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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 98-02-11

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

11/02/98


CONTENTS / CONTENU

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

  • [01] Aspects pratiques de l'introduction de l'euro
  • [02] Commission proposed coordinated introduction of next generation of mobile communications in the European Union (UMTS)
  • [03] La Commission autorise, sous conditions, l'acquisition par Agfa des activités de DuPont dans le secteur des arts graphiques
  • [04] Commission calls for restructuring of Polish steel sector
  • [05] Measures promoting transport of Irish livestock by sea to continental Europe
  • [06] Ensuring the Single Market contribution to Economic and Monetary Union
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [07] Hans van den Broek's visit to Poland
  • [08] Franz Fischler : "Reform will take into account the social and economic importance of the olive oil sector in Member States"

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

    [01] Aspects pratiques de l'introduction de l'euro

    La Commission européenne a publié un nouveau rapport sur les aspects pratiques de l'introduction de l'euro. Ce rapport couvre trois domaines où des décisions restent à prendre : la période - début 2002 - durant laquelle les billets et les pièces en euros circuleront parallèlement aux monnaies nationales, le double affichage des montants en euros et en monnaie nationale et les frais bancaires de conversion en euros. Ces questions seront discutées lors d'une table ronde qui réunira le 26 février à Bruxelles des représentants d'associations professionnelles et de groupements de consommateurs. En se fondant sur les résultats de cette table ronde, la Commission entend proposer des recommandations au Conseil des ministres afin de parvenir à des conclusions finales sur tous les points en suspens le week-end du 2 mai, date à laquelle la liste des Etats membres participant à l'UEM sera décidée. Plus généralement, le rapport met à jour un rapport publié en octobre 1997 concernant les préparatifs menés par les institutions communautaires, les autorités nationales et le secteur privé. Le rapport met clairement en évidence que des progrès considérables ont été réalisés dans la préparation à l'introduction de l'euro au niveau national et européen et tant dans le secteur public que dans le secteur privé.

    [02] Commission proposed coordinated introduction of next generation of mobile communications in the European Union (UMTS)

    The European Commission adopted a Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers on the coordinated introduction of mobile and wireless communications (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System - UMTS). In addition to mobile telephony and messaging services, UMTS will offer wireless access to the Internet and other multi-media services. By means of a coordinated regulatory framework, the proposed Decision aims to assist in the development of the next generation of mobile services in Europe as a follow-up to the current world-wide GSM services. In particular, the Decision will stimulate the early licensing of UMTS services in the Member States and ensure that users can use their UMTS phone, PC or other handheld device anywhere in the European Union just as they can with GSM today. This pan-European roaming will result from licences being based on the co-ordinated allocation of frequencies and the use of European Telecommunications Standards Institute's standards. The harmonised licensing environment is expected to be in place by 2000 at the latest to allow UMTS services to be offered from 2002. The Europe-wide availability of future mobile multi-media services will play a key role in ensuring broader access to new services in a "wireless Information Society".

    [03] La Commission autorise, sous conditions, l'acquisition par Agfa des activités de DuPont dans le secteur des arts graphiques

    La Commission européenne a décidé d'autoriser, sous conditions, la fusion par laquelle les sociétés Agfa-Gevaert N.V. et Agfa-Gevaert AG, toutes les deux contrôlées par Agfa AG (Agfa), prendront le contrôle des activités dans les films pour arts graphiques et les plaques d'impression offset de E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. (DuPont). La Commission a établi que la fusion conduirait à la création d'une position dominante d'Agfa sur le marché de l'Espace Economique Européen des plaques négatives pour l'impression offset. Pour faire face aux préoccupations de la Commission en matière de concurrence, Agfa s'est engagé formellement à lever les exclusivités que la société avait conclues avec ses fournisseurs d'équipement et avec ses distributeurs. Ces engagements permettront aux concurrents d'Agfa/DuPont d'avoir accès aux équipements commercialisés par Agfa et d'offrir, à leur tour, des 'package deals' utilisant leurs propres plaques négatives et l'équipement d'Agfa auquel ils auront accès. Ces deux engagements formels ouvrent à la concurrence environ un tiers du marché détenu par le groupe fusionné.

    [04] Commission calls for restructuring of Polish steel sector

    The European Commission adopted a recommendation to the Council of Ministers concerning the tariff rate on European Union (EU) steel exports to Poland. If adopted by the Council, the Commission would be authorised to negotiate with the Polish authorities an agreement on a 6% tariff level for the first six months of 1998. Under the Europe Agreement, the tariff rate for imports of EU steel products into Poland was scheduled to fall to 3% in 1998. "The proposal is being put forward on the strict understanding that the Polish government will present the EU with a serious restructuring plan for its steel industry before 30 June 1998", commented Foreign Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek. "Our own Member States have taken steel restructuring, with all its social and economic effects, very seriously. It is only reasonable for Poland as an aspirant for early EU membership to do likewise. It would not be in Poland's interest further to delay action in a sector which is crucial for its preparations for membership. Provided it is willing to act decisively in this sector, Poland can count on continuing EU support." The restructuring of the Polish steel sector is a key element of the pre-accession strategy for Poland.

    [05] Measures promoting transport of Irish livestock by sea to continental Europe

    The European Commission has decided to open the state aid procedure against aid granted by the Irish government to Gaelic Ferries in order to facilitate livestock transport by boat to continental Europe. The aid had been notified but was put into effect before the Commission had time to express its view. Ireland decided to grant aid after the only provider of a ferry service from Ireland to France in the winter season had shut down its service for the transport of livestock due to animal welfare reasons. The aid is granted in form of £ IRL 1,000,000 (ECU 1,298,701) to be paid in instalments to Gaelic Ferries, a shipping company set up to operate a ferry service between Ireland (Cork) and France (Cherbourg). To that purpose a vessel, the MV Purbeck was chartered. Gaelic Ferries are required, within the limit of the number of suitable places available, to give priority to livestock transport. The Commission, on the basis of the available information, has questions as to the compatibility of the present State aid with the common market.

    [06] Ensuring the Single Market contribution to Economic and Monetary Union

    In a Communication to his colleagues, Single Market Commissioner Mario Monti points out that ensuring economic and financial integration, by improving the functioning of the Single Market, is essential for the success of EMU. In particular, the flexibility of markets for products and factors of production will be the main mechanism for adjustment to possible economic shocks once Member States participating in the euro have given up exchange rate adjustments and autonomous monetary policy as policy instruments. A smoothly functioning Single Market and a coordination of tax policies are therefore crucial for the ability of EMU to deliver its ultimate objectives of growth and employment. The basic Single Market principles of openness, competition and transparency must penetrate domestic economies to increase market flexibility. As the Luxembourg European Council EMU Resolution makes that clear, specific measures to increase such market flexibility must be included in the economic policy guidelines agreed by the ECOFIN Council. In the document, Mr Monti illustrates the ways in which existing monitoring and policy instruments are being improved and adapted to serve the purpose of assessing deeper integration and market flexibility and so ensure that economic policy coordination will ensure the success and sustainability of EMU. The Luxembourg Resolution states that monitoring under the enhanced policy coordination should become a regular item on the agenda of ECOFIN Councils.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [07] Hans van den Broek's visit to Poland

    Foreign Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek will visit Poland on 12 and 13 February, 1998. The visit's focus will be on Poland's accession to the European Union (EU), including the preparations for the negotiations and the implementation of the Accession Partnership. The Commissioner will meet the Prime Minister, the Foreign, Finance and EU integration Ministers as well as Poland's chief negotiator. He will use the opportunity to discuss Poland's National Programme for the Adoption of the Acquis and the EU Integration structure in the Polish government. Further on the agenda are : Phare, the Europe Agreement, the Association Council of March 4, 1998. Mr van den Broek will address the Foreign Affairs and European Integration committees of the Sjem and the Senate.

    [08] Franz Fischler : "Reform will take into account the social and economic importance of the olive oil sector in Member States"

    (!!! embargo 5 pm !!!) In a statement on the "future of agriculture" given at the agricultural fair in Verona today, Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Franz Fischler welcomed the support by both Agricultural Ministers and the Heads of Government in Europe for the objectives of the European Union's agricultural reform. Referring to the olive oil sector, Mr Fischler noted that the reform "definitely will take into account the important social and economic role this sector plays in some Member States". The reform proposal which will be presented in March will also take into consideration impending structural surpluses as well as measures to combat fraud. According to Mr Fischler there is an urgent need to simplify the common market organisation for olive oil and to start with the reform as soon as possible with the introduction of national guarantied quantities, a common support system for small and big producers and stopping the expansion of production area. He rejected the argument that the common agricultural policy favours so called "Northern" products since wine from Germany for example will equally be affected by the reform of the wine sector. "A simple categorisation of agricultural products into 'Mediterranean' and 'Northern' ones is not only artificial but counterproductive", he stressed. (!!! embargo 5 pm !!!)

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


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


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