Brussels Daily
14 Oct 2014


Brussels Daily

Quarterly Report on the Euro Area shows that postponing reforms is not a good option

Today the Commission published the Quarterly Report on the Euro Area prepared by the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs. The first special topic discusses the short-term impact of structural reforms on economic activity when monetary policy is temporarily constrained by the zero lower bound. It shows that, in this situation, some reforms may have a negative effect on growth in the short term but that this effect remains small and that postponing reforms is not a good policy option. The second special topic takes a look at possible Member State differences in the vulnerability to fluctuations in the euro exchange rate. It documents some differences in the impact of the nominal exchange rate into inflation, as well as in the price elasticity of export volumes. The focus section reviews ongoing developments in household and corporate indebtedness in the euro area. It analyses country differences in patterns of adjustment and provides estimates of remaining deleveraging needs.

Illegal fisheries: green cards for five countries, but red card for Sri Lanka

In its fight against illegal fishing activities worldwide, the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, will today announce a ban of imports of fisheries products from Sri Lanka to tackle the commercial benefits stemming from illegal fishing. The move comes after four years of intense dialogue with the country after which it could not demonstrate that it sufficiently addressed illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. In contrast, the Commission today confirmed that Belize, Fiji, Panama, Togo and Vanuatu, which had received warnings at the same time as Sri Lanka, have successfully taken measures to tackle illegal fishing. Consequently, the Commission proposes to lift the trade measures imposed in March this year against Belize.  Commissioner Damanaki said: “Our policy of resolute cooperation is yielding results. Five countries receive today our appreciation for getting serious on illegal fishing. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for Sri Lanka. I hope that the message we are sending today will be a wake-up call for this country.”

See also: MEMO/14/584

Making EU law lighter, simpler and less costly

Today, the Commission is taking stock of its efforts to make EU law lighter, simpler and less costly. Under the title “Smart Regulation in the EU – Building on a Strong Foundation” politicians, stakeholders and experts have been examining the achievements and persisting challenges in the field of smart regulation. On this occasion, Dr Edmund Stoiber, the Chairman of the independent High Level Group on Administrative Burdens advising the Commission since 2007, will hand over the group’s final report to President José Manuel Barroso. President Barroso said: “I have made smart regulation a key priority of the Commission since the beginning of my first mandate. Focusing EU action on those issues that are best dealt with at European level, while making EU law lighter, simpler and less costly, is key for the European Union’s credibility. Smart regulation is also essential to boost growth and jobs in Europe and we have spared no effort to make it happen during the last 10 years. I believe we can be proud of what we have achieved during this period which is nothing less than a true culture change in the Commission’s way of working. Our success crucially depends on a similar level of ambition by the European Parliament and Member States. I would like to thank Edmund Stoiber and his high-level group for the very valuable contribution through numerous opinions, reports and recommendations. The next Commission can build on very solid ground in moving the smart regulation agenda forward.”

A press point with President Barroso and Dr Edmund Stoiber is scheduled for 12.45 at the VIP corner of the Berlaymont building and will be live broadcast by EBS .

In the Q&A part of the conference, the President expressed himself against the repatriation of EU powers as agreed in the Treaties, arguing that the overall balance is right. He also cautioned against an external impact assessment body, which would over-complicate the system. He stressed that it is up to the European Parliament to control the European Commission.

For more information please also refer to MEMO/14/574


Other news

Employment: Commission proposes €1.4 million from Globalisation Fund for former shipbuilding workers in Finland

The European Commission has proposed to provide Finland with €1.4 million from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) to help 565 former workers of the shipyards STX Finland Oy to find new jobs. The proposal now goes to the European Parliament and the EU’s Council of Ministers for approval.

EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor commented: “The crisis has accelerated the transformation of the shipbuilding sector, with much of this industry moving to Asia. This proposal for 1.4 million euros from Europe’s Globalisation Fund would help prepare the dismissed workers for new job opportunities in other promising sectors”.

Statement by the European Commission and the European Central Bank following the second post-programme surveillance mission to Spain

A staff team from the European Commission, in liaison with staff from the European Central Bank, undertook a second visit to Spain in the context of the post-programme surveillance (PPS) on 6-10 October. Overall, the recent economic and financial developments confirm the positive trends of stabilisation that have been unfolding over the last two years. This statement presents the progress made and the remaining challenges for the financial sector ahead of the publication of the ECB’s comprehensive assessment results in respect of Spanish banks. In addition, an assessment of the macroeconomic situation of Spain and of its structural reforms’ agenda complements the observations of the post-programme surveillance mission.

August 2014 compared with July 2014: Industrial production down by 1.8% in euro area – down by 1.4% in EU28

In August 2014 compared with July 2014, seasonally adjusted industrial production fell by 1.8% in the euro area (EA18) and by 1.4% in the EU28, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In July 2014 industrial production rose by 0.9% and 0.7% respectively. In August 2014 compared with August 2013, industrial production decreased by 1.9% in the euro area and by 0.8% in the EU28.

4th European Code Against Cancer launched today

Today sees the launch of an updated European Code Against Cancer – the fourth edition of the Code since its creation in 1987. With the knowledge that the risk of having cancer can, to a certain extent, be reduced by adopting healthier lifestyles, and outcomes greatly improved if cancer is detected early on, the Code aims to arm citizens with key information through its 12 recommendations. The new edition includes some new recommendations, and a number that have been slightly revised since the previous version in keeping with the latest scientific evidence. The updated Code is the result of a project coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and co-financed by European Commission’s Health Programme. Link to the Code . – EN version (other language versions will be available in the coming weeks). Follow us on Twitter: @EU_Health

The European Commission and UEFA sign partnership agreement

In Brussels today the European Commission and UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) are signing a cooperation agreement covering the next three years. In the presence of José Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner responsible for sport, and Michel Platini, President of UEFA, will sign the partnership agreement which will commit the two institutions to working together regularly in a tangible and constructive way on matters of shared interest. The areas of cooperation cover most of the challenges facing contemporary sport: corruption, match fixing, financial instability, doping, violence and racism. Following the signing, Commissioner Vassiliou and President Platini will take part in a press point at around 16:30 today at the Berlaymont VIP corner.

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Italian domestic appliances producer Indesit by Whirlpool

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the Italian major domestic appliances manufacturer Indesit Company S.p.A. (‘Indesit’) by its US rival Whirlpool Corporation (‘Whirlpool’). Both companies manufacture and supply major domestic appliances (‘MDAs’), including refrigerators, freezers, cooking appliances, dishwashers or, washing machine stumble dryers and microwave ovens. In addition, Whirlpool manufactures refrigeration compressors used in refrigerators and freezers. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns, given that many alternative MDA suppliers exist in the European Economic Area (EEA) and at national level.

Mergers: Commission waives the commitments offered by Nordbanken in 2001 as a condition for the approval of its merger with Postgirot

The European Commission has waived commitments that been offered by Swedish bank Nordbanken in 2001, in order to obtain clearance for its acquisition of Postgirot Bank, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Swedish post office (see IP/01/1552). At the time of the decision, Nordbanken (currently Nordea Group) provided retail and corporate banking and life insurance in Sweden. Postgirot offered giro payment services, (which are a form of distance payment service), in Sweden. In 2001, the Commission had concerns that the transaction, as initially notified, would have reduced competition in the market for the provision of distant payment system services and technical services related to payment systems. Nordbanken offered commitments of unlimited duration, under which it would reduce its stake in Bankgirot, a giro payment system competing with Postgirot, to 10 %, a level which would no longer give it decisive influence over the company, and to withdraw from Privatgirot, a company also competing with Postgirot in giro-related technical services. The Commission concluded that the commitments dispelled its competition concerns and authorised the transaction. Following Nordbanken’s request to waive the commitments, the Commission reassessed the market and its evolution since 2001. The assessment has revealed that the market conditions have significantly changed on a permanent basis since the adoption of the 2001 decision. In particular, the competitive interaction that prevailed between Postgirot and Bankgirot has been materially modified given that the two services do not longer compete as general payment systems in Sweden. With respect to technical services, Nordea, has completely exited the market. The Commission therefore concluded that the commitments are no longer necessary. More information is available under the case number M.2567 in the Commission’s public case register on the competition website.

Standards help businesses and protect consumers – World Standards Day

Standards improve compatibility, interoperability, safety or quality of products and services. Standards were never as important as today with mobile phone or software companies publicly battling for the domination of their respective technical specifications. Consumers strongly call for standards when it comes to chargers, e.g. for electric cars or bikes. As a foundation of the internal market European standards help EU businesses to overcome barriers caused by divergent national standards. Harmonised standards allow EU industry to compete on a level playing field thus increasing consumer trust in the market. Moreover, standardisation can promote the development of new and innovative products. Therefore, to raise awareness of the importance of standardisation to the global economy, supporting industry, consumers and authorities, several international standardisation institutions organise the World Standards Day, each year on 14th October. To celebrate this day, the Commission is organising an important meeting with stakeholders and industry that will improve cooperation at EU level to bridge challenges with solutions in the ever evolving standardisation world.

Winners of 2015 European Border Breakers Awards (EBBA) for pop, rock and dance music unveiled

The winners of the 2015 European Border Breakers Awards (EBBA), celebrating the best new pop, rock and dance acts in Europe which have achieved cross-border chart success, were announced today by the European Commission and Eurosonic Noorderslag, the European music conference and showcase festival. The 10 winners are: Klangkarussell (Austria); Melanie De Biasio (Belgium); (Denmark); Indila (France); Milky Chance (Germany); Hozier (Ireland); The Common Linnets (Netherlands); Todd Terje (Norway); Tove Lo (Sweden); John Newman (United Kingdom).


What Commissioners said

Kroes calls on Commission to practise what it preaches – and go truly digital

Today at 14.00 we celebrate the launch of eIDAS: the regulation for cross-border electronic identification and e-signatures, with Vice President Kroes, Italian Under-Secretary of State Giacomelli, and MEP Marita Ulvskog.  This regulation will mean less hassle and cost for businesses and consumers alike. And it’s another step towards completing the Digital Single Market in the EU. At the signing ceremony, VP Kroes will also electronically sign a letter to President-elect Juncker calling on him to “practise what we preach” and commit the Commission to using e-invoices, e-procurement and e-signatures under his digital Presidency – and encourage the other EU institutions to do the same. The letter will say: I believe that the European Union should modernise and turn all public administrations digital. And I believe that the Commission should lead by example and become paperless both in-house, and when interacting with the public.

Commissioner Andor on Health and Safety

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor, gave a speech this morning in Budapest on Health and Safety. His speech is available online in Hungarian.

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