EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS – 01 DECEMBER

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EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS - 01 DECEMBER
01 Dec 2017

EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS – 01 DECEMBER

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EU and its Arctic partners agree to prevent unregulated fishing in high seas

The European Union, together with partners engaged in Arctic matters (Canada, China, the Kingdom of Denmark, Iceland, Japan, Korea, Norway, the Russian Federation and the United States), last night succeeded in reaching an international agreement to prevent unregulated commercial fishing in the Arctic high seas. That is, until sufficient scientific information to support the sustainable exploitation of fish stocks in the region is available. The Arctic region is warming at almost twice the global average rate, causing a change in the size and distribution of fish stocks. As a result, the Arctic high seas potentially become more attractive for commercial fisheries in the medium to long term. However, until present, most of the Arctic high seas were not covered by any international conservation and management regime. The agreement, reached in Washington DC at the fifth and final round of negotiations, will be a first step towards the creation of regional fisheries management organisations for the Central Arctic Ocean, to ensure that any future fishing is carried out sustainably. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for the Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, said: “The commitment and leadership shown by all parties have made it possible to reach this historic agreement. It will fill an important gap in the international ocean governance framework and will safeguard fragile marine ecosystems for future generations.” The agreement is fully in line with the European Union’s long-standing position – emphasised recently at the EU-hosted Our Ocean Conference in Malta in October – that no commercial fisheries should begin in the Arctic high seas before a science-based and precautionary management regime is in place. Sound stewardship of the high seas has a prominent place in the EU’s Arctic policy and Ocean Governance policy, as regards a responsible approach towards utilizing Arctic marine resources, while respecting the rights of indigenous peoples. The agreement will enter into force when all ten Parties have signed and ratified the agreement.

 

Eurostat: R&D expenditure in the EU remained stable in 2016 at just over 2% of GDP

In 2016, the Member States of the European Union (EU) spent all together over €300 billion on Research & Development (R&D). The R&D intensity, i.e. R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP, remained stable at 2.03% in 2016. Ten years ago (2006), R&D intensity was 1.76%. A Eurostat press release is available

Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger welcomes the adoption of EU Budget 2018 by European Investment Plan for Europe: largest financing amount to date for trains in Austria

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed an agreement under the Investment Plan in the transport sector today. The €500 million loan – the largest transaction under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) to date – will allow Austrian train company ÖBB- Personenverkehr AG to purchase new rolling stock. ÖBB will use the loan to purchase new Cityjet train sets for local and regional services. European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: “This project not only supports investment and job creation in Europe, it also enables the transition to low emission mobility. These new trains will contribute to the attractiveness of the rail sector in Austria. All in all, this is good news for Austrian commuters and for the environment.”

 

Global Forum agree on measures to tackle steel overcapacity

The Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity bringing together 33 economies – all G20 members, some other interested OECD countries and all the world’s major steel producers – agreed yesterday in a meeting in Berlin on an ambitious package of concrete policy solutions to tackle the pressing issue of global overcapacity in the steel sector. According to the agreed package, Global Forum members must ensure market-based outcomes in the steel industry, refrain from market-distorting subsidies and other government support measures that contribute to overcapacity, provide a level playing field between state-owned and private companies, and enact effective adjustment polices. These steps are underpinned by a robust monitoring mechanism on capacity and policy developments to track implementation in 2018 and 2019. Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: “The problem of excess capacity of steel has real effects on people’s lives – especially those who become unemployed. This is a global challenge, and it has to be dealt with accordingly. In the run-up to the World Trade Organisation’s 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, this success underlines the importance of effective multilateral cooperation to solve global problems. Of course, our work is not yet done. Now we need to walk the talk.” As a matter of priority, the Global Forum members should now ensure swift application of the agreed principles and recommendations and share – in the first half of 2018 – the information on the steps taken to eliminate market-distorting subsidies. The overcapacity issue was raised on several occasions by President Juncker at both bilateral and multilateral level, notably during the last two G20 Summits. Launched in December 2016 after a call by G20 Leaders in the Hangzhou, the Forum was reinforced by the outcomes of the July 2017 G20 Hamburg Summit. The Global Forum will continue meeting at least three times per year to monitor the implementation of the today’s commitments. The press release and a report are available online.

 

Financial services: Commission follows up on the Call for Evidence and consults on supervisory reporting

The Commission is today following up on its stock-taking exercise of financial regulation with a new report on Call for Evidence on EU financial services. The Call for Evidence was launched in 2015 to assess whether rules adopted since the financial crisis were working as intended. It led to new measures to make financial rules more proportionate and to reduce unnecessary regulatory constraints on market players. In this context, the Commission is today also launching a public consultation on supervisory reporting requirements. The aim is to assess the effectiveness of reporting, which supervisors in the EU need from financial market players. This consultation is a response to concerns raised in the Call for Evidence about the burden and costs that such requirements impose on market players. Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice President in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said: “With our Call for Evidence we were the first to assess the overall impact of financial services regulation on the market. We will continue to push for more coherent supervision and regulation across the board and ensure that EU financial services rules remain fit for purpose.” Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President in charge of Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness said: “The Call for Evidence confirmed that we can create better and more growth-friendly regulation. We can do so by developing and adjusting policies based on factual evidence and by involving interested parties. This in turn fosters job creation, growth and investment, while safeguarding financial stability and protecting both consumers and investors.” More information on the consultation and the report can be found online.

 

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of joint control over SMATRICS and E-Mobility Provider Austria by VERBUND and OMV

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over SMATRICS GmbH & Co KG and E-Mobility Provider Austria GmbH, the latter being the unlimited partner of SMATRICS, by VERBUND AG and OMV Aktiengesellschaft, all of Austria. SMATRICS provides e-mobility services across Austria and will constitute a full-function joint venture operating on the market autonomously. E-mobility services are needed for operating electric vehicles, including for example the provision of charging infrastructure. VERBUND is an electricity supply company, whose core business includes generating and transmitting electricity, as well as electricity trading. OMV is an integrated oil and gas company, active across the entire crude oil and natural gas value chain. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of the limited overlap between the companies’ activities and the negligible actual or foreseen activities of the joint venture in the European Economic Area. 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.8618.

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of three regional savings banks in Italy by Cariparma.

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of three Italian savings banks (Cassa di Risparmio di Cesena S.p.A., Cassa di Risparmio di Rimini S.p.A. and Cassa di Risparmio di San Miniato S.p.A.) by Crédit Agricole Cariparma S.p.A. (“Cariparma”), also of Italy. The three banks being acquired are mainly active in retail banking in North and Central Italy. Cariparma, an Italian subsidiary of Crédit Agricole S.A., is a provider of a complete range of financial services in Italy. The acquisition is taking place in the context of an agreement with the Voluntary Scheme of the Interbank Deposit Fund. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns because there are only minor horizontal overlaps or vertical relationships between the combined activities of these four banks. 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.8639.

 

 

STATEMENTS

International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Statement by Commissioner Thyssen

By 2020, one in five Europeans is expected to experience some degree of disability. Enabling people with disabilities to participate fully in society is one of the major societal challenges we face – there is still a long way to go in fighting the social exclusion of people with disabilities. Inclusive growth and social fairness are at the core of the European Commission’s agenda, as confirmed by the recent proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. […] The European Union continues to stand by its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. As part of the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 this European Commission has notably taken important initiatives to help removing barriers to accessibility for people with disabilities. Two years ago I presented my proposal for a European Accessibility Act, which aims at making key products and services accessible for people with disabilities. It is now high time for my proposal to be adopted by all EU institutions.” The full statement can be found here. On 4 and 5 December, the Commission organises a European Day for People with Disabilities, including the yearly Access City Award ceremony. More information on both events is available here.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Vice-President Ansip and Commissioner Gabriel at Telecoms Council to urge progress in spectrum coordination

On Monday, Ministers in charge of Transport, Telecommunications and Energy issues will discuss several key digital and telecoms files. Both Vice-President for Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip and Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel are participating in the Council meeting to urge Ministers to progress on key legislation – the European Electronic Communications Code and spectrum coordination. Vice-President Ansip said: “Without coordinated spectrum, we will be lagging behind in deploying 5Gand rolling out IoT solutions. Hence, I welcome the calls from EU leaders to agree on the new telecoms code as soon as possible. We cannot afford losing more time.” Commissioner Gabriel said: “High-speed connectivity and good spectrum coordination are the backbone of the Digital Single Market. Europe has a lot to win with the new telecoms rules. The direct benefits vary from economic growth to improved health care and intelligent energy consumption based on real-time needs.” Other topics touched upon on the Council meeting will be the free flow of non-personal data, future investment policy for digitalisation beyond 2020, and the progress report on the proposed e-Privacy rules. The Council will also adopta general approach on the BEREC Regulation, which will strengthen EU level coordination of electronic communications. The Ministers will additionally be updated on the Council Conclusions and Action Plan on Cybersecurity (see more on cyber security) and the incoming Bulgarian Presidency will present its work programme. More information on spectrum coordination is available in the factsheets on spectrum and connectivity. An overview of the Digital Single Market is available in the state of play factsheet; additional factsheets can be found here.

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