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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 99-04-29

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-Parole 29/04/1999b


CONTENTS / CONTENU

[I] Résultats de la Commission du 28 avril 1999 - Outcome of Commission meeting of 28 April 1999

  • [01] Fight against fraud : Commission adopts decision on the creation of a new Fraud Prevention Office
  • [02] La Commission propose 250 millions d'euros pour un plan de reconstruction de l'Amérique Centrale après l'ouragan Mitch
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [03] The EU will suspend beef imports from the US
  • [04] La Commission donne son accord au volet non militaire de l'opération de concentration entre Lagardère et Aérospatiale
  • [05] Commission sees substantial progress in its investigation into international telephone prices
  • [06] Commission strictly limits exemption from the liberalisation of access to the ground-handling market at Berlin-Tegel and Paris-CDG airports
  • [07] Actions structurelles 2000-2006 : calendrier pour l'adoption formelle et mise en œuvre des règlements
  • [08] Commission proposes renewed ceilings for EIB lending in third countries
  • [09] Commission sends reasoned opinion to Sweden for failing to incorporate into national law the Directive on informing the general public in the event of a radiological emergency
  • [10] L'UE affiche un déficit de 6,2 milliards d'euros avec le reste du monde en janvier
  • [11] L'Europe centrale sous la loupe
  • [12] Padraig Flynn : "The EU needs its own strong and clear response to racism"

  • [I] Résultats de la Commission du 28 avril 1999 - Outcome of Commission meeting of 28 April 1999

    (voir aussi see also Midday Express of 28.4)

    [01] Fight against fraud : Commission adopts decision on the creation of a new Fraud Prevention Office

    The European Commission has adopted a decision to create a new Fraud Prevention Office. The Office shall replace the present Task Force for Coordination of Fraud Prevention (UCLAF) and take over all its tasks. In addition, the Commission took note of an amended proposal for a European Parliament and Council Regulation on investigations carried out by the new Office. Since the Office shall be able to carry out investigations in all the European Union institutions it is also subject to an interinstitutional agreement between the Parliament, the Council of Ministers and the Commission. The Commission has approved the contents of this agreement as well as a "model decision" to be adopted by each individual institution on conditions and methods for internal investigations. With these new measures in place the Office will be able to exercise its powers of investigation in complete independence and without seeking or taking instructions from the Commission, any government or any other institution or body. The decision to create the new Office shall enter into force on 1 June 1999.

    [02] La Commission propose 250 millions d'euros pour un plan de reconstruction de l'Amérique Centrale après l'ouragan Mitch

    La Commission européenne a proposé au Conseil des Ministres et au Parlement européen, suite à leur demande, un plan d'action communautaire pour la reconstruction de l'Amérique Centrale. Il s'agit de 250 millions d'euros sur une période de quatre ans, en faveur des pays les plus affectés, surtout le Honduras et le Nicaragua, mais aussi le Salvador et le Guatemala, par l'ouragan Mitch en octobre 1998. On peut considérer ce désastre naturel comme un des plus graves jamais subis par cette région. Près de 6,7 millions de personnes, ce qui correspond à presque un quart de la population totale des pays affectés, ont été touchées par le désastre. Les dégâts matériels occasionnés par l'ouragan ont été estimés à 5,36 milliards de dollars, ce qui équivaut à 10% du PNB de la région, dont 26% concernent les secteurs sociaux et près de 18% des infrastructures.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [03] The EU will suspend beef imports from the US

    The European Commission decided to suspend imports of beef and bovine liver from the United States (US). The formal decision will be taken shortly. The suspension will take effect from June 15th. This action has been taken to protect consumer health in the European Union (EU) following the discovery by an independent study of residues of certain synthetic growth promoting hormones in beef and bovine livers imported from the US. In a separate but related decision, it was decided that checks on US beef and bovine liver imports from the US must be increased by the Member States to cover 100% of imported product. The Standing Veterinary Committee supports this action. Both of these decisions will be reviewed on the basis of the evolution of the situation and the guarantees supplied by the competent authorities of the US. Commenting on the decisions the Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Franz Fischler, said that the Commission is ready to work closely with the US authorities to resolve this problem and welcomed the fact that the first discussions between both sides which took place last week were constructive. He insisted however that these decisions can only be reversed when the EU is satisfied that the "Hormone Free Cattle Programme" is operating effectively, ensuring that these imports were produced without the use of hormones.

    [04] La Commission donne son accord au volet non militaire de l'opération de concentration entre Lagardère et Aérospatiale

    La Commission européenne a approuvé l'opération de concentration par laquelle Lagardère apporte à Aérospatiale l'ensemble de ses activités dans les secteurs de l'aéronautique, de l'espace et des missiles, et acquiert une participation de 33% dans le nouvel ensemble. Le nouvel ensemble, dénommé Aérospatiale-Matra, sera privatisé, et il sera contrôlé conjointement par l'Etat français et Lagardère. L'approbation de la Commission concerne le volet non militaire de l'opération. Les aspects de la transaction relatifs aux missiles n'ont pas été notifiés à la Commission, conformément aux instructions données aux deux sociétés par le gouvernement français se fondant sur l'article 223 du Traité.

    [05] Commission sees substantial progress in its investigation into international telephone prices

    In August 1998 the European Commissioner in charge of competition, Mr Karel Van Miert, decided to press ahead with an investigation into prices for international phone calls paid to seven dominant telephone operators. His decision was based on data suggesting that the international accounting rates (i.e. the charge agreed between two telecommunications operators for carrying an international call from its origin to its destination) applied within the European Union by the seven operators could result in excessive margins. The Commission's Directorate-General for Competition (DGIV) undertook the investigation in cooperation with the national telecommunications regulatory authorities. The procedures carried out by the latter in Finland, Austria and Portugal led to the result that accounting rates applied by three of the operators concerned had decreased considerably (on average by 26 to 28% respectively). Following the swift action by the national regulators the Commission has now decided that it can close its investigation in respect of these operators.

    [06] Commission strictly limits exemption from the liberalisation of access to the ground-handling market at Berlin-Tegel and Paris-CDG airports

    The European Commission has decided to give to the airports of Berlin-Tegel and Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle strictly limited exemptions from the liberalisation of ground handling laid down by directive 96/67/EC. Because of space constraints, these airports will not be obliged to liberalise immediately specific ground handling activities like loading and unloading operations, aircraft movements or passenger transport between some terminals.

    [07] Actions structurelles 2000-2006 : calendrier pour l'adoption formelle et mise en œuvre des règlements

    Suite à l'accord de Berlin entre les chefs d'Etat et de gouvernement, le Conseil des Ministres a procédé à l'adaptation des projets de règlements réformant les actions structurelles pour la période 2000-2006. Les textes actualisés ont été transmis le 14 avril au Parlement européen qui seront discutés lors de sa dernière session plénière, du 3 au 7 mai. L'approbation de ces textes durant cette session permettra une transition sans heurts vers la nouvelle période 2000-2006. Dans ce cas, il reviendra au Conseil à approuver formellement la nouvelle réglementation et à la Commission à prendre les décisions nécessaires à la mise en œuvre des interventions.

    [08] Commission proposes renewed ceilings for EIB lending in third countries

    The European Commission has adopted a proposal for new mandates for European Investment Bank (EIB) lending to third countries amounting to euro 9475 million for a period of three and a half years starting on 31 January 2000. This represents an overall nominal increase of about 12% compared with average lending under the current mandates. The Commission's proposal covers loan guarantees from the European Union (EU) budget for EIB lending in the countries of central and eastern Europe and western Balkans, the Mediterranean, Latin America and Asia as well as in the Republic of South Africa. The proposal envisages that the guarantee from the EU budget will in future provide 60% cover; at the same time, the Bank is invited to aim to cover the commercial risk on 30% of the proposed lending. Furthermore, the Commission proposes that at the end of the three and a half years the guarantee be automatically extended to cover the same overall ceiling with the same regional distribution until the end of 2006 unless Council decides otherwise on a proposal from the Commission. The new mandates will be contained in a Decision of the Council of Ministers adopted under Article 235 of the Treaty (subject to unanimity voting).

    [09] Commission sends reasoned opinion to Sweden for failing to incorporate into national law the Directive on informing the general public in the event of a radiological emergency

    Council Directive 89/618/Euratom on informing the general public about health protection measures to be applied and steps to be taken in the event of a radiological emergency was adopted in the wake of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power station, with a view to drawing up joint principles and specifc provisions for informing the public and the emergency services. The European Commission has found that the texts transmitted by Sweden are general texts relating to emergency planning and fail to implement the Directive. It has therefore decided to send a reasoned opinion to Sweden.

    [10] L'UE affiche un déficit de 6,2 milliards d'euros avec le reste du monde en janvier

    (! embargo 12h !) Les échanges extra-Union européenne (UE) ont enregistré un déficit de 6,2 milliards d'euros en janvier 1999, supérieur de 1,6 milliard par rapport à janvier 1998. La zone euro a enregistré un excédent commercial de 0,6 milliard d'euros avec le reste du monde au mois de janvier 1999, en hausse de 0,1 milliard par rapport au mois de janvier 1998, selon les estimations publiées aujourd'hui par Eurostat, l'Office statistique des Communautés européennes à Luxembourg. La croissance du commerce extra-communautaire et intra-communautaire a baissé en janvier, tant pour la zone euro que pour l'UE. Le présent communiqué de presse est basé sur des données disponibles le 26 avril 1999. Il s'agit de statistiques provisoires basées sur les données fournies par les Etats membres suivant la méthodologie UE. Ces données sont sujettes à révisions fréquentes. Les données sur les échanges extra-UE pour la Grèce, l'Irlande et les Pays-Bas, et sur les échanges intra-UE pour le Danemark, la Grèce, l'Irlande, l'Italie, le Luxembourg, les Pays-Bas, le Portugal, la Suède et le Royaume-Uni sont des estimations d'Eurostat. Le 1er janvier, suite à l'abolition des contrôles douaniers dans l'UE, un nouveau système de collecte des données intra-UE (Intrasat) a été mis en place. Au lieu d'être établies à partir des déclarations douanières, les statistiques commerciales sont à présent élaborées à partir de données fournies directement par les sociétés. Le communiqué de presse complet, prenant en compte les dernières données disponibles, sera publié en mai 1999.

    [11] L'Europe centrale sous la loupe

    (! embargo 12h !) Une nouvelle publication d'Eurostat, l'Office statistique des Communautés européennes à Luxembourg, examine aujourd'hui, dans le plus grand détail, les mutations rapides observées dans les pays d'Europe centrale (PEC). 'Statistical Yearbook on CECs 1998 - A statistical view of Central Europe' est une importante première, bénéficiant du soutien des statisticiens de l'ensemble des PEC. Outre des faits et des chiffres clés sur chaque pays, l'annuaire de 170 pages contient des tableaux statistiques détaillés sur la population, l'enseignement, la population active, les comptes nationaux, les finances, l'agriculture, l'industrie et la construction, les services, les transports et le tourisme, le commerce et l'environnement.

    [12] Padraig Flynn : "The EU needs its own strong and clear response to racism"

    Speaking today in Berlin at a Conference on "Religions - Ethnic Groups - the State", European Commissioner for Social Affairs, Padraig Flynn, pointed out that : "The new Treaty (Article 13) has, for the first time, provided a specific power for the European Union (EU) to combat discrimination, whether on grounds of sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age, sexual orientation. Since then, the Commission has been consulting widely about how to use that new power. The feedback is unambiguous : the EU needs its own strong and clear response. Work is well under way within the Commission to tackle the grounds of discrimination listed in Article 13. It will be up to the new Commission to decide how precisely to proceed with implementation". Referring to current events in Kosovo, he said : "We need only look just over the borders of the EU, into the former Yugoslavia, to see the horrifying effects of racism and xenophobia at their most extreme. We should not however think that Western Europe, the countries of the EU, are free from the same sort of racism and misguided discrimination which is at the root of the events in Kosovo. Even if we have been spared over the last 50 years the scale of the horror we are now witnessing in Kosovo, we have nevertheless had to come to terms with countless acts of racist violence and even murder in all our countries. People from ethnic and religious minorities in Europe face racism and discrimination every day of their lives in many, different ways".

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


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


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