Brussels Daily
10 Aug 2018


Brussels Daily


Commission helps five regions to use more innovative and accountable procurement procedures with European funds

The Commission, in partnership with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), will provide personalized support to the Coordinating and Development Committee of the Portuguese Center Region, the Athenian Authority for Urban Transport, to the Italian region of Apulia and the Greek regions of Central Greece and East Macedonia and Thrace, to help them use more innovative public procurement procedures for projects co-financed by the EU. This support aims to promote criteria of environmental sustainability, social impact and innovation, beyond the mere criterion of cost. “The Commission will help the authorities managing European funds to get more for their money,” commented Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu, “More innovative and responsible public procurement procedures for better value for money, here are a concrete example of a strong results-oriented EU budget. ” Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, added: “The Commission wants to help public authorities to maximize the impact of public procurement, in terms of social objectives, innovation and sustainability, notably via the EU Recommendation on the professionalisation of public purchasers “. The selected local and regional authorities will benefit from the Commission’s support for the following projects: Center, Portugal: research and innovation projects related to the regional smart specialization strategy; Athens, Greece: purchase of more environmentally friendly vehicles for urban transport; in Italian Puglia: new technologies and innovative administrative services in the field of water management; Central Greece: a modern and environmentally friendly system for water purification near the Asopos River; East Macedonia and Thrace: projects related to the territorial development strategy of the mountainous areas of Rodopi and Nestos. This support is part of the Commission’s Action Plan for Public Procurement and corresponds to the political orientations of the 2017 Public Procurement Package.

European Solidarity Corps: Commission opens new call for project proposals

The European Commission is calling on interested parties to put forward ideas for projects under the European Solidarity Corps. A total of €44 million has been set aside from the EU budget for selected projects that will be open to all young people across Europe and beyond. This is the first of a series of calls that will allow at least 100,000 young people to take part in the Corps until the end of 2020. Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, Günther H. Oettinger, said: “With the launch of this new call under the European Solidarity Corps, we are delivering on our commitment to create more opportunities for young people to engage in solidarity activities. Funded by the EU budget, the European Solidarity Corps is the best framework for young people to learn, share and use their energy for the common good.” Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport said: “Solidarity is one of the key values of the European Union. Time and again, young people across the EU have shown their willingness to help those in need. By creating a dedicated framework and making available the necessary funding for the period 2018-2020, we want to give them more opportunities to engage, including the possibility to form a group of volunteers and come up with their own ideas for solidarity projects.” Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, added: “The European Solidarity Corps helps young people in their professional development and their integration into the labour market. With its strong European dimension of solidarity, the Corps is an extraordinary opportunity for young people to develop interpersonal skills and acquire new knowledge, all of these bringing an added value to them and society in general.” More information is available in this press release and memo. A factsheet with the latest figures is available here.

Juncker Plan supports Bavarian Nordic’s vaccine production with €30 million EIB loan

The European Union is supporting biotech company Bavarian Nordic with a €30 million loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) which is guaranteed under the Juncker Plan’s European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). Bavarian Nordic will use the funding to build and furnish a production facility on its existing site in Kvistgård, Denmark, where it uses advanced biotechnological manufacturing processes and technologies for the production of vaccines. Bavarian Nordic has played a pivotal role in the fight against communicable diseases – notably Ebola – and by developing defence mechanisms against potential bioterrorism threats, such as smallpox, the biotech firm is a key contributor to the European Security Initiative. Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, responsible for Health and Food Safety, said: “Global health security is a matter of universal concern and key priority for the European Commission. The Ebola crisis showed that very clearly and gave us an important lesson on the necessity to work together to prevent new types of threats. The EIB loan allocated today under the Juncker Plan shows once again a joint commitment to support the EU’s capacity to deal with health threats by encouraging the research and development of innovative therapies against infectious diseases, cancer and other threats.” Full press release can be found here.

EU supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in managing the migration flows with additional €6 million

Today the European Commission adopted a special measure for an amount of €6 million to support Bosnia and Herzegovina in managing the migration flows. The EU funds will improve the capacity of Bosnia and Herzegovina for identification, registration and referral of third-country nationals crossing the border, provide accommodation and basic services for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants and strengthen the capacity for border control and surveillance, hence also contributing to the prevention of and fight against the trafficking of human beings. These funds complement the €1.5 million already made available to Bosnia and Herzegovina in June to address the immediate humanitarian needs of refugees and migrants. In addition to humanitarian assistance, since 2007 the European Commission has been providing assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina in the area of migration and border management for an amount of € 24.6 million. Since January 2016 Bosnia and Herzegovina also benefits from the regional programme ‘Support to Protection-Sensitive Migration Management’ worth €8 million.


State aid: Commission approves new Slovenian commitment package for Nova Ljubljanska Banka

Following an in-depth State aid investigation opened on 26 January 2018, the European Commission has concluded that Slovenia’s aid for Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB) remains compatible with EU State aid rules on the basis of a new commitment package submitted by the Slovenian authorities on 13 July 2018. Slovenia has firmly committed to an ambitious time schedule for NLB’s sale – a first sale tranche of at least 50% plus one share will be sold by the end of 2018 and the Slovenian government will reduce its stake in NLB to 25% plus one share by the end of 2019. Furthermore, Slovenia prolonged key commitments and also offered new commitments to compensate for the delayed sale and restructuring process of NLB. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “The sale of NLB was an important remaining milestone of NLB’s restructuring plan, which allowed us to approve over €2 billion of State aid to the bank in 2013. Therefore, I welcome Slovenia’s commitment to a clear time path to achieve this sale. Thanks to this, the Commission can today approve Slovenia’s new commitment package for NLB, ensuring that the bank will be a viable long-term player in the Slovenian banking market.” A full press release is available here.

State aid: Commission approves prolongation of the Polish resolution scheme for cooperative and small commercial banks

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, the prolongation of the Polish resolution scheme for twelve months. The scheme was initially approved in December 2016. The measure will continue to be available for cooperative banks and small commercial banks with total assets below €3 billion, only if they are found to be in distress by the competent national authorities. The objective of the scheme is to facilitate the work of the Polish resolution authorities, should a concrete case and need arise for it. The Commission found the prolongation of the scheme to be in line with EU State aid rules, in particular the 2013 Banking Communication and EU banking rules. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website in the case register under the case number SA.51403 once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Pibinew by SL04 and Ambienta

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Pibinew S.r.l. of Italy by S.L.04 S.à. r. (“SL04”) of Luxembourg and Ambienta Sgr S.p.A. of Italy. Pibinew designs, manufactures, decorates and sells plastic packaging for the cosmetic industry. SL04 is a private equity firm indirectly controlled by L Catterton Partners of the US whose portfolio includes companies active in the production and sale of cosmetics and fragrance products. Ambienta is a private equity firm whose portfolio companies are not active in the cosmetic sector. Pibinew and L Catterton’s portfolio companies are active in vertically related markets, namely the production and sale of cosmetic packaging, and the supply of cosmetic and fragrance products, respectively. However, the companies’ individual market shares in these vertically related markets are modest and a number of strong players would remain post-transaction in both markets. Therefore, the Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns. 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.9004


Concentrations: la Commission autorise l’acquisition de XL Group par le groupe AXA

La Commission européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, l’acquisition de XL Group Ltd, basé en Bermuda, par le groupe AXA, basé en France. XL Group est actif dans la fourniture d’assurances et de réassurance à des entreprises industrielles, commerciales et professionnelles et aux sociétés d’assurance. AXA est actif dans l’assurance et la gestion d’actifs dans le monde entier. La Commission a conclu que l’opération envisagée ne soulèverait pas de problème de concurrence, compte tenu de son impact très limité sur la structure du marché. La transaction a été examinée dans le cadre de la procédure simplifiée de contrôle des concentrations. De plus amples informations sont disponibles sur le site internet concurrence de la Commission dans le registre public des affaires sous le numéro M.8908

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