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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 23 / 01 / 2018

Brussels, 23 January 2018

Boost of €100 million for microfinance and social enterprises in Europe from the Investment Plan for Europe

Investment in microfinance and social enterprises is set to receive a significant boost. The EU's financing programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) will receive an additional €100 million for its Guarantee scheme from the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the core of the Investment Plan for Europe. In light of this top-up, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: "Thanks to the €100 million EFSI top-up the EU will be able to boost access to finance to micro-entrepreneurs and social enterprises across the continent. The extra funding is expected to mobilise about €1.9 billion in financing for micro-entrepreneurs, in particular vulnerable groups such as the unemployed, young people, and migrants, as well as social enterprises. Through the programme for Employment and Social Innovation, the European Commission shows its commitment to foster sustainable employment for the most vulnerable people in the labour market. It will enable thousands of new jobs to be created." The financial support comes on top of the original EaSI Guarantee instrument worth €96 million, for a combined overall investment of €196 million. In order to continue to highlight the need for investment in social infrastructure, a High-Level Task Force on "Investing in social infrastructure in Europe" was set up in January 2017 on the initiative of the European Association of Long Term Investors. Today the Task Force, chaired by former Commission President Romano Prodi and former French Minister Christian Sautter, presented its report at the Commission in the presence of Vice-President Katainen. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)


Investment Plan in Spain: European Investment Bank launches three new projects worth €255 million

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed three new deals in Spain under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe, the Juncker Plan. The first is a €100 million loan to Acciona to develop its innovation and digitalisation activities in strategic sectors such as renewable energy, infrastructure and water treatment. The second is €125 million in financing to Redexis to construct 845 kilometres of new gas distribution networks in Spain, employing 2,400 people in the construction phase. The third is €30 million to renovate city buses in Palma de Mallorca, replacing 180 diesel buses with a new fleet running on natural gas, as part of the Cleaner Transport Facility programme. Commenting on the Las Palmas buses project, Violeta Bulc, Commissioner for Transport, said: "This project is yet another illustration that the Juncker Plan is bringing tangible results for Europeans… and for the environment! These new buses will improve the daily lives of commuters, stimulate the local economy and put Palma de Mallorca at the forefront of the transition to low-emission mobility. I hope that this success will encourage many other European cities to follow suit." (For more information and all the latest EFSI results see the Investment Plan website or contact Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: +32 229 57361)


EU risk assessments in food sector: EC launching public consultation on transparency

The European Commission is launching today a public consultation on the transparency and the independence of risk assessments and scientific studies as a follow-up to its response to the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) on glyphosate.  The public consultation is also based on the current evaluation of the General Food Law. Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis said: "The Commission is fulfilling its commitment made when responding to the ECI and is initiating a process to reinforce the trust in the EU's scientific assessment in the area of food safety. I call on all interested parties – NGOs, stakeholders, public authorities - to contribute to the consultation launched today. This will allow the Commission to table – as promised – a legislative proposal this spring which will address this issue, as well as reinforce the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) governance model and support the long term excellence of its scientific capacity". The consultation will remain open until 20 March 2018 and is available here. (For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)


Commission welcomes progress in approval of the modernised EU's trade defence rules

Today, the international trade committee of the European Parliament endorsed the political agreement reached between the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament on 5 December 2017 on the modernisation of the EU's trade defence instruments. Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: "Today's resoundingly positive vote means that the EU is one step closer to having the necessary tools to tackle unfair trading practices quickly and effectively. Together with the recently-agreed changes to our anti-dumping methodology, the EU's toolbox of trade defence instruments will be even better suited to deal with global challenges. I now look forward to the speedy adoption of this decision by plenary of the European Parliament. The EU stands for open and rules-based trade, but we must ensure that others do not take advantage of our openness. The EU stands ready to defend its industry and workers from unfair competition." The changes to the EU's anti-dumping and anti-subsidy regulations will make the EU's trade defence instruments more adapted to the challenges of the global economy: they'll become more effective, transparent and easier to use for companies. In some cases they will also enable the EU to impose higher duties on dumped products. The details of the agreement reached in December are now presented in a dedicated factsheet. The new rules will enter into force once the European Parliament and the Council conclude the respective ongoing approval procedures. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska – Tel: +32 229 51383)


Publication of latest agri-food trade figures: EU remains a strong exporter of agri-food products

Published today by the European Commission, the latest monthly trade report shows that the value of EU agri-food exports reached €12.7 billion in November 2017. With EU agri-food imports at a value of €10 billion, the latest monthly trade balance is now at about €2.7 billion. For the 12-months period November 2016 to November 2017, EU agri-food exports increased by 5.6 % in value terms, compared to the same period one year ago. Major gains in annual values have been achieved in agri-food exports to the USA, Russia and several Asian markets: China, Japan, Korea and Hong Kong. Wine, milk powder and infant food have had good export performance over the last 12 months. EU agri-food imports increased the most for palm oil oilseeds and unroasted coffee and tea. The full report is online. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52509)


Concentrations: la Commission autorise l'acquisition de certains actifs de l'entreprise Asco Industries par Schmolz+Bickenbach

La Commission européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, l'acquisition de certains actifs de l'entreprise Asco Industries, basée en France, par Schmolz+Bickenbach, basée en Suisse. Asco Industries est un producteur d'acier européen qui fournit des produits longs en aciers spéciaux aux secteurs de l'automobile, de l'ingénierie mécanique, des roulements et de l'énergie. Schmolz+Bickenbach est un groupe industriel actif tout au long de la chaine de valeur ajoutée des produits longs en aciers spéciaux: de la production d'acier et de la transformation à chaud et à froid des produits, jusqu'à leur distribution et la fourniture de services personnalisés. La Commission a conclu que la concentration envisagée ne soulèverait pas de problème de concurrence, car les chevauchements entre les activités des entreprises sont limités. L'opération a été examinée dans le cadre de la procédure simplifiée de contrôle des concentrations. De plus amples informations sont disponibles sur le site internet concurrence de la Commission, dans le registre public des affaires sous le numéro d'affaire M.8740. (Pour plus d'information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou - Tel.: +32 229 13740)


State aid: Commission clears rescue aid for Croatian shipbuilder Uljanik

The European Commission has found that Croatian plans to grant Uljanik shipyard a State guarantee for a €96 million loan are in line with EU State aid rules. The measure will allow the company to meet urgent liquidity needs while preparing a restructuring plan, whilst competition distortions are limited. On 15 January 2018, Croatia completed its notification to the Commission of plans to grant a State guarantee on a €96 million loan in favour of Uljanik Shipyard. The company, part of the Uljanik group, is located in Pula, in the county of Istria in Croatia, and employs around 1 800 people. It has been in financial difficulties for several years due to the adverse effects of the financial crisis on the shipbuilding sector in general, and on the resulting low orders for new vessels in particular. The measure will enable Uljanik Shipyard to pay wages, suppliers and other urgent liabilities over the next months and prevent it from going out of business, while preparing a restructuring plan. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "The Croatian State guarantee will help the Uljanik shipyard to continue operating and maintain 1 800 jobs, while they work out a sound restructuring strategy to ensure its future. We approved it today. The restructuring plan must return the company to long-term viability without continued public support, to preserve jobs in Istria on a sustainable basis." A full press release is available in HR, EN, FR, DE. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into restructuring aid for Polish Regional Railways

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation into restructuring aid for Polish Regional Railways. The Commission has concerns that the company may already have received State aid in the past. EU rules only allow a company to receive restructuring aid once over a 10-year period. In September 2015, Poland notified to the Commission restructuring aid granted to Polish Regional Railways (Przewozy Regionalne), worth PLN 770 million (around €181 million). Under EU State aid rules companies in financial difficulty, such as Polish Regional Railways, can receive restructuring aid only once over a period of 10 years (the so called "one time, last time" principle). This is to avoid that struggling firms rely on public funding to stay in business, instead of improving its business performance and competing on their merits. During its preliminary assessment, the Commission found that Polish Regional Railways had already received State support in the past. The Commission's in-depth investigation will examine: i) whether this past State support should be considered as restructuring aid, and consequently whether the aid granted in 2015 complies with the "one time, last time" principle; ii) whether, as required by EU State aid rules, Poland has offered adequate measures to alleviate distortions of competition caused by the restructuring aid, and iii) whether Polish Regional Railways sufficiently contributes to the costs of restructuring from its own resources. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "Polish Regional Railways has already benefitted from state support in the past. We need to assess whether the aid received is compatible with EU State aid rules and make sure that public support does not lead to distortions of competition in this market". A full press release is available in PL, EN, FR, DE. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou - Tel.: +32 229 13740)


La Commission approuve une nouvelle indication géographique protégée de Croatie

La Commission européenne a approuvé la demande d'inscription du «Slavonski med» dans le registre des appellations d'origine protégées (AOP). Le «Slavonski med» est un miel produit en Slavonie dans le nord-est de la Croatie. Cette région possède de nombreuses plantes propices à la fabrication de ce miel qui peut être fait à partir de robinier, tilleul, colza, tournesol, châtaignier, fleurs et miellat par des abeilles autochtone de couleur grise. Les apiculteurs de Slavonie perpétuent une tradition apicole qui existe depuis 130 ans. Il s'agit habituellement d'une production de miel «au détail» destinée à procurer un surcroît de revenu aux familles vivant en zones rurales dans des exploitations agricoles familiales. Cette nouvelle appellation va rejoindre plus de 1420 produits déjà protégés dont la liste est disponible dans la base de données DOOR. Pour plus d'informations, voir aussi les pages sur la politique de qualité. (pour plus d'information: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 2 29 56185; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52 509)



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