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Mergers: Commission clears Belgian m-commerce joint venture by Belgacom and BNP Paribas Fortis




LOGO CE_Vertical_EN_quadriThe European Commission has cleared, under the EU Merger Regulation, the creation of a joint venture between the Belgian telecommunications operator Belgacom and the bank BNP Paribas Fortis. The joint venture will allow consumers in Belgium to use their mobile devices to purchase goods or services, redeem coupons, or use their loyalty cards when visiting the mobile application of participating merchants. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would not raise any competition concerns, in particular because the joint venture will face several credible actual or potential competitors in this growing market.

The Commission assessed the impact of the transaction in the nascent sector of mobile commerce in Belgium and particularly its potential effects in the market for the retail provision of mobile wallets, where the joint venture will be active and where both parents have a small presence. The joint venture will offer a mobile application that customers can download for free. It will not directly offer payment functions but will be connected to one or several independent payment wallets in which customers can upload their payment card details to make secure payments to participating merchants. The market investigation revealed that several competing mobile wallet providers already exist (e.g. PayPal) or are very likely to enter the Belgian market in the near future, ensuring healthy competition between providers.

There is also a limited overlap between Belgacom and the joint venture in the provision of mobile advertising services. However, the services they offer are of a different type and a number of local and global players, such as Yahoo! are well-established in the market.


The Commission also carried out a comprehensive assessment of the links between the m-commerce activities of the joint venture and other markets where Belgacom and BNP Paribas are active.

Given the existence of credible alternative payment cards in the Belgian market, BNP Paribas Fortis will not be able to harm competing mobile wallets by restricting the use of its payment cards in such wallets. Offering merchants and customers the choice of using different payment wallets or cards would also make the joint venture's services more attractive.

Furthermore, Belgacom would not have the technical ability to block the access to its mobile network to competing mobile wallets. It would also be unable to harm competing mobile wallets by excluding those using a SIM-based Secure Element (i.e. a piece of hardware containing the sensitive data) from accessing its SIM cards. Indeed there exist alternatives to placing Secure Elements on SIM cards (they can also be placed inside the mobile phone itself or on a piece of external hardware clipped to the phone) and such a strategy would not affect customers of other mobile network operators.


Finally, the joint venture would be unable to harm mobile network operators competing with Belgacom by refusing access to the joint venture's mobile wallet, as many alternative wallets are or will become available. The joint venture and its parents also have no incentive to engage in such a strategy, as it would hamper the commercial development of the joint venture's mobile wallet.

The transaction was notified to the Commission on 6 September 2013.

This is the third transaction involving the creation of a mobile wallet joint venture that the Commission reviews. The two precedent transactions took place in the UK (M.6314) and in Spain (M.6956).

Companies and products

Belgacom is active in the telecommunications sector and provides wholesale and retail telecommunications services, fixed and mobile telecommunications and voice and data services, mainly in Belgium. BNP Paribas Fortis is a financial institution belonging to the French BNP Paribas group. It provides banking and financial services in Belgium. The joint venture will provide a variety of services to businesses and consumers, such as communication of discounts, vouchers, offers and coupon redemption services to consumers, and mobile wallet services, which are accessible through mobile channels.

Merger control rules and procedures

The Commission has the duty to assess mergers and acquisitions involving companies with a turnover above certain thresholds (see Article 1 of the Merger Regulation) and to prevent concentrations that would significantly impede effective competition in the EEA or any substantial part of it.

The vast majority of notified mergers do not pose competition problems and are cleared after a routine review. From the moment a transaction is notified, the Commission generally has a total of 25 working days to decide whether to grant approval (Phase I) or to start an in-depth investigation (Phase II).

More information will be available on the competition website, in the Commission's public case register under the case number M.6967.


Healthy Lifestyle: Commission launches a European-wide campaign



The Commission has launched the HealthyLifestyle4All campaign to promote a healthy lifestyle for all, across generations and social groups, with the objective to improve the health and well-being of Europeans. Linking sport and active lifestyles with health, food and other policies, this two-year campaign involves civil society, non-governmental organisations, national, local and regional authorities and international bodies. All involved will implement several actions for Europeans to be more active and more mindful of their health.

The actions will support the three objectives of the HealthyLifestyle4All campaign:

  • Raise more awareness for healthy lifestyles across all generations;
  • Support an easier access to sport, physical activity and healthy diets, with a special focus on inclusion and non-discrimination to reach and involve disadvantaged groups;
  • Promote a global approach across policies and sectors, linking food, health, well-being and sport.

All participating organizations can submit a commitment for concrete actions in the online Pledge Board. Several EU countries and organisations, such as the International and European Olympic Committees, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the International School Sport Federation, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), and the World Health Organization (WHO) already submitted their contribution, with many more to be expected.


As a coordinator of the campaign, the Commission will implement several actions in the next two years, including for example:

  • Increase funding for projects supporting a healthy lifestyle in the Erasmus+, Horizon Europe and EU4Health For 2021-2027, €470 million will be available for sport actions under Erasmus+, €290 million under Horizon Europe, and €4.4 million under EU4Health;
  • create a new #BeActive Across Generations Award to recognise the importance of Sport across different ages;
  • launch an EU Mobile App for cancer prevention to raise awareness of the importance of healthy lifestyles for cancer prevention, supporting the goals of Europe's Beating Cancer Plan;
  • develop and update a food ingredients database containing information on the nutritional quality of processed food products sold in the EU to promote healthier food products and reduce the consumption of less healthy food products high in sugar, fat and salt. A harmonised mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labelling will further support that objective as well as the EU Code of Conduct on responsible food business and marketing practices that entered in force in July 2021;
  • address the issue of healthy and sustainable diets, and the importance of physical activity and mental health in schools. The Commission will review the EU School fruit, vegetables and milk scheme and will streamline the concept of healthy lifestyles in its recommendation on education, and;
  • Support evidence-based policy making for healthy lifestyles with the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Knowledge Gateway and the Knowledge Centre on Cancer.

The launch of the campaign coincides with the start of the European Week of Sport 2021, which takes place from 23 to 30 September across Europe under the patronage of three great European athletes: Beatrice Vio, Jorge Pina and Sergey Bubka. Thousands of events, online and in situ, will highlight the power of physical activity to bring joy, build resilience and connect generations. Since its first edition in 2015, the European Week of Sport has become the largest European campaign for promoting sport and physical activity. The 2020 European Week of Sport (EWoS) saw a record participation of 15.6 million active participants in over 32,000 events across Europe.

Promoting the European Way of Life Vice President Margaritis Schinas said: “Sport and physical activity contribute to our physical and mental wellbeing. The lack of physical activity not only has a negative impact on society and people's health, but also results in economic costs. In addition, sport has the potential to strengthen messages of tolerance and reinforce citizenship throughout Europe. Today's HealthyLifestyle4All campaign is a testimony of the Commission's implication for a healthy lifestyle for every citizen.”


Launching the campaign alongside the European Week of Sport in Slovenia yesterday, Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said: “People's awareness about the role of sport and fitness for a healthy lifestyle has only grown over the years, not least because of the pandemic. We have to keep the momentum. The European Commission will continue to work to raise the awareness about the key role sport plays for our societies; for people's health, social inclusion and well-being. The HealthyLifestyle4All initiative invites key sectors promoting sport, physical activity and healthy diets to join the Commission in promoting action that can improve our healthy habits.”

Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said: "Good health is the bedrock for strong societies and strong economies. And prevention will always be better than cure. This is why health promotion and disease prevention is a crucial component for our work on health, and a major focus of Europe's Beating Cancer Plan. The HealthyLifestyles4All initiative will help us shine a spotlight on the importance of healthy lifestyles across all generations and social groups. It will raise awareness about the importance of healthy lifestyles, support a shift towards more sustainable diets and promote responsible food business and marketing practices.”


According to the latest Eurobarometer survey, nearly half of Europeans never exercise or play sport, and the proportion has increased gradually in recent years. Only 1 in 7 persons aged 15 or over eats at least five portions of fruit or vegetables daily, while 1 in 3 does not eat any fruit or vegetables every day. Healthy lifestyles contribute to reduce the incidence of a number of non-communicable diseases. For example, it is an established fact that over 40% of cancers are preventable and unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles are important determinants. Effective cancer prevention strategies can prevent illness, save lives, and reduce suffering. Europe's Beating Cancer plan is committed to giving people the information and tools they need to make healthier choices when it comes to diet and exercise.

Sport is recognised for boosting the immune system, helping improve mental health and teaching us important values of inclusion and participation. At EU level, the Commission supports the promotion of physical activity through financial support via Erasmus+, Horizon Europe and EU4Health. Since 2014, Erasmus+ has financed 1175 projects and reached 3700 organisations for a value of €250 million. The Commission also created the #BeActive awards to support projects and individuals that are dedicated to promoting sport and physical activity across Europe.

The Commission supports the member states and stakeholders in promoting healthy diets through a number of actions, such as food reformulation, reducing aggressive (digital) marketing of foods high in fat, salt and sugars, public procurement of school food, promotion of physical activity and consumer information, including labelling. An overview of the policy initiatives on nutrition and physical activity shows that it can contribute to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. The Farm to Fork Strategy aims to accelerate our transition to a sustainable food system where everyone has access to sufficient, safe, nutritious, sustainable food.

More information


European Week of Sport

Nutrition and physical activity

Europe's Beating Cancer Plan

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European Commission

President von der Leyen visits the Western Balkans



Ahead of the EU-Western Balkans Summit on 6 October, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (pictured) will be in the Western Balkans between today (28 September) and Thursday (30 September), to visit Albania, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The president will start her trip in Tirana this morning, where she will be received by Prime Minister Edi Rama, and President Ilir Meta. Together with the prime minister, she will attend the inauguration of the ‘Korb Muça School and Europa Kindergarten', which was rebuilt with EU funds under the EU4Schools programme after the devastating 2019 earthquake. This afternoon, she will travel to Skopje, where she will meet Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, as well as President Stevo Pendarovski, followed by a visit to a youth cultural centre, together with Prime Minister Zaev. On Wednesday morning (29 September), President von der Leyen will be in Pristina, where she will meet with President Vjosa Osmani and Prime Minister Albin Kurti. She will also visit the Cicërimat Kindergarten, which was built with EU funds, together with the prime minister. The president will then travel to Podgorica, where she will be received by President Milo Đukanović and Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapić. During her stay, she will visit the Institute of Public Health which received EU support in the fight against the pandemic, accompanied by the prime minister.

Then, the president will arrive in Belgrade, Serbia, where she will meet President Aleksandar Vučić on Wednesday and Prime Minister Ana Brnabić on Thursday. On Thursday morning, together with President Vučić, President von der Leyen will take part in the launch event of a project on railway Corridor X. The President will also witness the signing of a contract for the rehabilitation of a section on the Peace Highway which the EU is supporting. Her last stop will be Bosnia and Herzegovina, later on Thursday. The Commission president will attend the opening ceremony of the Svilaj Bridge connecting Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, together with Prime Minister of Croatia Andrej Plenković and the Chair of Council of Ministers Zoran Tegeltija. The same day, in Sarajevo, she will also have meetings with the Presidency members of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Over the course of her visit, President von der Leyen will give press conferences with the different Western Balkan leaders, which you can follow live on EbS


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European Commission

EU at UNGA76: Wrap up



The EU has concluded a week of intense discussions with leaders from all over the world on how to address together the most pressing challenges of our times: fighting the coronavirus pandemic and recovering from it, fighting climate change and biodiversity loss, sustainable development and the erosion of human rights. On 23 September, High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell (pictured) delivered a statement on behalf of the EU during the ministerial conference on article XIV of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Watch the statement here.

He also delivered a video message during the meeting of the Alliance for Multilateralism. Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič delivered opening remarks at the high-level event on 'Protection of children, invisible victims of armed conflict and COVID-19', organized by the EU and Belgium. Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius participated in a High-level event on regional perspectives on the circular economy. Also on 23 September, European Green Deal Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans and Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson presented three Energy Compacts at the UN High-level Dialogue on Energy in New York, in partnership with the International Energy Agency and the International Renewable Energy Agency. You can read more about it here. Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans will represent the EU at the virtual UN Food Systems Summit. His speech will be available here.

He also participated in the leadership dialogue “Accelerating action to achieve universal energy access and net zero emissions” as part of the UN High-level Dialogue on Energy. Finally, on Tuesday, 28 September, Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen will participate in the meeting of Heads of State and Government on Jobs and Social Protection for Poverty Eradication, organised by the UN Secretary General and the International Labour Organization (ILO). All press and audio-visual material coverage from the past week will be available on EEASEuropa and Consilium.


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