Commission welcomes the results of the G20 summit

The European Commission welcomes the results of the G20 summit in Brisbane, Australia (15-16 November 2014) as they help to put the global economy on a sustainable growth path. The G20 summit adopted the Brisbane Action Plan on Growth and Jobs and put strong emphasis on investment. The G20 has also reaffirmed its commitment to fairer taxation and provided a renewed impetus to financial regulation, global climate action and open trade. Finally, the G20 has made progress on anti-corruption, energy and sustainability, development and reform of international economic institutions. The EU has been instrumental in achieving these results. Presidents Juncker and Van Rompuy met with U.S President Obama, along with the British, German, French, Italian and Spanish leaders and they reaffirmed their commitment to concluding a mutually beneficial and high standard transatlantic trade and investment partnership, based on transparency. Watch the pre-summit press conference of Presidents Juncker and Van Rompuy, read the speaking points of President Juncker and the full transcript of the press conference. Also available: the joint EU-U.S. statement on TTIP and the G20 Leaders’ Communiqué. (for more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Natasha Bertaud – Mobile: +32 460 767456)

Mergers: Commission approves Etihad’s acquisition of joint control over Alitalia, subject to conditions

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of joint control over New Alitalia of Italy by Alitalia Compagnia Aerea Italiana S.p.A. (“Alitalia CAI”) of Italy, and Etihad Airways PJSC (“Etihad”) of the United Arab Emirates. New Alitalia will take over Alitalia CAI’s aviation business. The decision is conditional upon Alitalia CAI and Etihad’s commitment to, in particular, release slots to a new entrant at the airports of Rome Fiumicino and Belgrade. Currently Alitalia CAI and Air Serbia, which is jointly controlled by Etihad, are the only carriers offering direct flights on the Rome–Belgrade route. The Commission had concerns that the monopoly created by the transaction on the Rome–Belgrade route could lead to higher prices and a loss of service quality for passengers. The commitments address these concerns. A press release is available online. (for more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100)

EU boosts anti-Ebola aid after Commissioners’ mission to worst-hit countries

The European Commission is committing another €29 million to the fight against the Ebola outbreak. At the same time, Sweden has decided to deploy healthcare workers and a treatment centre to West Africa via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The new steps in the Union’s Ebola response come in the wake of the mission of EU Ebola Coordinator and Crisis Management Commissioner Christos Stylianides to the worst-hit countries, together with the Commissioner for Health Vytenis Andriukaitis. They visited Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, where they discussed the challenges with the national authorities, representatives of EU Member States and humanitarian organisations. The Commissioners met with Ebola survivors and European aid workers. They also discussed procedures for exit screening of travellers flying to Belgium, France and other countries and the progress on the development of vaccines and treatment for Ebola. The EU is providing support for the testing of one candidate vaccine. Today the EU Ebola Coordinator is briefing EU Ministers of Foreign Affair on the latest developments in the fight against Ebola. Both Commissioners will come to the Commission’s press room tomorrow at 12:00 CET and their intervention will be live broadcast via EBS. A press release is available online. (for more information: Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229 69921; Irina Novakova – Tel.: +32 229 57517; Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 22987624)



Global trade increasingly obstructed, EU Report says

The tendency to impose trade-restricting measures remains strong among the EU’s commercial partners, fuelling continuing uncertainty in the world economy. These are the main findings of the European Commission’s annual report on protectionism published on 17 November 2014. ‘I regret to see that many countries still consider protectionism a valid policy tool. This goes clearly against the G20’s commitment to abstain from imposing trade restrictions and to remove existing ones. Protectionism damages global value chains; trade openness is what we need if we are to keep the recovery going, especially in times of global economic and political instability’ said Cecilia Malmström, the EU Trade Commissioner. ‘As acknowledged by the Summit in Brisbane, G20 members need now to give real proof of their collective commitment to openness in trade.’ A press release is available online. (for more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56158)

Commission staff conclude sixth Post-Programme Surveillance mission to Latvia

The sixth and most likely final Post-Programme Surveillance mission to Latvia was carried out by the European Commission staff from 11 to 14 November, together with the European Central Bank. The assessment of post-programme developments concludes that the outlook is overall positive, though geopolitical tensions present downside risks to growth of Latvia’s economy. Euro changeover has been completed, the fiscal position is under control with projected deficits around 1% of GDP in 2014-2015, and the financial sector has been strengthened. Progress made and remaining challenges for Latvia’s public administration, economy and society are outlined in this statement. The end of post-programme surveillance will be decided in the coming weeks by the Commission, after consulting the Member States, taking into account a EUR 1.2 billion repayment planned by Latvia for January 2015 which would bring total repayments to 75% of the EU loan provided to Latvia. The European Commission will continue its close surveillance of reform implementation in Latvia through the European Semester framework.” A fact sheet is available online. (for more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Audrey Augier – Tel.: +32 229 71607)

First estimates of Research & Development in 2013 – R&D expenditure just over 2% of GDP in the EU28 in 2013

In 2013, the EU28 Member States spent almost €275 billion on Research & Development (R&D). The R&D intensity, i.e. R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP, stood at 2.02% in the EU28 in 2013, compared with 1.76% in 2004. This level remained however lower in the EU28 than in other major economies. R&D intensity was much higher in South Korea (4.04% in 2011) and Japan (3.38% in 2011) as well as, to a lesser extent, in the United States (2.81% in 2012), while in both China (1.98% in 2012) and Russia (1.11%) the R&D intensity was below that of the EU28. In order to provide a stimulus to the EU’s competitiveness, an increase of the R&D intensity in the EU28 is one of the five headline targets of the Europe 2020 strategy. The data for 2013 for the first time bases the denominator (GDP) on the European System of Accounts 2010 (ESA 2010) methodology. On average, the use of ESA 2010 GDP leads to a downwards revision of the EU28 series on R&D intensity by around 0.07 percentage points. Press material is available online. More information about the ESA revision can be found here. (for more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Mirna Bratoz – Tel: +32 2 298 72 78)

September 2014 – Euro area international trade in goods surplus €18.5 bn and €2.6 bn surplus for EU28

The first estimate for the euro area (EA18) trade in goods balance with the rest of the world in September 2014 gave a €18.5 billion surplus, compared with +€10.8 bn in September 2013. The August 2014 balance was +€8.6 bn, compared with +€7.2 bn in August 2013. In September 2014 compared with August 2014, seasonally adjusted exports rose by 4.2% and imports by 3.0%. These data are released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. The first estimate for the September 2014 extra-EU28 trade balance was a €2.6 bn surplus, compared with -€0.7 bn in September 2013. In August 2014 the balance was -€8.8 bn, compared with -€2.3 bn in August 2013. In September 2014 compared with August 2014, seasonally adjusted exports rose by 5.8% and imports by 3.2%. Press material is available online. (for more information: Daniel Rosario +32 2 29 56185; Joseph Waldstein + +32 229 56184)                     

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Selecta by KKR and Allianz

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Selecta AG by KKR & Co. L.P. of the US and Allianz SE of Germany. Selecta is currently solely controlled by Allianz. There are no relevant overlaps between the companies’ activities. However, Selecta offers vending services, including hot beverages vending and office coffee services, while one of the KKR’s portfolio companies, Württembergische Metallfabriken AG (‘WMF’), produces hot beverage vending machines, including fully-automatic table top coffee machines used in the kind of vending services which Selecta provides. The Commission nonetheless found that the transaction does not raise any competition concerns given that Selecta’s competitors will continue to have a number of alternative suppliers of fully automatic table top coffee machines and competitors of WMF will continue to have alternative customers to Selecta. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website in the public case register under the case number M.7319. (for more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100)


Statement of the High Representative and Vice President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner for Humanitarian aid and crisis management Christos Stylianides on the murder of US aid worker Peter Kassig

“The brutal murder of US aid worker Peter Kassig and a number of Syrians who were reportedly soldiers is another illustration of ISIL / Da’esh’s resolve to pursue its terror agenda, in breach of all universally recognized values and rights. Our deepest condolences go to the family and colleagues of Peter Kassig, who had gone to Syria to help the people affected by this war, as well as to the families of the Syrian victims. All perpetrators of human rights abuses must be held accountable. The EU will spare no effort towards this objective. We remain fully committed to tackle the threat posed by ISIL / Da’esh and other terrorist organisations in Syria and Iraq, alongside our regional and international partners.” (for more information: Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229 69921; Irina Novakova – Tel.: +32 229 57517; Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 22987624)

Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc makes road safety a priority in EU transport policy

On the occasion of the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, Violeta Bulc, the EU’s Transport Commissioner made the following statement: “Road safety has been one of the great European success stories and our roads are much safer today than they were some twenty years ago. But our work cannot stop here! More than 26, 000 people still die on our roads every year, and many more suffer horrific road traffic injuries. Behind these statistics are grieving parents, children, siblings, colleagues and friends. This is an unacceptable price to pay for mobility. Today my thoughts go out to every person who has lost someone dear to them, and to all those who have been physically or mentally affected by a road accident. The World Day of Remembrance gives us a painful but necessary reminder that working towards improving road safety is a never ending process. It is clear that we have come a long way, but more needs to be done. That is why I would like to take this opportunity to personally pledge to make road safety one of my top priorities as the European Transport Commissioner. I hope that I can count on you to work actively together with the European Commission, to help make our roads safer in Europe. Together we can save thousands of lives.” A video message is available online. (for more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Joshua Salsby – Tel.: +32 229 72459)


Vice-President šefčovič and Commissioner Arias Cañete at Energy Union Conference

A Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy is one of the 10 priorities of the new Juncker Commission. A high-level conference, taking place on 17 November in the European Commission’s Charlemagne building in Brussels, will contribute and discuss the future of EU Energy Policy and Competitiveness. Key note speeches will be delivered by Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President for Energy Union, and Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy among others. On the agenda: domestic energy resources and demand, competitiveness of energy prices, low-carbon economy and functioning of the internal energy market as well as diversification of suppliers and supply routes. Please find the full program online. LIVE web streaming available. (for more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186)

Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Thyssen to meet social partners

Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President for Euro and Social Dialogue, and Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, will be meeting later today with the European social partners. They will meet the European employers at 16:00 and the European Trade Union Confederation at 17:00. These meetings aim to strengthen and deepen social dialogue in the upcoming months, both in EU governance and regarding existing structures. (for more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764)

Commissioner Hogan to speak at the Knowledge and Innovation Summit

Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan will give a speech (19:45 CET) on Agriculture and rural development: powered by innovation at the 6th Knowledge and Innovation Summit in the European Parliament. (for more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 2 2956185)