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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 96-07-24

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

24 / 07 / 1996


CONTENTS / CONTENU

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

  • [01] From Corfu to Dublin: the next steps towards the Information Society
  • [02] Commission authorises third tranche of state aid for Air France
  • [03] Commission approves extension of scheme to encourage the development of combined transport, proposes additional budget
  • [04] Accounting: Commission adopts Green Paper on the role, position and liability of statutory auditors
  • [05] Sexual harassment in the workplace
  • [06] Commission proposes WTO role in labour standards debate
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [07] 1997 declared the "European Year against racism"
  • [08] La Commission approuve une concentration dans le secteur des livraisons express internationales
  • [09] Jean Monnet project for Hungary and Poland: 7 new Jean Monnet chairs
  • [10] Franz Fischler welcomes Agriculture Council's agreement
  • [11] Hans van den Broek visits Albania and Fyrom
  • [12] Mobilisation de l'industrie européenne pour la reconstruction de la Bosnie-Herzégovine

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

    [01] From Corfu to Dublin: the next steps towards the Information Society

    The 1994 Action Plan "Europe's way towards the Information Society" has successfully established a first framework for the European Union's Information Society policy. However, in the light of the pervasive nature of the Information Society and recent global developments, it is now necessary to update, reinforce and re-adjust actions already undertaken and incorporate the Information Society dimension in policy areas which were not originally addressed in the Action Plan. To this end, the Commission today adopted a package consisting of two communications on "The implications of Information Society on European Union Policies" and on "Standardisation in the Information Society", a Green Paper on the key social challenges raised by the transition to the Information Society and a proposal for a directive ensuring "The regulatory transparency in the Internal Market for Information Society services". * The Information Society: new emerging priorities

    The European Commission approved two communications on "The implications of Information Society on European Union Policies" and on "Standardisation in the Information Society". The first announces an adaptation of the Action Plan which the Commission will carry out by the end of this year and which will focus on four priorities: improving the business environment, investing in the future by adapting Europe's research and development policy and by preparing Europe for the learning in the Information Society, putting people at the centre of the Information Society policy, and increasing efforts in defining global rules. The second communication examines how the best possible conditions can be created for the drawing up of the standards needed for the implementation of the Information Society. * People first: living and working in the Information Society

    The European Commission adopted a Green Paper on the key social challenges raised by the transition to the Information Society. Although the adoption and widespread use of information and communication technologies offer huge potential for wealth creation and higher standards of living, many people are also concerned about the impact of the Information Society on their lives. The Green Paper invites comments and debate particularly on the implications of the Information Society on work organisation, employment and social cohesion and invites reflection on a set of common principles for the development of the European Information Society. It seeks to deepen the political dialogue with the European Institutions and the Member States, to focus the social dialogue between employers and unions on these issues and to promote civil dialogue notably with the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), with a view to coming forward with action proposals in 1997. * Nouveau mécanisme pour la transparence réglementaire pour les services de la Société de l'Information

    La Commission européenne a approuvé aujourd'hui une proposition de directive qui vise à instaurer une procédure d'information et de coopération administrative entre les autorités nationales et communautaires relative aux futurs projets de réglementation nationale concernant les services de la Société de l'Information. Le système proposé a pour objectif de prévenir une refragmentation du Marché unique qui pourrait découler, à l'avenir, de l'adoption de mesures réglementaires nationales isolées et non-coordonnées dans cette matière.

    [02] Commission authorises third tranche of state aid for Air France

    The European Commission authorised payment of the third and final FF 5 billion tranche of aid from the French government for Air France. In 1994, the Commission authorised a total FF 20 billion state aid to the French carrier payable in three instalments of FF 10 billion, 5 billion and 5 billion respectively. The payment of each tranche is dependent on the satisfactory progress by Air France towards fulfilment of a restructuring plan outlined at the time of the original 1994 decision and the impact of the various conditions imposed then. It is the Commission's role to check that the company has fulfilled its stated commitments. In the case of this third tranche, the French government has suggested that FF 1 billion of the final FF 5 billion tranche should be paid into a frozen account. The French authorities undertake to report to the Commission by March 1997 on the implementation of further restructuring measures. If this report contains elements which show that the results obtained by Air France at the end of 1996 differ significantly from those forecast or that certain substantial conditions resulting from the Commission's original 1994 decision have not been fulfilled or that the undertakings given by the French government in their letter dated 12 July 1996 have not been respected, the Commission reserves the right to re-open the procedure. This provision enables the Commission to authorise payment of the third tranche now while fulfilling its commitment to monitor properly the company's further restructuring efforts.

    [03] Commission approves extension of scheme to encourage the development of combined transport, proposes additional budget

    The European Commission approved a major initiative designed to promote combined transport. Combined transport is the movement of goods between two points on at least two different forms of transport without unloading. The Commission believes that the development of combined transport systems promotes safe, reliable and competitive alternatives to road transport alone. As such, they are a vital tool in the Commission's efforts to create sustainable transport by encouraging a better balance of traffic across the system. Combined transport is part of an integrated transport policy that in the future will include revitalisation of the rail sector, R&D spending targetted to the development of the train of the future and better intermodal links, more transparent, fairer and efficient pricing systems, and special initiatives designed to tackle the problems of congestion and environmental pollution that are especially acute in the Alpine areas of the Union. In 1992 the Commission launched the PACT programme (pilot actions for combined transport) to promote innovative actions to improve the combined transport opportunities available. It gave financial assistance to feasibility studies and to innovative operational projects. Today's initiative extends the programme from 1997 to 2001 and creates the legal mechanisms necessary to ensure it has a steady budget for that period of ECU 35 million. Some ECU 18.3 million has been spent on PACT since the scheme has been in operation.

    [04] Accounting: Commission adopts Green Paper on the role, position and liability of statutory auditors

    The European Commission adopted a Green Paper on the role, position and liability of the statutory auditor in the European Union. Existing Community rules do not adequately address issues arising from the role, position and liability of statutory auditors. As a result, divergent approaches in different Member States may adversely affect the quality of auditing, freedom of establishment for auditing firms and the freedom to provide auditing services throughout the Single Market. The lack of a harmonised EU position also handicaps the Community's ability to influence international accounting negotiations, a specific objective of the New Accounting Strategy launched in November 1995. The Green Paper will launch a consultation process to establish whether there should be further EU level initiatives on statutory auditors, and if so what kind of initiatives.

    [05] Sexual harassment in the workplace

    The European Commission has decided to consult the social partners on the issue of taking further action against sexual harassment in the workplace. It is also sending the social partners a report which assesses the 1991 Commission Recommendation in this area as well as the Code of Practice which was annexed to it. The Evaluation Report confirms that the Recommendation and Code of Practice have not led to sufficient measures being adopted by the Member States to create a working environment where sexual harassment may be effectively prevented and fought against. In view of the lack of adequate progress in the fight against sexual harassment, the consultation document suggests that a binding instrument, which sets out a common plan to be adapted to each country's situation, may be the way forward in this area.

    [06] Commission proposes WTO role in labour standards debate

    The European Commission is asking the Council of Ministers to set the objective of establishing at Singapore a working party to study the link between the multilateral trading system and core labour standards as part of the EU's contribution to the first World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial meeting there in December. In a Communication, the Commission explains how such a process could help reduce reciprocal accusations of social dumping and hidden protectionism, counteracting the growing practice of countries using unilateral trade restrictions to bring about improvements in the social standards of their trading partners. The Communication envisages establishing a parallel between strengthening the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and opening talks in the WTO.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [07] 1997 declared the "European Year against racism"

    Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Padraig Flynn today welcomed the fact that the Council of Ministers have agreed to declare 1997 as the "European Year Against Racism." The European Year will have a budget of ECU 6 million available to fund actions. Commissioner Flynn said: "I am delighted that the Commission now has the green light to start preparing the European Year Against Racism. Our aim with the year is to highlight the way racism, xenophobia and antisemitism are a threat to the respect of fundamental rights and to the economic and social cohesion of the European Union. Racism, xenophobia and anti-semitism have no place in a civilised society."

    [08] La Commission approuve une concentration dans le secteur des livraisons express internationales

    La Commission européenne a approuvé une concentration par laquelle les PTT Post NV (Pays-Bas) ("Poste des PTT") et TNT Ltd (Australie) acquièrent le contrôle commun de la GD NV mondial express des Pays-Bas ("GD Express"). Les marchés relevants sont la livraison express internationale, le fret et le courrier express international. Chacun de ces marchés est national. L'opération n'apporte aucune modification à la structure actuelle des marchés.

    [09] Jean Monnet project for Hungary and Poland: 7 new Jean Monnet chairs

    The European Commission will support a total of 71 new university projects in the framework of the 1996/1997 Jean Monnet Project for Poland and Hungary. The European University Council for the Jean Monnet Project, which makes its selection recommendations to the Commission, examined the 155 applications submitted, 98 from Polish universities and 57 from Hungarian universities, at its meeting of 5 July 1996.

    [10] Franz Fischler welcomes Agriculture Council's agreement

    Commenting on the outcome of the Council of Agricultural Ministers, the Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Franz Fischler welcomed the fact that the Council had reached agreement on a number of important issues, in particular regarding the reform of the fruit and vegetable regime, the 1996/97 Price Package and the set-aside rate for the 1997/98 marketing year. "The agreement reached on the fruit and vegetable regime" he said, "maintains the essential aspects of the Commission's proposal and will when implemented play an important role in adapting the sector to market requirements and help improve its competitiveness. To continue to spend huge amounts of money on the destruction of surplus fruit and vegetables without any long term structural or competitive benefit to the sector would have been foolish and would not, in the long term, be accepted by society," he added.

    [11] Hans van den Broek visits Albania and Fyrom

    European Commissioner Hans van den Broek will pay an official visit to Albania and Fyrom on 25-26 July 1996. In Tirana as well as in Ohrid, the Commissioner will have high level talks with the authorities of the countries concerned regarding the political and economic situation in the countries, as well as the state of play of the relations between the distinct countries on the one hand and the EU on the other. The discussions will also refer to the situation to the region as a whole including the possibilities for cooperation between the different countries in the area.

    [12] Mobilisation de l'industrie européenne pour la reconstruction de la Bosnie-Herzégovine

    La Commission européenne a organisé le 23 juillet 1996 une conférence à laquelle ont participé 260 représentants de l'industrie européenne et des institutions financières nationales et internationales pour informer les participants sur la réalité du contexte économique actuel de la Bosnie-Herzégovine, sensibiliser les entrepreneurs aux opportunités nées du programme de reconstruction et des besoins futurs de l'économie locale et pour créer une dynamique d'engagement de l'industrie européenne.

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


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


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