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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 00-05-31

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

31/05/2000


CONTENTS / CONTENU

[I] Résultats de la Commission du 30 mai 2000 - Outcome of Commission meeting of 30 May 2000

  • [01] Commission proposes to strengthen EU civil protection capabilities and disaster intervention teams
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [02] WTO Appellate Body confirms that Canada Auto Pact is contrary to WTO rules
  • [03] Commission opens formal proceedings against Deutsche Post AG for disturbing international mail traffic
  • [04] La Commission autorise l'acquisition de la banque française CCF par HSBC Holdings
  • [05] Commission approves joint venture between Ahlström Machinery and Andritz in the field of pulp and paper equipment
  • [06] La Commission approuve la création d'une entreprise commune entre Techpack International et Aptar/Valois dans l'emballage
  • [07] Euro-zone external trade surplus euro 2.5 billion in March 2000 - euro 3.4 billion deficit for EU15
  • [08] Recently adopted opinions of the Scientific Steering Committee
  • [09] Services financiers : la Commission fait état des progrès accomplis dans la mise en œuvre de son plan d'action et fixe de nouvelles priorités
  • [10] Financial services : amended Commission proposals to improve and extend rules on collective investment undertakings (UCITS)
  • [11] Structural Funds : Commission approves the Objective 1 single programming documents for Flevoland (The Netherlands) for the period 2000- 2006
  • [12] EU-Israel Association Agreement enters into force
  • [13] World No Smoking Day : Europe at a crossroads in deciding the future of controls on tobacco
  • [14] Commission awards cross-border television prizes
  • [15] Commission sets out Internet roadmap for tourism

  • [I] Résultats de la Commission du 30 mai 2000 - Outcome of Commission meeting of 30 May 2000

    (voir aussi see also ME of 30/5)

    [01] Commission proposes to strengthen EU civil protection capabilities and disaster intervention teams

    The European Commission has decided to propose the setting up of an EU mechanism to coordinate interventions of national civil protection teams inside and outside the EU. This mechanism, based on the principle of mutual assistance, is intended to allow early identification and mobilisation of operational resources in case of natural or technological disasters. The Commission believes the proposed mechanism can contribute to save lives and better protect or limit damage to the environment in such cases of emergency. On this basis, the Commission will now prepare a communication accompanied by a proposal to the Council of ministers. Since last autumn, the EU and neighbouring countries have been struck by a large number and a great variety of natural and technological disasters including : earthquakes in Greece and Turkey, storms in North Europe, France, Germany and Austria, the Erika oil spill in Brittany, Danube pollution and the disasters in a Dutch Fireworks warehouse, etc.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [02] WTO Appellate Body confirms that Canada Auto Pact is contrary to WTO rules

    In a ruling issued today, the WTO Appellate Body found that the Canadian regime for importation of automotive products (so-called "Auto Pact") violates WTO rules. The report confirms and refines earlier findings by a WTO panel that the Auto Pact is in breach of several key provisions of the GATT and the WTO Agreement on Subsidies. The ruling will have a significant beneficial impact on the European automobile industry by creating a level playing field vis-à-vis its Canadian and US competitors in the Canadian market. The European Union expects Canada to implement the recommendations of the Appellate Body swiftly in order to bring its regime into line with the ruling.

    [03] Commission opens formal proceedings against Deutsche Post AG for disturbing international mail traffic

    The European Commission has concluded an extensive investigation, prompted by a number of complaints, into the way incoming cross-border mail is handled by Deutsche Post AG (DPAG). The German postal operator has been informed by the Commission that it considers, subject to any arguments DPAG may put forward in its defence, that DPAG abuses its dominant market position and restricts competition. In its Statement of Objections - which is a preliminary procedural document and not a final decision - the Commission considers that DPAG's frequent and systematic interception, surcharging and delay of normal incoming cross-border mail infringes the EU competition rules. If the initial view of the Commission is confirmed, DPAG will be ordered to cease this behaviour.

    [04] La Commission autorise l'acquisition de la banque française CCF par HSBC Holdings

    La Commission européenne a donné le feu vert, en vertu du règlement communautaire sur les concentrations, à une offre publique d'achat lancée par HSBC Holdings plc, entreprise britannique présente au niveau mondial dans les secteurs de la banque et des assurances, sur la banque française CCF S.A.

    [05] Commission approves joint venture between Ahlström Machinery and Andritz in the field of pulp and paper equipment

    The European Commission has granted regulatory approval to a proposal by Andritz AG to buy a 50% stake in Ahlström Machinery Corporation (AMC) therefore taking joint control of AMC with Finnish A. Ahlström Corp. The transaction, which is part of the global trend to consolidate the pulp and paper industry, does not create a dominant position.

    [06] La Commission approuve la création d'une entreprise commune entre Techpack International et Aptar/Valois dans l'emballage

    La Commission européenne a approuvé la création d'une entreprise commune entre les sociétés Techpack International S.A., appartenant au groupe Pechiney, et Valois S.A., du groupe Aptar, dans la fabrication d'emballages pour produits visqueux. La création de cette entreprise commune, qui reprendra intégralement les activités respectives Techpack et Valois dans ce secteur, ne soulève pas de doutes sur le plan de la concurrence.

    [07] Euro-zone external trade surplus euro 2.5 billion in March 2000 - euro 3.4 billion deficit for EU15

    (! embargo 12 am !) Euro-zone trade with the rest of the world in March was a euro 2.5 billion surplus, compared with 6.6 billion in March 1999, according to Eurostat. The revised February surplus was 1.1 billion, against +4.6 billion in February 1999. The total deficit was estimated at 1.1 billion for the first three months of 2000, compared with a surplus of 11.7 billion in 1999. The first estimate for March extra-EU15 trade was a euro 3.4 billion deficit, compared with a 0.9 billion surplus in March 1999. In February there was a revised 6.4 billion deficit, against -0.8 billion in February 1999. There was a deficit estimated at 22.6 billion in January-March 2000 compared with -6.4 billion in 1999.

    [08] Recently adopted opinions of the Scientific Steering Committee

    The Scientific Steering Committee has published two opinions on product safety in relation to BSE. The Committee also issued a statement on how the committee's process works. The first opinion is about the safety of human hair when it is used in hair and skin care products. Amino acids obtained from the hydrolysis of human hair collected from healthy individuals at barbers and hairdressers are used by the cosmetic industry for incorporation into hair and skincare products. The Committee found that this use is safe because there is no evidence that hair or skin are infectious, and because the production process is considered appropriate. The second opinion updates an October 98 opinion on the safety of hydrolysed proteins produced from bovine hides. The main conclusion remains that this use can be considered safe if the appropriate production process is used and if the raw material is obtained from healthy animals. The statement on how the scientific committees work sets out the organizational structure, the selection process of members, the independence, and outlines the process for reaching consensus on interdisciplinary scientific advice. For example the assessment of BSE related issues required expertise from veterinary sciences, human medicine, epidemiology, microbiology, biochemistry, toxicology, and other disciplines. Firstly, more than 100 external specialized experts contributed to working documents. At the second stage an expert ad hoc committee drafted reports and in the final stages the committee members themselves discussed the work of both groups and adopt an opinion. The opinions are published on http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg24/health/sc/ssc/outcome_en.html.

    [09] Services financiers : la Commission fait état des progrès accomplis dans la mise en œuvre de son plan d'action et fixe de nouvelles priorités

    La mise en œuvre du plan d'action pour les services financiers, qui jette les bases d'un véritable marché intérieur en la matière, progresse de façon satisfaisante, mais la Commission européenne a épinglé cinq secteurs prioritaires dans son dernier rapport d'avancement. Initialement, ce plan a été publié en mai 1999. Le Conseil européen de Lisbonne a ensuite relancé la dynamique visant à créer un marché pleinement intégré des services financiers. Dans son rapport, la Commission indique que pour respecter la date butoir de 2005 fixée par le Conseil européen de Lisbonne, la mise en œuvre du plan d'action doit être accélérée dans cinq secteurs prioritaires : un "passeport européen" pour les émetteurs d'actions, une comparabilité accrue des états financiers des sociétés, la suppression des obstacles aux investissements des fonds de pension et des organismes de placement collectif en valeurs mobilières (OPCVM), un meilleur fonctionnement du marché des prises et mises en pension transfrontalières de titres et une refonte de la directive concernant les services d'investissement. La réalisation de ces objectifs prioritaires est indispensable à l'intégration du marché, sur laquelle repose la réalisation de l'objectif stratégique de l'UE, à savoir devenir une économie de la connaissance compétitive et dynamique, capable d'une croissance économique durable allant de pair avec une amélioration quantitative et qualitative de l'emploi et une plus grande cohésion sociale.

    [10] Financial services : amended Commission proposals to improve and extend rules on collective investment undertakings (UCITS)

    The European Commission has approved two amended proposals designed to update legislation on harmonised investment funds (UCITS). The aim is to broaden the scope of the allowable investments and update how they can be managed to take account of the rapidly changing financial environment. Collective investment undertakings (such as unit trusts and SICAVs), where investors' money is placed by a qualified fund manager in a diverse range of assets according to defined risk criteria, enable private investors with limited resources to invest in financial markets. They constitute a major market sector, with assets of more than euro 3 trillion at the end of 1999. The proposals form part of the Financial Services Action Plan which aims to build a truly harmonised single European financial market by 2005 and was strongly endorsed at the Lisbon European Council. The Commission's amended proposals take into account the European Parliament's February 2000 Opinion. The first proposal removes barriers to cross-border marketing of units of collective investment by widening assets in which they can invest. The second proposal gives management companies a "European passport" to operate throughout the EU and widens the activities which they are allowed to undertake. It also introduces the concept of a simplified prospectus which will strengthen investor protection by providing for more accessible and comprehensive information.

    [11] Structural Funds : Commission approves the Objective 1 single programming documents for Flevoland (The Netherlands) for the period 2000- 2006

    The European Commission has approved the draft single programming document (SPD) for regional development in Flevoland (The Netherlands) over the next seven years. This programme concerns Objective 1 - phasing out of the Structural Funds (regions whose development was lagging behind) and represents euro 126 million of EU financing. Altogether, this EU funding will mobilise over euro 470 million in investment, of which about 15% will be co-financed from the private sector.

    [12] EU-Israel Association Agreement enters into force

    Following its ratification by the European Parliament, the Knesset and the legislatures of the 15 Member States of the European Union, the EU-Israel Association Agreement will enter into force on June 1. The European Commission, which negotiated this agreement in 1994 and 1995, welcomes this important event in EU-Israel relations.

    [13] World No Smoking Day : Europe at a crossroads in deciding the future of controls on tobacco

    "Europe is at a crossroads in deciding the future of controls on tobacco", David Byrne, European Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner said on World no Tobacco Day. A Commission proposal for the most radical ever legislative curbs on tobacco is due for a vote in the European Parliament and the Council of Health Ministers in June. The Environment, Health and Consumer Committee of the Parliament has already supported the proposal. The majority of adult smokers begin to smoke as teenagers without realising the addictive nature of nicotine and the health consequences of tobacco use, which is responsible for over 500,000 deaths annually in the EU. The majority of teenagers in the EU (between 49% and 90%) have experimented with smoking ; in most European countries girls have experimented with smoking more often than boys.

    [14] Commission awards cross-border television prizes

    The European Commission has awarded prizes of euro 5000 each to two "cross border" TV programmes as part of the annual conference of Europe's regional public television stations. One was a collaboration between French, English and Belgian stations, the magazine Euro 3. The main theme was an investigation into the use by French authorities of Belgian homes for the handicapped for large numbers of people. The other programme, from the Gaelic Television channel in Ireland told the story of the sale by parents in the Republic of the services of their children for the summer to farmers in Northern Ireland's Laggan valley during the 1930s. The practice only finally stopped in 1948.

    [15] Commission sets out Internet roadmap for tourism

    The European Commission has set up an Internet roadmap website containing information on various EU programmes, schemes, funds, initiatives and actions of interest to the tourism sector and establishing Internet links to the homepages of the relevant programmes. The objective of this new Internet guide is to make available to actors in the tourism sector and to other interested people, a comprehensive and structured overview of the opportunities the EU offers to help the development of sustainable tourism. For the roadmap hit the following homepage : http://europa.eu.int/comm/enterprise/services/tourism/index_en.htm

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


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


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