03 Jul 2014
Daily Commission Newsbrief – 03 July 2014Brussels Daily
Italian Presidency of the Council – visit of the College to Rome
On 3-4 July, the College of Commissioners is travelling to Rome for its traditional visit to the incoming Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union , to discuss the priorities of the Italian Presidency as well as their implementation. Working sessions of Commissioners and Italian ministers are scheduled to this end. A reception with the Italian President, Giorgio Napolitano is furthermore foreseen. For more information please also refer to the speech President Barroso gave in the European Parliament, welcoming the Italian Presidency.
Commission publishes latest report on the economic adjustment programme for Cyprus
The Commission has published its fourth report reviewing implementation of the economic adjustment programme for Cyprus. The programme aims to address the financial, fiscal and structural challenges facing the economy in a decisive manner and should allow Cyprus to return to a sustainable growth path. Programme implementation remains on track. While the recession is bottoming out, the outlook remains challenging. Reform in the financial sector has progressed, but the high level of non-performing loans remains an issue. Nevertheless, fiscal performance has remained strong. Structural reforms have progressed, although some delays have been observed. The review is expected to be concluded with all necessary decisions by the Eurogroup, the ESM Board of Directors, and the Executive Board of the IMF to be taken by mid-July. Its approval would pave the way for the disbursement of EUR 600m by the ESM, and about EUR 86m by the IMF. The programme was agreed by the euro area Member States on 24 April 2013 and by the IMF Board on 15 May 2013. It covers the period 2013-2016. The financial package covers up to EUR 10 bn: EUR 9 bn from the ESM and EUR 1 bn from the IMF.
Following an in-depth investigation, the European Commission has concluded that a Belgian guarantee scheme for shareholders of financial cooperatives was incompatible with EU state aid rules. In particular, the guarantee conferred a selective advantage to the Belgian financial cooperative ARCO, the only beneficiary of the scheme, who now has to pay back the undue advantage it received. In November 2011, Belgium notified a scheme aimed at protecting from losses shares held by individual shareholders in recognised financial cooperatives. The measure had already been put in place, in breach of the obligation for Member States to get prior Commission approval for new state aid measures. It appeared that ARCO was the only financial cooperative that had made use of the scheme. In April 2012, the Commission opened an in-depth investigation (see IP/12/347).
In 2013, in the EU28, 81% of government debt was financed by issuing securities (bills, bonds, etc. excluding shares and financial derivatives), 16% by loans and 4% by currency and deposits. This information comes from a report released byEurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. This report, based on a survey of the structure of government debt, provides information on general government debt broken down by subsector, financial instrument, debt holder, maturity, currency of issuance as well as government guarantees and other features.
In May 2014 compared with April 2014, the seasonally adjusted volume of retail trade remained stable in the euro area (EA18) and fell by 0.1% in the EU28, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In April retail trade decreased by 0.2% in the euro area and rose by 0.2% in the EU28. In May 2014 compared with May 20134 the retail sales index increased by 0.7% in the euro area and by 1.2% in the EU28.
The European Commission has today launched a public consultation on ‘Science 2.0’, in order to gauge the trend towards a more open, data-driven and people-focused way of doing research and innovation. Researchers are using digital tools to get thousands of people participating in research, for example by asking them to report if they catch flu in order to monitor outbreaks and predict possible epidemics. Scientists are being more open too: sharing their findings online at an early stage, comparing and debating their work to make it better. Increasingly, scientific publications are available online for free. By some estimates, 90 percent of all available data in the world has been generated in the past two years, and scientific data output is growing at a rate of 30 percent per year.
The European Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of Grupo Corporativo ONO (“ONO”) by Vodafone Group Plc under the EU Merger Regulation. Both companies provide fixed and mobile telecommunications services in Spain. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns, as the parties’ activities are largely complementary: ONO’s main activity is related to fixed telecoms, whereas Vodafone is mainly active in mobile telecoms.
Commissioner Piebalgs promotes food security and nutrition in developing countries at an event in Rome
EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, will today participate in an event to promote global food and nutrition security and increase resilience for rural poor people. Co-organised with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) the World Food Programme (WFP), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the event will take place in Rome (Italy). During his intervention, the Commissioner will highlight EU’s commitment to tackling global hunger and undernutrition, especially since the food price crisis of 2007 and 2008. At the time the EU set up a billion euro into an EU Food Facility to respond to rising food prices in developing countries. The facility has directly benefited 59 million people and provided spill-over benefits for 93 million. Globally, the EU is the world’s largest grant donor for food and nutrition security, spending over a billion euro on average every year. The event, which starts at 15, can be followed live here.
The last five years have been characterized by wide variations in milk producers’ margins from one year to the next, the 2013 edition of the EU dairy farms reportpublished today by the European Commission shows. Based on data from the Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN), the report provides information on the margins of EU milk producers from 2004 to 2011, as well as estimates for 2012. Volatility can also be observed from one quarter to another within the same year, as illustrated in the Farm Economics Brief on EU Milk Margin Estimate up to 2013 , also published today, which focuses on estimates of the latest trends in gross margins at EU-27 level. How does this translate in terms of income? The report shows that 2010 and 2011 were two positive years for farmers specialized in milk production (after the widely highlighted crisis year in 2009). On average, at EU-27 level, they obtained a higher Farm net value added per annual work unit than in 2007 – the previous high in incomes – thanks to the improvement in gross margins and to a significant increase in milk production. Last but not least, the report shows that in the dairy sector, the gap between EU-15 (“old” Member States) and EU-N10 (“new” Member States) seems to be gradually narrowing, both in terms of gross margins and farmers’ income.
What Commissioners said
Just in time for the summer holidays, citizens can download the new application which the European Consumer Centres have developed for travellers for free. It is multilingual and works off-line to avoid data roaming charges, even if roaming charges have again been reduced on 1st July. It helps informing consumers of the rights they enjoy while travelling. It is also a great example of the European Consumer Centres’ strong value, and builds on their experience. The app is also a demonstration of the capacity of the European Consumer Centres Network to work together to produce high-value-added solutions for consumers. It is also an illustration of the European Consumer Centres’ strong value and importance for building confidence in our Single Market.