Daily News 01 / 03 / 2023

Sustainable Finance: Commission welcomes political agreement on European green bond standard

The Commission welcomes the political agreement reached yesterday between the European Parliament and the Council on the Commission's proposal for a European Green Bond Regulation.

This Regulation, which is an integral part of the European Green Deal, will establish an EU voluntary high-quality standard for green bonds. The European green bond standard (EUGBS) will be available to companies and public entities that wish to raise funds on capital markets to finance their green investments, while meeting tough sustainability requirements. In particular, issuers of EUGBS would need to ensure that at least 85% of the funds raised by the bond are allocated to economic activities that align with the Taxonomy Regulation. This will allow investors to more easily assess, compare and trust that their investments are sustainable, thereby reducing the risks posed by greenwashing.

Mairead McGuinness, Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability and Capital Markets Union, said: “Led by Europe and European issuers, the green bond market is growing into an important source of funding for companies that need to fund large-scale climate-friendly investments, such as renewable energy, clean transportation, and energy-efficient buildings. With the European Green Bond Standard, we are creating a new gold standard available to those companies that want to be at the forefront of the sustainability transition.”

As a result of the agreement, the Commission will also publish EU templates for issuers of other bonds with environmental objectives, even if they do not make use of the EUGBS. The use of these templates will be strictly voluntary. For the first time, there will be a standardised template that issuers can use to report information on the Taxonomy-alignment of green bonds, thereby reducing administrative burdens and uncertainty both for green bond issuers and for their investors.

The Regulation also creates a regime for the registration and supervision of external reviewers. External reviewers play an important role in the market by assessing green bonds in detail and providing confirmation to investors about their environmental credentials. Issuers making use of the new EUGBS will be required to employ such external reviewers at several points during the bond's life-cycle, including to check the alignment of the funded projects with the Taxonomy Regulation.

(For more information: Daniel Ferrie – Tel.: +32 2 298 65 00; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 2 298 76 24)


InvestEU: agreement to guarantee around €30.9 million in new loans for the green transition of Danish businesses

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Denmark's Green Investment Fund have signed an agreement to guarantee around DKK 229 million (€30.9 million) in new loans for Danish businesses. The agreement is backed by the InvestEU Fund. The sustainability guarantee will support new debt financing for small and medium-sized enterprises, enabling the Danish state fund to approve loans for Danish businesses of up to 575 million DKK (€77.3 million).

The sustainability guarantee will support new financing for small and medium-sized enterprises to contribute to Europe's green transition. The loans will be channelled towards energy saving, renewable energy sources and resource efficiency projects, seeking to bridge the gap between traditional bank financing and equity capital.

Paolo Gentiloni, Commissioner for the Economy, said: “InvestEU is playing an important role across Europe in helping small and medium-sized businesses gain access to the finance they need to innovate, expand and create jobs. This investment can also help them green their business, thereby making an important contribution to our transition to a low-carbon economy. I am delighted that, thanks to this agreement, more Danish businesses will receive the support they need to fulfil their full potential.”

The InvestEU programme provides the EU with long-term funding by leveraging private and public funds in support of EU policy priorities. As part of the programme, the InvestEU Fund is implemented through financial partners who will invest in projects using the EU budget guarantee and thus mobilising at least €372 billion in additional investment. 

A press release is available online.

(For more information: Veerle Nuyts — Tel.: +32 2 299 63 02; Flora Matthaes – Tel.: +32 2 298 39 51)


NextGenerationEU : évaluation préliminaire partiellement positive de la première demande de paiement de la Lituanie au titre de la facilité pour la reprise et la résilience

Hier, la Commission a approuvé une évaluation préliminaire positive d'une partie des jalons liés à la première demande de paiement de la Lituanie au titre de la facilité pour la reprise et la résilience (FRR), l'instrument clé au cœur de NextGenerationEU.

Le 30 novembre 2022, la Lituanie a présenté à la Commission une demande de paiement fondée sur les 33 jalons fixés dans la décision d'exécution du Conseil pour le premier paiement. Après avoir examiné les éléments fournis par les autorités lituaniennes, la Commission a estimé que 31 des 33 jalons étaient atteints de manière satisfaisante. Les 31 jalons qui ont été atteints de manière satisfaisante démontrent des progrès significatifs dans la mise en œuvre du plan pour la reprise et la résilience de la Lituanie. Ils couvrent, entre autres, des réformes dans les domaines de la transition écologique et numérique, ainsi que des réformes du système d'enseignement général et professionnel, des mesures de soutien à l'innovation et à la science, la protection sociale et l'emploi, ainsi que le stockage de données numériques pour le suivi de la mise en œuvre de la FRR.

La Commission a constaté que deux jalons liés à la fiscalité (M142 et M144) n'ont pas été atteints de manière satisfaisante. La Commission prend acte des premières mesures déjà prises par la Lituanie pour atteindre ces jalons en suspens, bien qu'il reste encore beaucoup à faire. La Commission active donc la procédure de « suspension des paiements ». Conformément au règlement FRR et comme expliqué dans la communication publiée le 21 février, cette procédure donne aux États membres un délai supplémentaire pour atteindre les jalons en suspens, tout en recevant un paiement partiel lié aux jalons qui ont été atteints de manière satisfaisante. La Commission encourage vivement tous les États membres, y compris la Lituanie, à procéder à la mise en œuvre en temps utile de leurs plans respectifs pour la reprise et la résilience.

L'évaluation préliminaire positive et la suspension des paiements sont deux procédures distinctes qui suivent des étapes différentes.

De plus amples informations sont disponibles dans notre communiqué de presse et dans ce document questions-réponses.

(For more information: Veerle Nuyts — Tel.: + 32 229 96302; Tommaso Alberini — Tel: + 32 229 570 10)


State aid: Commission approves €1.5 million Italian scheme to support the artistic ceramics and glass sector in Murano in the context of Russia's war against Ukraine

The European Commission has approved a €1.5 million Italian scheme to support the artistic ceramics and glass sector in Murano (Venice) in the context of Russia's war against Ukraine. The scheme was approved under the State Aid Temporary Crisis Framework, adopted by the Commission on 23 March 2022 and amended on 20 July 2022 and on 28 October 2022.

Under the scheme, the aid will take the form of direct grants. The purpose of the scheme is to support the liquidity needs of small and medium-sized enterprises established in the island of Murano and active in the sector of artistic ceramics and glass, which are particularly affected by the sharp increase in natural gas and electricity prices linked to the current geopolitical crisis.

The Commission found that the Italian scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Crisis Framework. In particular, the aid (i) will not exceed €2 million per company; and (ii) will be granted no later than 31 December 2023. The Commission concluded that the scheme 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 Crisis Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the scheme under EU State aid rules.

More information on the Temporary Crisis Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of Russia's war against Ukraine can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the number SA.106254 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 2 298 70 24; Nina Ferreira - Tel.: +32 229 9 81 63; Maria Tsoni – Tel.: +32 2 299 05 26)


Mergers: Commission refers to Belgium the assessment of the acquisition of joint control of Pannoc by ACE Belgium and Febelco

The European Commission has referred to the Belgian national competition authority the assessment of the proposed acquisition of joint control of Pannoc Chemie NV (‘Pannoc') by ACE Pharmaceuticals Belgium NV (‘ACE Belgium') and Febelco CV, all of Belgium.

Pannoc develops, manufactures, packages and sells medicines, medical devices and cosmetics in the form of creams, salves, gels, lotions and solutions. ACE Belgium is a joint venture between Pharmentum NV of Belgium and ACE Pharma Group BV of the Netherlands. ACE Belgium distributes medicines of the ACE Pharma Group BV, which develops, produces, registers and sells medicines. Febelco is a wholesale distributor of pharmaceutical products.

The Belgian competition authority asked the Commission to refer the proposed concentration to it. It considers that the transaction may threaten to significantly affect competition in markets related to the production and distribution of pharmaceutical products in Belgium.

The evidence gathered by the Commission confirmed that the conditions for a referral under Article 9 of the EU Merger Regulation were fulfilled and that the Belgian competition authority is best placed to assess the effects of the transaction in Belgium. The Commission has therefore decided to refer the case to Belgium. The Belgian competition authority will deal with the case under national law.

More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.10967

(For more information: Arianna Podesta – Tel.: +32 2 298 70 24; Maria Tsoni – Tel.: +32 2 299 05 26)


Concentrations : la Commission autorise l'acquisition du contrôle conjoint de Financière Canella par Andera Partners et le groupe Rothschild & Co

La Commission européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, l'acquisition de Financière Canella par Andera Partners et le groupe Rothschild & Co, toutes les trois basées en France.

Financière Canella opère dans le secteur de la rénovation de bâtiments résidentiels communautaires dans la région parisienne (Île-de-France). Andera Partners est une société de gestion d'actifs spécialisée dans le capital-investissement. Le groupe Rothschild & Co, à travers Five Arrows Sustainable Investments, gère des fonds d'investissement dont les activités sont axées sur l'investissement dans des entreprises de taille moyenne en Europe occidentale.

La Commission a conclu que l'acquisition envisagée ne soulèverait pas de problème de concurrence, compte tenu de l'absence de chevauchement entre les activités des entreprises. La transaction a été examinée dans le cadre de la procédure simplifiée de contrôle des concentrations.

De plus amples informations sont disponibles sur le site internet concurrence de la Commission, dans le registre public des affaires sous le numéro d'affaire M.11038.

(Pour plus d'informations: Arianna Podesta – Tél.: +32 2 298 70 24; Maria Tsoni – Tél.: +32 2 299 05 26)






Hydrogen Valleys: European Commission signs joint declaration with European stakeholders to boost the EU hydrogen economy 

The Commission and key stakeholders will sign today a joint declaration highlighting the crucial role of sustained efforts in renewable hydrogen research and innovation. Through this declaration, the Commission together with the European hydrogen industry, scientific community, and European regions, commit to stepping up and accelerating joint actions in research, development, demonstration, and deployment of Hydrogen Valleys. In line with the EU Hydrogen Strategy and contributing to the REPowerEU Plan and the Green Deal Industrial Plan objectives, these powerhouses connect hydrogen production, transportation, and a range of cutting-edge applications - from clean mobility to industrial feedstock - creating fully functional and sustainable clusters of supply and demand, advancing renewable hydrogen deployment and as a result driving forward the clean energy transition.

The joint declaration also calls for sustained investments, strengthening synergies between funding resources, sharing knowledge, stimulating the development of education and training for skills, and building regional hydrogen networks and interconnections between Hydrogen Valleys.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth said: “Hydrogen Valleys are key for the creation of a European research and innovation area for hydrogen. They prove that European cooperation can catalyse innovation, create jobs and opportunities while tackling the great energy challenges of our times. And we will rapidly hit the target of doubling the number of operational Hydrogen Valleys by 2025.”

The joint declaration will be signed in an event hosted by the Commission in Brussels. It will bring together over 300 leading stakeholders in hydrogen. A press point with Commissioner Gabriel; Melissa Verykios, Chair of the Clean Hydrogen Partnership Governing Board; Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, CEO of Hydrogen Europe; and Luigi Crema, President of Hydrogen Europe Research, will take place at 15:55 CET in Autoworld Brussels.

Years of support to research and innovation on hydrogen have put the EU in the global lead for key hydrogen technologies, notably electrolysers, hydrogen refuelling stations and megawatt-scale fuel cells. Horizon Europe supports the Clean Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (CHJU) with €1 billion, matched by the same amount from industry and research partners. As part of REPowerEU, the Commission has allocated an additional €200 million to the CHJU to accelerate the rollout of Hydrogen Valleys. The Commission also recently granted approximately €4 million under Erasmus+ for a long-term partnership between industry and education to develop advanced skills for the hydrogen economy.

Other EU programmes also offer opportunities for investment in Hydrogen Valleys such as the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the Cohesion policy funds under the relevant smart specialisation priorities, and the Connecting Europe Facility.

(For more information: Johannes Bahrke - Tel: +32 2 295 86 15; Marietta Grammenou – Tel.: +32 2 298 35 83)


Commissioner Reynders travels to Moldova to discuss rule of law reforms

Today and tomorrow, 1-2 March, Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, will be in Moldova to discuss rule of law matters in the framework of Moldova's candidate status for membership of the European Union.

Commissioner Reynders will meet with President Maia Sandu to discuss the preservation of democracy, the rule of law and justice reforms in Moldova. Commissioner Reynders will also meet the newly appointed Prime Minister, Dorin Recean, to discuss the strengthening of the rule of law and the continuation of justice reforms in Moldova. He will meet with Minister for Justice of Moldova, Veronica Mihailov-Moraru, to discuss justice reforms including the implementation of the Venice Commission's recommendations, as well as Moldova's efforts to improve judicial cooperation and training.

A press statement will take place following their meeting. During the visit, the Commissioner will also meet the Head of the Parliament's Legal Commission for Appointments and Immunities of Moldova, Olesea Stamate, as well as representatives of civil society organisations (Institute for European Policies and Reforms and Legal Resources Centre Moldova).

(For more information: Christian Wigand - Tel.: +32 2 296 22 53; Katarzyna Kolanko - Tel.: +32 2 296 34 44)


Le commissaire Várhelyi se rend au Maroc pour lancer de nouveaux programmes d'appui et s'entretenir sur les perspectives de coopération

Le commissaire chargé du voisinage et de l'élargissement, Olivér Várhelyi, se rend au Maroc aujourd'hui et demain pour une visite officielle. Il commencera sa visite à Casablanca où il rencontrera le directeur général du Fonds Mohammed VI pour l'investissement, Mohammed Benchaâboun, et des représentants du secteur privé. Il effectuera également un déplacement sur le réseau de tramway de la ville, qui a bénéficié de fonds européens.

Demain, le commissaire se rendra à Rabat où il s'entretiendra avec le ministre des affaires étrangères marocain, de la coopération africaine et des Marocains résidant à l'étranger, Nasser Bourita, et avec d'autres ministres du gouvernement. Il assistera à la cérémonie de signature de cinq programmes de coopération d'une valeur d'environ 500 millions d'euros portant sur des priorités majeures pour le Maroc et l'Union européenne : protection sociale, agriculture et forêts, inclusion financière, réforme de l'administration publique et migration. Il annoncera également la récente adoption de nouveaux programmes de coopération d'une valeur de 126 millions d'euros dans le cadre du plan d'action annuel 2022 pour le Maroc. Un communiqué de presse détaillant les différents programmes adoptés sera mis en ligne ici après la cérémonie de signature.

Le commissaire Várhelyi rencontrera dans l'après-midi le chef du gouvernement marocain, Aziz Akhannouch.

Le commissaire tiendra un point presse suite à la cérémonie de signature qui sera diffusée sur EbS. Des photos et vidéos de la mission seront également disponibles sur EbS. Pour plus d'informations sur les relations UE-Maroc, veuillez consulter notre infographie.

(Pour plus d'informations : Peter Stano – Tél.: +32 2 295 45 53; Zoï Muletier – Tél.: +32 2 299 43 06)






College meeting: The European Commission appoints a new Director for its department for agriculture and rural development

The European Commission has decided today to appoint Marie Bourjou as Director ‘Assurance and Audit' for its Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI). This Commission department is responsible for EU policy on agriculture and rural development and deals with all aspects of the common agricultural policy (CAP). The date of effect of her appointment is to be determined later.

Marie Bourjou, a Belgian national, is equipped with sound knowledge of key audit working methods and the Commission's general audit strategy, combined with her expertise in agriculture and rural development matters which she acquired during her 20 years of experience in DG AGRI. In addition, she has also honed her leadership and representation skills throughout her former functions which will serve her greatly in her new capacity.

Marie Bourjou has been Acting Director for Resources in DG AGRI as well as Head of Unit ‘Budget management' since 2022. Earlier in her career, she headed the unit ‘Direct payments'. She was also Team Leader ‘Budget policy coordination' and ‘Audits of cross compliance'. Before joining the Commission in 2003, she worked as a Senior Auditor for a Consultant firm and Accounts consolidator for an energy company.

(For more information: Balazs Ujvari - Tel.: +32 2 295 45 78; Claire Joawn - Tel.: +32 2 295 68 59)  


College meeting: The European Commission appoints a new Director for its department for International Partnerships

The European Commission has decided today to appoint Erica Gerretsen as Director ‘Human Development, Migration, Governance & Peace' for its Directorate-General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA). The Commission's Directorate-General for International Partnerships is responsible for formulating the EU's international partnership and development policy, with the ultimate goal to reduce poverty, ensure sustainable development, and promote democracy, human rights, and the rule of law across the world. The date of effect of her appointment is to be determined later.

Erica Gerretsen, a Dutch and French national, has obtained extensive expertise in the area of external relations, including through her experience with various EU Delegations in different regions. In addition to her robust experience in undertaking representation, management and negotiation duties, she is also endowed with a proven strategic planning capacity and sound judgement.

Currently Head of Unit ‘Macro-economic Analysis, Fiscal Policies and Budget Support',  she has been Acting Director ‘Sustainable Finance - Jobs & Growth' in DG INTPA from January to October 2021. Prior to that, she headed several units ‘Financing for Development, Development effectiveness and EU-Joint programming', ‘Central Africa' and ‘West Africa' in the same Directorate-General. She has headed the sector in charge of the European Instrument for Human Rights and Democracy in 2010-11. From 2004 to 2007, she was Head of the Economic section at the EU delegation in Benin, and policy officer in the Delegation in Slovenia from 1999 to 2001. Before joining the Commission in 1995, she worked as Programme Manager in the Council of European Municipalities and Regions.

(For more information: Balazs Ujvari - Tel.: +32 2 295 45 78; Claire Joawn - Tel.: +32 2 295 68 59)  


College meeting: The European Commission appoints a new Head of Representation in Malta and a new Head of Regional Office in Milan

Today, Lorenzo Vella has been appointed as new Head of the European Commission Representation in Valletta. In this function, he will act as the official representative of the European Commission in Malta under the political authority of President Ursula von der Leyen. Moreover Claudia Colla has been appointed as new Head of the Regional Office in Milan, in Italy. The date of effect of their appointments will be determined later.

Lorenzo Vella, a Maltese national, will draw on his extensive experience of 15 years in European affairs in Brussels and Luxembourg but also in the Maltese public service. In his new position, he will build on his refined diplomatic and representation skills as well as his thorough understanding of key EU policy priorities. He is currently the Permanent Representative of Malta to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. Prior to that, he was a Deputy Permanent Representative of Malta to the EU in Brussels, representing Malta at COREPER I. From 2012 until 2014, he also worked in the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL) of the European Commission as a Programme Manager, responsible for the overall monitoring of policy developments in Malta in relation to the priorities and objectives of Europe 2020 Strategy. Prior to that, he worked in the public sector mainly in Malta, complemented by a short experience as a project manager at the European Court of Auditors. He holds two Master's Degrees in European Politics and Policies from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium and from the Faculty of Economics, Management and Accountancy in University of Malta.

Claudia Colla, an Italian national, will lead the Regional Office in Milan, which is part of the Commission Representation in Italy led by the Head of Representation in Rome. In this capacity, she will rely greatly on her advanced negotiation and representation skills, and her deep knowledge of an array of EU policies. She currently works in the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) as Team Leader and Head of the EU delegation in the Technical Barriers to Trade Committee of the Word Trade Organisation (WTO). She previously worked in the Directorate-General for Competition (DG COMP) and in the Directorate-General Internal Market and Services (DG MARKT). During these years, she has been responsible for different topics and policies, including State Aid, Intellectual Property Rights and International Trade. Before joining the Commission in 2004, she was a Member of the Cabinet of the Italian Minister for European Affairs. She has been lecturing on International Relations and EU integration at the University of Florence and Bologna. Claudia Colla is a fellow of the Marshall Memorial Fellowships Program and of the United Nations Fellowships Program on Disarmament. She holds a Master Degree in Advanced European Studies at the College of Europe of Bruges, in Diplomatic and International Studies at the University of Bologna, and in Political Science and International Relations at the University of Florence.

The press release is available online.

(For more information: Balazs Ujvari - Tel.: +32 2 295 45 78; Claire Joawn - Tel.: +32 2 295 68 59)  




Liste des points prévus à l'ordre du jour des prochaines réunions de la Commission

Veuillez noter que ces informations sont données sous réserve de modifications.


Prochains événements de la Commission européenne

Eurostat: communiqués de presse