Commission launches a new pan-European personal pensions label to help consumers save for retirement
The Commission today presents its proposal to create a new class of pension products, which will enable consumers to benefit from more choice when saving for retirement. Today’s proposal will equip pension providers with the tools of a simple and innovative Pan-European Personal Pension Product (PEPP). This new type of voluntary personal pension is designed to give savers more choice when they are putting money aside for old age and provide them with more competitive products. PEPPs will have the same standard features wherever they are sold in the EU and can be offered by a broad range of providers, such as insurance companies, banks, occupational pension funds, investment firms and asset managers. They will complement existing state-based, occupational and national personal pensions, but not replace or harmonise national personal pension regimes. The Commission is also today recommending that Member States grant the same tax treatment to this product as to similar existing national products to ensure that the PEPP gets off to a flying start. The new products will also ultimately bolster the Commission’s plan for a Capital Markets Union by helping to channel more savings to long-term investments in the EU. A press release, MEMO and factsheet are available online.
President Juncker and the College of Commissioners are travelling to Tallinn for the kick-off of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU
Today and tomorrow (29-30 June), the College of Commissioners is in Tallinn for its traditional visit to the incoming Presidency of the Council of the European Union, held by Estonia in the second semester of 2017. An opening concert will mark the start of the Presidency, where President Juncker will deliver a speech, along with Prime Minister of Estonia Jüri Ratas and the President of the European Council Donald Tusk. Today, Vice-President Andrus Ansip is also holding a citizens’ dialogue in Tallinn together with President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid. On Friday, President Juncker and the College Members will discuss with the Estonian Government the challenges and priorities for the EU for the next six months. The meetings will be organised in four clusters: 1. External relations, security, migration and justice; 2. Energy and climate policy, transport and rural development; 3. Growth, competitiveness, the internal market, Digital Single Market and trade; 4. The EU budget, the Economic and Monetary Union and the social agenda. President Juncker will have several bilateral meetings, including with Mart Laar, former Prime Minister of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, President of Estonia and Jüri Ratas, Prime Minister of Estonia, with whom he will hold a press conference around 10:45 local time/9:45 CET. Follow it live on EbS. Details of the Commissioners’ activities are available here.
Security Union: Commission delivers on interoperability of EU information systems
The Commission is today delivering on its commitment to ensure interoperability and address the existing shortcomings of EU information systems for security and border management, as set out by the Commission in its 7th Security Union Report on 16 May and endorsed by the European Council of 22-23 June. As a first step, the Commission is proposing to strengthen the mandate of the EU Agency for the operational management of large scale IT systems (eu-LISA), enabling it to develop and roll-out the technical solutions to make the EU information systems interoperable. In addition, the Commission is also proposing further improvements to the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) to allow Member States to exchange criminal records of non-EU citizens more efficiently. Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “With the stronger mandate we propose today, eu-LISA will become the EU’s digital centre of excellence, to make our vision for the interoperability of our information systems a reality.” Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King said: “We have a range of databases to help us fight terrorism and manage our borders but our systems can only be as strong and effective as the data with which they are fed.” Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová, said: “Bringing the operational management of EU information systems under one roof and centralising the information exchange of criminal records of non-EU nationals is an important step forward.” The press release and a factsheet on interoperability of EU information systems are available online.
Security Union: Commission accelerates measures to prevent radicalisation and the cyber threat
Today, the European Commission presents the 8th report on progress made towards an effective and genuine Security Union, calling for an acceleration of the ongoing work to enhance the security of EU citizens. As set out in the European Council Conclusions of 22-23 June, recent attacks have once again highlighted the need to intensify the joint efforts at EU level to effectively fight terrorism, hatred and violent extremism. Against this backdrop, the Commission today outlines measures taken at EU level to counter radicalisation, fight terrorism and crime and their financing and tackle the cyber threat as well as reporting on the next steps towards interoperability of information systems. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “Europe must face up to security challenges and terrorist threats together, with new action at EU level and an acceleration of our ongoing work to protect our citizens. With the backing of national leaders, the Commission has reviewed today what has been done so far, notably in fighting radicalisation and terrorist financing. We are also proposing additional measures to keep Europe safe, like making sure our EU security databases can work better together and improving our response to cyberattacks.” The press release and a factsheet on ‘A Europe that Protects’ are available online.
Security Union: Cross-border exercise to strengthen protection of soft targets against terrorist attacks
Today, a cross-border exercise to strengthen the protection of soft targets against terrorist attacks is taking place in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and in Heist op den Berg, Belgium. The exercise, which includes the simulation of synchronised terrorist attacks on two public schools, aims at measuring preparedness and crisis management functions in a situation when two attacks take place simultaneously in different countries. It involves a number of police forces, first responders and state emergency response services from both Member States and is supported by the Belgian and Dutch Police special intervention forces. Today’s exercise, which is financed by the Commission, is part of the EU’s efforts to further step up the protection of particularly vulnerable soft targets. This follows an EU soft target workshop organised with Member States earlier this year. In February, an EU soft target policy group was also established with the objective to collect and exchange good practices and guidance in the area of soft target protection.
Eurobarometer survey: Cohesion Policy projects vastly seen as success stories; joint effort needed to improve their visibility
A Eurobarometer survey on “Citizens’ awareness and perceptions of EU regional policy” indicates that close to 80% of EU citizens believe in the positive impact of EU-funded projects in their city or region. Awareness of such projects varies greatly from one country to another, depending on the prominence and number of Cohesion Policy projects on the ground; in Eastern European countries, important EU funds beneficiaries, it reaches 60% (Hungary) to 80% (Poland), while it ranges from 14% (Denmark) to 25% (Germany) in Western and Northern Europe. Still, these findings highlight the need for a joint effort of stakeholders involved in Cohesion Policy at all levels to make EU-funded projects more visible, as European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker stressed in his speech at the 7th Cohesion Forum. Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu said: “The EU invests in tens of thousands of projects and each of them improves the citizens’ everyday lives, creates job opportunities near them or fuels the local economy. They are all European success stories and concrete illustrations of EU solidarity, right in your backyard. If we want citizens to get actively involved in the discussion on the future of our Union, we – not only the EU, but also Member States and local authorities – need to be better at showing what the EU does for them.” Earlier this year, Commissioner Crețu and Commissioner Thyssen presented a list of concrete actions to improve the visibility of EU-funded projects in the Member States, at the request of both the Council and the European Parliament. The survey and key country-specific findings are available online.
European Commission selects new Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees
The Commission has agreed to fund 38 new Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree programmes following the 2017 Erasmus+ Call for Proposals. An Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree is a high-quality integrated study programme at master’s level offered by a consortium of higher education institutions from at least three different European countries. The consortium may also include partners from other countries worldwide, and non-educational partners with specific expertise and interest in the area of study. Selected Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree programmes receive a grant from the EU that covers the cost of between 40-55 scholarships over three years for the best students applying from all over the world. Funding is also provided for managing the consortium. Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, said: “Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees show how universities can work well together across borders – both within Europe and with the rest of the world. They offer integrated, innovative and high quality degree programmes, always with a strong focus on graduate employability. As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Erasmus, I am pleased to announce that this year’s selection involves 186 partner universities and almost 600 associate organisations from 84 different countries, covering areas from chemical nano-engineering to documentary film-making and social work with families to tropical forestry.” The total cost of the projects including scholarships is EUR 112.6 million. Full results are available here and you can learn more about Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees in a new publication, 24 Degrees.
Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Magnesita Refratários by RHI, subject to conditions
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Magnesita Refratários by RHI. The Commission’s investigation focused on the market for basic refractory products such as dolomite-based and magnesite-based refractories. The Commission was concerned that the acquisition would reduce competition, with possible price increases for shaped and unshaped dolomite-based refractory products. The Commission also raised competition concerns for shaped unfired magnesite-based refractories. To address these competition concerns, RHI offered to divest the two companies’ overlapping businesses in relation to specific refractory product markets in the EEA. The Commission therefore concluded that the proposed transaction, as modified by the commitments, would no longer raise competition concerns in the EEA. The full press release is available online in EN.
State aid: Commission approves sale of Italian bridge bank Nuova Carife to BPER
The European Commission has approved under EU state aid rules the sale of the Italian bridge bank Nuova Carife to BPER Banca, which was a requirement of its previous state aid decision of November 2015. The bridge bank was one of four bridge banks created in November 2015 after the Bank of Italy decided to put into resolution four small banks, among them Cassa di Risparmio di Ferrara. The Commission had already approved the sale of the other three bridge banks to UBI Banca on 30 April 2017. The purchase by BPER of the fourth bridge bank depended on its remaining non-performing loans being sold to a third party on market terms. In that context, theItalian resolution fund injected additional capital of €295 million into the bridge bank and granted a set of guarantees for risks related to the acquired entity. The Commission concluded that the process for the sale of the bridge bank, conducted by the Italian authorities, was open and competitive and selected the best available bid. Consequently, the sale does not involve any state aid to BPER. Moreover, the business plan of BPER foresees the full integration of the activities of the loss-making bridge bank. It will therefore disappear from the market, addressing any undue distortions of competition in the European banking market. On this basis, the Commission concluded that the measure was in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission’s approval was based on the Commission’s 2013 Banking Communication that has been in place unchanged since August 2013. More information will be available in the state aid register on the Commission’s Competition website under the case number SA.41925.
Mergers: Commission approves creation of container liner shipping joint venture between NYK, MOL and K Line
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the creation of a joint venture between Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha Ltd. (NYK), Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL) and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. (K Line), all of Japan. The three companies are active in the field of international maritime transport including bulk shipping, container terminal services and other services such as bulk transportation, air cargo transportation, logistics, real estate, cruise ships, and trading. The joint venture will integrate the global container liner shipping activities and container terminal businesses (excluding their terminals in Japan) of NYK, MOL and K Line. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given the limited impact of the transaction on the routes to and from Europe and the fact that there would be sufficient competitive pressure from other competitors post transaction. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8472.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of SafetyKleen by Apax Partners
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of WP Safety-Kleen (Cayman) Limited (“SafetyKleen”) of the Cayman Islands, by Apax Partners LLP of the UK. SafetyKleen provides industrial parts cleaning machines and related cleaning solutions, as well as solvent collection services. Apax Partners provides investment advisory services to private equity funds investing primarily in Europe in a range of industry sectors. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns because there are no overlaps in the activities of the two 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.8525.
President Juncker in Berlin for EU coordination meeting ahead of the G20 in Hamburg
Today President Juncker is attending the G20 preparatory meeting with EU Heads of State and Government, hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. Discussions will feed into the work of the G20 Summit taking place on 7 and 8 July in Hamburg. See here for details on the EU’s participation in the G20 and here for information about the G20.
NEWS IN FULL
DAILY NEWS 29- 06 -2017-