Humanitarian aid: New measures to better support persons with disabilities in crises
The Commission has announced new measures to better tailor EU humanitarian aid to persons with disabilities caught up in crisis situations. From now on EU funded projects will cover the needs of persons with disabilities in a more structured way. Concretely, the Commission, together with groups working with people with disabilities and humanitarian organisations, will develop standards that need to be met in all EU humanitarian projects. The Commission’s humanitarian funding will, for the first time, require humanitarian partners to include people with disabilities in their projects. Organisations representing people with disabilities will also be regularly consulted in the design of Commission policies and those with disabilities will have greater input in operations on the ground. The announcement comes as Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides speaks today at the 4th European Parliament of Persons with Disabilities (EPPD) event. “People with disabilities suffer disproportionately in crisis situations. Unfortunately, we have also seen all too often that persons with disabilities cannot access the most basic services offered by humanitarian organisations. Making EU humanitarian response more disability-inclusive remains our priority.” said Commissioner Stylianides. In the past two years, €30 million were allocated for projects undertaken by disability-specific organisations – increasing funding by 40% since the start of Commissioner Stylianides’ mandate in 2014. EU has endorsed the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action, launched at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016. The EU has also ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which foresees the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters.
State aid: Commission approves prolongation of Greek bank guarantee scheme
The European Commission has authorised the prolongation of the Greek guarantee scheme for credit institutions until 31 May 2018 under EU State aid rules. The liquidity situation of the Greek banks is gradually improving. Therefore, the scheme is used significantly less. In this context, the Commission has found the prolongation of the guarantee scheme to be in line with the 2013 Banking Communication, which sets out the rules on State aid to banks during the crisis. This is because the prolonged measure is targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. In line with the 2013 Banking Communication, the Commission is authorising guarantee schemes on banks’ liabilities for successive periods of six months in order to be able to monitor developments and adjust conditions accordingly. The scheme is available for banks with no capital shortfall. The Greek guarantee scheme was initially approved in November 2008 and has been prolonged several times since then, the last time in July 2017. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number SA.49583. )
Mergers: Commission clears the acquisition of sole control over OOIL by COSCO
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of sole control over Orient Overseas (International) Limited (”OOIL”) of Bermuda by COSCO SHIPPING Holdings Co., Ltd. of China. OOIL is a company with activities in container liner shipping, logistics services and provision of container terminal services. COSCO, ultimately controlled by Central SASAC, the Chinese State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council, is mainly active in container shipping and container terminal services. The Commission examined the impact of the proposed transaction on the markets where both OOIL and COSCO are active, mainly the deep-sea container liner shipping services market. If the markets shares of the alliances or consortia that OOIL and COSCO belong to are taken into account, the transaction would affect eight trade routes – that is both legs of the Northern Europe to North America, Northern Europe to the Far East, Mediterranean to the Middle East and Mediterranean to the Far East trade routes. In particular, the Commission found that the combined market share of COSCO and OOIL and their consortia partners would be very significanton the Northern Europe-North America trade route. However, the Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would not give rise to competition concerns given, among other things, (a) the presence of significant competitors post-merger, (b) the fact that the companies do not appear to be close competitors and (c) COSCO’s marginal position on the Northern-Europe-North America trade route. On the other trade routes where the companies’ activities overlap, the transaction would not give rise to competition concerns because of the small increment brought about by the transaction and the presence of other significant competitors post-merger. The Commission also looked at the effects of the transaction on a number of related markets, in particular the market for container terminal services and freight forwarding, without finding any competition concerns. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under under the case number M.8594.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Windplus by CGE, DGE, EDP Renewables, Trustwind and Repsol Nuevas Energias
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over the joint venture Windplus S.A. of Portugal by Chiyoda Generating Europe Limited (“CGE”) and Diamond Generating Europe Limited (“DGE”), both of the UK, EDP Renewables, SGPS, S.A. (“EDPR”) of Portugal, Trustwind B.V. of the Netherlands, and Repsol Nuevas Energias S.A. (“Repsol NE”) of Spain. Windplus will develop an offshore wind project and be active in the generation and wholesale supply of electricity in Portugal. CGE functions as the power generation business in Europe for Chiyoda Corporation, an engineering company. DGE functions as the power generation business inter alia in Europe for the Mitsubishi Corporation, a global integrated business enterprise. EDPR is active in the generation of renewable energy and is ultimately controlled by EDP, a Portuguese utility company active in the generation, distribution and supply of electricity in Portugal and Spain. Trustwind manages the wind power assets of TrustEnergy B.V., a joint venture between Engie, a global energy player, and Marubeni, an integrated trading and investment business conglomerate. Repsol NE develops a business related to renewable energy and belongs to Repsol S.A., an integrated energy company in the oil and gas industry. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given the negligible actual and foreseen activities of Windplus within 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.8727.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Oiltanking Odfjell Terminal Singapore by Macquarie and Oiltanking
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed acquisition of joint control over Oiltanking Odfjell Terminal Singapore Pte. Ltd. by Macquarie Asia Infrastructure Investments 2 Pte. Ltd. (“Macquarie”) both of Singapore and Oiltanking GmbH of Germany. Oiltanking Odfjell Terminal Singapore owns and operates a bulk petrochemical storage facility located on Jurong Island, Singapore. Macquarie is an infrastructure fund under the management and control of the Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets division of Macquarie Group. Macquarie Group is a global provider of banking, financial, advisory, investment and fund management services. Oiltanking is a provider of storage services for petroleum products, vegetable oils, chemicals, other liquids and gases, and dry bulk. It is ultimately controlled by Marquard & Bahls AG, which focuses on oil trading, renewable energies, dry bulk handling, carbon trading, gas supply and petroleum analysis. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns as there are no 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.8711
Mergers: Commission clears the creation of the joint venture Carl Zeiss Smart Optics by Carl Zeiss and Deutsche Telekom
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the creation of the joint venture Carl Zeiss Smart Optics, Inc. of the US by Carl Zeiss AG and Deutsche Telekom AG, both of Germany. The aim of Carl Zeiss Smart Optics is to develop and commercialise a system for smart glasses. Carl Zeiss AG is a technology group in the field of optics and optoelectronics. Deutsche Telekom AG is a telecommunications and information technology provider operating in more than 50 countries worldwide. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because Carl Zeiss Smart Optics has negligible actual and foreseen activities within the EEA. 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.8612.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Benvic by Endowment Strategies
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Benvic entities in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Spain (“Benvic Europe”) by Endowment Strategies S.a.r.l. of Luxembourg. Each of the Benvic Europe entities is mainly active in the market for PVC (polyvinyl chloride) compounds, in the development, production and commercialisation of premix/dry blends, compounds and alloys. Endowment Strategies is an investment company with variable capital, controlled by Investindustrial, which in turn is an investment group focussing on acquiring control of small to medium size companies in a variety of industrial sectors.The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns given the absence of horizontal overlaps between the companies’ activities and the moderate market positions on the limited number of vertical relationships. 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.8681.
Vice-President Dombrovskis, Commissioner Thyssen and Commissioner Jourová attend Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Council
Tomorrow, 7 December, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, Valdis Dombrovskis, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, and Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vera Jourová will attend the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Council taking place in Brussels. During the meeting, Ministers of Employment and Social Affairsare expected to give their final approval to the first revision of the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive. They are also expected toreach an agreement on the European Accessibility Act, the Commission’s proposal to make products and services more accessible for disabled persons. Ministers will also exchange views on the 2018 European Semester. Following a lunch debate on fostering digital transformation while safeguarding social protection, Ministers are expected to adopt a partial general approach on the Commission’s proposal to create fairer rules on the coordination of social security systems within the EU. Ministers will also come to a political agreement to bring EU law in line with the revised Maritime Labour Convention, following the agreement by social partners in the maritime sector. At the meeting, progress reports on the Commission’s work-life balance proposal and the Equal Treatment Directive will be discussed, and the Ministers are expected to adopt conclusions on enhanced measures to reduce gender segregation in education and employment, the future of work, and community-based support and care for independent living. A press conference by Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Thyssen will follow after the meeting, around 18:00 CET, and will be broadcast here.
Commissioners Avramopoulos, Jourová and King to attend the Justice and Home Affairs Council
Commissioners Dimitris Avramopoulos, Věra Jourová and Julian King will attend the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on 7 and 8 December. On Thursday, Home Affairs Ministers will discuss EU counter-terrorism measures, including anti-radicalisation, the state of play on cooperation between Common Security and Defence Policy missions and EU Justice and Home Affairs agencies as well as the transposition and implementation of the PNR Directive. They will also discuss the progress towards achieving interoperability of EU information systems. In addition, Ministers are expected to reach a general approach on the Commission proposal to strengthen the mandate of eu-LISA Agency and will discuss the progress made on the reform of the Common European Asylum System. Over lunch, Ministers will exchange views on the latest developments in the joint efforts to strengthen the Schengen area. In the afternoon, a joint session of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers will be dedicated to the EU Internet Forum and a mid-term review of the Justice and Home Affairs strategic guidelines. Discussion will also take place on the state of play on data retention and encryption. On Friday, Justice Ministers are expected to reach a general approach on the better exchange of criminal records of non-EU nationals through the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) and on the Regulation on cross-border confiscation and freezing of criminal assets. Ministers will also discuss the state of play of the EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and exchange views on a reform of the Brussels IIa Regulation on the enforcement of judgements on custody of children as well as the Directive on insolvency, restructuring and second chance. Press conferences on both days will be streamed live on EbS.
Commissioner Bulc in Vienna for rail conference and citizens’ dialogue
Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc will be in Vienna tomorrow where she will open the fourth EU rail freight days. This event brings together all major rail freight stakeholders to discuss the future of the sector. Commissioner Bulc will stress that a competitive rail sector remains essential for Europe to reach its ambitious climate objectives. Under the Juncker Plan, a €500 million loan to Austrian rail company ÖBB was announced last Friday to purchase new rolling stock and contribute to the attractiveness of rail transport. Later in the day, Commissioner Bulc will also take part in a citizens’ dialogue organised at Haus der Europäischen Union in Vienna. The main topic for discussion will be the future of Europe in the context of the Roadmap for a More United, Stronger and More Democratic Union presented by President Juncker during his State of the Union.