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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 98-10-28

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

28/10/98


CONTENTS / CONTENU

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

  • [01] Financial services : Commission proposes framework for action
  • [02] La Commission adopte des mesures de protection contre l'ESB au Portugal
  • [03] Commission adopts banana import licencing regime
  • [04] La Commission propose une action pour les villes européennes
  • [05] TransEuropean Transport Network making progress, but extra efforts needed
  • [06] La Commission clôt la procédure et autorise une aide en faveur de Tubos Europa S.A.
  • [07] Commission terminates proceedings on planned aid for Dörries Scharmann Technologies GmbH
  • [08] La Commission ordonne le recouvrement de l'aide versée illégalement à Sniace S.A.
  • [09] Commission authorises aid for Neptun Industrie Rostock GmbH
  • [10] Aides à l'entreprise Hijos de Andres Molina S.A. (HAMSA)
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [11] Martin Bangemann, Edith Cresson and Neil Kinnock meet the European Space Industry
  • [12] Typhoon Babs : Commission responds to Philippines' international appeal
  • [13] A new EU initiative for rural development
  • [14] Emma Bonino stresses the importance of keeping a prudent and forthcoming approach with regard to GMO
  • [15] Padraig Flynn says the EU has no desire to intervene in national health matters

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

    [01] Financial services : Commission proposes framework for action

    A series of measures to ensure the European Union's (EU) financial services sector realises its full potential, notably with the introduction of the euro, has been outlined in a Communication just adopted by the European Commission. "Financial Services: Building a Framework for Action" concentrates on ensuring deep and liquid European capital markets, which serve both issuers and investors better and the removal of remaining barriers to cross-border provision of retail financial services in order to ensure consumer choice while maintaining consumer confidence and a high level of consumer protection. The Commission concludes that EU financial services legislation needs to be enforced effectively but does not require radical surgery. However, new more flexible methods are required to adapt the rules to evolving market conditions and additional legislation is required in a few targeted areas including pension funds and consumer redress. The Framework for Action was requested by the June 1998 Cardiff European Council and will be presented to the Council of Finance Ministers, the European Parliament and the Vienna European Council. The Communication takes account of extensive consultations with users, providers and supervisors of financial services.

    [02] La Commission adopte des mesures de protection contre l'ESB au Portugal

    La Commission européenne a adopté un projet de proposition concernant une série de mesures urgentes en vue de lutter contre les risques liés à l'encéphalopathie spongiforme bovine (ESB) pour l'homme et les animaux au Portugal et à l'extérieur du Portugal. Ces mesures comprennent un programme de mise en oeuvre de l'ensemble des mesures nationales et communautaires, notamment l'enlèvement des matériels à risques spécifiés (MRS) et une interdiction totale de l'utilisation des farines de viande et d'os dans l'alimentation des animaux. Une interdiction des exportations de viande et des produits à base de viande qui expire dans neuf mois et une interdiction des exportations des animaux vivants qui sera révisée dans les 18 mois sont aussi proposées. Les restrictions ne s'appliquent pas à la région des Açores. La Commission fournira une aide financière pour les mesures prises par le Portugal dans le contexte de la lutte contre l'ESB. Ce projet de proposition sera présenté au comité vétérinaire permanent le vendredi 30 et sera adopté par la Commission après avis du comité.

    [03] Commission adopts banana import licencing regime

    The European Commission has adopted the licencing arrangements which will apply on imports of bananas into the European Union (EU) from 1 January 1999. The arrangements are based on the principles agreed by the Council of Ministers in June this year. In adopting this regulation the EU has fulfilled its obligation to reform its banana licencing regime before the 1st January 1999 in conformity with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) panel ruling. Rights to import will be given to those operators who effectively imported during a reference period (which is 1994/95/96 for licences in 1999) i.e. excluding those who merely traded in licences. All imports will be taken into account and in consequence operators will be able to use their licences to import from any origin. In accordance with WTO rules quota allocations are given to all substantial banana suppliers to the EU : Ecuador (26,17%), Costa Rica (25,61%), Colombia (23,03%) and Panama (15,76%). With the aim of having a more open market for banana imports the share of the tariff quota reserved for the "newcomers" will be increased to 8% (3,5% under the present arrangements). The requirements to qualify as a "newcomer" are reinforced in order to avoid speculative requests. Generally speaking, the new licence system on bananas will be much simpler since the former distinction between categories of operators and market functions will disappear.

    [04] La Commission propose une action pour les villes européennes

    La Commission européenne a adopté un cadre d'action concernant le développement urbain durable. Pour aider les villes européennes dans leur lutte contre le chômage, les problèmes de circulation et d'environnement, il propose une application plus efficace des politiques et instruments communautaires afin d'intégrer davantage la dimension urbaine. Parallèlement, il prévoit l'adaptation des politiques, de la législation et du financement européens aux fins de la poursuite d'objectifs communs. Il englobe également une série d'exemples d'activités novatrices, de mise en réseaux et d'étalonnage qui contribueront au développement d'actions locales et de bonnes pratiques. Il donnera lieu à un débat auquel participera un ensemble varié de personnes occupant des fonctions dans le domaine de la politique urbaine, lors du forum urbain européen organisé par la Commission, à Vienne, les 26 et 27 novembre 1998.

    [05] TransEuropean Transport Network making progress, but extra efforts needed

    The European Commission published its first report on the implementation of trans-European transport networks (TEN-T) showing that the projects, designed to promote a better integrated European transport system, are making significant progress. The network, once it is fully operational, will ensure better transport links and hence a more efficient system to serve the single market, creating in turn the improvements in economic growth and competitiveness that can help to generate new job opportunities. Although the combination of low growth and fiscal consolidation has meant that infrastructure spending overall has been below the long-term trend, many TEN-T projects have advanced well. For the 14 projects singled out by the 1994 Essen European Council as in 1994 for priority development, three are close to completion and eight are under construction or at a very advanced stage of preparation and most likely to be completed by around 2005. The report also launches a broad consultation on the next stage of development of the transport TEN policy.

    [06] La Commission clôt la procédure et autorise une aide en faveur de Tubos Europa S.A.

    La Commission européenne a décidé que l'aide de 1,175 million de pesetas (7, 07 millions d'Ecus) que l'Etat espagnol a l'intention d'accorder à Tubos Europa, Estrémadure, Espagne, était compatible avec le marché commun au motif que l'entreprise fabriquera des profilés creux de construction d'un diamètre supérieur à 406 mm, pour lesquels il n'y a pas de surcapacité et qui, dès lors, n'ont pas d'incidence sur la concurrence. D'ailleurs, les premières inquiétudes éprouvées par la Commission à propos d'un détournement de l'aide au profit des entreprises du groupe dont la production relève du traité CECA ("Les filiales CECA") n'étaient pas fondées.

    [07] Commission terminates proceedings on planned aid for Dörries Scharmann Technologies GmbH

    The European Commission has decided to terminate the Article 93(2) proceedings initiated on aid for Dörries Scharmann Technologies GmbH following the German Government's decision not to grant the aid.

    [08] La Commission ordonne le recouvrement de l'aide versée illégalement à Sniace S.A.

    La Commission européenne a terminé l'enquête qu'elle avait ouverte en octobre 1997 sur plusieurs aides présumées en faveur de Sniace S.A., producteur de fibres synthétiques et de fibres de viscose implanté à Torrelavega, dans la communauté autonome de Cantabrie, en Espagne. La Commission a conclu que deux des mesures en cause constituaient des aides illégales, à savoir des accords sur le rééchelonnement de cotisations sociales non versées, assorti de taux d'intérêt qui ne correspondaient pas à ceux du marché et un accord de remboursement conclu avec le Fondo de garantía salarial, le FOGASA, également à des taux d'intérêt plus avantageux que ceux du marché.

    [09] Commission authorises aid for Neptun Industrie Rostock GmbH

    The European Commission decided to close the proceedings under Article 93 (2) of the EC Treaty in respect of various measures notified and not notified for an amount of DM 60 million (ECU 30.6 million), taken for the rescue and restructuring of Neptun Industrie Rostock (NIR) GmbH, situated in Land Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany, finding that it is compatible with the common market.

    [10] Aides à l'entreprise Hijos de Andres Molina S.A. (HAMSA)

    La Commission européenne a adopté une décision négative avec demande de récupération à l'égard des aides octroyées à l'entreprise de Jaen Hijos de Andres Molina S.A. (HAMSA). Cette entreprise, qui comprend cinq unités de production (produits à base de viande, abattoirs, fermes d'élevage porcin, fromage et aliments pour animaux) et occupe 450 travailleurs, connaît des difficultés financières depuis 1993. L'Instituto de Fomento de Andalucia (IFA) l'a contrôlée à partir de 1995 et est devenu propriétaire de 80% de ses actions en 1997. HAMSA bénéficie d'aides octroyées par l'Espagne sous forme de garanties et de prêts par l'IFA ainsi que d'annulation de dettes par des organismes d'Etat. La Commission considère que ces aides sont illégales et incompatibles avec le marché commun aux termes de la législation sur les aides et ne répondent pas aux conditions de dérogation, notamment parce qu'elles ne sont pas conformes aux critères pour les aides d'Etat au sauvetage et à la restructuration des entreprises en difficultés.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [11] Martin Bangemann, Edith Cresson and Neil Kinnock meet the European Space Industry

    Yesterday in Brussels, Martin Bangemann, Edith Cresson and Neil Kinnock, Members of the European Commission, met the heads of a number of leading European space companies and backed the creation of a high level Space Industry Forum to structure the dialogue between the space industry and the Commission. The Forum will be industry-led and will focus on priorities identified by all economic operators directly or indirectly linked to the space business. Its objectives will be to promote discussion and a common understanding of industry's views on the development and structure of the space business in Europe, the possible role for policies of the European Union and the priorities for action to be taken by European Institutions, governments, agencies and the companies themselves. Participation will include operators, service-providers and users. Small and medium-sized enterprises will also be represented. The Commissioners pointed out that the space industry plays a key role in creating the infrastructure of the information society through the integration of communication, navigation and observation applications.

    [12] Typhoon Babs : Commission responds to Philippines' international appeal

    The European Commission is clearing humanitarian aid worth ECU 500,000 for victims of Typhoon Babs, which hit the Philippines last week. Manila authorities have appealed today for international aid for two million people made homeless, injured or cut off by the typhoon which killed nearly 200 people. The aid, managed by the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), will enable non-governmental organisations to carry out emergency relief over the next three months. Ten provinces have been declared disaster zones. Most victims were killed by landslides, or by flooding that came in the wake of the typhoon. Babs is the most devastating typhoon to have hit the islands since 1995, and came a week after an earlier typhoon battered the north of the country. The provinces affected are Catanduanes province, Camarines (north and south), Albay province in the Bicol region, Quezon in southern Tagalog, Samar in the east of Visayas, and the Island of Luzon. The funding will be used for medicines and medical supplies, drinking water and emergency relief items such as blankets and jerry cans. It will be channelled through the Spanish Red Cross, working in close cooperation with the Philippine Red Cross. The disaster areas can only be reached by air at present because of damage to the infrastructure.

    [13] A new EU initiative for rural development

    Speaking at the opening of an exhibition on rural development projects in the European Parliament building in Brussels, yesterday evening, Franz Fischler, European Commissioner responsible for agriculture and rural development, has explained his ideas on the new European Union (EU) initiative focusing on rural development, one of the three Initiatives announced in Agenda 2000. The new initiative will take up central features of its predecessors LEADER I and II, in particular the bottom-up approach and the networking of local action groups. Emphasis will be put on the quality of the integrated development strategies. There will be no guarantee to continue co-financing all Local Action Groups currently supported, but in some cases solutions may be sought within the new EAGGF rural development programmes. The objective is to support pilot activities in Objectives 1 and 2 but also in other rural areas. Concentration will be achieved on thematic rather than on territorial criteria. Transparency and efficiency of its administration should be improved mainly by stringent common criteria for the selection of local action groups, by a mono-fund approach, and by returning to global grants where possible.

    [14] Emma Bonino stresses the importance of keeping a prudent and forthcoming approach with regard to GMO

    In her intervention at the opening ceremony of annual conference of biotechnology industries EuropaBio on 27 October in Brussels, European Commissioner for Consumer Policy and Health Protection, Emma Bonino, stressed the importance of keeping a prudent and forthcoming approach with regard to genetically modified organisms (GMOs). "Prudent approach, she said, for this reason the Commission has proposed changes introduced into the Proposal for amending the directive on deliberate release of GMOs into the environment : such as compulsory consultation of a scientific committee, monitoring GMOs and their effects once they are on the market and are circulating free in the environment, re-evaluation of authorisations after seven years. These are amendments which industry should totally support as they can contribute to restore confidence of those consumers who continue to believe that these new GMO products will create irreversible changes. Only when scientists have given a complete green light we could successfully convince our population that all necessary health guarantees are in place. Forthcoming approach and for this I have asked that a GMO free line of food production be established. This is a line of products which, following the example of organic farming, would contain no genetically modified organisms. The failure to offer such a "GMO-free line" would run counter to the basic right of consumers to chose which products they buy and would increase the hostility of certain consumers which fear that GMO will soon be present everywhere in their food and that they will be force-fed with GMO".

    [15] Padraig Flynn says the EU has no desire to intervene in national health matters

    (! embargo 6 pm !) Speaking in the European Parliament at a hearing on the future of public health policy, European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, Padraig Flynn, explained the new thinking behind the Commission's Communication on this subject (adopted last April). He explained why it is essential to target the limited resources available to particular areas where the European Union (EU) can provide real value added. He said : "We have learnt an important lesson : that having a variety of small programmes each pursuing its own goals is costly, inefficient and not the best way to utilise limited resources." Mr Flynn explained that the EU's interest in health systems is not a threat to extend competence into territory reserved for Member States. "The EU has neither the desire nor the ability to run national health systems." The EU can provide Member States with information and help them to identify best practice in many areas - e.g. the new EU network on surveillance and control of communicable diseases. The Commissioner launched the idea of establishing a "European Health Forum" to bring together the whole health community (NGOs, health professionals and health authorities) to help develop its agenda in this area.

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


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


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