EU starts in-depth investigation of Linde-Praxair merger over competition concerns

The Linde Group Logo (Source: The Linde Group website, Press Services, 2018)

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess a proposed merger between German industrial gases group Linde and US peer Praxair Inc., under the EU Merger Regulation. The official announcement came last Friday, as the Commission said it has concerns “that the merger may reduce competition in the supply of several crucial gases, […]

EU Investment Bank approves € 1.5bn loan for Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP)

Gas pipeline in the European Union. (Copyright: EU, 2012 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Ferenc Isza)

Last week, the European Investment Bank (EIB) approved a € 1.5 billion loan for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), a pipeline project to ship gas from Azerbaijan to Italy via Greece and Albania. The funding is part of a € 40 billion project to bring new gas supplies to Europe, the Southern Gas Corridor, and […]

The EU launches € 1 billion plan on supercomputers and tries to catch-up with competitors

Last week the European Union announced one of the biggest investment plans on digital to date. With an official statement, the European Commission unveiled its plans to spend € 1 billion on supercomputers, to boost the bloc’s competitiveness and to catch-up with other international superpowers. The plan, whose aim is to develop Europe’s own exascale […]

Hungary and Ireland build front to say no to EU tax harmonisation plan

Viktor Orbán, Hungarian Prime Minister, at a 2015 event in Brussels, Berlaymont. (Copyright: European Union , 2015; Source: EC - Audiovisual Service; Photo: Lieven Creemers)

After last week, any effort from the European Union to harmonize corporate tax rules across the bloc will have to deal with a new opposition front. Last Thursday, Prime Ministers from Hungary and Ireland met separately in Budapest and expressed a firm rejection to any plan from Brussels to finetune regional tax regulations, saying that […]

EU leaders open “Phase Two” of Brexit talks and warn Theresa May of tougher times

Jean-Claude Juncker and Theresa May at last week’s EU Council. Source: EC Audiovisual Services / Copyright: European Union, 2017 / Photo: Etienne Ansotte

Last week, the European Union and the United Kingdom made substantial progress on their Brexit agenda, opening the most crucial part of their divorce conversations. As the latest EU Summit wrapped up in Brussels on Friday, European Union leaders agreed Brexit talks have made enough progress to move negotiations to phase two. Also, the UK […]

The EU and Japan seal free trade pact that will cover 30% of global GDP

Statement by Cecilia Malmström, Member of the EC in charge of Trade, on the successful conclusion of the final discussions on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) – Brussels, 08 Dec 2017. (Copyright: European Union; Source: EC - Audiovisual Service; Photo: Georges Boulougouris)

Last Friday, after striking a life-changing Brexit agreement with the United Kingdom, the European Union managed to finalise negotiations on a major trade deal with Japan. Sources revealed that EU and Japan leaders were able to find a final accord on the telephone, after their respective chief negotiators concluded a meeting in Brussels and paved […]

US follows the EU in impeding China market economy status in WTO

A ship with containers at the port of Rotterdam. (Copyright: European Union. Source: EC - Audiovisual Service. Photo: Robert Meerding)

Trade relations between China and the West may be on the brink of a substantial turn. Last Thursday, the United States have formalized to the World Trade Organization (WTO) its opposition to China’s request to be recognized as a “market economy”. The move, which is strong enough to represent a gamechanger alone, comes amid a […]

EU hits deadlock on the future of glyphosate a month before deadline

Copyright: European Union , 2017; Source: EC - Audiovisual Service; Photo: Frank Molter

Last week, European Union member states failed to agree on whether to re-licence controversial herbicide glyphosate in the bloc, and so to close a long-standing dispute over the world’s biggest-selling weedkiller. In a vote held last Thursday, the European Commission fell short again of the majority needed to renew the licence for another five years, […]

WhatsApp to face scrutiny from EU regulators task force over data sharing with Facebook

Last week EU privacy regulators increased their pressure on one of the world’s biggest data owners as part of their longstanding dispute over digital privacy in the bloc. WhatsApp instant messaging application will face scrutiny from the European Union’s data protection regulators for the sharing of user data with parent company Facebook, a year after […]

European Commission determined to conclude EU-Mercosur trade deal this year despite French concerns

Despite the little space dedicated to pure international trade at the latest European leaders’ summit in Brussels, one of last week’s biggest takeaways is that negotiations between the EU and Southern America over a free trade deal may soon gain momentum. On Friday, right at the end of last week’s EU Council meeting, European Commission […]

Amazon, Luxembourg and Ireland hit by EU’s latest turn of the screw over competition

Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, in Brussels - Berlaymont, last week. (Copyright European Union, 2017 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Lukasz Kobus)

Last week, the European Commission has ordered Amazon to pay a 250 million euros ($293 million) bill in back taxes to Luxembourg, as a consequence of “undue tax benefits”. The Commission also announced that it is planning to take the Irish government to European court over its failure to recover €13bn in unpaid taxes from […]

UK’s PM Theresa May asks for a two-year Brexit transition plan as negotiations round kicks off

UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May delivered a much-awaited speech last Friday in Florence, where she set out a plan on how to progress in Brexit negotiations. Ms. May proposed delaying a full Brexit for a two-year period to smooth the impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, as well as to “end the deadlock” […]

EU’s Finance Ministers draft plan to raise tax bills of online giants like Google and Amazon

Digital multinationals such as Amazon, Facebook and Google may face higher tax bills in the European Union as a new plan for harmonised tax treatment of online companies has been discussed by EU Finance Ministers on Saturday. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire led the initiative and claimed on Friday nearly one third of EU […]

Europe’s top court hears Intel and sends € 1.06 bn antitrust fine to review

Last week the European Court of Justice, Europe’s highest court, ruled that US chipmaker Intel’s € 1.06 billion ($1.26 billion) antitrust fine be re-examined by a lower court. The ECJ found that the General Court, which upheld the hefty fine imposed on Intel by the Commission for abuse of a dominant position in the market, […]

Road to Brexit: the UK seeks early agreement on Data Privacy with the EU

British and European flags in front of the Berlaymont building (Copyright European Union, 2016 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service/ Photo: Lieven Creemers). Last Thursday, the Government of the United Kingdom openly said it wants to co-operate with the European Union over data protection, in a bid to ensure the free flow of data across […]

Brexit talks: 2nd round fails to bring the EU and the UK closer on key issues

Michel Barnier, the EU’s Chief Negotiator and David Davis, British Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, hold a joint press conference at the end of the second round of Brexit negotiations. (Copyright European Union / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service) After millions of words that have been said over the matter, last week, […]

EU and Japan agree on free-trade deal and fill the post-TPP void

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EC, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council and Shinzō Abe, Japanese Prime Minister at the EU-Japan Summit (Brussels, July 6, 2017). Copyright: European Union; Source: EC – Audiovisual Service; Photo: Etienne Ansotte Last week, right before the kick-off of the Hamburg G20 Summit, the European Union and Japan announced […]

Japanese banks to move their European HQ from London to Frankfurt after Brexit

One year after the UK has decided to quit the EU, the first effects of the “leave” vote on the financial sector are becoming visible. Japanese brokerage giants Nomura and Daiwa Securities Group have decided to pick Frankfurt as their new base for European operations, and will soon begin relocating staff from London to Germany. […]

EU unveils plan to accelerate Capital Markets Union ahead of London’s departure from the bloc

Skyline of the City of London, Europe’s largest financial centre. (Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Jack Taylor) Last week the European Commission unveiled it is taking further steps to develop the Capital Markets Union, a plan to support growth and investment in the Old Continent. The project, which aims at creating a single […]

The US may be “open” to reviving TTIP, while the EU designs the future of trade with China

After months of silence and no progress since the negotiations were officially put on hold, last week the TTIP reappeared on the main pages of the international press. According to US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership indeed would not be dead as of yet, and the US would be “open” […]

EU Council approves visa-free travel for Ukraine and cement ties with Kiev

Last week the Council of the European Union finally adopted a regulation granting visa-free travel for Ukrainian citizens. Thanks to the formal adoption by the bloc, Ukrainian holders of a biometric passport can travel to an EU country for up to 90 days out of any 180-day period for business, tourism or family purposes. And, […]

EU and Amazon cut deal to end antitrust investigation over e-books deals

Last week the European Commission has communicated its decision to formally accept commitments by US tech giant Amazon to end an EU antitrust investigation over contracts with e-book publishers. The Seattle-based company has proposed to drop some clauses in its contracts that required publishers to inform about terms offered to the company’s competitors and to […]

EU27 leaders unite on Brexit Guidelines ahead of “tough negotiations” with Theresa May

Last Saturday, the leaders of the European Union met for the first time after UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, officially opening the Brexit process, and Britain was not invited. The purpose of the EU27 special summit was indeed to discuss guidelines for divorce negotiations with the UK ahead […]

EU and UK soon to be in a post-Brexit rush over free trade agreement with Australia

Last week, trade was one of the hottest topics on the European economic scene. The European Union and Australia made substantial progress towards the conclusion of a free trade agreement which has been on the table for years. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Australia’s Minister for Trade, Investment and Tourism, Steven Ciobo, announced they […]

EU to give more power to national antitrust authorities in a bid to secure regulatory fines

Last week, the European Commission has proposed a new set of rules to give national antitrust authorities more power and resources against anti-competitive practices. The proposed rules, which followed a public consultation that was launched last year, are intended to make the bloc’s national competition agencies more autonomous but also more reactive against multinational firms […]

Brexit is happening now but the UK hasn’t really assessed the impact of a “no-deal” divorce

The last few days, amid the political storm that the Dutch elections have generated, the Brexit question has seen important events as well. Last week the Queen has given her assent to the Brexit bill, and have formally cleared the way for Prime Minister Theresa May to start talks to leave the European Union. PM […]

EU lawmakers vote to reintroduce visas for Americans over “reciprocity principle”

The European Parliament passed a motion last Thursday calling on the European Parliament to temporarily reintroduce visa requirements for US citizens. The non-binding resolution called on the European Commission to end visa-free travel in response to Washington’s refusal to grant visa-free access to people from five east European countries. Despite being only a temporary solution, […]

EU to present a “hefty” exit bill to the UK moments before Brexit negotiations

There’s just one month left for UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, according to her plans, and the European Union quantifies an exit bill for the first time. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has declared last week that the UK could face a “very hefty” bill for Brexit. […]

EU Parliament approves CETA: the EU-Canada free trade deal sees the light in Trump’s gloomy era

After seven years of talks and remarkable twists, the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) was approved by the European Parliament last week. The EU lawmakers formally backed last Wednesday the landmark free trade deal which aims to eliminate up to 99% of tariffs on exported goods with Canada, by a vote of 408 to […]

Digital Single Market: New EU rules for online subscription services

EU Regulators have found last week an agreement on new rules concerning online content portability, allowing EU citizens to access online subscription services with no restrictions while travelling within the Union. The new rules will practically end the so-called “geo-blocking tactics”, and will enable European consumers to access services such as Netflix, Sky’s Now and Spotify […]