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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 13 / 03 / 2017

Brussels, 13 March 2017

Antitrust: Commission invites comments on Gazprom commitments concerning Central and Eastern European gas markets

The European Commission invites comments from all interested parties on commitments submitted by Gazprom to address the Commission's competition concerns as regards gas markets in Central and Eastern Europe. The commitments will enable cross-border gas flows at competitive prices. Commissioner in charge of competition policy, Margrethe Vestager, said: "We believe that Gazprom's commitments will enable the free flow of gas in Central and Eastern Europe at competitive prices. They address our competition concerns and provide a forward looking solution in line with EU rules. In fact, they help to better integrate gas markets in the region. This matters to millions of Europeans that rely on gas to heat their homes and fuel their businesses. We now want to hear the views of customers and other stakeholders and will carefully consider them before taking any decision." In the Commission's view, the commitments offered by Gazprom cover its competition concerns. They help to better integrate Central and Eastern European gas markets, facilitating cross-border gas flows at competitive prices. The Commission now invites all stakeholders to submit their views on the commitments within seven weeks of their publication in the Official Journal. Taking into account all comments received, the Commission will then take a final view as to whether the commitments are a satisfactory way of addressing the Commission's competition concerns. A full press release is available online in EN, FR, DE and all other EU languages. Please also see country-specific Factsheets that explain how the commitments would benefit each Member State concerned: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia. Commissioner Vestager will present the decision in a press conference at 12 pm CET – follow live on EbS. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)


Juncker Plan: European Fund for Strategic Investments to trigger more than EUR 177 billion in new investments across all 28 Member States

The Juncker Plan is now expected to trigger more than EUR 177 billion in total investments. These figures follow last week's meeting of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Board of Directors. This comes just two years after the Plan was launched by the Juncker Commission and represents well over half of the EUR 315 billion target of total investments mobilised that was originally earmarked. The operations approved under the EFSI represent a total financing volume of over EUR 32 billion and are located in all 28 Member States. The EIB has now approved 197 EFSI-backed infrastructure projects worth over EUR 24 billion. The European Investment Fund (EIF) has approved 264 SME financing agreements, with total financing under the EFSI of over EUR 8 billion. Over 400,000 SMEs and Midcaps are expected to benefit from these agreements. The Commission's proposal to extend the EFSI (the so-called "EFSI 2.0" proposal) has already made good progress. At its December meeting, the European Council welcomed an agreement by EU Finance Ministers to give their backing to the proposal and called for the extension to be adopted by the co-legislators in the first half of 2017. President Juncker has made it clear that the EFSI 2.0 is among the Commission's top legislative priorities and, as such, he looks forward to collaborating closely with the European Parliament to ensure its swift adoption. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Enda McNamara – Tel.: +32 229 64976)


EU-Algeria: EU adopts €40 million projects to support Algeria's renewable energy, public finances reform and to facilitate trade

Today, at the high level EU-Algeria Association Council taking place in Brussels, the European Union and Algeria will sign a €40 million package that will help Algeria diversify its economy and improve its business climate through measures ranging from the development of renewable energy to modernisation of public finances. These measures will support Algeria's own economic reform programme. The package is signed on the day that Algeria becomes the first country in North Africa to adopt Partnership Priorities with the European Union to focus future cooperation on jointly identified areas of mutual interest. High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini, Commissioner Johannes Hahn, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Algeria, Ramtane Lamamra, will be present at the signature ceremony. A press release will be available online at approximately 12:30. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)


EU report: Further reform efforts needed from the Republic of Moldova to benefit citizens

With extensive support from the European Union, the Republic of Moldova has adopted a number of reforms in implementing the Association Agenda, but needs to undertake further efforts, in particular to improve the rule of law and the business environment. The details are highlighted in a joint report, released today by the European External Action Service and the European Commission ahead of the EU-Moldova Association Council on 31 March 2017."The European Union and the Republic of Moldova have a strong relationship, reinforced through our joint Association Agreement that entered into force nine months ago", said the High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini. "The Agreement has intensified our partnership, increasing our cooperation in some areas and consolidating it in others. The Association Agenda details commitments undertaken by the Moldovan authorities, including fighting against corruption, improving the independence of the judiciary, de-politicising state institutions, and investigating the banking fraud. Progress has been made – this is detailed in today's report. Further work is needed, and on this path Moldova can count on the European Union, on our common work, for the sake of our citizens." "We are already seeing some positive first results from Moldova implementing the Association Agreement but more needs to be done”, saidthe Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn. "Since the EU-Moldova Association Agreement was signed, the EU has consolidated its position as Moldova's main trading partner and the EU's assistance is aiming to create jobs and improve living conditions in the country. Additional opportunities have been created for Moldovan citizens and businesses through our partnership. In particular, Moldovan citizens enjoy short-stay travel to the Schengen area without the need for a visa, and they have been participating in great numbers in European Union programmes such as Erasmus+. With further progress in implementing reforms undertaken as part of its Association Agenda, I look forward to seeing more success stories in our relationship.” The joint report assesses the state of play of Moldova's implementation of the Association Agenda since November 2014. It focuses on key developments and reforms undertaken in line with the strategic priorities agreed between the European Union and Moldova. A full press release is available here, and the joint report is available here. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Adam Kaznowski – Tel.: +32 229 89359; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)


Agriculture: des règles plus simples et un soutien renforcé pour les producteurs européens de fruits et légumes

Grâce à de nouvelles dispositions adoptées aujourd'hui par la Commission européenne, les organisations de producteurs de fruits et légumes européens bénéficieront de règles plus simples, d'une charge administrative allégée et d'un soutien financier accru en période de crise. Concluant un processus de réexamen de deux ans mené dans le cadre de l'initiative en cours «Mieux légiférer» de la Commission Juncker, le règlement délégué actualisé et simplifié relatif au secteur européen des fruits et légumes renforcera le rôle des organisations de producteurs (OP) en les rendant plus attrayantes pour les producteurs non-membres, tout en améliorant le fonctionnement du système existant de gestion du marché. Le commissaire européen à l'agriculture, M. Phil Hogan, a déclaré aujourd'hui: «Dans le contexte de l'agriculture et de la production de denrées alimentaires en Europe, le secteur des fruits et légumes revêt une importance cruciale. La Commission européenne continuera de soutenir ce secteur comme elle l'a fait par le passé. Il est également essentiel que les millions d'agriculteurs qui produisent certaines des meilleures denrées alimentaires du monde soient justement récompensés pour leurs efforts et que les consommateurs continuent à avoir accès à ces produits.» Chaque année, 3,4 millions d'exploitations réparties dans l'ensemble de l'Union, soit environ un quart de toutes les exploitations européennes, produisent des fruits et légumes pour une valeur de quelque 47 milliards d'euros. Selon les derniers chiffres disponibles, environ 1 500 organisations de producteurs couvrent 50 % de la production de fruits et légumes de l'Union. Outre les aides directes et le cofinancement par l'Union de projets de développement rural, les producteurs de fruits et légumes de l'Union ont bénéficié de mesures de soutien exceptionnelles se chiffrant au total à 430 millions d'euros depuis l'instauration par la Russie d'un embargo sur les exportations agroalimentaires de l'Union en août 2014. La Commission européenne assure également un financement supplémentaire aux organisations de producteurs, dont le montant s'élève chaque année à environ 700 millions d'euros. Un communiqué de presse sur les nouvelles règles est en ligne dans toutes les langues. (Pour plus d'informations: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52509)


Labelling of alcoholic beverages: Commission report invites the industry to submit a self-regulatory proposal

The European Commission adopted today a report on the mandatory labelling of the list of ingredients and the nutrition declaration of all alcoholic beverages. Following the conclusions of the report, the Commission has decided to invite the alcoholic beverages' industry to develop, within a year, a self-regulatory proposal aiming to provide information on ingredients and nutrition of all alcoholic beverages. Commissioner for Health and Food Safety,Vytenis Andriukaitis said: "This report supports the right of people in the European Union to be fully informed about what they drink. Moreover, it does not identify any objective grounds justifying the absence of the list of ingredients and nutrition information on alcoholic beverages. The expansion of voluntary initiatives from the sector has already been ongoing and is brought to the fore in the report." Press release is available here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)


State aid: Commission finds Portuguese recapitalisation of Caixa Geral de Depósitos involves no new aid

The European Commission has found Portugal's plans to strengthen the capital position of fully state-owned Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD) by €3.9 billion are in line with EU state aid rules. The measures are carried out on market terms and therefore involve no new aid in favour of the bank. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "The industrial plan presented by Portugal foresees a structural transformation of CGD and will enable the bank to become profitable in the long-term. Our assessment showed that Portugal's state as the sole owner, is investing under the same conditions as a private owner would have accepted. Therefore, the recapitalisation by the State involves no new state aid." The full press release in EN, FR, DE and PT and the fact sheet in EN, FR, DE and PT are available online. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)


Mergers: Commission clears Petrol's acquisition of Geoplin

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Geoplin by Petrol, both of Slovenia. Geoplin's activities concern the supply, trade and related services in the natural gas market. Petrol is active in retail and wholesale of petroleum products, sales of commercial goods and natural gas. It provides both electricity and natural gas to final consumers. The Commission's investigation focused on the markets for downstream wholesale supply of gas and retail supply of gas in Slovenia. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns. On the gas wholesale market, the Commission found, among other things, that the parties' customers already source, or are planning to source, gas directly from the Central European Gas Hub located in Austria. In addition, there are no constraints on interconnection capacity between Slovenia and neighbouring Member States. On the gas retail market, the Commission found that there are a number of alternative suppliers available to customers and that the transaction will have a limited impact on the retail gas supply market structure in Slovenia. More information will be available on the competition website, in the Commission's public case register under the case number M.7936. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)





European Research Council's marks 10th anniversary of support for top-quality research in Europe [corrected on 13/03/2017 at 14:43]

This week, the European Research Council (ERC) is celebrating the "ERC week" to mark the 10th anniversary of their work in successfully supporting some of world's most excellent research. The celebration will see more than 140 events held around Europe and beyond, including science exhibitions at Tate Gallery and Science Museums in Madrid and Milan, to honour the achievements of the ERC, promote its work and reflect on the future ahead. The festivities will culminate in a final celebration in Brussels on 21 March hosted by Commissioner Moedas, responsible for Research, Science and Education and ERC President Jean Pierre Bourguignon. In its first decade of successful work, ERC funding has already led to some amazing breakthrough advances; contributing for instance to new cures for cancer and Parkinson's, discoveries of new Earth-like planets in outer space and developing new generations of powerful radars. It has supported the research that led to the reward of 6 Nobel prize winners and funded almost 7,000 other excellent researchers with a total of more than 40,000 team members. The quality of the research supported by the ERC has been acknowledged in close to 100,000 international scientific journal articles and press publications. For a full list of event, see the ERC Week programme. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87878)


European Union remains committed to supporting women's economic empowerment

Today, Commissioner Mimica, in charge of International Cooperation and Development, is in New York, where he attends the United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women, dedicated this year to the economic empowerment of women in the changing world of work. Gender equality and women's empowerment are a key priority for the European Union. Commissioner Mimica spoke at a number of ministerial and other high-level events, such as on "Women and the future of work – delivering decent employment and access to the labour market". At this occasion, the Commissioner stressed: "Fighting for women's rights and empowerment is not just our moral, social or legal obligation. It is also a precondition for Sustainable Development and for tackling other challenges, including poverty, inequality, food security, health and education. In 2015 alone, the EU allocated around 188 million EUR specifically for activities to promote gender equality. And by mainstreaming gender equality throughout all of our actions, in reality we invest closer to 2.5 billion EUR on women's empowerment. In practical terms, this means providing both financial and non-financial support, including credit, insurance, technology, training, energy, health services -  as well as improving business and policy environmentsAnd working in partnership – with governments, civil society, social partners and entrepreneurs, and international organisations." The Commissioner's remarks will be available here. (For more information: Carlos Martín Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: + 32 229 65322; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)


Upcoming events of the European Commission (ex-Top News)


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