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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 98-11-25

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

25/11/98


CONTENTS / CONTENU

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

  • [01] La Commission adopte un rapport sur les perspectives d'emploi dans la société de l'information
  • [02] Fourth report on the implementation of the telecommunications regulatory package
  • [03] La Commission fait le point sur la mise en œuvre du paquet fiscal
  • [04] Commission adopts UK Date Based Export Scheme
  • [05] Commission clears Enso/Stora merger
  • [06] La Commission invite les partenaires sociaux à prendre l'initiative pour moderniser l'organisation du travail
  • [07] Commission agrees a Communication on the Single Market in pharmaceuticals
  • [08] Commission assesses the Dutch stability programme
  • [09] Commission assesses the Danish convergence programme
  • [10] Commission presents "Northern dimension" report : enormous potential
  • [11] Convention de Lomé - clôture des consultations avec le Togo
  • [12] La Commission interdit de nouvelles aides à Enirisorse
  • [13] Commission clears aid to Draiswerke GmbH
  • [14] Commission investigates aid to Belgian fibres producer
  • [15] La Commission adresse une injonction informative au gouvernement italien à propos de Seleco Spa
  • [16] La Commission approuve l'extension d'un régime d'aides pour le maintien de l'emploi en Italie
  • [17] La Commission approuve des aides à la production cinématographique aux Pays-Bas
  • [18] Commission decides to open a State aid procedure into Kvaerner Warnow Werft GmbH
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [19] Commission clears acquisition of Hoechst's polyethylene business by Elenac
  • [20] Commission authorises Koch Industries (US) and Saba (Mexico) to acquire parts of Hoechst's (Germany) polyester assets
  • [21] EU requests panel against US 1916 Anti-Dumping Act
  • [22] Bulgarie : la Commission européenne a alloué 1,5 million d'Ecus pour l'aide humanitaire

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

    [01] La Commission adopte un rapport sur les perspectives d'emploi dans la société de l'information

    Dans le cadre de la stratégie européenne pour l'emploi et en préparation du Conseil européen de Vienne prévu le mois prochain, la Commission européenne a adopté un rapport sur les perspectives d'emploi dans la société de l'information. Ce rapport, qui avait été demandé par les chefs d'Etat et de gouvernement lors du sommet sur l'emploi de Luxembourg, en novembre 1997, conclut que le secteur est prometteur pour l'emploi - à condition que l'Europe s'engage résolument à tirer le meilleur parti du potentiel de cette industrie, qui se développe et évolue rapidement. Il faudra déployer des efforts accrus afin de promouvoir une culture d'entreprise au sein de l'Union européenne, élaborer un cadre d'action souple, mais énergique, et investir davantage dans l'employabilité et l'adaptabilité des ressources humaines pour que tout cela devienne réalité. Le rapport plaide en faveur d'une action concertée à tous les niveaux pour relever ce défi et propose un calendrier permettant de réaliser le suivi et une analyse comparative des progrès réalisés.

    [02] Fourth report on the implementation of the telecommunications regulatory package

    The European Commission adopted its fourth report on the implementation of the telecommunications regulatory package in the Member States. It is focusing on the main provisions of the package, such as national regulatory authorities, licensing, interconnection, universal service, tariffs, numbering, frequency and rights of way. The report finds that the national regulatory authorities (NRA) have begun to implement the principles laid down in the regulatory package in all Member States, and are cooperating and exchanging information on a systematic basis with each other and with the Commission. The national licensing frameworks appear to be functioning well, with the procedures applied in practice conforming broadly to the requirements of the package. Interconnection regimes are also operating well in most Member States. The Commission thinks it inevitable that with an extensive legislative framework to put in place, the detailed implementation in the Member States is bound to show a number of shortcomings. These points are examined in detail in the technical annexes to the report. The main message remains clear, however, that the bulk of the European rules has been taken over into national law and is being applied effectively in the Member States, with tangible benefits for the whole European economy.

    [03] La Commission fait le point sur la mise en œuvre du paquet fiscal

    La Commission européenne a adopté un rapport sur l'état d'avancement des travaux en matière de fiscalité directe qui sera présenté au Conseil des Ministres de l'économie et des finances du 1er décembre 1998. Un an après l'accord unanime du Conseil sur une action coordonnée au niveau européen pour lutter contre la concurrence fiscale dommageable, la Commission dresse un bilan positif quant à sa mise en œuvre. Le Groupe "code de conduite" (fiscalité des entreprises), créé par le Conseil, a procédé avec l'aide de la Commission à un examen des mesures potentiellement dommageables ayant trait aux services intragroupe et aux services financiers, ainsi qu'aux sociétés offshore. Les négociations au sein du Conseil sur les propositions de Directive concernant la fiscalité de l'épargne et de paiements d'intérêts et de redevances entre entreprises ont bien progressé et il a été convenu de traiter rapidement la question de la dimension externe. Le Conseil est invité à confirmer son engagement à trouver un accord sur ces Directives, ainsi qu'à demander au groupe de suivi du Code de conduite de s'efforcer d'achever l'évaluation des régimes préférentiels existants, d'ici la fin de juin 1999.

    [04] Commission adopts UK Date Based Export Scheme

    The European Commission has adopted a decision on the Date Based Export Scheme for UK beef following the support by the majority of member states for the proposal in the Council on the 23 November. As soon as the UK Government informs the Commission that they are ready to export, the Commission will carry out an inspection on the application and control of the different aspects of the scheme and subsequently inform the Standing Veterinary Committee. If the Commission is satisfied with the inspection results it will then set the date for exports to recommence. This scheme will apply only to deboned meat and meat products obtained from animals born after the 1 August 1996 (the date on which it is considered that the meat-and-bone meal ban in the UK was fully effective) and which are over six months and under thirty months of age. The scheme also includes the slaughter and destruction of offspring from Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) infected animals and verification that the dam of the animal concerned has lived for at least six months after birth and not developed BSE. Strict rules on the identification and traceability of animals and meat are also included. It should be stressed that meat from animals over thirty months of age will continue to be excluded from all markets including the domestic UK market.

    [05] Commission clears Enso/Stora merger

    Following an in-depth investigation, the European Commission has decided to authorise the merger between the Finnish paper and board company Enso OYJ (Enso) and the Swedish paper and board manufacturer, Stora Kopparbergs Bergslags AB (Stora). The merger will create the number one paper and board manufacturing company in the world. However, the Commission's investigation showed that the merger will not create or strengthen a dominant position on the newsprint and magazine markets. As to thick paper for the production of materials to package liquids ('liquid packaging board'), the merged entity will face countervailing buying power from packaging materials producers. This power will be increased by Enso's divestiture of links with one producer, Elopak and by the parties' agreement not to treat any one producer more favourably than others unless warranted by objective cost justifications. Moreover, third-country imports will further increase competition on the market. The merger will not therefore create or strengthen a dominant position on the liquid packaging market either.

    [06] La Commission invite les partenaires sociaux à prendre l'initiative pour moderniser l'organisation du travail

    La Commission européenne a adopté une Communication sur la modernisation de l'organisation du travail qui invite les partenaires sociaux à faciliter et compléter la mise en oeuvre du pilier "adaptabilité" des lignes directrices pour l'emploi. Intitulée "Moderniser l'organisation du travail - une approche positive du changement", cette Communication vise à encourager et renforcer le partenariat pour la modernisation de l'organisation du travail, ainsi qu'à élaborer un cadre d'action aux niveaux appropriés.

    [07] Commission agrees a Communication on the Single Market in pharmaceuticals

    The European Commission has adopted a Communication on the Single Market in pharmaceuticals. Although there are a number of developments underway towards a Single Market in Pharmaceuticals, like the introduction in 1995 of a common central evaluation and marketing authorisation by the European Medicines Evaluation Agency or mutual recognition between Member States, the Single Market for this sector is far from being complete. This is mainly due to the fact that Member States have exclusive responsibility in the field of healthcare and have different price regimes to control overall health costs. The Communication seeks to put forward some options for the future which respect the principle of subsidiarity and take into account the totality of the regulatory, social and industrial interests in play. The options have to ensure that patients and consumers have access to the pharmaceuticals they need at affordable cost, the need to enhance competition and that appropriate incentives are available to encourage innovation and industrial developments.

    [08] Commission assesses the Dutch stability programme

    The European Commission has made a recommendation to the Council of Ministers on the Dutch stability programme. The Commission conclusion is that the budgetary policy presented in the stability programme of the Netherlands is in line with the requirements of the Stability and Growth Pact and the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines agreed at the Cardiff European Council. Based on the Coalition Agreement reached by the government in August 1998 the programme extends to broad economic strategy of recent years to the period 1999-2002. In essence this implies that budgetary reform will be implemented in conjunction with substantial reduction in the tax burden. This approach, applied within a context of wage moderation and social consensus, has proved to be successful. For the next four years, the Dutch authorities intend to allocate substantial resources to the improvement in the global efficiency of the economy, while maintaining sound public finances. The programme presents three basic macroeconomic scenarios where annual average real GDP growth is expected to reach 2¼%, 2¾%, 3¼% respectively. The corresponding government deficit falls to 1% of GDP in the cautious scenario to ¼% of GDP in the middle scenario and turns into a surplus of ¼% of GDP in the optimistic scenario. The stability programme establishes all the detailed public finance projections on the basis of the cautious scenario. On the basis of the Commission recommendation, the Council is expected to adopt a formal opinion on the Dutch stability programme on 1 December 1998.

    [09] Commission assesses the Danish convergence programme

    The European Commission made a recommendation to the Council of Ministers on the Danish convergence programme. The recommendation was made in accordance with the new reinforced procedures of the Stability and Growth Pact for the monitoring of the economic and budgetary policies of the countries of the European Union. The general government budgetary position of Denmark complies with the requirements of the Stability and Growth Pact. The primary objective of the Danish convergence programme is to continue budgetary consolidation, underpinned by structural reform. The Danish government aims to increase the budget surplus from 1.1% of GDP in 1998 to 2.6% of GDP in 2001 and further to 3.5% of GDP in 2005. The general government gross debt level, which is expected to fall below the 60% of GDP reference value in 1998, is targeted to decrease further, reaching 49% of GDP in 2001 and 37% of GDP in 2005. The programme is consistent with the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines agreed at the Cardiff European Council. On the basis of the Commission's recommendation, the Council is expected to adopt a formal opinion on the Danish programme on 1 December.

    [10] Commission presents "Northern dimension" report : enormous potential

    The European Commission adopted a report on the European Union's (EU) "Northern Dimension", which seeks to ensure that the EU's activities and available instruments continue to take account of issues facing northern Europe. The Commission produced this report at the request of the European Councils at Luxembourg (December 1997) and Cardiff (June 1998). It will be discussed by EU Heads of State and government at the Vienna European Council in December 1998. The report sets out operational recommendations in the fields of energy, environment, nuclear safety, cross border cooperation, trade, transport, telecommunications and health. It underlines the fact that these recommendations are to be implemented within the framework of existing contractual relations, financial instruments and regional organisations. The report also proposes that the northern dimension should be discussed with the countries concerned, as well as in relevant international organisations, such as the Council of Baltic Sea States and the Barents Euro Arctic Council.

    [11] Convention de Lomé - clôture des consultations avec le Togo

    La Commission européenne a approuvé une proposition visant à clôturer les consultations avec le Togo engagées suite aux élections présidentielles de juin 1998. Elle estime que malgré tous les efforts, aucune solution n'a été trouvée à la situation de manquement aux obligations de l'article 5 de la Convention de Lomé qui stipule que "le respect des droits de l'homme, des principes démocratiques et de l'Etat de droit (…) constitue un élément essentiel de la présente Convention". La Commission propose donc que la coopération avec le Gouvernement togolais reste suspendue. Cependant, l'Union européenne évitera de pénaliser la société civile et contribuera à promouvoir une situation de respect de l'article 5 de la Convention de Lomé.

    [12] La Commission interdit de nouvelles aides à Enirisorse

    La Commission européenne a déclaré incompatibles les aides octroyées en 1997 par l'Italie à Enirisorse pour un montant de 133 milliards de ITL (65 millions d'Ecus). Ces aides ont été versées de façon illégale au-delà du plan de restructuration d'Enirisorse, approuvé par la Commission en 1997. La Commission est parvenue à la conclusion que les recapitalisations effectuées par l'Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi (ENI) en 1997 ne peuvent offrir une rentabilité financière suffisante, compte tenu de la liquidation, à brève échéance, d'Enirisorse. Le gouvernement italien devra maintenant récupérer les aides illégales auprès de la société.

    [13] Commission clears aid to Draiswerke GmbH

    The European Commission has authorised aid granted for the restructuring of the special machinery manufacturer Draiswerke GmbH, Germany. The Commission approved a DM 0.8 million (ECU 0.4 million) loan provided by the City of Mannheim in August 1996 for ten months and a 50% guarantee in respect of loans of DM 6 million (ECU 3 million) provided by Landeskreditbank Baden-Württemberg ("LAKRA") from August 1996 until June 1998. The aid measures are compatible with the Commission's guidelines for rescue and restructuring aid.

    [14] Commission investigates aid to Belgian fibres producer

    The European Commission has decided to open an in-depth investigation into aid which Belgium intends to award to Decochim S.A., a new company located in Mouscron, Wallonia, in connection with an investment to produce flame retardant polyester yarn. The planned aid, which would include co- financing from the European Regional Development Fund, amounts to about BEF 330 million (ECU 27.2 million) in support of an investment totalling BEF 1.1 billion (ECU 8.2 million). In addition the company would benefit from an exoneration from property tax for a period of five years.

    [15] La Commission adresse une injonction informative au gouvernement italien à propos de Seleco Spa

    La Commission européenne a adopté une décision enjoignant le gouvernement italien à lui fournir les informations nécessaires lui permettant d'adopter une décision finale sur la compatibilité avec le marché commun des aides octroyées par la Région Friuli-Venezia-Giulia et le Gouvernement italien à la société Seleco Spa (Pordenone) active sur le marché de l'électronique de consommation (téléviseurs couleurs, décodeurs, projecteurs et moniteurs), déclarée en faillite le 17 avril 1997.

    [16] La Commission approuve l'extension d'un régime d'aides pour le maintien de l'emploi en Italie

    La Commission européenne a approuvé la prolongation pour les années 2000 et 2001 d'un régime d'aide italien, portant sur des dégrèvements de charges sociales pour travailleurs à basse qualification occupés à la date du 1er décembre 1997 ou embauchés après le 1er décembre 1997 dans des entreprises des régions Sicilia, Sardegna, Calabria, Basilicata, Campania et Puglia. La Commission considère les aides compatibles avec le traité de l'Union européenne car destinées à favoriser le développement économique des régions concernées.

    [17] La Commission approuve des aides à la production cinématographique aux Pays-Bas

    La Commission européenne a décidé de ne pas soulever d'objections à l'égard d'une aide de 15 millions de NLG (6,275 millions d'Ecus) sur 5 ans du gouvernement néerlandais à la production cinématographique par le biais d'une fondation Mez-Stichting qui aura pour objet de gérer la participation publique dans une société opérationnelle dénommée Film Investors Netherlands B.V. La Commission estime que le régime d'aide n'altère pas les conditions des échanges et de concurrence dans une mesure contraire à l'intérêt commun.

    [18] Commission decides to open a State aid procedure into Kvaerner Warnow Werft GmbH

    The European Commission has decided to open a procedure pursuant to Article 93(2) of the EC Treaty to examine whether Eastern German shipyard Kvaerner Warnow Werft GmbH has exceeded its yearly shipbuilding capacity ceiling. A total amount of DM 1,247 million (ECU 638 million) of restructuring aid was approved to the privatised shipyard by several Commission decisions in 1993- 1995 (IP/95/78, IP/95/1010, IP/93/1210, IP/93/123). The approval of the aid under these decisions is subject to a yearly newbuilding capacity limitation of 85.000 cgt. The regular monitoring report of the yard of 30.6.1998 indicated that this limit will be considerably exceeded in 1998 and 1999. Due to this excess output, the aid cannot any longer be considered in line with the provisions of Directives 92/68/EEC and 90/684/EEC on aid to shipbuilding.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [19] Commission clears acquisition of Hoechst's polyethylene business by Elenac

    The European Commission has approved the planned acquisition of the European polyethylene (PE) and world-wide PE technology licensing business (PE business) of Hoechst AG (Hoechst) by Elenac SA and Elenac GmbH (Elenac), jointly controlled by the Royal Dutch/Shell group and BASF AG. Given the presence of a number of strong competitors, the Commission considered that the concentration does not raise serious concern for competition on the Western European PE market and on the worldwide market for PE technology.

    [20] Commission authorises Koch Industries (US) and Saba (Mexico) to acquire parts of Hoechst's (Germany) polyester assets

    The European Commission has approved the acquisition by Koch Industries, Inc. (Koch) and Imasab S.A. (Saba) of certain parts of the polyester assets of Hoechst AG (Target). The acquired asset includes Hoechst's polyester activities (formerly known as Trevira) in terephthalates, certain polyester polymer resins, industrial fibres and textile filaments. Also included in the deal are three subsidiaries of Hoechst (Hoechst Trevira Vlissingen B.V. Industrialpark Bobingen GmbH & Co. KG and Industrial Park Vlissingen B.V.). For the Commission, the transaction does not lead to a foreclosure effect or other vertical concern. Consequently, since there is no addition of market shares either, the proposed transaction is agreed.

    [21] EU requests panel against US 1916 Anti-Dumping Act

    The European Union (EU) today requested a World Trade Organisation (WTO) panel against the United States (US) over its 1916 Anti-Dumping Act. The EU believes the legislation breaches WTO anti-dumping rules and threatens European exports. The EU investigated the 1916 Act following a complaint made in January 1997 by the European Confederation of Iron and Steel Industry under the Trade Barriers Regulations (TBR) procedure and concluded that the legislation should be repealed. Bilateral discussions and WTO consultations have failed to resolve the issue and the EU has therefore requested a panel under the WTO dispute settlement procedure. This is the first time a TBR procedure has led to a formal WTO panel request.

    [22] Bulgarie : la Commission européenne a alloué 1,5 million d'Ecus pour l'aide humanitaire

    La Commission européenne a alloué 1,5 million d'Ecus pour l'aide humanitaire destinée à ceux qui ont besoin de médicaments et de produits alimentaires de base en Bulgarie. Ces fonds, gérés par l'Office Humanitaire de la Communauté Européenne (ECHO), permettront la réalisation par des ONG européennes d'un programme d'aide d'urgence pour une période de 9 mois.

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


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


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