administrative Board of the Community Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) to extend the term of office of Mr Pascal Savouret as Executive Director for a period of five years, starting on 1 September 2016. Mr Mamer, a French national, joined the Commission in 1994. Spokesman for Vice-President Neil Kinnock between 1999 and 2004, he first became Head of Unit in 2005. Since 2012, Mr Mamer has been Deputy Head of Cabinet of Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger. Mr Tokarski, a Polish national, joined the Commission as Member of the Cabinet of Commissioner responsible for Regional Policy, Ms Danuta Hübner, in 2004. He first became Head of Unit in 2009, in the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. Mr Tokarski moved to DG Enterprise and Industry in 2012, where he has been holding Head of Unit positions. He is currently also Acting Director for Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing. Mr Savouret, a French national, joined the EFCA as Executive Director in 2011. Previously, he served as Deputy Director for Fisheries in the French Directorate of Fisheries and Aquaculture. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265; Andreana Stankova – Tel.: +32 229 57857)


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