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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 00-12-13

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

13/12/2000


CONTENTS / CONTENU

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

  • [01] La Commission réadopte trois décisions infligeant des amendes à Solvay et ICI dans l'affaire Carbonate de Soude
  • [02] Commission authorises acquisition of control of Rexroth by Robert Bosch GmbH subject to conditions
  • [03] Des normes élevées de qualité et de sécurité du sang humain et des composants sanguins
  • [04] Chornobyl closure : Commission approves Euratom loan for the completion of two replacement nuclear units
  • [05] La Commission autorise un régime d'aides aux énergies renouvelables mis en œuvre par la France
  • [06] La Commission autorise un régime d'aides à la gestion des déchets mis en œuvre par la France
  • [07] Commission decides that State aid in favour of Dutch manure processing companies is not compatible with the EU Treaty
  • [08] Commission approves Dutch development aid for two shipbuilding contracts for Indonesia
  • [09] Commission approves State aid to Sket Walzwerkstechnik (Germany)
  • [10] La Commission autorise une intervention financière de l'Espagne en faveur de l'industrie houillère
  • [11] La Commission autorise le Royaume-Uni à octroyer une aide de 17,5 millions £ au siège d'extraction houiller "Longannet Mine"
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [12] Beef : Commission will formally adopt exceptional BSE-measures
  • [13] Aker Maritime withdraws takeover of Kvaerner as Commission opens proceedings
  • [14] Europe funds a scientific world-first : breakthrough in sequencing the plant genome
  • [15] Commission statement on the trial of the Egyptian democracy activist Professor Saad Ibrahim
  • [16] Experts prioritize urgent needs for FRY : energy, health and social protection
  • [17] Frits Bolkestein calls on European Parliament to endorse Commission's post liberalisation proposals
  • [18] Autre matériel diffusé

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

    [01] La Commission réadopte trois décisions infligeant des amendes à Solvay et ICI dans l'affaire Carbonate de Soude

    La Commission européenne a réadopté trois décisions infligeant des amendes aux compagnies Solvay, leader mondial sur le marché du carbonate de soude, et ICI pour avoir violé les règles européennes de la concurrence dans les années 80. Les décisions avaient été annulées par la Cour de Justice européenne pour simples motifs de procédure. Les amendes restent inchangées à 23 millions d'euros pour la compagnie belge Solvay et 10 millions d'euros pour la britannique ICI.

    [02] Commission authorises acquisition of control of Rexroth by Robert Bosch GmbH subject to conditions

    The European Commission has authorised the acquisition by Robert Bosch GmbH of Rexroth, a subsidiary of Mannesmann. The authorisation is conditional upon the sale of Bosch's radial piston pumps business to prevent a dominant position in the market for hydraulic piston pumps. To address Commission concerns that the business to be sold was not weakened in the meantime and that a strong buyer be found, Bosch agreed to find an 'upfront buyer' which is US company Moog. This is the first time the Commission imposes the finding of an "upfront buyer" for divestments linked to merger regulatory approval.

    [03] Des normes élevées de qualité et de sécurité du sang humain et des composants sanguins

    La Commission européenne a adopté une proposition de directive fixant des normes élevées concernant le sang et les produits sanguins dans toute l'Union européenne. Le but de cette mesure est de mettre en place un ensemble complet de règles contraignantes pour le sang et les produits sanguins, du donneur au patient. Elle garantit également l'application de normes claires quelle que soit l'utilisation finale du sang, y compris les applications médicales qui y sont liées. Elle est conforme à l'obligation spécifique prévue par le traité d'Amsterdam d'assurer un niveau élevé de protection de la santé publique dans la filière du sang.

    [04] Chornobyl closure : Commission approves Euratom loan for the completion of two replacement nuclear units

    On behalf of Euratom, the European Commission has approved a loan to the Ukrainian National Nuclear Power Company Energoatom for the euro equivalent of USD 585 million. This loan is to part finance a project for the completion, modernisation and commissioning of unit 2 at Khmelnitsky and unit 4 at Rivne nuclear power plants in Ukraine, the so-called K2R4 project. The project features in the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 1995 between the G7 countries and the Commission and Ukraine on the permanent closure of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, now scheduled for 15 December. It will provide Ukraine with replacement power from two nuclear units of the VVER 1000 type upgraded to a safety level acceptable under Western-type licensing practices. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has recently approved a loan of USD 215 million for the same project.

    [05] La Commission autorise un régime d'aides aux énergies renouvelables mis en œuvre par la France

    La Commission européenne a approuvé le régime français d'aides à la gestion des énergies renouvelables mis en œuvre par l'agence de l'environnement et de la maîtrise de l'énergie (ADEME). Son budget annuel est de l'ordre de 50 millions d'euros. Le régime prévoit des aides pour les investissements dans des dispositifs utilisant des sources d'énergies renouvelables. Les intensités d'aides dépendent du degré de maturité des technologies concernées et de la valeur environnementale des projets. Elles peuvent atteindre 40% en France métropolitaine et 60% dans les départements d'outre- mer. Un bonus de 10% est applicable aux PME. La Commission a examiné ce régime sur la base de l'encadrement communautaire des aides d'Etat pour la protection de l'environnement. Cet examen a permis de conclure que le régime est compatible avec le traité CE.

    [06] La Commission autorise un régime d'aides à la gestion des déchets mis en œuvre par la France

    La Commission européenne a approuvé le régime français d'aides à la gestion des déchets municipaux et des déchets d'entreprises mis en œuvre par l'agence de l'environnement et de la maîtrise de l'énergie (ADEME). Son budget annuel est de l'ordre de 120 millions d'euros. Le régime prévoit des aides pour les investissements dans des dispositifs de collecte, tri et valorisation des déchets municipaux et des déchets industriels banals. Les aides ne s'appliquent qu'aux types de déchets dont aucune législation nationale ou communautaire contraignante n'impose le retraitement. L'intensité maximale de ces aides est de 30%. Est également prévue une aide au recrutement par les Chambres de Commerce et d'Industrie de "chargés de mission déchets" dont la fonction sera d'informer et de sensibiliser les entreprises dans le domaine de la gestion des déchets. La Commission a examiné ce régime sur la base de l'encadrement communautaire des aides d'Etat pour la protection de l'environnement. Cet examen a permis de conclure que le régime est compatible avec le traité CE.

    [07] Commission decides that State aid in favour of Dutch manure processing companies is not compatible with the EU Treaty

    The European Commission has decided that the unnotified State aid amounting to euro 2.5 million implemented by the Netherlands for investment into six manure processing projects is incompatible with the common market. The Netherlands shall take all necessary measures to recover the aid unlawfully made available to the beneficiaries.

    [08] Commission approves Dutch development aid for two shipbuilding contracts for Indonesia

    The European Commission has decided not to raise objections to development aid that the Netherlands plans to grant for two general cargo vessels and two pulp and paper carriers destined for Indonesia. The aid will be used by the Indonesian buyers for the purchase of the ships from Bodewes/Pattje Shipyards bv. The decision follows a formal investigation procedure that the Commission had opened earlier this year in view of the doubts it had at that stage whether the aid was compatible with the rules on State aids to shipbuilding. These doubts have now been allayed and the Commission therefore decided to close the proceedings with a final positive decision.

    [09] Commission approves State aid to Sket Walzwerkstechnik (Germany)

    The European Commission has decided to close with a final positive decision the formal investigation procedure in respect of State aid measures amounting to DM 143.5 million awarded to Sket WalzwerkstechnikGmbH (Sket WT), an engineering company designing and arrranging manufacture and installation of steel rolling mills worldwide which is located in Magdeburg (Land of Sachsen-Anhalt). The investigation showed that the return to long- term viability of the company is likely to be guaranteed by the implementation of the restructuring plan. In addition, the distortion of competition is limited considering that the relevant market seems not to suffer from overcapacity and that the beneficiary is reducing capacity. Finally, the private investor involved is making a substantial contribution to Sket WT's restructuring. Therefore the conditions of the "Guidelines for Rescue and Restructuring of companies in difficulties" are fulfilled.

    [10] La Commission autorise une intervention financière de l'Espagne en faveur de l'industrie houillère

    La Commission européenne autorise l'Espagne à verser une intervention financière de 186.541 millions de pesetas (1.121 millions d'euros) en faveur de l'industrie houillère pour l'année 2000. Compte tenu de l'importance des bassins houillers espagnols en termes sociaux et régionaux, la Commission a notamment pris en compte dans sa décision la nécessité de faciliter l'adoption de mesures de reconversion de l'industrie houillère en Espagne.

    [11] La Commission autorise le Royaume-Uni à octroyer une aide de 17,5 millions £ au siège d'extraction houiller "Longannet Mine"

    Le Royaume-Uni est autorisé à accorder près de 29 millions d'euros d'aides au fonctionnement à "Longannet Mine", unité de production appartenant à "Mining (Scotland) Ltd". Cette aide, qui couvre des pertes d'exploitation relatives à l'année 2000, est octroyée dans le cadre du plan de modernisation, de rationalisation et de restructuration de l'industrie houillère britannique approuvé par la Commission européenne le 15 novembre 2000. Ce plan, qui prévoit l'octroi d'aides d'Etat pour un montant maximal de 180 millions d'euros entre le 17 avril 2000 et le 31 décembre 2002, est destiné à soutenir temporairement, pendant leur période de restructuration, des unités de production économiquement viables à long terme. L'aide en faveur de Longannet Mine - près de 29 millions d'euros - est la première aide notifiée à la Commission dans le cadre de ce plan de restructuration. Elle a pour objectif de couvrir des pertes d'exploitation sur la période du 17 avril au 31 décembre 2000 en compensant l'écart entre le coût de production et le prix de vente de la houille sur le marché mondial. Cette aide devrait permettre à Longannet Mine d'améliorer sa viabilité économique en réduisant ses coûts de production. Suivant les informations communiquées par les autorités britanniques, cette réduction des coûts de production devrait permettre à Longannet Mine de poursuivre ses activités, dès l'année 2002, sans aucun soutien financier des pouvoirs publics.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [12] Beef : Commission will formally adopt exceptional BSE-measures

    Following the discussion in the EU's Management Committee for Beef and Veal, the European Commission will now formally adopt the different support measures for the beef sector : the "purchase for destruction" scheme, the modalities for public intervention and the increase of the advances for the beef premia. In a bid to restore consumer confidence in beef and to tackle oversupply on the EU beef market as a result of reduced consumption the Commission will decide to start the "purchase for destruction scheme" for cattle older than 30 months, unless they tested BSE-negative, from 1 January 2001. The price paid to farmers for these animals, that will no longer be made available for human consumption, will be fixed on the basis of the market price in the Member States, according to the quality category of the meat concerned. In any case, the prices must be set at a level which guarantees the proper functioning of the destruction scheme. The EU budget will co-fund the expenditure at a flat-rate of 70%. In order to ensure that the animals concerned are not used for human consumption, animal feed or medical products, the carcasses will have to be stained and separately stored. The Commission will carry out spot-checks to ensure that the scheme is properly applied and controlled in the Member States. Following the decision of 4 December 2000 of the EU's Council of Farm Ministers, the low BSE-risk countries, namely Finland, Austria and Sweden, have the option of allowing animals aged over 30 months to be slaughtered for their national market without a BSE test. All the meat exports have to be BSE-tested. The scheme will now be formally adopted by the Commission.

    [13] Aker Maritime withdraws takeover of Kvaerner as Commission opens proceedings

    Aker Maritime has informed the European Commission that it has agreed to limit its stake in Kvaerner and taken a number of measures so the notified transaction will no longer constitute a concentration. This means that Aker Maritime will not acquire control over Kvaerner and that its notification has been withdrawn. Consequently, the Commission will not take any further action with regard to this transaction.

    [14] Europe funds a scientific world-first : breakthrough in sequencing the plant genome

    The first full sequencing of a plant genome has today been completed with the help of a euro 26 million European research grant. This scientific breakthrough is the longest and most complete sequencing of a genome yet achieved. 15 laboratories from the European Union, the United States and Japan sequenced 115 million 'base pairs', encoding nearly 26,000 genes - more than any other genome to be completely sequenced so far. This represents a major breakthrough in scientific understanding of plants, including how they cope with pests and diseases and how they interact with their environment. It opens up exciting opportunities for future applications in the medical, agricultural, environmental and industrial fields. European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin said : "This is a great result for European research funding. Once again it proves the value of organised, pan-European scientific cooperation. The success of this project also underlines the importance of creating a European Research Area, as European leaders acknowledged in Nice last weekend."

    [15] Commission statement on the trial of the Egyptian democracy activist Professor Saad Ibrahim

    A trial of the Egyptian democracy activist Professor Saad Ibrahim opened in Cairo on 18th November 2000. Three of the four charges against Professor Ibrahim make reference to the alleged misuse of European Commission funding of programmes administered by the Ibn Khaldoun Centre and by HODA (League of Egyptian women voters). Because there have been often inaccurate - press coverage of these projects, the Commission feels obliged to issue this statement to explain the nature of the Commission's support for these two Egyptian non-governmental organisations.

    [16] Experts prioritize urgent needs for FRY : energy, health and social protection

    High level officials from 41 donor countries and 19 international organizations meeting in Brussels yesterday for a Donor Coordination Meeting for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), heard from UN and government experts about the current urgent needs of the FRY economy. These needs focus on several key areas - with the first priorities being energy, health and social protection. This meeting was convened by the European Commission and the World Bank in the context of their overall donor coordination responsibilities for Southeast Europe. Participants welcomed this first international donor meeting for FRY since the important changes of government two months ago. Further information on the meeting can be found on the Joint EC/WB website Economic Reconstruction and Development in South East Europe : http://www.seerecon.org/Calendar/2000/Events/DCM/1114dcm.htm

    [17] Frits Bolkestein calls on European Parliament to endorse Commission's post liberalisation proposals

    Frits Bolkestein, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, has appealed to the European Parliament to endorse the Commission's postal services proposals and to reject amendments that would undermine the Lisbon Summit's objective of accelerated liberalisation of postal services. Speaking in the 13 December plenary session debate in Strasbourg, Mr Bolkestein underlined that "If the European Union wants to have the most competitive, knowledge-based and dynamic economy in ten years time, it needs a modern postal sector". While supporting amendments to emphasise the importance of the universal service and rural post offices, Mr Bolkestein regretted that "with regard to most amendments, very little is left of the original proposal which the Commission presented in May. The degree of market opening as now proposed by the amendments before Parliament reduces the 20% proposed by the Commission from the start of 2003 to only 6% from the start of 2005, without any perspective of completion of the Internal Market in the postal sector. This does not comply with the conclusions of the Lisbon European Council nor would it meet the needs and expectations of postal clients, both business users and individual households. It would also not meet the interests of employees in the postal sector who want to look ahead. In short, it would be too little, too late and would bring to a sudden halt the much-needed momentum for further change, gravely harming the incumbent operators' adaptation and threatening long-term employment."

    [18] Autre matériel diffusé

    Note sur la préparation du Conseil Pêche

    Note sur la préparation du Conseil Santé

    Discours de M. Nielson à la Conférence des Donateurs pour le Burundi (11/12, Paris)

    Discours de M. Vitorino : "Towards a European judicial area" (Palerme)

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


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


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