Brussels Daily
29 Oct 2014


Brussels Daily

Statement by Vice-President Katainen on the Draft Budgetary Plans

In a statement issued yesterday on the draft budgetary plans submitted by the Euro area Member States, Vice-President Katainen said: “After taking into account all of the further information and improvements communicated to us in recent days, I cannot immediately identify cases of “particularly serious non-compliance” which would oblige us to consider a negative opinion at this stage in the process.” See STATEMENT/14/343

In a short statement today, he will be explaining the next steps of the assessment of these draft budgetary plans. The Vice-President’s statement will soon be available on RAPID (STATEMENT/14/344) and can be watched live on EBS .

EU-Commission adopts ‘Partnership Agreements’ with Belgium, Malta, Italy, UK, Sweden and Luxembourg on using EU Structural and Investment Funds for growth and jobs in 2014-2020

The European Commission has adopted Partnership Agreements with six Member States today, setting down the strategy for the optimal use of European Structural and Investment Funds throughout the country. Today’s agreement paves the way for investments during the period 2014-2020 via the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) comprising the European Regional Development, the European Social Fund, The Cohesion Fund, The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. The EU investments will help tackle unemployment and boost competitiveness and economic growth through support to innovation, training and education in cities, towns and rural areas. They will also promote entrepreneurship, fight social exclusion and help to develop an environmentally friendly and a resource-efficient economy. See also: IP/14/1215 , IP/14/1213 , IP/14/1217 , IP/14/1219 , IP/14/1218 , IP/14/1220 and MEMO/14/331


Other news

European Commission publishes study on “The Promotion of Employee Ownership and Participation”

The Commission has today published a comprehensive study on “The Promotion of Employee Ownership and Participation” that provides an overview of the development of employee financial participation, and in particular of employee share ownership, across EU-28 over the last decade. The study describes and analyses in depth a range of policy options to be considered at EU level to reduce the main obstacles to transnational employee financial participation and to encourage it throughout the EU. These options include the creation of a virtual information centre and establishing an optional European legal regime for employee share ownership. Overcoming cross-border barriers to employee financial participation schemes is particularly important in view of the potential for EU companies to implement such schemes and to benefit from their impact. Research presented in this study suggests that companies which are partly or entirely owned by their employees generate more profit, create more jobs and contribute more to tax revenue than companies without employee ownership. These companies also tend to relocate less and favour local production and business succession.

More information is available online on the Commission’s Internal Market dedicated webpage .

Mergers: Commission closes infringement proceedings against Munksjö and Ahlstrom concerning provision of information in the context of a merger investigation

The Commission has closed proceedings against Ahlstrom Corporation, Munksjö Oyi, both of Finland, and Munksjö AB of Sweden, for a suspected infringement of the rules concerning the provision of information to the Commission for merger control purposes. The Commission was concerned that the companies provided misleading information to the Commission in the course of a notification of a transaction under the EU Merger Regulation. In response to the Statement of Objections sent by the Commission in February (see IP/14/189), the parties have provided contemporaneous evidence explaining the discrepancies between the estimates provided to the Commission and the parties’ internal documents. The Commission has now received the necessary information and has therefore closed the infringement proceedings.

State aid: Commission endorses investment aid for leisure park in Murcia, Spain

The European Commission has found that Spanish plans to provide regional investment aid totalling €16.28 million to Premursa Theme-Park SA for the construction of an amusement theme park and a 4-star hotel in Alhama de Murcia, Spain, are in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission found that the aid granted by Spain favours regional development while any distortions of competition will remain limited. In June 2014, Spain notified plans to support the construction of a theme park with €16.28 million of direct grants. The state aid is granted in the framework of an existing approved aid scheme (OJ C 196, 2.8.2008) but had to be notified to the Commission for individual assessment and clearance according to the applicable regional aid guidelines 2007-2013 (see IP/05/1653), because the aid amount is higher than €15 million. The project involves investments of in total €206.6 million and is expected to create 1500 jobs during the construction phase and 1200 direct jobs after completion of the investment. It is to be carried out in the Murcia region, an area eligible for regional aid under Article 107(3)(c) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The Commission therefore concluded that the measure’s positive contribution to regional development would outweigh the distortion of competition created by the state aid. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.38964 in the State Aid Register on the competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

LED there be light – Fiat Lux: Sistine Chapel illuminated as never before

Michelangelo’s wonderful paintings in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel are getting a second life thanks to a revolutionary new Light Emitting Diode (LED) system, funded by an EU research project called LED4ART . The 7,000 diodes of the installation mean Michelangelo’s frescoes can be seen as never before: some can now be seen in three dimensions from the floor level for the first time, and all can be viewed more precisely. The new system saves 60% on energy costs and emissions, and the gentler technology reduces the ageing of the painting compared to the old system.

Georgia: one step closer to EU visa liberalisation

The Commission adopted today its second progress report on the implementation by Georgia of the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan (VLAP). It concludes that Georgia meets the first-phase requirements of the visa dialogue. The second phase, where the Commission will be checking the implementation of all these benchmarks, can therefore be launched. The enhanced mobility of citizens in a secure and well-managed environment is also one of the core objectives of the Eastern Partnership. To this end, the EU carries out Visa Liberalisation Dialogues with interested partner countries.


Colombia and Peru fulfil the criteria for visa-free access to the Schengen area

Today the Commission adopted two reports concluding that Colombia and Peru fulfil the relevant criteria, with a view to the negotiation of visa waiver agreements between each of these countries and the EU. Both reports adopted today are accompanied by Commission staff working documents presenting detailed data that underpin their conclusions and containing information about the data sources and methodology used to produce the assessment. In view of the preparation of the assessment, the Commission requested and received contributions from three EU agencies: EASO, Europol and Frontex. Furthermore, additional information was obtained from the EU Delegations in Bogotá and Lima, as well as from the Colombian and Peruvian authorities. Once the reports have been discussed in the appropriate committees and groups of the European Parliament and the Council, the Commission will seek authorisation from the Council to negotiate short-stay visa waiver agreements with each of the two countries. If the Council grants such an authorisation, negotiations could start in the first trimester of 2015. Only after the agreements enter into force will visa-free for the citizens of these countries become a reality. This could happen, at the very earliest, in the second half of 2015.

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