Brussels Daily
15 Jun 2018


Brussels Daily


Eurostat: April 2018 – Euro area international trade in goods surplus €16.7 bn – €1.0 bn deficit for EU28

The first estimate for euro area (EA19) exports of goods to the rest of the world in April 2018 was €182.9 billion, an increase of 8.0% compared with April 2017 (€169.3 bn). Imports from the rest of the world stood at €166.2 bn, a rise of 8.1% compared with April 2017 (€153.7 bn). As a result, the euro area recorded a €16.7 bn surplus in trade in goods with the rest of the world in April 2018, compared with +€15.7 bn in April 2017. Intra-euro area trade rose to €157.4 bn in April 2018, up by 9.8% compared with April 2017. Full text available here


Commissioner Malmström visits Australia and New Zealand to launch trade talks

Next week, Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström will be in Australia and New Zealand to launch negotiations for trade agreements between the EU and the two countries. On Monday 18 June, Commissioner Malmström will meet with Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo and participate in a press conference in Canberra at 11:45 local time (EbS material will be available). While in Canberra, she will meet with several other Ministers and hold a speech at Australian National University. The following day, the Commissioner will visit a hi-tech start-up incubator in Sydney. On Thursday 21 June, Commissioner Malmström will be in Wellington to launch trade negotiations between the EU and New Zealand, together with New Zealand’s Minister for Trade David Parker. She will also meet a number of Ministers as well as representatives of civil society and companies with trade links to Europe. Last month, the Council adopted the decision authorising the opening of negotiations for trade agreements between the EU and Australia and New Zealand. Trade between the EU and these two countries is already roughly the same as with Mexico or Canada. The video and photo material from the trip will be available online (Australia, New Zealand). For more information about EU trade relations with Australia and New Zealand

Eurostat: First quarter of 2018 – Annual growth in labour costs at 2.0% in euro area – At 2.7% in EU28

Hourly labour costs rose by 2.0% in the euro area (EA19) and by 2.7% in the EU28 in the first quarter of 2018, compared with the same quarter of the previous year. In the fourth quarter of 2017, hourly labour costs increased by 1.4% and 2.3% respectively. These figures are published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

Full text available here


Eurostat: May 2018 – Annual inflation up to 1.9% in the euro area – Up to 2.0% in the EU

Euro area annual inflation rate was 1.9% in May 2018, up from 1.3% in April. A year earlier, the rate was 1.4%. European Union annual inflation was 2.0% in May 2018, up from 1.5% in April. A year earlier, the rate was 1.6%. These figures are published by Eurotat, the statistical office of the European Union. Full text available here

Roaming one year later: majority of Europeans see the benefits of end of roaming charges

According to a new Eurobarometer survey on roaming 82% of people who have travelled to another EU country in the last year say they have benefitted from the new rules. Moreover, 62% of Europeans are aware that roaming charges have ended and 69% think that they, or someone they know, will benefit. Especially young people recognise a clear benefit of the new rules, with 80% of those aged 15-24 seeing the advantages. Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip and Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel said in a joint statement: “This is an example of an EU that concretely improves the life of European citizens. Roam like at home is working and is becoming a habit: customers are appreciating it, consumption is up and the demand for mobile services while travelling in the EU is very high. It benefits consumers and operators alike.” The full statement is available here.Further findings of the survey show that many travellers have started changing their mobile phone use. Respondents are less likely to restrict their mobile use while travelling (e.g. by switching off the phone or data roaming). The share of travellers who used their mobile data while roaming as often as at home has increased to 34% from 26% in 2017. The first year without roaming charges shows that in general mobile operators comply with the new rules well. National regulators are ensuring their implementation in Member States. The Commission continues its cooperation with national regulators to monitor the developments on mobile markets all over Europe and to guarantee the compliance. The Eurobarometer report on roaming is available here. More details on roaming are available here.


Juncker Plan supports new projects in Poland, Spain and La Réunion (France)

The European Investment Bank (EIB) Group has signed three new agreements, all of which were made possible by the Juncker Plan’s European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). First, the European Investment Fund (EIF) and Polish national promotional bank Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego (BGK)are doubling their support for loans to a total of PLN 4 billion (c. €950 million) for over 18,000 small businesses and entrepreneurs across Poland. Second, the EIB is providing a €200 million loan to renovate Madrid’s metro network, improving accessibility and increasing its capacity. Third, the EIB is supporting the development of the Roland Garros airport on Reunion island, one of the EU’s outermost regions, with €100 million in financing. Commenting on the Polish SME financing agreement, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Elżbieta Bieńkowska said: “Less than a year ago, BGK signed an agreement with the European Investment Fund to double their support to SMEs in Poland with the backing of the EU’s budgetary guarantee, and today this is being doubled once again. Thanks to our joint efforts and enhanced cooperation with BGK we have provided small businesses with access to finance: already 7,000 SMEs have benefitted from this Polish-EU cooperation. Europe’s economy depends upon its entrepreneurs. Keep up the good work.” (Full press releases can be found here.


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over SMB Construction International by Strabag and Max Bögl International

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over SMB Construction International by Max Bögl International, both of Germany and Strabag of Austria. SMB Construction International is specialized in the construction of inclining curves for proving grounds for automobiles. Max Bögl International and Strabag are active in various segments of the building and construction industry. The Commission concluded that the acquisition would raise no competition concerns because SMB Construction International has negligible activities in the European Economic Area. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8496.


Mergers: Commission clears the acquisition of the Cirsa Gaming Corporation by Blackstone

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of sole control over the Cirsa Gaming Corporation, S.A. of Spain by The Blackstone Group L.P. of the USA. Blackstone is a global alternative asset manager. Cirsa is a global gaming company whose activities include the operation of casinos, bingo, slot machines, and sports betting services, as well as the design, manufacture, and distribution of slot machines in Europe, Morocco, and Latin America. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because of the limited impact on the market structure. 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.8940.




Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete in Berlin for international climate talks

On 17-19 June, Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete will be in Berlin to participate in the 9th Petersberg Climate Dialogue, an annual gathering of over 30 ministers from around the world for informal discussions in support of the UN climate change negotiating process. The meeting will be co-hosted by the German and Polish governments, with Poland to hold the Presidency of the UN Climate Conference COP24 in Katowice later this year. The theme of this year’s Petersberg Dialogue will be “Changing together for a just transition”, to stimulate discussions on the real-world opportunities and challenges for achieving the long-term temperature goals of the Paris Agreement in a just and inclusive manner. Participants will also be able to exchange views on the completion of the Paris work programme, overarching issues on climate finance and this year’s Talanoa process on global climate ambition. In the margins, Commissioner Arias Cañete will meet with China’s Special Representative for Climate Change Xie Zhenhua and Switzerland’s Minister of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications Doris Leuthard. The Petersberg Dialogue precedes the second Ministerial on Climate Action (MoCA), to be co-hosted by the Commission, China and Canada in Brussels on 20-21 June, which will focus on obtaining ministers’ input and guidance on the processes and expected outcomes of COP24. At the UN climate summit in Katowice, parties are set to finalise the Paris work programme, i.e. the detailed rules and guidelines for global implementation of the landmark agreement. The German host will offer a live stream, more information here.


Commissioner Bulc in Montreal to attend international negotiations to tackle CO2 emissions from aviation

Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc will travel to Montreal this coming Monday and Tuesday to attend an important meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization, the UN-agency overseeing international aviation. Its 214th Council session (11-29 June) will discuss some of the key parameters of the global market-based measure (known as ‘CORSIA’) that was approved in October 2016 with a view to stabilise international aviation emissions at 2020 levels. Like in 2016, the European Union and its Member States will be advocating for the most ambitious outcome and the most robust global scheme. This is in line with the EU’s commitments under the Paris Agreement and with the ambition of this Commission to consolidate Europe’s global leadership in the fight against climate change. During her stay, Commissioner Bulc will convey this message to key international partners, including the US, India, Russia and China. She will also meet with EU representatives, with Ms Fang Liu, the Secretary General of ICAO, and with the airline industry. More information on the EU’s commitments to an effective international mechanism to offset aviation emissions is available in a letter sent to EU transport ministers earlier this week.


Commissioner Bieńkowska participates in a Citizens’ Dialogue in Poland on the future of Europe

On Monday 18 June, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, will participate in a Citizens’ Dialogue in Gdansk, Poland. She will share the stage with Mieczysław Struk, Marshall of the Pomorskie province, to discuss the future of Europe. The dialogue takes place in the context of the White paper on the future of Europe that the Commission presented on 1 March 2017 offering five scenarios for how the Union could evolve, depending on which decisions are taken. The debate on the future of Europe has been actively pursued ever since, including through Citizens’ Dialogues to have a plan, vision and way forward to present to people by the time of the European Parliament elections in June 2019. The Citizens’ Dialogue in Gdansk will therefore evolve around key questions such as: What factors affect the shape of Europe? What are the potential scenarios? How can Europe meet the challenges of our time? The event will take place at the faculty of philology at the University of Gdansk and starts at 10am. The event can be followed in a live stream online.



Future of EU finances – Commissioner Oettinger visits Slovakia

Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger, in charge of Budget and Human Resources, is visiting Slovakia on 18 June – the final leg of his tour across EU Member States (#MFFtour27) aimed at gathering views on the future of EU finances and the EU’s multiannual budget post-2020 (#EUbudget). In Slovakia, the Commissioner will meet with Mr Richard Raši, Deputy Prime Minister for Investments and Informatization. He is participating in a joint bilateral meeting with Mr Peter Pellegrini, Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, and Mr. Peter Kažimír, Minister of Finance of the Slovak Republic. Moreover, the Commissioner is taking part in the joint meeting with Parliamentary Committees of National Council (EU Affairs Committee, Financial Committee and Economic Committee). Last but not least, he is visiting the premises of the news website to pay his respects, following the murder of journalist Ján Kuciak in February this year. On 2 May, the Commission presented its proposal for a modern budget for a Union that protects, empowers and defends. Between 29 May and 14 June it presented the detailed legislative proposals for the 37 policy programmes for the next multiannual budget. Please consult the webpage for all relevant press material, including the legal texts and factsheets on the EU budget for the future of 2 May.The Commission kicked off this debate on 28 June 2017 with the publication of its Reflection paper on the future of EU finances, available in all EU languages (also in Slovak).



Vice-President Katainen in Finland to attend Kultaranta Talks

Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, will be in Naantali, Finland, on Monday 18 June to attend “Kultaranta Talks“, a foreign and security policy debate hosted by President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö. The Kultaranta Talks will focus on the future of the international system, international organizations and sustainable development. Vice-President Katainen will contribute to the debate on the Future of Europe, alongside Prime Minister of Finland Juha Sipilä, London Correspondent of Helsingin Sanomat newspaper Annamari Sipilä, and Director of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs Teija Tiilikainen. The debate will take place from 08.30 – 10.00 CEST and can be followed live on the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE 1 TV channel and online at Yle Areena. The Vice-President will also attend at Kultaranta Talks Working Group discussion on Climate Change.

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