European Commission Daily News from 29/05/2020

EU budget for recovery: Kick-starting the EU economy by incentivising private investments

As announced by European Commission President von der Leyen on 27 May 2020, the Commission is aiming to kick-start the EU economy by incentivising private investments. The Commission today proposes a new Solvency Support Instrument, which builds on the existing European Fund for Strategic Investments, to mobilise private resources to urgently support viable European companies in the sectors, regions and countries most economically impacted by the pandemic. The Solvency Support Instrument can be operational from 2020 and will have a budget of €31 billion, aiming to unlock €300 billion in solvency support for otherwise healthy companies from all economic sectors and prepare them for a cleaner, digital and resilient future. The Commission is enhancing InvestEU, Europe’s flagship investment programme, to a level of €15.3 billion to mobilise private investment in projects across the Union. Finally, the Commission is proposing a new Strategic Investment Facility built into InvestEU, to generate investments of up to €150 billion, thanks to a contribution of €15 billion from Next Generation EU, to boost the resilience of strategic sectors, notably those linked to the green and digital transition, and key value chains in the internal market. For more details see the Q&A and factsheet on the Solvency Support Instrument; and the Q&A and factsheet on InvestEU. All legal texts related to the new MFF proposal are available here (For more information: Marta Wieczorek – Tel.: +32 229 58197; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: +32 229 57361)

 

EU approves disbursement of €500 million in macro-financial assistance to Ukraine

The European Commission, on behalf of the EU, has approved the disbursement of a €500 million loan to Ukraine as part of its fourth macro-financial assistance (MFA) programme. With this disbursement, the EU has now provided Ukraine with €3.8 billion in MFA loans since 2014. This is the largest amount of MFA the EUhas disbursed to any single partner country. The disbursement of the second and last tranche of the MFA operation has become possible after Ukraine has implemented twelve policy actions agreed with the EU. They included important measures in the fields of fight against corruption and money laundering, public finance management, banking sector, energy, healthcare and social policies. Ukraine is also finalising a new Stand-by Agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and has implemented the associated prior actions.MFA funds are made available in the form of low-interest, long-term loans. The first instalment of €500 million under the current programme was released in December 2018, after the Ukrainian authorities fulfilled the associated policy conditions. The EU is also making further MFA loans of €1.2 billion available to Ukraine, as part of the Decision to provide MFA to ten partner countries to help them limit the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. A full press release is available here(For more information: Marta Wieczorek – Tel.: +32 229 58197; Enda McNamara – Tel.: +32 229 64976)

 

EU signs new pre-accession support package with Serbia worth more than €70 million

Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, together with President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić participated today in the virtual signing ceremony of a €70.2 million assistance programme by Serbian Minister of European integration Jadranka Joksimović and EU Head of Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi. This programme is the first envelope of the EU’s Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA) 2020. It will support alignment to the EU acquis, socio-economic development and employment, and social policies for the most vulnerable people. In particular, €30 million will be devoted to the economic recovery with grant support provided to micro enterprises, start-ups and business support organisations in the less developed regions of Serbia; therefore increasing employment, innovation and economic development at local level. In the aftermath of the covid-19 crisis, special focus will also be put on strengthening the capacities for surveillance and response to communicable diseases. The signing ceremony was followed by a press point by the Commissioner and the President (available on EbS). (For more information: Ana Pisonero – Tel.: +32 2 295 43 20; Zoï Muletier – Tel.: +32 229 94306)

 

Réponse mondiale au coronavirus: lancement d’une nouvelle campagne avec le soutien de Global Citizen

Hier, la Commission a annoncé les prochaines étapes de la Réponse mondiale au coronavirus, l’initiative mondiale pour un accès universel à la vaccination, au traitement et aux tests contre le coronavirus. Le marathon des donateurs lancé le 4 mai, qui a déjà levé 9,8 milliards d’euros, entre dans une nouvelle phase avec le lancement de la campagne « Objectif mondial: Unis pour notre avenir », avec l’organisation internationale de défense des citoyens Global Citizen. La campagne aboutira à un sommet mondial des donateurs le samedi 27 juin, présidé par la présidente von der Leyen. Des artistes du monde entier, notamment Adam Lambert, Chloe x Halle, Chris Rock, Coldplay, Dionne Warwick, Femi Kuti, Fher of Maná, Hugh Jackman, Idris & Sabrina Elba, J Balvin, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Lang Lang, Miley Cyrus, Padma Lakshmi, Rachel Brosnahan et Shakira ont annoncé qu’ils aideraient à mobiliser les citoyens pour cette cause, de façon qu’ils agissent à leur tour et s’adressent aux dirigeants de toute la planète. Un communiqué de presseun mémo et la déclaration de la présidente von der Leyen sont disponibles en ligne. (Pour plus d’informations: Ana Pisonero – Tél.: +32 229 54320; Gesine Knolle – Tél.: +32 229 54323)

 

Floods in East Africa: EU provides initial emergency assistance

The EU has mobilised €3 million in emergency assistance to countries in East Africa that have been hit by heavy rainfall over the past weeks, triggering devastating landslides and floods. “In a region that is already battling the effects of a serious locust infestation and the coronavirus pandemic, these floods are adding to the hardships experienced by many vulnerable communities. EU aid will get essentials to those most in need”, said Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič. Funding will be supporting aid organisations in Ethiopia (€850,000), Kenya (€500,000), Somalia (€1.4 million) and Uganda(€250,000) and provide shelter material, clean water, food, hygiene kits and access to basic health assistance. More than 900,000 people have had to seek shelter elsewhere because of the floods in these four countries alone. The EU is already supporting humanitarian projects helping the most vulnerable people in the region affected by conflict, food insecurity, epidemics and natural disasters. (For more information: Balazs Ujvari – Tel.: +32 229 54578; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)

 

State aid: Commission approves €600 million Finnish guarantee scheme to support maritime companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved a €600 million Finnish aid scheme to support the maritime companies in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission on 19 March 2020, as amended on 3 April and 8 May 2020. Under the scheme, the public support will take the form of State guarantees on working capital loans. The measure will be directly operated by the Finnish State Treasury. The scheme will be accessible to those maritime operators that are essential for maintaining the security of supply to Finland during the coronavirus outbreak. The aim of the measure is to help these companies cover their immediate working capital needs, maintain employment and have sufficient liquidity to continue their activities, which are vital to safeguard maritime cargo traffic and ensure essential supplies to Finland. The Commission found that the Finnish measure is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. The Commission concluded that the Finnish measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU State aid rules. Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “This €600 million Finnish guarantee scheme will help those maritime companies that transport essential supplies to Finland and are affected by the current coronavirus crisis to cover their immediate working capital needs and continue their activities. This is the first scheme we have approved specifically designed to support the maritime sector in these difficult times. We continue to work closely with all Member States to ensure that national support measures can be put in place in a timely, coordinated and effective way, in line with EU rules.” The full press release is available online(For more information: Arianna Podesta – Tel. +32 229 87024; Giulia Astuti – Tel.: +32 229 55344; Maria Tsoni – Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

State aid: Commission approves €120 million Finnish scheme to compensate companies in the restaurant industry for damages caused by coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved under EU State aid rules a €120 million Finnish scheme that compensates companies operating restaurants, bars or cafes for the loss of revenue caused by the coronavirus outbreak and the national measures taken to limit the spread of the virus. Under the scheme, these companies will be entitled to compensation for the damages suffered in the form of direct grants covering 15% of their loss of revenue up to €1 million, and 5% for the part of their losses above €1 million, during the two-month period of lockdown in Finland. Aid may be granted up to a maximum amount of €500 000 per beneficiary. To ensure that no beneficiary is overcompensated, a control mechanism guarantees that the Finnish authorities recover any compensation exceeding the net losses of each beneficiary. The Commission assessed the measure under Article 107(2)(b)of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which enables the Commission to approve State aid measures granted by Member States to compensate specific companies or specific sectors for the damages directly caused by exceptional occurrences. The Commission found that the Finnish aid scheme will compensate damages that are directly linked to the coronavirus outbreak. It also found that the measure is proportionate, as the envisaged compensation does not exceed what is necessary to make good the damage. The Commission therefore concluded that the scheme is in line with EU State aid rules. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.57284 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. (For more information: Arianna Podesta – Tel. +32 229 87024; Giulia Astuti – Tel.: +32 229 55344; Maria Tsoni – Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

State aid: Commission approves €12 million Italian scheme to support companies active in the agricultural sector affected by coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved a €12 million Italian scheme to support companies active in the agricultural sector affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission on 19 March 2020, as amended on 3 April 2020 and 8 May 2020. The support will take the form of direct grants and will be accessible to companies of all sizes, including the self-employed, active in the agriculture sector. Support under the Common Agricultural Policy will be paid approximately 4 months before the envisaged date. The purpose of the scheme is to further address the liquidity needs of farmers and to help them continue their activities by compensating them for the interests that they have to pay on this anticipation of the payment. The measure is expected to benefit over 1,000 enterprises. The Commission found that the Italian scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the aid does not exceed €100,000 per company. The Commission concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the measures under EU State aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.57439 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. (For more information: Arianna Podesta – Tel. +32 229 87024; Giulia Astuti – Tel.: +32 229 55344; Maria Tsoni – Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

State aid: Commission approves €4 million Estonian rent compensation scheme to support businesses affected by coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission approved a €4 million Estonian scheme to support businesses renting premises in shopping centres,in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission on 19 March 2020, as amended on 3 April 2020 and 8 May 2020. The public support, which will take the form of direct grants, is intended to cover part of the rent due by businesses located in shopping centres. The amount of public support to which businesses will be entitled under the scheme will match, up to a maximum amount of 25% of the rent, the discounts that each lessor may decide to apply on the rents in view of the current crisis situation. This aims at incentivising the private sector to contribute towards the objective of mitigating the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. The purpose of the scheme is to mitigate the sudden liquidity shortages that non-essential businesses in shopping centres are facing due to the closure imposed by the Estonian State between 27 March and 11 May to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The Commission found that the Estonian scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) the support per company will not exceed the limits as set out in the Temporary Framework; and (ii) the scheme will run until 31 December 2020. On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU State aid rules.More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.57403 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. (For more information: Arianna Podesta – Tel. +32 229 87024; Giulia Astuti – Tel.: +32 229 55344; Maria Tsoni – Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

State aid: Commission approves measure allowing the creation of a new development finance institution in the Netherlands

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, Dutch plans to set up a new development finance institution named “Invest International”. Invest International will be set up as a joint venture between the Dutch State and the existing Dutch development finance institution FMO. The Dutch State would grant start-up capital of up to €800 million and provide yearly subsidies of €9 million. Invest International will have as objectives to support the foreign trade and international cooperation objectives of the Dutch authorities by supporting entrepreneurs and international projects in low-income, lower-middle-income and upper-middle-income countries. The scope of Invest International’s activities will provide additional financing to companies and projects that otherwise remain underfinanced because of market failures. Concretely, Invest International will focus on improving access to finance to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), certain small-midcaps and local public authorities for the execution of projects that are in line with Invest International’s objectives. The Commission found that the creation of Invest International is an appropriate and proportionate solution to provide additional financing to companies and projects that otherwise remain underfinanced because of market failures. Furthermore, Invest International will implement safeguards to ensure that the state-supported institution does not crowd out private financial institutions. On this basis, the Commission concluded that the measure is in line with EU State aid rules. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register, under the case number SA.55465. (For more information: Arianna Podesta – Tel. +32 229 87024; Giulia Astuti – Tel.: +32 229 55344; Maria Tsoni – Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

State aid: Commission approves €800,000 Latvian scheme to support tour operators in the context of coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved a €800,000 Latvian scheme to support tour operators that bore the costs of the repatriation of travellers in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission on 19 March 2020, as amended on 3 April 2020 and 8 May 2020. The public support, which will take the form ofdirect grants, is intended to cover the financial costs incurred by those operators for the repatriation to Latvia of travellers who were on holiday abroad in the course of the outbreak. The aid will be channelled through the Latvian Consumer Rights Protection Centre. The purpose of the scheme is to mitigate the liquidity shortages that tour operators had to face due to the costs incurred to repatriate travellers and to help them progressively resume their activities during and after the outbreak. The Commission found that the Latvian measure is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) the support per company will not exceed the limits as set out in the Temporary Framework; and (ii) the scheme will run until 31 December 2020. The Commission concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU State aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.57423 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. (For more information: Arianna Podesta – Tel. +32 229 87024; Giulia Astuti – Tel.: +32 229 55344; Maria Tsoni – Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Mergers: Commission waives the commitments made by Takeda to obtain clearance of its acquisition of Shire

The European Commission has waived, under the EU Merger Regulation, the commitments made by Takeda to obtain clearance of its acquisition of Shire. The Commission approved the acquisition of Shire by Takeda on 20 November 2018, subject to the divestment of a biologic drug under development by Shire to treat inflammatory bowel diseases (“IBD”), namely SHP 647. Upon receipt of the request by Takeda to waive the commitments, the Commission has initiated a market investigation to determine whether a waiver is justified in light of the changed market conditions and developments. The Commission’s investigation revealed that several permanent, significant and unforeseeable developments took place during the divestiture process, affecting both the evolution of the competitive landscape in IBD treatments and the development of Shire’s pipeline drug. The Commission concluded that the combination of these developments amounted to exceptional circumstances so that the divestment of SHP 647 was no longer necessary to render Takeda’s acquisition of Shire compatible with the internal market. As a result, the Commission has decided to waive the commitments submitted by Takeda in November 2018, in their entirety. The full press release is available online(For more information: Arianna Podesta – Tel. +32 229 87024; Maria Tsoni – Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Quorum Health Corporation by Davidson Kempner Capital Management LP and GoldenTree Asset Management LP

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over Quorum Health Corporation by Davidson Kempner Capital Management LP (“Davidson Kempner) and GoldenTree Asset Management LP (“GoldenTree”), all of the US. Quorum Health Corporation provides hospital services in the US. Davidson Kempner is an alternative asset manager mainly active in the US, which pursues a variety of investment strategies such as investments in distressed debt, high yield bonds and leveraged loans. GoldenTree is an asset manager active globally, which specialises in various services such as credit-based opportunities, leveraged loans and distressed debt. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns since the companies are not active in the same markets. 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.9845(For more information: Arianna Podesta – Tel. +32 229 87024; Maria Tsoni – Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of ABB’s power grid division by Hitachi

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of the power grid division of ABB of Switzerland by Hitachi of Japan. ABB’s power grid division is active in the development, engineering, manufacturing and sale of products, systems and projects relating to: (high voltage products, transformers, power grid automation, and power grid integration. Hitachi is active in a variety of business segments including IT Solution, Energy Solution, Industry Solution, Mobility Solution and SmartLife Solution. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because Hitachi’s activities in the power grid business have geographic focus on Japanese and Chinese markets. In addition, the horizontal overlaps between the activities of the companies are limited, and increments in vertical links are small. The Commission also found that a number of strong players would remain in the market after the merger. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.9447.  (For more information: Arianna Podesta – Tel. +32 229 87024; Maria Tsoni – Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

 

STATEMENTS

 

 

Statement by Commissioner Kyriakides ahead of World No Tobacco Day

Ahead of World No Tobacco Day on Sunday, 31 May, Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “Every year, around 6 million people worldwide are killed by tobacco. These are 6 million deaths that could have been prevented, 6 million persons who could still be with us today – and a lot of suffering that could have been avoided. And while we know that tobacco use is the single greatest preventable cause of death, it continues to cause diseases and loss of life. This is why, in Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, we will have a strong focus on tobacco control and take strong action to reduce the exposure to this key risk factor. And part of our priorities is to protect our young people from its dangerous effects – this is at the core of EU tobacco policies. This week, we have presented our proposal for the most ambitious and far-reaching funding programme ever for health – EU4Health. With an unprecedented €9.4 billion in EU funding, we will be able to significantly increase our support for cancer prevention and care. Tobacco use is never safe. Therefore, on this World No Tobacco Day, the best decision would be to leave smoking in the past.” The full statement is available online(For more information: Stefan De Keersmaecker – Tel.: +32 229 84680; Stephan Meder – Tel.: +32 229 13917)

 

 

 

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