EU and Iceland further liberalise trade in food and agricultural products
Agreements giving greater market access and protection for EU agri-food products in Iceland will enter into force on 1 May.The agreements will increase the duty-free access to Iceland’s market from 66,4% to more than 95% of EU agri-food products, and offer protection in Iceland to 1150 names registered as EU geographical indications. The improved market access covers the vast majority of EU agricultural products, including beef, pig meat, poultry and cheese for which quotas will be substantially increased. The EU has also increased or established quotas for many of these same products from Iceland, as well as for the typical Icelandic dairy product skyr. The processed food products set to benefit from the new liberalisation account for more than €27 million in exports from the EU to Iceland each year. The three agreements were signed in September 2015 and were formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council. More information is online.
EU in my Region campaign kicks off: thousands of EU-funded projects in the spotlight
Visit an EU-funded sugar factory in Machico, Portugal, a chemistry research centre in Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic, or take a walk in Charleroi, Belgium, to spot EU-funded projects in the city. Throughout May, the EU in my Region campaign will allow citizens to discover thousands of EU-funded projects across the EU; find one near you on this interactive map. People can also share their experience on EU-funded projects in regions via a photo and a blogging contest. Commissioner for regional policy Corina Crețu said: “The EU is closer to you than you think. EU investments are making a real difference in your everyday life; from the purchase of new medical equipment in hospitals to villages getting broadband and small businesses accessing loans. The ‘EU in my Region’ campaign will help these projects get the attention they deserve.” In April 2017, Commissioner Crețu and Commissioner Thyssen presented seven communication actions, as part of a broader effort to improve the visibility of cohesion policy projects; the ‘EU in my Region’ campaign featured in the action plan as a communication tool that has proven to deliver.
EUROSTAT: Household real income per capita up in the euro area and in the EU28 Real consumption per capita stable in euro area and up in EU28
In the euro area, in real terms, household income per capita increased by 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2017, after an increase of 0.4% in the previous quarter. Household real consumption per capita was stable in the fourth quarter of 2017, after an increase of 0.4% in the third quarter of 2017. More information here
European Commission and European Stability Mechanism lay down principles of cooperation
The European Commission and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) will today sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the working relationship between the two institutions. The two institutions share the common objectives of safeguarding the stability of the euro area and ensuring the efficient governance of financial assistance programmes in Member States. The document – which will be officially signed by Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis and Commissioner Pierre Moscovici on behalf of the Commission and ESM Managing Director Klaus Regling this afternoon – reflects the close cooperation of the two institutions and the important role that the ESM has played over the years in providing financial assistance to Member States to overcome acute crises and regain financial stability. The Memorandum spells out the working methods between the Commission and the European Stability Mechanism in the light of experience and in line with their respective roles and mandates. It does not change the rules and the legal framework under which they operate. The existing competences and responsibilities of both institutions, as enshrined in the European Union law and the ESM Treaty, remain intact. The Memorandum is also without prejudice to any further reform of the ESM that may be agreed. A full press release is available here.
The Commission proposes more flexibility in the .eu top-level-domain
Today, the Commission is proposing new measures to simplify the existing legal framework on the .eu top-level-domain and enable European/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) citizens to register for a .eu domain also outside of the EU, regardless of their country of residence. These measures improve the potential of .eu top-level-domain as a trusted and innovative namespace for the Digital Single Market by adding more flexibility and adapting the current rules to the fast-changing domain name market. The more flexible rules change the current Regulation, under which the domain ownership was solely connected to residency in the EU/EEA countries. Additionally, the revision proposes a better governance of the .eu top-level-domain by creating a Multistakeholder Council to advise the Commission on the management of the domain name and the implementation of the new rules. Overall, with a more efficient and flexible legal framework, the .eu Registry will be able to offer a better services to EU citizens and businesses. This revision is based on a Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT) review of the .eu and a public consultation. More information can be found here and in an infographic.
Significant Market Power guidelines updated to safeguard competitiveness in the telecoms market
National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) when analysing telecoms market and sets principles to detect potential anti-competitive practices in the electronic communication market. The revised guidelines reflect the latest developments in case-law and address issues previously not included, such as the competitive impact of online service providers that have started to offer internet based services, increased provision of bundled services (internet, voice and TV content) at retail level, competitive pressure of cable-based services as well as the transition from monopolistic to oligopolistic market structures in some countries. The guidelines will help national regulators to correctly delineate markets in the electronic communications sector and to identify significant market power of operators. Moreover, the guidance is complementary to the Electronic Communications Code that is currently under negotiation by the EU institutions and has been flagged a priority file for creating a Digital Single Market. The revision of SMP guidelines took into account a public consultation running from March to June 2017, an external study, and an opinion of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications. More details on the new guidelines are available here.
Mergers: Commission approves the creation of a joint venture by Mitsui Rail Capital Europe and Siemens Nederland
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the creation of a joint venture by Mitsui Rail Capital Europe of Germany and Siemens Nederland of the Netherlands. The newly-created joint venture will operate a maintenance workshop for locomotives in the Rotterdam harbour area. Mitsui Rail Capital Europe is active in the operational leasing of rolling stock and procurement and financing of locomotives. Siemens Nederland offers a wide range of products and services in the Netherlands, notably in the business divisions Power and Gas, Mobility, Digital Factory, Process Industries and Drives. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, given the joint venture’s limited turnover and assets in Europe and its marginal impact on the market structure. 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.8824.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of a freight forwarding business by Panalpina and Dutch Flower Group
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over the Dutch perishables business of Panalpina (“PA NL Perishables”) by its current parent Panalpina of Switzerland and Dutch Flower Group of the Netherlands. PA NL Perishables is active in the field of arranging transportation of perishable goods (freight forwarding). Panalpina provides freight forwarding services and additional services such as logistics (warehousing, overland and distribution). Dutch Flower Group is engaged in the trade of fresh cut flowers and plants globally. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of the limited turnover and assets of the target in Europe. 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.8805.
Commissioner Gabriel in Bulgaria to promote young women’s participation in information and communication technology in Europe
Tomorrow, Commissioner Mariya Gabriel will co-host Girls in ICT Day 2018 in Sofia to encourage young girls and women in Europe to pursue studies and careers in information and communication technology (ICT). This endeavour is part of the Digital Single Market strategy to involve more young women in shaping the digital future of Europe and builds on the conclusions of Commission’s “Women in the Digital Era” study from on 8 March 2018. At 14:00 (GMT+3), the Commissioner will deliver an opening speech, together with the Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union, Houlin Zhao. She will highlight the necessity to encourage digital skills in younger generations and remove the obstacles preventing young women from using their full potential in the digital environment in Europe. Commissioner Gabriel stated that: “Women and Girls’ participation in ICT and the digital sectors is crucial for ensuring that we build an all-inclusive digital Europe. Today, the numbers are alarming: only 13% of all STEM graduates [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] in the EU are women. On the occasion of the Girls in ICT International Day we can engage to collectively create the conditions that will inspire and motivate girls to pursue STEM and ICT studies and careers.”This event will be followed up on with a conference on 19 June 2018, organized by the Commission in Brussels. For more information on the Digital Single Market strategy on women’s participation in the digital sector here.
Commissioner Andriukaitis in Lithuania
On 30 April-1 May, Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food safety will be visiting Lithuania. On Monday, Commissioner Andriukaitiswill meet with Mr Vytautas Grubliauskas, Mayor of Klaipėdaand visit the Port of Klaipėda. Commissioner will also meet with Klaipėda University representatives, visit Mars Lietuva factory, andhold a Citizens’ Dialogue. On Tuesday, Commissioner Andriukaitis will attend the European Congress of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine. “We can deliver more effective and accessible resilient health systems by working together. I am looking forward to join many experts and actors working to improve education, research and practice in Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine“, said Commissioner Andriukaitis ahead of the visit.