EUROSTAT; Energy prices in 2017 – Household energy prices in the EU down compared with 2016 – -0.5% for electricity and -6.3% for gas
In the European Union (EU), household electricity prices slightly decreased (-0.5%) on average between the first half of 2016 and the first half of 2017 to stand at €20.4 per 100 kWh. Across the EU Member States, household electricity prices in the first half of 2017 ranged from below €10 per 100 kWh in Bulgaria to more than €30 per 100 kWh in Denmark and Germany. Full text available here we
Intellectual property: Protecting Europe’s know-how and innovation leadership
The Commission today presents measures to ensure that intellectual property rights (IPR) are well protected, thereby encouraging European companies, in particular SMEs and start-ups, to invest in innovation and creativity. Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth Investment and Competitiveness, said: “Europe’s economic growth and competitiveness largely depends on our many entrepreneurs investing in new ideas and knowledge. This package improves the application and enforcement of intellectual property rights and encourages investment in technology and product development in Europe.” Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, added: “Today we boost our collective ability to catch the ‘big fish’ behind fake goods and pirated content which harm our companies, our jobs, our health and safety. We are also placing Europe as a global leader with a patent licensing system conducive to the roll-out of the Internet of Things from smartphones to connected cars.” Today’s initiatives will make it easier to act efficiently against breaches of IPR, facilitate cross-border litigation, and tackle the fact that 5% of goods imported into the EU (worth €85 billion) are counterfeited or pirated. When it comes to Standard Essential Patents (SEPs), the Commission encourages fair and balanced licensing negotiations which ensure that companies are rewarded for their innovation while allowing also others to build on this technology to generate new innovative products and services. Vice-President Katainen and Commissioner Bieńkowska will hold a press conference following the College meeting which will be broadcasted live here. A press release, a MEMO and three factsheets (on Intellectual Property Rights, and Why IPRs matter, and on SEPs) are available.
Commission proposes to extend Single Resolution Board Chair’s term of office
The European Commission has today proposed to extend the mandate of Ms Elke König, Chair of the Single Resolution Board (SRB), for five years as of 24 December 2017. Ms König, a German national, was appointed Chair of the SRB at the end of 2014 for an initial period of three years. Ms König, a former President of the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, has spent all her career in the financial and insurance sector. In 2010 and 2011, Ms König was a member of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) in London. Today’s decision follows a hearing of the SRB Board’s plenary session on 10 October 2017. The proposal will now be transmitted to the European Parliament for approval, and the Council will also be informed. Following that approval, the Council would have to adopt an implementing decision to extend the mandate
Better rail connections in Sicily thanks to Cohesion policy investments
Over €105 million from the European Regional Development Fund is invested in the modernisation of the Messina-Palermo railway line, on the section between the Fiumetorto train station and the village of Ogliastrillo. The EU-funded project covers the doubling of the tracks, for enhanced safety and reduced travel time between the two Sicilian cities. Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu commented: “This project will give a boost to tourism, shorten travel time and promote clean mobility in this beautiful region; that is EU money well spent.” TheMessina-Palermo line is an important section of the Italian national and regional transport plan, and it is also part of the Scandinavian-Mediterranean Corridor of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T), stretching from Finland and Sweden in the North to the southern Italian ports and Malta in the South. Works should be completed in December 2019.
State aid: Commission approves €3.1 million investment aid for CO2 transport infrastructure in The Netherlands
The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, Dutch plans to grant €3.1 million of public support to the company OCAP CO2 B, for the construction of CO2 transport infrastructure in PrimA4a, in the Greenport of Aalsmeer. This measure is expected to reduce 21 kilotonnes of CO2 emissions per year. In particular, the infrastructure will transport waste CO2 (e.g. from Shell) to greenhouses in the PrimA4a horticulture area, which need CO2 for their crop growth. Currently, these greenhouses produce their own CO2 using heating systems such as cogeneration systems or gas fired boilers. In summer, when heating is not needed, the greenhouses nevertheless use their heating systems for the sole purpose of CO2 generation. Thanks to this measure, greenhouses in future will be able to use excess waste CO2 instead. This will benefit the environment by reducing the use of primary energy sources to produce CO2. The Commission assessed and approved the measure by applying principles set out under the Commission’s 2014 Guidelines on State aid for Environmental protection and Energy. More information on today’s decision will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number SA.48816.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Curaeos Holding by EQT
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Curaeos Holding B.V. of the Netherlands by EQT Fund Management S.à.r.l. of Luxembourg. Curaeos Holding is an international dental services provider which owns dental clinics, dental labs and a dental products distribution business. It also operates a migraine clinic in Germany. EQT is an investment fund making investments primarily in Northern and Continental Europe. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because EQT is not engaged in any business activity related to Curaeos Holding’s business. 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.8698.