Brussels Daily
10 Jul 2017


Brussels Daily


Preparation of the Eurogroup and ECOFIN meetings, 10-11 July 2017

Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Moscovici will represent the European Commission at today’s Eurogroup and tomorrow’s ECOFIN meetings. During the Eurogroup, the Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB) will debrief ministers on the main findings of the seventh post-programme surveillance mission to Ireland, discuss the euro area fiscal stance for 2018 and hold a general exchange of views on the deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union, as set out in the Commission’s reflection paper. The Commission, represented by Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Vestager, the ECB Banking Supervision, and the Single Resolution Board will inform euro area ministers about recent developments in the euro area banking sector. Ministers will also discuss national insolvency frameworks and French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire will present the policy priorities of the new French government. Commissioner Moscovici will represent the Commission at the press conference following the meeting. At Tuesday’s ECOFIN meeting, ministers are expected to adopt conclusions on the Mid-term Review of the EU’s Capital Markets Union Action Plan, which contains a number of important new initiatives proposed by the Commission to ensure that this reform programme gathers even more momentum. Ministers will also discuss a report on Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) in the banking sector, with a view to adopt conclusions setting out an EU agenda to address this issue across Member States with appropriate measures. The Commission will present its latest tax transparency proposal which introduces new reporting obligations for intermediaries who design and promote tax planning schemes for their clients. The Council is also expected to formally adopt European Semester Country-Specific Recommendations for 2017. Vice-President Dombrovskis will participate in the press conference following the ECOFIN session.


EUROSTAT: First population estimates – EU population up to almost 512 million at 1 January 2017 – Increase driven by migration

On 1 January 2017, the population of the European Union (EU)was estimated at 511.8 million, compared with 510.3 million on 1 January 2016. During the year 2016, as many births as deaths were recorded in the EU (5.1 million), meaning that the natural change of the EU population was neutral. The population change (positive, with 1.5 million more inhabitants) was therefore due to net migration. Full text available here

Commissioner Hahn at the informal Eastern Partnership dialogues to step up Summit preparations and cooperation on energy efficiency

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations is in Chișinău, Republic of Moldova, today to participate at the informal Eastern Partnership dialogue focused on strengthening cooperation on energy efficiency between the EU and Eastern Partnership countries. Commissioner met with Ministers of Foreign Affairs this morning and will meet this afternoon with Ministers in charge of energy efficiency from the Eastern Partnership countries – ArmeniaAzerbaijanBelarusGeorgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. The dialogue on foreign affairs focussed on the preparation of the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit that will take place on 24 November in Brussels and addressed the regional and global challenges for the region. This afternoon’s dialogue, together with representatives of the International Financial Institutions will focus on strengthening cooperation on energy efficiency between the EU and Eastern Partnership countries. Ahead of the mission, Commissioner Hahn said: “The EU will continue to support partner countries in their efforts to become more energy efficient as a top priority, for the benefit of citizens across the region. Developing and implementing cost-effective energy efficiency policy is key for improving energy security, competitiveness, boosting economic growth, creating jobs – and it contributes to preventing climate change. We are focused on delivering concrete results, with a clear programme for cooperation until 2020 and beyond.” A press release following the meeting (at approximately 17:30) will be published here. Photos and videos of the mission will be available on EbS.


Investing in Europe’s youth: Commission launches European Solidarity Corps 

The European Commission is today launching the European Solidarity Corps, just two months after President Juncker announced it and as a first deliverable of the priorities for action identified in the Bratislava Roadmap. As of today, young people between the ages of 18 and 30 can sign up for new opportunities to make an important contribution to society across the EU, and to gain invaluable experience and acquire valuable skills at the start of their career. The Commission is also presenting a series of measures to boost youth employment, improve and modernise education, more investment in skills of young people, and better opportunities to learn and study abroad.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “The European Solidarity Corps will create opportunities for young people willing to make a meaningful contribution to society and help show solidarity – something the world and our European Union needs more of. For me, this has always been the very essence of what the European Union is about. It is not the Treaties or industrial or economic interests that bind us together, but our values. And those who work as volunteers are living European values each and every day.” More information here


EU and Japan step up energy cooperation on LNG

On Tuesday 11 July, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete and Japan’s Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko will sign a joint Memorandum of Cooperation on LiquefiedNatural Gas (LNG). As the EU and Japan taken together account for nearly 50% of overall global LNG consumption, reinforced cooperation between the EU and Japan will promote the liquidity, flexibility and transparency of the global LNG market. The signature takes place just days after leaders at the EU-Japan Summit in Brussels reached a political agreement on two landmark agreements, the Economic Partnership Agreement and the strategic partnership agreement (read IP/17/1927). Ahead of the signing, Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said: “International LNG markets are set for major change with substantial new liquefaction capacity coming on stream. LNG prices across the Atlantic and Pacific basin are converging and the LNG market moves towards higher liquidity and flexibility. For the EU, the current developments in the global LNG market offer an opportunity to let LNG play its full role in diversifying gas supplies to all member states and in enhancing the competitiveness in the internal gas market. Japan is the world’s largest LNG importer. Being natural allies in this regard, the EU and Japan both want to promote the liquidity, transparency and flexibility of the global LNG market. This will ensure competitive LNG supplies and make the international market more resilient and prepared to respond to emergencies.” The signing ceremony takes place on Tuesday 11 July at 15:00 CET in the Commission’s Berlaymont building and will be transmitted by Europe by Satellite (EbS). The signing ceremony is open to audiovisual media. For registration please contact


European Commission approves disbursement of €100 million in assistance to Tunisia

The European Commission, on behalf of the EU, has today approved the disbursement of a €100 million loan to Tunisia. This represents the third and last tranche of the €300 million Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA-I) programme to Tunisia, adopted in May 2014. The MFA-I programme is part of the EU’s comprehensive efforts to help Tunisia respond to the severe economic difficulties it is facing and the persistent political instability in the region. This first macro-financial assistance operation to Tunisia will be followed by a second MFA programme (MFA-II) in the amount of €500 million, also in the form of loans, of which disbursements will again be tied to the implementation of a number of policy conditions mutually agreed upon. Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxations and Customs, said: “This disbursement, on the back of agreement on a new programme, reaffirms the EU’s continued commitment to support Tunisia in its efforts to further its economic and political transition. Notwithstanding an unstable regional context, Tunisia has demonstrated its determination to consolidate a fully-fledged democratic system, and to achieve prosperity for all its citizens. The EU firmly stands with Tunisia and its people.” Macro-Financial Assistance is an exceptional EU crisis response instrument available to the EU’s neighbouring partner countries and more information on MFA to Tunisia can be found here. A full press release is available here.


Migration: Commission awards additional emergency funding to improve reception conditions in the Greek islands and in Bulgaria

The European Commission has awarded an additional €6.48 million in emergency assistance to improve reception conditions in accommodation centres in the Greek islands of Lesvos (Kara Tepe) and Chios (Souda). With this funding the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will provide services such as food, water and sanitation supply and help ensure protection for vulnerable migrants as well as education and healthcare. The overall emergency funding allocated to the Greek authorities and international organisations operating in Greece now stands at €361.82 million, adding to the €509.5 million allocated to Greece under the national programmes for the period 2014-2020. The Commission also awarded an additional €1.22 million in emergency assistance to support UNHCR’s activities in Bulgaria to help improve reception conditions and the protection environment of asylum seekers and refugees. The funding will support the monitoring of asylum procedures and the provision of legal, psychological and psychosocial support, including for child migrants. This brings the total emergency assistance for migrant and border management in Bulgaria to €170 million on top of the €91 million allocated to Bulgaria under the national programmes for the period 2014-2020.



European Commission consults on a secondary market for non-performing loans

As part of its efforts to tackle the issue of non-performing loans (NPLs) in the EU, the Commission is launching today a public consultation with a view to exploring possible initiatives to facilitate the development of secondary markets for NPLs. The consultation aims to gather targeted input from stakeholders on ways to improve the functioning of the secondary market and more specifically on loan servicing activities by third parties and the transfer of loans away from the originating bank. The consultation also offers interested parties the occasion to give feedback on a possible new instrument, labelled ‘accelerated loan security’, aimed at increasing the protection of secured creditors from business borrowers’ default to improve the functioning of the SMEs credit market. European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said: “High level of NPLs in many Member States hold back economic growth and can be source of spill-over risks to the overall economy and financial system of the European Union. That’s why our priority is to tackle NPLs. While there is no single silver bullet, the Commission is supporting the targeted work of Member States. One of the key areas where the EU can make a contribution is the development of secondary markets for distressed debt. If banks were able to off-load legacy assets from their balance sheet better via secondary markets for credit, they could use their managerial capacity more on evaluating new lending business.”  Respondents are invited to provide evidence-based feedback and specific suggestions by 20 October 2017 through the online questionnaire. Further to this work, the Commission will also launch an impact assessment with the objective of considering a possible legislative initiative to strengthen the ability of secured creditors to recover value from secured loans to corporates and entrepreneurs.


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Milton Park by CPPIB and BTPS

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Milton Park of the UK, by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) of Canada and the British Telecom Pension Scheme (BTPS) of the UK. Milton Park, located in Oxfordshire, is a business park with 302 acres of real estate area. It includes 92 buildings with 250 occupiers, employing over 9000 people. CPPIB invests the funds of the Canada Pension Plan mainly in equities, real estate, infrastructure and fixed income investments. BTPS is an occupational pension scheme established for the benefit of employees of BT Group plc, investing in real estate as well as bonds and equities both in the UK and overseas. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because of the limited changes it brings to the market. 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.8526.


Mergers: Commission clears the creation of a joint venture by Thung Hua Sinn, Itochu and Toppan Printing

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the creation of a joint venture by Thung Hua Sinn of Thailand, and Itochu and Toppan Printing, both of Japan. Thung Hua Sinn is active in print and packaging manufacturing. Itochu is a global trader of various products and Toppan Printing is active in the development of printing technology. The joint venture will be based in Thailand and will manufacture and sell flexible packaging. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because the joint venture will have no or only limited activities in 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.8535. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Novo Banco by Lone Star under merger review

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the planned acquisition of Novo Banco S.A. of Portugal by Lone Star Funds of the US. The sale of Novo Banco will still require a separate Commission approval under state aid rules. Novo Banco is a universal bank, active in retail and commercial banking in Portugal. Lone Star is a private equity firm that invests globally in real estate, equity, credit, and other financial assets. The Commission concluded that the acquisition would not raise concerns under the EU Merger Regulation because the companies have no overlapping activities in banking in Portugal. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. Today’s clearance decision deals with the assessment of the transaction under merger control rules. Concerning the assessment under state aid rules, the Commission continues its discussions with the Portuguese authorities on a restructuring plan to ensure the return to long-term viability of Novo Banco.A state aid decision is required in line with state aid rules and the state aid decisions2014 and 2015approving aid in the resolution of Banco Espírito Santo. In this context Portugal had committed to sell the bridge bank Novo Banco. More information on the merger approval is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the merger case number M.8487.



DAILY NEWS 10 – 07 -2017-

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