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The persistent dry periods and hotter-than-usual conditions are constraining yield potentials. Yields of for winter cereals are down and forecasts for spring barley have been revised downwards.

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EU trade defence: stronger and more effective rules enter into force

The new trade defence rules will become effective as of tomorrow, 8 June. All new investigations initiated on or after this date will be subject to the modernised anti-dumping and anti-subsidy rules.

The changes coming into force tomorrow, aimed at modernising the EU’s trade defence toolbox,enable the EU to impose higher duties in some cases by changing the ‘lesser duty rule’; shorten the investigation period to accelerate the procedure; increase transparency and predictability of the system for EU firms; and reflect the high environmental and social standards applied in the EU. They conclude a major overhaul of the EU’s trade defence instruments, including also a new anti-dumping methodology put in place in December of last year.

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said: “The EU believes in open and fair trade but we are not naïve free traders. We have shown our teeth when we had to by adopting anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures. And now we have new and improved trade defence rules in our arsenal to face down some of today’s challenges in global trade. Make no mistake – we will do whatever it takes to defend European producers and workers when others distort the market or don’t play by the rules.”

Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: “Finally, this long-awaited reform can be rolled out and put into action. European companies have been looking for a modern set of rules. I am very confident that this provides us with the necessary tools to efficiently defend our industries from unfair trade practices. We believe in open, rules-based trade. Now, we are better equipped to stand up for our companies if other countries don’t stick to the rules.”

The new rules will shorten the current 9 month investigation period to 7 months for the imposition of provisional measures and make the system more transparent. Companies will benefit from an early warning system telling them if provisional duties will be imposed, which will help them adapt to the new situation. The Commission will support smaller and medium-sized companies (SMEs) via its specific “SME helpdesk” to make it easier for them to participate in trade defence proceedings.

Also, as a result of changes to the so-called ‘lesser duty rule’, in some cases, the EU may be able to impose higher duties. This will apply to all anti-subsidy cases, as well as antidumping cases concerning imports produced using raw materials and energy provided at an artificially low price.

As part of its investigations, the Commission will also take into account the costs of compliance with EU social and environmental legislation when calculating the levels of duties it can impose based on economic damage caused to companies. Furthermore, it will also not accept price undertakings, in general, from countries that have a bad record on implementing core International Labour Organisation standards and environmental agreements. For the first time, trade unions will also be able to participate in trade defence investigations.


Together with the new anti-dumping methodology, already in force, this is the first major overhaul of the EU’s anti-dumping and anti-subsidy instruments in 15 years. It is the result of almost five years of work, including broad consultations with multiple stakeholders and negotiations with the European Parliament and the Council.

The Commission first proposed a reform of the EU’s trade defence instruments in 2013. The Council reached a compromise in December of 2016. After a political agreement was found between the EU institutions in December of 2017, the Council endorsed the compromise in April of 2018. Following the final endorsement of the new rules by the European Parliament, the new legislation will now enter into force on 8 June.

For More Information

Factsheet on the modernised EU trade defence

Q&A on the new measures

New antidumping methodology

General information on EU Trade Defence

SME guide to trade defence


Agriculture: €179 millions pour for promotion of EU agri-food products

The 2018 programmes for the promotion of EU agri-food products will focus primarily on the markets with the greatest potential growth, essentially countries outside the European Union (EU).

The 2018 work programme was adopted on 15 November 2017, and as in previous years will allow EU funding from the common agricultural policy budget to be used to co-finance promotional campaigns for EU agri-food products.

A total of €179 million will be available for promotion programmes selected for EU co-financing in 2018, compared to €142 million in 2017. More information here


EUROSTAT: September 2017 – Euro area international trade in goods surplus €26.4 bn – €3.1 bn surplus for EU28

The first estimate for euro area (EA19) exports of goods to the rest of the world in September 2017 was €187.1 billion, an increase of 5.6% compared with September 2016 (€177.2 bn). Imports from the rest of the world stood at €160.7 bn, a rise of 5.1% compared with September 2016 (€152.9 bn). As a result, the euro area recorded a €26.4 bn surplus in trade in goods with the rest of the world in September 2017, compared with +€24.3 bn in September 2016. Intra-euro area trade rose to €157.6 bn in September 2017, up by 4.9% compared with September 2016. Full text available here

Bringing inland waterways to the forefront of efficient, digital and low-carbon transport

Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc is attending the Inland waterways and ports dialogue in Strasbourg today. The event gathers stakeholders and EU decision-makers to discuss a vision for inland waterways transport towards 2030. At this occasion Commissioner Bulc said: “European inland waterways and ports have united people and facilitated growth for centuries. Therefore I welcome the sector’s vision towards even more sustainability and innovation. It is high time to boost the potential for a digitally connected, low-carbon, and highly skilled inland navigation and port sector. A major step was achieved yesterday, with the adoption of the Directive on professional qualifications in inland waterways by the European Parliament. The Directive is now only pending the approval of the Council of the EU.” Inland waterway transport, that is, the use of rivers, canals and lakes for connecting people and trade, provide a reliable and environmentally-friendly transport option. The sector is small in relative terms, but with 140 billion tonne kilometres makes a considerable contribution to the EU’s transport system and the aim is to realise more multimodal integration. The EU seeks to make inland waterways a decarbonised, digital and innovative alternative, which provides efficient mobility throughout the EU. EU-supported projects in the sector do not only improve navigability, but also the ecological status and resilience against climate change.  This can be achieved for example by promoting smart, clean and modular barges, and multimodal inland ports, as well as by deploying alternative fuels.


Commission reports on progress in Bulgaria and Romania under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism

The European Commission issued today its latest reports on steps taken by Bulgaria and Romania to meet their commitments on judicial reform and the fight against corruption, and in the case of Bulgaria organised crime, in the context of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) set up when the countries joined the European Union in 2007. Today’s reports looks concretely at the progress made to meet the recommendations issued by the Commission in its January 2017 CVM Reports. On Bulgaria, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “We have seen progress in many areas but there is still more work needed. Bulgaria has met or made progress on several of our recommendations, but not yet all. I count on the Bulgarian Government to implement all the planned reforms, and to avoid backtracking, so that we can move towards the goal of ending the CVM under this Commission’s mandate.” On Romania, Timmermans said: “We have seen progress in some areas but there is still more work to be done. Romania has met some of our recommendations, but there is not enough progress yet on others. I count on the Romanian Government to pursue the necessary reforms, and to avoid backtracking, so that we can work together towards the goal of ending the CVM under this Commission’s mandate.” The Commission’s last reports in January 2017 took stock of overall progress in the past ten years and identified 12 specific recommendations for Romania and 17 specific recommendations for Bulgaria, which would help them move towards fulfilment of all CVM benchmarks. The Commission will assess progress again towards the end of 2018. Press releases are available online on the reports for Bulgaria and Romania, and a Memo provides more information about the CVM process and the benchmarks and recommendations. The CVM Reports are available online here.


The future of EU finances: Commissioner Creţu discusses Cohesion policy after 2020 in the Council

This morning, Commissioner for Regional policy Corina Creţu discussed the future of EU funds with the ministers in charge of cohesion, on the basis of the 7th Cohesion Report. Commissioner Creţu said: “Cohesion policy should keep on investing in all EU regions and address the main challenges of our times; the fight against social exclusion and youth unemployment, migration, adaptation to globalisation and climate change. It should continue to support sustainable transport, health and digital infrastructure, small businesses and innovation, focusing on areas where the highest EU value added can be achieved.” On how Cohesion policy can best support structural reforms, Commissioner Creţu suggested that the process of fulfilling and assessing the preconditions to successful investments (so-called “ex-ante conditionalities“) should be reviewed. Incentives for reforms could be provided throughout the funding period and not only in the beginning. “We should also reflect on whether the European Semester annual cycle and the mid-term planning of Cohesion policy could be better linked,” the Commissioner added. Commissioner Creţu called for “a lighter, proportionate and tailor-made approach” to claiming EU payments for beneficiaries: “Real or simplified costs should not be the only options. Many countries support payments upon fulfilment of pre-agreed conditions.” Finally, the Commissioner suggested that similar projects financed under different EU funds should be treated the same way, for example as regards public procurement. The Commissioner’s speaking points are available here. A press conference with Commissioner Creţu and Mr Jaak Aab, Minister of public administration and political representative of the Estonian Presidency responsible for Cohesion policy, is organised in the Council’s Europa building at 13h CET and live on EbS.


Commission to amend Land Transport Agreement with Switzerland

The Commission has asked today the Council for a mandate to negotiate with Switzerland an amendment of the 1999 bilateral Land Transport Agreement. This amendment is necessary to allow Switzerland to participate in the European Union Agency for Railways, as foreseen by the Agency regulation. Switzerland applies rules equivalent to those in the EU in the areas of railway interoperability and railway safety, it fulfils the conditions for participation as a third country in the work of the Agency. Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc said: “Switzerland is an important partner for the EU, situated at the heart of the European rail network. Its participation in the work of the Agency European Union Agency for Railways would be mutually beneficial, particularly for railway safety and interoperability.” The mandate requested by the Commission is needed exclusively to negotiate the necessary amendment to the bilateral Land Transport Agreement. Following this action, the exact terms of Swiss participation in the Agency would be negotiated directly between the Agency and Switzerland.


EU and China strengthen cooperation on education, culture, youth, gender equality and sport

Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu Yandong met on 13-14 November 2017 on the occasion of the 4th EU-China High Level People-to-People Dialogue in Shanghai. The dialogue was launched in 2012 to build trust and understanding between the peoples of the EU and China. This year’s exchanges focused on culture, but education, gender equality, youth and, for the first time, sport were also discussed. Following the meeting, Commissioner Navracsics said: “EU and China increasingly share global responsibilities. We work together on complex issues, from fighting poverty and tackling climate change to boosting trade and security. We build on shared views but sometimes we need to bridge differences. Promoting mutual understanding and respect between our people and cultures is therefore today more important than ever if we want to succeed.” Over the past decade the EU and China have closely cooperated in the areas of education, training, culture, multilingualism and youth through sector-focused policy dialogues. In 2012, the European Commission and China decided to integrate these sectoral activities under the High Level People-to-People Dialogue, which complements the EU-China High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue and High Level Strategic Dialogue. The full press release in EN/FR/DE is available online.


EU and ASEAN step up their cooperation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU) are marking a milestone in their 40 years of bilateral relations, as they are holding their first high level dialogue on Sustainable Development on 17 November in Bangkok. More specifically, the two regions aim to promote green growth, address the challenges posed by climate change and empower women and girls as key drivers of change. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica, who is representing the EU at the high level dialogue, said: “The EU and ASEAN are two of the most advanced examples of regional integration. We are therefore natural partners for promoting Sustainable Development, and our cooperation is growing: we are launching today three new ASEAN-EU flagship programmes for a total of EUR 85 million.” The new programmes will further strengthen EU-ASEAN cooperation and support the ASEAN states’ efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, as well as the Paris Agreement on climate change. Recognising that empowering women is a key component for sustainable development, the project launched today under the Spotlight Initiativewill empower women migrant workers in the ASEAN region. Secondly, the EU will support policy dialogue, which will facilitate experience sharing among policy makers, experts and civil society across all sectors from trade and economic development, to social, environmental and security affairs, bringing the ASEAN region and the EU closer together. Thirdly, the EU also promotes sustainable trade and economic integration in line with the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025. The EU has significantly stepped up its support to the ASEAN region, having doubled it to over EUR 170 million for 2014 to 2020. This is in addition to EUR 2 billion already provided to ASEAN Member States at the national level.(For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela.


State aid: Commission approves prolongation of Irish credit union resolution scheme

The European Commission has found the prolongation of an Irish scheme for the orderly winding-up of credit unions to be in line with EU state aid rules, in particular with the 2013 Banking Communication (see also MEMO). The objective of the scheme is to safeguard financial stability when a credit union becomes unable to meet regulatory requirements. It allows Ireland to provide aid for transferring the assets and liabilities of a failing credit union to an acquirer through a competitive process. This will help to achieve the maximum value for the assets and liabilities, ensuring that the aid is limited to the minimum necessary for an orderly winding-up, and that no buyer gains an undue economic advantage through the acquisition of under-priced assets and liabilities. The scheme is valid until 31 May 2018. The Commission initially approved the scheme in December 2011. It has been prolonged several times since then, the last time in July 2017. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the reference SA.49274.


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Axion by BP and Bridas

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over Axion Energy Holding S.L. of Spain by BP p.l.c. of the UK and Bridas Corporation of the British Virgin Islands.  Axion is active in the refining of crude oil and the sale of petroleum products and its derivatives in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. It is currently solely controlled by Bridas. BP is active in crude oil and natural gas exploration and production as well as in the refining, supply and transportation of petroleum and related products, along with alternative energies. Bridas is a holding company with indirect activities in exploration, development, production and transportation of crude oil and natural gas, in power generation, and the sale of fuels, lubricants and associated products. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because Axion has negligible activities 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.8671.





European Antibiotic Awareness Day 2017 – Statement by Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, and Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation

Today we mark the 10th anniversary of the European Antibiotic Awareness Day, by raising awareness once more about the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) – one of the biggest threats to global health. With 25 000 deaths per year and €1.5 billion in healthcare costs and productivity losses in the EU, a robust communication effort is needed more than ever. But raising awareness is not enough, we need action that bridges differences and raises the level of all Member States to that of the highest performer. With increasing resistance even to last-resort antibiotics such as Colistin, we face a frightening “post-antibiotic” future where we could lose the ability to perform any major surgery, organ transplant or successfully implant devices like new hips or heart valves. By 2050, AMR could potentially kill one person every three seconds and become a more common cause of death than cancer. It is precisely to avoid this unthinkable future that on 29 June we presented a new One Health action plan against AMR, building on nearly two decades of EU action in both the human health and veterinary health sectors, taking account of the lessons learnt from the previous EU actions. It stresses that we need to tackle antimicrobial use in people and animals simultaneously, while better addressing the role of AMR in the environment. It stresses that the EU should play a leading role in the fight against AMR and should add value to Member States’ actions. The goal of the new Action Plan is to preserve our ability to effectively treat infections in humans and animals. The key objectives are: ‘Making the EU a best practice region’; ‘Boosting research and innovation’; and ‘Shaping the global agenda’. The Statement is available online.



Commissioner Jourová participates in the first G7 Ministerial on gender equality in Taormina, Italy

Today and tomorrow, Commissioner Jourová is representing the European Union at the G7 Ministerial meeting on gender equality, held in Taormina, Italy. This is the first ever G7 Ministerial dedicated to the topic of gender equality. Ministers from the G7 countries will discuss the implementation of the G7 Roadmap for a Gender Responsive Economic Environment, adopted by G7 Leaders at the Summit held last May. Commissioner Jourová said ahead of the meeting: “This first G7 ministerial on gender equality is an important statement to the world. The #MeToo campaign reminded us that violence and sexual harassment is not a problem limited to one country or one region, or just to some women. Also in all G7 countries, women continue to earn less than men. We need to fight the persisting gender inequalities together at international level. We want women to be able to participate fully in order for our economies and societies to thrive.” The Commissioner will attend a working lunch on Women’s economic and political empowerment and then take part in a working session on preventing and combating gender-based violence. On Thursday, the participants will adopt a Final Declaration calling on all G7 countries to adopt national Action Plans on combatting gender-based violence. Commissioner Jourová will also participate in the press conference at 13:30. The European Commission dedicated 2017 to fighting violence against women; it will dedicate its annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights on 20-21 November to “Women’s rights in turbulent times”, and present an Action Plan to tackle the gender pay gap on 20 November.


Commissioner Andriukaitis attends World Health Organisation Ministerial Conference on Tuberculosis in Moscow

On 16-17 November, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, is in Moscow participating in the first World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Ministerial Conference “Ending Tuberculosis in the Sustainable Development Era: a Multisectoral Response”. Ahead of the visit, Commissioner Andriukaitis said: “Tuberculosis is the world deadliest infectious disease. The time has come to join forces and strengthen our efforts – across borders, across sectors, across organisations – to eradicate this disease. I am looking forward to work together with colleagues form WHO,  OIE, the global fund , UNICEF, OECD and the World Bank towards this goal”. Later on Thursday, he will hold a bilateral meeting with the Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. On Friday, the Commissioner will attend the ministerial parallel panel on research and innovation. In the margins of the Conference, bilateralmeetings with the Minister of Healthcare of the Russian Federation, Ms Veronika Skvortsova, and the Minister of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, Mr Alexander Tkachev are also foreseen.


Future of EU finances – Commissioner Oettinger takes the discussion on EU’s next multiannual budget to Romania and Bulgaria

Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger in charge of Budget and Human Resources is visiting Romania on 26 October and Bulgaria on 27 October as part of his tour across EU Member States aimed to gather views on the future of EU finances and the post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). In Romania, the Commissioner will meet with the country’s President Mr Klaus Iohannis, the Prime Minister Mr Mihai Tudose as well as with Mr Ionuț Mișa, Minister of Public Finance, Mr Victor Negrescu, Minister of European Affairs, Mr Marius Nica, Minister of EU Funds and Ms Elena Georgescu, state secretary. Mr Oettinger will visit the Romanian Parliament and speak with members of the Budget, Finance and European Affairs Committees of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Commissioner Oettinger will also deliver a keynote speech at the conference “10 years of EU membership: from cohesion to convergence” in the National Bank of Romania and discuss the challenges ahead of the EU budget at a Citizens’ Dialogue event in the Bucharest University of Economic Studies. In Bulgaria, Commissioner Oettinger will meet with Prime Minister Mr Boyko Borissov, Ms Ekaterina Zaharieva, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Vladislav Goranov, Minister of Finance and Ms Lilyana Pavlova, Minister for Bulgaria’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The Commissioner will also speak with Bulgaria’s President Mr Rumen Radev. Commissioner Oettinger will visit the Bulgarian Parliament and meet with members of the Committees on Budget and Finance and on European Affairs and Oversight of the European Funds. The Commissioner will also have a discussion with students from the Sofia University. The meetings in Romania and Bulgaria are part of the Commissioner’s tour aimed to gather the broadest possible views on the future of EU finances – #MFFtour27. The Commission kicked off this debate on 28 June 2017 with the publication its Reflection paper on the future of EU finances, also available in Romanian and Bulgarian. Stakeholder views will be taken into account when preparing the next MFF, to be presented in May 2018.

State aid: Commission approves sixth prolongation of Irish credit union restructuring scheme

The European Commission has found the prolongation until 30 April 2018 of an Irish scheme aimed at restructuring credit unions, to be in line with EU state aid rules, and in particular the 2013 Banking Communication. The objective of the scheme is to underpin the stability and long-term viability of credit unions and the credit union sector in Ireland at large. Restructuring involves merging weaker and stronger credit unions, providing, if necessary, a capital injection to make up any shortfall in the capital reserve requirements of the merged credit union. Stabilisation involves assisting fundamentally viable credit unions that have temporarily slipped below the regulatory reserve requirements. The Commission found that the measure ensures that the beneficiaries become viable in the long-term through restructuring or merging with sound credit unions, and that they contribute to the cost of restructuring. Moreover, the impact on competition is limited because credit unions are small and do business only with members. The Commission initially authorised the scheme in October 2014. It was subsequently prolonged five times, the last time in May 2017. Until now, the Irish authorities have managed to restructure credit unions without granting any aid under this scheme. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the reference SA.49194.


Italy receives €1.2 billion from the EU Solidarity Fund – advance payments to Greece following recent earthquakes 

In the coming days, Italy will receive the €1.2 billion from the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) which the Commission had proposed in June, following the severe earthquakes that struck the country in 2016 and 2017. This unprecedented amount under the EUSF can be used to support reconstruction operations, help regenerate economic activity and cover the costs of emergency services, temporary accommodations, clean-up operations and protection measures for cultural heritage sites. It was accompanied by additional EU support measures. Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu said: “With this disbursement we are delivering on our promise to stand side by side with Italy throughout the reconstruction process. At the request of President Juncker, we are currently also reflecting on how to step up our efforts to help all our Member States deal with increasingly frequent natural disasters. We strive to provide efficient response with emergency support and contribution to long-term reconstruction efforts.” Also this week, Greece is set to receive a first payment worth €135 912 from the EUSF, after earthquakes hit the islands of Chios and Lesbos in June 2017. This advance was calculated on the basis of the preliminary assessment of the direct damage in the application received from the Greek authorities on 1 September, which found that the financial contribution from the EUSF was likely to amount to €1.35 million. In accordance with EUSF rules, the advance payment amounts to 10% of this sum. Once it has completed the assessment of the application, the Commission will propose a definitive amount of aid, to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council.


The EU steps up humanitarian support to Afghanistan

The European Commission has today released an additional €5 million in life-saving humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan as the number of displaced people and civilian casualties continues to grow. Total EU humanitarian aid for Afghanistan now amounts to €30.5 million in 2017. “Our new EU funding will reach an estimated 75,000 people and help them meet their most urgent needs, including shelter, food, protection and health care. It will boost our ongoing aid operations in the country, both in government and non-government-held areas. The European Commission will continue to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches those most in need. Security challenges for humanitarian workers to deliver aid remain a challenge, full humanitarian access is needed,” said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides. The Commission continues to provide humanitarian assistance to conflict and disaster-affected communities, including support to refugees returning from Pakistan and from Iran. Today’s allocation brings the total EU aid funding for the country in the last decade to €756 million. A factsheet on the EU’s humanitarian support in Afghanistan is available here.


For 2018, funds available for Erasmus+ are expected to increase by more than €200 million euro, a rise of 8% compared to 2017.

The European Commission today published its 2018 Call for Proposals for Erasmus+, the European Union’s programme for mobility and cooperation in education, training, youth and sport. With its annual budget expected to increase by €200 million, Erasmus+ will provide an unprecedented number of opportunities for individuals and organisations in Europe and beyond. More information here


State aid: Commission approves Hungary’s €131 million investment aid to MOL petrochemical plant

The European Commission has found Hungary’s €131 million investment aid to MOL Petrolkémia Zrt plant, for its existing plant in Tiszaújváros, to be in line with EU State aid rules. Tiszaújváros is located in the Northern Hungary region, an area eligible for regional aid under the EU Treaty. The project is expected to create new direct jobs in Tiszaújváros. Thus, the Hungarian support will contribute to the development of the Northern Hungary region, whilst preserving competition in the Single Market. In particular, the investment aid granted by Hungary will support MOL’s plans to invest in total €874 million to introduce in in Tiszaújváros the production of polyols and propylene glycols (chemicals used in the production of for example certain foams, in food processing, personal care products and pharmaceuticals etc.). The Commission assessed the aid measure under the Guidelines on Regional State Aid for 2014-2020, which enable Member States to support economic development and employment in the EU’s less developed regions and to foster regional cohesion in the Single Market. The full press release is available online in EN.


Antitrust: Commission closes car air-conditioning refrigerant investigation

The European Commission has decided to close its antitrust investigation concerning the cooperation between Honeywell and DuPont (now Chemours, a spin-off unit of DuPont) on the production of a new refrigerant for use in car air-conditioning systems (R-1234yf). On 21 October 2014, the Commission adopted a Statement of Objections against both companies voicing its preliminary concerns that the cooperation between Honeywell and DuPont for the production of R-1234yf may have limited the product’s availability and technical development. Today’s closure decision has been taken after careful assessment of all the evidence in this case, together with the various submissions of the parties and other interested third parties. Furthermore, on 12 April, 18 April and 6 July 2017 respectively, the three complainants in this case, Arkema, Mexichem and the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), withdrew their complaints. The Commission will continue to monitor closely the chemicals market, including for the R-1234yf refrigerant.


State aid: Commission approves public support to promote combined transport in Italy

The European Commission has found the prolongation of an Italian scheme to encourage the shift of freight from road to rail to be in line with EU state aid rules. The measure will promote an environmentally friendlier transport mode, and thus further EU environmental and transport objectives, whilst maintaining competition in the Single Market. The aid takes the form of a subsidy to railway companies performing freight services. The subsidy will offset rail infrastructure charges that road transport operations are not subject to. The original scheme was approved in December 2016 and allowed public support to be granted until 31 December 2017. Today’s decision endorses the prolongation of the scheme for an additional period of 2 years, from 1 January 2018 until 31 December 2019, without increasing the original budget of €200 million. The Commission concluded that the scheme is compatible with EU state aid rules under the Railway Guidelines. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number SA.48759.


State aid: Commission approves €650 million Austrian public funding to promote shift of freight from road to combined transport

The European Commission has found the prolongation of two Austrian schemes to be in line with EU State aid rules: (i) the first promotes a shift of freight transport from road to other types of transport, such as rail and inland waterways; (ii) the second, supports better connections between railways and transfer terminals. Both measures will support environmentally friendlier transport modes, and thus further EU environmental and transport objectives, while maintaining competition in the Single Market. According to the evaluation of the two initial schemes, the measures have effectively contributed to transferring freight transport from road to rail during the past five years. The two prolonged schemes will cover the period 2018 to 2022 and have a total budget of €650 million. The Commission concluded that the schemes are compatible with EU State aid rules, in particular the Commission Guidelines on State aid for railway undertakings. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case numbers SA.48390 and SA.48485.



Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum and Business Forum in preparation of the November Summit

Two events for Civil Society and Business in the Eastern Partnership will take place today until the end of the week in Tallinn, Estonia in preparation of the 5th Eastern Partnership Summit (Brussels, 24 November). The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Conference, starting already today, will serve as a platform for representatives from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, as well as the EU Member States to discuss better governance, dialogue between governments and civil society, the use of technology to promote government transparency, and inclusive approaches to economic development. Ahead of the Forum, the High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini, said: “Civil society representatives are voices against corruption and for transparency and are an essential force in our daily work on so many issues, from fighting violence against women, to improving the media environment.” Tomorrow, On the same day the 4th Eastern Partnership Business Forum will gather more than 500 business leaders, government officials and policy makers from the European Union and Eastern Partner countries to debate on the ‘Digital Economy: Innovative Platform for Transparent Borderless Business’. Ahead of the visit, Johannes Hahn Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations: “Through the EU4Business initiative the EU is providing increasing support for small businesses to grow, export, innovate and adapt to a digital economy.” Press material summarising the outcomes of the fora will be available here. Videos and photos of the visit of Commissioner Hahn attending the fora will be available on EbS.



Commissioners Avramopoulos and Jourová represent the Commission at the Western Balkans Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria

On Thursday and Friday, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos and Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender EqualityVěra Jourová will attend the annual Western Balkans Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Forum in Sofia. On Thursday Commissioner Jourová will discuss justice reform and judicial cooperation with Justice Ministers from the Western Balkans. The meeting of Justice Ministers will be concluded by a press conference at 17:45 CET (available on EbS) On Friday, Commissioner Avramopoulos will join Home Affairs Ministers to discuss current challenges related to migration, border management and security. A press conference will take place after the meeting at around 12:00 CET (available on EbS).


Migration and Security: Commissioner Avramopoulos in Sofia, Bulgaria

Ahead of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos will be in Sofia, Bulgaria, where he will meet the President of Bulgaria Rumen Radev as well as Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, Vice-President Iliana Iotova and Minister of Interior Valentin Radev. Discussions will focus on migration and security. A meeting is also scheduled with Members of the Bulgarian National Assembly. A joint press briefing with Minister of Interior Radev will take place at 09:00 CET (available on EBS). The Commissioner will also participate in a Citizens’ Dialogue to discuss migration and security in the EU. The event can be followed live here from 15:00 CET.


Commissioner Navracsics to close European Youth Conference in Tallinn

Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, will be in Tallinn tomorrow to address the participants of the European Youth Conference and discuss the role of young people in shaping the future of Europe as well as youth initiatives such as the European Solidarity Corps. The event, organised by the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU, has the motto “Youth in Europe: What’s Next?”. The participants – young people, senior civil servants and representatives of EU Member States as well as relevant stakeholders – will discuss the future of EU cooperation in the youth field after 2018, including the future Structured Dialogue. The latter enables an exchange between young people and decision-makers in order to implement the priorities of EU youth policy cooperation and to make young people’s voices heard. The European Youth Conference is a headline event of each EU presidency. The Commission intends to present its proposals for the future EU Youth Strategy before summer 2018.


Commissioner King in the U.S. to discuss counter-terrorism and cybersecurity

Security Union Commissioner Julian King is in the U.S. form today until Friday, 27 October. This afternoon Commissioner King will be in New York where he will meet Vladimir Voronokov, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office, and John Miller, Deputy Commissioner of the New York City Police Department. On Thursday, the Commissioner will travel to Washington D.C. where he will discuss issues relating to terrorism and cybersecurity with Gina Haspel, Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Tom Bossert, White House Homeland Security Advisor. Later in the afternoon, Commissioner King will speak at the German Marshall Fund event on “Europe’s Security Union: Unifying the fight against terrorism and cyber aggression”. The event will take place at 16:30 local time and will be streamed live on Facebook. On Friday, Commissioner King will visit the Terrorist Screening Centre (TSC) where he will meet Russ Travers, Deputy Director of National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC). In the afternoon, following their meeting at the G7 Interior Ministers’ he will meetElaine Duke, Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

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