|EUROSTAT: Access to social services – Almost 4 in 10 children in the EU receive formal childcare services – 7 out of 10 EU households with one or more children are satisfied with the access to these services
In 2016, 39% of children aged 12 or below in the European Union (EU) received formal childcare services, with 29% paying full or reduced price and 10% using cost free services. The uptake of paid services is similar in urban, suburban and rural areas (about one third of children received paid full or reduced price childcare services in all areas). There is a slight difference with regards to usage of cost free services: 11% for cities, 10% for towns and suburbs and only 6% for rural areas.
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EU supports the victims of tropical cyclone Gita
The European Commission has mobilised its emergency assistance tools following significant damage caused by tropical cyclone Gita in the South Pacific, in particular on the islands of Tonga. Initial emergency assistance of €100,000 has been released to the disaster fund of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to help provide life-saving aid, starting from the most urgent needs for shelter, water and sanitation, as well as health assistance. The Commission has also activated the European satellite mapping system Copernicus, which has already provided maps of some of the most affected areas of the archipelago. “Many people have been severely affected and the European Union has provided an initial amount of emergency assistance to support the work of the first responders on the ground to deliver vital assistance to the worst-hit parts of the impacted islands. Our thoughts go to the families of the victims and to all those affected,” said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides. A Commission humanitarian expert has also been dispatched for a rapid assessment of the situation on the ground. The Commission’s 24/7 Emergency Response Coordination Centre is closely monitoring the situation on the islands and in the region.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Actaeon by ReAssure
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Actaeon by ReAssure, both of the UK. Actaeon provides life insurance based pensions, savings and investments products in the UK. ReAssure is a company controlled by SwissRe, a globally active insurance and reinsurance provider. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns given the limited market shares of the companies in the UK market. 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.8761.
Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of joint control over a newly created car-sharing joint venture by Repsol and KIA
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over a newly created full function joint venture by Repsol and KIA, both of Spain. The joint venture will carry out a car-sharing business in Madrid. Repsol is a publicly listed integrated energy company headquartered in Madrid. KIA is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kia Motors Company, the holding for the Kia Group, and is ultimately controlled by Hyundai Motor Company. It operates as a cars distributor in Spain. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition of joint control would raise no competition concerns given in particular the very limited size of the activities of the joint venture. 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.8783.
State aid: Commission approves partial compensation granted to Post Office Limited for the operation of a network of post offices across the UK
The European Commission has concluded that the financial compensation granted by the UK to Post Office Limited (POL) is in line with EU State aid rules. The support relates to the operation of a network of post offices across the UK that is larger than what POL would have chosen to operate purely for commercial reasons. In January 2018, the UK notified to the Commission its intention to grant partial compensation of around £370 million (about €418 million) to POL for delivering services of general economic interest (SGEIs) during the next funding period. The Commission already approved SGEI compensation measures to POL for the delivery of these SGEIs in two previous decisions, in 2012 and in 2015. The Commission carefully assessed the compensation measure and concluded that it amounts to State aid compatible with the internal market pursuant to Article 106(2) TFEU. The compensation measure fulfils all the conditions of the 2012 SGEI Framework and POL will be entrusted with clearly defined public services obligations during a period of three years. In addition, the scheme includes safeguards to avoid overcompensation. In particular, under the measure approved today, POL will only be partially compensated and will also implement account separation and an ex-post control mechanism. This Commission decision will apply until the UK ceases to be a member of the EU. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the State Aid Register under the case number SA.48224.
Statement by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Stylianides on the humanitarian situation in Eastern Ghouta and Idlib, Syria
“The humanitarian situation in parts of Syria, in particular in the De-Escalation Areas of Eastern Ghouta and Idlib, has deteriorated significantly over the past 8 weeks with hundreds of innocent victims, including many women and children. There have been dozens of civilian deaths and hundreds of wounded in Eastern Ghouta yesterday alone. More than 300,000 civilians have been displaced in the northern Governorate of Idlib, with destruction of civilian infrastructure, such as hospitals. Unhindered humanitarian access to civilians inside Syria and the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure is a matter of urgency to prevent further loss of lives. To prevent further children and families, the most vulnerable, being killed. The international community should unite to stop this human suffering. The European Union calls on all parties to the conflict, as well as the guarantors of the four De-Escalation Areas, to take all necessary measures to ensure the decrease of violence, the protection of the Syrian people by respecting International Humanitarian Law, and urgent humanitarian access. There is no military solution to the conflict, we call on all parties to seriously engage in the UN-led political process”. Read the full statement here.