Commission welcomes Council decision to close Excessive Deficit Procedure for Greece
The Commission welcomes the Council decision to close the Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP) for Greece adopted at today’s meeting of the General Affairs Council. This decision follows the Commission’s recommendation to close the EDP in July. The Commission made this recommendation on the basis of the substantial efforts undertaken by Greece to consolidate its public finances coupled with the progress made in the implementation of its ESM stability support programme. The general government balance has improved from a deficit of 15.1% in 2009 to a surplus of 0.7% in 2016. This is well below the 3% threshold set out in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. According to the Spring 2017 Economic Forecast, the positive fiscal performance of Greece is expected to be durable, with the deficit projected to remain below 3% over the forecast horizon. This progress is in addition to the substantial and wide-ranging structural reform packages that Greece has adopted as part of its commitments under the Greek stability support programme, reforms that are being implemented. Following today’s Council decision, only three Member States now remain under the corrective arm of the Stability and Growth Pact (France, Spain and the United Kingdom), down from 24 countries during the financial crisis in 2011. Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: “Today’s decision by the Council is a recognition of the tremendous efforts and sacrifices the Greek people have made to restore stability to their country’s public finances. The turnaround since 2009 has no parallels in Europe. We now need to ensure there is constructive cooperation between all institutions and the Greek authorities to ensure a smooth and swift conclusion of the third review. That will pave the way for a successful conclusion of the programme next summer and for the opening of a new and optimistic chapter for Greece and for the euro area as a whole.”
Better access to clean drinking water in Bulgaria thanks to Cohesion Policy investments
€35 million from the Cohesion Fund is invested in the drinking and waste water network of the city of Vratsa, in North-West Bulgaria. With this investment, the urban area’s 111,600 inhabitants will be connected to a modern water distribution system while the upgrading works will result in a considerable decrease in water losses. The project also involves the renovation of a wastewater treatment plant. Commissioner for Regional policy Corina Creţu said: “In some of our regions, easy access to clean drinking water is not a given. The EU invests to improve the everyday lives of all our citizens, to protect their health and preserve their environment. This is EU solidarity at work.” More information on EU funds in Bulgaria is available on the Open Data Platform.
Circular Economy: Commission hosts stakeholder conference on ‘Reinventing Plastics’
The Commission will host tomorrow, 26 September, a fully-booked stakeholder conference addressing the challenges and opportunities of plastics. Input from civil society and industry will be an essential contribution in the development of the Commission’s Plastics Strategy, an integral part of the new Industrial Policy Strategy announced by the Juncker Commission to modernise and make industry stronger and more competitive. First Vice-President Timmermans and Commissioners Bieńkowska and Vella will speak at the conference and listen to stakeholders’ views on how the plastics industry can evolve to reduce its environmental impact and further boost its economic contribution in Europe. More than 1.4 million people work in the European plastics industry, which is worth over €350 billion each year. However, opportunities for further growth are being missed because of low recycling rates and a high reliance on raw materials. As part of the push to improve the Circular Economy, the Commission’s upcoming Plastics Strategy will aim to improve the conditions for investment and innovation, help the industry become more circular, competitive and resource-efficient, create more jobs and further boost growth. Theconference is expected to discuss designing products for durability and recyclability, elimination of hazardous substances, sorting, traceability, incorporating recycled content, alternative feedstocks and biodegradability. The conference will also explore the issue of marine litter, including microplastics and protection of the health of EU citizens, and will look ahead to the discussions on this topic at the Our Ocean conference in Valletta, Malta on 5-6 October. Tomorrow’s stakeholder conference will be webstreamed live here. The full programme can be found online.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Miller Homes by Bridgepoint
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Miller Homes Holdings Limited by Bridgepoint Group Limited, both of the UK. Miller Homes is mainly active in residential real estate development across the UK. Bridgepoint is a private equity group. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because the companies are not active in the same or related 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.8619.
Mergers: Commission approves the acquisition of Fujitsu Ten by DENSO
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of sole control over Fujitsu Ten Limited by DENSO Corporation, both of Japan. Both DENSO and Fujitsu Ten are suppliers of advanced automotive technology, systems and components. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given the limited overlap between the companies’ activities in Europe.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.8625.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Prénatal Retail Group by Artsana
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of sole control of Prénatal Retail Group by Artsana, both of Italy. Prénatal Retail Group is active in the retail sale of baby care products and toys through its specialised stores Prénatal, Bimbo Store, Toys Centerand King Jouet. Artsana is active in the manufacture and supply of baby care products, including the brand Chicco, and health care products, as well as in the retail sale of baby care products through specialised stores. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because Artsana already controlled Prénatal Retail Group (jointly with Giochi Preziosi) before the transaction, and the change from joint control to sole control by Artsana will not result in a significant change in competitive conditions. 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.8600.
Vice-President Ansip, Commissioners Thyssen and Moedas participate in the G7 ministerial meetings in Turin, Italy
Several Commissioners participate in the G7 innovation week dedicated to Industry and ICT, Science and Labour taking place in Turin, Italy (programme). Tonight and tomorrow Vice-President Andrus Ansip will take part in the ministerial meetings dedicated to industry and ICT, which will focus on the competitiveness of SMEs in the next production revolution; the free flow of information, digital infrastructure, standards and artificial intelligence; and cybersecurity and intellectual property rights. This will be the occasion for the Vice-President to present the recent proposals of the Commission on the free flow of non-personal data (press release) and cybersecurity (press release).A press conference will take place on Tuesday at 12:30 CET. In the margins of the event, the Vice-President will meet Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains. He will also meet Japan’s State Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Shinsuke Okuno and Vice-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Daisaku Hiraki. Commissioner Carlos Moedas will travel to Turin on Wednesday 27 September and participates in the G7 Science Ministerial Meeting until Thursday 28 September. The objective of the thematic discussion he will attend is to analyse how researchers could better contribute to the economic growth. A press conference will take place on Thursday at 17.30 CET. Commissioner Marianne Thyssen will represent the EU in the meeting of the G7 labour and employment ministers on 29 and 30 September. More info on her visit will be published later in the week.
Vice-President Katainen and Commissioners Moedas and Navracsics at the “EU for facts: evidence for policy in a post-fact world” conference
On 26 September the Commission’s science and knowledge service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC) is organising its annual conference on “EU for facts: evidence for policy in a post-fact world”. Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, responsible for the JRC, said ahead of the conference: “Just like Gutenberg’s printing press, social media has enabled a paradigm shift in communication, wresting control from traditional information ‘gatekeepers’. In policymaking, values and emotions have always had an important place alongside evidence and facts, but the lines have become increasingly blurred. The JRC is working with scientists, politicians, the media and citizens to develop new thinking and new narratives, finding a better balance between facts and values in the political discourse.” Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, will deliver a key-note speech and Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, will give opening remarks in a session dedicated to the question of trust in science. Other speakers will include Pascal Lamy, former Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, Sir Peter Gluckman, Chair of the International Network for Science Advice to Governments, Rush Holt, Chief Executive Officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and Professor Steven Sloman of Brown University’s Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, & Psychological Sciences. Leading experts from the fields of science, policy and media will discuss, among others, issues of trust in science, and the need to re-design policymaking using behavioral and decision science. The conference is the highlight of JRC‘s 60th Anniversary celebrations. The conference will be webstreamed. More information can be found here.
European Researchers’ Night 2017 going to 12th round this Friday
The 12th edition of European Researchers’ Night takes place this week on Friday giving people across Europe the chance to discover science in a fun way in more than 340 cities in the EU and neighbouring countries. All the events are supported by the European Commission as part of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions. A special event called “Science is Wonder-ful!” is being organised at the Parlamentarium in Brussels on 26 and 27 September. Visitors will have the possibility to take part in experiments by Marie Skłodowska-Curie researchers ranging from neuroscience to geology and psychology to multilingualism. The event will already begin this evening with a science contest showcasing the most promising scientific projects – the Falling Walls Lab-Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions – at the House of European History. During the Brussels event (26 September), Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, will take part in a special ceremony to mark the funding of the 100 000th MSCA fellow, featuring 30 exemplary researchers and their projects. Ahead of the award ceremony, Commissioner Navracsics said: “I am proud that the EU’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions have funded more than 100,000 fellows so far. This is a great achievement for our programme which trains and supports the most promising researchers. As passionate scientists, every single one of them works towards a better future for us all. For a first-hand experience of research and science, come to the European Researchers’ Night events, one of the biggest science events in Europe.” The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, named after the double Nobel Prize-winning Polish-French scientist famed for her work on radioactivity, support excellent researchers at all stages of their careers, irrespective of nationality. More information can be found in this factsheet.
Commissioner Moedas meets Prime Minister Tsipras in Athens today
Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, will meet Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras today in Athens. They will encounter in the Prime Minister residence, Maximos Mansion, from 15.30 (GMT+3, 16.30 CET), and discuss the importance of science and innovation, and the role of EU funding, in particular the programme Horizon 2020, in the economic recovery of the country. The Commissioner has participated this morning in the Conference on the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean area (PRIMA) and gave a keynote speech on the PRIMA initiative. He then met with the Alternate Minister for Research and Innovation Mr. Costas Fotakis with whom he discussed research infrastructures among other topics. Commissioner Moedas will have a discussion with Greek ERC Grantees in the early afternoon.