Daily News 10 / 07 / 2015

Tenth round of TTIP negotiations

From 13 to 17 July, the tenth round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations between the EU and the US will take place in Brussels. On Monday 13 July, at the opening of the week-long round of negotiations, there will be a possibility for accredited photo and audio-visual media to cover the handshake between EU chief negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero and US chief negotiator Dan Mullaney, which will take place in the VIP Corner of the Berlaymont at 10:30. Video footage and photo material will be made available on the audio-visual website of the European Commission. The Directorate-General for Trade of the European Commission will also organise a stakeholder event at the Management Centre Europe (MCE) on Wednesday 15 July, to ensure that a plurality of interests is taken into account during the negotiations and beyond. Accredited journalists have the possibility to attend the event with prior registration. The EU and US chief negotiators will hold the closing press conference on Friday 17 July at 15.30 in the European Commission’s press room, which can be followed live via EbS. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185, Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)

 

Energy: Central Eastern and South Eastern European countries join forces to create an integrated gas market

EU and Energy Community countries in Central Eastern and South Eastern Europe have agreed to work together to develop a competitive gas market in the region. The European Commission and the Central East South Europe Gas Connectivity (CESEC) High Level Group established a regional priority infrastructure roadmap in order to develop missing infrastructure so that Member State of the region have access to at least three different sources of gas. A number of gas projects have been identified as top priority in a signed Memorandum of Understanding. The European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič said: “This region is very important for Europe, in particular when we look at security of energy supply. The improvement of infrastructure through realistic and feasible projects is crucial to diversify energy resources and strengthen the region’s resilience to supply shocks.” EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete underlined that “regional cooperation is a cornerstone of our work on closer integration of energy markets. Whilst every country has to face its specific energy issues, addressing them together can offer cheaper and more effective solutions.” A well-connected EU energy market where energy flows freely across borders and no Member State remains isolated from the EU energy networks is a pre-condition for creating a resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking climate policy. The press release is available here. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

 

EU pledges €450 million to Ebola affected countries

Today the European Commission will pledge approximately €450 million to support the recovery of the three countries most affected by Ebola – Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. This will be announced by Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid & Crisis Management and EU Ebola Coordinator, Christos Stylianides, at the International Ebola Recovery Conference taking place in New York and organised by the United Nations. Announcing the funding, Commissioner Stylianides said: “The emergency is not over until we are down to zero Ebola cases. With some new cases in Liberia we remain on high alert and our determination to eradicate Ebola is stronger than ever. Now is not the time to pull back. A press release and a factsheet are available online. (For more information: Alexandre Polack Tel.: +32 229 90677; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140; Sharon Zarb – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

EU and Mauritania sign a sustainable fisheries partnership agreement

Today, the European Union and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania have concluded an agreement that will allow EU fishermen to fish in Mauritanian waters for four years. Under this protocol, the EU fleet will be allowed to fish in Mauritanian waters for shrimp, demersal fish, tuna and small pelagic fish, up to a total of 281 500 tonnes a year, under improved operational conditions. In addition to catches paid for by the European fleet, the EU will dedicate € 59.125 million per year to the partnership, of which € 4.125 will be used to support local fishing communities in Mauritania. EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella welcomed the agreement: “Signing the EU’s largest fisheries partnership agreement with Mauritania brings two major benefits: To our fishermen, it means certainty and good fishing opportunities at value for money for the next four years. For the region as a whole, it contributes to stability and the sustainable management of fisheries resources.” More information available on the DG MARE website. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)

 

Commission publishes Quarterly Report on the Euro Area (QREA)

Today the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs publishes its Quarterly Report on the Euro Area, featuring an in-depth analysis of topical economic trends. The Vol 14 N2 of the QREA will be available at 14:00. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Audrey Augier – Tel.: +32 229 71607)

Building the REFIT Platform: Commission launches call for better regulation experts

Today the Commission has published a call for expressions of interest for membership of the stakeholder group of the new REFIT Platform. Announced as part of the Commission’s Better Regulation agenda, the Platform will bring together high-level experts from Member States and business people (including from SMEs), representatives of social partners, NGOs and the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. It will collect suggestions from any interested party and will bring forward concrete ideas for reducing regulatory and administrative burdens in a way that is fully consistent with the policy objectives of EU regulation. The Commission will react to all suggestions, explaining how it intends to follow up. More information is available on the REFIT website. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602)

 

European Structural and Investment Funds: Commission establishes a High Level Group on simplification

This morning the Commission adopted the decision setting up the High Level Group of Independent Experts on Monitoring Simplification for Beneficiaries of the European Structural and Investment Funds, which creation was announced by Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu on 9 June.  The group’s purpose is to assess the uptake by the Member States of simplification opportunities to access and use the Funds, in order to reduce the administrative burden for beneficiaries. The call for applications for membership is open from today until 10 August. The group shall consist of a maximum of twelve members appointed in a personal capacity and will be chaired by Former Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas. It will hold its first meeting on 20 October in Brussels. Commissioner Crețu said: “I am pleased to see this High Level Group see the light of day. It should deliver its first recommendations as early as the end of this year, as its work should be relevant for the implementation of the current programming period and in the perspective of the post-2020 framework.” More information on how the Commissioner helps Member States manage Cohesion Policy funds and on Regional Policy is available online. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

Latest Short-Term Outlook for EU agricultural markets

A report on the short-term market outlook for EU arable, dairy and meat markets has been published by the European Commission today. This regular exercise concludes that EU dairy deliveries are expected to finish the calendar year just 1% higher than in 2014, despite the end of dairy quotas at the start of April. With the continuation of the Russian import ban, more milk is likely to be channelled into skimmed milk powder and butter, rather than cheese. With regard to cereals, after last year’s record crop (329 million tonnes of cereals – about 14% above average), exports are estimated close to 60% above average. Moreover, this year’s cereal harvest is forecast to be higher than average levels (+6%) for the third year in a row. In the meat sector, pigmeat production is expected to increase further in 2015, driven by low feed prices and a slightly higher breeding sows herd. Poultrymeat production continues its steady development. Beefmeat production is also likely to rise in 2015, boosted by cow herd developments and export opportunities. Relatively good prices and favourable forage conditions support an increasing herd and production in the sheep sector. This additional meat on the market translates in an average 1.4% (1kg) increase in consumption per capita this year, after the strong recovery already observed in 2014. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Clémence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Schmolz Bickenbach steel distribution business by Jacquet Metal Service

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of six subsidiaries of Schmolz+Bickenbach AG of Germany by Jacquet Metal Service SA of France. All entities are active in distribution of steel products, namely stainless, carbon and speciality steels via stockholding centres throughout the EU. The Commission’s investigation found that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns as the market share increments are modest, the switching costs for customers are low, and customers will continue to have an adequate number of alternative suppliers in all relevant markets. The transaction was examined under the ordinary merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website in the public case register under the case number M.7576. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of WFS Global Holding by Platinum Equity Group

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of WFS Global Holding (”WFS”) of France by Platinum Equity Group (“Platinum”) of the United States. WFS provides airport cargo as well as ramp and passenger handling services in various airports within the European Economic Area (EEA). Platinum is a private equity firm focused on acquiring and operating companies in a broad range of businesses, such as information technology, telecommunications, logistics, metal services, manufacturing and distribution. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, in particular because the companies are not active in the same 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.7658. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Ursa by KKR

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Ursa Insulation Holding BV of Spain by investment company KKR & Co. LP. of the United States. Ursa provides insulation materials, such as glass mineral wool and extruded polystyrene. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns because none of the KKR portfolio companies is active in insulation materials, or is an actual or potential customer or supplier for Ursa. 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.7660. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of KS by Harng in retail sector

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of KS Premium Holding (‘KS’) of Germany by Harng Central Department Store Ltd. (‘Harng’) of Thailand. Harng is active in manifold sectors such as merchandising, retailing, real estate, restaurants and accommodation mostly in South-East Asia. KS holds three premium department stores in Germany, including Kaufhaus des Westens (‘KaDeWe’) in Berlin. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns as there are no overlaps between the companies’ activities in the European Economic Area (EEA). The operation was examined 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.7668. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Maxeda by Ardian and Goldentree Asset Management

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Maxeda DIY Group (‘Maxeda’) of the Netherlands by Ardian France S.A. (‘Ardian’) of France and Goldentree Asset Management LP (‘GTAM’) of the US. Ardian and GTAM are private equity investment firms. Maxeda is active in the sale of various construction and home improvement products through do-it-yourself retail stores. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns as there are no overlaps between the companies’ activities in the European Economic Area (EEA). The operation was examined 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.7683. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

 

EUROSTAT: EU population up to 508.2 million at 1 January 2015

On 1 January 2015, the population of the European Union was estimated at 508.2 million, compared with 506.9 million on 1 January 2014. During the year 2014, 5.1 million babies were born in the EU, while 4.9 million persons died, meaning that the EU recorded a positive natural change of its population of 0.2 million, double that of 2013. The remainder of the change is driven mainly by net migration. Germany (81.2 million residents), France (66.4 million), the United Kingdom (64.8 million) and Italy (60.8 million) are the most populated EU Member States. Together, they are home to more than half of the EU population. These figures come from an article published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Some other interesting facts and an infographic about EU population are also published on the Eurostat website. A press release is available here. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Melanie Voin.: +32 229 58659)

 

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Commissioner Hogan on official visit to Sofia, Bulgaria

Phil Hogan, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, is today (10 July 2015) on official visit in Sofia, Bulgaria. He will meet with the Bulgarian President, Mr Rossen Plevneliev, with the Prime Minister, Mr Boyko Borissov, and with the Minister of Agriculture and Food, Ms Desislava Taneva. Together with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture, he will open a factory for meat processing financed by the Bulgarian Rural Development Programme. Commissioner Hogan will also deliver a speech to the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Food and will participate in a European debate with Ms Meglena Kuneva, Deputy Prime Minister for European Policies Coordination and Institutional affairs, as well as with Ms Desislava Taneva. They will discuss the key role of Agriculture and Rural Development for jobs creation and investment. In addition to these political meetings, he will also launch the Initiative for Social Empowerment (ISE)’s pilot project empowering disadvantaged communities (predominately women and Roma) from rural areas to start their own micro-enterprises in local herbal products. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 229 56 185; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52 509)

Calendar

Commissioner’s weekly activities