Today, the Commission is launching two calls for proposals under the joint title “ReadyForEU”, with a total budget of €7.5 million. The two calls aim at helping Ukrainian entrepreneurs and businesses to benefit from the Single Market. The calls are funded under the Single Market Programme and follow the recent agreement for Ukraine to join the programme, signed by President von der Leyen and Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on 2 February 2023.
The first call, the “Business Bridge”, with a budget of €4.5 million, will provide financial support to Ukrainian small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) affected by the war, in the form of vouchers to access services and participate in trade fairs in the EU.
The second call, the “Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs – Ukraine”, with a budget of €3 million, will allow new Ukrainian entrepreneurs to gain business experience in other European countries.
The calls are open as of 28 February 2023 and Ukrainian businesses and entrepreneurs will be able to apply in the final quarter of this year.
Commissioner responsible for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, said: “Europe is committed to supporting Ukraine’s successful integration in the Single Market. With today’s calls for proposals, we are offering tangible financial support for small Ukrainian businesses and entrepreneurs to build new partnerships with other European companies and expand into the EU.”
A press release is available here.
(For more information: Sonya Gospodinova – Tel.: +32 2 296 69 53; Federica Miccoli – Tel.: +32 2 295 83 00)
Global Gateway: EIB and European Commission sign agreement to boost private sector investments in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries
Today, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Commission signed agreements for a total volume of €4 billion; consisting of a Guarantee Agreement that will mobilise up to €3.5 billion in lending and a €500 million Trust Fund contribution, to support businesses in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries until 2027. The agreement marks an important step in rolling out the EU’s Global Gateway strategy and achieving development impact by enabling the EIB to enhance not only public but also private investments in key areas like digitalisation, climate and energy, transport, health in partner countries.
Today’s agreement consists of two parts. First, the Guarantee Agreement under European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus (EFSD+), established by the NDICI – Global Europe. It will enable the EIB to provide up to €3.5 billion loans on favourable terms to create jobs and opportunities, particularly for women and youth, and support green and digital transitions in EU partner countries, in line with Global Gateway. A pertinent example of how the resources will be used is the agreement signed by the EIB and the local banks CRDB, NMB and KCB-Tanzania last week at the EU-Tanzania Business Forum. Credit lines backed by the guarantee will unlock €270 million for the three Tanzanian local banks who will finance projects benefitting especially women and advancing the blue economy.
Another example is The Green African Agricultural Value Chain Facility. It provides financing to intermediaries across sub-Saharan Africa for on-lending to eligible small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) active in agri-food value chains. Average size of credit lines extended to local banks range from approximately €10-25 million.
Second, an EU contribution of €500 million to the ACP Trust Fund, established and managed by the EIB, to enable high impact operations, which would otherwise not be possible. It will support, for example, small renewable energy power plants in areas with no grid connection. These will enable autonomous electricity supply, improve people’s livelihoods, and decrease dependency from fossil fuels and rising energy prices.
The agreement adds to the €26.7 billion Guarantee Agreement for public lending that the EU and the EIB signed in May 2022. New public investments rolling out Global Gateway are already underway. This includes for example an EU-covered EIB loan on urban mobility for Senegal, signed separately at the EIB Forum as part of the Team Europe Initiative on Green Economy in Senegal, which seeks to support sustainable and digital cities, as well as strengthen and modernise public transport in Dakar. This action illustrates European investments in the Dakar-Abidjan strategic corridor with the aim of consolidating economic exchanges in the region, strengthen regional integration and boosting sustainable growth.
Today’s Guarantee Agreement is signed in the framework of the European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus (EFSD+). It is part of the EU’s investment framework for external action and ensures worldwide coverage for blending, guarantees and other financial operations. It is included in the EU’s long-term budget programme for external action – the NDICI-Global Europe. The EFSD+ Operational Board has been established under this budget programme.
EFSD+ is raising financial resources for sustainable and inclusive economic development from the private sector. It supports investment in partner countries to promote decent job creation, strengthen public and private infrastructure, foster renewable energy and sustainable agriculture, and support the digital economy.
The guarantees the instrument provides are used for de-risking activities and leveraging private investment, working together with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and other European financial institutions.
The EFSD+ guarantees are offered on favourable, highly competitive terms. They allow investors to finance projects in more challenging markets, by assuming the risks of more unstable environments while avoiding market distortions. Because the EFSD+ covers a share of the risks, the EU’s development finance partners can match the EFSD+ guarantees with their own resources, which in turn will attract additional investors. The instrument has €40 billion in guarantee capacity.
The investment programmes are implemented through two main paths:
In a partnership with the EIB, the EU is providing a €26.7 billion guarantee for financing to support investments in sectors such as clean energy, green infrastructure and health. The guarantee will have a maximum impact on Global Gateway investments in partner countries where sovereign and other public sector risks are still a major bottleneck. Today’s agreement on a dedicated EU guarantee and Trust Fund contribution for private sector operations in ACP countries is an addition to make a bigger overall impact.
Under the EFSD+ open architecture, the EU is providing an up to €13 billion guarantee cover until 2027. This will be deployed by a range of implementing partners, i.e. International Financial Institutions (including the EIB) and European development finance institutions aiming to mobilise private investments in support of our partner countries achieving the SDGs. In December 2022, the Operational Board of the EFSD+ gave a positive opinion to €6.05 billion in financial guarantees to support 40 investment programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin American and Asia Pacific, which is the first allocation under EFSD+ Open Architecture programme.
About the European Investment Bank
The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals.
EIB Global is the EIB Group’s specialised arm dedicated to increasing the impact of international partnerships and development finance. EIB Global is designed to foster strong, focused partnership within Team Europe, alongside fellow development finance institutions, and civil society. EIB Global brings the Group closer to local people, companies and institutions through our offices across the world.
Anne-Laure Gaffuri email@example.com tel.: +352 691 284 679
Shirin Wheeler, firstname.lastname@example.org , tel : +44 7827 445611
Website: www.eib.org/press — Press Office: +352 4379 21000 — email@example.com
The agreement signed today will enable the European Investment Bank to fully contribute to the Global Gateway strategy. The EU guarantee will allow us to scale-up our support for national priorities in Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific regions, in full collaboration with our partners from Team Europe and the African Union. Backing the private sector is key to foster a green and inclusive growth in ACP countries and globally. As public institutions, we need to go the extra mile to make our value proposition attractive for private investors and drive investment in climate, energy, health, food security, digital solutions that will create impact and ultimately boost prosperity.
Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank
Mobilising the private sector is critical to sustainable development in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. With Global Gateway, the EU wants to facilitate local value addition, sustainable growth and job creation, especially for youth. Today’s agreement is another milestone in advancing this strategic priority. The resources unlocked by the guarantee and Trust Fund contribution will benefit emerging businesses in key sectors, while enhancing partner countries’ resilience. The EU will continue to rely on the European Investment Bank as key partner in successful implementation and impact on the ground.
Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships
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• Peter STANO
+32 2 295 45 53
• Jennifer SANCHEZ DA SILVA
+32 2 295 83 16
Antitrust: Commission sends Statement of Objections to Apple clarifying concerns over App Store rules for music streaming providers
The European Commission has sent a Statement of Objections to Apple clarifying its concerns over App Store rules for music streaming providers.
This procedural step follows the Commission’s Statement of Objections which outlined the Commission’s preliminary view that Apple abused its dominant position by: (i) imposing its own in-app purchase payment technology on music streaming app developers (‘IAP obligation’), and (ii) restricting app developers’ ability to inform iPhone and iPad users of alternative music subscription services (‘anti-steering obligations’).
Today’s Statement of Objections clarifies that the Commission does no longer take a position as to the legality of the IAP obligation for the purposes of this antitrust investigation but rather focuses on the contractual restrictions that Apple imposed on app developers which prevent them from informing iPhone and iPad users of alternative music subscription options at lower prices outside of the app and to effectively choose those.
The Commission takes the preliminary view that Apple’s anti-steering obligations are unfair trading conditions in breach of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (‘TFEU’).
In particular, the Commission is concerned that the anti-steering obligations imposed by Apple on music streaming app developers prevent those developers from informing consumers about where and how to subscribe to streaming services at lower prices. These anti-steering obligations: (i) are neither necessary nor proportionate for the provision of the App Store on iPhones and iPads; (ii) are detrimental to users of music streaming services on Apple’s mobile devices who may end up paying more; and (iii) negatively affect the interests of music streaming app developers by limiting effective consumer choice.
Article 102 of the TFEU prohibits the abuse of a dominant position. The implementation of these provisions is defined in the Antitrust Regulation (Council Regulation No 1/2003), which can also be applied by the national competition authorities.
In June 2020, the Commission opened formal proceedings into Apple’s rules for app developers on the distribution of apps via the App Store. In April 2021, the Commission sent Apple a Statement of Objections to which Apple responded in September 2021.
Today’s Statement of Objections, by clarifying the Commission’s objections, replaces the 2021 Statement of Objections.
In a Statement of Objections the Commission informs the parties concerned in writing of the objections raised against them. The addressees can examine the documents in the Commission’s investigation file, reply in writing and request an oral hearing to present their comments on the case before representatives of the Commission and national competition authorities. Sending a further Statement of Objections does not prejudge the outcome of the investigations.
If the Commission concludes, after the company has exercised its rights of defence, that there is sufficient evidence of an infringement, it can adopt a decision prohibiting the conduct and imposing a fine of up to 10% of the company’s annual worldwide turnover.
There is no legal deadline for bringing an antitrust investigation to an end. The duration of an antitrust investigation depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of the case, the extent to which the undertakings concerned cooperate with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence.
For More Information
More information on the investigation is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number AT.40437. A periodic compilation of antitrust and cartel news is available in the Competition Weekly e-News.
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• Arianna PODESTA
+32 2 298 70 24
• Maria TSONI
+32 2 299 05 26
Antitrust: Commission closes initial antitrust investigation into Coca-Cola and its bottlers
The European Commission has decided to close its preliminary investigation into potential anticompetitive practices by The Coca-Cola Company and its bottlers, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners and Coca-Cola Hellenic.
The Commission had concerns that Coca-Cola and its bottlers could have abused their dominant position by granting a series of conditional rebates to retailers in a number of Member States with the objective of foreclosing the entry or hindering the expansion of new drinks into the market.
Today’s decision to end the preliminary investigation is based on a thorough analysis and careful assessment of all the available relevant evidence, including information received from Coca-Cola, its bottlers, retailers and competitors. Based on the evidence collected, the Commission has concluded that there is insufficient ground to further pursue the investigation.
The closure of the investigation is not a finding that the conduct in question complies with EU competition rules. The Commission will continue to monitor business practices in Europe’s fast-moving consumer goods markets, including in the food and beverages sectors, to ensure affordability, choice and innovation in the sector.
(For more information: Arianna Podesta – Tel.: +32 2 298 70 24; Maria Tsoni – Tel.: +32 2 299 05 26)
India: High Representative to travel to attend the G20 meetings and the Raisina Dialogue
From 1 to 4 March, High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell will be in New Delhi, to attend the G20 Foreign Ministers meetings held in the framework of India’s G20 Presidency, and to participate in the Raisina Dialogue.
On Wednesday, 1 March, High Representative/Vice-President Borrell will deliver a speech at the CII Business Conclave during the plenary on “India-Europe: Partners for future growth” at 10:00 CET (14:30 IST).
High Representative/Vice-President Borrell will meet the Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. On the agenda will be the bilateral aspects of the strategic partnership and a range of regional and international security issues, both in Europe and in Asia.
On Thursday, 2 March, High Representative/Vice-President Borrell will participate in the G20 Foreign Ministers meeting. India’s G20 Presidency takes place under the theme “One Earth • One Family • One Future” (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam) with more than 200 events around the country.
As Russia’s war against Ukraine marks its one-year anniversary, the High Representative will convey a strong message on Russia’s blatant violation of international law and the UN Charter, and its global consequences, in particular on energy and food insecurity, but also on the importance of a stronger multilateralism system, fit for the future, as well as the crucial need to speed up the green transition to address the existential threats of climate change and biodiversity loss globally. The High Representative will also focus on threats enabled by new technologies, such as disinformation and cybersecurity.
On Friday, 3 March, High Representative/Vice-President Borrell will participate in the Raisina Dialogue at the session “The New High Table: Realigning the G20 in a changing world”. The High Representative’s intervention will be available on Europe by Satellite (EbS).
During his visit, High Representative Borrell will have bilateral meetings with his counterparts from different continents, to discuss regional and bilateral issues.
Audiovisual footage of the visit will be provided by Europe by Satellite. Follow @EU_in_India, @JosepBorrellF and @eu_eeas for live updates throughout the visit.
(For more information: Nabila Massrali – Tel.: +32 2 298 80 93; Xavier Cifre Quatresols – Tel.: +32 2 297 35 82; Jennifer Sanchez Da Silva – Tel.: +32 2 295 83 16)
Commissioner Várhelyi in Serbia to attend a ceremony on the Corridor X railway project and to discuss priorities under EU accession negotiations
Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi will be in Serbia today to announce a €2.2 billion financial package that will enable a substantial modernisation of the railway tracks of Corridor X.
The Corridor X railway project is one of the Economic and Investment Plan flagship investments, connecting the region with the EU via Croatia, through Belgrade and further to Niš, Skopje and Greece. The project will contribute to the modernisation of the railways in Serbia and improve Serbia’s connectivity with other European rail networks. It is part of the EU’s €30 billion Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans which aims to mobilise investments in the areas of transport, energy, green and digital transition, to create sustainable growth and jobs.
An EU grant of up to €600 million is foreseen for this project. Out of this, €265 million has been already approved so far for the Belgrade – Niš fast railway that will allow to travel between the two cities with the speed of up to 200 km / h and in around 100 minutes. The rest of the package consists of a €1.1 billion loan from the EIB and a €550 million EBRD loan.
During his visit, Commissioner Várhelyi will meet President Aleksandar Vucic, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, Minister of European Integration Tanja Mišcevic, and Minister of Interior Bratislav Gašic to discuss accession negotiations priorities, in particular in the rule of law area, and cooperation in the areas of sustainable connectivity, energy, and migration.
The Commissioner will also discuss the EU support to Serbia to face the current energy crisis following the recent signature of the €165 million budget support to help mitigate the energy prices amongst vulnerable households and SMEs under the €1 billion Energy Support Package for the Western Balkans.
Photo and video material of the visit will be made available on EbS.
(For more information: Peter Stano — Tel.: +32 2 295 45 53; Zoï Muletier – Tel. +32 2 299 43 06)
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Source: Cyprus News Agency