#AceFinanceNews – BRUSSELS – September 12 – Mastercard has lost its legal battle with the European Commission over payment fees following a ruling by the European Court of Justice.
The verdict on Thursday (11 September) threw out the firm’s appeal against a commission decision dating back to 2007, in which the EU executive ordered Mastercard to repeal its cross-border card fees.
The fees – known as “multilateral interchange fees (MIFs)” – are paid between the banks of a retailer and customer every time someone pays for items by card. The fee is charged to the retailer’s bank who, in turn, normally factors it into the price paid by consumers.
At present, average fees range from around 0.2 percent in Denmark and the Netherlands, to over 1 percent in Germany, Hungary, and Poland, raking in around €6 billion per year to credit card giants across the bloc.
In its judgement, the EU court found that the fee structure could not be described as being “objectively necessary” as the system was “still capable of functioning without those fees.”
There was also an “absence of … appreciable objective advantages” to either retailers or consumers from the system.
The court ruling comes more than 20 years after the commission originally launched proceedings against Mastercard in 1992.
Antoine Colombini, the Commission competition spokesman, described the ruling as “a big win for European consumers who for too long have been paying unjustifiably hidden fees”.
Javier Perez, the president of Mastercard Europe said it would have “little or no impact on how MasterCard operates,” although he conceded that it was “disappointing”.
But the ruling was welcomed by consumer and retail groups.
#AceFinanceNews – KIEV – May 08 – Ukraine is continuing to import gas from Poland and Hungary using a reverse-flow supply scheme, the press service of the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry said on Thursday, May 8.
“Starting from May, Ukraine has been receiving up to 14 million cubic metres of natural gas from Hungary daily in reverse-flow mode,” the ministry said.
“Technically, the maximum amount of 4 million cubic metres of gas can be supplied through Poland daily for the time being, or about 1.5 billion cubic meters a year,” it said.
According to Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Minister Yuri Prodan, reverse-flow supplies can reach 8 billion cubic metres by September 1, 2014, not by 2015. Gas will be supplied by the Vojany-Uzhgorod pipeline, not the transit pipeline.
EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said such supplies would not require the Russian company’s agreement and would give Ukraine up to 10 billion cubic metres of a gas a year but stressed that reverse-flow gas supplies from Slovakia to Ukraine by the trunk pipeline would be impossible without Gazprom’s consent as it would run counter to the Slovak company Eustream’s contractual obligations.
Oettinger believes that diversification of supplies will help to solve Ukraine’s gas problem in part. However reverse-flow supplies from Poland and Hungary by the Vojany-Uzhgorod pipeline will not be enough for Ukraine get through the coming winter comfortably.
Kiev is planning to buy about 290 million cubic metres of gas in Europe in reverse mode (about 140 million cubic metres will be delivered through Poland and the rest through Hungary).
Russian News – Press – Itar-Tass
#AceFinanceNews – MOSCOW – May 06 – The Russian Defence Ministry is planning to deploy additional forces in Crimea as part of beefing up the Black Sea fleet under a $2.5 billion program. The need for new deployment emerged after the formerly Ukrainian peninsula joined Russia.
“Before year’s end we will form new units of air defence and marine troops at the sites of our fleet’s deployment,” Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu said Tuesday. “The fleet will receive new submarines and surface ships of new generation this year. This requires our attention.”
The minister stressed that the Navy beef-up program for the Black Sea fleet was extended due to Crimea, the fleet’s base, becoming part of Russia in March. The ministry plans to spend more than $2.4 billion for the purpose by 2020.
The announcement of deployment plans comes after Russia voiced concerns of the build-up of NATO forces in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea. The alliance deployed aircraft and warships as well as ground troops, saying it was needed to instil confidence in its members like Poland, Romania and the Baltic states.
#AceFinanceNews The Polish government said it will offer 6-year tax breaks for shale gas companies in an effort to fast track investment and exploration.
The announcement comes as energy tension with Russia run high over Ukraine.
The new tax break is aimed at helping Poland attract foreign companies to explore and invest in the country’s shale oil reserves, believed to be the largest in Europe, according to data by the US Energy Information Administration.
The tax break will be “a huge incentive” to get investors interested and on the ground, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Tuesday, adding that by 2020 taxes “should not exceed 40 percent of extraction income.”
Between 2020-2029, the new incentives will contribute up to $5 billion in revenue, according to Tusk.
The proposal will be sent to parliament within two weeks, and the prime minister hopes it will pass without any hiccups.