02 Jul 2014
Daily Commission Newsbrief – 2nd July 2014Brussels Daily
Following an in-depth investigation, the European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Dutch Telecom operator KPN’s German mobile telecommunications business E-Plus by Telefónica Deutschland (Telefónica). The approval is conditional upon the full implementation of a commitments package submitted by Telefónica. The Commission had concerns that the merger, as initially notified, would have removed two close competitors and important competitive forces from the German mobile telecommunications market and that it would have further weakened the position of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) and Service Providers to the detriment of consumers. To address these concerns, Telefónica submitted commitments ensuring that new competitors will enter the mobile telecommunications market in Germany and that the position of existing competitors is strengthened. These commitments remove the Commission’s concerns. See also MEMO/14/460 . Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia commented: “The remedies to which Telefónica commits ensure that the acquisition of E-Plus will not harm competition in the German telecoms markets. Consumers will continue to enjoy the benefits of a competitive market.”
Today the Commission adopted proposals to turn Europe into a more circular economy and boost recycling in the Member States. Instead of extracting raw materials, using them once and throwing them away, the new vision is for a different economic model. In a circular economy, re-use, repair and recycling become the norm, and waste is a thing of the past. The package includes non-legislative policy communications on circular economy, green employment initiative , green action plan for SMEs and sustainable buildings. The legislative part of the package includes the review of the existing waste legislation and proposes new targets for various waste streams, it proposes to recycle 70 % of municipal waste and 80 % of packaging waste by 2030. The legislative proposals refer mainly to the Waste Framework Directive, the Landfill Directive and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive. In addition to the targets review, waste legislation will be simplified, and co-operation between the Commission and Member States will be stepped up to ensure better implementation. The legislative proposals will now pass to the Council and the European Parliament. The Commission has also today adopted a Communication outlining the employment challenges and opportunities of the current transition towards a green, low carbon, energy and resource-efficient economy. The Green Employment Initiative Communication presents an integrated framework to allow labour market and skill policies to play an active role to support this transition.
Speaking at the plenary session in Strasbourg, President Barroso debriefed the European Parliament on last week’s European Council. The President started by congratulating the new European Parliament, including Martin Schulz on his re-election as President, before speaking about the nomination process of the next European Commission and highlighting the European credentials and experience of Jean-Claude Juncker. The President underlined the importance of discussing and setting a strategic agenda for the EU in the years ahead, including on energy and climate.
On Ukraine, the President supported President Poroschenko’s determination and commitment to de-escalate the crisis with his 15-point peace plan, but stressed that the ambition needed to be “shared by all sides” and that it needed backing up with action. Whilst understanding the decision by President Poroshenko to terminate the unilateral ceasefire, he called for a permanent halt of violence on all sides and for Russia to exercise fully its influence on the separatists to lay down their weapons. The President referred to the high level meeting to coordinate international assistance to Ukraine next week in Brussels. The Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova reflected Europe’s support for its Eastern Partners. The President also thanked Prime Minister Samaras for the successful conclusion of the Hellenic Presidency.Later today , President Barroso,in the presence of Italian Prime Minister Renzi, will deliver a speech on the incoming Italian Presidency of the Council. The President is expected to express his appreciation for the Prime Minister’s clear commitment to take forward further reforms in Italy as well as in the EU. He will also underline the fundamental role of Italy in shaping the Union from the very beginning and underline the need to work together, between Commission, Council, Parliament and the Member States, to ensure that the Union delivers what is required for our European citizens: jobs and growth.
In May 2014, compared with April 2014, industrial producer prices fell by 0.1% in both the euro area (EA18) and the EU28, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In April prices also decreased by 0.1% in both zones. In May 2014, compared with May 2013, industrial producer prices decreased by 1.0% in the euro area and by 0.9% in the EU28.
Commissioner Šemeta visits Serbia
Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Anti-Fraud, Audit and Statistics is visiting Belgrade on 2nd and 3rd July. On Wednesday, the Commissioner will meet with Serbian Finance Minister Lazar Krstić to discuss Serbia’s accession negotiations in his policy fields. The Commissioner will also use this opportunity to promote the EU’s wider campaign against tax evasion, and encourage Serbia to be an active participant in the global shift towards greater tax transparency. On Thursday, Commissioner Šemeta will give a keynote address at the General Assembly of the Intra-European Organisation of Tax Administrations (IOTA), a non-profit intergovernmental organisation to assist European countries in improving their tax administrations.
Four new Senior Management Appointments
The Commission has decided to appoint Ms Celine GAUER, a French national, to the post of Director of “Markets and Cases I: Energy and Environment” in the Competition Directorate-General. Ms Gauer joined the Commission in 1994, was working as an antitrust and cartel case handler and was responsible for the modernisation of antitrust rules and the setting-up of the network of National Competition authorities. In 2006 she was appointed Deputy Head of Unit in charge of coordination of antitrust cases and in 2008 became Head of the Energy and Environment Antitrust Unit. Since September 2013, she has been acting Director in charge of “Energy and Environment.” Two Directors have been appointed in the Internal Market and Services Directorate-General. Ms Kristin SCHREIBER, a German national, has been appointed as Director of “Governance of the Single Market”, a job she is currently doing in an acting capacity. Having started in the Commission in 1990, she has also served in the Cabinets of Mr Vladimir Špidla, Mr Michel Barnier and Mr Gunter Verheugen. The second appointment in the same Directorate-General is Mr Martin MERLIN, of French nationality, as Director “Financial Markets”. Mr Merlin joined the Commission in 1997 as desk officer in the Internal Market Directorate-General. He has held various positions in this Directorate-General and in the Cabinet of Mr Charlie McCreevy. All three decisions will take effect on 16 July 2014. Finally, the Commission has decided to appoint Mr Hubert GAMBS to the function of Director “Mediterranean and Black Sea” in the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Directorate-General. Mr Gambs, an Austrian national, is currently Head of Cabinet for Commissioner Johannes Hahn. He started his career in the Secretariat-General of the Council of the European Union in 1996. He then worked in the Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition for several years, before joining the cabinets of Mr Franz Fischler and Ms Benita Ferrero-Waldner. The date of effect will be determined later.
The new European Tertiary Education Register (ETER) publishes its first results today, providing easy access to information on universities in 36 countries, including all EU Member States. For the first time at European level, ETER will provide a one-stop-shop for detailed and comparable data on 2 250 institutions hosting more than 16 million students. The data includes university size, number of students and staff, subjects and degree levels covered, as well as information about research and international activities. ETER was set up with €500 000 in EU funding from the former Lifelong Learning programme (now Erasmus+). See also MEMO/14/447
The Commission today is calling on Member States to wake up to the “big data” revolution. Big data – large amounts of data produced very quickly by many different sources presents a huge opportunity for European business and research: it can enable us to create new apps on mobile devices; it can bring huge improvements to the health sector by developing personalised medicine; and it can dramatically increase efficiency in transport and food logistics. Feedback from a broad range of stakeholders revealed a lack of cross-border coordination, insufficient infrastructure and funding opportunities, and a shortage of data experts were among the top obstacles holding back our data-driven economy. The Communication adopted today by the Commission suggests concrete measures such as a big data public-private partnership, an open data incubator to help SMEs, and identifying potential gaps in data standards. Vice President Kroes said: “It’s about time we focus on the positive aspects of big data. Big data sounds negative and scary, and for the most part it isn’t. Leaders need to embrace the potential of big data.” See also MEMO/14/455
Commission presents actions to better protect and enforce intellectual property rights
The European Commission has adopted two communications – an Action Plan to address infringements of intellectual property rights in the EU and a Strategy for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) in third countries. The EU Action Plan sets out a number of actions to focus the EU’s IPR enforcement policy on commercial scale infringements (the so-called ‘follow the money’ approach). The Strategy setting out an international approach examines recent changes and presents ways to improve the Commission’s current means of action to promote enhanced IPR standards in third countries and to stem the trade in IPR infringing goods. (For more information:IP/14/760 and MEMO/14/449 .
Vice-President Barnier has welcomed today’sspecial report by the Court of Auditors entitled “European banking supervision taking shape – EBA and its changing context: ” I welcome the Court of Auditors’ thorough analysis of European banking supervision. I broadly share the findings of their report. Throughout the process, my services have submitted a number of precisions and clarifications to the Court, the vast majority of which have been taken on board and I congratulate the Court on the way that process was carried out. (…)”
Other Information :
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of Traxys by Carlyle, both USA companies. Traxys is active in the commodities trade focused primarily on the sourcing and sale of metals, materials for steel mills and foundries and industrial minerals and on the provision of ancillary services. Carlyle is a global alternative asset manager which sponsors funds that invest globally in a range of industries. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would not raise competition concerns as Carlyle is not currently active in any markets in which Traxys is active. The operation 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.7226