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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 96-07-10

Midday Express: News from the EU Commission Spokesman's Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: HR-Net News Distribution Manager <dist@hri.org>

MIDDAY EXPRESS

News from the Spokesman's midday briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi du Porte-Paroleb

10 / 07 / 1996


CONTENTS / CONTENU

[I] Résultats de la Commission de ce jour - Outcome of today's Commission meeting

  • [01] Pour une recherche européenne au service du citoyen, de l'emploi et de la compétitivité
  • [02] Commission proposes to relate truck charges more closely to the cost of road usage
  • [03] A global framework for all Community actions in favour of SMEs
  • [04] Commission adopts groundwater action programme
  • [05] The situation of the European Union automobile industry
  • [06] Fusions et concentrations d'entreprises: la Commission propose de revoir les règles
  • [07] Lutte contre les cartels: la Commission prévoit de réduire ou de supprimer les amendes pour les entreprises qui dénoncent des ententes illicites
  • [08] La Commission interdit les concertations tarifaires dans le domaine du transport aérien de marchandises
  • [09] Agri-monetary compensatory aid in Belgium
  • [10] EU-Georgia and EU-Armenia interim agreements
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [11] Franz Fischler: urgent action is needed to rebalance beef market
  • [12] SMEs transnational development and the supporting role of the banks - "Partnership '96" (Luxembourg, 11-12 July)
  • [13] La Commission lance les premiers projets de service volontaire européen
  • [14] Visit of Dick Spring and Hans van den Broek to Sarajevo, Zagreb and Belgrade
  • [15] Balkan mothers: Commission backs support for women of Srebrenica
  • [16] EU pledges long-term future for ties with Hong Kong
  • [17] Humanitarian aid to Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire and Bangladesh

  • [I] Résultats de la Commission de ce jour - Outcome of today's Commission meeting

    [01] Pour une recherche européenne au service du citoyen, de l'emploi et de la compétitivité

    Pour être utile et efficace, la recherche européenne doit se rapprocher davantage des préoccupations des citoyens, exercer un effet positif sur la compétitivité et l'emploi, et continuer à faire avancer la connaissance sur un certain nombre de questions-clés. Dans une communication au Conseil qu'elle a adoptée aujourd'hui, la Commission européenne considère qu'il s'agit là des principes fondamentaux qui devront guider sa future politique de recherche. Ce document amorce la réflexion sur le 5e programme-cadre de recherche et développement technologique qui prendra, à partir de 1999, le relais du 4e programme-cadre en cours. Une proposition formelle sera soumise par la Commission à ce sujet au printemps 1997.

    [02] Commission proposes to relate truck charges more closely to the cost of road usage

    The European Commission today published a proposal to amend the existing so-called Eurovignette directive - which lays down Community-wide rules for truck taxes, charges and tolls - in order to better relate truck charges to the costs of road haulage. The proposed changes would give road hauliers incentives to use cleaner trucks and vehicles that do less damage to the road infrastructure and have a small marginal impact on transport costs (with an effect on final good prices of 0.008%). These results would be achieved by modifying the structure of road taxation, without raising average tax levels. It is, however, proposed to provide Member States with the ability to levy higher toll charges for trucks on heavily congested routes or in environmentally sensitive areas, provided that alternative ways of shifting freight are available. The Commission estimates that this proposal will lead to significant reductions in emissions, cut down congestion on sensitive routes and generate infrastructure cost savings of ECU 1,600 to 4,000 million.

    [03] A global framework for all Community actions in favour of SMEs

    The European Commission adopted today an Integrated Programme for SMEs, which is a direct follow-up to the European Confidence Pact for Employment and provides a comprehensive framework to facilitate coordination, coherence and greater visibility of the total effort in favour of the European small and medium-sized enterprises and the craft sector.

    [04] Commission adopts groundwater action programme

    With the adoption today of an action programme for protection and management of groundwater, the European Commission has taken one step further towards strengthening Community water policy. As the main thrust of the programme Member States are requested to draw up national action programmes implementing by 2000 the actions of the programme while adjusting to the particular situation in the regions of the Community. Focus has been put on integration and improved planning and management. National programmes will include identification and mapping of groundwater resources, identification of pollution sources from urban, industrial and agricultural sources, focus on spatial planning and the importance of groundwater protection including designation of zones where groundwater is particularly important or particularly threatened and increased monitoring of groundwater quantity and quality in order to allow for an early detection of signs of deterioration.

    [05] The situation of the European Union automobile industry

    The European Commission today adopted a communication on the European Union automobile industry. The Commission came to the following main conclusions: since 1994 sales of new cars and light commercial vehicles have slowly but steadily recovered from the 1993 slump ; great strides have been made in productivity and quality ; the industry has been successful on the main international markets. Despite this, it is not a growth sector as far as employment is concerned. On the contrary, new production concepts and the trend to low-cost locations outside the EU will lead to further job losses in Member States. While increasing competitiveness is primarily a matter for the industry itself, the EU can help create a favourable business environment. To this end, it will continue its strategy of promoting intangible investment, in particular in R&amp;D and training, ensuring strong competition, developing industrial cooperation and modernizing the role of the public authorities.

    [06] Fusions et concentrations d'entreprises: la Commission propose de revoir les règles

    Après un large débat public lancé depuis la fin du mois de janvier 1996, la Commission européenne propose aux Etats membres de revoir notamment les seuils, en termes de chiffres d'affaires, à partir desquels de telles opérations de concentrations doivent obligatoirement recevoir le feu vert de la Commission. Ainsi, les seuils en question passeraient de 5 milliards d'Ecus, actuellement, en chiffre d'affaires cumulé au niveau mondial à 3 milliards d'Ecus et de 250 millions actuellement de chiffre d'affaires au niveau européen à 150 millions d'Ecus. En outre, pour les opérations de fusions/concentrations dès lors qu'elles devraient normalement être notifiées auprès de trois autorités nationales différentes, il est proposé une formule de "guichet unique" plus efficace et plus rapide permettant une seule notification auprès de la Commission, pour toute opération atteignant des seuils de 2 milliards d'Ecus de chiffre d'affaires mondial et de 100 millions d'Ecus de chiffre d'affaires européen.

    [07] Lutte contre les cartels: la Commission prévoit de réduire ou de supprimer les amendes pour les entreprises qui dénoncent des ententes illicites

    Dans sa - difficile - bataille contre les cartels que certaines entreprises organisent de manière de plus en plus sophistiquée, la Commission européenne a décidé de réduire, voire de supprimer à certaines conditions les amendes normalement imposables aux entreprises qui dénoncent certains types d'ententes illicites. En fonction de la dénonciation après ou avant que la Commission ait procédé à une vérification, le réduction de l'amende peut aller de 50% à 100%, pourvu que certaines conditions soient remplies.

    [08] La Commission interdit les concertations tarifaires dans le domaine du transport aérien de marchandises

    La Commission européenne a décidé de supprimer l'exemption dont bénéficient les compagnies aériennes pour les concertations tarifaires dans le domaine du transport de marchandises à l'intérieur de l'Union Européenne. Les compagnies disposent d'un délai jusqu'au 30 juin 1997 pour se conformer à cette décision.

    [09] Agri-monetary compensatory aid in Belgium

    The European Commission decided to raise no objections to agri-monetary compensation in Belgium in 1997 and 1998 (plus a supplement for beef in 1996) of BF 1046 million (ECU 25.6 million). Of this total BF 240 million will be nationally financed, the rest will be financed by the EC budget. The aid is granted by the application of the Council regulation on compensation for reductions in the agricultural conversion rates of certain national currencies. That regulation set the maximum level of aid which could be granted in, inter alia, Belgium.

    [10] EU-Georgia and EU-Armenia interim agreements

    The European Commission has adopted today proposals for a Council and a Commission Decision - each respectively taken their own competence, the EC Treaty and the ECSC Treaty - respectively concluding Interim Agreements with Georgia and Armenia. These Interim Agreements will provisionally apply the trade provisions (tariffs, abolition of quantitative restrictions, etc.) and flanking measures (safeguard clause, anti-dumping rules, etc.) of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreements signed with Georgia and Armenia in Luxembourg on 22 April 1996.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [11] Franz Fischler: urgent action is needed to rebalance beef market

    Intervention stocks of over 600,000 tonnes; a decline in beef consumption of 11%; an increase in EU budgetary expenditure of ECU 1,500 million; serious economic problems for beef producers and probably many farmer bankruptcies; this according to Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Franz Fischler will be the legacy of the BSE crisis in 1996. In the absence of radical and immediate action the situation will deteriorate further as the restoration of consumer confidence and consumption will take time. Rebalancing the beek market must be a priority which on the one hand involves increasing consumption and on the other reducing production as rapidly as possible and Mr Fischler indicated today in Brussels his intention of bringing forward proposals in this area as soon as possible. In the context of increasing consumption Mr Fischler criticised beef traders and retailers for not passing the price reductions being experienced by producers on to consumers as this would contribute towards increasing consumption.

    [12] SMEs transnational development and the supporting role of the banks - "Partnership '96" (Luxembourg, 11-12 July)

    European SMEs must be helped in a concrete way in order to contribute to job creation and economic growth but also to internationalise their strategies and businesses. This being the objective, the European Commission took the initiative to organise a first meeting between representatives of small and medium-sized enterprises, of the existing cooperation networks BC-NET and BRE, as well as of European banks with the aim to discuss how the financial institutions could help SMEs to exploit opportunities of cooperation and expansion of their activities in third countries.

    [13] La Commission lance les premiers projets de service volontaire européen

    Lancé il y a cinq mois par Edith Cresson, commissaire européen à la recherche, l'éducation, la formation et la jeunesse, le service volontaire européen se met en place. La Commission européenne a en effet approuvé une première série de projets qui permettront à quelque 200 jeunes de partir, dès le mois d'août, dans un autre pays de l'Union européenne pour y effectuer des tâches d'intérêt général: aide sociale, animation culturelle, protection de l'environnement ou encore préservation du patrimoine. Pour l'assister dans le développement du service volontaire, la Commission a mis sur pied un groupe de personnalités présidé par M. Hans Koschnick, ancien maire de Brême et ex-administrateur européen de la ville de Mostar en Bosnie-Herzégovine.

    [14] Visit of Dick Spring and Hans van den Broek to Sarajevo, Zagreb and Belgrade

    The President of the Council, the Irish Foreign Minister, Mr Dick Spring, and Commissioner Hans van den Broek are paying a joint official visit to Sarajevo, Zagreb and Belgrade from 10-12 July 1996. The purpose of this mission is to meet the main political leaders in the three capitals in order to assess the state of play of the implementation of the Dayton Agreements including the full cooperation of the parties with the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. Furthermore, the meetings scheduled will provide an opportunity to discuss the preparations of the elections, the return of refugees and the reconstruction effort.

    [15] Balkan mothers: Commission backs support for women of Srebrenica

    Emma Bonino, European Commissioner in charge of Humanitarian Aid, will join tomorrow in Tuzla a group of international women leaders and 6,000 women of Srebrenica to mark the anniversary of July 11, 1995. That was the day the women and children of Srebrenica were bussed out of town before a massacre in which up to 8,000 unarmed men and boys died in ethnic cleansing. One year later, the women leaders will launch programmes including humanitarian aid worth ECU 2 million from the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO).

    [16] EU pledges long-term future for ties with Hong Kong

    Chris Patten, the Governor of Hong Kong, yesterday held a full day of talks with the European Commission, as part of the process of developing long-term ties between the EU and the territory. During talks with President Santer, Vice-Presidents Brittan and Marin and Commissioners Gradin and Monti, key themes included Hong Kong's central position in the EU's policy of closer relations with Asia, the options for practical cooperation between Hong Kong and the EU in the public and private sector, and the concern that Hong Kong passport-holders should enjoy visa-free access to EU Member States. Progress towards Hong Kong's transfer of sovereignty in 1997 was also discussed in detail.President Santer said: "I look forward to the healthy development of future relations, and am confident that the autonomy, economic freedom and legal rights of Hong Kong will be maintained as vital components to the lasting success of the territory after the handover in 1997."

    [17] Humanitarian aid to Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire and Bangladesh

    The European Commission has approved humanitarian aid grants worth a total of ECU 780,000 for projects to be carried out in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire (refugees from Liberia) and Bangladesh. The projects are being channelled via the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO). Members of the Red Cross family, specialist agencies of the United Nations and non-governmental organisations will carry out the practical work in the field with ECHO funding.

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


    From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at http://www.cec.lu/
    © ECSC - EC - EAEC, Brussels-Luxembourg, 1995, 1996


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