Brussels Daily
31 Jul 2018


Brussels Daily


Europe that protects: Commission reports on its efforts to tackle unfair trade

The Commission published today its annual report on trade defence activities. As part of Commission’s commitment to “Europe that protects”, the report details how the EU used its anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures in 2017 to ensure a level-playing field for European companies, in line with the requirements of the World Trade Organisation. The number of new investigations remained at a high level, similar to 2016, while the number of investigations initiated to see whether the existing measures should be extended for a new period (known as ‘expiry reviews’) increased by 75% compared to the year before. European industry, suffering from dumped imports, in some cases exacerbated by persisting industrial overcapacities, as well as the pervasive use of subsidies in certain countries, continued to call on the Commission to provide relief by making use of the EU’s trade defence instruments. In total, at the end of 2017, the Commission had 46 investigations ongoing. While shielding its companies from foreign unfair trade practices, the EU remains an open market. The anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures do not concern more than 0.31% of total imports into the EU. 2017 stood out also in terms of legislative activity. It led to the introduction of a new anti-dumping methodology for countries where serious market distortions occur. This new regulation in place since December 2017 was followed by the publication of a report on significant market distortions existing in China. Last but not least, 2017 paved the way for the modernisation of EU trade defence instruments, in place since June 2018. Taken together, these changes constitute a major overhaul of the EU’s trade defence policy that equipped the EU with sufficiently robust trade defence instruments to deal with distortions in the global economy. The full report is available online.

Eurostat: Euro area unemployment at 8.3%

The euro area (EA19) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 8.3% in June 2018, stable compared with May 2018 and down from 9.0% in June 2017. This remains the lowest rate recorded in the euro area since December 2008. The EU28 unemployment rate was 6.9% in June 2018, also stable compared with May 2018 and down from 7.6% in June 2017. This is the lowest rate recorded in the EU28 since May 2008. These figures are published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Eurostat estimates that 17.105 million men and women in the EU28, of whom 13.570 million in the euro area, were unemployed in June 2018. Compared with May 2018, the number of persons unemployed increased by 4 000 in the EU28 and by 14 000 in the euro area. Compared with June 2017, unemployment fell by 1.657 million in the EU28 and by 1.146 million in the euro area. A Eurostat press release is available here.


Eurostat: Preliminary flash estimate for the second quarter of 2018 – GDP up by 0.3% in the euro area and by 0.4% the EU28 – +2.1% and +2.2% respectively compared with the second quarter of 2017

Seasonally adjusted GDP rose by 0.3% in the euro area (EA19) and by 0.4% in the EU28 during the second quarter of 2018, compared with the previous quarter, according to a preliminary flash estimate published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the first quarter of 2018, GDP had grown by 0.4% in both the euro area and the EU28.  Full text available here


The European Commission has approved most of the electricity contribution reductions granted to electricity intensive companies in France in 2003-15. These measures helped towards achieving the EU’s climate and energy objectives without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market.

The Commission has, however, asked France to recover the part of these reductions (estimated at less than €50 million) exceeding the levels permitted under EU State aid rules.  More information here


Mergers: Commission approves Total Produce’s acquisition of Dole, subject to conditions

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition by Total Produce of joint control over Dole. Total Produce is a leading fresh produce distributor in the EU. Dole is a producer, marketer and distributor of fresh fruit and vegetables with activities in the EU and worldwide. Both companies own production facilities for bagged salads in Sweden. On the basis of its preliminary investigation, the Commission was concerned that the transaction, as originally notified, would have significantly reduced competition in the market for the supply of bagged salads in Sweden. In particular, the Commission was concerned that the combined entity would not have faced sufficient competitive pressure from Salico, the only other significant player that would have remained in the market. The Commission found that no competition concerns would arise with respect to all other products where the companies’ activities overlap. To address the Commission’s competition concerns, the companies offered to divest Dole’s bagged salads business in Sweden, Saba Fresh Cuts AB. These commitments fully address the Commission’s concerns as they remove the entire overlap between the companies’ activities in the supply of bagged salads in Sweden. Therefore, the Commission concluded that the proposed transaction, as modified by the commitments, would no longer raise competition concerns in the EU. A full press release is available here


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Northwester2 by Parkwind and Summit Tailwind

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over Northwester2 NV by Parkwind NV and Summit Tailwind Belgium NV, all based in Belgium. Northwester2 is currently owned by Parkwind and the Korys/Colruyt Group of Belgium. Northwester2 holds a domain concession and the necessary licenses to build and operate an offshore wind farm in the Belgian Exclusive Economic Zone in the North Sea. Parkwind is an investment and development vehicle company of the Korys/Colruyt Group and PMV of Belgium active in the market for the generation and wholesale of electricity in Belgium. The Korys/Colruyt Group is predominantly active in the retail of daily consumer goods. PMV is an independent investment company controlled by the Flemish Region. Summit Tailwind is a special purpose vehicle company, held by the Sumitomo Corporation of Japan. Sumitomo Corporation is an integrated trading company which provides a comprehensive range of goods and services around the world. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, given the negligible actual and foreseen activities of Northwester2 within the European Economic Area. 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.8970.


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