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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 12/01/2016

Brussels, 12 January 2016

Refugee crisis: Commission grants €5.5 million to Health projects to support Member States' actions

The Commission is supporting EU countries at the forefront of the refugee crisis with grants from the EU Health Programme totalling €5.5 million for four projects. The funds are meant to help addressing common health challenges in the most affected Member States. A grant to the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) will be used for testing a personal health record which aims to reconstruct the medical history of migrants and evaluate their health needs. Three additional projects – to be carried out by Médecins du Monde, regional authorities and academics – will receive grants to provide immediate support to Member States such as protocols and clinical guidelines, language and communication tools and capacity building, including training. The Health Programme is also supporting longer-term actions on refugees and migrants' health and integration and more projects can be envisaged. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Aikaterini Apostola - Tel.: +32 229 87624)

 

EU contributing to humanitarian convoy for Madaya, Syria

The EU is contributing humanitarian funding to an aid convoy which left yesterday morning for Madaya, Syria to assist people in need. The convoy was made up of the UN, the International Committee for the Red Cross, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, and the UNHCR. A total of 49 trucks will deliver emergency food and medical items, as well as blankets. These supplies will reach 40,000 people in need in Madaya and 20,000 people more in Foah and Kefraya. All trucks arrived safely and yesterday evening the teams conducted assessments and began distribution of the aid. Commissioner Stylianides, in charge of Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management said, "The EU is helping provide emergency humanitarian support to reach the many people suffering from this intolerable situation. We must prevent starvation and more suffering. I once again underline the need for humanitarian access to be granted unconditionally so that aid organisations can deliver vital assistance such as food and medicines to the most vulnerable." The EU is the leading donor in the international response to the Syria crisis with over €5 billion from the EU and Member States collectively in humanitarian, development, economic and stabilisation assistance. The EU's support goes both to Syrians in their country and to refugees and their host communities in neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, as well as Iraq and Turkey. Please find a factsheet on the Syria humanitarian crisis and the recent Joint Statement of the High Rrepresentative / Vice-President Federica Mogherini and EU Commissioner for Humanitarian aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides on the situation in Syria. (For more information: Alexandre Polack – Tel.: +32 229 90677; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)

 

Quarterly Report on the Euro Area published today

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs today publishes its Quarterly Report on the Euro Area (QREA), featuring in-depth technical analyses of economic issues affecting the euro area. In this edition, staff economists review the issue of shocks and adjustment in the light of recent crises. The report analyses the functioning of a key internal adjustment process in EMU, the "relative price mechanism", as well as the "real interest rate mechanism". It also reviews the different implications of high levels of indebtedness. QREA Vol 14 N4 will be published today at 15:00. (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151)

 

Animal Health: EU commits close to €161 million to combat animal diseases and zoonoses in 2016

The EU has committed close to €161 million to support eradication, control and surveillance programmes that aim to eliminate animal diseases and zoonoses as well as further strengthen the protection of human and animal health. Given the serious impact that animal disease outbreaks can have on human health, but also on economy and trade, the allocation of EU co-financing will continue to assist national authorities in putting in place precautionary measures, disease surveillance and eradication programmes, at national and European level. Overall, 130 programmes have been selected for EU funding under the Regulation 652/2014 on the management of the expenditure in the food safety area.Bovine Tuberculosis (about €62 million); Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (about €12 million); Rabies (€26 million); Salmonellosis (about €17 million); Bovine Brucellosis (about €10 million); Classical Swine Fever (€2,500 million); Avian Influenza (€2 million). Compared to 2015, an increased amount (7 million) has been allocated in 2016 for the implementation of eradication and control of African Swine Fever programmes, mainly in the 4 Member States where the disease has occurred in 2013. Compared to 2015, an increased amount (€7 million) has been allocated in 2016 for the implementation of eradication and control of African Swine Fever programmes, mainly in the 4 Member States where the disease has occurred in 2013. EU co-financing has resulted in a continuous improvement of the animal health and also a decrease in the number of human cases of various zoonotic diseases, such as Salmonellosis (from 151.292 cases in 2007 to 80.677 cases in 2014). Similar success was noted also for Brucellosis and other zoonotic diseases. The co-funded programmes for oral vaccination against Rabies in wild animals have been very successful with the EU achieving a level of Rabies eradication that has never been experienced anywhere else before. The total number of Rabies cases at EU level in wild animals decreased significantly, from 814 in 2007 cases to just 216 cases in 2014 with very few human cases reported. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Aikaterini Apostola - Tel.: +32 229 87624)

 

Commission confirms members of Agricultural Markets Task Force

The European Commission has today formally confirmed the names of the experts who will participate in the new Agricultural Markets Task Force, ahead of the first meeting of this expert group taking place in Brussels tomorrow (13 January). Chaired by former Dutch Minister & University Professor Cees Veerman, the Task Force will consist of 12 experts, all of whom have considerable experience and expertise from different aspects of the food chain. With greater market orientation of EU policies and increasing trade liberalisation in recent years, the EU agriculture sector is no longer shielded from global developments in the food supply chain. The mandate for the Task Force is therefore to discuss relevant issues such as market transparency, access for farmers to financial instruments and futures markets to hedge price risks, options for arranging contractual relations within the chain and legal possibilities for organising farmers' collective actions.  All of this is with a view to improving the position of farmers in the food chain. The Task Force will hold a number of meetings in the coming months, calling on relevant stakeholders to appear at the different sessions, as well as taking input from representatives from the Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission. The aim is then for the Task Force to present a report in the autumn with its findings, which may include concrete recommendations for policy and legislative initiatives. Tomorrow's kick-off meeting will concentrate on the issues to be covered and how the Task Force will proceed. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52509)

 

State aid: Commission approves seventh prolongation of Cypriot bank guarantee scheme

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a prolongation until 30 June 2016 of the government guarantee scheme for credit institutions in Cyprus. The original scheme was authorised on 6 November 2012. Since then its prolongation has been authorised several times, the last time in July 2015. The Commission found this seventh prolongation of the measure to be in line with its guidance on support measures for banks during the financial crisis (see also MEMO). The prolonged measure is targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. The Commission has, therefore, concluded that the guarantee scheme represents an appropriate means of remedying a serious disturbance in the Cyprus economy and as such, is compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. During the application of the extraordinary crisis rules for state aid to banks, the Commission is authorising guarantee schemes on banks’ liabilities for successive periods of six months in order to be able to monitor developments and adjust conditions accordingly. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number SA.43874. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel. +32 229 56182; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

 

State aid: Commission approves prolongation of Portuguese guarantee scheme

The European Commission has authorised the prolongation until 30 June 2016 of a guarantee scheme for credit institutions in Portugal. The scheme was initially approved in October 2008 and prolonged several times, the last time in July 2015. The Commission found the extension of the measures to be in line with its guidelines on state aid to banks during the crisis. In particular, the extended measure is well targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. During the application of the extraordinary crisis rules for state aid to banks, the Commission is authorising guarantee schemes on banks’ liabilities for periods of six months. Each prolongation is based on a review of the developments in financial markets and the scheme’s effectiveness. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the reference SA.43996. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel. +32 229 56182; Yizhou Ren - Tel.: +32 229 94889)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Saipem by ENI and FSI

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control of Saipem S.p.A. by ENI S.p.A. and Fondo Strategico Italiano S.p.A. ("FSI"), all of Italy. Saipem is active globally in engineering and construction for the oil and gas industry. ENI is active globally in the whole oil and gas value chain, as well as in the generation and sale of electricity, the petrochemical and engineering sectors. FSI is a holding company investing directly or indirectly in companies of “significant national interest” to Italy. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction will raise no competition concerns, given the significant number of alternative competitors active on all markets concerned. 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.7870. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel. +32 229 56182; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Unify by Atos

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Unify Holdings B.V. of the Netherlands by Atos of France.  Unify is a provider of unified communications products and solutions. Atos is a global provider of IT services and hardware. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns as the overlap between these companies' activities is very limited. 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.7884. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel. +32 229 56182; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Airflo by Panalpina and Dutch Flower Group

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Airflo B.V. of the Netherlands and Airflo Ltd of Kenya (together "Airflo") by Panalpina of Switzerland and Dutch Flower Group of the Netherlands. Airflo is an air freight forwarder specialised in perishables, more specifically in the freight forwarding of fresh cut flowers out of Kenya. Airflo is currently a subsidiary of Dutch Flower Group, a global trader of fresh cut flowers and plants. Panalpina provides freight forwarding services and supply chain solutions. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns, because of the negligible overlap between Panalpina's and Airflo's activities on the market for freight forwarding from or to Kenya and their limited combined market shares on the other markets for freight forwarding. 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.7876. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel. +32 229 56182; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

 

EUROSTAT: EU surplus down to almost €163 billion in 2014

The European Union (EU) surplus in trade in services decreased in 2014 for the first time over the last five years. It stood at €162.9 billion in 2014, compared with €175.6 billion in 2013. This is the result of EU imports of services from the rest of the world growing faster (from €544.1 billion in 2013 to €602.0 billion in 2014, or +11%) than exports (from €719.6 billion in 2013 to €764.9 billion in 2014, or +6%). A Eurostat press release can be found here. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)

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