Brussels Daily
09 Oct 2014


Brussels Daily

EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht meets Ukraine minister Klimkin

Commissioner de Gucht received this morning Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Minister Klimkin. The Commissioner reiterated the EU’s commitment to work on the basis of the joint statement reached on 12 September, which is part and parcel of a comprehensive peace process in Ukraine, respecting the country’s territorial integrity and its right to decide on its destiny. Fully supporting the stabilisation of Ukraine, the Commission proposed on 19 September 2014 to extend unilaterally the autonomous trade measures (ATM) that are in force until 1 November 2014. These measures consist in removing customs duties on Ukrainian exports to the EU. The Council and the European Parliament have discussed the proposal of the Commission to extend ATM for Ukraine until 31 December 2015. The legislative procedure is well on track and there are strong political indications that Parliament and Council will manage to agree on an extension of the autonomous trade preferences in October 2014. Minister Klimkin welcomed the decision of the EU governments on provisional application of the Association Agreement.

EU research helps fish farmers become more competitive

Aquaculture holds the promise of reducing the need to catch wild fish. Global demand for fish is increasing, putting many species in danger from overfishing. Fish farming, or aquaculture, is taking some of the pressure off these stocks – half of the fish consumed globally is now produced at fish farms. However, more could be done to make Europe’s aquaculture industry, which employs some 80 000 people, more efficient. By producing more fish in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way, fish farms could further reduce the pressure on Europe’s wild fish stocks. To help, the EU-funded project AQUAEXCEL is connecting aquaculture scientists from across Europe for research that fish farmers can use to boost their competitiveness – and the economies of coastal communities.

Commission to cut the number of regulated telecoms markets in Europe

Today Vice President Kroes announces that the European Commission is cutting the number of telecoms markets that are regulated because they are now deemed sufficiently competitive, and barriers to entry have been lowered. The Recommendation on Relevant Markets comes as part of the Connected Continent package which the Commission adopted in September 2013. European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes will make this announcement at the midday briefing today. She will say: “My goal for EU telecoms is to ensure EU consumers enjoy the highest levels of competition: without unnecessary red tape for the sector. Today we can make that happen”. See also MEMO/14/573 .

President Barroso meets President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan

This Thursday afternoon, the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso will welcome President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan. They will discuss the EU-Kazakhstan relations , Kazakhstan’s political and economic reforms and the international efforts in overcoming the Ukrainian crisis. They will also discuss regional security issues related to post-2014 Afghanistan and the regional water management, and international energy governance.

President Barroso has met President Nazarbayev most recently in Astana in June 2013 and at Davos last January.

Other news

Energy research: Europe gears up to make fusion energy a reality

Today, the European Commission and the European fusion research laboratories are launching a European joint programme on fusion in Horizon2020.  The programme EUROfusion will ensure significant progress along the path towards the realisation of fusion energy. Vice-President Günther H. Oettinger responsible for energy said “Fusion has the potential to become a reliable, safe, non-CO2 emitting and sustainable energy source. Today’s launching of our European Joint Programme on fusion shows how Europe benefits if we unite our research strength. EUROfusion provides the framework for Europe to maintain its world leading position in fusion research: now let’s live up to the challenge.” EUROfusion has an overall budget of at least 850 million euro over the period 2014-18, of which about half will come from the Euratom Horizon 2020 fusion energy research programme. For more information see IP/14/1111 and MEMO/14/570

Second quarter of 2014 compared with second quarter of 2013: House prices stable in the euro area – Up by 1.7% in the EU

House prices, as measured by the House Price Index (HPI), remained stable in the euro area and rose by 1.7% in the EU in the second quarter of 2014 compared with the same quarter of the previous year. These figures come from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Compared with the first quarter of 2014, house prices rose by 0.9% in the euro area and by 1.4% in the EU in the second quarter of 2014.

The EU and Jordan to sign a mobility partnership later today

The EU and Jordan will establish officially today a Mobility Partnership. EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, and the Ministers responsible for migration from the twelve EU Member States participating in this partnership (Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden) will sign a Joint Declaration establishing a framework for future cooperation in the field of migration and mobility.

Please note that the press release will go online once the signature has taken place.

Liveurope – launch of new European music platform

Liveurope, a new European music platform co-funded by the EU Creative Europe programme, will bring together 13 well-known venues in 13 countries across Europe. The platform will be launched at 1pm tomorrow (Friday 10 October) at the Ancienne Belgique in Brussels (Bd Anspach 110). The Ancienne Belgique is the coordinator of the initiative, which aims to increase the number of up-and-coming European artists performing at Liveurope venues and to help the artists reach new audiences beyond their home market. The Liveurope ‘label’ will be promoted across the live music scene and other concert halls will be encouraged to back the scheme. An annual Liveurope conference is also planned. The 13 Liveurope music venues are: Rockhal,  Sala Apolo, ES FZW, DE Circolo Degli Artisti, IT Vega, DKå,,,ła, PL Nouveau Casino,  Palaç Akropolis, CZ , UKVillage Underground

Smart Cities and Communities: Action Clusters of Innovation Partnership kick-off at Conference today

Today an Action Cluster Kick-Off Conference takes place in Brussels (Square Brussels Meeting Centre, Rue Mont des Arts; 9 am to 5 pm). The event offers to the representatives of all committing partners of the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC) to meet and begin co-operating in six Action Clusters. During the conference, the most recent developments and plans for the Partnership will be presented. The collaboration among partners will push for innovative solutions. Looking across all commitments, some areas or topics stand out where existing commitments already promise either immediate visible impact on quality of city services and market-development or longer-term, substantial gains in terms of break-through technologies and new market development. These include: Electro-mobility (smart use and management), New mobility services (sharing/renting/travel planning and management), Smart retrofitting and energy-saving (including smart energy control and management), City platforms (software tools for city management), Citizen participation apps, International coordination and collaboration initiatives.

The Commission’s call to cities, businesses, the research community and civil society organisations to work together on making European cities smarter has proven a success: so far this year, altogether 370 commitments to fund and develop smart solutions in the areas of energy, ICT and transport have already been made. These commitments involve more than 3,000 partners from across Europe. The potentials for making our cities more attractive, creating business opportunities and staying ahead in this thriving market are huge.

For more information on EIP-SCC: .

Mergers: Commission clears joint venture between 21st Century Fox and Apollo

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a joint venture between 21st Century Fox and Apollo Management, both of the United States. The companies will contribute their respective businesses in the production and distribution of audio-visual content to the joint venture, namely 21st Century Fox will contribute the Shine Group, and Apollo will contribute Endemol Holding and the CORE Media Group. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would not raise competition concerns, because the companies are not close competitors and the market share increment is limited. Moreover, alternative suppliers of audiovisual content will remain active in the market after the transaction and switching between suppliers is easy. The proposed transaction also creates a relationship between the joint venture and 21st Century Fox’ activities in the wholesale of TV channels and the retail supply of TV services to end customers (the latter in Italy via its subsidiary Sky Italy and in Germany via its subsidiary Sky Deutschland). However, the Commission concluded that this would not give rise to anticompetitive effects because of the companies’ limited combined activities at the upstream level. Moreover, in September 2014 the Commission cleared the acquisition of Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia by British Sky Broadcasting Group plc (see IP/14/1004). Once this transaction is closed, the currently existing relationship between the activities of the joint venture and those of 21st Century Fox in the retail market will have disappeared. 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 the case number M.7360 .

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Stella by dnata

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of the UK travel services business of Stella Travel Services UK Limited and Stella Global UK Ltd (together, “Stella”) by dnata of the United Arab Emirates. Stella and dnata both offer travel services, such as tour operating and travel agencies, and the distribution of flights to other travel agents and consumers in the UK. However, given the parties’ limited combined market shares for the distribution of travel services and the presence of a number of credible competitors, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns. The operation was notified under the simplified merger procedure but the Commission assessed it under the normal procedure as the relationships between Stella’s and dnata’s activities led to affected markets, More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7358 .

President Barroso visits Southern Italy, 10-11 October

President Barroso will visit Naples from 10-11 October, where he will highlight the importance of investments which are made thanks to the EU budget. Friday afternoon, he will visit the Pompeii conservation project, which is co-financed with EUR 78 Mio from the Regional Development Fund of the European Union. On Saturday morning, he will visit a project called STRAIN, which is co-financed from the European Social Funds and which aims at creating Networks of Excellence in the areas of health and biotechnology.

The visit will end with a speech at the University Suor Orsola Benincasa on Saturday at 11:00 CET followed by a debate with citizens. Both will be live transmitted via EBS.

What Commissioners said

László Andor: The Europe 2020 poverty target: lessons learnt and the way forward

Closing the conference on “The Europe 2020 poverty target: lessons learnt and the way forward” taking place in Brussels today, Commissioner László Andor will say: “The poverty divide is a threat to the economic performance of the Economic and Monetary Union because no Union can function if its members drift apart. This is why the Commission and Member States agreed on a scoreboard of key employment and social indicators capable of tracking the social and employment divergences and helping to calibrate the policy response.” He will conclude: “Our economic policies need to be fiscally sound, poverty-reduction friendly and deliver growth and jobs through more investments. They need to more accurately take into account the effects they produce on people and societies. Discussions on poverty reduction in the EU should also permeate the meeting rooms of EU Finance Ministers. Our policy mix needs to be more inclusive and be guided by the Treaty objectives related to social progress. This calls for an integrated and coherent approach between all policy areas – social, employment and economic policies- as well as a closer cooperation between all levels of government, social partners and civil society.” Speech under embargo 17:30 and see also MEMO/14/572

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