Daily News 26 / 05 / 2023

NextGenerationEU: Portugal submits request to revise recovery and resilience plan and add a REPowerEU chapter

Today, Portugal submitted a request to the Commission to modify its recovery and resilience plan, to which it also wants to add a REPowerEU chapter.

Portugal's proposed REPowerEU chapter includes 6 reforms and 18 investments, focusing on energy efficiency in buildings, renewables and biogas, sustainable transport, the electricity grid and green industry, i.e., supporting the production of climate technologies such as wind turbines, photovoltaic panels and heat pumps. 

In addition, Portugal also proposes to include 31 new or scaled up investments and 5 new reforms. These relate to the simplification of the tax benefit and social benefit systems, incentives for circular economy and further enhancing digital access to public services.

Portugal's request to modify its plan is based on the need to factor in the effects of supply chain disruptions and the very high inflation experienced in 2022. It also follows the upward revision of its maximum RRF grant allocation, from €13.9 billion to €15.5 billion, representing an increase of around €1.6 billion. The revision is part of the June 2022 update to the RRF grants allocation key.

Portugal also requested €3.2 billion in additional loans. REPowerEU grants for Portugal amount to €704 million. In addition, Portugal requested to transfer the totality of its share of the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, amounting to €81 million, to its recovery and resilience plan. These funds make the submitted overall modified plan worth €22.2 billion.

The Commission now has up to two months to assess whether the modified plan fulfils the assessment criteria in the RRF Regulation. If the Commission's assessment is positive, it will make a proposal for an amended Council Implementing Decision to reflect the changes to the Portuguese plan. Member States will then have up to four weeks to endorse the Commission's assessment.

(For more information: Veerle Nuyts — Tel.: +32 2 299 63 02; Laura Bérard - Tel.: +32 2 295 57 21)


European Health Union: Commission secures agreement with BioNTech-Pfizer on the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines

Today, the Commission, acting with and on behalf of EU Member States through the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA), and vaccine developers BioNTech-Pfizer, have reached an agreement to better address Member States' assessment of evolving needs for COVID-19 vaccines. The amendment to the existing vaccines supply contract takes into account the improved epidemiological situation, while continuing to ensure access to the latest available version of the vaccine, should COVID-19 variants of concern appear in the future.

Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, said: “I warmly welcome the agreement reached with and on behalf of our Member States with BioNTech-Pfizer to adapt the COVID-19 vaccine supply in order to match evolving needs. We have brought the pandemic under control largely through our vaccines and vaccinations. And while COVID-19 is no longer a global health emergency, it remains a threat that is likely here to stay. It is crucial therefore that we are prepared for the years to come.”

The agreement announced today has secured several adaptations to the existing contract, including a reduction in the quantity of doses purchased by Member States under the contract, and an extension in the length of time in which Member States will be able to take delivery of the vaccines.

A press release and a questions and answers with more details are available online.

(For more information: Stefan De Keersmaecker — Tel.: +32 2 298 46 80; Célia Dejond - Tel.: +32 2 298 81 99)


State aid: Commission approves €300 million Italian scheme to support rail network interoperability

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a €300 million Italian scheme to remove technical barriers to rail interoperability. The aim of the scheme is to promote the shift of freight and passenger transport from road to rail and to improve the security and efficiency of rail transport.

Italy intends to support the installation of the latest available version of the European Railway Traffic Management System (‘ERTMS') on vehicles running on the Italian rail network. ERTMS is a single European railway management and safety control system, aimed to replace the different national systems currently in operation throughout Europe, to enhance cross-border rail interoperability and to improve the competitiveness of rail transport. Italy aims to implement the ERTMS on the entire national rail network by 2036. Under the scheme, the aid will take the form of direct grants to railway companies for the acquisition and installation of ERTMS on-board equipment. The scheme will run until 31 December 2026.

The Commission assessed the measure under EU State aid rules, in particular Article 93 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union on transport coordination, and the 2008 Commission Guidelines on State aid for railway undertakings. The Commission found that the scheme is necessary to support interoperability and promote the use of rail transport, which is less polluting than road transport and reduces road congestion, in line with the objectives of the EU Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy and the European Green Deal. Furthermore, the Commission found that the aid will have an 'incentive effect' as the beneficiaries would not carry out the investments in the absence of the public support. Finally, the Commission concluded that the scheme is proportionate, as it is limited to the minimum necessary, and has a limited impact on competition and trade between Member States. On this basis, the Commission concluded that the Italian 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.102707 in the State aid case register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

(For more information: Daniel Ferrie Tel.: +32 2 298 65 00; Nina Ferreira - Tel.: +32 229 9 81 63)


Mergers: Commission clears Viasat's acquisition of Inmarsat

The European Commission has approved unconditionally, under the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed acquisition of Inmarsat by Viasat. The Commission concluded that the merger would not raise competition concerns in the European Economic Area (‘EEA') or any substantial part of it. Today's decision follows an in-depth investigation of the proposed acquisition of Inmarsat by Viasat.

In the context of its in-depth investigation, the Commission assessed whether (i) the transaction might reduce competition in the market for the supply of broadband IFC services to commercial airlines in the EEA and/or globally; and (ii) new operators of non-GEO satellites having entered or planning to enter the IFC market are likely to exert sufficient competitive pressure on the merged entity in the near future.

During its in-depth investigation, the Commision found that: (i) the parties' market position would remain moderate; and (ii) a number of sizable competitors would likely exert sufficient competitive pressure on the merged entity. The Commission therefore concluded that the transaction would raise no competition concerns in the EEA or any substantial part of it and cleared the case unconditionally.

Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "In-flight internet connectivity on commercial flights is set to become more and more common in Europe. Our in-depth investigation has shown that Viasat's plan to buy rival satellite operator Inmarsat will not have a negative impact on the competitive landscape for this service. Our extensive market investigation confirmed that sufficient choice among several credible providers will remain available for airlines to offer their passengers."

A press release is available online.

(For more information: Daniel Ferrie Tel.: +32 2 298 65 00; Sara Simonini- Tel.: +32 2 298 33 67)


Concentrations : la Commission autorise la concentration entre Credit Suisse et UBS

La Commission européenne a autorisé sans condition, en vertu du règlement de l'UE sur les concentrations, la concentration entre Credit Suisse et UBS. Elle a conclu que l'opération ne poserait pas de problème de concurrence dans l'Espace économique européen (l'« EEE »).

UBS et Credit Suisse sont à la fois des banques d'investissement multinationales et des entreprises de services financiers d'envergure mondiale.

Sur la base de son enquête sur le marché, la Commission a conclu que la concentration ne restreindrait pas de manière significative le jeu de la concurrence sur les marchés où les activités des entreprises se chevauchent au sein de l'EEE.

En particulier, la Commission a constaté que l'entité issue de la concentration continuera de faire face à une pression concurrentielle significative de la part d'un large éventail de concurrents sur tous ces marchés, dont plusieurs grandes banques d'envergure mondiale ainsi que des prestataires spécialisés et des acteurs locaux fiables.

En conséquence, la Commission est parvenue à la conclusion que la concentration envisagée ne poserait pas de problème de concurrence sur l'un ou l'autre des marchés examinés dans l'EEE et a autorisé l'opération sans condition.

Un communiqué de presse est disponible en ligne.

(Pour plus d'informations: Daniel Ferrie Tél.: +32 2 298 65 00; Sara Simonini - Tél.: +32 2 298 33 67)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Meltwater by Altor and Marlin

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Meltwater N.V. of the Netherlands, by Altor Fund Manager AB (‘Altor') of Sweden, and Marlin Management Company LLC (‘Marlin') of the US.

Meltwater is a global provider of media intelligence and social analytics across online news, social media, print, broadcast, and podcasts. Altor is a private equity firm. Marlin is a global investment firm.

The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, given that Meltwater has negligible actual and foreseen activities in the European Economic Area, and that the horizontal overlaps between the companies' activities are limited. 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.11058

(For more information: Daniel Ferrie Tel.: +32 2 298 65 00; Sara Simonini- Tel.: +32 2 298 33 67)


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