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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 99-12-08

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 08/12/1999b


CONTENTS / CONTENU

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

  • [01] Romano Prodi launches "e-Europe" initiative to accelerate Europe's transformation into an Information Society
  • [02] La Commission inflige des amendes à un cartel de producteurs de tubes d'acier sans soudure pour partage de marchés
  • [03] No need for maximum residue limit for risk-free BST, says Commission
  • [04] La Commission approuve une partie de la carte des aides d'Etat régionales pour 2000-2006 au Portugal
  • [05] Commission approves R&D aid for Dornier Luftfahrt GmbH (Germany)
  • [06] Commission approves extension of aid for shipbuilding in Germany
  • [07] Crédits garantis en faveur des producteurs affectés par la crise dioxine en Belgique
  • [08] La Commission approuve un régime d'aides à l'implantation de services de communication avancés aux entreprises de transport routier de la Communauté autonome de Cantabrie (Espagne)
  • [09] Commission agrees with the subsidy scheme by the Italian region of Marche for goods haulage activities and modernisation of infrastructure and transport services
  • [10] Community Association and Reconstruction Assistance to the Western Balkans - CARA Programme
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [11] Decision for immediate temporary ban on toys or childcare articles intended to be put in the mouth and containing phthalates adopted
  • [12] Frits Bolkestein welcomes political agreement on electronic commerce Directive
  • [13] Franz Fischler : "EU expects tolerance and solidarity"
  • [14] Viviane Reding à la remise des bourses Euroclear 1999

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

    [01] Romano Prodi launches "e-Europe" initiative to accelerate Europe's transformation into an Information Society

    The European Commission has launched an initiative entitled "e-Europe - an Information Society for All", which proposes ambitious targets to bring the benefits of the Information Society within reach of all Europeans. The initiative focuses on ten priority areas, from education to transport and from healthcare to the disabled, and calls for greater competition in the telecommunications market. The initiative is a key element in the President's strategy to modernise the European economy.

    [02] La Commission inflige des amendes à un cartel de producteurs de tubes d'acier sans soudure pour partage de marchés

    La Commission européenne a adopté une décision sur base de l'article 81 CE imposant des amendes totalisant 99 millions d'euros à huit producteurs de tubes d'acier sans soudure [British Steel (Royaume-Uni), Dalmine S.p.A. (Italie), Mannesmannröhren Werke A.G. (Allemagne), Vallourec S.A (France), Kawasaki Steel Corporation, NKK Corporation, Nippon Steel Corporation et Sumitomo Metal Industries Limited (Japon)]. Ces producteurs se sont concertés jusqu'en 1995 sur le respect de leurs marchés domestiques respectifs en ce qui concerne certains tubes sans soudure destinés à la prospection et au transport du pétrole et du gaz.

    [03] No need for maximum residue limit for risk-free BST, says Commission

    The European Commission has proposed classifying bovine somatotropin (BST), which increases milk yield, among these substances for which no Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) are required. The decision was taken on the basis of 14 July 1999 opinion of the European Medicine Evaluation Agency's Committee on Veterinary Medicinal Products, that there are no public health grounds for establishing a MRL for BST. This opinion reviewed all the scientific data currently available.

    [04] La Commission approuve une partie de la carte des aides d'Etat régionales pour 2000-2006 au Portugal

    La Commission européenne a adopté deux décisions sur la définition des régions éligibles aux aides d'Etat à finalité régionale au Portugal pour la période qui s'étend du 1er janvier 2000 au 31 décembre 2006. D'une part, elle a approuvé la partie de la carte des aides régionales qui concerne les régions portugaises les plus défavorisées (Norte, Centro, Alentejo, Algarve, Açores et Madeira). D'autre part, elle a ouvert la procédure d'examen à l'encontre de la partie de la carte relative à la région de Lisboa e Vale do Tejo. Ainsi, à partir du 1er janvier 2000, cette région ne pourra plus bénéficier d'aides régionales avant que la Commission ait pris une décision finale.

    [05] Commission approves R&D aid for Dornier Luftfahrt GmbH (Germany)

    The European Commission considers that the research and development aid for Dornier Luftfahrt GmbH, which takes the form of a State guarantee and was notified by the Federal Government in accordance with State aid rules, is compatible with the EC Treaty. It has therefore decided to raise no objection to the guarantee, to be provided jointly by the Federal Republic and Bavaria, which covers a loan of up to USD 350 million (euro 350 million) to finance Dornier's development of a new family of regional aircraft. The aid is consistent with the EU framework for State aid for research and development.

    [06] Commission approves extension of aid for shipbuilding in Germany

    The European Commission approved the continued application of the shipbuilding aid programmes for the current year. It approved in particular the extension of the competition aid (Wettbewerbshilfe) scheme, with its budget of up to DEM 300 million (approximately euro 154 million), under which grants are available to German shipyards for the building of new ships and the conversion of existing ships.

    [07] Crédits garantis en faveur des producteurs affectés par la crise dioxine en Belgique

    La Commission européenne a autorisé une aide d'Etat en Belgique en faveur des entreprises de production, de transformation, de transport et de commerce de produits alimentaires ou d'aliments pour animaux qui ont été touchées par la crise dioxine. Selon les termes d'un protocole conclu entre les Régions et l'Association Belge des banques, le secteur bancaire pourra octroyer des crédits à des entreprises saines éprouvant des problèmes de trésorerie en raison de la déstabilisation du marché causée par la contamination de certains aliments pour animaux par la dioxine et par les mesures prises pour y remédier. Ce régime de crédits est basé sur un effort équilibré du secteur public, qui accordera une garantie partielle de 50% et le secteur bancaire qui assumera toujours 50% du risque du crédit et renoncera à sa marge habituelle sur le taux d'intérêt. Ce taux d'intérêt sera plafonné au Belgian prime rate moins 30 points de base (prix de revient pour les banques). Au mois de septembre, la Commission avait déjà autorisé un protocole similaire entre l'Etat et l'Association Belge des banques où les bénéficiaires étaient les entreprises agricoles. Par ailleurs, dans le cadre d'une autre aide d'Etat, la Commission n'a pas soulevé d'objections à un projet de loi belge qui constitue l'encadrement législatif horizontal contenant les dispositions d'habilitation nécessaires pour la prise de mesures d'aides concrètes en faveur des entreprises agricoles touchées par la crise. Ce dispositif crée la base légale pour certaines aides déjà accordées ainsi que pour toute aide future.

    [08] La Commission approuve un régime d'aides à l'implantation de services de communication avancés aux entreprises de transport routier de la Communauté autonome de Cantabrie (Espagne)

    L'objet de l'aide en cause est de subventionner des projets et actions pour favoriser l'implantation de services avancés de communications dans les entreprises de transport public routier en Cantabrie. La Communauté autonome veut doter le secteur de l'infrastructure informatique avancée nécessaire à une modernisation de sa gestion. Les subventions atteindront au maximum 30% des coûts éligibles justifiés des projets, et en tout état de cause un montant maximum de 5 millions de pesetas (24.940 euros). Les bénéficiaires de l'aide sont les entreprises privées fiscalement domiciliées en Cantabrie dont les activités portent sur le transport routier public tant de voyageurs que de fret. La Commission a estimé que cette aide correspondait aux objectifs de sa communication du 20 mai 1997 sur une stratégie communautaire et un cadre pour l'introduction de la télématique dans le secteur du transport routier en Europe, par laquelle elle encourage la promotion de systèmes intelligents de transport comme facteur de développement économique et de création d'emploi dans l'Union européenne.

    [09] Commission agrees with the subsidy scheme by the Italian region of Marche for goods haulage activities and modernisation of infrastructure and transport services

    The aid concerns certain measures contained in a draft law by the Italian region of Marche to increase the productivity and efficiency of goods haulage activities in the regional territory by creating and modernising infrastructures and transport services. It also aims at the development of combined transport, reduction of environmental pollution and increase in traffic safety. The Commission considered that the scheme guarantees free access and that the aid can be allowed under article 73 of the Treaty, which stipulates that aid shall be compatible if it meets the needs of coordination of transport. Aid for such infrastructure will only be given if the beneficiary can guarantee free and non-discriminatory access for all users to the infrastructures concerned. The aid must not impair competition in the relevant market. The maximum aid intensity is 15% of eligible expenditure.

    [10] Community Association and Reconstruction Assistance to the Western Balkans - CARA Programme

    The European Commission adopted a Communication setting out guidelines and detailed arrangements for the implementation of the European Union's future assistance to certain countries of South East Europe-Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) for 2000-2006. The Communication aims to taylor the delivery of assistance to the region more closely to the objectives of the EU's strategy and needs on the ground. On the basis of these guidelines, the Commission will present a draft regulation on implementing assistance in the first quarter of 2000. This regulation will provide a single legal basis and a single set of procedures for assistance in the region. As announced by President Prodi at the OSCE Summit in Istanbul, the Commission estimates that a sum of euro 5.5 billion in the form of grants is conceivable for the period 2000-2006. This sum serves as a "political" financial reference point.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [11] Decision for immediate temporary ban on toys or childcare articles intended to be put in the mouth and containing phthalates adopted

    On 7 December 1999, the European Commission has adopted its Decision for an immediate temporary ban on toys or childcare articles intended for mouthing, such as pacifiers and teething rings, containing certain phthalates. The Decision accompanies a proposal for a Directive containing the same prohibition and strict labelling requirements on toys which can be put in the mouth by children under three years of age. Member States will now rapidly stop the placing on the market of articles for teething and mouthing containing phthalates. The Decision is valid for a three month period and can be subsequently renewed as a gap bridging measure, until the proposed permanent legislation is in place. The fast-track adoption of the Decision was facilitated by the unanimous support it received from the Member States on December 1. "I am extremely pleased that the Member States have endorsed the objective to immediately guarantee a consistent, high level of health protection for all babies across the European Union", said Commissioner David Byrne, responsible for Health and Consumer Protection. Mr Byrne has recently invited the Toy Industries of Europe to collaborate with distributors and the authorities in voluntarily withdrawing any remaining stocks of phthalate containing teething rings etc from shop shelves. Since in most countries this type of products has already disappeared from the market over the past two years in response to national measures and voluntary action, collaboration by industry and distributors is very important in order to identify and withdraw any such products still on the shelves.

    [12] Frits Bolkestein welcomes political agreement on electronic commerce Directive

    European Commissioner for Internal Market, Frits Bolkestein, has welcomed the political agreement reached on 7 December by the Council of Ministers on a common position for the proposed Electronic Commerce Directive. The Directive would ensure that Information Society services benefited from the Internal Market principles of free movement of services and freedom of establishment and could be provided throughout the European Union (EU) if they complied with the law in their home Member State. The proposed Directive would establish specific harmonised rules only in those areas strictly necessary to ensure that businesses and citizens could supply and receive Information Society services throughout the EU, irrespective of frontiers. These areas include definition of where operators are established, transparency obligations for operators, transparency requirements for commercial communications, conclusion and validity of electronic contracts, liability of Internet intermediaries, on-line dispute settlement and the role of national authorities. In other areas the Directive would build on existing EU instruments which provide for harmonisation or mutual recognition of national laws.

    [13] Franz Fischler : "EU expects tolerance and solidarity"

    On the occasion of the re-opening of the liaison office of Kärnten and in presence of the Governor of Carinthia/Austria, Jörg Haider, Franz Fischler, European Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries, pointed out that the European Union expects a clear commitment to the principle of tolerance and solidarity - from any European region and its political representatives. "I do strongly believe that it should be a matter of common sense that nationalism, xenophobia and isolationism are concepts from a bygone age. There may be people who do not agree, people who advocate 'small is beautiful' but mean chauvinism. Let me be clear. Those who still adhere to these ideas have not understood the basics of European integration and likewise will not be understood in Europe. I also expect openness towards eastern enlargement. Let us grasp the opportunities and tackle the challenges. But let us avoid that new barriers are erected by playing down the advantages of enlargement for all of us."

    [14] Viviane Reding à la remise des bourses Euroclear 1999

    Mme Viviane Reding, commissaire européen chargé de l'Education et de la Culture, participera aujourd'hui à Bruxelles à la remise des bourses Euroclear à six étudiants européens. Ces bourses privées, qui vont cette année à six travaux universitaires sur la monnaie unique, sont dotées d'un total de 600,000 euros sur trois ans. En participant à cette cérémonie, Mme Reding salue cet exemple de partenariat entre monde universitaire et entreprises.

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


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


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