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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 05-02-15

Midday Express: News from the EU Commission Spokesman's Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: EUROPA, the European Commission Server at <http://europa.eu.int>


CONTENTS / CONTENU

  • [01] Charte des petites entreprises : un succès de la stratégie de Lisbonne
  • [02] Commission refers merger of two German cable network operators to Bundeskartellamt
  • [03] Commission opens in-depth investigation into Siemens' take-over of VA Tech group
  • [04] Commission clears acquisition of IHC by Rabobank
  • [05] Commission clears acquisition of JV South Africa by Petronas and Sasol
  • [06] Commission clears acquisition of FinecoVita by CNP and FinecoGroup
  • [07] Commission clears acquisition of NEHIL and NBIS by Danske Bank
  • [08] Commission indicator forecasts euro area quarterly GDP growth of 0.2% to 0.6% for both the 1st quarter and the 2nd quarter of 2005
  • [09] Flash estimates for the fourth quarter of 2004 : euro-zone GDP up by 0.2% and EU25 by 0.3% +1.6% and +1.8% respectively compared to the fourth quarter of 2003
  • [10] Nouvelle décision d'Eurostat sur le déficit et la dette : traitement des transferts du budget de l'UE aux Etats membres
  • [11] Commission supports policy dialogue on displaced Afghans in Pakistan and Iran
  • [12] Peter Mandelson : "Fair and open global trade is a vital part of the Lisbon Strategy"
  • [13] Visit of László Kovács to Berlin
  • [14] Autre matériel diffusé Midday Express of 2005-02-15 Reference: MEX/05/0215 Date: 15/02/2005 EXME05 / 15.2

    MIDDAY EXPRESS

    News from the Press and Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

    Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Général Presse etb

    Communication

    15/02/05


  • [01] Charte des petites entreprises : un succès de la stratégie de Lisbonne

    Les Etats membres, et en particulier les nouveaux Etats membres, ont accompli des progrès importants dans la promotion des petites entreprises en apprenant des bonnes pratiques de chacun. Le cinquième rapport sur la mise en oeuvre de la charte européenne des petites entreprises enregistre des progrès dans les domaines suivants: éducation l'esprit d'entreprise, meilleure réglementation, législation en matière de faillite et pénurie de qualifications, en particulier mesures visant remédier au manque d'ingénieurs et de techniciens qualifiés. Depuis 2000, la charte, qui fournit un cadre visant aider les signataires prendre des mesures de soutien aux petites entreprises, a étendu sa couverture de l'UE-15 35 pays européens. Les engagements de la charte débordent également au-del de l'Europe, avec la signature récente de la charte euro- méditerranéenne pour les entreprises, qui implique neuf autres pays.

    [02] Commission refers merger of two German cable network operators to Bundeskartellamt

    The European Commission has referred the examination under the EU Merger Regulation of the proposed acquisition of the North Rhine-Westphalian network cable operator 'Ish' by the Hessian cable operator 'Iesy' to the German competition authority (the Bundeskartellamt) mainly because both undertakings are exclusively active in Germany. The Bundeskartellamt will now examine whether the merger leads to competition problems in Germany.

    [03] Commission opens in-depth investigation into Siemens' take-over of VA Tech group

    The European Commission has opened a detailed investigation under the EU Merger Regulation into the planned acquisition by German technology group Siemens of its Austrian competitor VA Tech, a company with global activities in a range of technology and industry sectors. The Commission's initial market investigation has found that the proposed acquisition may create significant competition problems given the two companies' horizontal overlaps and vertical links in markets such as hydro power equipment, electricity transmission & distribution equipment, rail transport equipment metallurgical plant building, infrastructure and building technology. Siemens has launched a public take-over bid for VA Tech, which is listed on the Vienna stock exchange. The decision to open an in-depth inquiry does not prejudge the final result of the investigation. The Commission now has four months to take a final decision on whether the concentration would significantly impede effective competition within the Single Market.

    [04] Commission clears acquisition of IHC by Rabobank

    The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of IHC Caland's N.V.'s (IHC) of the Netherlands by Dutch company Rabo Participaties II B.V. (Rapar), controlled by the Rabobank Group of the Netherlands. Rapar is a private equity provider 100% controlled by the Rabobank Group, which provides financial services to the Dutch retail and business markets. The main activity of IHC is the development, design, assembly, sale and support of dredgers, dredging components and speciality vessels. It is also active in the production of speciality marine construction equipment (foundation systems for marine and onshore applications, specialised cast pump parts, pipes, hydraulic systems and marine propulsion sealing systems). The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

    [05] Commission clears acquisition of JV South Africa by Petronas and Sasol

    The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of Uhambo Oil Limited (JV South Africa, a newly created company constituting a joint venture) by Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) of Malaysia and Sasol Limited of South Africa. Petronas is 100% owned by the Malaysian Government which owns and controls the entire petroleum resources in Malaysia. The activities of Petronas include exploration and production of oil and gas, oil refining, marketing and distribution of petroleum, trading, gas processing and liquefaction, gas transmission pipeline network operations, marketing of liquefied natural gas, petrochemical manufacturing and marketing, shipping, automotive engineering, and property investment. Sasol is a vertically integrated South African petroleum company active in the exploration and production of oil and gas ; coal mining ; the manufacture of synthetic petroleum products from coal ; crude oil refining ; marketing and distribution of petroleum and other refined products ; and the production and marketing of lubricants, petrochemicals and other chemicals. The proposed operation will combine the parent companies' activities for the refining, marketing and distribution of liquid fuels and lubricants at the retail, commercial and wholesale levels in sub-Saharan Africa, in particular in South Africa. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

    [06] Commission clears acquisition of FinecoVita by CNP and FinecoGroup

    The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of Italian company FinecoVita SpA by CNP Assurances SA of France and FinecoGroup SpA of Italy. FinecoVita is a subsidiary of FinecoGroup and both are currently controlled by Capitalia SpA. FinecoVita is active in life insurance products in Italy. CNP is principally active in the life insurance sector in France. In Italy, it is not active at all in life insurance and only marginally active in credit insurance through different partnerships built with different local banks. Capitalia is an Italian public limited company listed on the Milan stock exchange Through its controlled company, FinecoGroup, Capitalia is active in the sectors of wealth management and the distribution and production of financial products. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

    [07] Commission clears acquisition of NEHIL and NBIS by Danske Bank

    The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of Irish companies National Europe Holdings Ltd (NEHIL) and Northern Bank Insurance Services Limited (NBIS) by Danske Bank of Denmark. Danske Bank is the parent of a financial group which offers a wide range of financial services, including insurance, mortgage finance, asset management, brokerage, real estate and leasing services within its home market in Denmark. It also has important activities in Norway and Sweden. NEHIL is a holding company currently owned by the National Australia Bank Group. It has sole ownership of the National Irish Bank Ltd (NIB) and the Northern Bank Ltd. (NB). These two banks provide a full range of financial products in two different geographical areas : NIB operates in the Republic of Ireland and NB in Northern Ireland (UK). NBIS, also currently owned by the National Australia Bank Group, provides wealth management services and life insurance services in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

    [08] Commission indicator forecasts euro area quarterly GDP growth of 0.2% to 0.6% for both the 1st quarter and the 2nd quarter of 2005

    The indicator-based model for quarterly GDP growth for the euro area, developed by the European Commission's Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs, forecasts a range of 0.2% to 0.6% for GDP growth in the first quarter and the second quarter of 2005. Compared to the previous release of the GDP indicator, this is a downward revision of 0.1 of a percentage point for the first quarter of 2005.

    [09] Flash estimates for the fourth quarter of 2004 : euro-zone GDP up by 0.2% and EU25 by 0.3% +1.6% and +1.8% respectively compared to the fourth quarter of 2003

    GDP grew by 0.2% in the euro-zone and by 0.3% in the EU25 during the fourth quarter of 2004, compared to the previous quarter, according to flash estimates published today by Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities. In the third quarter of 2004, growth rates were +0.3% in both zones. Compared to the same quarter of the previous year, GDP grew by 1.6% in the euro-zone and by 1.8% in the EU25 in the fourth quarter of 2004, after +1.8% and +2.1% respectively in the previous quarter. During the fourth quarter of 2004, US GDP increased by 0.8% compared to the previous quarter, after +1.0% in the third quarter. Compared to the fourth quarter of 2003, GDP grew by 3.7%, after +4.0% in the previous quarter. Over the whole year 2004, GDP grew by 2.0% in the euro-zone and by 2.3% in the EU25, compared to +0.5% and +0.9% respectively for the year 2003.

    [10] Nouvelle décision d'Eurostat sur le déficit et la dette : traitement des transferts du budget de l'UE aux Etats membres

    Environ 80% du budget central de l'UE retourne aux Etats membres afin de financer les politiques communes qui couvrent, entre autres, le secteur agricole, le développement régional et les politiques sociales. Suite aux travaux lancés en 2004 en coopération avec les Etats membres de l'UE et différents organismes internationaux, Eurostat a pris une décision relative au traitement, en comptabilité nationale, des transferts du budget de l'UE aux Etats membres. La décision est conforme au système européen des comptes (SEC 95) et l'avis du Comité des statistiques monétaires, financières et de balance des paiements (CMFB). Le moment précis où les transferts sont enregistrés, en particulier en tant que revenus ou en tant que dépenses dans les comptes de l'administration publique, est d'une très grande importance au regard des obligations de la surveillance budgétaire établies dans le Pacte de Stabilité et de Croissance.

    [11] Commission supports policy dialogue on displaced Afghans in Pakistan and Iran

    The European Commission and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are co-hosting a high-level meeting in Brussels on 15/16 February, to discuss the continuing plight of displaced Afghans in Pakistan and Iran, and to look for comprehensive solutions to the question of Afghan displacement and migration. These strategic consultations will bring together the governments of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, donor countries, and other interested parties. The Commission will be represented by Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Director-General of the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) Antonio Cavaco, and Relex Deputy Director- General Hervé Jouanjean. To coincide with this meeting, Ms Ferrero-Waldner and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers will sign a Strategic Partnership Agreement in the field of protection and assistance to refugees and other people of concern to UNHCR in third countries. High Commissioner Lubbers will also sign an Exchange of Letters with Vice-President Franco Frattini, Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security, to reinforce cooperation between UNHCR and the European Commission on asylum and refugee protection policies. At 14h45 on 16 February, following the Afghanistan meeting, High Commissioner Lubbers, Antonio Cavaco, and Hervé Jouanjean will hold a press conference in the Borschette building. Journalists interested in attending should contact Rita Mecseki by 10h30 on 16 February (<a href="mailto:rita.mecseki@cec.eu.int">rita.mecseki@cec.eu.int )

    [12] Peter Mandelson : "Fair and open global trade is a vital part of the Lisbon Strategy"

    In a speech today at a High Level Seminar on the Lisbon Agenda organised by the Swedish Government in Stockholm, European Commissioner for Trade Peter Mandelson argued that external trade is a central dimension of the EU's drive for improved competitiveness and boosted growth. As the world's leading exporter of goods and services and the world's leading investor abroad, Europe's companies and investors rely on open and fair international trade to compete.

    [13] Visit of László Kovács to Berlin

    On 14 February, European Taxation and Customs Commissioner László Kovács met German Finance Minister Hans Eichel in Berlin to exchange views on a range of EU tax and customs matters. Commissioner Kovács and Mr Eichel agreed on the need for tax systems to be geared to meeting the Lisbon goal of boosting EU competitiveness. In this context, Commissioner Kovács welcomed Germany's constructive and strong support for a common consolidated corporate tax base for companies within the EU (see IP/03/1593), which the Commission believes is the only systematic way to address the underlying tax obstacles which exist for companies operating in more than one Member State in the Internal Market. Mssrs Kovács and Eichel also discussed the Commission proposal on reduced VAT rates of July 2003 (IP/03/1024) and how to balance the budgetary concerns of some Member States with the wish of other Member States to extend the current range of options to apply reduced rates where there is no interference with the proper functioning of the Internal Market. Other areas covered included the Commission's proposal to modernise the rules on the place of taxation of services (IP/03/1808), the taxation of diesel used by road hauliers (IP/02/1134) and VAT fraud.

    [14] Autre matériel diffusé

    The 5th implementation report of the European Charter for Small Enterprises

    Speech by Peter Mandelson : "Strengthening the Lisbon Strategy: the Contribution of External Trade to Growth and Competitiveness in Europe" at high level Seminar on the Lisbon Agenda (Stockholm)

    Speech by Viviane Reding : "Mobile Communications: a key driver to make Lisbon succeed" at 3GSM World Congress 2005 (14/02, Cannes) From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at http://europa.eu.int/


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