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European Commission – Midday Express of 2005-03-23

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

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Général Presse et Communication

23 / 03 / 05

Les assureurs aviation s’engagent à entreprendre des réformes pour promouvoir la concurrence et la transparence
A la suite d’une enquête de la Commission européenne, les grands assureurs aviation européens se sont engagés à réformer leurs pratiques, pour ce qui concerne le fonctionnement de l’assurance aviation, afin de promouvoir la concurrence et la transparence. Ces réformes prévoient notamment une plus grande transparence des principaux comités d’assureurs aviation, sis à Londres, y compris du comité chargé d’établir les clauses standard des polices d’assurance aviation. Elles prévoient en outre qu’en cas de crise imprévue due à une guerre ou à un attentat terroriste, les assureurs limitent toute action coordonnée à ce qui est nécessaire pour garantir le maintien de capacités telles qu’elles permettraient aux clients de continuer d’acheter des assurances et pour limiter les effets sur la concurrence au strict minimum.

Commission clears acquisition of part of Pagnan by Cargill
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regualtion the proposed acquisition of the importing and trading business of Pagnan S.p.A. by Cargill Incorporated. After examining the operation, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the EEA or any substantial part of it and has therefore approved the concentration.

Commission clears acquisition of Berkenhoff Holding by 3i and GB-Funds
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of Berkenhoff Management Holding GmbH (Berkenhoff Holding) of Germany by 3i Group plc (3i) of the UK and Granville Private Equity Managers (Deutschland) Fund Limited Partnership and GBCP (D) II LP, collectively known as GB-Funds, of Germany. 3i is a venture capital group listed on the London Stock Exchange funding predominantly small and medium-sized companies. GB-Funds are private equity funds, active mainly in management buy-outs, management buy-ins, expansion capital and equity release. Currently GB-Funds are the only share holders in Berkenhoff Holding, a holding company whose sole purpose is to hold all shares in Berkenhoff GmbH. Berkenhoff GmbH is active exclusively in the development, production and distribution of fine wire solutions on non-ferrous alloys. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Commission approves acquisition of Hungarian Exchanges and Central Clearinghouse and Depository
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the Hungarian Budapest Stock Exchange (“BSE”), Budapest Commodity Exchange (“BCE”) and the Central Clearinghouse and Depositary (“KELER”) by a joint venture comprising the Austrian undertakings Wiener Börse AG, Oesterreichische Kontrollbank Aktiengesellschaft, Raiffeisen Zentralbank Österreich AG, Erste Bank der oesterreichischen Sparkassen AG and the Hungarian subsidiary of the German HVB Group, HVB Bank Hungary. The Commission concluded that due to the small size of the targets and the limited impact of the transaction, the operation would not significantly impede effective competition in the EEA or any substantial part of it.

January 2005 compared to December 2004 : industrial new orders down by 5.8% in euro-zone ; EU25 down by 6.2%
The euro-zone industrial new orders index decreased by 5.8% in January 2005 compared to December 2004, Eurostat estimates. The index rose by 8.2% in December and by 1.7% in November. EU25 new orders fell by 6.2% in January 2005, after rises of 10.6% in December and 0.3% in November. In January 2005 compared to January 2004, industrial new orders increased by 8.5% in the euro-zone and by 7.4% in the EU25.

Janvier 2005 : déficit de 2,2 milliards d’€ du commerce extérieur pour la zone euro ; déficit de 14,0 milliards d’€ pour l’UE25
D’après les premières estimations d’Eurostat publiées aujourd’hui, pour le mois de janvier 2005, la zone euro a enregistré un déficit du commerce extérieur de 2,2 milliards d’€ avec le reste du monde, contre +1,7 milliard en janvier 2004. Le solde enregistré au mois de décembre 2004 était de +5,1 milliards, contre +6,4 milliards en décembre 2003. En janvier 2005, les exportations, corrigées des variations saisonnières, ont augmenté de 0,2% par rapport à décembre 2004, et les importations de 1,8%.

Commission signs scholarship agreement with India
On March 22nd the European Commission and the Indian Government signed an agreement which will see the EC provide €33,000,000 to finance approximately 1,000 scholarships for Indian graduate students to study at Europe’s finest universities. This agreement is part of the EC’s flagship Erasmus Mundus programme which supports top-quality European Masters Degrees and provides scholarships for the best graduate students from third countries to study on them. Commissioners Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Jan Figel’ commented : “Alongside the individual benefits for Indian graduates, this programme will both showcase European higher education and create lasting bonds between Europeans and the Indian decision-makers of tomorrow – a key to securing a thriving partnership in the future.” Graduate students make applications for a scholarship directly to the European Erasmus Mundus Degree which interests them. Extensive information on the programme, including eligible Masters Degrees, is available at

Peter Mandelson to Morocco and Tunisia (24-25/03)
European Commissioner for Trade Peter Mandelson travels to Tunisia today for a two day visit to Tunisia and Morocco. The visit will emphasise the preferential trading partnership between the EU and the Mahgreb countries. The visit comes at an important time for the EU-Mahgreb relationship, with both sides seeking to deepen cooperation across the Euro-Mediterranean area. The EU is the largest trading partner for both Tunisia and Morocco. Commissioner Mandelson will be listening to their views on a range of trade issues.

Danuta Hübner pays a two-day visit to the Czech Republic and Austria
The European Commissioner responsible for Regional policy, Danuta Hübner, is visiting the Czech Republic and Austria on 23 and 24 March 2005. In the Czech Republic, Ms Hübner will meet representatives of the national and regional level involved in Structural Funds and Cohesion Funds programming and implementation. In Austria, she will meet representatives from the Upper Austria Government (Oberösterreich). Ms Hübner will also meet Parliamentarians from both countries.

Put forward your views on urban life
The European Commission is looking for volunteers to participate in a project to integrate their views of daily life into the professional assessment of town planners. One citizen per EU country will be selected to participate in a series of three workshops and a final Conference to be held in Vienna, Rome and Brussels. This is the first European wide “citizens conference” to tackle research for the city of tomorrow. The process will take place between September and November 2005, for a total of about 10 days of commitment. Participation will be rewarded financially, and the eligibility criteria includes to be a national of an EU Member State, knowledge of English, to have no professional involvement into the area of urban development and an easy access to Internet tools. Citizens with these characteristics are invited to submit an application via the following web site: The deadline for submission is 30 March 2005. Candidates will be required to fill in a questionnaire, whose information will be used to select the 25 people panel with different characteristics and urban life habits.

Autre matériel diffusé
Speech by Charlie McCreevy : “The future of bank policy in the Union” at the informal first meeting of the European Banking Committee (22/03)
Calendrier du 28 mars au 2 avril 2005

Pierre Perrin-Monlouis
Pierre Perrin-Monlouis
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