State aid: Commission finds Poland’s tax on the retail sector in breach of EU rules
The European Commission has found that a Polish tax on the retail sector is in breach of EU state aid rules. The Commission concluded that the progressive tax rates based on turnover give companies with low turnover an advantage over their competitors. Following a complaint, the Commission opened an in-depth investigation in September 2016 into the measure. Poland did not collect this new tax and, as a result, no State aid was effectively granted. Consequently, there is no need for recovery in this case. The Commission does not question Poland’s right to decide on its taxation systems or on the objective of different taxes and levies. However, the tax system must comply with EU law, including State aid rules, and cannot unduly favour certain companies over others. The Commission’s investigation has shown that with this progressive tax rate structure, smaller companies would either pay no retail tax at all or face a lower average tax rate than larger competitors. This would give companies with a lower turnover an unfair economic advantage. Smaller companies should of course pay less tax than their larger competitors in absolute terms, but still in the same proportion to their turnover. Poland has not demonstrated that the progressivity of the retail tax was justified by the objective of the retail tax to raise revenues, or that companies subject to the higher rates would have a higher ability to pay. Today’s decision requires Poland to remove the unjustified discrimination between companies under the retail tax and restore equal treatment in the market. A full press release is available online here.
Juncker Plan: EUR 29 million loan to finance the expansion of gas distribution in Portugal
The Juncker Plan has backed a EUR 29 million European Investment Bank (EIB) loan agreement with Sonorgás, an operator of a distribution network and supplier of natural gas. The agreement will allow Sonorgás to expand its natural gas distribution networks to new areas located in the north of Portugal, improve the security of energy supply in the country and contribute to economic growth and job creation in the region. The project will enable small, previously unserved municipalities located in the north of Portugal to gain access to the natural gas supply, employing more than 900 people during the implementation stage and creating 40 new permanent qualified posts. The agreement was made possible by the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). The EFSI is the central pillar of the European Commission’s Investment Plan for Europe, the so-called “Juncker Plan”. Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “This deal will create jobs, give a boost to the local economy, increase energy security and benefit the environment. This is exactly what the Commission’s Investment Plan is about and Portugal has benefitted greatly since it was launched. Operations worth over 1.2 billion euros have already been approved in Portugal, which is expected to trigger around 4 billion euros in investments.” The Juncker Plan is now expected to trigger EUR 209 billion in investments across Europe.For the latest figures country-by-country, see here. A full press release is available here.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Stada by Bain Capital and Cinven
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Stada Arzneimittel Aktiengesellschaft of Germany by Bain Capital Investors L.L.C. of the US and Cinven Capital Management of Guernsey. Stada is active in the development, manufacture and sale of life science products such as medicines, food supplements and cosmetic products. Bain Capital and Cinven are private equity investors. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, as there are no horizontal overlaps and only very limited vertical relationships between the activities of Stada and those of other companies controlled by Bain Capital and Cinven. 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.8483.
First Vice-President Timmermans on a visit to Lithuania
On Monday, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans will be in Vilnius, Lithuania to discuss the ‘Future of Europe’ with Lithuanian political leaders, business representatives and civil society. On Monday morning First Vice-President Timmermans will meet President Dalia Grybauskaitė and Speaker of the Seimas (Parliament) Viktoras Pranckietis, along with Members of Parliament. First Vice-President Timmermans will then participate in the Annual Meeting of Lithuanian Ambassadors, chaired by Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Linas Linkevičius, where he will deliver a keynote speech on the future of the EU. In the early afternoon, First Vice-President Timmermans will attend a meeting with Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, which will be followed by a press point at 12.45 local time. In the afternoon, he will meet with business sector representatives and with the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) and NGOs. Later that day, he will also visit the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum (Tolerance Centre) where he will meet representatives of the Jewish Community.
Monday 3 July: Commission discusses role of research and innovation for the future of Europe with Pascal Lamy and other personalities
In September 2016 the European Commission set up a High Level Group of experts, following an online call for expression of interest to which over 350 candidates responded. In the context of the interim evaluation of Horizon 2020, the Group’s mandate is to provide advice on how to maximise the impact of the EU’s investment in research and innovation. The group is chaired by Pascal Lamy, President Emeritus of the Jacques Delors Institute. It consists of 12 personalities appointed in a personal capacity. The group started its work in December 2016 and will publish its report in July 2017.
The report will be presented at the stakeholder conference ‘Research & Innovation – Shaping our Future‘, taking place on 3 July 2017 in Brussels.
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DAILY NEWS 30 – 06 -2017-