26 Jan 2015
EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS – 26 JANUARYBrussels Daily
Preparation of Economic and Finance Ministers Council (ECOFIN)
On 27 January in Brussels, Vice-President Dombrovskis, Vice-President Katainen and Commissioner Moscovici will participate in the meeting of the EU’s Council of Economic and Finance Ministers. The presentation of the EC Work Programme will rank high on the agenda. On the legislative front, the Commission will present its proposal for a Regulation on the European Investment Fund, published on 13 January. Ministers are also due to adopt an amendment to the EU’s parent-subsidiary directive, adding an anti-abuse clause to prevent the directive from being used for corporate tax avoidance. In non-legislative activities, the European Commission will present its communication clarifying the existing flexibility in the Stability and Growth Pact as well as its communication on the economic governance review. Finally, a G20 finance meeting in Istanbul will be also on the agenda. The meeting will be concluded by a press conference, which can be followed live via EBS.
Investment Plan for Europe: new SME Initiative to unlock more than €3.2 billion of cheaper credit for Spanish companies
The European Commission welcomed today the signing of the SME Initiative with Spain, a ground-breaking agreement to unlock more than €3.2 billion of additional lending for companies with fewer than 250 employees (SMEs). In practice, under the new SME Initiative signed with Spain, regions in the country will reallocate part of their EU funding from European Structural and Investment Funds, i.e. €800 million. Rather than being given as a traditional grant, this pooled money will be channelled through the SME Initiative and used as a guarantee to take first risk in projects. Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said: “SMEs from Madrid to Barcelona to Bilbao will have easier access to cheaper loans to support them as they invest and grow. This is great news for the Spanish economy, great news for the European economy and great news for job creation. It is exactly what the new Investment Plan for Europe is all about: getting funding to sectors of the economy which need it most. We called on Member States to use their EU budget money in a more innovative and intelligent way. Now Spain is doing just that with this SME Initiative.” Corina Creţu, Commissioner for Regional Policy, said: “The SME Initiative is a very innovative and efficient EU financial instrument. We need other EU countries to use it and follow Spain’s example.” Read full press release.
EU-airlift to Ukraine: Europe increases its humanitarian aid
The European Union is increasing its humanitarian assistance in Ukraine with a new aid package, including financial and material support, delivered by plane and trucks, and provided by the European Commission and Member States in a joint gesture of solidarity. On the financial side, the European Commission is pledging an additional €15 million in humanitarian assistance, which will address the basic needs of the population in the areas directly affected by the conflict, the internally displaced and refugees, and the returnees who are going back home. The funds cover daily necessities, such as shelter, food, water, healthcare, and warm clothing. In addition, several flights and trucks with much-needed humanitarian cargo will be arriving in the East Ukrainian city of Dnepropetrovsk tomorrow. The new aid package was announced by Christos Stylianides, the EU Commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management, who is currently visiting Ukraine. He will be there to oversee the delivery of EU aid and express EU solidarity with the Ukrainians affected by the conflict. See press release.
Mergers: Commission continues its investigation of the Orange / Jazztel merger without referral to Spain
The European Commission has decided not to refer the planned acquisition of Jazztel p.l.c. by Orange S.A. to the Spanish competition authority for assessment under Spanish competition law. The Commission concluded that it was better placed to deal with the case with a view to ensuring consistency in the application of the merger control rules in the fixed and mobile telecommunications sectors across the European Economic Area (EEA). Orange notified its plans to acquire sole control of Jazztel to the Commission on 16 October 2014. The Commission has until 30 April 2015 to take a final decision on whether the proposed transaction would significantly impede effective competition in the EEA. See press release.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of UTA by Edenred, Hermes and Eckstein
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of UNION TANK Eckstein GmbH & Co. KG and UNION TANK Eckstein GmbH (together “UTA”) by Hermes Mineralöl-GmbH (“Hermes”) and Familien-Gesellschaft Eckstein mbH Verwaltungs-KG (“Eckstein”), all of Germany and Edenred of France. UTA provides fuel cards for commercial vehicles. Edenred is a pre-paid corporate services and expense management provider. Hermes and Eckstein are family-owned holding companies without business operations. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of the companies’ moderate combined market shares on the markets concerned. 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.7475. )
Visit of U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Lew, 26 January
Commission Vice-Presidents Dombrovskis and Katainen and Commissioners Hill and Moscovici are each holding talks with U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew during his visit today to the European Commission. Discussions focus on the global and EU economic outlooks, financial regulation and Ukraine. There will also be an exchange of views on EU initiatives to boost growth and investment in Europe, notably through the € 315 billion investment plan. A press point between Vice-President Dombrovskis and Secretary Lew is scheduled for 13:30pm CET and will be live broadcast by EBS.
First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Commissioner Vĕra Jourová in Czech Republic for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, meetings with government interlocutors and dialogue with the national Parliament
On Monday 26 January and Tuesday 27 January, the Commission will be represented at a number of events in the Czech Republic organised in the context of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. This visit demonstrates the dedication of the Juncker Commission to combating anti-semitism and intolerance in Europe. On Monday, First Vice-President Timmermans will deliver a keynote address at the evening dinner of the “Let My People Live” Forum, and Commissioner Jourová will discuss the role of legislation and law enforcement in the fight against anti-Semitism, racism and hate speech, in a panel debate at the same Forum. On Tuesday, First Vice-President Timmermans will represent the European Commission at the official commemorations organised by the European Jewish Congress in Prague and at the Terezín Memorial. Commissioner Jourová will participate in a round table with Parliamentarians, chaired by the President of the European Parliament. During their visit, First Vice-President Timmermans will meet bilaterally with the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. He will also meet with the Committee for European Affairs of the Senate and Committee for European Affairs of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic, where he will present the Commission’s Work Programme for 2015. Commissioner Jourová will also exchange views with the members of the Committee for European Affairs of the Czech Senate on the Commission’s priorities for justice, consumers and gender equality. These meetings take place in the context of the Commission’s enhanced dialogue with national Parliaments.
Commissioner Avramopoulos is keynote speaker at first European Migration Forum in Brussels
On 26-27 January 2015, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos will be a keynote speaker at the first European Migration Forum. Jointly organised by the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee, the European Migration Forum is a platform for dialogue, where civil society organisations can interact with EU institutions and national authorities, share their experiences and views, and contribute to the shaping of EU’s future policies and initiatives. The European Commission is committed to exchanging views with various relevant stakeholders in its preparation of the European Agenda on Migration. This first meeting will be attended by around 200 participants, out of which about 140 civil society organisations, as well as international organisations, national, local and regional authorities from EU Member States. “The EU needs to develop a sustainable and credible policy on migration. We have to improve legal immigration, to enhance migrants’ integration, and to provide tangible solutions for irregular migration. I look forward to hearing the views and contributions of grassroots professionals, which will help us bring forward a comprehensive and coherent European Agenda on Migration,” said Commissioner Avramopoulos. The event can be followed live.
High Representative/ Vice-President Mogherini attends Third Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Costa Rica
High Representative/ Vice-President Federica Mogherinihas been invited to attend the Third Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) which will be held in San José, Costa Rica on 28-29 January. The main issues addressed by this Summit will be, inter alia, the fight against poverty and the future evolution of CELAC. She will address the Heads of State from CELAC and will also hold a number of bilateral meetings.