Yesterday European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker travelled to Switzerland to deliver a speech at Zurich University on the 70th anniversary of the Winston Churchill speech of 19 September 1946. In his address, President Juncker praised Churchill's speech as a milestone in post-war Europe "containing much which continues to resonate today in Europe, on our continent and also beyond the borders of our continent". At the same time, the President emphasised that "European integration after the Second World War has not been the work of politicians" but rather "a project of peoples – of those who were tired of going to war against each other. It was a project of those who returned after the war from the front, concentration camps, destroyed cities and villages, and developed a political programme that still today shows its effectiveness". During his visit to Switzerland, President Juncker also met with the President of the Swiss Confederation Johann Schneider-Ammann. Following their discussion the two leaders held a press point, where President Juncker underlined that the meeting was constructive and that although open issues remained, talks were moving into the right direction. President Juncker emphasised that "the European Union needs Switzerland; and Switzerland needs the European Union. That is why we will be respectful to each other." A full transcript of President Juncker's speech is available online (in German). (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382)
Today, the UN General Assembly Ministerial Week officially kicks off, again with high-level EU participation. On Monday, at the UN Summit on large movements of refugees and migrants in New York City, the European Union highlighted its strong engagement in managing the global migration challenge. Specific angles of responsibility sharing were discussed in several round tables, following President Tusk's intervention during the plenary meeting. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans chaired the discussion on a global compact for responsibility-sharing for refugees. He reiterated the European Union's approach of co-responsibility as guiding principle in advancing a rules-based global order in a more connected world. High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini spoke at the round table on a global compact for safe regular and orderly migration: towards realising the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. She underlined the need to work together to explore the opportunities human mobility can offer and the win-win solutions that can only be agreed in partnership with third countries. Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos participated in the round table on addressing vulnerabilities of refugees and migrants in their journeys from their countries of origin to the countries of arrival. He stressed in particular the need to provide protection closer to the country of origin or to develop resettlement to reduce the risk of abuses. Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva attended the plenary session of the summit, while Commissioner Johannes Hahn participated in the round table on addressing drivers of migration, particularly large movements, and highlighting the positive contribution of migrants. All interventions are available on EbS.
EU side events
Yesterday HR/VP Mogherini and Vice-President Georgieva presented the new European External Investment Plan at the EU hosted side event entitled 'Investment in partnership: a new investment plan to address root causes of migration and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals'. The HR/VP underlined that investing in the most fragile states and provide opportunities to young people can help addressing root causes of migration, prevent radicalisation and counter criminal organisations; it is also an investment in the future of everyone. Vice-President Georgieva explained how the experience with the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI) can be put to good use with partner countries and invited participants to take stock of results achieved in a year from now. Coverage of this event can be found here.
Bilateral meetings & Events
In the margins of the summit, EU representatives had a busy schedule with many bilateral meetings and events around New York City. First Vice-President Timmermans met with UNICEF President Anthony Lake. Together with Vice-President Georgieva he also attended a round table on the World's forced migration and refugee challenges, hosted by the ONE campaign. HR/VP Mogherini participated in the panel discussion 'Partnering for global prosperity', organised by the Clinton Global Initiative, with U2 singer Bono among others. She also chaired an informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers and together with Commissioner Hahn, participated in the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee – a donor coordination group in support of the Palestinian economy. Both HR/VP Mogherini and Commissioner Hahn held a large number of bilateral meetings. Commissioner Avramopoulos met with the Foreign Minister of Niger, Mr Yacoubou, as well as with the Minister of Interior of Mali, Mr Sallay. The Commissioner also signed a visa weaver agreement with Micronesia. Commissioner Stylianides addressed the UN event entitled 'Supporting greater dignity and protection: Self-reliance in Food Security & Nutrition in Protracted Refugee Situations'. Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis attended the meeting of the UN High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic growth. Audio-visual material of events can be found on EbS. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic Tel.: - +32 229 86570; Esther Osorio Tel.: - +32 229 62076)
The European Union is boosting efforts to provide learning opportunities and protection to hundreds of thousands of children and youth who have fled the Syria conflict. Within the context of the London pledging conference for Syria earlier this year, the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis committed €90 million in support of UNICEF’s work with children and young people who have fled the war in Syria to take refuge in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Children and youth in host communities that are themselves struggling with access to education and basic services, will also benefit. “The EU Trust Fund in response to the Syrian Crisis is one of Europe's key instruments for delivering on our €3 billion pledge at the London conference on supporting Syria and the region. The partnership between the EU Trust Fund and UNICEF for Syria's children is a key element of our response and the largest contract signed by the Fund so far. With this support, we are able to address the situation for children and youth of Syria quickly and with flexibility. The EU's financial contribution will help preventing "a lost generation" with all its negative consequences for the whole region", said Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations ahead of a meeting in New York with Mr. Lake in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly. The full press release is available online. A factsheet 'The EU and the crisis in Syria' is also available. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)
The Commission has fined Altstoff Recycling Austria (ARA) €6 million for blocking competitors from entering the Austrian market for management of household packaging waste from 2008 to 2012, in breach of EU antitrust rules. The fine was reduced by 30% due to ARA's cooperation with the Commission. The Commission found that the nationwide collection infrastructure, partly controlled and partly owned by ARA, could not be duplicated. Competitors who wanted to enter or expand in the market were dependent on receiving access to this existing infrastructure. The investigation also found that, between March 2008 and April 2012, ARA refused to give access to this infrastructure, so that competitors were excluded from the market and competition eliminated. As well as finding an infringement and fining ARA, the Commission has imposed a structural remedy to address the issue of foreclosure of the Austrian market for the management of household packaging waste. This structural remedy was suggested by ARA, which cooperated with the Commission. Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: “The waste management sector is an important part of the circular economy. Effective competition is vital for making recycling affordable for consumers. ARA was preventing competitors from accessing essential infrastructure and blocking them from entering the waste management market." The full press release is available online in EN, DE and FR.(For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Angela Nardella - Tel.: +32 229 86801)
Éclairer, chauffer, se déplacer, produire: l’énergie est essentielle à notre vie quotidienne. Allumer nos ordinateurs ou démarrer nos voitures semble constituer des évidences, mais il s'agit d'actions qui représentent l’étape finale d’un processus complexe, depuis l'extraction jusqu’à la consommation finale. Par exemple, le pétrole brut est transformé en essence, tandis que les énergies fossiles, nucléaires et renouvelables sont transformées en électricité. Les statistiques peuvent contribuer à rendre plus compréhensible le processus complexe de l’énergie. C'est là l'objectif de la publication numérique "Shedding light on energy in the EU – A guided tour of energy statistics" publiée aujourd'hui par Eurostat, l'office statistique de l'Union européenne. Cette publication numérique sera en particulier utile à ceux qui souhaiteraient mieux comprendre les défis rencontrés par l’Union de l’énergie, l’une des dix priorités de la Commission européenne. Un communiqué de presse est disponible en ligne. (Pour plus d'informations: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of the Flexibles Group of Germany by the Lindsay Group of the US. The Flexibles Group produces and sells flexible packaging products to customers in sectors such as medical and pharmaceuticals, food products and tobacco. The Lindsay Group is a private equity firm managing funds that invest in a variety of business sectors including pharmaceutical products, pulp and paper products and metallic materials. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because the companies' activities do not overlap and they are not active on related markets. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8176. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Angela Nardella - Tel.: +32 229 86801)
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Neas Energy A/S ("NEAS") of Denmark by Centrica of the UK. NEAS provides services for electricity producers and large wholesale electricity and gas customers in order to optimise their operations. Centrica is a vertically integrated energy company producing, sourcing and supplying gas and electricity. The companies' activities overlap for energy management services, generation and wholesale supply of electricity, balancing and ancillary services and downstream wholesale supply of gas in several European countries. Furthermore, a vertical relationship arises from the companies' energy management services as an input for the generation and wholesale supply of electricity. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given the companies' moderate positions and the number of strong competitors active on these markets. 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.8042. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Angela Nardella - Tel.: +32 229 86801)
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services by Computer Sciences Corporation, both of the United States. Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services provides technology consulting, information technology outsourcing and support services in traditional and enterprise services offerings. Computer Sciences Corporation is a provider of information technology services. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because there are only limited overlaps between the activities of the two companies. 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.8155. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Angela Nardella - Tel.: +32 229 86801)
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over two warehouses in Tilburg, in the Netherlands, by SEGRO plc of the UK and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSPIB) of Canada, via their joint venture SEGRO European Logistics Partnership S.a.r.l. (SELP) of Luxembourg. The two warehouses are: (i) Tilburg I, currently leased to a tenant in the telecommunication industry, and (ii) Tilburg II, currently leased to a tenant in the automotive industry. SEGRO plc is a real estate investment trust that owns, manages and develops modern warehousing, light industrial and data centre properties. PSPIB invests the pension plans of the Canadian public sector in a diversified global portfolio including stocks, bonds, private equity, real estate, infrastructure and natural resources. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of its very 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.8194. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Angela Nardella - Tel.: +32 229 86801)
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Toshiba Medical Systems Corporation (TMSC) by Canon, both of Japan. TMSC manufactures and supplies medical equipment, such as diagnostic x-ray systems. Canon manufactures and supplies imaging and optical products, such as cameras. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns. Although the parties' activities overlap in the area of diagnostic imaging systems and components, their combined position will be limited post-transaction in Europe, and strong competitors, such as Trixell, GE and Carestream will remain. 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.8006. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Angela Nardella - Tel.: +32 229 86801)
On 15 and 16 September, heads and representatives of the European Official Gazettes held their annual meeting in Vienna, during which they discussed how to improve publications and the importance of technical developments in encouraging the participation of citizens in the legislative processes, amongst other topics. More information is available here. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524)
Upcoming events of the European Commission (ex-Top News)