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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 24 / 08 / 2016

Brussels, 24 August 2016

Commission voices concern regarding statements calling into question the quality of official statistics in Greece

Sound and reliable fiscal data are essential for sound economic decision making. Recent statements in the media, however, call into question the quality and reliability of official statistics in Greece. Although the Commission will not, as a matter of principle, comment on individual national legal proceedings, it is concerned about these statements as they also call into question the validity of the fiscal data underpinning the Stability Support Programme for Greece. Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, as well as European statistics, Marianne Thyssen, said: "The independence of the Hellenic Statistical Authority ELSTAT and the quality of its statistics are essential. For the Commission and Eurostat it is absolutely clear that data on Greek Government debt during 2010-2015 have been fully reliable and accurately reported to Eurostat." The Commission now calls upon the Greek authorities to actively and publicly challenge the false impression that data were manipulated during 2010-2015 and to protect ELSTAT and its staff from such unfounded claims. It also urges the Greek authorities to support and preserve the quality of Greek statistics, as well as the independence of the Hellenic Statistical System, along the lines defined in Greek statistical legislation and in the Commitment on Confidence in Statistics of 2012.  A letter signed by Vice-President Dombrovskis, Commissioner Moscovici and Commissioner Thyssen was sent in this regard to Greek Minister of Finance, Euclid Tsakalotos. Commissioner Thyssen presented the matter today at 12:00 CET, and her statement can be followed on EbS. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)


Towards better social statistics for social Europe

Today the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Regulation on new, integrated ways to collect and use data from social surveys so as to better support social policy making. A more solid evidence base in terms of social indicators will improve the analysis of social developments and contribute to a social triple-A for Europe. As Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, as well as for European statistics (EUROSTAT), said: "Today we take an important step to modernise social statistics. Yet this is not about numbers, this is about people. Good policies start with good data. We need the most accurate information in the social field. We need more up to date data and receive it faster in order to design social policies that correspond to the real needs of citizens in Europe today. Today's proposal is another example of how this Commission puts the social dimension at the heart of its agenda." The proposed framework Regulation will allow data to be published faster, increase the comparability and coherence of EU social statistics, and provide us with a richer and broader data set. More information can be found in the press release and memo. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)


State aid: Commission approves creation of Malta Development Bank

The European Commission has found Malta's plans for setting up a development bank to be in line with EU state aid rules. The bank will carry out non-commercial activities to facilitate access to finance for SMEs and to support infrastructure investment, without unduly distorting competition. The Commission found that the Malta Development Bank will provide financing to SMEs and infrastructure projects only where such financing is not available in the market. This will avoid private investment being crowded out by the state-supported development bank. On this basis, the Commission has concluded that the MDB's scope of activity will not distort competition in the Single Market. A full press release isavailable online in EN, FR, DE and MT. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)  


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Cubico by PSP and OTPP

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of joint control over Cubico Sustainable Investments Holdings ("Cubico") of the UK by Public Sector Pension Investment Board ("PSP") and Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board ("OTPP"), both of Canada. Cubico owns, manages and invests in renewable energy and water infrastructure assets globally. PSP is a pension investment manager and its investments include real estate, private equity, infrastructure and renewable energies. OTPP is an investment fund that mainly distributes its portfolio among public equities, private capital, infrastructure, natural resources and real estate. Banco Santander of Spain will divest its stake in Cubico to the existing shareholders PSP and OTPP. In parallel, Cubico will acquire control over five windfarms (four in the UK and one in Italy) currently owned by Banco Santander. The Commission concluded that the proposed merger would raise no competition concerns. This is because of the negligible combined market shares and the significant number of competitors active in both the UK and Italian markets for the generation and wholesale supply of electricity. 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.8092. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)  


The Commission approves two new Geographical Indications from Austria and Portugal

The Commission has approved today the addition of two new products to the register of Protected Geographical Indications (PGI) and Protected Designations of Origin (PDO). From Austria, ' Steirische Käferbohne' (PDO) are bi-coloured beans, ranging from violet-black to brown-beige, cultivated in the southern province of Styria. The beans are similar in taste to chestnuts and are used in different dishes, the best known being the Steirischer Käferbohnensalat. From Portugal, 'Pão de Ló de Ovar' (PGI) is a creamy and soft, yellow cake known as ló, with a fine, golden brown crust and a moist part inside known as the pito. It is made in the municipality of Ovar, located in the north west of Portugal, with know-how dating back from the end of the 18th century. These new denominations will be added to the list of over 1,350 products already protected. More information: webpages on quality products and DOOR database of protected products. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel: +32 229 56172; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229)




Statement by Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides following the earthquake in central Italy

"In the early hours of this morning central Italy was tragically struck by an earthquake, with initial reports of several casualties and damage to infrastructure. We express our heartfelt condolences and sympathy to the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones. Our thoughts are also with the first responders and all those involved in the rescue operations. Italy is part of our European family and as the European Union we stand in full solidarity with the Italian people and the national authorities at this time. The EU is ready to help. At the moment, the Commission's Emergency Response Coordination Centre is closely monitoring the situation and has already been in contact with the Italian civil protection authorities during the night regarding any help which could be requested. So far, the Italian authorities have requested that the Copernicus Emergency Management Services provide damage assessment satellite maps for the affected area. This will of course be done." The statement is also available online in English and Italian. (For more information: Alexandre Polack – Tel.: +32 229 90677; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)


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