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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 98-02-26

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

26/02/98


CONTENTS / CONTENU

[I] Résultats de la Commission du 25 février 1998 - Outcome of Commission meeting of 25 February

  • [01] Restructuring of the Volkswerft shipyard in Stralsund (Germany, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania)
  • [02] Commission opens procedure against investment aid to Tubos Europa (Extremadura, Spain)
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [03] Commission sets out its provisional position on Spring's "new" pub leases
  • [04] La Commission adopte une communication sur l'"Evolution du contrôle au sein de la Politique Commune de la Pêche"
  • [05] Industry publishes guidelines to shape electronic commerce in the future
  • [06] Aide de cinq millions d'Ecus pour la sécurité alimentaire en Albanie
  • [07] Commission trainees send two lorries of aid equipment to Estonia
  • [08] Commission urges Japan to deregulate
  • [09] Franz Fischler : "CAP must continue to support farmers and agribusiness in entering new markets"

  • [I] Résultats de la Commission du 25 février 1998 - Outcome of Commission meeting of 25 February

    (voir aussi - see also Midday Express of 25/02)

    [01] Restructuring of the Volkswerft shipyard in Stralsund (Germany, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania)

    The European Commission has approved the reprivatisation of the Volkswerft shipyard in Stralsund (former GDR) on the basis of its sale to Odense Steelshipyard A.S. (Denmark). The Commission has reached the conclusion that, even on the basis of a cautious valuation of all inherited liabilities, no additional aid is involved in the sale. In accordance with Article 6 of the Seventh Shipbuilding Aid Directive and with Council Regulation 1013/97, it has also decided not to raise any objection to the release of a second tranche of restructuring aid totalling DM 129.6 million. The Commission will continue to monitor progress with restructuring on the basis of the existing rules.

    [02] Commission opens procedure against investment aid to Tubos Europa (Extremadura, Spain)

    The European Commission launched a State aid investigation into ESP 1,175 million aid to a new company, A.G. Tubos Europa, S.A. The company will be active in the steel tubes sector, which has been suffering from structural overcapacity for a long time. The Spanish authorities have one month to submit their views on the Commission's preliminary assessment. The proposed regional grant would contribute to a total investment volume of ESP 5,596 million. Although the company is small, the Commission's preliminary assessment gives rise to concerns that the negative effects of the aid in a depressed market might outweigh the potential benefits of the investment for the region. The steel tubes sector has been suffering from structural overcapacity for over a decade.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [03] Commission sets out its provisional position on Spring's "new" pub leases

    The European Commission proposes to grant an exemption to the "new" standard pub leases used by Spring Inns Limited (UK). Through the publication of its initial views in the Official Journal (see OJ C 61 of 26/2/98), the Commission invites all interested third parties to submit their observations before finally deciding on the issue. Spring Inns Limited (Spring) is a company which acquired in May 1996 the beneficial interests in 1,406 Inntrepreneur pubs on standard Inntrepreneur pub leases. In February/March 1997 Spring introduced a new lease and offered substantial discounts to its lessees for their beer purchases. In view of the substantially reduced price differential for the beer price paid between the tied Spring lessees and individual free-trade pub operators, the Commission considers that an exemption is merited. The proposed exemption would, just as for the "new" Inntrepreneur lease, cover the period from the introduction of the new Lease until March 28, 1998, the end date of the contract whereby all the beer sold by Spring to its tied lessees had to be exclusively purchased from Scottish & Newcastle.

    [04] La Commission adopte une communication sur l'"Evolution du contrôle au sein de la Politique Commune de la Pêche"

    La Commission européenne a adopté une Communication concernant l'évolution du contrôle au sein de la Politique Commune de la Pêche. Cette Communication dresse le bilan global des progrès acquis depuis 1993, date d'entrée en vigueur d'un nouveau règlement, analyse les lacunes majeures qui subsistent dans le contrôle en mer et sur terre (flottes, captures, débarquements, marchés) et préconise des solutions. Il est en effet nécessaire d'élargir la prise de conscience par l'ensemble des acteurs de l'importance des contrôles, de définir des stratégies intégrées garantissant une utilisation efficace des moyens de contrôle, de conforter ces moyens, notamment humains, de mettre en place les conditions d'une pleine transparence, d'ajuster les dispositifs réglementaires en fonction des faiblesses observées et de promouvoir vigoureusement toutes les formes de coopération. La Commission souhaite que ses conclusions suscitent dès que possible un débat au sein du Conseil des Ministres tant sur le diagnostic que sur les remèdes proposés. Elle espère tout particulièrement que le principe d'un plan d'action rapide puisse être adopté et mis en place au plus vite, rejoignant ainsi les souhaits de plusieurs Etats membres.

    [05] Industry publishes guidelines to shape electronic commerce in the future

    Following an initiative by the European Commission, a group of over 100 companies, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), trade associations and local authorities signed on 25 February 1998 in Brussels a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on open access to electronic commerce for SMEs. Signatories include industry representatives from the banking, telecom, retail and technology sectors, as well as consumer representatives and SME organisations. The MoU has the support of the Commission, who, in their electronic commerce initiative, stressed the principle that guidelines derived from the MoU propose best practice in five key areas : from the creation of an architecture to achieve interoperability through to standards for product information, the exchange of legally binding documents, payment systems and legal rights and responsibilities. If economic commerce is to flourish, industry agreements, codes of practice and self-regulation are all preferable to external regulation, while the role of public authorities in electronic commerce is in the promotion and implementation of European and international agreements in areas such as telecommunications standards and interoperability.

    [06] Aide de cinq millions d'Ecus pour la sécurité alimentaire en Albanie

    La Commission européenne a décidé de procéder au versement d'une première tranche de cinq millions d'Ecus au titre de soutien au budget albanais. Ce versement est engagé dans le cadre des programmes de sécurité alimentaire de l'Union européenne, annoncés lors de la Conférence des donateurs le 22 octobre 1997. Cette décision vise à récompenser les progrès réalisés par les autorités albanaises vers la stabilité macroéconomique, l'assainissement du secteur financier ainsi que les réformes administratives en cours. La poursuite de ces efforts est indispensable à la création de conditions favorables à une reprise de l'activité économique et au renforcement de l'état de droit en Albanie. A la suite des discussions intensives des représentants de la Commission avec les autorités albanaises, dont certaines ont été menées conjointement avec les Institutions Financières Internationales et les donateurs bilatéraux, la Commission estime qu'il est temps de procéder au versement de la première tranche. Ce soutien d'un montant total de 10 millions d'Ecus permettra de faire face à la situation budgétaire difficile et à préserver les dépenses publiques soutenant le développement du secteur agricole. Elle contribuera aussi à financer certaines dépenses de l'administration publique en fonction des progrès réalisés dans les réformes macro-économiques, administratives et judiciaires.

    [07] Commission trainees send two lorries of aid equipment to Estonia

    Tomorrow afternoon, two lorries will leave Brussels carrying the contribution of European Commission trainees ("stagiaires") for a hospital in Estonia. The two lorries contain orthopaedic equipment worth 600,000 Belgian Francs, including twenty wheelchairs. The beneficiary is the Vôsiku Erihooldekodu care home in Poltsemaa, which houses approximately 400 physically and mentally handicapped psychiatric patients, elderly, epileptics and orphans. The Commission contributed to the transport cost for the equipment. "It is gratifying to see young people of all nationalities working together to make a visible difference to improve people's lives" commented Foreign Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek, who will officially see the vehicles off. The trucks will be leaving at 3 pm from the Rond Point Schuman in Brussels in the presence of representatives of the European Institutions, the Red Cross, Diplomatic Missions, the Member States, and numerous Commission trainees.

    [08] Commission urges Japan to deregulate

    The European Commission today urged Japan to implement an ambitious new deregulation package from April 1998 to help stimulate the Japanese economy. At a High Level meeting of senior officials in Tokyo on Monday to discuss deregulation, the Commission will press Japan to take up, in its forthcoming package, a substantial number of the key deregulation proposals submitted by the Commission last November. Sir Leon Brittan, Vice President of the Commission, said : "Japan can and should do two things. First it should give a substantial fiscal stimulus to the economy. Second, it should bring forward and implement a wide-ranging package of deregulation measures capable of producing real economic effects."

    [09] Franz Fischler : "CAP must continue to support farmers and agribusiness in entering new markets"

    Speaking at the Handelsblatt conference on the future of agriculture and agribusiness in Königswinter today, Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Franz Fischler emphasised the necessity to increase European Union's (EU) agricultural products' competitiveness in order to benefit from rising demand for food on the international markets. In the future "the common agricultural policy has to continue to support farmers and the agribusiness in maintaining present markets and in tapping new ones", Mr Fischler stressed. Competitiveness not only being a question of price but of quality too, Mr Fischler noted that besides taking a more market oriented approach, the future task of the EU's agricultural policy is to amplify the promotion for EU agricultural products on domestic and international markets. "It is not sufficient anymore to produce high quality products at reasonable prices, consumers have to be aware of the advantages they benefit from when purchasing these products", he added.

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


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


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