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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 00-07-13

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

13/07/2000


CONTENTS / CONTENU

[I] Résultats de la Commission du 12 juillet 2000 - Outcome of Commission meeting of 12 July

  • [01] Commission takes initiative to restore confidence in GMO approval process
  • [02] Assurance automobile : la Commission ouvre une procédure d'infraction contre l'Italie
  • [03] Customs fraud : Commission decides importers must pay duty on goods with false origin certificates
  • [04] Excise duties : Commission refers Germany and Greece to Court of Justice
  • [05] Marchés publics : la Commission décide de traduire l'Allemagne devant la Cour de justice
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [06] Car prices in the EU : price differentials remain high
  • [07] Euro-zone GDP grew by 0.9% ; +3.4% compared to first quarter 1999
  • [08] Fonds structurels : la Commission lance un programme éducation, formation et emploi d'une durée de sept ans pour le Portugal
  • [09] EU-Japan Summit : towards a stronger partnership
  • [10] Allègement de la dette : la Commission met en garde contre une dilution de l'initiative PPTE renforcée
  • [11] Europe by Satellite étend son service d'actualités au reste de la planète, en coopération avec Canal France International
  • [12] Frits Bolkestein tells Parliament Committee he intends to formally approve "safe harbor" arrangement with US on data protection
  • [13] Margot Wallström welcomes agreement on Directive on incineration

  • [I] Résultats de la Commission du 12 juillet 2000 - Outcome of Commission meeting of 12 July

    (voir aussi see also ME of 12.7)

    [01] Commission takes initiative to restore confidence in GMO approval process

    The European Commission has decided to propose to Member States a strategy to regain public trust in the approval procedure for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). The objective is to resume the authorisation process for GMOs in the near future whilst addressing public concerns on GMOs as well as problems of legal uncertainty for stakeholders. The Commission wants to give a clear response to political and legal concerns over GMOs which favours consumer choice and legal certainty. The Commission calls upon the Member States to play their part in paving the way for a clearer and more comprehensive GMO strategy in Europe in the future and promoting an open public debate. The Commission proposes to apply the key provisions on the revised directive on the release of GMOs in the environment to all new GMO approvals after agreement on its content has been reached between the Council and the European Parliament. The conciliation procedure is due to start on the 19 September. Further measures on labelling and traceability of GMOs will be put forward in the autumn.

    [02] Assurance automobile : la Commission ouvre une procédure d'infraction contre l'Italie

    La Commission européenne a décidé d'ouvrir une procédure d'infraction à l'encontre de l'Italie, au titre de l'article 226 du Traité CE, concernant les mesures de gel des tarifs des contrats d'assurance responsabilité civile automobile. En effet, depuis le 29 mars, les compagnies d'assurance opérant en Italie ne sont plus libres de fixer leurs offres commerciales et leurs tarifs. La Commission estime que ces mesures pourraient être incompatibles avec les exigences de la troisième directive non-vie, qui vise à réaliser la libre commercialisation des produits d'assurance dans l'Union européenne. La Commission va donc envoyer une lettre de mise en demeure aux autorités italiennes en leur demandant de transmettre ses observations à la Commission dans un délai de trois semaines.

    [03] Customs fraud : Commission decides importers must pay duty on goods with false origin certificates

    The European Commission has decided to require EU importers to pay customs duties on goods imported into the European Union and covered by some 5000 origin certificates issued by the Bangladesh authorities between 1994 and 1996. The Commission considers that the Bangladeshi origin of the goods in question is not proven, so that they do not qualify for zero customs duties granted to Bangladeshi goods under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). The decision is based on the need to protect against fraud the EU financial interests (Common Customs Tariff duties are paid into the EU's budget, making up some 12.4% of total revenue in 2000).

    [04] Excise duties : Commission refers Germany and Greece to Court of Justice

    The European Commission has decided to refer Germany and Greece to the Court of Justice for failure to respect EU law concerning excise duties. In the case of Germany, the problem concerns an exemption from excise duty for certain mineral oil used for heating. The Commission considers the exemption to be incompatible with the relevant EU Directive which, in principle, requires excise duty to be levied on all mineral oils used for heating purposes (or motor fuel). The problem in Greece concerns a reduced rate of excise duty applied to alcohol used in the manufacture of 'ouzo', which the Commission considers to discriminate against spirits produced in other Member States.

    [05] Marchés publics : la Commission décide de traduire l'Allemagne devant la Cour de justice

    La Commission européenne a décidé de traduire l'Allemagne devant la Cour de justice européenne dans deux affaires, dont l'une concerne la ville de Brunswick et l'autre, la municipalité de Bockhorn (Basse-Saxe). Dans les deux cas, la Commission estime que la réglementation des marchés publics, qui dispose que les marchés sont attribués dans des conditions d'ouverture et de concurrence, n'a pas été respectée.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [06] Car prices in the EU : price differentials remain high

    In its most recent report on car prices the European Commission has found that prices for new cars across the European Union still differ substantially. The situation on 1 May 2000 shows that for almost all models examined, the United Kingdom remains the most expensive market, after conversion of prices into euro. However, the British currency has once again appreciated substantially -by 9.1%- since 1.11.1999. Finland, Spain and the Netherlands, as well as Denmark (as non-member of the euro zone), are the markets where prices before tax are among the lowest. Among euro zone members, prices are highest in Germany for most of the models examined.

    [07] Euro-zone GDP grew by 0.9% ; +3.4% compared to first quarter 1999

    (! embargo 12 am !) Euro-zone GDP grew by 0.9% during the first quarter of 2000 in comparison with the fourth quarter of 1999, according to revised data published today by Eurostat. EU15 GDP recorded a 0.8% rise during the same period. Both the euro-zone and the EU15 recorded the same growth rates as during the fourth quarter of 1999. Euro-zone household consumption grew from +0.5% to +0.7% ; in the EU15 the growth rate (+0.7%) remained unchanged from the previous quarter. Investments grew by +1.8% in the euro- zone and by +1.5% in the EU15 ; in the previous quarter the rates were +0.5% and +0.6% respectively. Both exports (+2.6% in the euro-zone and +2.3% in the EU15) and imports (+2.7% in the euro-zone and +2.6% in the EU15) accelerated.

    [08] Fonds structurels : la Commission lance un programme éducation, formation et emploi d'une durée de sept ans pour le Portugal

    Anna Diamantopoulou, Commissaire européen chargé de l'Emploi et des Affaires sociales, va signer aujourd'hui, à Lisbonne, deux importants programmes de formation et d'éducation financés par le Fonds social européen pour 2000-2006. Avec une aide financière de plus de 2.312 millions d'euros, les deux programmes s'approprient ensemble 48% de l'enveloppe allouée par le FSE pour la nouvelle période de programmation des Fonds structurels au Portugal.

    [09] EU-Japan Summit : towards a stronger partnership

    The ninth EU-Japan Summit will take place on 19 July 2000 in Tokyo and is expected to give a new impetus to the EU-Japan partnership. French President Jacques Chirac in his capacity as President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, will lead the EU delegation that will meet with the Japanese Prime Minister Mori and several of his Cabinet colleagues. The EU-delegation will also include Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten, Commissioner for Trade Pascal Lamy, the Council Secretary General/High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine and French Secretary of State for Foreign Trade François Huwart. This Summit, which takes place in the run-up to the G8 Okinawa Summit will underline the leading role of the EU and Japan in the world's economy and their global responsibilities. This, together with recent developments in the EU, such as the start of Economic and Monetary Union and the enlargement process, make a case for working more closely together to promote stability and prosperity in the world. It is expected that both sides will lay the foundations for a more comprehensive and global partnership.

    [10] Allègement de la dette : la Commission met en garde contre une dilution de l'initiative PPTE renforcée

    Le Secrétaire général des Nations-Unies, M. Kofi Annan, a déclaré le 11 juillet 2000 qu'il était temps que les pays riches concrétisent leurs promesses d'alléger la dette des pays pauvres. La Commission européenne partage l'inquiétude du Secrétaire général de l'ONU devant ce constat : 40% des recettes publiques de l'Afrique sont actuellement affectées au service de la dette. Pour le Commissaire chargé de la coopération au développement et de l'aide humanitaire, M. Poul Nielson, cette situation va clairement à l'encontre du financement de services de santé, d'éducation et autres services sociaux fondamentaux.

    [11] Europe by Satellite étend son service d'actualités au reste de la planète, en coopération avec Canal France International

    Europe by Satellite (EbS), le service des actualités télévisées de l'Union européenne est maintenant accessible sur les six continents. EbS fournit des informations liées à l'UE aux professionnels travaillant pour des chaînes de télévision ou de radio. Jusqu'à présent, les médias locaux, régionaux, nationaux et transfrontières de l'UE, de la région méditerranéenne et d'Europe centrale et orientale avaient directement accès à EbS. Pour plus d'informations pratiques, veuillez consulter le site d'EbS sur le web http://europa.eu.int/comm/ebs

    [12] Frits Bolkestein tells Parliament Committee he intends to formally approve "safe harbor" arrangement with US on data protection

    European Commissioner for Internal Market Frits Bolkestein told the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee on 13 July in Brussels that he was going to propose to the European Commission the adoption of a formal decision recognising that the "safe harbor" arrangement with the United States offers "adequate protection" for personal data transferred from the European Union to the United States. The Commissioner noted that the European Parliament's 5 July Resolution on the "safe harbor" arrangement did not state that the Commission was acting beyond the powers granted to the Commission by Article 25(6) of the data protection Directive (95/46/EC) to assess the adequacy of protection afforded by non-EU countries to personal data from the EU. However, the Commissioner undertook to report to the Parliament on the functioning of the "safe harbor" and to inform EU citizens concerning the arrangement. He also undertook to convey the Parliament's concerns about the functioning of the "safe harbor" to the US authorities and made clear that the Commission would re-open negotiations on the arrangement if, as Parliament fears, the remedies open to individuals prove to be too weak. The terms of the "safe harbor" arrangement were already endorsed by the Commission and by Member States (unanimously, in the framework of the Committee established by Article 31 of the Directive). The full text of the "safe harbor" principles and related texts are available on the Europa website : http://europa.eu.int/comm/internal_market/en/media/dataprot/news/harbor3.pdf

    [13] Margot Wallström welcomes agreement on Directive on incineration

    European Commissioner for Environment Margot Wallström welcomes the agreement reached yesterday between the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament on a new Directive on incineration of waste. The Commissioner said : "As proposed by the Commission, this new Directive will significantly reduce emissions of several key pollutants across the EU despite the projected increase in the amount of waste incinerated. For the first time, the controls on releases into water will reduce the pollution of marine and fresh water eco-systems resulting from incineration." The two institutions agreed to add to the Common Position of the Council a more stringent emission limit value for nitrogen oxides for new cement kilns using waste as a fuel and a requirement for operators of incineration plants to publish the results of their emission measurements. Full implementation of the proposal's requirements should reduce total emissions of dioxins and furans from the incineration of waste, from currently about 1.500 grams/year to approximately 11 grams/year by 2005. By replacing three existing Directives on incineration, the new Directive constitutes another example of streamlined EU legislation. Finally, the proposed Directive also covers co-incineration. Co-incineration is the incineration of waste used as regular or additional fuel in plants whose main purpose is the generation of energy (combustion plants) or the production of materials, such as cement. New incinerators and co-incinerators will have to comply with the provisions of the Directive two years after its entry into force ; the deadline for existing plants is five years.

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


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


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