09 Sep 2014
EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS – 09 SEPTEMBERBrussels Daily
The European Commission will provide €5 million to the newly established mission of the African Union (AU) “Support to Ebola Outbreak in West-Africa” (ASEOWA) that will join the ongoing efforts to contain the spread of the disease in the region, as announced at an AU Partner Group’s meeting on Ebola in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). ASEOWA will provide advice to the Ebola coordination structures in the affected countries and engage in joint operations with them. It will also provide medical support in their on-going responses to the Ebola outbreak and assist local authorities and the international community in consolidating the control over the virus’ epidemic.
In the light of Russia’s trade ban which also hit the European fisheries sector this summer, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, yesterday underlined that she stands ready to support the European fisheries sector financially and with flexible fishing quotas. In a letter to the Italian Presidency and the European Parliament, Commissioner Damanaki called upon the EU governments concerned by the ban to make use “as quickly as possible” of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), which can provide financial help to producers who are unable to sell their products to Russia. The aid enables them to store the unsold products until new markets have been found and can be unlocked without any approval by the European Commission. Commissioner Damanaki added that she instructed her services to examine the possibility to carry over more than the usual 10% of fishing quotas to next year. She underlined that she could take a positive stance on this option, under the condition that scientists confirm that such a proposal would not undermine the long term sustainability of fish stocks.
The European Commission is meeting with the coordinators of 18 Youth Guarantee pilot projects at a seminar in Brussels today. The meeting will review the achievements of the projects that are being implemented in Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom. The pilot projects represent concrete ways of putting the Youth Guarantee into practice by for example reinforcing links between employers and schools and by upgrading support to young people from public employment services. Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor, said: “The Youth Guarantee is a structural reform which requires Member States to improve their youth employment policy on all levels. The pilot projects show that this approach works and brings results. The Youth Guarantee is proving to be the most rapidly implemented EU structural reform. The Commission directly works with all Member States to ensure the full and rapid implementation of the Youth Guarantee.” See also MEMO/14/521 .
The European Commission welcomes the launch today of Education at a Glance 2014, the annual report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on the state of play and challenges faced by national education systems. It highlights the growing importance of investment in education for future growth and employment in the EU and for more inclusive European societies.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over the Zagreb Airport manager by Aéroports de Paris, Bouygues Bâtiment, International Finance Corporation, Marguerite Fund and TAV
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Zagreb Airport International Company (“ZAIC”) by International Finance Corporation (“IFC”) of the US, TAV Airports Holding (“TAV”) of Turkey, Aéroports de Paris Management (“AdP”), Bouygues Bâtiment International (“BBI”) and Marguerite Fund (“Marguerite”), all of France. ZAIC is a UK corporation which operates and manages the Zagreb Airport and finances, builds and operates a new airport terminal at Zagreb Airport under a concession agreement. AdP is a fully owned subsidiary of Aéroports de Paris that invests in airport companies and manages airport operations outside of the Paris region. BBI, part of the Bouygues Group, manages, designs and constructs building projects at an international level. IFC is an international organisation, member of the World Bank Group, established in 1956 to further economic growth in its developing member countries by promoting private sector development. Marguerite focuses on investments in greenfield infrastructures. TAV operates and manages airports, mainly outside Europe. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, in particular because of its small impact on the market structure. 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.7327 .
Following an in-depth investigation (see IP/14/472) the European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the Spanish operations of the Swiss building materials group Holcim (“Holcim assets”) by its Mexican rival Cemex. Cemex and Holcim are global suppliers of cement and other building materials. The Holcim assets comprise plants and quarries dedicated to the production and supply of cement, aggregates, ready-mix concrete and mortar in Spain. The Commission concluded that the acquisition would not raise competition concerns since the merged entity will continue to face sufficient competition from its rivals in all markets concerned.
What Commissioners said
“Change is never easy, but it can be done”, said Commissioner Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, when she summarised in a speech held in San Sebastian, Spain, what she has achieved in the past years through the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. By prioritising sustainable fisheries over short-term economic interests, the European Union has been leading by example, “and has set itself an agenda to maintain that role”. To make sure that sustainability stays more than a paper commitment, Commissioner Damanaki added her reflections on the work ahead in the coming years: fishing quotas need to be further adjusted, and the biological knowledge needs to be improved. For the upcoming landing obligation to work, measures need to be taken so that fishing fleets can continue to operate normally. Furthermore, more long-term fisheries management plans need to be adopted so to allow fishermen to work in a predictable and stable environment. And especially when it comes to the interests of small-scale fisheries, further efforts are needed to make regional decision-making work.
In her opening speech at the Destination Europe Conference at McGill University in Montreal, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, stated: “During the Seventh EU Framework Programme, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie scheme funded some 270 Canadian researchers to work in Europe and more than 150 Europeans to work in Canada. We hope that this excellent level of researcher mobility will increase in the coming years. These pan-European programmes are only the tip of the iceberg of opportunities. EU Member States also offer generous grants and fellowship programmes open to researchers from anywhere in the world. However, Europe’s attractiveness is not just based on our excellent research capabilities, infrastructure or the funding opportunities you will hear about this morning. It is also due to our deep and diverse arts and culture, our beautiful landscapes, our vibrant cities, our varied cuisine and many other features of a fulfilling life. Of course there is little point in having so many opportunities available for researchers from around the world if they are not aware of them. This is why I launched the Destination Europe initiative two and a half years ago. Together with the EU’s Member States we believe that it is essential to promote Europe’s vibrant and forward-looking research and innovation culture and to raise awareness internationally of the many excellent career and funding opportunities in European industry, universities and research organisations.”
Speaking at the second day of the 6th Cohesion Forum which saw the Presidents of the European Parliament, European Commission and the European Council, Martin Schulz, Jose Manuel Barroso and Herman Van Rompuy addressing an audience of political representatives, experts and stakeholders, Commissioner Hahn said: “Cohesion Policy can contribute to common European goals. Through the shared management principle and the partnership approach, the Cohesion Policy is able to deliver on the ground, mobilise resources, and create ownership. Perhaps the most obvious example these days is our energy dependence. Cohesion Policy is targeting the low carbon economy, investing in energy efficiency, on research and innovation, new technologies and alternative energy sources. It is contributing to EU climate goals and helps us address our energy security. So far we know that some 38 billion EURO have been allocated to such investments to support the transition to a low carbon and climate resilient economy. Overall, the reform has made the Cohesion Policy an instrument to deal with whatever challenges may come our way by 2020 and beyond”. On the subject of the budget he added: “I think we have arrived at a point at which the actual implementation of the projects on the ground will be affected because of lack of liquidity. The Member States have to assume their responsibility seriously and address this mismatch between their policy commitments and their budget decisions”.