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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 00-12-18

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

18/12/2000


CONTENTS / CONTENU

  • [01] "Simply farming" - Commission proposes to cut red tape for 500,000 small farmers
  • [02] Un nouveau pas décisif vers le ciel unique européen : le rapport du Groupe de Haut Niveau sur la réforme du trafic aérien
  • [03] La Commission autorise la création d'une entreprise commune entre Georg Fischer et WestLB et leur reprise de Krupp Werner & Pfleiderer
  • [04] Commission clears Metsä-Serla acquisition of Zanders
  • [05] Comptabilité : la Commission lance une consultation sur l'indépendance des personnes chargées du contrôle légal des comptes
  • [06] Commission approves euro 2.7 billion aid for Northern Ireland
  • [07] Progress in farm pre-accession programmes
  • [08] Romano Prodi welcomes the report of the EU-US Biotechnology Consultative Forum
  • [09] Scientific opinion reviews Austrian reserve on GMO-maize
  • [10] Margot Wallström welcomes the agreement on new rules for GMOs
  • [11] Autre matériel diffusé

  • [01] "Simply farming" - Commission proposes to cut red tape for 500,000 small farmers

    The European Commission has adopted a proposal that will greatly simplify the system of applying for and paying aids to small farmers. Over 20% of EU farmers could benefit from less paperwork. This proposal forms part of the Commission's drive to simplify the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). It offers the option for farmers who receive small amounts of direct aid (maximum of euro 1,000) to benefit from a simplified scheme. The scheme would be introduced over a trial period to run from 2002-2005. The scheme should also minimise administration for national authorities responsible for paying and controlling aids. While simplifying the conditions for receiving aid, there should be no weakening of the efficiency of control systems to protect taxpayer's money. Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries Franz Fischler stressed this point, saying : "Form-filling will be a one-off event for small farmers, instead of yearly claims for every type of premium. We want to allow farmers to get on with the business of farming. If this pilot-project proves successful, we will of course think about extending the scope of the scheme. But we can in no way dilute the stringent control we apply to spending taxpayer's money." The fact that the aid is in no way linked to production means that it will fall under the green box requirements of the WTO Agreement on Agriculture. The proposal will now submitted to the Council for decision.

    [02] Un nouveau pas décisif vers le ciel unique européen : le rapport du Groupe de Haut Niveau sur la réforme du trafic aérien

    La Commission européenne présente aujourd'hui les conclusions du rapport du Groupe de Haut Niveau sur la réforme du trafic aérien, qui vise à améliorer les performances du transport aérien et réduire les retards considérables actuels. Sous présidence de Loyola de Palacio, vice-présidente en charge des Transports et de l'Energie, ce groupe a réuni les autorités civiles et militaires en charge du contrôle aérien, tout en associant étroitement les partenaires sociaux et le secteur industriel concernés. Son rapport confirme l'impératif de la création d'un ciel unique européen et prône pour 2005 la mise en place des structures nécessaires à sa création. Il propose six axes principaux d'action : la gestion commune de l'espace aérien, l'instauration d'un régulateur communautaire fort, l'intégration progressive d'une gestion civile et militaire, la définition d'une synergie institutionnelle entre l'Union européenne et Eurocontrol, la mise en place d'une technique adaptée et rénovée et une meilleure coordination de la politique de ressources humaines dans le secteur du contrôle aérien.

    [03] La Commission autorise la création d'une entreprise commune entre Georg Fischer et WestLB et leur reprise de Krupp Werner & Pfleiderer

    La Commission européenne a autorisé le projet de la société suisse Georg Fischer AG et de la société allemande Westdeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale (WestLB) par lequel elles entendent acquérir le groupe allemand Krupp Werner & Pfleiderer (KWP), appartenant à Thyssen Krupp, et l'intégrer dans une nouvelle holding avec les deux groupes de Georg Fischer, Waeschle et Buss. Georg Fischer et WestLB contrôleront conjointement cette holding. Cette opération de concentration donnera naissance à l'un des premiers fournisseurs mondiaux de systèmes et de composants destinés au traitement du plastique mais ne pose pas de problèmes de concurrence.

    [04] Commission clears Metsä-Serla acquisition of Zanders

    The European Commission has approved an operation by which Finnish based company Metsä-Serla Corp will acquire sole control over German paper producer Zanders Feinpapier. The Commission examined the companies' combined share of the fine paper market and Metsä-Serla's presence in pulp production upstream and paper merchanting downstream, but concluded to the absence of competition concerns.

    [05] Comptabilité : la Commission lance une consultation sur l'indépendance des personnes chargées du contrôle légal des comptes

    La Commission européenne a publié un document de consultation concernant l'indépendance du contrôleur légal des comptes dans l'Union européenne, qui invite les parties intéressées à présenter d'ici mars 2000 leurs observations sur un jeu de principes auxquels les contrôleurs légaux devraient se conformer dans l'exécution de leur mission. En vertu des directives comptables, les états financiers de quelque trois millions de sociétés de capitaux de l'UE doivent faire l'objet d'un contrôle légal. La Commission tiendra compte des observations reçues lors de l'élaboration de sa recommandation sur l'indépendance du contrôleur légal, dont l'adoption est prévue pour la mi-2001. Le document de consultation propose une approche articulée autour de grands principes, qui n'impose pas d'obligations détaillées mais plutôt un cadre général abordant les principaux aspects de l'indépendance du contrôleur légal des comptes. Ce cadre est complété par une série de règles plus détaillées. La future recommandation devrait renforcer la fiabilité et la comparabilité de l'information financière fournie par les sociétés, qualités essentielles au bon fonctionnement des marchés financiers. Elle s'inscrit dans le cadre du plan d'action pour les services financiers, qui vise à achever d'ici 2005 la construction d'un marché intégré des services financiers et des capitaux (voir IP/00/1269). Le document de la Commission peut être consulté sur le site Europa à l'adresse suivante : http://europa.eu.int/comm/internal_market

    [06] Commission approves euro 2.7 billion aid for Northern Ireland

    The European Commission, in agreement with the new Northern Ireland Administration, has approved a euro 2.7 billion programme of assistance for economic and social development in Northern Ireland over the period 2000- 2006. This "Community Support Framework" (CSF) has two distinct component parts : the "Objective 1" transition programme and the second European Union Programme for Peace and Reconciliation. The transition programme applies because the region no longer features among Europe's poorest - its income (GDP) per head is above the threshold figure of 75% of the EU average - and European aid is accordingly being reduced on a gradual basis. The Programme for Peace and Reconciliation reflects the EU's support for the consolidation of the peace process in Northern Ireland. In total, the Union will contribute euro 1.315 billion out of a total of almost euro 2.745 billion, for both parts of the CSF. Some euro 0.588 billion will come from the Northern Ireland public sector with euro 0.842 billion expected from private investors.

    [07] Progress in farm pre-accession programmes

    The European Commission today authorised Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries Franz Fischler to sign the Multi-annual and Annual Financing Agreements with the candidate countries. This is an important step in the process of providing the euro 520 million worth pre- accession aid for agriculture and rural development (Sapard). The Multi- annual Financing Agreements lay down the detailed provisions for delegating the management of the rural development programmes to the candidate countries, covering the necessary financial control rules. This is the first time in the history of the EU that external aid will be managed on a fully decentralised basis, requiring an enormous legislative and administrative effort on both sides. Commenting on the decision, Commissioner Fischler said : "The ground that has been covered over the past year is remarkable", he said. Rejecting criticism of delays, Mr Fischler insisted that implementing such a radical, innovative and unprecedented initiative inevitably takes more time than might have been expected. "The Commission is going as fast as possible. Setting up a fraud- proof structures may appear cumbersome, but the time invested now will bear fruit over the coming years. Sapard is an important catalyst for change. Today we have taken a further step towards committing the EU-funds earmarked for the candidate countries", he concluded.

    [08] Romano Prodi welcomes the report of the EU-US Biotechnology Consultative Forum

    (! embargo 7.30 pm !) The EU-US Biotechnology Consultative Forum an independent group of experts, established at the initiative of Presidents Romano Prodi and Bill Clinton, and chaired by Ruud Lubbers, Professor of Globalisation at Tilburg University and former Prime Minister of The Netherlands, with his US counterpart Cutberto Garza, Chair of Cornell University, has today presented its report to the Summit leaders. The report of the EU-US Consultative Forum will be made available on : http://europa.eu.int/comm/dgs/external_relations/index_en.htm

    [09] Scientific opinion reviews Austrian reserve on GMO-maize

    The Scientific Committee on Plants has today published an opinion concerning the invocation by Austria of the safeguard clause of Council Directive 90/220 with respect to the authorisation of a specific genetically modified maize line (maize line T25). The Committee examined the information submitted by the Austrian authorities to substantiate its action, and found that it does not provide new scientific data to change the original risk assessment carried out in 1998. On the basis of this risk assessment marketing approval for cultivation was given the same year. The Committee states in particular that there is no evidence that this transgenic maize will pose a problem to the ecology of the Alpine grassland and meadow systems as suggested in the Austrian documentation submitted. The full text of the opinion is available at : http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/sc/scp/out85_gmo_en.html

    [10] Margot Wallström welcomes the agreement on new rules for GMOs

    European Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström welcomes the fact that the delegation of the European Parliament and the representatives of the Council of Ministers to the Conciliation Committee last Friday approved a joint text on a revised Directive on the deliberate release into the environment of GMOs (90/220). It is expected that the Presidency and the European Parliament will finally sign the agreed text of the Conciliation Committee on 20 December 2000. This enables the Parliament and the Council to finally adopt the revised Directive 90/220 by mid-February. The revised Directive strengthens the existing regulation, particular with respect to mandatory consultation of the public, mandatory labelling and traceability at all stages of the placing on the market and also monitoring of long term effects. The Commission considers the revised Directive will provide for a coherent, transparent and efficient regulatory framework. Commissioner Wallström said : "GMO legislation must provide a high level of protection for human health and the environment, and at the same time allow society to profit from the benefits of these new technologies. The Commission regards this agreement as a very important and big step towards restoration of public and market confidence in the authorisation procedure for GMOs and products derived from GMOs. It will allow for greater participation of the public in the authorisation process and allow for consumers to choose themselves whether they want products containing GMOs or not.

    [11] Autre matériel diffusé

    Note sur les résultats du Conseil Pêche

    Note sur la préparation du Conseil Agriculture

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


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


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