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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 00-07-12

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

12/07/2000


CONTENTS / CONTENU

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

  • [01] 18 months before euro-day Commission monitors progress and flags up tasks ahead
  • [02] La Commission propose une révision des règles relatives aux communications électroniques
  • [03] Commission proposes unbundling local loop by end of year
  • [04] Commission proposes decision on radio spectrum
  • [05] La Commission interroge les opérateurs dominants de télécommunications sur l'accès de leurs concurrents à la boucle locale
  • [06] Commission adopts a draft Competition Directive consolidating existing Directives on competition in the telecommunications markets
  • [07] Commission approves rules on separation of accounts for public service providers
  • [08] Commission clears acquisition of Dyno by Industri Kapital subject to commitments
  • [09] Commission fines Mitsubishi for failing to supply information on Kvaerner/Ahlström joint venture
  • [10] CIG : la Commission présente une contribution complémentaire sur le statut des partis politiques européens
  • [11] Fonds structurels : la Commission propose le renforcement des modalités d'application en matière de gestion financière, de contrôle et de corrections financières
  • [12] La Commission approuve les zones en reconversion économique et sociale éligibles aux Fonds structurels en Italie
  • [13] Commission proposes a simpler and more flexible fruit and vegetable regime
  • [14] Libéralisation par l'UE de 18% de ses importations de textiles et de vêtements
  • [15] Commission approves State aid contained in UK's High Technology Fund for early stage enterprises
  • [16] La Commission approuve le régime d'aide aux investissements dans les régions défavorisées de l'Italie
  • [17] Commission approves regional aid map for the Netherlands
  • [18] Commission to investigate restructuring aid for two companies of former Lintra holding
  • [19] La Commission ouvre une procédure d'enquête en matière d'aides d'Etat concernant la poursuite de la restructuration des chantiers navals publics en Espagne
  • [20] La Commission rend une décision partiellement négative sur l'aide d'Etat de juillet 1997 en faveur de Fiat Mirafiori
  • [21] Commission approves Swedish State aid scheme to improve conditions in houses, schools and workplaces
  • [22] Commission approves investment aid for new chemical plant at BASF Schwarzheide (Germany)
  • [23] Commission uses injunction to obtain details of aid to Italian ports
  • [24] UK tonnage tax gets green light from Commission
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [25] Commission clears acquisition of Danone's beer businesses by Scottish & Newcastle
  • [26] Commission clears Telefónica buy of Endemol
  • [27] Statement by Mario Monti on Secil/Holderbank bid for Cimpor
  • [28] Commission warns vitamin producers in cartel investigation
  • [29] Ciel Unique européen : Loyola de Palacio disposée à recevoir de nouveau les syndicats des contrôleurs aériens français

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

    [01] 18 months before euro-day Commission monitors progress and flags up tasks ahead

    The European Commission has published for the first time comprehensive information on the cash changeover arrangements in the euro-zone covering issues such as the end date of the legal tender of the national banknotes and coins, euro-banknote denominations to be offered by ATM machines in each member state, arrangements for distribution of euro-coin kits to citizens prior to 1 January 2002 and arrangements for the withdrawal of national coins from circulation. The Commission has stepped up monitoring of the cash changeover arrangements, is pushing for solutions on any unresolved issues and is actively promoting best practices among member states. Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pedro Solbes stated that "18 months before euro-day, preparations for the euro changeover are at a critical stage. Member states, who have the primary responsibility for the euro introduction according to the Treaty, have to reinforce their efforts to ensure that all necessary decisions and preparations are being made in time in order to provide certainty to all companies and consumers across the Union and to give them enough time to prepare. The Commission too will remain an active partner in this effort."

    [02] La Commission propose une révision des règles relatives aux communications électroniques

    La Commission européenne a adopté un paquet de propositions législatives conçu pour renforcer la concurrence dans les marchés des communications électroniques de l'Union européenne, dans l'intérêt des consommateurs et de l'économie européenne. Ce paquet vise à stimuler la libéralisation des marchés des télécommunications en adaptant la réglementation aux besoins de la société de l'information et de la révolution numérique. Il met en particulier l'accent sur la promotion d'un accès haut débit à l'internet à des conditions abordables et sur la mise en place d'un cadre juridique "léger" pour les acteurs du marché. Ce paquet de propositions marque une réforme complète du cadre réglementaire des télécommunications en Europe et vise à assurer les meilleures conditions possibles pour le développement d'une industrie dynamique et concurrentielle en Europe.

    [03] Commission proposes unbundling local loop by end of year

    The European Commission has proposed a Regulation to require Member States to unbundle their local telecoms loop by 31 December 2000. The unbundling of the local loop is a key element of the eEurope Action Plan that was endorsed at the recent European Summit in Feira, Portugal and is essential if Europe is to bridge the gap with its global competitors with respect to the use of the Internet. Bringing competition into local copper-wired networks will allow for the rapid deployment of high-speed Internet access across Europe at flat-rate prices.

    [04] Commission proposes decision on radio spectrum

    The European Commission has proposed a regulatory framework for radio spectrum policy in the EU. Radio spectrum is the cornerstone for a wide range of wireless applications, such as third generation mobile communications and satellite communications. The aim of the proposal is to ensure the harmonised availability and efficient use of radio spectrum and where required, to implement EU policies with regard to electronic communications and in the areas of transport (Galileo), broadcasting, and R&D.

    [05] La Commission interroge les opérateurs dominants de télécommunications sur l'accès de leurs concurrents à la boucle locale

    La Commission européenne a envoyé des demandes de renseignement aux anciens monopoles des télécommunications pour examiner si, et dans quelles conditions, ceux-ci accordent l'accès à la boucle locale à leurs concurrents. Cette enquête devrait permettre de détecter d'éventuels abus de position dominante. Les nouvelles demandes de renseignement constituent le lancement du troisième volet de l'enquête sectorielle concernant les télécommunications décidée par la Commission le 27 juillet 1999 dont les deux volets précédents, relatifs aux lignes louées et aux accords d'itinérance ('roaming') dans la téléphonie mobile, ont déjà été lancés fin 1999 et début 2000.

    [06] Commission adopts a draft Competition Directive consolidating existing Directives on competition in the telecommunications markets

    The European Commission has put forward a new Directive aiming to replace, by a single text, all existing "liberalisation" Directives in the telecommunications sector previously adopted by the Commission. The draft will now be submitted to public consultation. It consolidates, without adding any new obligation, Directive 90/388 which set the first foundations for the liberalisation of the telecommunications market and which has been amended five times since its adoption in 1990. Only those provisions which to date are still necessary for attaining the objectives of full competition in the telecommunications sector will be maintained. The final adoption of the new Directive (by the Commission itself under Article 86 of the EC Treaty) will take place at a later stage, in order to maintain the link with the package of the legislative proposals on telecommunications approved today by the Commission.

    [07] Commission approves rules on separation of accounts for public service providers

    The European Commission has approved an amendment of the so-called Transparency Directive. This amendment introduces separation of accounts for companies which operate, on the one hand, services of general economic interest and receive compensation in form of payments or special or exclusive rights and which, on the other hand, are also active in normal commercial operations. "Such separation of internal accounts will make the actual costs of the public service obligations more apparent and provide the Commission with the necessary data to examine complaints about alleged over-compensation of public service costs and cross-subsidisation of commercial activities", Competition Commissioner Mario Monti commented. The formal adoption of the different language versionsby the Commission will take place on 19 July. The competence of the Commission to address directives or decisions to Member States in such matters is directly derived from the EC Treaty (Article 86).

    [08] Commission clears acquisition of Dyno by Industri Kapital subject to commitments

    The European Commission has approved the acquisition of Norwegian chemicals and explosives company Dyno by venture capital group Industri Kapital. The Commission's clearance, which follows a four-month, in-depth inquiry, is subject to the divestiture by Industri Kapital of certain activities in the resins sector and regarding plastic materials handling systems.

    [09] Commission fines Mitsubishi for failing to supply information on Kvaerner/Ahlström joint venture

    The European Commission has decided to impose fines on Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for failing to supply information with regard to a joint venture last year between Kvaerner and Ahlström. This is the first time the Commission has fined a company other than a notifying party in merger proceedings. This is also the first time that a periodic penalty payment is imposed on an undertaking in such proceedings.

    [10] CIG : la Commission présente une contribution complémentaire sur le statut des partis politiques européens

    La Commission européenne a approuvé une contribution complémentaire relative aux partis politiques européens. Si le traité reconnaît leur rôle pour la formation d'une conscience européenne et l'expression de la volonté politique des citoyens de l'Union, il serait souhaitable de créer une base juridique spécifique pour définir leur statut, notamment les conditions de leur reconnaissance et les règles relatives à leur financement.

    [11] Fonds structurels : la Commission propose le renforcement des modalités d'application en matière de gestion financière, de contrôle et de corrections financières

    La Commission européenne a présenté deux projets de règlement portant modalités d'application concernant la gestion financière et le contrôle des dépenses des Fonds structurels ainsi que les corrections financières dans le cas où les Etats membres ne gèrent pas convenablement les fonds qui leur sont confiés. Ces modalités s'appliquent aux nouveaux programmes au cours de la période 2000 à 2006. La Commission a également adopté un ensemble d'orientations concernant la manière d'évaluer l'impact d'anomalies financières sur les fonds communautaires. L'objectif de cet ensemble de mesures est de faire en sorte que chaque acteur, au niveau régional et local, connaisse clairement ses responsabilités dans le cadre d'une gestion largement décentralisée des Fonds structurels.

    [12] La Commission approuve les zones en reconversion économique et sociale éligibles aux Fonds structurels en Italie

    Plus de 2,1 milliards d'euros seront alloués à l'Italie au titre des zones éligibles à l'objectif 2 des Fonds structurels entre 2000 et 2006. Ces zones couvrent plus de 7,4 millions d'habitants et concernent 13 régions italiennes. Pour l'ensemble des fonds structurels, l'Italie devrait bénéficier d'un soutien structurel communautaire d'un montant d'environ 29, 7 milliards d'euros pour la période 2000-2006.

    [13] Commission proposes a simpler and more flexible fruit and vegetable regime

    The European Commission has adopted a proposal to amend the Common Market Organisation for fruit and vegetables, including processed fruit and vegetables, as well as the EU's aid scheme for citrus fruits. Although the Commission is to submit a report to the Council on the operation of the fruit and vegetables regime by the end of this year. Today's proposal is aimed at addressing shortcomings that should be addressed urgently. For certain processed fruit and vegetables, the proposal aims to rationalise and simplify the arrangements and to adapt the relevant production thresholds. It will simplify and stabilise the support scheme for producer organisations and improve the management of export refunds for fresh fruit and vegetables. The amendments should apply from the 2001/2002 marketing year, except for the change to the support of producer organisations which is foreseen to apply from January 1, 2001.

    [14] Libéralisation par l'UE de 18% de ses importations de textiles et de vêtements

    La Commission européenne a convenu de proposer l'élimination de toutes les restrictions subsistant à l'importation de 62 catégories de produits textiles et de vêtements des autres pays membres de l'OMC. Cette proposition constitue une étape importante vers la libéralisation progressive des échanges de textiles et de vêtements prévue dans l'Uruguay Round et montre la volonté de l'Union européenne de mettre en œuvre strictement les obligations que lui imposent les accords de l'OMC.

    [15] Commission approves State aid contained in UK's High Technology Fund for early stage enterprises

    The European Commission has authorised under the State aid rules the creation by the UK authorities of a fund to encourage risk capital investments in early stage enterprises in high technology sectors. Under the measure, the UK authorities will contribute 20 million pounds sterling (euro 31 million) to the fund which will also include other investors. The other investors will participate on more favourable terms than the authorities, which brings the measure within the definition of state aid. The fund will then take minority stakes in venture capital funds focussed on early stage high technology companies. The aim of the measure is to encourage greater involvement by institutional investors in this type of investment activity and to increase the volume of funds available.

    [16] La Commission approuve le régime d'aide aux investissements dans les régions défavorisées de l'Italie

    La Commission européenne a approuvé le régime d'aide aux investissements prévu par la loi 488 dans les régions défavorisées de l'Italie pour la période 2000-2006. Le régime est conforme aux différentes lignes directrices communautaires applicables à ce type d'aides, y compris les lignes directrices relatives aux aides à finalité régionale.

    [17] Commission approves regional aid map for the Netherlands

    The European Commission has approved the regional aid map for the Netherlands for the period 2000-2006. The approval of the map will enable the Dutch authorities to provide financial assistance for business investment in areas in the North of the Netherlands, Flevoland, Twente and Limburg until 31 December 2006.

    [18] Commission to investigate restructuring aid for two companies of former Lintra holding

    The European Commission has decided to open a formal investigation into aid relating to the restructuring of two companies situated in the new Bundesländer, former LandTechnik Schönebeck, now Doppstadt GmbH, and ILKA MAFA Kältemaschinenbau GmbH. The restructuring aid subject to the Commission investigation is DM 105 million (euro 53,69 million) in the case of LandTechnik Schönebeck and DM 28,198 million (euro 14,42 million) in the case of ILKA MAFA Kältemaschinenbau GmbH. The main reason for opening the investigation procedure was the Commission's doubts about the proportionality of the aid to the restructuring costs and benefits, a condition laid down in the EU guidelines on State aid for rescuing and restructuring firms in difficulty.

    [19] La Commission ouvre une procédure d'enquête en matière d'aides d'Etat concernant la poursuite de la restructuration des chantiers navals publics en Espagne

    La Commission européenne a décidé d'ouvrir une enquête officielle sur l'acquisition par la Sociedad Estátal de Participaciones Industriales (SEPI) des chantiers navals Juliana et Cádiz et de l'usine de moteurs diesel Manises appartenant à sa filiale Astilleros Españoles (AESA), pour un montant de 10 milliards de PTA (soit quelque 60 millions d'euros). Sur la base des informations dont elle dispose, la Commission estime qu'il pourrait ne pas s'agir d'une opération ayant eu lieu aux conditions normales du marché, mais plutôt d'un apport de capitaux susceptible de constituer une aide d'Etat. La Commission doute qu'une telle aide soit compatible avec les règles applicables aux aides à la construction navale. Par conséquent, elle a décidé d'ouvrir une procédure d'enquête.

    [20] La Commission rend une décision partiellement négative sur l'aide d'Etat de juillet 1997 en faveur de Fiat Mirafiori

    La Commission européenne a estimé que l'aide régionale prévue en faveur de Fiat Mirafiori Carrozzeria était incompatible avec le marché commun. En revanche, l'aide prévue à des fins d'innovation est compatible avec le marché commun et a été autorisée pour une valeur maximale de 6,9 milliards de lires italiennes (3,5 millions d'euros).

    [21] Commission approves Swedish State aid scheme to improve conditions in houses, schools and workplaces

    The European Commission has approved a Swedish investment aid scheme comprising grants to municipal and private housing companies and other real estate owners for renovation works in buildings. The aim of the scheme is to reduce the presence of allergenic substances or other materials that constitute health hazards. The Commission found that the aid could be approved on grounds of public health.

    [22] Commission approves investment aid for new chemical plant at BASF Schwarzheide (Germany)

    The European Commission has decided not to raise objections to the investment aid envisaged by Germany for the construction of a new plant of BASF Schwarzheide GmbH in the Land of Brandenburg. The aid amounts to euro 39 million (DM 77 million), which correspond to 35% of the investment cost - the maximum aid intensity permitted in the region. It was notified under the Multisectoral Framework on Regional Aid for Large Investment Projects. The company will use the plant for the production of a newly developed substance to be used for a wide range of fungicides. These final products will, however, not be produced at Schwarzheide. The Commission could approve the aid in view of the growing demand for the products concerned and the significant job creation (roughly 400 new employment oportunities) at Schwarzheide.

    [23] Commission uses injunction to obtain details of aid to Italian ports

    The European Commission has decided to launch an information injunction requesting Italy to provide all the necessary information to assess the compatibility of schemes favouring the Italian port sector. This concerns aid to cover operating losses of the dock work undertakings. Meanwhile, the Commission has approved part of the aid intended for social purposes.

    [24] UK tonnage tax gets green light from Commission

    The European Commission has cleared the proposed UK Tonnage Tax Regime. The initiative aims to help make UK shipping more competitive in the global market by creating a positive fiscal environment for shipping, in line with other major maritime countries. It also includes training incentives aimed at preserving and rebuilding EU maritime employment and know-how. Within the EU, Germany, Greece and the Netherlands all currently have tonnage tax schemes in force.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [25] Commission clears acquisition of Danone's beer businesses by Scottish & Newcastle

    The European Commission has cleared the acquisition of Danone's beer businesses in France and Belgium by British brewer Scottish & Newcastle as the companies' brewing activities present no geographical overlaps and the combination of their respective market shares in the wholesale and retail sales sectors is minimal.

    [26] Commission clears Telefónica buy of Endemol

    The European Commission has authorised the acquisition of Endemol Entertaining Holding N.V., the Dutch producer of TV programmes, by Telefónica S.A., the incumbent Spanish telecommunications operator which is also active as a television broadcaster through its subsidiaries Antena 3 and Vía Digital. Although this operation will integrate Telefónica into the upstream market of production of TV programmes, it will not result in any significant change of the market structure. Consequently, the operation does not raise competition concerns.

    [27] Statement by Mario Monti on Secil/Holderbank bid for Cimpor

    European Commissioner for Competition Mario Monti told Portuguese Finance Minister Joaquim Pina Moura yesterday that he was concerned about the Portuguese government's decision to block a joint bid by Holderbank of Switzerland and Portuguese cement company Secil for Cimpor. The takeover bid was notified to the Comission for clearance on July 4. "I understand the parties have now modified their offer for Cimpor and renewed their application for authorisation by the government. I have spoken to Portuguese Finance Minister Pina Moura and explained the consequences that could ensue if the Portuguese authorities maintain their stance", Mr Monti said in a statement.

    [28] Commission warns vitamin producers in cartel investigation

    The European Commission sent earlier this week statements of objections to 13 producers of bulk vitamins, including A, C, D and B complex, with regard to a suspected price-fixing cartel. The companies concerned have until early October to reply to the Commission's objections, following which they can also request the holding of a hearing. There is no strict timetable to complete antitrust investigations and the sending of a statement of objections does not prejudge of the Commission's final conclusions.

    [29] Ciel Unique européen : Loyola de Palacio disposée à recevoir de nouveau les syndicats des contrôleurs aériens français

    Loyola de Palacio, vice-présidente de la Commission européenne chargée des Transports, a annoncé le 11 juillet qu'elle était tout à fait disposée à recevoir de nouveau les syndicats des contrôleurs aériens français pour un échange de vues sur les travaux en cours sur le Ciel Unique. "Cela fait six mois que nous travaillons en association avec les syndicats des contrôleurs aériens, et je les ai personnellement rencontrés à plusieurs reprises : reprendre la discussion ne me pose donc pas de problèmes", a-t-elle déclaré.

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


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


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