|EU calls for ambition ahead of the WTO Ministerial Conference
Ahead of the upcoming ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to be held in Buenos Aires between 10 and 13 December 2017, the EU called upon its partners for more ambition. Meeting her WTO counterparts in Marrakesh, Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: “The time for ambition is now. The multilateral forum remains the best way to deal with international trade issues and the EU continues to strongly support the work of the WTO. If we want to have a positive outcome in Buenos Aires in December, then we need to focus and pick up the pace. The EU has put forward several proposals on critical issues that today’s trade policy must address. We hope and expect that other WTO members will engage constructively.” Members of the Cairns group (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, New Zealand, Malaysia, Pakistan, Peru, Thailand, Uruguay and Vietnam) have joined the EU in reaffirming their commitment to tackling the most trade distorting domestic support in agriculture in a joint statement issued to that effect yesterday. Ahead of the Buenos Aires Ministerial Conference, the EU leads the way on six specific proposals: a proposal related to agriculture subsidies aiming a to improve a global level-playing field for farmers, proposals on horizontal and fisheries-specific subsidies, on regulations related to trade in services and e-commerce, and on transparency. More information on EU proposals is available on the Commission website.
Fair Taxation: Commission welcomes new rules to resolve tax disputes
The European Commission welcomes EU Member States’ formal green light for new rules to better resolve tax disputes. The decision taken by EU finance ministers at the ECOFIN Council meeting in Luxembourg today will ensure that businesses and citizens can resolve disputes related to the interpretation of tax treaties more swiftly and effectively. It will also cover issues related to double taxation – a major obstacle for businesses, creating uncertainty, unnecessary costs and cash-flow problems. Double taxation refers to cases where two or more countries claim the right to tax the same income or profits of a company or person. It can occur, for example, due to a mismatch in national rules or different interpretations of a bilateral tax treaty with regards transfer pricing arrangements. Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: “We proposed this new system to improve legal certainty and EU competitiveness by creating a binding obligation on Member States’ authorities to resolve tax disputes in a timely manner. This is an important step to allow EU citizens and businesses alike to have fair tax treatment. I commend the quick action of Member States and the European Parliament to support this upgrade of the current rules.” The improvements to the current rules agreed by EU finance ministers in Luxembourg will give taxpayers much more certainty when it comes to seeking resolution to their interpretation of tax treaties or double taxation problems. A full press release is available online.
EU countries should use pesticides more sustainably
The report on the sustainable use of pesticides Directive adopted today by the Commission takes stock of progress made by the EU Member States in applying measures to reduce the risks and impacts of pesticides. It covers a wide range of topics such as aerial spraying, information to the public or training of professionals. The report indicates insufficient implementation of the Directive on the sustainable use of pesticides. Commenting on the report, Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “I know first-hand that citizens are concerned about the impact of the use of pesticides on their health and the environment. We take these concerns into consideration and we are working with the Member States to achieve sustainable use of pesticides in the way we grow and produce our food. I will continue encouraging and supporting Member States in their task of implementing the measures to reduce risks derived from the use of pesticides”. The full press release is available here.
Mergers: Commission clears the creation of a joint venture by AES and Siemens
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a joint venture by AES Corporation Inc. of the US and Siemens AG of Germany. The joint venture, based in the US and called Fluence Energy LLC will develop and market battery-based energy storage solutions. AES is a global power company and Siemens is active in a number of industrial areas. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of the limited overlap between the companies’ activities. 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.8555.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of the Williams Lea business by Advent
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Williams Lea Tag GmbH of Germany, Williams Lea Holdings, Inc. of the US and Williams Lea Holdings Limited of the UK, together forming the Williams Lea business, by Advent International of the US. The Williams Lea business is active in the provision of marketing communications services and business document process outsourcing. Advent International is a private equity investment firm with portfolio companies active in various business sectors. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because the overlaps between the activities of the Williams Lea business and Advent International’s portfolio companies are limited. 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.8645.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Jimmy Choo by Michael Kors
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Jimmy Choo PLC of the UK, by Michael Kors Holdings Limited incorporated in British Virgin Islands. Jimmy Choo is a fashion brand specialising in luxury footwear and accessories. Michael Kors is a global luxury accessories, footwear and apparel company. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given the companies’ moderate combined market positions resulting from the proposed transaction. 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. 8624.
Commission gathers Industry and Member States to drive battery production in the EU
On Wednesday 11 October, the European Commission will host a high level meeting on battery development and production in Europe. Representatives of the European industry, Member States and financial institutions will participate. Following President Juncker‘s SOTEU speech where he presented a new Industrial Policy Strategy that “will help our industries stay or become the world leader in innovation, digitisation and decarbonisation“, this initiative aims at identifying and exploring opportunities to complete the gaps in the battery value chain in Europe and discuss actions needed for the EU to remain competitive. Amongst a wide panel of actions, the new industrial policy puts forward new proposals for clean, competitive and connected mobility, including tightened CO2 emissions standards for cars and vans, an Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Action Plan to support the deployment of charging infrastructure, and actions to foster autonomous driving. Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovic who will host themeeting, said: “Batteries represent a key enabling technology in the context of the Energy Union. Their development and production play a strategic role in the ongoing transition to clean mobility and clean energy systems. Its potential should not be left untapped in the EU and we all need to pull in the same direction. Ultimately, it is about making the European industry stronger and more competitive, about creating jobs based on cutting edge technologies, and about leading the fight against climate change.” The Commission has supported the development of batteries as a key enabling technology for achieving EU climate and energy goals. It’s most recent Communication “Europe on the Move” sets out an agenda for a transition to clean, competitive, and connected mobility in Europe. Therein batteries have been identified as one of the flagship initiatives under the Energy Union Strategy. Also the Industrial Policy Strategy highlights the strategic importance of investments in batteries and the need to kick-start industry-led initiatives for a full battery value chain in the EU. Finally, building on Europe’s leadership in a low-carbon and circular economy, this helps the EU to implement its Paris Agreement commitments. The Commission is ready to step up its work with Member States and stakeholders to support industry-led initiatives. A press point with Vice-President Šefčovič on the outcome of the meeting will take place in the Berlaymont VIP corner at 16:00 CET, Europe by Satellite will transmit live.
Commissioner Thyssen visits Romania and participates in Citizens’ Dialogue
Tomorrow and Thursday, 11 and 12 October, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, will go on a two-day visit to Romania. She will first meet with Minister of Labour and Social Justice Olguta Vasilescu. The meeting will be an occasion to discuss the ongoing Council negotiations on the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive, as well as the Romanian labour market challenges highlighted in the framework of the European Semester and the reforms the government has taken so far to address them. During her stay, Commissioner Thyssen will also meet with Minister for Public Consultation and Social Dialogue, Mr Gabriel Petrea, Minister of Development, Mrs Sevil Shhaideh, and Mrs Rovana Plumb, Minister-delegate of EU Funds of Romania. To conclude the first day of the visit, the Commissioner will attend a dinner with trade union and business representatives to discuss the role of social dialogue. On Thursday, Commissioner Thyssen will participate in a Citizens’ Dialogue on the future of (social) Europe and the European Pillar of Social Rights, which can be watched here. At the start of the event, she will open an exhibition on ’60 years of EU’ together with Romanian Minister-delegate Plumb. Commissioner Thyssen and Minister-delegate Plumb will conclude the day together by visiting a project supported by the European Social Fund at the Medical University of Iasi.