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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 98-02-05

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

05/02/98


CONTENTS / CONTENU

  • [01] Commission President Jacques Santer to visit Middle East
  • [02] La lutte contre le chômage au Pays basque soutenue par les Fonds structurels avec plus de 370 millions d'Ecus
  • [03] Commission approves the acquisition of Fritidsresor by Thomson
  • [04] Commission clears the acquisition of Francorosso by Alpitour under the joint control of IFIL and the Isoardi family
  • [05] Commission approves the acquisition by Stinnes of BTL from Finnlines
  • [06] Commission to carry out detailed inquiry into proposed merger between KPMG and Ernst & Young
  • [07] Précurseurs de drogues de synthèse: la Commission propose un système de coopération avec les opérateurs économiques
  • [08] Martin Bangemann : "Ten years of European research in telematics are a success-story"
  • [09] Ex-Yugoslavia : Commission approves humanitarian aid worth over ECU 30 million
  • [10] La Commission accorde une aide de 4,5 millions d'Ecus en faveur des victimes des inondations au Kenya et en Somalie
  • [11] Jordan, Lebanon, West Bank and Gaza Strip : Commission approves humanitarian aid worth ECU 2.95 million
  • [12] Yves-Thibault de Silguy : "The euro is an opportunity for European financial markets"
  • [13] Ritt Bjerregaard : "Integrating environemental policy in other policies"

  • [01] Commission President Jacques Santer to visit Middle East

    Jacques Santer, President of the European Commission, will start tomorrow, 6 February, on a tour of the Middle East, including Egypt, Israel, West Bank and Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Mr Santer will use the tour, which will last till 13 February, to underline with Heads of State, and Heads and Members of Government, the importance the European Union (EU) attaches to the development of good relations with its partners in the region, to underline the progress made on the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership launched in November 1995 through the Barcelona Declaration, and to stress the EU's willingness to work with Middle Eastern partners and with the US, to give a new impetus to the Middle East Peace Process. President Santer will also review the state of bilateral relations between the EU and each of the host countries and visit EU financed cooperation projects. Association Agreements have been concluded, or are being negotiated, between the EU and each of the countries visited. The latter also participate in the EU's ECU 4,685 million MEDA Programme (covering the 12 Mediterranean countries which are signatories of the Barcelona Declaration). The EU is the biggest financial contributor to the Middle East Peace Process with grants and loans of ECU 1,680 million since 1993. Dates of President Santer's visits: Egypt 6 and 7 February, Israel 7 and 8 February, West Bank and Gaza 9 February, Jordan 10 February, Syria 11 and 12 February, Lebanon 12 and 13 February.

    [02] La lutte contre le chômage au Pays basque soutenue par les Fonds structurels avec plus de 370 millions d'Ecus

    Favoriser l'emploi et la compétitivité, développer les communications liées à l'activité économique, protéger l'environnement, soutenir la recherche et l'innovation, telles sont les grandes lignes du programme d'aide au Pays basque, approuvé par Monika Wulf-Mathies, Commissaire européen responsable pour la Politique régionale, aujourd'hui. Le programme, qui s'inscrit dans le cadre de l'objectif 2 (diversification des zones industrielles en déclin), est doté de quelque 790 millions d'Ecus de financement public, dont plus de 370 millions d'Ecus des Fonds Structurels Européens. Outre les 790 millions d'aides publiques, on estime que la mise en oeuvre des mesures comprises dans le programme opérationnel pour le Pays basque devrait générer une dépense additionnelle de 1.317 millions d'Ecus de la part du secteur privé. Le but principal poursuivi est la diminution du taux de chômage qui, dans le cas du Pays basque, atteignait 22,4% en 1996. Quelque 13.000 emplois pourraient ainsi être créés. Le programme court jusqu'en 1999.

    [03] Commission approves the acquisition of Fritidsresor by Thomson

    The European Commission has approved a concentration by which the Thomson Corporation (a Canadian-based undertaking which has activities in leisure travel operations) acquires the control of the whole of Fritidsresor AB (a Swedish-based undertaking which provides tour operation services including charter airline services and the provision of hotel services through its wholly owned subsidiaries in Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway) by purchase of shares. The concentration does not create or strengthen a dominant position.

    [04] Commission clears the acquisition of Francorosso by Alpitour under the joint control of IFIL and the Isoardi family

    The European Commission approved an agreement between IFIL S.p.A. (Agnelli family), the Isoardi family and the Rosso family to merge the two Italian tour operators Alpitour and Francorosso and to reorganise their respective shareholdings within them. According to the agreement, Alpitour will acquire a controlling interest into Francorosso; IFIL and the Isoardi family will become joint controlling shareholders of Alpitour, the Rosso family obtaining a minority stake. The combined entity will not achieve a market share that could enable it to dominate the Italian market, which still comprises a very large number of players. Also, the Commission considered the existence of big foreign tour operators, some of whose turnover exceeds the total value of the Italian market.

    [05] Commission approves the acquisition by Stinnes of BTL from Finnlines

    The European Commission has approved a concentration whereby Stinnes AG (a subsidiary of the German conglomerate VEBA. Stinnes is among others active in land based transport, air freight and sea transport) acquires a controlling interest in the Swedish transport company BTL AB (active in land based transport, air freight and specialised transport services) from the Finnish company Finnlines Ltd (active in sea transport). The operation will only have a significant market impact in the markets for land transport between the Nordic countries and Central Europe. However, the operation will in all markets considered lead to combined market shares of less than 20% for Stinnes and BTL, and resourceful competitors will continue to exist. The operation, therefore, will not create or strengthen a dominant position.

    [06] Commission to carry out detailed inquiry into proposed merger between KPMG and Ernst & Young

    The European Commission has decided to proceed to an in-depth investigation under the Merger Regulation of the European Union (EU) into the proposed merger between KPMG and Ernst & Young. Both groups are active in the provision of auditing and accounting services, tax compliance and advisory services, management consultancy services, and corporate finance and insolvency services. The decision to carry out a detailed inquiry was taken since it appears that the combination of the parties' activities could lead to high market shares in a significant number of industrial or commercial sectors in several EU Member States as far as the provision of auditing and accounting and tax services are concerned. Furthermore, on 11 December 1997, Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand, jointly notified to the Commission their intention to combine their services world-wide. Given the world-wide extent of the operation, the Commission is carrying out consultations with the US authorities.

    [07] Précurseurs de drogues de synthèse: la Commission propose un système de coopération avec les opérateurs économiques

    La Commission européenne a proposé d'instituer un mécanisme de suivi en coopération avec l'industrie européenne de la production et du commerce de précurseurs des drogues de synthèse. Son objectif est de contribuer à un meilleur ciblage du détournement de précurseurs qui ne sont pas à présent classifiés dans les listes de surveillance de l'Union européenne ni des Nations Unies. Sous ce mécanisme, les opérateurs communiqueront volontairement aux autorités les opérations considérées comme suspectes de détournement de précurseurs non classifiés vers la fabrication illicite de drogues de synthèse.

    [08] Martin Bangemann : "Ten years of European research in telematics are a success-story"

    Martin Bangemann, Commissioner in charge of telecommunications and information technologies, opened this morning in Barcelona the 4-days- conference and exhibition "European Telematics : Advancing the Information Society". After ten years of European research in telematics the conference presents the state of art, results and achievements. In his opening remarks Mr Bangemann said : "The European Telematics Research Programme has been the driving force for the development of societal applications of information and communication technologies in Europe. With its focus on meeting the needs of its users, over the past years, it has helped to promote the competitiveness of European industry, to improve the delivery of services of public interest and to stimulate job creation. This type of support for new telematics applications is unique in the world".

    [09] Ex-Yugoslavia : Commission approves humanitarian aid worth over ECU 30 million

    The European Commission has approved a package of humanitarian aid worth over ECU 30 million for victims of the conflict in former Yugoslavia. The aid, managed by the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), will enable specialist organisations of the United Nations, the Red Cross family and non-governmental organisations to carry out a coordinated programme. Most of the funding (ECU 25 million) will go to projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina to provide essential relief, and to further the return and reintegration of those who migrated. For the winter, providing heating and emergency repairs, food and medicine supplies are priorities. Two tranches of ECU 2.5 million apiece have been earmarked for Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in order to improve living conditions for refugees and to supply food aid. And a separate ECU 3.990 million is earmarked for food aid in the Federal Republic and in Croatia.

    [10] La Commission accorde une aide de 4,5 millions d'Ecus en faveur des victimes des inondations au Kenya et en Somalie

    La Commission européenne a alloué une aide d'un montant de 4,5 millions d'Ecus en faveur des victimes des inondations au Kenya et en Somalie. Cette aide, administrée par l'Office humanitaire de la Communauté européenne (ECHO) a été débloquée pour soutenir une vaste gamme d'opérations humanitaires d'urgence (aide alimentaire, assistance médicale, financement d'un pont aérien pour distribuer l'aide aux personnes isolées par les crues, etc.). Toutes ces actions visent à aider les milliers de personnes dont la vie a été menacée par les inondations. Les opérations financées par ECHO sont mises en oeuvre par la Croix Rouge, les agences des Nations Unies et par des Organisations non gouvernementales espagnoles, italiennes et belges.

    [11] Jordan, Lebanon, West Bank and Gaza Strip : Commission approves humanitarian aid worth ECU 2.95 million

    The European Commission has approved a new package of humanitarian aid worth a total of ECU 2.95 million for those in need in Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The aid, managed by the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), will enable specialist organisations of the United Nations and European non-governmental organisations to carry out programmes over the next six to eight months. In Jordan, ECHO has for the first time earmarked ECU 600,000 for Palestinian refugees living in camps in the country. In Lebanon, aid will amount to ECU 900,000, for both the host population and Palestinian refugees living in camps. In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, ECHO funding worth ECU 1.45 million has been earmarked specifically for medical aid. This grant brings the total made available by ECHO for the rgion to ECU 10.95 million.

    [12] Yves-Thibault de Silguy : "The euro is an opportunity for European financial markets"

    (! embargo 7.30 pm !) Speaking at the 4th LIFFE City Lecture in London, Yves-Thibault de Silguy, European Commissioner for economic, monetary and financial affairs, said : "Monetary union will boost integration, competition and innovation" in European financial markets. "The euro will create deep, broad and highly liquid markets in Europe similar to those in the US." "Markets throughout Europe are pushing for this greater integration". "Increased integration will lead to more dynamic competition within European markets. They will need to respond to avoid losing business. This will mean increasing the efficiency of issuance procedures, simplifying legal requirements and improving trading systems. The cost of doing business on European markets will fall. Their competitive position against their global rivals will improve. As Europe's largest financial centre, the opportunities for London are considerable."

    [13] Ritt Bjerregaard : "Integrating environemental policy in other policies"

    (! embargo 4.45 pm !) In a meeting today in Copenhagen with representatives of parliamentary Environment Committees in Member States of the European Union (EU) and in countries of the European Economic Area, and of the European Parliament, European Commissioner for Environment, Ritt Bjerregaard, talked about environment policy in the EU and in particular the opportunities introduced in the Amsterdam Treaty for further improving environmental policy. "The importance of this cannot be underestimated since it is of growing concern to European citizens." On the need to integrate environment into other policy areas, Mrs Bjerregaard discussed the enhanced environment provision in the Amsterdam Treaty, which puts "sustainable development" at the core of the EU's objectives for the future. The Luxembourg Summit in December 1997 called for a strategy of achieving the goal sustainable development by way of integration of environmental considerations in EU policies and actions (future Article 6 of the Treaty). The Commission will respond by presenting a strategy on integration to the Cardiff Summit in June 1998. It will focus on a number of policy areas aincluding agriculture, the structural funds and enlargement where the environmental conditions in the applicant countries are serious cause of concern. "This underlines the need in the accession process and negotiations to ensure that priority is given to programmes which bring these countries up to EU standards." Commissioner Bjerregaard concluded by saying that "the environment needs us to ensure that all the other policy areas get the right introduction and understand the message. We are getting there and now the EU can play a major role in breaking down the barriers."

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


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


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