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Daily News – 10.01.2019

European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 10 / 01 / 2019

Brussels, 10 January 2019

Publication of latest agri-food trade figures: record EU agri-food exports 

The latest monthly agri-food trade report published today shows that EU agri-food export values reached a record high in October 2018. Valued at €13.1 billion, total exports were 2.9% above the previous highest level registered in March 2017. The monthly agri-food trade surplus stood at €3 billion – a 13% increase from October 2017, and the second biggest surplus on record. EU export values were fairly evenly distributed between sectors, with beverages and commodities showing the highest growth. Notable increases in exports were recorded for spirits and liqueurs (a gain of €167 million), other cereals (up by €93 million), wheat (a rise of €73 million) and wine and vermouth (which grew by €70 million). Import figures also increased by 5% (when compared to October 2017). Bilateral trade between the EU and the USA has continued to expand, with imports from the USA growing by €245 million. There was also significant growth in import levels from both China (growing by €80 million) and Russia (up by €71 million). The monthly report provides a table presenting the trade balance and its development by product category from November 2016 to October 2018. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Clémence Robin - Tel.: +32 229 52509)

 

EU, Japan and US met in Washington D.C. to jointly address global trade-distortive practices 

Commissioner for trade Cecilia Malmström, met yesterday in Washington with Mr. Hiroshige Seko, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan, and Ambassador Robert E. Lighthizer, United States Trade Representative as part of the trilateral talks launched in 2017 to address global issues such as trade-distortive practices. The representatives of the EU, Japan and the US reiterated their concerns, reviewed ongoing work, and agreed to deepen their cooperation in all areas covered by the Ministerial Statements issued following their previous meetings in New York and Paris, including with respect to non-market policies and practices in other countries, industrial subsidies and state-owned enterprises, forced technology transfers, as well as WTO reform, digital trade and e-commerce. For more detail about the outcome of the discussion, see the joint statement issued following the meeting. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska – Tel: +32 229 51383)

 

Sustainable Finance: Commission expert group issues first report on disclosure of climate-related information

The Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance set up by the Commission in July 2018 has today published its first report on companies' disclosure of climate-related information. It contains recommendations that will allow the Commission to update its non-binding guidelines on non-financial reporting with specific reference to climate-related information, in line with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) established by the Financial Stability Board, and with the Commission proposal on a 'taxonomy' of sustainable economic activities. The report contains proposals for disclosing not just how climate change might influence the performance of a company, but also the impact of the company itself on climate change. Today's announcement is another step forward in the implementation of the EU Sustainable Finance Action Plan that the Commission published in March 2018 and follows up on the Commission's legislative proposal on the disclosure of climate-related information presented in May 2018. The Technical Expert Group expects to complete its other reports, on taxonomy, carbon benchmarks, and green bonds, by June 2019. More information on the report. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 2 29 58615; Letizia Lupini - Tel.: +32 229 51958)

 

Investment funds: Commission Publishes report on the operation of the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD)

The European Commission has today released a report on the impact of the rules on alternative investment fund managers, which play an important role towards the Capital Markets Union's objective to increase opportunities for EU savers. Managers of alternative investment funds (AIFMs), such as equity and bonds funds, private equity funds, property funds, hedge funds and infrastructure funds, are responsible for a high amount of investment in the EU and account for significant volumes of trading in financial markets. They contribute to building a Capital Markets Union by channelling savings to companies and projects which contribute to growth and jobs. Today's report confirms that current rules (the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive, AIFMD) have significantly contributed to creating a single market for alternative investment funds by establishing a harmonised regulatory and supervisory framework. Most of the AIFMD provisions are assessed as having achieved their objectives, but the report also identifies areas that require further analysis, such as diverging interpretations of the rules by national competent authorities and overlaps in reporting requirements and with other EU disclosure rules. The report, which has been prepared by an external contractor, represents the first step in the AIFMD review process. The Commission will continue its review of the AIFMD and next year will report to the European Parliament and the Council, as required by the directive. Access today's report. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 2 29 58615; Letizia Lupini - Tel.: +32 229 51958)

 

State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into tax treatment of Nike in the Netherlands

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to examine whether tax rulings granted by the Netherlands to Nike may have given the company an unfair advantage over its competitors, in breach of EU State aid rules. The Commission's formal investigation concerns the tax treatment in the Netherlands of two Nike group companies based in the Netherlands, Nike European Operations Netherlands BV (“NEON”) and Converse Netherlands BV (“CN BV”). These two operating companies develop, market and record the sales of Nike and Converse products in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. They obtained licenses to use intellectual property rights relating to, respectively, Nike and Converse products in the EMEA region in return for a tax-deductible royalty payment, from two Nike group entities, which are currently Dutch entities that are "transparent" for tax purposes.From 2006 to 2015, the Dutch tax authorities issued five tax rulings, two of which are still in force, endorsing a method to calculate the royalty to be paid by the two companies for the use of the intellectual property. As a result of the rulings, NEON and CN BV are only taxed in the Netherlands on a limited operating margin based on sales. The Commission investigation will focus on whether the tax rulings endorsing these royalty payments may have unduly reduced the taxable base in the Netherlands of NEON and CN BV since 2006. As a result, the Netherlands may have granted a selective advantage to the Nike group by allowing it to pay less tax than other stand-alone or group companies whose transactions are priced in accordance with market terms. If confirmed, this would amount to illegal State aid. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives the Netherlands and interested third parties an opportunity to submit comments. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner in charge of competition policy, said: "Member States should not allow companies to set up complex structures that unduly reduce their taxable profits and give them an unfair advantage over competitors. The Commission will investigate carefully the tax treatment of Nike in the Netherlands, to assess whether it is in line with EU State aid rules. At the same time, I welcome the actions taken by the Netherlands to reform their corporate taxation rules and to help ensure that companies will operate on a level playing field in the EU." The full press release is available online in EN, FR, DE, NL. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Astuti - Tel.: +32 229 55344)

 

Mergers: Commission clears joint venture between Siemens and TUTPL

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over Indian company SPC by Siemens of Germany and TUTPL of India. SPC is a newly created company for the construction, implementation, operation and maintenance of a metro line in Pune, India. Siemens manufactures and trades, among others, electrification, automation, digitalisation, energy-efficient technologies, and systems for power generation and transmission. TUTPL develops urban transport, infrastructure facilities and real estate. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns because SPC has no activities in the European Economic Area. 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.9201. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over VTTI by Vitol and IFM

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed acquisition of joint control over VTTI BV (“VTTI”) of the Netherlands by Vitol Holding B.V. (“Vitol”) of the Netherlands and IFM Investors Pty Ltd (“IFM”) of Australia. VTTI is active in ownership and operation of oil products storage terminals. Vitol is active in trading of commodities and financial instruments relating to the oil and gas sector. IFM is a global investment manager. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns as the transaction does not create additional horizontal or vertical overlaps between the 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.9207. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Mergers: Commission clears the acquisition of sole control over Cimpor Portugal by Ordu Yardimlaşma Kurumu

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of sole control over Cimpor Portugal, sgps, s.a. (“Cimpor Portugal”) of Portugal by Ordu Yardimlaşma Kurumu (“OYAK”) of Turkey. Cimpor Portugal is active in the production and commercialisation of cement, concrete, aggregates and mortars mainly in Portugal and Cape Verde. OYAK is a pension fund active through its subsidiaries in a wide range of industries, namely mining, metallurgy, cement, concrete, paper, energy, chemicals, financial services, automotive and logistics. The Commission concluded that, although both Cimpor Portugal and OYAK are active in the cement industry, the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns because of no vertical or horizontal overlaps as the two companies are not active in the same geographic 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.9213. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Concentrations : La Commission autorise l'acquisition de Courir par Equistone Partners Europe

La Commission Européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, l'acquisition de Courir France S.A.S (“Courir”) par Equistone Partners Europe S.A.S (“EPE”), toutes deux basées en France. Courir est une chaîne de magasins spécialisée dans la vente au détail de chaussures et vêtements de sports. EPE est une société d'investissement qui détient des participations dans des sociétés également actives dans la vente au détail de chaussures et vêtements de sports. La Commission a conclu que la concentration envisagée ne soulèverait pas de problème de concurrence, compte tenu de son impact très limité sur la structure du marché. La transaction 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.9206. (Pour plus d'informations: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Eurostat: Les dépenses de R&D dans l'UE légèrement en hausse à 2,07% du PIB en 2017

En 2017, les États membres de l'Union européenne (UE) ont dépensé ensemble près de 320 milliards d'euros au titre de la recherche et développement (R&D). L'intensité de R&D, c'est-à-dire les dépenses de R&D en pourcentage du PIB, s'est établie en 2017 à 2,07% contre 2,04% en 2016. Dix ans auparavant (en 2007), l'intensité de R&D s'établissait à 1,77%. Par rapport à d'autres grandes économies du monde, l'intensité de R&D dans l'UE était beaucoup plus faible qu'en Corée du Sud (4,22% en 2015), qu'au Japon (3,28% en 2015) et qu'aux États-Unis (2,76% en 2015), tandis qu'elle se situait à peu près au même niveau qu'en Chine (2,06% en 2015) et qu'elle était bien plus élevée qu'en Russie (1,1% en 2015) et qu'en Turquie (0,96%). Afin de stimuler la compétitivité de l'UE, l'accroissement à 3% de l'intensité de R&D d'ici 2020 dans l'UE est l'un des cinq objectifs clés de la stratégie Europe 2020. Un communiqué de presse complet est disponible en ligne. (Pour plus d'informations: Lucía Caudet – Tél. +32 229 56182; Victoria von Hammerstein-Gesmold - Tél.: +32 229 55040)

 

 

 

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

MEX/19/323