The FINANCIAL -- On July 23, the Commission decided to grant aid worth €16.2 million from the EU Solidarity Fund to Greece and Bulgaria following natural disasters that occurred in the winter of 2015. Greece suffered from wide-spread flooding affecting five of its regions, while considerable damage was caused in Bulgaria due to severe winter conditions. The aid, which consists of €9.9 million for Greece and €6.3 million for Bulgaria, will cover part of the emergency costs of recovery operations following the disasters in both countries. In particular, it will help restore vital infrastructure and services, reimburse the cost of emergency and rescue operations and cover some of the clean-up costs in the affected regions. Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu said: "The EU Solidarity Fund is one of our strongest symbols of solidarity in times of need. Today we are bringing financial support to the regions of Greece and Bulgaria affected by the disasters of this winter, which caused considerable damage. Now we can start rebuilding, together, according to European Commission.
Antitrust: Commission sends Statement of Objections on cross-border provision of pay-TV services available in UK and Ireland
The European Commission has today sent a Statement of Objections to Sky UK and six major US film studios: Disney, NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros. The Commission takes the preliminary view that each of the six studios and Sky UK have bilaterally agreed to put in place contractual restrictions that prevent Sky UK from allowing EU consumers located elsewhere to access, via satellite or online, pay-TV services available in the UK and Ireland. Without these restrictions, Sky UK would be free to decide on commercial grounds whether to sell its pay-TV services to such consumers requesting access to its services, taking into account the regulatory framework including, as regards online pay-TV services, the relevant national copyright laws. EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said: "European consumers want to watch the pay-TV channels of their choice regardless of where they live or travel in the EU. Our investigation shows that they cannot do this today, also because licensing agreements between the major film studios and Sky UK do not allow consumers in other EU countries to access Sky's UK and Irish pay-TV services, via satellite or online. We believe that this may be in breach of EU competition rules. The studios and Sky UK now have the chance to respond to our concerns."
State aid: Commission approves public financing of Fehmarn Belt fixed rail-road link
The European Commission has approved the public financing model of the Fehmarn Belt fixed rail-road link between Denmark and Germany, considering it in line with EU state aid rules. EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said: "The Fehmarn Belt fix link will considerably shorten travel times between Germany and the Eastern part of Denmark and the Nordic countries to the benefit of both people and the economy. Therefore, I am very pleased that we have today approved the public financing of the project of under EU state aid rules."
State aid: Commission approves €117 million in investment aid for NEXEN tyre plant in Czech Republic
The European Commission has approved regional investment aid totalling almost €117million (CZK 3 207 million) to Nexen Tire Corporation Czech s.r.o. (Nexen) for the construction of a tyre production plant in Žatec, Czech Republic. The Commission found that the aid granted by the Czech Republic was compatible with EU state aid rules, and that it promotes regional development without unduly distorting competition in the internal market. EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said: "This tyre production plant will create at least 1000 new jobs in Žatec and contribute significantly to the economic development of the region. I am pleased we today approved state aid to make this happen - It is a good use of public money in line with EU state aid rules."
Mergers: Commission clears proposed acquisition of Sika by Saint-Gobain
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Sika (of Switzerland) by Saint-Gobain (of France). Sika is a global specialty chemicals company, with a particular focus on construction chemicals. It also produces mortars for construction, as well as chemicals for other industries such as sealants and adhesives used in automotive industry. Saint-Gobain is active worldwide in the manufacturing of glass, high performance materials, construction products, including mortars, and glass packaging. The parties' activities overlap regarding mortars for construction, certain construction chemicals and other chemicals products. The transaction also gives rise to a vertical link between Saint-Gobain's distribution of building materials and Sika's production of those materials, as well as a number of vertical links in construction materials and chemicals. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns because the combined market shares of the parties are moderate and a large number of competitors will remain active after the merger on all markets concerned by the transaction. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of the Duracell Business by Berkshire Hathaway
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of the Duracell Business by Berkshire Hathaway from Procter & Gamble, all of the US. Berkshire Hathaway is a holding company owning subsidiaries that engage in a diverse range of business activities. The Duracell Business manufactures and supplies portable batteries. The Duracell Business is currently part of the international consumer goods company Procter & Gamble. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns given the absence of horizontal overlaps and the existence of numerous competitors in the vertically related market where the parties are active. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of control by CVC Capital Partners over Royal DSM NV’s fibre intermediates and composite resins business
The European Commission has approvedunder the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of control by CVC Capital Partners (Luxembourg) over Royal DSM NV's fibre intermediates and composite resins business, incl. DSM Fibre Intermediates International B.V., DSM Composite Resins Holding International B.V. and DSM Fibre Intermediates China B.V. (all of the Netherlands). CVC is a private equity investor that holds interests in a number of companies active in various industries including the distribution of commodity and specialty chemicals, the waste management and manufacturing of mineral wool insulation products and of industrial specialty dry-mix mortar products. DSM is active in the composite resin business and the production of various specialty and commodity chemicals, together with the provision of site services. The transaction gives rise to a number of vertical overlaps in the markets affected. However, the Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns as the parties' market shares on the upstream and downstream markets are moderate and other suppliers will continue to be active on both levels. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Helthjem by Schibsted and Amedia
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over the new Norwegian company Helthjem by a subsidiary of Amedia (also of Norway) together with its current parent, a subsidiary of Schibsted. Helthjem will offer delivery of parcels in Norway. Schibsted is an international media group headquartered in Norway. Amedia is a Norwegian media group. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns because of the parties' negligible shares in the market on which Helthjem will be active or in connected markets. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
EUROSTAT - Seasonally adjusted government deficit down to 2.3% of GDP in the euro area
In the first quarter of 2015, the seasonally adjusted general government deficit to GDP ratio stood at 2.3% in the euro area (EA19), a decrease compared with 2.5% in the fourth quarter of 2014. In the EU283, the deficit to GDP ratio stood at 2.6%, a decrease compared with 2.8% in the previous quarter.