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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 96-07-30

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

30 / 07 / 1996


CONTENTS / CONTENU

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

  • [01] Commission adopts beef market rebalancing measures
  • [02] Proposition de modification du régime de soutien aux producteurs de blé dur
  • [03] Bilan prévisionnel et contingent tarifaire pour le secteur des bananes pour l'année 1996
  • [04] People with disabilities: equality of opportunity
  • [05] Manufacturers must ensure that the products they produce can be recycled
  • [06] Commission proposes new strategy to save Europe's railways from extinction
  • [07] Commission study on linking Structural Funds to economic criteria
  • [08] VW Saxe: la Commission insiste sur le plein respect de sa décision du 26 juin dernier
  • [09] Bremer Vulkan: feu vert à la construction de deux ferries mais émet des doutes sur le contrat de deux navires-conteneurs
  • [10] Banco di Napoli: la Commission demande des informations supplémentaires sur les mesures de sauvetage
  • [11] Spain: Commission approves aid to restructure car maker Santana
  • [12] Sket: Commission maintains doubts about restructuring plan
  • [13] La Commission a approuvé l'aide à MCC-France en faveur de son projet d'investissement automobile à Hambach
  • [14] The Commission approved the aid to GM/OPEL Portugal SA in favour of its investment project in Azambuja
  • [15] The Commission approved the aid to the Nissan group in support of a restructuring project of Nissan Motor Ibérica SA
  • [16] Commission approves Austrian State aid in form of capital injections by Austria Tabak into Head Tyrolia Mares
  • [17] Finnish aid programme for agriculture products
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [18] Commission proposes European anti-boycott law
  • [19] Organic production of agricultural products

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

    [01] Commission adopts beef market rebalancing measures

    The European Commission has today proposed to the Council of Ministers a package of measures which are aimed at reducing beef production in the future to help remove from the market the surplus which has arisen due to the BSE ("mad cow") crisis. The measures include: opening intervention for young male animals (7 to 9 months old); reducing the total number of producer rights to the male beef premium; encourage the extensification of production; introduce a calf processing programme in the Member States; increase the ceilings for intervention purchases in 1996 and 1997; restrict grant aid for on-farm investments in beef production facilities; reduce arable aid payments to take account of favourable market developments and thus also enable funding to be provided for the measures for the beef sector.

    [02] Proposition de modification du régime de soutien aux producteurs de blé dur

    La Commission européenne a adopté une proposition au Conseil des Ministres visant à modifier le régime spécifique applicable au blé dur. Trois changements importants à la législation existante sont envisagés, à savoir: la fixation d'une superficie maximale garantie par Etat membre producteur à répartir, le cas échéant, entre les différentes zones traditionnelles de production éligibles au supplément du montant compensatoire (358,6 Ecus/ha); l'obligation d'utiliser des semences certifiées; des mesures visant à assurer une production commercialisable correspondant aux superficies emblavées.

    [03] Bilan prévisionnel et contingent tarifaire pour le secteur des bananes pour l'année 1996

    La Commission européenne a approuvé une décision arrêtant le bilan prévisionnel de la production et de la consommation ainsi que des importations et des exportations de bananes pour la Communauté pour l'année en cours. Sur base de ce bilan, une augmentation de 353.000 tonnes du contingent tarifaire pour l'importation de bananes en provenance des pays tiers et des pays ACP (Afrique, Caraïbes, Pacifique) non traditionnellement fournisseurs est prévue, portant le niveau pour l'année 1996 à 2.553.000 tonnes.

    [04] People with disabilities: equality of opportunity

    The European Commission adopted a Communication on equality of opportunity for people with disabilities. This document is aimed at bringing about a new impetus to the way European society tackles disability issues. It focuses on equality and human rights rather than impairment and the traditional welfare perspective. It looks at the principles involved and their importance at national and European level, and details plans for the Commission's own contribution over the coming years.

    [05] Manufacturers must ensure that the products they produce can be recycled

    The principle of producer responsibility is recognized as a key element for a precautionary waste management strategy in the review of the EU Waste Management Strategy adopted by the Commission. The reason is that the waste management potential of a given product is largely determined by decisions taken by the manufacturer concerning the composition and design of the product. The principle of producer responsibility will be integrated in future measures of the European Union aiming at (1) prevention, (2) increased recovery and (3) minimization of final disposal of waste, reflecting the hierarchy of priorities for the EU waste management policy. The instruments to be used at different levels to achieve the objectives are: Regulatory and economic instruments, improved statistics, waste management plans, life-cycle analysis and eco-balances.

    [06] Commission proposes new strategy to save Europe's railways from extinction

    To halt the decline of European railways, the European Commission published a White Paper proposing a new strategy for the rail sector. Such a reform implies a wholesale revolution of the present organisational structures and should lead to the creation of a new kind of railway which is first and foremost a business geared towards satisfying customer needs. But as a first stage this new strategy proposes a four-step plan towards the revitalisation of the Union's railways by 1) clarifying the division of financial responsibility between the State and the railways to help relieve the railways' debt burden and allow independent financial management. Over time this implies that railways should fall under the normal State Aid rules; 2) assuring the provision of public service through the award of public service contracts; 3) closer coordination to integrate infrastructures, co-ordinate research and development, harmonise technical standards; 4) working with Member States and railways themselves to designate a network of rail "freeways" - corridors along which rail freight has open access and thus in many instances a great priority of other railway traffic.

    [07] Commission study on linking Structural Funds to economic criteria

    The European Commission adopted a study that explores the idea of linking the EU's Structural Funds to changes in a country's real exchange rate as well as its macroeconomic performance in the run-up to Economic and Monetary Union. The study, which has been elaborated on the request of the informal Ecofin Council in Verona, finds that while policies of budgetary discipline could prevent disruptive exchange rate fluctuations, it is impossible to modify the Structural Funds' regulations before the end of 1999 or change the operation of the Community budget before the third stage of EMU. Furthermore, establishing such links to the Structural Funds are inadequate tools to reinforce convergence in the third stage of EMU and could have adverse effects on the current programmes.

    [08] VW Saxe: la Commission insiste sur le plein respect de sa décision du 26 juin dernier

    La Commission européenne a appris avec grand étonnement l'annonce du Gouvernement du Land de Saxe de ne pas respecter les termes de la décision de la Commission du 26 juin dernier relative aux aides publiques au bénéfice de Volkswagen en Saxe. Le paiement annoncé par le Gouvernement de Saxe d'un montant d'aides de 141,9 millions de DM pour 1996 comporte un montant de 90,7 millions de DM non autorisé et est donc clairement en violation flagrante des règles européennes en matière d'aides d'Etat. Par des lettres du Président Jacques Santer et de M. Karel Van Miert, Commissaire responsable de la Concurrence, la Commission attirera l'attention de toutes les autorités concernées sur les conséquences dangereuses de cette façon de procéder. Elle fera tout ce qui est dans son pouvoir pour assurer le plein respect du droit communautaire si de tels agissements persistent. La Commission note avec satisfaction que le Gouvernement fédéral partage clairement l'opinion de la Commission.

    [09] Bremer Vulkan: feu vert à la construction de deux ferries mais émet des doutes sur le contrat de deux navires-conteneurs

    La Commission européenne a donné son feu vert à la poursuite de la construction par les chantiers navals d'une des filiales du groupe Bremer Vulkan -en faillite depuis le 1er mai dernier - de deux ferries commandés par la société publique tunisienne Cotunav, d'une valeur totale de 213 millions de DM. Ces contrats bénéficient d'une aide publique cumulée qui reste dans les limites acceptables au terme des règles en vigueur dans l'Union européenne, à savoir un plafond maximal de 9% de la valeur contractuelle. Dans l'immédiat quelque 1.500 emplois directs sont ainsi sauvés. En revanche, la Commission a émis de sérieuses réserves sur deux autres contrats - conclus en mars 1995 au bénéfice de la filiale Bremer Vulkan Werft GmBH situé à Brême - concernant la construction de deux navires-conteneurs entamée en 1995 mais interrompue en 1996 à la suite des difficultés financières encourues par le groupe Bremer Vulkan aujourd'hui déclaré en faillite. Ces navires seront construits à perte. Le Land de Brême s'est engagé en principe à garantir financièrement les deux contrats. La Commission estime que les conditions de ces garanties sont inacceptables en ce sens qu'elles couvrent 100% du risque encouru par le futur propriétaire des navires. La Commission accorde aux autorités allemandes un délai d'un mois dans lequel elle souhaite obtenir des éclaircissements.

    [10] Banco di Napoli: la Commission demande des informations supplémentaires sur les mesures de sauvetage

    La Commission européenne a demandé aux autorités italiennes de fournir des informations supplémentaires afin de déterminer si le sauvetage du Banco est réalisé avec des aides d'Etat compatibles avec les règles communautaires en matière de concurrence. Il s'agit en particulier de la recapitalisation du Banco, de 2.000 milliards de Lires, par le Trésor italien.

    [11] Spain: Commission approves aid to restructure car maker Santana

    The European Commission has approved an aid package in support of the restructuring of car producer Santana SA in Spain. The aid scheme consists in: (a) a loan by the Spanish Official Credit Institute (ICO) for an amount of PTA 6800 million; (b) a loan by Instituto de Fomento de Andalucía (IFA), public institute owned by the Junta de Andalucía, for the same amount of PTA 6800 million of which 6716 million was paid illegally; (c) social aid to redundant workers, totalling PTA 8412 million.

    [12] Sket: Commission maintains doubts about restructuring plan

    The European Commission decided to extend the investigation procedure with respect to aid granted by the Bundesanstalt für vereinigungsbedingte Sonderaufgaben (BvS) to the heavy machinery undertaking SKET Schwermaschinenbau Magdeburg GmbH (SMM) in Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt, and its subsidiaries SKET Drahtziehmaschinenwerk Grüna GmbH (DZM) and Sket Entstaubungstechnik Magdeburg GmbH (ETM).

    [13] La Commission a approuvé l'aide à MCC-France en faveur de son projet d'investissement automobile à Hambach

    La Commission européenne a approuvé des aides d'un montant total de 485 millions de FF en faveur de Micro Compact Car-France, une filiale de MCC-AG, regroupant Daimler-Benz/ Mercedes pour 51% et SMH-AG (Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Mikroelektronik und Uhrenindustrie-Swatch) pour 49%, pour supporter son projet qui répond à une nouvelle conception technique de voiture, cataloguée "micro-voiture urbaine" et baptisée la "Smart".

    [14] The Commission approved the aid to GM/OPEL Portugal SA in favour of its investment project in Azambuja

    The European Commission approved a regional and training aid in favour of GM Opel/Portugal SA, a production centre for the manufacture of motor vehicles located in Azambuja, in support of its investment project for the manufacturing of two lines of light commercial vehicles.

    [15] The Commission approved the aid to the Nissan group in support of a restructuring project of Nissan Motor Ibérica SA

    The European Commission approved a regional aid in favour of Nissan Motor Ibérica (NMI), a Spanish subsidiary of the multinational group Nissan Motor Corporation, to assure the continuity of Nissan's Technical centre at Zona Franca (Barcelona) as a viable business unit within the Nissan Group.

    [16] Commission approves Austrian State aid in form of capital injections by Austria Tabak into Head Tyrolia Mares

    The European Commission closed its investigations into the capital injections from Austria Tabak (AT) to its subsidiary Head Tyrolia Mares (HTM). It declared them to constitute State aid but found them compatible with the Common market as they are necessary for the restructuring and long-term viability of HTM.

    [17] Finnish aid programme for agriculture products

    The European Commission adopted a decision approving the Finnish aid programme for a range of agricultural products. Finland was allowed to grant this national aid by a Commission decision in February 1995, in conformity with the Act of Accession. The underlying thrust of the measures is to assist the strengthening of agricultural structures so as to combat problems associated with adverse climate and current high levels of fixed costs associated with small scale of farms in the regions concerned (essentially in the South of Finland and the Archipelago). No budget ceiling has been set on the expenditure ,but the investment aids are limited to a total level of capacity no greater than that currently achieved.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [18] Commission proposes European anti-boycott law

    The European Commission has formally proposed to the Council of Ministers an anti-boycott regulation to neutralise the impact of the new US Helms-Burton law and any similar future laws on European economic interests. European Union (EU) Foreign Ministers have condemned the Helms-Burton Act and identified a list of possible counter-measures, among them legislation to neutralise the extraterritorial effects of the US law. The Commission has responded swiftly by proposing an EU-wide anti-boycott Regulation that would prevent European companies from complying with Helms-Burton and enable them to recover amounts awarded against them by US courts as a result of the law. The Council, which must approve the proposed Regulation unanimously, can decide to apply it to other extraterritorial laws besides Helms-Burton in future. In addition, the Commission has begun gathering information required to create a 'watch list' of US citizens and companies that file law suits against European firms.

    [19] Organic production of agricultural products

    The European Commission adopted a proposal for a Council Regulation on organic production of agricultural products and indications referring thereto on agricultural livestocks and foodstuffs. The regulation fills a large regulatory gap in this area, since it includes the whole scale of animal production. The proposal means a further step towards the Commission's efforts to boost quality production and extensive farming within the CAP: the producer is given the possibility to sell "organic products" under common production and processing standards. The consumer on the other hand benefits from the strict labeling and quality rules, which enable him to trace the origin of the respective animal product and avoid abuse of the term "organic". The Commission's proposal therefore will help to increase consumer information and confidence, a highly important issue these days.

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


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


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