16 Nov 2017


Brussels, Brussels Daily


Mapping the sources and level of air pollution in Europe: Commission publishes new Air Quality Index and Atlas

At the Clean Air Forum taking place today in Paris, the Commission launched a new Air Quality Index with the EU Environment Agency, which allows citizens to monitor air quality in real-time. The Commission also published an Air Quality Atlas that maps the origins of fine particulate matter, such as dust, smoke, soot, pollen and soil particles, in EU cities. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said: “Air pollution is an invisible killer, so the Air Quality Index is needed to inform European citizens on the state of the air they breathe in their own neighbourhood. We are working with cities, regions, countries and industry to tackle the sources of that pollution, which is a cocktail coming from factories, homes and fields, not only from transport.” Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, responsible for the Joint Research Centre, said: “In order to tackle air pollution we must first understand where it comes from. The Air Quality Atlas produced by the Joint Research Centre provides essential information on pollution sources for the European cities that are struggling with air quality. It will help cities to design air quality plans which focus on their most polluting activities.” A full press release including more detailed information on the Air Quality Atlas and Index will be available online.


EU report: Evaluation of Ukrainian reforms shows considerable progress but need to accelerate implementation to reap full benefits

A report produced by the European External Action Service and the European Commission highlights that Ukraine has pursued the implementation of a number of reforms identified in its Association Agenda in 2017, with several significant successes. Progress in other areas has been less forthcoming, with accelerated implementation needed to bring about real change for the Ukrainian people. “Since last year’s report, we have seen a number of long-awaited achievements. Our Association Agreement entered into force, and Ukrainian citizens were granted visa-free travel for short stay visits to the Schengen area. We now expect the implementation of reforms to be accelerated so that Ukrainian citizens can fully reap the benefits of our partnership. Ukraine can count on the European Union’s continued support in order to make this possible”, said the High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini. “We remain convinced of the fundamental commitment of the Ukrainian President, government and Rada to deep-seated reform of the country. Of course this has not been a straightforward process: corruption is deep-rooted and there are vested interests that need to be overcome; naturally there are setbacks along the way that we must contend with. We are at times critical, and we insist on certain conditions, yet we are aware of how much Ukraine has already changed, with much more having been achieved in the past three years than in the decades before that, and under very challenging circumstances. The European Union will stick with Ukraine”, said the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn. This 2nd Joint Association Implementation Report on Ukraine, which has been published ahead of the EU-Ukraine Association Council on 8 December 2017, sets out the state of play of Ukraine’s commitment under the Association Agreement since the last meeting of the Association Council in December 2016. It focuses on key developments and reforms undertaken in line with the strategic priorities agreed between the EU and Ukraine. A full press release is available online, as is the report itself as well as a factsheet on EU-Ukraine relations.


Commission and China start new dialogue on State aid control and discuss competition policy

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, Chairman He Lifeng and Vice Chairman Hu Zucai, both of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, held today in Beijing the first cooperation meeting on State aid control and Fair Competition Review as part of a new dialogue between the EU and China. At the meeting, the Commission and China’s National Development and Reform Commission reaffirmed the importance of cooperation on competition policy to ensure good economic relations between China and the EU. On 15 November, the Commissioner met Zhong Shan, China’s Minister of Commerce at the 10th meeting under the EU-China competition policy dialogue on antitrust and merger issues. Separately, the Commissioner also met State Administration of Industry and Commerce (SAIC) Minister Zhang Mao and the Chairman of China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC) Xiao Yaqing. Commissioner Vestager said: “It is in our mutual interest to work together to promote fair global competition. Antitrust, merger review and State aid control are important tools in ensuring that consumers can benefit from competitive markets and companies can compete on their merits. Both the European Commission and the Chinese competition agencies will work closely together for a coherent and efficient competition enforcement.” A full press release is available in here


EUROSTAT: October 2017 – Annual inflation down to 1.4% in the euro area – Down to 1.7% in the EU

Euro area annual inflation was 1.4% in October 2017, down from 1.5% in September. In October 2016, the rate was 0.5%. European Union annual inflation was 1.7% in October 2017, down from 1.8% in September. A year earlier the rate was 0.5%. These figures come from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European UnionFull text available here


State aid: Commission publishes non-confidential version of decision to open an in-depth investigation into UK tax scheme for multinationals

Today, the European Commission has published the non-confidential version of the decision adopted on 26 October 2017 to open an in-depth investigation into a UK scheme that exempts certain transactions by multinational groups from the application of UK Controlled Foreign Company rules targeting tax avoidance. The Commission is investigating concerns that the scheme may allow certain multinationals to pay less UK tax, in breach of EU State aid rules. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives the UK and interested third parties an opportunity to submit comments. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. The decision is available under the case number SA.44896 on the competition website.


President Juncker co-hosts Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth in Gothenburg

On 17 November, President Juncker and Swedish Prime Minister Löfven will jointly host EU leaders for the first EU Social Summit in 20 years. The Presidents of the EU Institutions, EU Heads of State or Government, social partners and other key stakeholders will gather at the Social Summit in Gothenburg, Sweden, to have an open discussion amongst all participants on how to promote fair jobs and growth in the European Union. At the Summit, the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission will jointly proclaim the European Pillar of Social Rights, which was first announced by President Juncker in his 2015 State of the Union Address and presented by the Commission in April 2017. Its proclamationunderlines the joint commitment of EU-leaders to stand by and promote the 20 principles and rights enshrined under the Pillar. Over a working lunch following the Summit, leaders will also discuss the future of education and culture. Just two days ago, the European Commission set out its vision for how we can create a European Education Area by 2025. Ahead of the Social Summit, President Juncker said: “Europe is slowly turning the page on years of economic crisis but it has not yet surmounted the biggest social crisis it has known for generations. The challenges of youth unemployment, inequality and a transforming world of work are ones we all face. In Gothenburg, we have a unique opportunity to seek out common solutions. This should be a landmark moment – with the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, we are showing our joint commitment to protect and uphold the rights of equality, fairness and opportunity that we all stand for and that all citizens are entitled to. And it must also be the first step of many in this direction.” The Social Summit will focus on how to make the most of new opportunities and tackle common challenges for the labour markets and welfare models of today and tomorrow. In addition to President Juncker, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, Valdis Dombrovskis, and Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, will also participate in the Summit. Already today, on the eve of the Social Summit, President Juncker, Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Thyssen will attend an extraordinary meeting between EU institutions and EU social partners. Furthermore, this afternoon, Commissioner Thyssen will participate in a Citizens’ Dialogue, together with Commissioner Malmström. The dialogue will be broadcast live. More information about the Social Summit can be found in this press release, as well as on the Summit website


EUROSTAT: Residence permits for non-EU citizens – New high in first residence permits issued in the EU Member States in 2016 – Main beneficiaries from Ukraine, Syria and the United States

In 2016, about 3.4 million first residence permits were issued in the European Union (EU) to non-EU citizens, a record number since comparable data are available (2008) and up by 28% (or nearly 735 000 residence permits) compared with 2015. This increase was mainly due to the larger number of first permits issued for ‘other reasons’ (+64%) as well as for employment reasons (+21%). Employment reasons accounted for a quarter (25.4%) of all first residence permits issued in the EU in 2016, family for 23.2% and education for 20.7%, while other reasons, including international protection and humanitarian status (about 14% of all first permits issued in 2016), represented 30.7%. Full text available here.


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Ardonagh and Nevada 2 by MDP and HPS

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over Ardonagh Group Limited of Jersey and Nevada Investment Holdings Limited (“Nevada 2”) of the Cayman Islands by funds managed by Madison Dearborn Partners (“MDP”) and HPS Investment Partners, LLC (“HPS”), both US-based investment firms. Ardonagh is a holding company controlling, among others Towergate Insurance Limited, a UK provider of insurance brokerage services. Nevada 2 is a private holding company established by MDP and HPS as an investment vehicle. It holds The Broker Network Limited and Countrywide Insurance Management Limited (together “Broker Network”), a UK broker platform for small local independent insurance brokers. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns because of the very limited overlaps between the companies’ activities and its 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. 8518.)


Mergers: Commission clears the creation of a joint venture between Cargill and Faccenda Investments

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the creation of a joint venture by Cargill Inc. of the US and Faccenda Investments Ltd. of the UK. The joint venture will combine Cargill’s fresh chicken business in the UK with Faccenda’s fresh chicken, turkey and duck business. In October 2017, the Commission granted a request to refer the assessment of the transaction’s effects on competition in the UK to the UK competition authority. The Commission has found today that the remainder of the transaction would raise no competition concerns because the companies’ market shares are small in the relevant areas outside the UK. 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.8562. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)


Eurostat: Octobre 2017 – Le taux d’inflation annuel en baisse à 1,4% dans la zone euro – En baisse à 1,7% dans l’UE

Le taux d’inflation annuel de la zone euro s’est établi à 1,4% en octobre 2017, contre 1,5% en septembre. Un an auparavant, il était de 0,5%. Le taux d’inflation annuel de l’Union européenne s’est établi à 1,7% en octobre 2017, contre 1,8% en septembre. Un an auparavant, il était de 0,5%. Ces chiffres sont publiés par Eurostat, l’office statistique de l’Union européenne. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici.


Eurostat: Nouveau pic pour le nombre de nouveaux titres de séjour délivrés par les États membres en 2016

En 2016, quelque 3,4 millions de nouveaux permis de résidence ont été délivrés dans l’Union européenne (UE) à des ressortissants extracommunautaires, un chiffre record depuis que des données comparables sont disponibles (2008) et en hausse de 28% (soit près de 735 000 permis) par rapport à 2015. Cette augmentation est principalement due au nombre plus élevé de nouveaux permis octroyés pour ‘autres raisons’ (+64%) ainsi que pour l’emploi (+21%). Les raisons liées à l’emploi représentaient un quart (25,4%) de l’ensemble des nouveaux titres de séjour délivrés dans l’UE en 2016, les motifs familiaux 23,2% et l’éducation 20,7%, alors que les autres raisons, dont la protection internationale et le statut humanitaire (environ 14% des nouveaux titres de séjour délivrés en 2016), représentaient 30,7%. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici.




EU Energy day: Clean energy solutions for decarbonisation, economic growth and jobs

As part of the COP 23 UN Climate Change Conference hosted by Fiji and Germany, the EU Energy Day takes place on 16 November 2017 in Bonn, at the Kunstmuseum, bringing together international and European energy policy-makers, clean energy leaders, high-level industry representatives and civil society. Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete will deliver the key note speech at the opening session, where he will be accompanied by the Member of the European Parliament Kathleen Van Brempt, the Portuguese Secretary of State for Energy Jorge Seguro Sanches, the African Union Commissioner Amani Abou-Zeid, the Chairman of the Solar Impulse Foundation Bertrand Piccard, and the Mayor of Heidelberg and Member of the European Covenant of Mayors Board, Eckart Würzner. This will be followed by a session on international cooperation and the Commission’s Clean Energy for EU Islands initiative, and another session on clean energy cooperation between the EU and Africa. A Memorandum of Understanding between the EU Covenant of Mayors and the World Alliance for Efficient Solutions is expected to be signed during the conference. Finally, a panel of representatives of leading energy transition companies and industry associations will share best practices and discuss how clean energy can bring investments and boost local economies and create jobs. More detailed information and the program can be found here.


Commissioners Avramopoulos and King in Washington, D.C. for EU-US Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial meeting

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos and Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King will be in Washington, D.C. today and tomorrow to participate in the EU-U.S. Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial meeting. They will represent the EU together with the Estonian Minister of the Interior Andres Anvelt and Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu on behalf of the Estonian Presidency, while the U.S. will be represented by Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Elaine Duke and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The meeting, which is held twice a year to advance transatlantic cooperation in the area of Justice and Home Affairs, will focus on cooperation on counterterrorism, security cooperation in cyberspace, organised crime, aviation security and visa reciprocity. Today, Commissioner King will hold bilateral meetings, including with Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence of the Treasury Department. He will also participate in a Facebook Live interview at the Atlantic Council, which will take place at 09:45 local time and can be followed on Facebook. Tomorrow, Commissioner Avramopoulos will hold bilateral meetings with Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Elaine Duke and President of the Migration Policy Institute Demetrios Papademetriou.

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