DAILY NEWS 17 / 06 / 15

Commission presents Action Plan for Fair and Efficient Corporate Taxation in the EU

Today the Commission presented an Action Plan to fundamentally reform corporate taxation in the EU. It sets out a series of initiatives to tackle tax avoidance, secure sustainable revenues and strengthen the Single Market for businesses, in order to make the corporate tax environment in the EU fairer, more efficient and more growth-friendly. Key actions include a strategy to re-launch the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) and a framework to ensure effective taxation where profits are generated. The Commission is also publishing a first pan-EU list of third-country non-cooperative tax jurisdictions and launching a public consultation to assess whether companies should have to publicly disclose certain tax information. Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue said: “Today we have set out an ambitious yet realistic plan for fairer and more growth-friendly taxation in the EU. It rests on the core principle that all companies – big or small, local or global – must pay a fair share of tax where real economic activity is taking place and where their profits are actually made.” Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: “Corporate taxation in the EU needs radical reform. In the interests of growth, competitiveness and fairness, Member States need to pull together and everyone must pay their fair share. The Commission has today laid the foundation for a new approach to corporate taxation in the EU. Member States must now build on it.” A press release is available in EN, FR and DE. The press conference can be followed live on EbS from 12:30. (For further information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194, Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 2 29 58615)

Commission creates a Support Group for Structural Reform under the responsibility of Vice-President Dombrovskis

The Commission has set up a new service (‘Structural Reform Support Service’) which will be in charge of steering and coordinating support for growth-enhancing administrative and structural reforms. It will draw on the experience of the Member States, international organisations and a range of Commission services to offer practical support and guidance to help implement important structural reforms across the EU. It will focus on the priorities identified in the European Semester of economic policy coordination. Any Member State can ask for such support which the Commission will provide depending on priorities and its capacity to deliver assistance. The new service will start working on 1 July 2015 and will benefit from the expertise, practical know-how and working methods developed over time by both the Task Force for Greece, whose mandate comes to an end on 30 June, and of the Support Group for Cyprus. The new service will initially be made up of the staff of the two teams. They will be integrated into this new structure in the Secretariat-General on the same date, led by a Director-General, yet to be appointed. Vice-President Dombrovskis will coordinate the work of the new service on behalf of President Juncker. (For further information:Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151)

Antitrust: Commission fines parking heaters producer € 68 million in cartel settlement

The European Commission found that two German producers of automotive parts, Eberspächer and Webasto, have breached EU antitrust rules prohibiting cartels and restrictive business practices. They coordinated prices and allocated customers with regards to fuel-operated parking heaters (which heat parked cars or trucks) and auxiliary heaters (which support the heating system of a running car or truck). The Commission imposed a fine of € 68 175 000 on Eberspächer for its involvement in the cartel. This fine was reduced under the Commission’s leniency programme to reflect Eberspächer’s cooperation with the investigation. Webasto was not fined because it benefited from immunity for revealing the existence of the cartel to the Commission. Both companies agreed to settle the case with the Commission, so that Eberspächer’s fine was reduced by a further 10%. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in charge of competition policy said: “For over ten years, the only two suppliers of parking heaters in Europe colluded to avoid competing with each other. This cosy arrangement adversely affected a major part of the European automotive industry and ultimately those who buy cars and trucks. Today’s decision is a clear signal to companies colluding – or thinking about it – that a cartel will be found out, no matter how few the participants.” A press release is available in EN, FR and DE. (For further information:Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

Mergers: Commission approves joint venture for cross-border licensing of online music between PRSfM, STIM and GEMA, subject to commitments

Following an in-depth investigation, the European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed creation of a joint venture for multi-territorial online music licensing and copyright administration services by three music collecting societies. They are PRS for Music Limited (‘PRSfM’) the UK, Föreningen Svenska Tonsättares Internationella Musikbyrå u.p.a. (‘STIM’) of Sweden and Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte (‘GEMA’) of Germany. To address the Commission’s concerns, the companies submitted a set of commitments that will enable other players to compete with the joint venture in the provision of copyright administration services. The Commission’s approval is conditional upon the proposed joint venture implementing the commitments. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, commented: “The proposed joint venture would make it easier for online music platforms such as iTunes, YouTube or Deezer to get the licences they need to offer cross-border music services to consumers. The Commission is satisfied that the commitments will ensure that other collecting societies can also compete and offer copyright administration services.” A full press release is available in EN, FR, DE and SV. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of certain manufacturing assets belonging to Alcatel-Lucent Italia by Flextronics

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of certain manufacturing assets belonging to Alcatel-Lucent Italia S.P.A. (‘Alcatel-Lucent’) by Flextronics Manufacturing S.r.l, both of Italy. Flextronics Manufacturing belongs to Flextronics International Ltd. ‘Flextronics’) of Singapore. The target business, located in Trieste, Italy, manufactures telecommunications systems equipment and provides related products and support services. Flextronics is a global provider of electronics manufacturing services to original equipment manufacturers. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns because there are only limited overlaps between the companies’ activities in the supply of electronics manufacturing services and of telecommunications systems equipment. Moreover, alternative providers will continue to be present after the transaction. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the publiccase register under the case number M.7586. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

EUROSTAT: Annual inflation up to 0.3% in the euro area

Euro area annual inflation was 0.3% in May2015, up from 0.0% in April. In May 2014 the rate was 0.5%. European Union annual inflation was also 0.3% in May2015, up from 0.0% in April. A year earlier the rate was 0.6%. These figures come from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In May2015, negative annual rates were observed in eight Member States. The lowest annual rates were registered in Cyprus (-1.7%), Greece (-1.4%) and Slovenia (-0.8%). The highest annual rates were recorded in Romania and Malta (both 1.3%) and Latvia (1.2%). Compared with April2015, annual inflation fell in two Member States, remained stable in three and rose in twenty-three. The largest upward impacts to euro area annual inflation came from vegetables (+0.09 percentage points), restaurants & cafés (+0.08 pp) and tobacco (+0.07 pp), while fuels for transport (-0.34 pp), heating oil (-0.15 pp) and gas (-0.08 pp) had the biggest downward impacts. The Eurostat press release can be found here. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153)

EUROSTAT: Production in construction up by 0.3% in euro area

In April 2015 compared with March 2015, seasonally adjusted production in the construction sector rose by 0.3% in the euro area (EA19) and fell by 0.3% in the EU28, according to first estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In March 2015, production in construction grew by 0.6% and 1.4% respectively. In April 2015 compared with April 2014, production in construction remained stable in the euro area and grew by 1.3% in the EU28. The Eurostat press release can be found here. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182)



Vice-President Dombrovskis, Commissioners Thyssen and Jourová participate in Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council in Luxembourg, 18-19 June

Meeting in Luxembourg tomorrow, EU Ministers for Employment and Social Affairs will discuss the country-specific recommendations (CSRs) proposed by the Commission on 13 May to strengthen the economic, employment and social recovery in the EU as part of the European Semester on economic policy coordination. The CSRs will then be discussed by EU leaders at the European Council on 25-26 June. Ministers are expected to agree on a general approach regarding the guidelines for Member States’ employment policies. Ministers will also review the state-of-play of the EU’s work on fighting youth unemployment, with a particular focus on the implementation of the Youth Guarantee. They will respond to the European Court of Auditors’ Special Report on the Youth Guarantee, which supports the approach but asks for more emphasis on the active implementation and monitoring at national level.Ministers will be informed about the recent report on transitional arrangements concerning the free movement of Croatian workers. The report concluded that movement of Croatian workers to other Member States is relatively small and unlikely to disturb the labour markets of the host countries. Ministers will be informed about the progress achieved on the Equal treatment directive and the Directive on gender balance on company boards improving gender balance among non-executive directors of listed companies. The Commission will also present the 2015 report on the implementation of national Roma integration strategies. The public debates and the press conference can be followed here. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.:+32 229 62253; Tove Ernst – Tel.:+32 229 86764).       

Commissioner Hahn travels to Ukraine

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for the European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations visits Ukraine on 18-19 June. The Commissioner will meet President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk, Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin, Minister of Economy Aivaras Abromavičius and Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Volodymyr Groysman. Commissioner Hahn will also travel to Kharkiv where he will meet civil society representatives and visit three projects. During his visit Commissioner Hahn and Minister of Economy Aivaras Abromavičius will sign an agreement for €55 million of support for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Ahead of the visit Commissioner Hahn said ”our assistance is designed to support not only reform, but also recovery for the areas most affected by the conflict. Another grant allocation will be used to leverage funds through financial institutions, with the result that Ukraine can look forward to around €1 billion in extra help for SMEs across Ukraine’s regions to seize the opportunities of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area that will fully apply from next year onwards.” A press release will be available following the signature tomorrow morning. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 66430)

Energy Union: Commission kicks off debate on “driving road decarbonisation forwards”

On 18 June, Commissioners Miguel Arias Cañete, Elżbieta Bieńkowska and Violeta Bulc, responsible respectively for climate action and energy, internal market and industry, and transport, will host a conference in Brussels on the next steps towards decarbonising road transport. Road transport accounts for nearly 30% of EU energy consumption and is responsible for a fifth of EU’s greenhouse gas emissions. The Commissioners will be listening to views from experts, manufacturers and other stakeholders as part of its work to promote emissions reduction and energy efficiency in transport. This is part and parcel of the Juncker Commission’s Energy Union priority project which takes a comprehensive view on road transport decarbonisation including looking into technologically-neutral solutions for electric transportation and for renewable energy sources in transport. The Commissioners will participate in three panels and discuss future challenges with national politicians, industry leaders and representatives of civil society. More information on the programme is available on the website of the Conference ‘Driving Road Decarbonisation forwards’. The conference will be LIVE streamed. To follow on twitter: #CO2ro6ad. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

Commission appoints four Directors in DG Trade

Today the European Commission has appointed Ms Sandra Gallina to the position of Director ‘Sustainable Development; Economic Partnership Agreements for the African, Caribbean and Pacific region; Agri-food and Fisheries’ (effective as of 1 July 2015) and Mr Leopoldo Rubinacci to the function of Director ‘Trade Defence’ in DG Trade (as of 1 September 2015). This decision follows the appointments earlier this month of Ms Helena König to the post of Director ‘Asia and Latin America’ (as of 16 June 2015) and Mr Denis Redonnet to the position of Director ‘WTO, Legal Affairs and Trade in Goods’ (as of 16 June 2015) in the same DG. Ms Sandra Gallina, an Italian national, is currently Head of Unit ‘Economic Partnership Agreements – African, Caribbean and Pacific, Overseas Countries and Territories’ in DG Trade, a post she has been holding since 2010. She joined the European Commission in 1988 and DG Trade, in 2001. Mr Leopoldo Rubinacci, also an Italian national, is currently Head of Unit ‘Investment’ in DG Trade, a position to which he was appointed in 2011. He has been working in the European Commission since 1995 and was appointed Head of Unit for the first time in 2005. Ms Helena König, a Swedish national, is currently Head of Unit ‘South and South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand’ (since 2012) and acting Director of ‘Asia and Latin America’ (since September 2014). She joined the Commission in 1997 and obtained her first management position as a Head of Unit in 2007. Mr Denis Redonnet, a French national, is currently Head of Unit ‘Trade Strategy’. He joined the Commission in 1997 and has been Head of Unit since 2007. He gained experience in trade, financial and internal market issues in various Commission services and in the Cabinets of two former Commissioners, Mr Pascal Lamy and Mr Peter Mandelson. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Andreana Stankova – Tel.: +32 229 57857)