Brussels Daily
05 Dec 2014


Brussels Daily

GDP up by 0.2% in the euro area and up by 0.3% in the EU28

Seasonally adjusted GDP rose by 0.2% in the euro area (EA18) and by 0.3% in the EU28 during the third quarter of 2014, compared with the previous quarter, according to a second estimate published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the second quarter of 2014, GDP grew by 0.1% in the euro area and by 0.2% in the EU28.Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, seasonally adjusted GDP rose by 0.8% in the euro area and by 1.3% in the EU28 in the third quarter of 2014, after +0.8% and +1.3% respectively in the previous quarter.During the third quarter of 2014, GDP in the United States increased by 1.0% compared with the previous quarter (after +1.1% in the second quarter of 2014). Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, GDP grew by 2.4% (after +2.6% in the previous quarter). See press release.

Aviation: EU makes €3 bn available to deliver the Single European Sky

Today the European Commission will sign a new partnership agreement, involving major Air Traffic Management (ATM) stakeholders. Airlines, airport operators and Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP) will receive up to €3 bn in EU funding, in order to implement common projects and modernise Europe’s Air Traffic Management (ATM) System. Today’s agreement with the SESAR Deployment Alliance consortium aims to enhance the performance of Europe’s ATM systems, in order to manage more flights in a safer and less-costly manner, while reducing the environmental impact of each flight. Commissioner Violeta Bulc said: “Today’s agreement is a great achievement for EU aviation, forever changing Europe’s air navigation system, making it smarter, cheaper, greener, and safer. It also marks an important step towards the accomplishment of the Single European Sky. These projects will translate into economic benefits for the whole EU with a contribution of over €400 bn to its GDP, the creation of over 300,000 new jobs and saving 50 million tons of CO2 emissions.” See press release.

Research: EU and Switzerland sign research and science association agreement

Europe and Switzerland are today deepening their cooperation in research and innovation, by associating Switzerland to parts of Horizon 2020, the Euratom Research and Training Programme and the ITER project. The agreement will allow Switzerland to participate in project consortia in eligible programmes on an equal footing with EU Member States, while financially contributing with an estimated €400 million until the end of 2016. If Switzerland resolves the issue of free movement of persons by February 2017, the association will expand to the whole of Horizon 2020 including the parts not yet covered. See press release .


Mergers: Commission to further investigate Orange / Jazztel merger

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether the proposed acquisition of Jazztel p.l.c., a telecommunications company registered in the United Kingdom but mainly active in Spain, by rival Orange S.A. of France is in line with the EU Merger Regulation. In Spain, Orange operates mobile and fixed telecommunications networks while Jazztel operates a fixed telecommunications network and offers mobile telecommunications services on Orange’s network. The proposed transaction would reduce the number of nationwide providers of fixed telecommunications services in Spain from four to three. While the merged entity would not be in a dominant position, the Commission has concerns that the proposed transaction may lead to a significant loss of competitive pressure for fixed Internet access services and  fixed-mobile multiple play offers. The loss of Jazztel as an important competitive force could lead to price increases for these services for customers in Spain. The opening of an in-depth investigation does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. The Commission now has 90 working days, until 24 April 2015, to take a decision. The full press release is here.

Commission proposes candidates for top management posts for the Single Resolution Board (SRB)

The European Commission has today adopted a proposal for the appointment of the Chair, the Vice-Chair and the Board Members of the Single Resolution Board, the European Resolution Authority for the Banking Union. The list of names that the Commission is sending for approval to the European Parliament are:

  • For Chair: Ms Elke König (DE)
  • For Vice Chair: Mr Timo Löyttyniemi (FIN)
  • For Strategy and Coordination Director (COM/2014/10361): Mr Mauro Grande (IT)
  • For Resolution Planning Director – 3 positions (COM/2014/10362): Mr Antonio Carrascosa (ES), Ms Joanne Kellermann (NL), Mr Dominique Laboureix (FR)

Once the European Parliament has given its approval on the Commission’s proposal for each of the functions, the Council (acting by qualified majority) shall adopt implementing decisions to appoint the Chair, the Vice-Chair and the Board Members. This will be an important step towards making the Single Resolution Board, which is the second pillar of the Banking Union, operational. The proposed candidates were chosen through an open selection procedure following publication of vacancy notices on 10 July 2014 and a first exchange of views with the European Parliament on the basis of shortlists of candidates for the functions of Chair and Vice-Chair and of Board members which were respectively on 19 November 2014 and on 1 December 2014. The Chair, Vice-Chair and Board Members are appointed for a limited term; the Chair initially for a period of three years, renewable once for another five years; the Vice-Chair and the Board Members for a period of five years, non-renewable

Competition: Commission publishes fifth report on patent settlements in the pharma sector

The European Commission today published its fifth monitoring report on patent settlements. The report relates to the 146 patent settlements concluded between originator and generic companies in the pharmaceutical sector in 2013. This is more than in any year since 2000, except for a peak of 183 settlements in 2012, and shows that pharmaceutical companies continue to settle a high number of patent disputes in Europe. At the same time, the number of settlements that might attract competition law scrutiny has stabilised at a low level. The statistics demonstrate the industry’s continued ability to effectively settle patent disputes in ways which do not raise antitrust concerns.As the number of settlements has significantly increased since the Commission’s competition inquiry into the pharmaceutical sector, it also shows that competition enforcement has in no way hindered companies in settling patent disputes nor driven them to litigate such disputes to the end. The full report is available on the DG Competition website.

Commission welcomes Justice Ministers’ agreement on modern insolvency rules

A “rescue and recovery” approach to insolvency will give viable businesses a second chance when facing financial difficulties cross-border – following political agreement by ministers in the Justice Council yesterday. The modernised rules (IP/12/1354) will make it easier for businesses to restructure and for creditors to get their money back, as well as ensuring that procedures for cross-border insolvencies are effective and efficient. Věra Jourová, EU Justice Commissioner, said:”The new rules will give viable businesses a much-needed second chance and will improve the effectiveness of EU insolvency proceedings. With these new rules, we are building solid foundations for boosting growth and jobs in Europe. We are ensuring that entrepreneurs are confident to invest in Europe. Workers can know that if their company faces difficulties, there is a bigger chance for it to recover and for their job to survive. I thank the Italian Presidency for its swift work to reach an agreement for these rules, which are so important in building an attractive environment for investment in Europe.” See press release.



Statement by the European Commission on Basel Regulatory Consistency Assessment of Basel III implementation

In a statement published today, the European Commission endorses the efforts of international financial standards setters that seek to ensure coherent implementation across member jurisdictions. In this context, the Basel Committee’s Regulatory Consistency Assessment Programme (RCAP) is a welcome contribution. It also points out that in the implementation of international banking standards, the EU has taken a particularly ambitious approach, unique in the world, opting to apply a single rule book, based on standards designed for large internationally active banks, to all of its 8000 banks. The good capitalisation of EU banks has been verified by the recent ECB/EBA stress tests. EU banks are in practice required to meet capital ratios that exceed the legal minimum requirements. The European Commission also recalls that certain matters raised by the RCAP Report are a matter of interpretation. Further, the Commission recalls that the final shaping of the EU law is done by the EU legislator, the European Parliament and the Council. In the RCAP report, the so-called supporting factor for lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) constitutes one of the important deviations This factor was deliberately introduced by co-legislators in order to ensure that SMEs can continue to access bank credit and contribute to growth and employment in the real economy. Read the full statement.

Commissioner Moscovici welcomes Council support for customs risk management Strategy and Action Plan

On 04 December, the European Commission welcomed the Council Conclusions on the Commission Communication on the EU Strategy and Action Plan on customs risk management: Tackling risks, strengthening supply chain security and facilitating trade. “This marks an important step toward more effective and cost-efficient system risk management for EU customs,” said Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs. “EU customs plays a vital role in managing risks in the international supply chain, with over 300 million declarations to process and €3.5 trillion worth of trade in goods to supervise.”The Strategy, developed jointly with experts from EU member states, aims to strengthen supply chain security and facilitate trade. It aims to encourage cooperation against cross-border risks such as security and safety of goods and excise and customs duties evasion, which can threaten the economic and financial interests of EU member states. The full statement is available here.

Vice-President Katainen’s opening remarks on the EU Investment Plan at the Competitiveness Council

At yesterday’s Competitiveness Council, Vice-President Katainen set out details of the EU Investment Plan to ministers. He described the discussion as “very fruitful and very encouraging”. He set out the three main angles of the Investment Plan. The first is the liquidity angle, which is the setting up of a new fund for strategic investment. The second angle is a transparent project pipeline in which there are well-structured, reliable and viable infrastructure projects, and the third part is the deepening of the Single Market. He stressed to ministers that the Investment Plan is not a one-off stimulus measure. He said, “It will stimulate the economy, especially if we implement it efficiently. It is like a process whereby we want to change Europe permanently in a positive direction. I also said to ministers that this will not solve all our economic problems. This will not change the whole world. But if implemented efficiently, it will change Europe in a positive direction.” Read the remarks.



EU Commissioner Mimica to announce new support to fight Ebola during visit to Guinea Conakry

EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, will travel to Guinea Conakry on 5-7 December to reaffirm the EU’s medium and long term support to the country in the fight against the Ebola outbreak and announce new support. He will meet President Alpha Condé, Foreign Affairs Minister François Lounceny Fall and Minister of Economy and Finances, Mohamed Diare. Discussions with government representatives will cover, among other topics, the country’s needs arising from the Ebola crisis, as well as its longer term development. During his visit Commissioner Mimica will also visit sanitation and health projects. The visit follows on from a recent trip to the Ebola affected countries by the EU Ebola coordinator, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides. By co-signing the National Indicative Programme (NIP) of the 11th European Development Fund for Guinea Conakry, the Commissioner will furthermore officially launch overall EU funding for the years until 2020 during his visit. EU cooperation during this period will amount to €244 million, focusing on health, urban sanitation and the rule of law.

Visit to Turkey: EU to step up engagement

The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini together with the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn and the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides will pay an official visit to Turkey on 8 and 9 December. This joint visit early in the mandate of the new European Commission, demonstrates the importance of Turkey for the European Union as a candidate country negotiating accession to the European Union and as a key partner and neighbour considering its strategic location and dynamic economy. It is also a clear sign of the Commission’s willingness and determination to step up engagement across the whole range of the EU-Turkey relationship in order to fully reflect the strategic importance of our relations. The EU is also determined to step up assistance to support Turkey in its commendable efforts in sheltering such high numbers of refugees.

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