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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 00-05-30

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 Service Presse et Communicationb

30/05/2000


CONTENTS / CONTENU

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

  • [01] Postal services : Commission proposes to speed completion of Internal Market
  • [02] Romano Prodi lance le Livre blanc sur la gouvernance
  • [03] Commission proposes amendments to existing euro regulations to include Greece
  • [04] La Commission en faveur d'un cadre stable pour les échanges d'électricité avec la Suisse
  • [05] EU deploys 160 strong election observation team in Zimbabwe
  • [06] Recasting of the financial regulation, first step
  • [07] Commission closes investigation of original Dutch proposal for regional aid map
  • [08] Commission approves the regional aid map for Austria covering the period 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2006
  • [09] Peter Carl appointed Director General of DG Trade
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [10] EU-US Summit to give a new impetus to Transatlantic relations
  • [11] 1999 bathing water quality report : improvement for fresh water bathing areas, but little change for coastal bathing waters
  • [12] La Commission autorise la prise de contrôle de Seima par Magneti Marelli
  • [13] Panorama of European business 1999 - a comprehensive analysis of industrial markets and services
  • [14] EU travel balance 1998 - leading position of the EU in world tourism

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

    [01] Postal services : Commission proposes to speed completion of Internal Market

    The European Commission has proposed measures to open up a substantial share of the postal services market to competition by 2003. On the basis of new proposals to be tabled before the end of 2004, a further share of the market would be opened up by 2007. This step-by-step approach to complete the Internal Market in postal services will maintain existing safeguards to ensure universal postal service throughout the EU. The proposals respond to the request by the Lisbon European Council to speed up liberalisation of postal services as part of efforts to ensure a complete and fully operational Internal Market and so develop "the most competitive, dynamic and knowledge-based economy in the world". In particular, the Commission is proposing to increase the range of services which Member States must open to competition to include letters weighing more than 50 grams (the current weight limit is 350 grams), letters below 50 grams where the price is at least two and a half times the price of a standard letter (the current value limit is five times the price of a standard letter), all outgoing mail to other Member States and all express mail. The effect of today's proposal would be to open up an additional 20% of the EU postal market to competition, over and above the 3% opened up by the existing Directive.

    [02] Romano Prodi lance le Livre blanc sur la gouvernance

    Comme le Président de la Commission européenne, Romano Prodi, s'y était engagé devant le Parlement européen, la Commission va préparer d'ici l'été 2001 un "Livre blanc sur la gouvernance". L'objectif est de mieux répondre aux attentes du public, de repenser des modes d'intervention obsolètes, à commencer par ceux de la Commission. Le Livre blanc devra faire le point sur les nouvelles formes de gouvernance et avancer des propositions sans tabou. Deux axes principaux de réflexion sont mis en avant : décentraliser les responsabilités au sein de l'Union et développer une meilleure cohérence des politiques communes.

    [03] Commission proposes amendments to existing euro regulations to include Greece

    The European Commission has adopted proposals for amendments to Regulation No 2866/98 on "the conversion rates between the euro and the currencies on the Member States adopting the euro". The Commission proposes the conversion rate between the euro and the drachma to be fixed at 340.750 drachma, i.e. the current central parity rate within ERM 2, to come into force on 1 January 2001. Moreover the Commission adopted proposals for amendments to Regulation No 974/98 on "the introduction of the euro" and No 1103/97 on "certain provisions relating to the introduction of the euro" in both cases including Greece in the list of the eleven countries currently participating in the euro.

    [04] La Commission en faveur d'un cadre stable pour les échanges d'électricité avec la Suisse

    Par loi fédérale du 7 juin 1999, la Suisse a entamé un processus de libéralisation de son marché électrique qui devrait culminer en 2007 (21% en 2001, 34% en 2004 et 100% en 2007). Prenant acte de cette ouverture, qui en quelques années correspondra aux seuils minimums communautaires (30% actuellement), la Commission européenne entend explorer la possibilité d'un accord bilatéral afin de créer un cadre stable pour des échanges transfrontaliers d'électricité. Un tel accord devra, en particulier, assurer l'application de la clause dite de réciprocité et la définition de principes communs (indépendance du gestionnaire de réseau et accès des tiers, rôle du régulateur,…), de conditions de concurrence équitables et de normes environnementales équivalentes. La Commission considère que la voie la plus appropriée consiste en la signature d'une déclaration du Comité mixte de l'accord libre-échange CE-Suisse de 1972 et a habilité à cet effet la vice-présidente Loyola de Palacio et les membres de la Commission responsables des Relations extérieures et du Commerce, Chris Patten et Pascal Lamy.

    [05] EU deploys 160 strong election observation team in Zimbabwe

    The European Commission has approved a euro 1.83 million project for electoral observation in Zimbabwe. Member States are expected to contribute an additional euro 0.6 million in cash or kind (travel costs of observers etc), leading to a total EU effort of euro 2.4 million. Having received assurances from the Zimbabwean Government concerning access and security of observers, the EU has decided to mobilise an Observation Team with a total of 160 observers, including the central Observation Unit. More than a hundred observers will be deployed during the first week of June, for a six- week period, and the rest will arrive in the country about a week before the elections scheduled for 24-25 June 2000. Norway will be fully associated with this exercise and add an additional 10 observers to the EU team.

    [06] Recasting of the financial regulation, first step

    The European Commission has taken a further step to improve its financial management system today by adopting a proposal to remove by fast-track procedure the audit function from the current financial controller. This proposal forms part of the recasting of the financial regulation, which will ensure smooth and progressive transition to the new system proposed in the White Paper on Reform. The definitive system should abolish the "ex ante visa" by the financial controller, internalise its prior control function within the authorising services and confer its internal audit function to the Head of the new central Internal Audit Service. During the transitional period, the financial controller will continue to give an ex ante visa, but it is the internal auditor who will assess the functioning of the management and control systems of the authorising services.

    [07] Commission closes investigation of original Dutch proposal for regional aid map

    The European Commission has decided to close its formal investigation of the original Dutch proposal for a regional State aid map for the period 2000-2006 which it did not consider to be conform with the EU guidelines for such aid. The Commission was able to close the procedure after the Dutch authorities agreed to withdraw their initial proposalon 31 March 2000 and to submit a new one.

    [08] Commission approves the regional aid map for Austria covering the period 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2006

    The European Commission has approved the regional aid map for Austria for the period 2000-2006. The approval of the map will enable the Austrian authorities to provide financial assistance in certain parts of the country which are affected by structural handicaps. The Commission's decision also lays down the maximum aid intensities in percentage terms of the relevant investment project for the regions concerned.

    [09] Peter Carl appointed Director General of DG Trade

    The European Commission has appointed Danish Commission official Peter Carl, 55, as the new Director General of DG Trade. A highly experienced trade negotiator, Mr Carl has been acting Deputy-Director General in charge of multilateral and sectoral trade policy since 1998. Prior to joining the Commission in 1974, Mr Carl worked for UNCTAD and the OECD. In the course of his Commission career, he has worked on transport, external relations and trade where he has specialised in fisheries, services, intellectual property, investment and government procurement negotiations. Mr Carl also spent four years in the Commission's Delegation in Washington specialising in transatlantic trade issues. Most recently Mr Carl played a central role in coordinating the Commission's negotiating team for the Seattle WTO Ministerial Meeting held at the end of 1999.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [10] EU-US Summit to give a new impetus to Transatlantic relations

    On 31 May 2000 the EU and the US will hold their twice-yearly Summit in Queluz, Portugal. The European Commission will be represented by President Romano Prodi, External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten and Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy. EU-US Summits are based on the 1990 Transatlantic Declaration. The New Transatlantic Agenda (1995) took cooperation a step further, from simple consultation to joint action. For the first time, there will be a free discussion among leaders, focusing on "the new economy : innovation, information and growth". The major foreign policy items are increased EU-US cooperation on Russia, the Western Balkans and the Middle East. Trade policy discussions will focus on WTO (new Round, China accession), trade disputes (Foreign Sales Corporations Act, bananas and US "carousel" legislation, hormones, aircraft industry). A joint Bio- technology Forum will be launched. Joint statements on Western Balkans and the fight against infectious diseases in Africa can be expected. The internet address of the Summit is : http://europa.eu.int/comm/ external_relations/us/summit_05_00/index.htm

    [11] 1999 bathing water quality report : improvement for fresh water bathing areas, but little change for coastal bathing waters

    (! embargo 2.30 pm !) The European Commissioner for Environment, Margot Wallström today presented the latest report on bathing water quality in Europe during a special forum on implementation and enforcement of EU Environmental Law. The Forum brought together representatives of the Member States, the European Parliament, the European Environment Agency, NGOs and the press. With this initiative Mrs Wallström wishes to promote a constructive exchange of views on implementation shortcomings and on how to build on existing achievements in the Member States. Implementation of EU legislation is a key priority for the Commission. This forum on bathing water quality is the first in a series of similar events on environmental topics. The bathing water quality internet site with the most recent results is located at: http://europa.eu.int/water/ water-bathing/index_en.html. Questions or reactions can be sent to mailbox : env-water@cec.eu.int

    [12] La Commission autorise la prise de contrôle de Seima par Magneti Marelli

    La Commission européenne a autorisé la prise de contrôle de l'entreprise italienne Seima Italiana SpA par l'entreprise italienne Magneti Marelli SpA. Cette opération consistera dans la fusion des activités de Magneti Marelli dans le secteur des équipements d'éclairage pour véhicules automobiles et des activités de production de feux arrière de Seima.

    [13] Panorama of European business 1999 - a comprehensive analysis of industrial markets and services

    (! embargo 12 am !) The "Panorama of European Business", published today by Eurostat, analyses and assesses the size of the internal market in the various sectors of activity. For every sector and subsector there is a statistical breakdown of production, consumption, external trade, employment, productivity and labour costs. This publication also shows, for the EU as well as for individual Member States, how businesses in Europe are adapting to the evolutions linked to globalisation, technological changes and the emergence of the new economy. The Panorama is divided into three main parts : competitiveness of European industry, industrial activities and the service sector.

    [14] EU travel balance 1998 - leading position of the EU in world tourism

    (! embargo 12 am !) The EU maintained in 1998 its leading position in world tourism as a main source and a main destination of international tourist flows according to a report published today by Eurostat. In 1998, the EU attracted 40% of the international arrivals of tourists worldwide. Moreover, the EU world market share amounted to 42% in terms of receipts and 44% in terms of expenditures. However, the EU travel balance with the rest of the world registered a deficit of ECU -1.3 billion in 1998, after a surplus of 2.6 billion in 1997. For the first time in the last 19 years, there was a deficit in this item of the balance of payments. This deterioration was mainly due to the stagnation of extra-EU receipts.

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


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


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