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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 24 / 02 / 2016

Brussels, 24 February 2016

Orientation debate on the 2016 European Semester: country reports

Today, the College held an orientation debate on the economic and social challenges of Member States, on the progress they made in addressing their 2015 country specific recommendations and in tackling macroeconomic imbalances. This debate took place against the background of the priorities identifies in the Annual Growth Survey 2016 and recommendation for the economic policy of the euro area. Subject to College discussions, this orientation debate should pave the way to the publication of individual country reports. For 18 Member States identified in the 2016 Alert Mechanism Report last November, the Reports will also contain the results of in-depth reviews, which evaluate whether macroeconomic imbalances exist in these countries. The Commission intends to engage in dialogue with Member States ahead of the preparation of their National Reform Programmes and their Stability Programmes (for euro area countries) or Convergence programmes (for non-euro area countries) to be presented in April. Vice-President Dombrovskis will come to the press room to present the outcome of todays’ discussions. This readout can be followed on EbS. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Audrey Augier - Tel.: +32 229 71607; Annikky Lamp - Tel.: +32 229 56151)

 

European Commission holds orientation debate on the future for VAT in the EU

The College of Commissioners today held an orientation debate on the way forward for VAT in the EU. The Commission plans to put forward an Action Plan on this issue in March. The VAT system needs reform: the 'VAT gap', which is the difference between the expected VAT revenue and VAT actually collected in Member States, was almost €170 billion in 2013. Cross border fraud itself is estimated to be responsible for a VAT revenue loss of about €50 billion annually in the European Union.  At the same time, the current VAT system remains fragmented and creates significant administrative burdens, especially for SMEs and online companies. Finally, the system needs to be modernised to reflect innovative business models and technological progress in today’s digital environment.  A College Read-Out by Vice-President Dombrovskis will take place after the College meeting and can be followed live on EbS. (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Patrick McCullough – Tel.: +32 229 87183)

 

International aviation: EU launches new aviation partnership with China

Today the EU and China have formally launched the EU-China Aviation Partnership Project (APP), a cooperation programme in the field of civil aviation. It will be jointly implemented by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). With a €10 million budget from the EU Partnership Instrument, this five year programme will serve to increase cooperation and mutual understanding on areas such as safety and environmental protection; and to allow for better exchange of best practices and standards. With a population of 1.4 billion, China is one of the fastest growing aviation markets in the world and a key partner for the EU. The Commission put forward a proposal to negotiate an EU-China comprehensive aviation agreement, as part of the new Aviation Strategy for Europe, adopted in December 2015. Such an agreement would improve connections between the two regions and bring significant economic benefits by facilitating trade and tourism flows. More information on the APP is available here. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Alexis Perier - Tel.: +32 229 69143)

 

Mergers: Commission approves diabetes joint venture between Sanofi and Google

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a joint venture between Aventis Inc., a subsidiary of Sanofi S.A. of France, and Verily Life Sciences LLC, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. of the United States, the holding company of Google Inc. Sanofi is a global pharmaceutical group and offers, amongst others, a range of solutions for the treatment of diabetes. Verily Life Sciences is active in life sciences. The joint venture will offer services for the management and treatment of diabetes. In addition, the joint venture may commercialise certain products, such as specialised continuous glucose monitoring devices, insulin pumps and insulin. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns, in particular since the joint venture's products are not yet commercialised and a number of competitors would remain active in the market after the transaction. The present 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.7813. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Stork by Fluor

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Stork Holding B.V. and Stork Technical Services Group B.V. (together "Stork") of The Netherlands by the US Fluor Corporation. Fluor provides engineering, procurement, construction (so called "EPC"), maintenance and project management services. Stork is active in maintenance, modification and asset integrity services for existing production facilities.The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns because the overlaps between the companies' activities resulting from the acquisition are limited. The operation was assessed under the simplified merger procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website in the public case register under the case number M.7912. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Blount International by American Securities

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Blount International by American Securities, both of the U.S. American Securities is a private equity investment firm which controls portfolio companies active in a variety of economic sectors. Blount International designs, manufactures and markets a wide range of outdoor equipment and related replacement and component parts, and accessories, for professionals and consumers. 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.7915. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

European Commission announces Director of the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency

The European Commission decided today to appoint Ms Veronique Wasbauer to the position of Principal Adviser in the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE), and to second her, for a period of four years, to the function of Director of the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (CHAFEA). The term is renewable once. The date of effect will be determined later. Ms Wasbauer, a French national, joined the Commission' Secretariat-General in 1988. In 2003, she moved to Eurostat. Since January 2010, Ms Wasbauer has been Head of Unit 'Budget, financial management and internal control' in the EU's statistical office. CHAFEA, based in Luxembourg, was created on 1 January 2005. Currently, CHAFEA implements the EU Health Programme, the Consumer Programme, the Better Training for Safer Food initiative (BTSF) and the Promotion of Agriculture Products Programme. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265; Andreana Stankova – Tel.: +32 229 57857)

 

Speech by Commissioner Věra Jourová at the 8th Citizens' Energy Forum

Speaking on the occasion of the 8th Citizen's Energy Forum yesterday, Commissioner Jourová said: "Energy issues are high on the European Commission’s agenda. Under the guidance of Vice-President Šefčovic, myself and the colleagues in the project team on the Energy Union are working hard to turn the new deal for energy consumers into reality. We have now a unique opportunity to set in place an Energy Union that works in the interest of consumers. I am convinced that we share a common goal: energy services that are not only simple, affordable and fair for all consumers, but also driven by active consumer empowerment." She called for more competition and transparency in the energy market to ensure that consumers can more actively manage their energy consumption. Full speech available here. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

 

Commissioner Thyssen to visit Berlin

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen will be in Berlin on Thursday and Friday (25 – 26 February). The programme includes meetings with Chief of Staff of the Federal Chancellery and Federal Minister for Special Affairs Peter Altmaier, Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Andrea Nahles, Chairman of the Federal Agency of Employment and head of the Federal Agency of Migration and Refugees Frank-Jürgen Weise, Länder Ministers of European Affairs, members of the Federal Parliament and social partners. The meetings will be an opportunity to discuss the integration of refugees in the labour market and how Member States can make the best use of available EU funding to address this challenge. In addition, Commissioner Thyssen will present the broad lines of upcoming initiatives in the field of employment and social affairs, including the European Pillar of Social Rights and the Skills Agenda. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)

MEX/16/398


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