02 Oct 2017


Brussels, Brussels Daily, IFA in Brussels


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Linden Foods by ABP Food Group and Fane Valley

The European Commission has cleared unconditionally under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of joint control over Linden Foods by ABP Food Group and Fane Valley. ABP, Fane Valley, and Linden are active in Ireland and the UK in the purchase and slaughter of live cattle, sheep and lambs, as well as the processing of their meat. The companies also have overlapping activities in the market for sale of fresh and processed meat, and the markets for animal by-products. ABP already holds a non-controlling interest in Linden and proposes to increase its shareholding to 50% with the effect that, following the transaction, Linden will be jointly controlled by ABP and Fane Valley. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not adversely affect competition in the EU Single Market. A full press release is available in here.


Commission launches new system for traders to deal with customs procedures in the EU

The European Commission today launched a new pan-EU electronic system to make it easier for businesses to get permission to import goods. In turn, this means faster delivery and cheaper prices for consumers. The new Customs Decision System (CDS) will allow traders to handle up to 22 different types of customs applications online through the EU Trader Portal. Access to the CDS is more secure than current procedures and importers in all Member States can use the same portal with applications being exchanged between all relevant customs authorities. The new system is one of the first outcomes of the new Union Customs Code (UCC), a major overhaul of existing EU customs legislation which came into force on 1 May 2016. Modern IT systems are at the heart of the new regime so that customs systems can work efficiently to facilitate the flow of more than €3 trillion worth of goods in and out of the EU each year. More information is available on the DG TAXUD website.

Be cyber aware – start of the European Cybersecurity Month

The 5th edition of the  European Cybersecurity Month, taking place during the entire month of October 2017 across Europe, aims at raising awareness of cybersecurity threats and promoting cybersecurity among citizens and organisations through education and sharing of good practices. This year’s campaign follows up on Commission’s proposals to scale up EU’s response to cyber-attacks and will carry further the message that cyber-hygiene needs to be embedded in our daily practices. Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip, said: “Cybersecurity is the basis for the digital world; it is our shared responsibility, of everybody, every day. I welcome these joint efforts to promote awareness and concrete actions for cybersecurity and cyberhygiene across Europe.” The annual awareness campaign is organised by the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA), the European Commission and over 300 partners, including local authorities, governments, universities, think tanks, NGOs and professional associations. Around 300 activities will take place in October throughout Europe. During this month, in order to tackle the need of smarter authentication ways, the European Commission has launched a new  Horizon prize: “Seamless authentication for all”. €4 million are available to the innovators who contribute to inventing secure, privacy-friendly and affordable authentication methods for everyone and their smart objects. You can find out more about what is happening in your country during the Cybersecurity Month by checking the interactive map. Tips and advice in 23 languages, videos, online quizzes and awareness raising material are available on the dedicated website. You can find more information in the ENISA press release here as well as a factsheet on stepping up cybersecurity as proposed by the European Commission on 13 September 2017.


August 2017 – Euro area unemployment at 9.1% – EU28 at 7.6%

The euro area (EA19) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 9.1% in August 2017, stable compared to July 2017 and down from 9.9% in August 2016. This remains the lowest rate recorded in the euro area since February 2009. The EU28 unemployment rate was 7.6% in August 2017, down from 7.7% in July 2017 and from 8.5% in August 2016. This is the lowest rate recorded in the EU28 since November 2008. These figures are published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Full text available here


Are European schools making the most of digital technologies? – Trial of a new tool for self-assessment

Following the Digital Summit of European heads of state or government in Tallinn on 29 September, the European Commission is launching the trial version of a new tool to support schools in using digital technologies. The tool called “Self-reflection on effective learning by fostering innovation through educational technology” (SELFIE) will help schools assess their strengths and weaknesses in order to help them make the most of digital technologies in their teaching activities. 600 schools from 14 countries have the opportunity to try the new SELFIE tool in this pilot phase, before it is finalised and made available to interested schools in Europe in early 2018. Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, said: “The new SELFIE tool will support European schools who want to see how well they are using digital technologies for better learning outcomes. Digital knowledge is indispensable in today’s world. In the future, 9 out of 10 jobs will require digital skills. Moreover, digital skills are vital to ensure people can use new technologies confidently and safely and be fully engaged members of society. That is why schools need to be prepared to equip their pupils with the right set of skills from the very beginning.”The SELFIE tool is being developed by the Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in collaboration with the Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC) and supports the EU policy goals of improving digital skills and learning as well as the Initiative on school development and excellent teaching for a great start in life. You can find out more about the SELFIE tool here; more general information on the EU’s efforts to boost digital skills is available in a brochure published in the context of the Digital Summit in Tallinn.


Antitrust: Commission fines Lithuanian Railways €28 million for hindering competition on rail freight market

The European Commission has fined Lithuanian Railways (Lietuvos geležinkeliai) €27 873 000 for hindering competition on the rail freight market, in breach of EU antitrust rules, by removing a rail track connecting Lithuania and Latvia. In 2008, AB Orlen Lietuva (“Orlen”), a major commercial customer of Lithuanian Railways, considered redirecting its freight from Lithuania to Latvia by using the services of another rail operator. In October 2008, Lithuanian Railways dismantled a 19km long section of track connecting Lithuania and Latvia, close to Orlen’s refinery. The removal of the track meant that Orlen would need to use a much longer route to reach Latvia. Since then the dismantled track has not been rebuilt. The Commission’s investigation found that these actions hindered competition on the rail freight market by preventing a major customer of Lithuanian Railways from using the services of another rail operator. Lithuanian Railways failed to show any objective justification for the removal of the track. Such behaviour is in breach of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) which prohibits the abuse of a dominant market position. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy said: “Lithuanian Railways used its control over the national rail infrastructure to penalise competitors in the rail transport sector. The European Union needs a well-functioning rail freight market. It is unacceptable and unprecedented that a company dismantles a public rail infrastructure to protect itself from competition.” A full press release is available in here


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Scott Safety by 3M

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Scott Safety by 3M Company, both of the US. Scott Safety manufactures personal protective equipment designed to protect users from injuries or illnesses resulting from contact with radiological, chemical, physical, mechanical, electrical, or other hazards. 3M Company is a diversified technology company active in several business areas, including personal protective equipment. The two companies’ activities overlap in the supply of respiratory protection, in particular powered and non-powered reusable respirators, constant flow airline systems, hearing protection and head, eye and face protection. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, in particular because of the companies’ moderate combined market positions resulting from the proposed transaction in the European Economic Area, the presence of a number of strong players in all relevant countries and the possibilities of market entry and expansion. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More




Commissioner Thyssen attends the 10th European Regional Meeting of the International Labour Organization, Turkey*

Marianne Thyssen, the Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, attends today the 10th European Regional Meeting organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) about the future of work which takes place in Istanbul, Turkey. Discussions will focus on the opportunities and challenges for decent work in Europe and Central Asia. Commissioner Thyssen will also attend the Informal Ministerial Meeting which takes place in the margins of the 10th European Regional Meeting and which will focus on fair and effective access to labour markets for migrants and refugees. The aim is to discuss in particular good practices for integration, the role of social partners, approaches to address irregular migration and how to improve cooperation across Europe and Central Asia.

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