16 Oct 2017


Brussels, Brussels Daily


EUROSTAT: August 2017 – Euro area international trade in goods surplus €16.1 bn – €5.1 bn deficit for EU28

The first estimate for euro area (EA19) exports of goods to the rest of the world in August 2017 was €171.5 billion, an increase of 6.8% compared with August 2016 (€160.6 bn). Imports from the rest of the world stood at €155.4 bn, a rise of 8.6% compared with August 2016 (€143.1 bn). As a result, the euro area recorded a €16.1 bn surplus in trade in goods with the rest of the world in August 2017, compared with +€17.5 bn in August 2016. Intra-euro area trade rose to €132.9 bn in August 2017, up by 7.6% compared with August 2016.  Full text available here


TRADE: Commission publishes report and text proposals following fifth negotiation round with Mexico

As part of its commitment to a more transparent trade policy the Commission today published a report summarising the progress made during the latest negotiating round for the EU-Mexico trade agreement held in the end of September in Brussels, as well as three text proposals submitted to Mexico ahead of the latest round. The proposals published today concern wine and spirits, motor vehicles and the usual exceptions that can be invoked to restrict trade for instance for security or health reasons. The round report includes details on all areas of the negotiations, including trade in goods, services, investment and technical barriers to trade. The talks focused on the text proposals as well as on the market access offers on goods, services and public procurement exchanged in July. While some groups advanced more than others, overall the round brought a good progress. The sixth round will take place in Mexico City from 25 November to 1 December. The objective remains to reach an agreement by the end of the year.

Commission continues action against food waste and food poverty by facilitating food donationThe Commission adopted today guidelines to facilitate food donation in the EU, a key deliverable of the Circular Economy Action Plan. The aim is to clarify relevant EU legislation and help lift barriers to food donation. The EU guidelines will help donors and recipients of surplus food to make sure that they respect relevant requirements such as food hygiene and food information to consumers, thereby ensuring safe food donation practices. The guidelines also promote common interpretation of EU rules applicable to food donation, including those related to VAT. Welcoming the adoption, Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “I am particularly happy that today, on the occasion of the World Food Day, we have a good news to report. In EU around 550.000 tons of food are redistributed to 6.1 million people by food banks in the EU, but that’s only a fraction of the estimated volume of food which could be redistributed to prevent food waste and help fight food poverty. I am convinced that the guidelines adopted today will not only help industry and charity organisations to make their job easier and hence provide to those in greatest need but also become a reference for national authorities and operators to facilitate food donation in the EU”. The EU guidelines were developed by the Commission in close cooperation with the members of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste bringing together Member States, international organisations, industry, food banks and other charity organisations. The Commission notice, EU guidelines on food donation, is available here.


EUROSTAT: International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 17 October – Downward trend in the share of persons at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU – But still over 115 million people in this situation

In 2016, 117.5 million people, or 23.4% of the population, in the European Union (EU)were at risk of poverty or social exclusion. This means that they were in at least one of the following three conditions: at-risk-of-poverty after social transfers (income poverty), severely materially deprived or living in households with very low work intensity. After three consecutive increases between 2009 and 2012 to reach almost 25%, the proportion of persons at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU has since continuously decreased to 23.4% last year, only 0.1 percentage points above its 2009 low-point. The reduction of the number of persons at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU is one of the key targets of the Europe 2020 strategy. Full text available here



Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of sole control over NESTEA Business by Nestlé

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of sole control over NESTEA Business, in the European Economic Area except Spain, Portugal and Andorra by Nestlé of Switzerland. NESTEA branded ready-to-drink tea business is currently operated by Beverage Partners Worldwide, a full-function joint venture between Nestlé and The Coca-Cola Company. Nestlé is the ultimate parent company of a group of companies involved in the supply of consumer goods. Its activities primarily include the production, marketing and sale of milk products, ice cream, nutrition and health science products, drinks as well as confectionery and pet care products. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because Nestlé already had joint control of the business and there are very limited overlaps between the activities of the companies. 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.8453.


Mergers: Commission clears the acquisition of Inver by Greenergy

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Inver Energy Limited of Ireland by Greenergy International Limited of the UK. Inver is an independent importer and distributor of a range of fuel products predominantly in Ireland, where it also operates a number of retail service stations. In the UK, Inver operates a fuel importation terminal in Cardiff, from where it supplies fuel oil, gasoil and kerosene. Greenergy is active in the importation, storage, blending and transportation of refined oil fuels to wholesale customers in the UK, and is the UK’s largest supplier of road fuels. It also produces and blends biofuels. Greenergy is ultimately controlled by Brookfield Asset Management Inc. of Canada, a global asset manager. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of the limited overlap between the companies’ activities. 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.8601.


First anniversary of the Economic Partnership with Southern African Development Community

On 16 and 17 October, Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström is in Johannesburg, South Africa, to celebrate the first anniversary of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and six countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Commissioner Malmström will meet South African Minister of Trade Rob Davies, and also take part in a civil society forum that brings together 150 civil society organisations, including NGOs, trade associations and trade unions, to exchange first experiences from one year of the agreement being in place. The EU-South Africa Economic Partnership Agreement applies provisionally since 10 October 2016. The agreement,aiming to support development and foster regional integration, has already produced positive effects for exports in sectors such as flower production and fisheries. Commissioner Malmström‘s speeches, along with photo and video material, will be published here. There is also information available about the EU-SADC agreement (factsheet; website), EU-SADC trade statistics and examples of EU exports to South Africa (1; 2)



Health in the Digital Society

Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, will participate in the Health in the Digital Society conference organised by the Estonian Presidency of the EU, in Tallinn on 17 October. He will present preliminary findings of the public consultation on a digital health and care policy paper to be adopted in the coming months. Ahead of the conference Vice-President Ansip, in charge of the Digital Single Market, Commissioner Andriukaitis, in charge of Health and Food Safety, and Commissioner Gabriel, in charge of the Digital Economy and Society, said:  “It’s clear that Europeans care about the innovation and digitisation of health care. We can all see the potential of digital solutions in the prevention and management of chronic diseases as well as in maintaining healthy lifestyles – which is why the Commission is committed to overcoming the existing barriers to the free movement of patients and data. If we want to protect people’s wellbeing and modernise national health systems around Europe, we first need to share our experience and evidence.  By focusing more on research and investment into digital health, we can help people to manage their own health and improve quality of life.” The public consultation, which ended on 12 October, drew more than 1500 replies and showed a broad support for health related actions in the Digital Single Market. More than 90% of respondents agree that citizens should be able to manage their own data. 80% agree that sharing health data can be beneficial. Nearly 60% report not having access to digital health services. More than 80% agree that citizen feedback to healthcare providers and professionals is essential to improve services. For more information see IP/17/2085 and full Statement by Commissioner Andriukaitis (available as from 09:30 on 17 October) and here.


Vice-President Katainen in Washington D.C.

Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, will visit Washington D.C., USA, from 16-17 October. The focus of his meetings with the US political and business leaders will be to reinforce EU-US trade relations and the importance of the multilateral trading system. During his visit, Vice-President Katainen will meet Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde, Chief Executive Officer of the World Bank Kristalina Georgieva and Senator John Cornyn. He will deliver a keynote address at the event “Why Multilateral Trade Matters” organised by the Atlantic Council, participate in a working lunch with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and in a working dinner with high level experts and think tanks focusing on the global trade system.


EU to take part in ministerial dialogue ahead of UN climate talks [*16/10/17, 12:31 updated link]

Ahead of the next UN climate conference (COP23), Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete and Estonian Environment Minister Siim Kiisler will represent the EU and its Member States at a ministerial dialogue known as ‘pre-COP‘ in Nadi, Fiji, on 17-18 October. The meeting is the final step in the preparations for COP23, which will take place in Bonn, Germany, on 6-17 November. Ministers will exchange views on countries’ political priorities and expectations for COP23 and discuss key issues concerning the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said: “Fiji knows first-hand the effects of climate change and we look forward to its leadership as Presidency of COP23. At the conference next month, the international community will need to demonstrate its continued commitment to the Paris Agreement and make substantive progress on the work programme for its implementation.” The pre-COP meeting will prepare the ground for negotiations at COP23 on the work programme for implementing the Paris Agreement, which Parties have agreed to adopt by 2018. Ministers will also discuss the Facilitative Dialogue to be held next year to take stock of Parties’ collective efforts towards the Agreement’s goals. The inclusive and transparent consultations held by the current Moroccan and incoming Fijian COP Presidencies have been exemplary in the run-up to the pre-COP. More information on the Commission’s website.


Commissioners Navracsics at the European Institute of Innovation and Technology’s Innovation Forum in Budapest

Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, responsible for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, is today attending INNOVEIT 2017, a two-day forum organised annually for Europe’s leading innovators associated with the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) in Budapest. He will participate in a panel on shaping innovation in Europe before attending the EIT Awards ceremony where he will present the EIT Innovators Award – one of three prizes to be handed out on the day that recognise successful young entrepreneurs and innovators who have graduated from an EIT-labelled Master’s programme or benefitted from business support through the EIT’s Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs). The other awards are the EIT CHANGE Award and the EIT Venture Award. In addition, the audience will this year for the first time have the opportunity to award its own prize to one of the young innovators, the EIT Audience Award. The EIT’s KICs create networks of businesses, educators, and research institutes that offer innovators financial support, legal advice, training and coaching, or office space. The innovations represented at the awards include coffee waste becoming sustainable ink, a plasma patch that kills drug-resistant bacteria in chronic wounds, a new blood test for early cancer diagnosis, old wooden furniture fuelling future cars, and technology providing high-speed internet connectivity during a flight. A web stream of the nominees showcasing their work (17.00-18.00 CET) can be followed here, and the names of the winners will be available here as of Tuesday morning. More information on the EIT is available in this factsheet.

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