Brussels Daily
25 Sep 2014


Brussels Daily

President Barroso at the Canada-EU Summit

Tomorrow, President Jose Manuel Barroso will travel to Ottawa with European Council President Van Rompuy to represent the European Union at the Canada-EU Summit, hosted by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht will also participate.

The summit is an opportunity to celebrate the successful end of negotiations on two EU-Canada treaties: the EU-Canada Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) . The leaders will also discuss global issues including Ukraine, Syria and Iraq.

Ahead of the Summit, President Barroso said:Canada is one of the European Union’s oldest and closest partners. And now that our negotiating teams have completed their work on both the CETA and the SPA we can really talk about a comprehensive strategic partnership.” (see IP/14/1045and MEMO/14/540 )

On the occasion of the Summit, Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, issues data on trade and investments between Canada and the EU. In 2013, the value of EU28 trade in goods with Canada reached a peak value for exports of €31.6 billion, whereas imports fell to €27.3 bn. As a result, the EU28 trade surplus of €4.3 bn with Canada in 2013 is the highest recorded since 2006, and Canada was the EU28’s twelfth most important trading partner. (see STAT/14/143 )

Infringements decisions: Commission acts for full and proper implementation of European legislation

The Commission has decided today to refer 4 Members States to the EU Court of Justice, and in the case of Greece has requested that the Court imposes financial penalties. The other referrals concern Germany, The Netherlands and Spain. The Commission will also send 39 reasoned opinions to 20 countries: AT, BE, BG, CZ, DE, EE, EL, ES, FI, FR, HU, IT, LU, LV, NL, PL, PT, RO, SI and UK. With a total of 147 decisions, the Commission aims at ensuring proper application of EU law for the benefit of citizens and businesses.

A summary of the main decisions can be found in the MEMO/14/537. On the general infringement procedure, see MEMO/12/12 .


Other news

EU Workshop on Rural Electrification in developing countries, 29-30 September

As a leader in the global drive to provide access to modern sustainable energy services, the European Commission is launching a debate on new financial opportunities to support rural electrification in developing countries. This two-day workshop will bring together a broad range of stakeholders to discuss possibilities for joint efforts by the private sector and civil society organisations, among other things.  Key speakers in the opening session will be: Andris Piebalgs, European Commissioner for Development; Kandeh K. Yumkella, UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) and Adnan Amin, Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena). The event is open to the press and will be webstreamed here .

European Days of Languages: diversity’s in our DNA

A European-themed cocktail bar in Budapest, multilingual concerts in Zagreb and Vilnius, a ‘speak’ dating session in Prague, a travelling exhibition in Paris featuring translations of Homer’s Odyssey and mini-language courses at libraries in Berlin: these are just some of the events planned tomorrow and over the next week to celebrate the annual European Day of Languages and linguistic diversity. European Commission offices in Member States are organising or supporting many other events including the ‘LinguaFest’ awards in Bucharest, a Shakespearian storytelling session for children in Madrid, a language-based treasure hunt in London and the Drongo festival in Amsterdam. The historic Piazza Ognissanti in Florence will be the setting for an open-air gathering to promote EU-funded initiatives to support language learning such as Erasmus+ (see IP/14/1035 ). Meanwhile Eurostat reveals today that English, French and German are still the most commonly studied foreign languages at lower secondary level in the EU28, while the proportion of pupils studying Spanish has shown the greatest increase in relative terms since 2005. (see STAT/14/144 and SPEECH/14/621 ).

Cutting emissions and cutting red tape: a new regulation for off-road engines

The European Commission today proposed measures will cut emissions of major air pollutants from engines in non-road mobile machinery and cut the complexity of the legal framework for the sector. Today’s proposal provides for more stringent emission limit values for internal combustion engines installed in non-road mobile machinery (NRMM). At the same time, it sets out harmonised rules for placing those engines on the EU market. Compared to vehicles for use on roads, NRMM covers a very wide variety of machinery typically used off the road in manifold applications. It comprises, for example, small gardening and handheld equipment (lawn mowers, chain saws,…), construction machinery (excavators, loaders, bulldozers,…) and agricultural & farming machinery (harvesters, cultivators,…); even railcars, locomotives and inland waterway vessels fall under the scope of NRMM.

Fly me to the moon: 300 cities set for European Researchers’ Night

Destination moon – commencing countdown, engines on! If you have ever wondered what it’s like to be a space astronaut or a forensic scientist helping to crack a murder mystery, then don’t miss the annual European Researchers’ Night tomorrow (26 September). Research boffins will be sharing their passion for science with the public in over 300 cities and . Visitors can experience a myriad of activities from a simulated rocket flight in Rome, to learning how to build a skateboard on a computer (Poznan) or helping solve a murder (Bucharest). Behind-the-scenes visits to labs which are normally closed to the public, hands-on experiments, international link-ups between different European events, flashmobs, quizzes and competitions are also on the agenda (see highlights below). The aim of European Researchers’ Night is to promote science and encourage young people to embrace a career in research.

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of ENI Ceska, ENI Romania and ENI Slovensko by MOL.

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Eni Česká Republika, s.r.o., Eni Romania S.R.L. and Eni Slovensko, spol. s.r.o. by MOL Hungarian Oil and Gas Plc. MOL is an integrated oil and gas company active in Hungary and Central Europe in the production and distribution of natural gas, oil, fuels and petrochemicals. Each of the three target companies sells motor fuels and other oil products in their respective home countries. The transaction results in a number of overlaps between the companies’ activities, both at wholesale and retail levels. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction does not raise competition concerns, as the merged entity will continue to be subject to competitive pressure from other market players, both on the upstream markets, including from big oil companies active European Economic Area (EEA)-wide, and on the downstream markets from numerous branded and unbranded filling stations. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’scompetition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7311.

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Nidera by COFCO Corporation of China

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Nidera, incorporated in the Netherlands, by COFCO Corporation of China. COFCO is a large supplier of diversified products and services in agricultural products and the food industry in China. Nidera is an international agribusiness and trading company, itscore business is the procurement, processing, marketing, trading, storage and transport of grains and oilseeds and bio-energy products.The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns giventhe companies’ moderate combined market positions resulting from the transaction. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’scompetition website, in the public case register under case number M.7299.

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Santander Banco de Emisiones by Warburg Pincus and Banco Santander

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition by affiliates of Warburg Pincus LLC of joint control over Santander Banco de Emisiones, S.A.(to be renamed Santander Securities Services, S.A.), and over certain subsidiaries in Spain, Brazil and Mexico (collectively, “Coffer”). Coffer is currently solely controlled by Banco Santander S.A. Warburg Pincus is a private equity firm active globally in a variety of sectors, including energy, financial services, healthcare, technology, media and telecommunications. Banco Santander is active in retail banking, asset management, corporate and investment banking, treasury and insurance. It operates in Europe, the United States and Latin America. Coffer is a provider of custody and fund administration services in Spain, Brazil and Mexico. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns because the activities of the companies are complementary rather than overlapping. 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.7344.

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Weltbild Holding by Special Purpose Eins Holding

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Weltbild Holding GmbH by Special Purpose Eins Holding GmbH, as well as the acquisition of the logistic business of Weltbild GmbH i.L. by Druna Vermögensverwaltungsgesellschaft mbH, all of Germany. Special Purpose Eins Holding and Druna Vermögensverwaltungsgesellschaft are both ultimately controlled by Droege International Group AG, of Germany.  Droege International Group is a consulting and investment company. It controls companies that are active in a number of areas, such as consulting, pharmaceuticals, wholesale as well as IT and communication services. Weltbild is a publishing house and multi-channel retailer that sells books via catalogue online orders and via own retail shops in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The assortment contains books and e-books as well as a number of other products, such as CDs, DVDs, toys, jewelry and accessories, house- and giftware, consumer electronics.The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, in particular because there are no overlaps and only a very limited relationship between the activities of the Droege group and Weltbild. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competitionwebsite, in the public case register under the case number M.7376.

Q&A on Labour mobility

Commissioner László Andorwill give a lecture at the University of Ghent today, where he will argue that freedom of movement is an individual right, but that labour mobility also makes good economic sense. “Recently, and particularly during the European Parliament election campaign earlier this year, terms such as ‘benefit tourism’ and ‘poverty migration’ have been used. Sociologists refer to this kind of debate as ‘welfare chauvinism’: a populist discourse in the country of destination aiming to restrict access to welfare systems and public services for citizens from other EU countries”, will Andor say. “Under the EU Treaties, discrimination based on nationality is prohibited. The European Union consists of 28 countries whose citizens are equal and have equal rights, including the right to free movement, subject to the application of jointly agreed rules.  In addition, welfare chauvinism, as shown by some political parties and some tabloid press, goes against the values on which the European Union is founded, such as respect for human dignity, equality and respect for human rights.” On this occasion, the European Commission is publishing a MEMO on Labour Mobility in the EU, which outlines the trends and advantages of mobility and recalls the rules and safeguards that are in place to ensure fair mobility in the EU. See also Speech/14/622 Embargo 3:00 pm

Legal highs: Council adopts EU-wide ban on four new drugs

Today, EU Ministers adopted the European Commission’s proposal to ban four harmful new psychoactive substances that, combined, have led to more than a hundred deaths across the EU over the past years. With today’s decision, the substances MDPV, methoxetamine, AH-7921, and 25I-NBOMe will be subject to criminal sanctions across Europe and their manufacturing and marketing will become illegal (for more detailed information on these drugs). “This ban is a concrete step towards protecting our citizens. In a borderless Single Market, having common EU rules to protect people from the dangers of so-called legal highs is absolutely crucial,” said Martine Reicherts, the EU’s Justice Commissioner. “These drugs are like wolves in sheep’s clothing. The ban voted on today will give them the criminal status they deserve. Legal highs are not legal: they are lethal!”

Today’s decision by EU Ministers follows the procedure for risk assessment and control of new psychoactive substances set up by Council Decision 2005/387/JHA. In April this year, the risk assessment found that the four substances have no established medical or other known legitimate purpose and are being sold as alternatives for illicit drugs. The EU-wide ban adopted today will enter into force following its publication in the Official Journal, and Member States will have one year to introduce it into national legislation.

What Commissioners said

Speech by Vice-President Jyrki Katainen at the Euro Changeover Conference in Vilnius, Lithuania

From 1 January, all three Baltic States will use the euro as a common currency. This will further strengthen economic and trade links between them and the other 18 members of the euro area. Lithuania’s euro adoption also underlines the vitality of the Economic and Monetary Union, which remains an attractive community to be a part of. The euro area today coordinates economic policy more effectively; it has a robust financial firewall to safeguard stability and the gradual creation of a banking union. I have been proposed by the European Commission’s President-elect, Jean-Claude Juncker to be Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness in his new Commission. This is an unprecedented position, which involves working to strengthen the competitiveness of the EU and euro area, to boost investment to help create more jobs in Europe. Subject to approval by the European Parliament, our priority would be to present an ambitious programme for Employment, Growth and Investment within the first three months of the mandate. This means deepening the single market and making the best use of public funds available at EU and national level to stimulate private investment in the real economy. This should allow us to mobilise up to €300 billion in further public and private investment in the real economy over the next three years. Lithuania has reached a decisive moment in its history. The next task is to prepare for life under the euro, both in terms of successful short-term changeover to euro and longer-term economic performance and competitiveness. I am convinced that our new framework for euro area governance and surveillance, together with our banking union, will make us better equipped to detect and contain risks of emerging imbalances in the future. In effect, Lithuania will be joining a euro area that is very different from what it was just a few years ago.

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