EU invests in healthier, more accessible drinking water in Romania
€ 155 million from the Cohesion Fund is invested in 6 major infrastructure projects to improve the collection, treatment and distribution of water across the country. Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu said: “Cohesion policy invests to ensure that everyone has access to safe water; it is the health of our citizens and our environment that we preserve as well. “These 6 projects include: (1) € 51 million to improve access to water for 179,000 inhabitants in Vaslui County. This project, covering the urban areas of Vaslui, Barlad, Husi and Negresti, includes the construction and renovation of more than 130 km of network. (2) EUR 46 million for, inter alia, the construction and modernization of 7 water treatment plants in Prahova County for the benefit of 167 000 inhabitants. (3) € 12.6 million for improved access to drinking water in Satu Mare county, including the drilling of 4 wells and 40 km of sewer network extension. (4) EUR 21 million for works in Maramureş County, with in particular the extension of nearly 60 km of the water distribution network, for a population of 230 000 people. (5) In the county of Dâmboviţa, EUR 6.3 million for, inter alia, the renovation of 2 tanks and 10 km of additional water supply. (6) EUR 18 million for, inter alia, the construction and renovation of 18 wells and 3 water treatment plants in Argeş County, for nearly 200 000 people.
Smoother, faster road connections in Greece thanks to EU investments
The Commission welcomes the inauguration today of the Ionian Highway, construction of which has been 100% supported by Cohesion Policy funds thanks to the exceptional measures the Commission put forward in the 2015 “A New Start for Growth and Jobs in Greece” plan. Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu said: “The EU invests to improve the everyday lives of Greek citizens with safer roads and reduced travel time. Better transport connections also mean new economic opportunities and faster growth. The Ionian Highway is a new token of steadfast EU solidarity and friendship with Greece.” The new, 200 km-long highway connects the city of Ioannina in the region of Epirus (North-Western Greece) to Antirrio, in Western Greece, and cuts travel time by two hours. The highway reaches the Peloponnesus peninsula in the South, via the EU-funded Rio-Antirrio bridge and, in the North, allows smoother access to Greece’s neighbours countries in the Western Balkans. The Ionian highway is one of the 5 EU-funded motorway concessions in the country, with the Moreas Motorway in the Peloponnesus, the Aegean Motorway linking Athens to Thessaloniki, the Olympia Motorway from Corinth to Patras and the middle section of the E65 Motorway in Central Greece. They have been supported with €3.6 billion of EU funds. By seamlessly connecting Greece with the rest of Europe along a strategic trans-European network and allowing a smooth flow of people and goods, those 5 motorways make a key contribution to a steady economic growth in the country.
State aid: Commission approves German rescue aid to Air Berlin
The European Commission has endorsed under EU State aid rules Germany’s plans to grant Air Berlin a temporary €150 million bridging loan. The measure will allow for the orderly wind-down of the insolvent airline Air Berlin without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market. The purpose of the loan is to allow Air Berlin to continue operations in the coming months, with the aim of maintaining its services while it concludes ongoing negotiations to sell its assets. At the end of the process, Air Berlin is expected to cease operating and exit the market. Rescue and restructuring aid are among the most distortive types of State aid and can only be granted to companies once these have exhausted all other market options. The Commission found that the measure will help to protect the interests of air passengers and to maintain air passenger services. At the same time, the strict conditions attached to the loan, its short duration and the fact that Air Berlin is expected to cease operations at the end of the process, will reduce to a minimum the distortion of competition potentially triggered by the State support. The Commission therefore concluded that the measure is compatible with EU State aid rules. The full press release is available online in here.
Mergers: Commission clears the creation of a joint venture by Centerbridge Partners and Enel in the Greek wind power sector
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a joint venture by Centerbridge Partners, L.P. of the USA and Enel S.p.A. of Italy. The joint venture does not carry out any business activity yet, its object is to build and operate seven wind farms at Kafireas (Euboea) in Greece with a total installed capacity of 154 MW. Centerbridge Partners is an investment management firm focused on private equity and distressed investment opportunities. Enel is an Italian multinational company active in the production and distribution of electricity and gas. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given the limited overlaps 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.8592.
Statement on the humanitarian situation in Myanmar
Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides has issued a statement on the ongoing situation in Myanmar: “Unrestricted humanitarian access, including for aid workers, is critical to reaching 350,000 vulnerable people in Rakhine State. They must be allowed to do their job to try to prevent the further deterioration of an already serious humanitarian situation. I call on all sides to de-escalate tensions and fully observe international human rights law, and in particular to refrain from any violence against civilians. Many Rohingya civilians are suffering greatly and are now fleeing the violence across the border into Bangladesh. They must not be turned back or deported. We greatly appreciate the hospitality extended by the Government and people of Bangladesh for many decades. The assistance and protection of the Bangladeshi authorities regarding these new refugees is crucial until the situation in Rakhine State has stabilised and they can safely return. The European Union is committed to supporting all efforts to bring a return to aid deliveries in Rakhine State and is working tirelessly with all stakeholders to achieve this.” The statement is available here. Commissioner Stylianides visited Rakhine State in Myanmar in May earlier this year where he announced EU humanitarian funding.