EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS – 18 JULY

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EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS - 18 JULY
18 Jul 2018

EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS – 18 JULY

Brussels Daily

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Publication of latest agri-food trade figures: EU agri food exports remain strong

The latest monthly agri-food trade report published today shows that EU exports remain strong, with €11.2 billion recorded in May 2018. With imports that same month worth €10 billion, EU trade registered a surplus of €1.2 billion. This represents an increase of 23% compared with May 2017. Exports of spirits and vegetable oils recorded notable increases compared to 2017. Exports of beet and cane sugar also had an exceptional growth rate over the last 12 months. During that period, gains have been achieved in exports to Russia, Japan, USA and Ukraine. The main origins for EU agri-food imports over the past 12 months were Brazil and the USA, followed by Ukraine, China, Argentina, Indonesia, Switzerland and Turkey. The monthly report provides a table presenting the trade balance and its development by product category, from June 2016 to May 2018.

 

Member States endorse the agreement to strengthen the Structural Reform Support Programme 

The European Commission welcomes today’s decision by the EU Ambassadors (Coreper) to endorse the preliminary agreement between the European Parliament and the Council on increasing the budget of the Structural Reform Support Programme by €80 million. This would bring the total budget of the Programme to €222.8 million for the years 2017-2020 and enable the EU to respond to the high demand from Member States for support to prepare, design and implement growth-enhancing reforms. It would also allow targeted technical support to be provided to EU Member States wishing to adopt the euro. The proposal to strengthen the Structural Reform Support Programme is part of European Commission’s package of proposals of 6 December 2017 to deepen Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union. Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, also in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said: “The political agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council last week was a major step forward in enhancing the partnership for reforms to ensure sustainable and inclusive growth. Deepening of our Economic and Monetary Union starts at home. By strengthening the governance and economic structures at national level countries reinforce the resilience of their economies and the euro area as a whole. We look forward to the formal adoption of the proposal by the Parliament to allow Member States to benefit from the budget increase already in 2019.” The Structural Reform Support Programme (SRSP) entered into force in May 2017 and currently has a budget of €142.8 million for the years 2017-2020. The support is provided by the Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS) created in 2015 to support Member States in the preparation, design and implementation of institutional, structural and administrative reforms.

 

Trade: Commission imposes provisional safeguard measures on imports of steel products

Today the European Commission published a regulation imposingprovisional safeguard measures concerning imports of steel products. These measures will address the diversion of steel from other countries to the EU market as a result of the recently imposed US tariffs. The safeguard measures will come into effect on Thursday 19 July. Traditional imports of steel products will not be affected. Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: “The US tariffs on steel products are causing trade diversion, which may result in serious harm to EU steelmakers and workers in this industry. We are left with no other choice than to introduce provisional safeguard measures to protect our domestic industry against a surge of imports. These measures nevertheless ensure that the EU market remains open, and will maintain traditional trade flows. I am convinced that this strikes the right balance between the interest of EU producers and users of steel, like the automotive industry and the construction sector, who rely on imports. We will continue to monitor steel imports in order to take a final decision by early next year, at the latest.” The provisional measures concern 23 steel product categories and will take the form of a Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ). Tariffs of 25% will only be imposed once imports exceed the average of imports over the last three years. In line with the World Trade Organisation rules, the measures concern imports from all countries. Exceptions are made for some developing countries and the European Economic Area countries: Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. The provisional measures can remain in place for a maximum of 200 days. Definitive safeguard measures may be imposed as a result of further investigation that continues until the end of 2018. For more information, see full press release and the Commission regulation available online.

 

Commission registers two European Citizens’ Initiatives

The College of Commissioners has today decided to register two European Citizens’ Initiatives. The first, entitled ‘Permanent European Union Citizenship’, intends to guarantee that European citizenship and its associated rights cannot be lost once they have been attained. The organisers cite in particular the context of Brexit and the future loss of EU citizenship and rights by UK nationals.The registration of this Initiative will take place on 23 July 2018. A full press release on this initiative is available here. The second initiative is entitled ‘Stop starvation for 8% of the European population’. The stated objectives include “to prompt governments to embrace the hunger problem” and to “emphasize the responsibility of governments to eradicate the problem.” The organisers have set out a detailed list of actions where they call on the Commission to make legislative proposals. The registration of this initiative will take place on 19 July. A full press release on this initiative is available here. The Commission’s decision to register these Initiatives concerns only the legal admissibility of the proposal. The Commission has not analysed the substance at this stage. Should the initiatives receive one million statements of support within one year, from at least seven different Member States, the Commission will have to react within three months.

 

Eurostat: Annual inflation up to 2.0% in the euro area

Euro area annual inflation rate was 2.0% in June 2018, up from 1.9% in May 2018. A year earlier, the rate was 1.3%. European Union annual inflation was 2.0% in June 2018, stable compared with May 2018. A year earlier, the rate was 1.5%. These figures are published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. A Eurostat press release is available here.

 

Eurostat: Production in construction up by 0.3% in euro area

In May 2018 compared with April 2018, seasonally adjusted production in the construction sector increased by 0.3% in the euro area (EA19) and by 1.2% in the EU28, according to first estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In April 2018, production in construction grew by 1.4% in the euro area and by 0.8% in the EU28. A Eurostat press release is available here

 

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Elica PB India by Elica and Whirlpool

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over Elica PB India Private Limited of India by Elica S.p.A. of Italy and Whirlpool Corporation of the US.  Elica PB India manufactures and sells kitchen appliances and sells a range of kitchen and related cooking devices in India. Elica manufactures and sells kitchen appliances and sells air treatment devices. Whirlpool manufactures and sells a range of appliances for refrigeration, laundry, kitchen, air conditioning and water and air purification. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given Elica PB India’s lack of actual or foreseen activities within the European Economic Area. 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.8997.

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Coveris’ rigid plastic packaging business by Lindsay Goldberg

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of control of the rigid plastic packaging business of Coveris Group (“Coveris Rigid”) of Germany and Luxembourg by Goldberg, Lindsay & Co., LLC (“Lindsay Goldberg”) of the US. Coveris Rigid manufactures and sells rigid plastic packaging solutions such as pots and containers, trays, closures, lids and sheets, of different materials and for use in various industries. Lindsay Goldberg is a private equity investment firm with 16 portfolio companies, none of which is active in the production and supply of rigid plastic packaging products in the European Economic Area. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given the minimal horizontal overlaps and vertical links between the activities of the companies. 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.8946.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Commissioner Thyssen attends first Informal meeting of Employment and Social Policy Ministers under Austrian Council Presidency

Tomorrow and Friday, 19 and 20 July, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, will attend the Informal Meeting of EU Employment and Social Policy Ministers, taking place in Vienna, Austria. It is the first meeting on employment and social affairs under Austria’s Presidency of the Council of the EU. Topics that will be discussed are the new world of work – with a focus on platform work and social and legal protection – and the impact of robotics on quantity and quality of work. The meeting will be an occasion for Commissioner Thyssen to have a bilateral discussion with Austrian Minister for Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection, Beate Hartinger-Klein, with whom she will give a press conference on Friday at 13:00. The Commissioner’s press speakings will be published here. Commissioner Thyssen will also meet with Mr Eitvydas Bingelis, Lithuanian Vice-Minister of Social Security and Labour, Mr Heinz Fassmann, Austrian Minister for Education, Science and Research, Ms Renate Anderl, President of the Austrian Chamber of Labour, Mr Josef Muchitsch, Chairman of the Labour and Social Committee of the Austrian Parliament, and Ms Ulrike Rabmer-Koller, Vice-President of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ) and President of UEAPME.

 

Vice-President Katainen to attend SuomiAreena public debate forum to discuss defence and trade

Vice-President Jyrki Katainen will visit Pori, Finland on Thursday 19 and Friday 20 July to attend the SuomiAreena public debate forum. Today, he will participate in a working dinner with Mr Risto Siilasmaa, Chair of the Board of Directors of Nokia Corporation. Then, he will meet in a series of bilaterals Mr Kai Mykkänen, Minister for the Interior of Finland, Mr Timo Ritakallio, President and Executive Chairman of OP Financial Group, Mr Seppo Parvi, Deputy CEO of Stora Enso as well as Ms Merja Ylä-Anttila, upcoming CEO of the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE. In addition, he will participate in a working dinner with Mr. Mika Lintilä, Minister of Economy and Mr. Kai Mykkänen, Minister of the Interior as well as other Finnish political leaders. Later, Vice-President Jyrki Katainen will participate in a Citizens’ Dialogue on European Defence (with several MEPs, Mr. Olli Ruutu, Deputy Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency, Mr. Jouni Ovaska, Chair of the European Movement Finland and moderated by General Esa Pulkkinen, Director General of EU Military Staff.)

 

MEX/18/4582
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