16 Dec 2014
EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS – 16 DECEMBERBrussels Daily
Further six Rural Development Programmes approved
The European Commission has given the green light to a further six Rural Development Programmes (RDPs) for the 2014-2020 period to provide different forms of support and investment in rural Europe. Taken together, the RDPs for mainland Finland, mainland Portugal and the German regions of Sachsen and Sachsen-Anhalt (plus the German national network) will see more than 10 billion EUR of public funding invested in rural areas, more than 6bn EUR of which from the EU budget. (The German national framework programme has also been approved as a pre-condition for the 13 German regional schemes). Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan stated today: “As with the first 3 schemes that were cleared last week, the main emphasis for most of these programmes will be improving the economic competitiveness and the sustainability of farms and other activities so as to boost growth and jobs and environmental performance in rural areas.” This means that 9 (out of 118) programmes covering 22% of the EU Rural Development budget have now been cleared, with a further 15-20 expected to be adopted in the first Quarter of 2015. The remaining programmes will follow once a technical adjustment to the MFF has been agreed by the budgetary authority. The fact sheets on approved programmes are available on DG AGRI website.
Infringements decisions: Commission acts for full and proper implementation of European legislation
The Commission has today adopted its monthly infringement package. With a total of 120 decisions containing only case closures and withdrawals, the Commission aims at ensuring proper application of EU law for the benefit of citizens and businesses. On the general infringement procedure, see MEMO/12/12.
State aid: Commission approves aid to Banka Celje based on the restructuring plan of Banka Celje and its merger with Abanka
The European Commission has concluded that the restructuring plan of the Slovene Banka Celje d.d. and its merger with Abanka Vipa d.d. was in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission found in particular that the restructuring plan ensures the viability of the merged entity in the long term without requiring further state support. At the same time the plan also mitigates the distortions of competition brought about by the aid granted to the bank. Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said: “The restructuring plan demonstrates that the merged Banka Celje and Abanka is viable. We have also ensured that taxpayer money was only used to the extent necessary, and appropriate burden sharing was applied. I believe that today’s decision will further strengthen the confidence in the Slovenian banking sector.” The full press release is available here.
Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into coffee joint venture between DEMB and Mondelēz
The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether a proposed joint venture between two of world’s leading coffee manufacturers Douwe Egberts Master Blenders 1753 B.V. (“DEMB“) of the Netherlands and Mondelēz International Inc. (“Mondelēz“) of the US was in line with the EU Merger Regulation. Both companies own popular brands: DEMB owns L’Or, Douwe Egberts, Senseo and Merrild while Mondelēz owns Carte Noir, Jacobs, Gevalia, and Tassimo. The Commission has concerns that the proposed transaction may reduce competition for various coffee formats in Austria, France, Denmark and Latvia and for single-serve systems in multiple Member States. The opening of an in-depth investigation does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. The Commission now has 90 working days, until 6 May 2015, to take a decision. The transaction was notified to the Commission on 27 October 2014. The full press release is available here.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of aviation fuel supplier Statoil Fuel & Retail Aviation by rival BP, subject to conditions
The European Commission has concluded that the acquisition of aviation fuel supplier Statoil Fuel & Retail Aviation (SFRA) of Norway by its rival BP, a UK based integrated gas and oil company was in line with the EU merger regulation. The decision is conditional upon the divestment of SFRA’s activities at the airports of Stockholm, Malmö, Gothenburg and Copenhagen. The Commission had concerns that the few remaining players would have been unable to sufficiently constrain the merged entity. The transaction was notified to the Commission on 27 October 2014. The full press release is available here.
Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Lafarge by Holcim, subject to conditions
The European Commission has found the proposed acquisition of Lafarge of France by Holcim of Switzerland to be in line with the EU Merger Regulation. Both companies are active worldwide in the manufacture and supply of cement, ready-mix concrete, aggregates and other construction materials. The decision is conditional upon the divestment of Lafarge businesses in Germany Romania and the UK and of Holcim operations in France, Hungary, Slovakia, Spain and the Czech Republic. The Commission had concerns that the transaction, as originally notified, would have had a detrimental effect on competition in a significant number of markets in the European Economic Area (EEA). The commitments offered by the two companies address these concerns. The transaction was notified to the Commission on 27 October 2014. The full press release is available here.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of TRW Automotive’s engine valve component business by Federal Mogul
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of the engine valve components business of TRW Automotive Inc. (“TEC”) by Federal Mogul, both of US. Both companies produce engine valves of various types and for various applications. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because of the merged entity’s moderate market position, the fact that the parties are not close competitors and the presence of other strong competitors on the market. The transaction was assessed 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.7400.
Mergers: Commission clears joint venture between Cheung Kong Holdings and Mitsubishi
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a joint venture by Cheung Kong Holdings (“CKH”) of Hong Kong and the Mitsubishi Corporation (“MC”) of Japan. The joint venture will lease commercial aircraft worldwide. CKH’s activities include property and project management as well as the acquisition, sale and leasing of aircraft to airline companies. Mitsubishi is a global integrated business conglomerate that also trades and leases aircraft to airline companies. The Commission concluded that the transaction would raise no competition concerns because the overlap between the parties’ activities in the market for aircraft leasing are very moderate at both worldwide and EU level. 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.7413.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Siemens Audiologische Technik by EQT VI
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Siemens Audiologische Technik GmbH of Germany by EQT VI Limited of Guernsey. Siemens Audiologische Technik GmbH manufactures hearing aids and hearing accessories. EQT VI is a private equity fund that invests primarily in Northern Europe. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns in particular because it has no significant 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.7450.
Eurostat: Euro area international trade in goods surplus €24.0 bn
The first estimate for the euro area (EA18) trade in goods balance with the rest of the world in October 2014 gave a €24.0 billion surplus, compared with +€16.5 bn in October 2013. The September 20142 balance was +€18.1 bn, compared with +€10.9 bn in September 2013. In October 2014 compared with September 2014, seasonally adjusted exports fell by 0.3% and imports by 1.3%.
Eurostat: One out of every five Europeans uses cloud services
The share of Europeans between 16 to 74 years old using the internet every day has more than doubled since 2006, going up from 31% to 65% in 2014. Daily users represent 85% of the population in Denmark and 87% in Luxembourg while they only account for 32% of citizens in Romania. Europeans are increasingly turning to cloud services to get storage space on the internet.In 2014, one in five (21%) Europeans, mostly young people, uses the cloud to store files such as photos, music or videos. Only a minority of the users of cloud services (11%) uses paid-for services. Cloud services are particularly popular in Denmark (42% of people), the United Kingdom (38%), Luxembourg and Sweden (both 35%). The European Commission is committed to facilitating the use of digital services, improving their quality and ensuring security through the creation of a Digital Single Market.
High Representative / Vice-President Mogherini traveling to Kiev
High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission Federica Mogherini travels to Kyiv, Ukraine today and tomorrow. This first official visit of the newly appointed HR/VP comes a day after the first EU-Ukraine Association Council under the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, important parts of which are in provisional application since 1 November. HR/VP Mogherini is expected to meet with President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin and other members of the Ukrainian government and ruling coalition, Verkhovna Rada speaker Volodymyr Groysman as well as representatives of the opposition. She is also expected to meet with representatives of civil society organisations. A press point will be held this evening.