EU News Roundup: President von der Leyen Visits Flood-Hit Slovenia, State Aid Approvals, Acquisitions Under Scrutiny – August 8, 2023

President von der Leyen Visits Flood-Hit Slovenia

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, is set to travel to Slovenia to express solidarity and assess the aftermath of devastating floods that recently struck the country. Alongside Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, President von der Leyen will discuss EU support for reconstruction efforts. Her visit includes meetings with Prime Minister Robert Golob, a tour of affected areas, and an address at the National Assembly of Slovenia.

EU Approves €350 Million Finnish Scheme for Sustainable Forest Management

The European Commission has granted approval under EU State aid rules for a Finnish scheme worth €350 million to bolster sustainable forest management. The initiative aims to assist private forest owners in implementing sustainable practices and techniques for forest growth, climate adaptation, biodiversity protection, and water preservation. Direct grants will be provided, focusing on various forest management aspects, with a maximum aid limit per beneficiary.

Bulgaria’s Gas Storage Facility Expansion Receives €16 Million Support

The European Commission has sanctioned a €16 million Bulgarian measure under EU State aid rules to support the expansion of Bulgartranstaz’s natural gas storage facility in Chiren. This enlargement, a Project of Common Interest, seeks to enhance gas supply security, encourage gas trade, and contribute to EU energy and climate goals. The aid will provide a public guarantee on the loan to finance the expansion, with rigorous conditions to ensure proportionality and minimal competition distortion.

Italy’s Sardinia Receives €100 Million Aid Amid Russia-Ukraine Crisis

In light of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the European Commission has approved a €100 million Italian scheme to aid Sardinian companies. The scheme falls under the State aid Temporary Crisis and Transition Framework, aiming to address liquidity shortages faced by eligible companies in Sardinia. Direct grants, guarantees, or subsidised loans will be offered to support key sectors driving the green transition and reducing fuel dependencies.

Commission Investigates Adobe’s Acquisition of Figma

The European Commission has initiated an in-depth investigation to assess Adobe’s proposed acquisition of Figma under the EU Merger Regulation. Concerns over potential competition reduction in the global interactive product design software and digital asset creation tools markets have prompted the inquiry. Additionally, the Commission will examine whether bundling Figma with Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite might hinder competition in interactive product design tools.

Prada and Zegna’s Acquisition of Fedeli Clears Hurdles

The European Commission has approved the acquisition of joint control over Luigi Fedeli e Figlio S.r.l. by Prada S.p.A. and Ermenegildo Zegna N.V. The companies’ activities in the high-end textile industry and luxury fashion sector raised no competition concerns, given the negligible impact on the European Economic Area.