Eurostat press release: EU28 current account surplus €63.9 bn, €47.5 bn surplus for trade in services – first quarter of 2018
The EU28 seasonally adjusted current account of the balance of payments recorded a surplus of €63.9 billion (1.6% of GDP) in the first quarter of 2018, down from a surplus of €68.0 billion (1.8% of GDP) in the fourth quarter of 2017 and up from a surplus of €43.9 billion (1.2% of GDP) in the first quarter of 2017, according to estimates released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the first quarter of 2018 compared with the fourth quarter of 2017, based on seasonally adjusted data, the surplus of the goods account decreased (+€34.7 bn compared to +€41.1 bn), as did the surplus of the services account (+€47.5 bn compared to +€49.9 bn). The primary income account turned from deficit into a surplus (+€2.3 bn compared to -€1.6 bn). The deficit of the secondary income account dropped (-€20.6 bn compared to -€21.5 bn), as did the deficit of the capital account (-€1.9 bn compared to -€4.2 bn). A full Eurostat press release is available online.
EU-Switzerland: more legal certainty for non-life insurers
The EU and Switzerland have signed an updated agreement covering non-life insurance products such as car, house or travel insurance. This amendment to the 1991 EU-Switzerland agreement on non-life insurance allows both EU and Swiss insurers to comply with only one set of solvency rules when it comes to these types of insurance products, and brings legal certainty to businesses and supervisors. The update was technically necessary given the fact that the insurance legislation has in the meantime changed both in Switzerland and the EU. In practice, this means that Swiss branches of EU non-life insurers will apply the latest set of EU solvency rules (i.e. Solvency II Directive rather than Solvency I rules as hitherto). In return, EU branches of Swiss non-life insurers will be able to apply the latest Swiss Solvency Test. This agreement does not concern subsidiaries, nor life insurance and does not allow direct cross-border provision of services. Other prudential requirements such as governance, sound and proper conduct of business and technical provisions remain subject to the rules of the jurisdiction where the branch is located.
Antitrust: Commission consults stakeholders on draft guidelines to help national courts estimate the economic harm caused by cartels
The European Commission is inviting comments on draft guidelines to help national courts estimate the share of price increases caused by a cartel that are passed on to indirect purchasers and final consumers. The Antitrust Damages Directive helps citizens and companies claim damages if they are victims of infringements of EU antitrust rules. This applies not only to direct customers of companies found participating in a cartel, but also to indirect customers and final consumers, who may also suffer harm when direct customers are able to fully or partially pass on a cartel overcharge further down the supply chain. It is for national courts to decide upon the level of such compensation, on a case by case basis. However, since determining the exact amount of overcharges passed on to indirect customers can be difficult, the Damages Directive foresees that the Commission issue non-binding guidelines to help national courts estimate the share of the overcharge passed on to indirect purchasers. The draft guidelines under consultation describe the procedural instruments available to national courts when assessing the existence of overcharges passed on to indirect customers and the national courts’ power to estimate the amount of the overcharge that was passed on and include an overview of the most common economic methods and techniques to quantify passed-on overcharges.Responses to the consultation can be submitted until 4 October 2018. The press release is available online in EN,
Mergers: Commission clears the acquisition of joint control over Health and Protection Solutions by HPS Investment and Madison Dearborn
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over Health and Protection Solutions Limited (“HAPS”) of the UK by HPS Investment Partners and Madison Dearborn Partners (“MDP”), both of the US. HAPS, currently solely controlled by Axa PPP Healthcare Group Limited, which is part of the AXA Group, is a provider of private medical, dental and travel insurance and related services to individuals and corporate groups. HPS is an investment company focusing on acquisitions and strategic financing of recapitalisation of companies that require financial assistance. MDP is a private equity investment company, with investments in a broad range of industries. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns given the minor horizontal overlaps and vertical relationships between the companies’ activities. 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.8987.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of a joint venture in Malaysia by Mitsubishi Estate, Mitsui and Sime Darby
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over Sime Darby MIT Development Sdn Bhd, a joint venture based in Malaysia, by Mitsubishi Estate Co. Ltd. (“MEC”), Mitsui & Co. Ltd, both of Japan, and Sime Darby Property (Sungai Kapar) Sdn Bhd (“SDPSK”) of Malaysia. The joint venture will acquire and develop logistics and industrial property in Malaysia. MEC is active in real-estate development and property management. Mitsui is a trading houseengaged in a number of world-wide commodities. SDPSK is active in property development in Malaysia. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because the joint venture has no actual or foreseen activities 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.8866.)