14 Nov 2014
EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS – 14 NOVEMBERBrussels Daily
Commission President Juncker and European Council President Van Rompuy at the G20 in Brisbane, Australia
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy are participating in the 9th edition of the G20 summit in the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre in Brisbane, Australia. President Juncker and President Van Rompuy will hold a joint press conference at 8:30 Brisbane time on 15 November (23:30 CET Friday 14 November andbroadcast live via EBS).
The European Commission restarts payments to Bulgaria under the Operational Programme Environment
The European Commission has informed Bulgaria that the payments from the EU funds under the Operational Programme (OP) Environment for the programming period 2007-2013 are restored. The official letter has already been sent to the Bulgarian authorities on 13 November, and the Commission will proceed with a first payment of EUR 166m from the Cohesion Fund and EUR 74m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Commissioner Corina Creţu, in charge of Regional Policy, said: “I welcome the positive steps taken by the Bulgarian authorities to improve and strengthen the Operational Programme (OP) management system. The restart of payments under the OP Environment is excellent news for the Bulgarian people, but also for the future of the partnership between Bulgaria and the European Commission.” Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva said: “The recovery of the funds under the Operational Programme (OP) Environment is great news in Bulgaria. What should follow is an immediate use of the funds envisaged for Bulgaria, so that people feel the effect from today’s decision. The country cannot afford to lose a single lev from the money it has the right to receive, because they equal possibilities for a better quality of life.” A press release is available online.
State aid: Commission publishes non-confidential version of decisions to open investigations into transfer pricing arrangements on corporate taxation of Starbucks (The Netherlands)
Today the Commission has published the non-confidential version of the decision taken on 11 June 2014 to open an in-depth investigation into transfer pricing arrangements on corporate taxation of Starbucks in The Netherlands (see IP/14/663). The decision is available under the case numberSA.38374 on the competition website. A technical briefing off-the-record, for accredited journalists only, will take place in Aquarium 5 of the European Commission at 13:00 CET.
Flash estimate – GDP up by 0.2% in the euro area and up by 0.3% in the EU28
Seasonally adjusted GDP rose by 0.2% in the euro area (EA18) and by 0.3% in the EU28 during the third quarter of 2014, compared with the previous quarter, according to flash estimates published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the second quarter of 2014, GDP grew by 0.1% in the euro area and by 0.2% in the EU28. Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, seasonally adjusted GDP rose by 0.8% in the euro area and by 1.3% in the EU28 in the third quarter of 2014, after +0.8% and +1.3% respectively in the previous quarter. Press material isavailable online.
October 2014 – Annual inflation up to 0.4% in the euro area
Euro area annual inflation was 0.4% in October 2014, up from 0.3% in September. A year earlier the rate was 0.7%. European Union annual inflation was 0.5% in October 2014, up from 0.4% in September. A year earlier the rate was 0.9%. These figures come from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In October 2014, negative annual rates were observed in Greece (-1.8%), Bulgaria (-1.5%), Hungary and Poland (both -0.3%) and Spain (-0.2%). The highest annual rates were recorded in Romania (1.8%), Austria (1.4%) and Finland (1.2%). Compared with September 2014, annual inflation fell in eight Member States, remained stable in three and rose in sixteen. Press material is available online.
Mergers: Commission approves extension of LVE joint-venture between Lotte Chemical and Versalis
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation an extension to the activities of Lotte Versalis Elastomers Co. Ltd (“LVE”) of Korea, a joint venture between Lotte Chemical Corporation of Korea and Versalis of Italy. Lotte Chemical Corporation produces an extensive range of petrochemical products, including plastics, synthetics and basic chemicals. Versalis, part of the Italian Eni energy group, produces and markets a wide portfolio of petrochemical products and sells licenses relating to its technologies and know-how. LVE manufactures and sells certain elastomers, mainly in Korea and other Asian markets. The Commission approved the joint venture in August 2013 (caseM.6929). LVE will now expand its activities into the manufacturing, marketing and sale of certain thermoplastic elastomers in Korean and other Asian markets. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would not raise competition concerns, because of the companies’ low market shares in the relevant markets. 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.7406.
Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Rockwood by Albemarle in chemical sector
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Rockwood Holdings, Inc. by Albemarle Corporation, both of the US. Albemarle develops and manufactures specialty chemicals for various end markets such as petroleum refining, consumer electronics, pharmaceuticals, crop production etc. Rockwood also develops and manufactures specialty chemicals in particular lithium and lithium compounds for lithium-ion-batteries, surface treatment technologies etc. The companies’ activities overlap in the field of magnesium-based organometallics. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns given in particular the parties’ limited market shares in the markets where their activities overlap. The transaction also creates a number of vertical links in the broader area of speciality chemicals, however the Parties market shares remain moderated to limited, or the volumes purchased are very low. Therefore, the Commission found that the merged entity will neither have the ability nor the incentive to shut out competitors and customers from the markets for speciality chemicals, where the transaction creates vertical links. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information will be available on the competition website, in the Commission’s public case register under the case number M.7393.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Vestolit by Mexichem
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Vesto PVC Holding GmbH (“Vestolit”) of Germany by Mexichem S.A.B. de C.V. (“Mexichem”) of Mexico. Both parties sell PVC resins, as well as other chemical products such as caustic soda, ethyl chloride, methyl chloride, hydrochloric acid, sodium sulphate and PVC compounds. As regards to these markets where the parties’ activities horizontally overlap, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns because the merged entity market position is moderate and a number of strong, credible alternative players remain post-merger. Additionally, Mexichem produces joints, plastic accessories and PVC piping systems through its subsidiary Wavin NV of the Netherlands. Wavin purchases PVC resins (namely, commodity Suspension PVC, “S-PVC”) as an input for the production of its piping systems and therefore the Commission also assessed potential vertical links between PVC resins and piping systems. The Commission concluded that the merged entity will be unlikely to shut out suppliers and customers of Wavin. The market share of the merged entity in commodity S-PVC is indeed very small and Wavin’s purchases of commodity S-PVC are very limited under any geographic market definition. 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.7395.