Commission approves proposed acquisition of Aearo by 3M

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Aearo, a US producer of protective equipment, by the US company 3M. After examining the operation, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.

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Better supervision of the structural funds

The Budgetary Control Committee is insisting on the setting up of a joint Parliament-Commission group to follow up in particular the supervision of the structural funds. This was the major development from Wednesday's votes in the committee, which saw all the EU's institutions and agencies accorded a recommendation that Parliament grant discharge for their financial management in 2006.

Despite repeated threats of a postponement, the Budgetary Control Committee is recommending that the Commission be granted discharge for its implementation of Community expenditure in 2006.

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New members for Cedefop

The Council of the European Union has agreed the appointment and replacement of members of the Governing Board of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop).

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Steel distribution joint venture approval

The European Commission has cleared, under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed joint-venture between Münchmeyer Petersen & Co (MPC) of Germany, Grupo Villacero (Viga-Villacero) of Mexico and MAN AG of Germany. The proposed concentration would result in MPC, Viga-Villacero and MAN combining their worldwide activities in non-stockholding steel distribution. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or a substantial part of it.

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Industrial producer prices up by 0.8% in euro area

In January 2008  according to Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities, the industrial producer price index rose by 0.8% in the euro area (EA15) and by 1.0% in the EU27. In December prices increased by 0.1% and 0.3% respectively, in comparison with December 2007.

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EC addresses challenges of forest-based industries

The European Commission adopted, on the 27th February 2008, a 19-point plan to address the challenges facing forest-based industries, which are adapting to deal with increased global competition, climate change and energy and wood supply availability. Important competitiveness challenges cover innovation, access to non-EU markets and high energy and transport costs. Moreover, the access to and availability of new and recovered raw material at competitive prices and the strategic role of this sector in limiting climate change are issues which need to be addressed specifically in order to provide the right framework conditions within which this industrial chain can prosper and grow. Furthermore, and in particular in the woodworking and printing sectors, the dimension of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) is especially relevant. The communication is part of the Commission's integrated industrial policy consisting of horizontal and sectoral measures.

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EC imposes 899 meuro penalty on Microsoft

The European Commission has imposed a penalty payment of € 899 million on Microsoft for non-compliance with its obligations under the Commission’s March 2004 Decision prior to 22 October 2007. The Decision on 27th February 2008, adopted under Article 24(2) of Regulation 1/2003, finds that, prior to 22 October 2007, Microsoft had charged unreasonable prices for access to interface documentation for work group servers. The 2004 Decision, which was upheld by the Court of First Instance in September 2007, found that Microsoft had abused its dominant position under Article 82 of the EC Treaty, and required Microsoft to disclose interface documentation which would allow non-Microsoft work group servers to achieve full interoperability with Windows PCs and servers at a reasonable price.

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EU-funded film "The Counterfeiters" wins Oscar

Yet another triumph for European Cinema: At last night's Oscars, the Oscar for the best foreign language film went to the Austrian-German co-production "The Counterfeiters" (Die Fälscher), a film co-funded by the EU's MEDIA programme and directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky from Austria. This is the third time in a row that European cinema is successful in Hollywood.

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EU invest 3 billion euro for research in nanoelectronics

An unprecedented € 3 billion will be invested in nanoelectronics, with the launch, on the 22nd February 2008, of a major Joint Technology Initiative (JTI) endorsed by the Council of Ministers and by the European Parliament at the end of 2007. This initiative, called ENIAC, is a new public-private partnership which targets nanoelectronics, the technology that enables increasingly high levels of miniaturisation in the myriad of applications and high-tech products which are emerging today. The Governing Boards of this ENIAC – where public and private stakeholders take decisions jointly – met for the first time in Brussels on the 22nd February 2008 .

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Europe speeds up industrial research in Micro-Computers

The European Commission launched on the 22nd February 2008 in Brussels, a major Joint Technology Initiative (JTI) called ARTEMIS. With an unprecedented investment of € 2.5 billion, this initiative, that has been endorsed by the Council of Ministers and by the European Parliament at the end of 2007, addresses embedded computer systems that – while running almost unnoticed by users – improve the performance of all kinds of machines: from cars, planes and phones, to factories, washing machines and televisions. The Governing Boards of ARTEMIS – where public and private stakeholders take decisions jointly – met for the first time in Brussels on the 22nd February 2008.

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EC negotiates European Works Councils

The European Commission today invited trade unions' and employers' representatives to help improve the role of European Works Councils in consulting and informing employees. European Works Councils (EWCs) currently operate in 820 major companies across the EU, covering some 14.5 million employees. Today's second stage consultation gives social partners the opportunity to start negotiations on updating and improving the way the bodies operate, with a view to revising the existing legislation.

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Ryanair to merger with Aer Lingus

The case concerned the proposed acquisition by the Irish-based airline Ryanair of its competitor Aer Lingus. Both companies offer scheduled air transport services. Their operations overlap in particular at Dublin airport. The proposed acquisition, whereby Ryanair acquires sole control over Aer Lingus. The Commission's investigation confirmed that there are substantial barriers to entry which would make difficult any new entry to the routes where the activities of the merging parties overlap.

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