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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 97-11-05

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

From: EUROPA, the European Commission Server at <http://europa.eu.int>

MIDDAY EXPRESS

News from the Spokesman's midday briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi du Porte-Paroleb

05/11/97


CONTENTS / CONTENU

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

  • [01] Le passage à l'euro simplifiera les finances et les politiques de l'UE
  • [02] Creating jobs through new transnational joint ventures: JEV - Joint European Venture initiative
  • [03] La Commission précise le contenu scientifique et technologique du 5ème programme-cadre de recherche (1998-2002)
  • [04] Commission presents package to tackle harmful tax competition
  • [05] La Commisson approuve l'intervention de la Région wallonne dans la reprise des Forges de Clabecq par Duferco Clabecq (Belgique)
  • [06] La Commission demande des explications sur les recapitalisations et les conditions de la vente de la société Stardust Marine
  • [07] La Commission donne son feu vert au financement de l'Institut Français du Pétrole par une taxation de certains produits pétroliers
  • [08] Commission approves state aid in favour of Leuna Polymer GmbH in Sachsen-Anhalt (Germany)
  • [09] La Commission ouvre la procédure à l'encontre de Sket Verseil- machinenbau en Sachsen-Anhalt (Allemagne)
  • [10] Agrimonetary compensatory aid for Ireland
  • [11] Aide aux victimes de catastrophes naturelles dans le secteur de l'agriculture, en Italie (province autonome de Trento)
  • [12] Commission takes action against eight Member States lagging behind in liberalisation of telecommunications
  • [13] La Commission nomme Guy Crauser Directeur Général de la DG XXIII
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [14] Commission clears the acquisition of reinsurance portfolio of Skandia by Hannover Re
  • [15] Karel Van Miert comments the state of play of the Kirch/Bertelsmann file
  • [16] Commission renews Scientific Committees in the field of consumer health: 131 scientists are nominated as members of the eight Scientific Committees
  • [17] Emma Bonino: "The Commission's new approach in Food Safety adds a new dimension to Consumer policy"

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

    [01] Le passage à l'euro simplifiera les finances et les politiques de l'UE

    La Commission européenne a adopté une communication sur les conséquences qu'aura l'introduction de l'euro pour les politiques, les institutions et le droit de l'Union européenne (UE). Le message principal est que l'euro simplifiera considérablement les finances et les politiques de l'UE (par exemple la gestion du budget ou le système agrimonétaire). Ce document vise à présenter un aperçu complet des actions qui doivent être mises en oeuvre pour compléter les préparatifs communautaires du passage à l'euro. Il évoque les conséquences pour les politiques de l'UE, les adaptations qui devront être effectuées pour rendre le droit communautaire compatible avec l'euro, ainsi que les changements pratiques et opérationnels auxquels devront procéder les institutions communautaires (par exemple dans les domaines de la gestion budgétaire, de l'administration interne, de l'informatique et de la formation du personnel). Au niveau de l'UE, la plupart des changements seront achevés pour le 1er janvier 1999. En revanche, une grande partie des adaptations nécessaires au niveau national n'auront lieu que pendant la période de transition, avant la mise en circulation des billets et les pièces libellés en euros en 2002. La communication de la Commission devrait également aider d'autres institutions communautaires et les autorités nationales à mener à bien leurs propres préparatifs.

    [02] Creating jobs through new transnational joint ventures: JEV - Joint European Venture initiative

    The European Commission adopted the Joint European Venture (JEV) initiative which aims at providing support and encouragement for the development of transnational joint ventures between small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the European Union (EU), and at stimulating new economic activities by these companies with the potential to create stable and viable jobs. The JEV initiative, with a budget of ECU 5 million for 1997, will fund part of the costs incurred in setting up a joint venture located in the EU between at least two European SMEs, with an overall maximum contribution of ECU 100,000 per project. It covers firstly up to 50% of the eligible costs relating to the conception and setting-up of the joint venture to a maximum of ECU 50,000 in the form of a reimbursable advance. In a second stage, once the joint venture is operational, it funds with the rest of the contribution up to 10% of the total investment made. The JEV initiative will be continued next year with a new proposal and additional financial resources under the 1998 budget. JEV forms part of the follow-up to the Amsterdam European Council, where the Commission was invited to present initiatives relating to the creation of employment. It is being launched on the basis of the third multiannual programme for SMEs and anticipates the package of measures on employment to be considered by the Luxembourg Employment Summit.

    [03] La Commission précise le contenu scientifique et technologique du 5ème programme-cadre de recherche (1998-2002)

    La Commission européenne a adopté un nouveau document de travail qui précise le contenu du 5ème programme-cadre de recherche et de développement technologique de l'Union européenne (1998-2002). Ce document fait suite à la proposition présentée en avril dernier par la Commission. Prévoyant un budget de 16,3 millions d'Ecus, cette proposition est actuellement examinée par le Parlement européen et le Conseil des Ministres. Ce document de travail sert un double objectif: préciser le contenu scientifique et technologique du 5ème programme-cadre et préparer la discussion sur les programmes spécifiques en vue d'assurer leur adoption rapide dans le courant de 1998. Il propose des éléments de réflexion concernant un nouveau système de gestion du programme-cadre. Il sera présenté à la réunion du Conseil des Ministres de la recherche, le 10 novembre prochain.

    [04] Commission presents package to tackle harmful tax competition

    The European Commission has adopted a proposal for a package of measures designed to curb harmful tax competition. The European Union's (EU) Council of Economic and Finance Ministers (Ecofin) has been invited by the Luxembourg Presidency to reach a political agreement on this package at its meeting of 1 December. The proposal refines the elements outlined in the Commission Communication of 1 October 1997 in the light of the Council's orientation debate on 13 October and the Taxation Policy Group meeting on 20 October. The package, which aims to balance the economic and political interests of different Member States, includes a code of conduct on business taxation, elements for an EU solution to the taxation of income from savings and an agreement to eliminate withholding taxes on interest and royalty payments between companies. In addition, the Commission welcomes the Member States' intention to make further progress in the area of indirect taxation, in accordance with the Action Plan for the Single Market, in the framework of Council negotiations.

    [05] La Commisson approuve l'intervention de la Région wallonne dans la reprise des Forges de Clabecq par Duferco Clabecq (Belgique)

    La Commission européenne a décidé que l'intervention financière de la Région wallonne Belgique au bénéfice de Duferco Clabecq, représentée par une prise de participation dans le capital social de 350 millions de FB, à concurrence de 25%, et un prêt de 550 millions de FB sur dix ans, constitue un véritable apport de capital à risque selon la pratique normale d'un investisseur en économie de marché. Cette intervention ne contient donc pas d'éléments d'aide au sens du Code européen des aides à la sidérurgie.

    [06] La Commission demande des explications sur les recapitalisations et les conditions de la vente de la société Stardust Marine

    La Commission européenne a ouvert une procédure au titre des aides d'Etat relative à l'entreprise Stardust Marine, spécialisée dans la location de bateaux. Cette procédure porte notamment sur les recapitalisations de l'entreprise en 1996 et 1997 par le Consortium de Réalisations (CDR), société publique de défaisance du Crédit Lyonnais, qui était jusqu'en juin dernier l'actionnaire de Stardust. La procédure est également ouverte au titre des conditions dans lesquelles le CDR a vendu l'entreprise. L'ouverture de cette procédure ne met toutefois, à ce stade, pas en cause la viabilité de l'entreprise qui a repris Stardust en juin 1997.

    [07] La Commission donne son feu vert au financement de l'Institut Français du Pétrole par une taxation de certains produits pétroliers

    La Commission européenne a donné son feu vert au renouvellement pour la période 1998-2002 de la taxe parafiscale perçue en France sur certains produits pétroliers au bénéfice de l'Institut Français du Pétrole (IFP). Le budget prévu à cet effet s'élève à environ 1,2 milliards de FF (soit environ 181 millions d'Ecus) par an.

    [08] Commission approves state aid in favour of Leuna Polymer GmbH in Sachsen-Anhalt (Germany)

    The European Commission has decided to approve the aid amounting to DM 20, 225 million granted by the Bundesanstalt für vereinigungsbedingte Sonderaufgaben (BvS) to Leuna Polymer GmbH. The company formerly belonged to the Treuhand/BvS and was sold on 1/1/1997. The Commission notes that the German government has failed to respect the requirement of prior notification. The measures, however, satisfy the criteria laid down in the European Union guidelines for rescuing and restructuring firms in difficulty and can therefore be approved. Restructuring and investments amounting to DM 34,45 million will lead the company to a sound financial, operative and administrative structure. Polymer will concentrate the production on its most profitable product (additives), it will profit from alliances with other companies, and it expects to recover fully by 1999.

    [09] La Commission ouvre la procédure à l'encontre de Sket Verseil- machinenbau en Sachsen-Anhalt (Allemagne)

    La Commission européenne a décidé d'ouvrir la procédure concernant les aides d'Etat prévues et en grande partie déjà versées en faveur de l'entreprise de construction de toronneuses tubulaires "Sket Verseilmachinenbau GmbH" située dans le Land de Sachsen-Anhalt. Il s'agit d'aides d'un montant de DM 18,1 millions (soit environ 9 millions d'Ecus) sous forme de prêts et subventions non remboursables, et de DM 18,3 millions d'avals (soit environ 9,1 millions d'Ecus) qui ont été notifiées par les autorités allemandes comme des aides à la restructuration. La Commission a décidé d'ouvrir la procédure pour examiner la compatibilité de ces aides avec les règles européennes concernant les aides au sauvetage et à la restructuration des entreprises en difficulté.

    [10] Agrimonetary compensatory aid for Ireland

    The European Commission decided to raise no objections to an aid scheme for agrimonetary compensation in Ireland totalling 23.3 million Irish pounds (± ECU 28.7 million). The aid is granted through the application of the Council of Ministers Regulation providing for compensation for the reductions in the conversion rates of certain national currencies. The role of the Commission was to verify conformity of the Irish aid with all the provisions of this regulation, as well as with its implementation provisions.

    [11] Aide aux victimes de catastrophes naturelles dans le secteur de l'agriculture, en Italie (province autonome de Trento)

    La Commission européenne a décidé de ne pas soulever d'objection à l'encontre d'un projet visant à l'octroi d'une aide unique destinée à compenser le préjudice subi par les coopératives de collecte et de transformation de produits agricoles du fait des pertes encourues par leurs membres à la suite de la catastrophe naturelle (gel) qui s'est produite dans la province de Trento au cours du printemps 1997. Le budget prévu pour cette mesure représente entre 36.000 et 42.000 millions de lires (entre 18 et 21 millions d'Ecus).

    [12] Commission takes action against eight Member States lagging behind in liberalisation of telecommunications

    As announced by Commissioners Karel van Miert and Martin Bangemann, on 8 October 1997, the European Commission has decided to initiate formal infringement procedures against seven Member States in order to force them to speed up transposition. The seven Member States concerned are: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg and Portugal. Moreover the Commission had already decided to address a reasoned opinion (the second stage of the infringement procedure foreseen in article 169 of the Treaty) to Spain. On 8 October 1997, the Commission adopted a Report which set out the state of transposition by the Member States of the regulatory package aiming at full liberalisation of the telecommunications market scheduled for 1 January 1998. The conclusion of the Report was that three months before full liberalisation of the European Union (EU) telecommunications market, a large number of Member States have transposed the full regulatory framework or will have done so by the end of 1997. However, in this report the Commission identified Member States where national legislation is still deficient. The Commission considers that the Member States concerned can still remedy the problems identified and hopes that they will soon adopt the lacking measures or amend their legislation in accordance with the requirements under EU Law. The Commission continues its assessment of the national measures already adopted and notified by the Member States and will, if necessary, start a new wave of infringement procedures.

    [13] La Commission nomme Guy Crauser Directeur Général de la DG XXIII

    La Commission européenne a nommé au poste de Directeur Général de la Politique d'entreprise, du Commerce, du Tourisme et de l'Economie sociale (Direction Générale XXIII) Guy Crauser, actuellement Directeur Général adjoint à la Direction Générale Industrie (DG III). M. Crauser a débuté sa carrière à la Commission en 1970. Il a successivement travaillé dans les domaines de la concurrence, des relations internationales industrielles, de la politique audiovisuelle et du marché intérieur. Il sera chargé de la restructuration de la DG XXIII pour une meilleure prise en compte des petites et moyennes entreprises dans l'action de la Commission.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [14] Commission clears the acquisition of reinsurance portfolio of Skandia by Hannover Re

    The European Commission has cleared under the Merger Regulation the acquisition by German insurance company Hannover Rückversicherungs- Aktiengesellschaft (Hannover Re) of the reinsurance business as well as the aviation and war-on-land insurance portfolios belonging to the Swedish financial group Skandia. The largest part of the business transferred relates to reinsurance. In view of the relatively small market share of the parties to the concentration, the Commission found that the operation will not impede competition in the European Union.

    [15] Karel Van Miert comments the state of play of the Kirch/Bertelsmann file

    On November 4 1997, Competition Commissioner Karel Van Miert received, at their request, representatives of Kirch, Bertelsmann and Deutsche Telekom. The purpose of these meetings was to discuss the common plans of these companies in the field of digital television in Germany. According to these plans, Bertelsmann and Kirch intend to merge their digital TV activity. Beta research, the company providing the decoder infrastructure technology (the existing Kirch d-box) is intended to be jointly controlled by Bertelsmann, Kirch and Deutsche Telekom. On this basis, Deutsche Telekom is going to provide the new Kirch-Bertelsmann merged entity with a technical platform for the cable network.

    [16] Commission renews Scientific Committees in the field of consumer health: 131 scientists are nominated as members of the eight Scientific Committees

    The European Commission has taken a major step in contributing to food safety and in fulfilling the engagements it took with the European Parliament following the BSE crisis. Following an open call for expressions of interest, 131 scientists have been nominated as members of the eight scientific committees. These committees advise the Commission in questions such as food safety, animal nutrition, animal health and animal welfare, veterinary public health, plants, cosmetic and other non-food consumer products, toxicity and ecotoxicity and the environment, medicinal products and medical devices. With this nomination the most important element of the reorganisation of the scientific advise system of the Commission is in place.

    [17] Emma Bonino: "The Commission's new approach in Food Safety adds a new dimension to Consumer policy"

    Taking the floor yesterday at the Joint European Parliament and Commission Conference on Food Law and Food Policy, Emma Bonino, Commissioner in charge of Consumer Policy, stated that the new approach of the Commission on consumer health reinforces a crucial dimension: all measures adopted by the Commission will be based on a transparent risk analysis. A risk analysis unit has been set up in DG XXIV. Its role is to identify the alternatives for risk management in relation to the desired level of protection and to act as the interface between the scientific community and society. The Food and Veterinary Office and the Risk Analysis Unit should play an important role to prevent outbreaks of food-borne diseases and food control laboratories should be associated in these activities. The Commission is fully committed to transparency, she added, which will stimulate all those who are involved in the food chain to promote their own consumer-awareness. In fact the pressure from public opinion and interested bodies has often appeared to be the strongest driving force to guarantee that all necessary measures to protect public health are effectively taken. Finally, concerning the new perspectives offered by the Amsterdam Treaty, the consumers have obtained through the new article 129A, the right to information, education and to organise themselves in order to safeguard their health, safety and economic interests. This, together with the obligation to take into account consumer protection requirements in all Community policies, adds a completely new dimension to consumer policy.

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


    From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at http://europa.eu.int/
    © ECSC - EC - EAEC, Brussels-Luxembourg, 1995, 1996


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