Daily News 03 / 09 / 2015

First Vice-President Timmermans and Commissioner Avramopoulos in Greece today and tomorrow to offer support for refugee crisis

Today, First Vice-President Timmermans and Commissioner Avramopoulos will be travelling to Athens and Kos, as part of the Commission’s visits to several of the Member States most affected by the refugee crisis, to discuss the necessary support measures. In Athens, they will meet all the relevant interlocutors in the Greek authorities, including interim Prime Minister Vassiliki Thanou and a number of ministers. They aim to make sure that the Greek authorities will finalise as soon as possible all necessary requirements to disburse the funding under the EU Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) allocated to Greece in August, as well as to agree on the concrete steps to roll-out the Hotspot approach in Piraeus. This will enable Frontex, EASO and Europol to work hand in hand with Greek authorities in providing the necessary response. On Friday, First Vice-President Timmermans and Commissioner Avramopoulos will travel to Kos, to meet with the Governor of the South Aegean Region and the Mayor of Kos, as well as the Hellenic Coast Guard and Police. They will also meet with UNHCR, IOM, Médecins Sans Frontières and the Red Cross, who are dealing with the situation on the ground. The visit will be concluded by a press conference at 13:00 local time (12:00 CET) which will be transmitted live on EbS.The visit will be concluded by a meeting with the President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr Prokopis Pavlopoulos in Athens. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 496 583 826; Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Milica Petrovic – Tel.: +32 460 765 409)

Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into acquisition of parts of Walki’s industrial packaging division by Mondi

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether the proposed acquisition by Mondi of two industrial packaging plants currently owned by Walki is in line with the EU Merger Regulation. Mondi is a vertically integrated packaging and paper manufacturer. Mondi also operates a number of plants across Europe manufacturing extrusion coating products (used for example for food wrapping, insulation material or envelopes). The plants Mondi intends to buy from Walki also manufacture extrusion coating products. The Commission has concerns that the removal of a key competitor may lead to less choice and ultimately higher prices for customers of wrapping materials which also serve as moisture barriers. The Commission now has 90 working days, until 18 January 2016 to investigate whether these initial concerns are confirmed. The opening of an in-depth investigation does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, commented: “The proposed merger could remove a key competitor for several types of packaging material. These are used in everyday items such as food packaging. I am concerned that the merger would lead to higher prices and less choice for these companies’ clients and that the price increases could ultimately be passed on to consumers”. A full press release is available in EN, FR, DE and FI. More information will be available on the competition website, in the Commission’s public case register under the case number M.7566. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of BG Group by Royal Dutch Shell

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of BG Group by Royal Dutch Shell. The Commission concluded that the takeover would not lead to Shell benefiting from market power in a number of markets, namely oil and gas exploration, the liquefaction of gas and the wholesale supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Moreover, the Commission found that Shell would be unable to shut out its competitors from access to its liquefaction facilities that supply LNG into the European Economic Area (EEA) or from gas transportation and processing infrastructure in the North Sea. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure. A full press release is available in EN, FR, DE and NL. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7631. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

EUROSTAT: How is the EU doing compared with the other major economies of the world?

Population, living conditions, health, education & training, labour market, economy & finance, trade, industry & services, research & communication, transport, agriculture, environment and energy: the 2015 edition of the Eurostat publication ‘The EU in the world’ compares the European Union with the 15 non-EU G20 countries across thirteen statistical fields using a range of European and international statistics. The G20 comprises the world’s major advanced and emerging economies. It includes the EU, four EU Member States (Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom) and 15 countries from the rest of the world (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the United States). Together the members of the G20 covered over 61% of the world’s land area, were home to 64% of the world population and generated 85% of the global GDP in 2013. A EUROSTAT press release can be found here. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Audrey Augier – Tel.: +32 229 71607Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151)

EUROSTAT: Volume of retail trade up by 0.4% in euro area

In July 2015 compared with June 2015, the seasonally adjusted volume of retail trade rose by 0.4% in the euro area (EA19) and by 0.3% in the EU28, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In June retail trade fell by 0.2% and 0.1% respectively. In July 2015 compared with July 2014 the retail sales index increased by 2.7% in the euro area and by 3.3% in the EU28. A EUROSTAT press release can be found here. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Heli Pietila – Tel.: +32 22964950)



Commissioner Navracsics outlines reflections on a new EU Cultural Diplomacy strategy

Today Tibor Navracsics, EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, outlined his views on the role of culture in EU foreign relations and development policy. Speaking at the conference on Culture and Development in Echternach, organised by the Luxembourg Presidency, he said: “Cultural diplomacy is a hidden gem in Europe’s external relations – we need to use it to much greater extent. That is why, together with High Representative / Vice President Federica Mogherini, I am reflecting on how to put in place a European strategy for cultural diplomacy that will deepen and enhance our external policy relations.” Responding to President Juncker‘s call “to be more effective in bringing together the tools of Europe’s external action” as outlined in the priorities of the Juncker Commission, a new EU strategy for cultural diplomacy would focus on direct contact between people. It could encourage more international cultural exchanges, foster values of citizenship, democracy and human rights as well as help boost local economies, and reinforce the EU’s commitment for the preservation of cultural heritage around the world. The full speech is available here. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt Tel.: +32 229 6708; Mirna Talko– Tel.: +32 229 87278)


Commissioner Thyssen participates in the G20 Labour and Employment Ministers’ meeting in Ankara

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Labour Mobility and Skills, Marianne Thyssen, will represent the EU at the G20 Labour and Employment Ministers’ meeting in Ankara, Turkey on 3-4 September. She will also participate in the joint meeting of the G20 Finance and Labour Ministers. Creating better quality jobs is at the heart of G20’s shared objective of achieving strong, sustainable and balanced growth. The Commissioner will stress the EU’s strong determination to reach a new collective commitment on youth and to achieve further progress in reducing the gender gap in labour force participation. Occupational safety and health are also among the Commission’s priorities. At the margins of the ministerial event, the Commissioner will have several bilateral meetings with US Secretary of Labour Mr Perez, OECD Secretary General Mr Gurria, German Minister of Labour Mrs Nahles, international and G20 social partners (business and trade union organisations of the G20 countries – B20 and L20), as well as with other G20 members. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

Human Rights