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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 01-03-01

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

Midday Express 01/03/2001

[I] Résultats de la Commission du 28 février 2001 - Outcome of Commission meeting of 28 February

(voir aussi see also Midday of 28.2)

  • [01] La Commission propose une nouvelle politique du personnel - du recrutement à la retraite La Commission européenne a rendu publiques les grandes lignes de ses propositions concernant la nouvelle politique du personnel. Ces propositions, qui prévoient toute une série de changements de grande envergure, doteraient la Commission d'une stratégie intégrée en matière de ressources humaines visant à maximiser son efficacité et lui permettant ainsi de s'acquitter de ses tâches essentielles. Les barrières artificielles qui entravent la progression des carrières seraient supprimées, les décisions relatives aux promotions et aux gratifications individuelles seraient prises sur la base d'un nouvel équilibre entre les prestations et l'ancienneté, les exigences et les possibilités offertes en matière de formation seraient renforcées et l'encadrement jouerait un rôle accru dans l'évaluation et l'orientation du personnel ainsi que dans le traitement des problèmes d'insuffisance professionnelle. La nouvelle politique de formation et de mobilité aiderait l'ensemble du personnel à mieux gérer sa carrière grâce à un éventail d'emplois beaucoup plus large qu'actuellement. Les propositions relatives aux rémunérations et pensions honorent les engagements pris à l'égard du personnel par le Président Romano Prodi et le Vice-président Neil Kinnock : modernisation du système de rémunération, rationalisation du régime des allocations et maintien des normes permettant à la Commission de rester un employeur compétitif. Les propositions de la Commission protègent les droits à pension existants et garantissent l'équilibre du régime à long terme. Il est également proposé de créer un fonds de pension pour le personnel recruté après le 1er janvier 2005. Toutes ces propositions feront dans un premier temps l'objet de négociations avec les représentants du personnel avant que la Commission n'adopte une décision définitive.
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [02] Commission opens in-depth inquiry into the acquisition of ECT by Hutchison and the Rotterdam port authority The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation into the acquisition of de facto joint control by Hutchison Netherlands BV (Hutchison) and Rotterdam Municipal Port Management (RMPM) of the Rotterdam container terminal operator Europe Combined Terminals BV (ECT). The in- depth inquiry will enable the Commission to examine further what impact the presence in Rotterdam of global port operator Hutchison will have on the market. A final decision will now be taken within a period of four months.
  • [03] La Commission autorise l'acquisition par Etex de la division Pipe Systems de Glynwed La Commission européenne a autorisé l'acquisition par la société Etex Group SA, ayant son siège en Belgique, de la division Pipe Systems de l'entreprise britannique Glynwed International Plc. Etex et la division faisant l'objet de l'acquisition opèrent toutes deux dans le secteur des canalisations en plastique, mais les chevauchements sont limités car leurs activités sont largement complémentaires.
  • [04] Commission clears merger between Chevron and Texaco The European Commission has approved the merger between US oil companies Chevron Corp and Texaco Inc. Although the operation will create the world's fourth largest company in oil and gas production, the number of areas where the companies' activities overlap in Europe are limited and, where they do, the combined market shares remain below 15%.
  • [05] Commission approves acquisition of the pharmaceutical business of BASF by Abbott The European Commission has granted regulatory clearance to the acquisition of the worldwide pharmaceutical business of BASF AG by the Abbott Group of the United States. The transaction will create the 14th largest pharmaceutical company in the world.
  • [06] Commission authorises Michel Mineralölhandel to purchase two Thyssen Elf Oil sales agencies The European Commission has given the German company Michel Mineralölhandel GmbH the go-ahead to purchase two Thyssen-Elf Oil GmbH sales agencies in Essen and Stuttgart.
  • [07] Libre prestation des services et liberté d'établissement : procédures d'infraction contre la France, le Portugal, l'Irlande, l'Autriche et la Grèce La Commission européenne a décidé de poursuivre des procédures d'infraction contre la France, le Portugal, l'Irlande, l'Autriche et la Grèce en raison de violations des règles du traité CE sur la libre prestation des services (article 49) et la liberté d'établissement (article 43). Dans le cas de la France, du Portugal et de l'Irlande, cette décision est motivée par des restrictions concernant les agents en brevets, alors que l'Autriche se voit reprocher l'application de frais hospitaliers trop élevés aux non- résidents. La Commission a également adressé des demandes formelles à l'Autriche, à la France, à la Grèce et au Portugal afin qu'ils lèvent les restrictions qui touchent, respectivement, les agents en brevets, les laboratoires médicaux, les magasins d'optique et les services de sécurité privés. Ces demandes se présentent sous la forme d'avis motivés, conformément à la deuxième phase des procédures d'infraction prévues par l'article 226 du traité CE. Si aucune réponse n'est donnée à l'avis motivé dans les deux mois qui suivent sa réception, ou si cette réponse est insuffisante, la Commission peut décider de saisir la Cour de justice.
  • [08] Free movement of goods : Commission pursues infringement proceedings against Greece, Spain, Ireland and the Netherlands The European Commission has decided to pursue infringement proceedings against Greece, Spain, Ireland and the Netherlands concerning barriers to trade in violation of EC Treaty rules on the free movement of goods within the Internal Market (Article 28). The Commission has decided to refer Greece to the Court of Justice concerning extra price labelling requirements for non-alcoholic drinks. It has also decided to take Spain to Court regarding cleaning agents containing bleach. In the case of Ireland and the Netherlands, the Commission has decided to send formal requests to remove trade barriers affecting parallel imports (i.e. imports outside manufacturers' official distribution channels) of respectively pharmaceuticals and plant health products. These requests take the form of so-called reasoned opinions, the second stage of infringement procedures under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If there is no response to a reasoned opinion within two months of receipt, or it is unsatisfactory, the Commission may decide to refer the Member State concerned to the Court of Justice.
  • [09] VAT - infringement procedure against Germany on the right to deduct The European Commission has made a formal request to Germany to amend its legislation in respect of limitations on the right to deduct value added tax (VAT). Under a law which came into effect on 1 April 1999 Germany totally excluded the right to deduct VAT on food and lodging expenditure by businessmen on business trips. The Commission considers this exclusion to be incompatible with the Sixth VAT Directive (77/388/EEC). The formal request is in the form of a reasoned opinion, the second stage in the infringement procedure under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If the Commission does not receive a satisfactory reply to the reasoned opinion within two months, it may bring the matter before the Court of Justice.
  • [10] Sinking of the Maltese Tanker 'Kristal' : Loyola de Palacio calls Europeans to give priority to maritime safety European Commission Vice-President in charge of Transport and Energy, Loyola de Palacio, expressed yesterday her deep regret at the loss of 'Kristal' with three crew reported dead and eight missing. "One year after the Erika's disaster we face a new maritime accident, again involving a tanker vessel, but this time with several people killed : we cannot stand it anymore !", she said. " We must take the appropriate decisions to put an end to this permanent threat on our coasts", Mrs de Palacio stressed.
  • [11] New landmark legislation a watershed in the fight against the scourge of tobacco The European Commission welcomes the agreement on a new Directive on the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products reached by the European Parliament and the Council on 28 February. "The three institutions are showing a united front in the face of one of the most pernicious public health scourges of our times, one that kills 500,000 people in the European Union every year", David Byrne, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, said. The main achievements of the new legislation, which was proposed by the Commission in November 1999, is a reduction in the maximum tar level from 12mg to 10 mg per cigarette and the creation of ceilings of 1 mg nicotine and 10 mg carbon monoxide per cigarette. The three ceilings apply to all products manufactured in the EU as well as imported ones. The Directive will lead to the prohibition of misleading descriptors such as "light", "low tar" or "mild". Manufacturers will be obliged to give correct information. Consumers will have full transparency on all ingredients including additives. Warnings labels will be bigger and clearer. David Byrne is particularly pleased in assuring that colour photographs demonstrating the health impact of smoking have now been included. The Directive will enter into force on 30 September 2002. Industry has time to prepare for the new arrangements in particular regarding export considerations. David Byrne made clear that he will turn his focus now to bringing forward new legislative proposals on tobacco advertising for the EU Health Council in May of this year. The Commission will also be a very active participant, on behalf of the Union, in the negotiations on the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The next negotiation session starts in Geneva on 29 April.
  • [12] Commission welcomes Parliament's vote on key Telecom Directives The European Commission today warmly welcomed the European Parliament's completion of its first reading of three important Directives dealing with the proposed new regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services (proposals for Directives on respectively authorisation, access and interconnection and the so-called framework Directive). Erkki Liikanen, Commissioner responsible for Enterprise and Information Society, said : "The three Directives will be central to the success of Europe's knowledge based economy and its future competitiveness. I am pleased that the European Parliament is supporting the Commission in seeking to establish procedures that would ensure transparency and coordination of decisions made by national regulatory authorities. This will ensure a level playing field for operators in the European market. We need to guarantee that there is a Single Market for telecoms. If this is not the case the development of the entire sector will be hampered - and I am referring, in particular, to the different licensing conditions imposed by the Member States for the 3rd generation mobile services. Europe has to maintain its lead as the world leader in mobile communications. Getting the regulatory framework right is an important element in the process. I therefore encourage the European Parliament to make rapid progress on adopting its Opinion on the Commission's proposal for a Decision on radio spectrum policy."
  • [13] PME : la Commission présente les politiques et les activités de l'UE La Commission européenne a adopté un rapport intitulé "Construire une Europe entrepreneuriale - Les activités de l'Union en faveur des petites et moyennes entreprises (PME)". Le rapport souligne que la politique de l'entreprise a été intégrée dans les politiques et autres programmes communautaires plus généraux et précise dans quelle mesure les activités de l'UE peuvent aider les PME à tirer le meilleur parti des nouvelles opportunités offertes par l'économie et les marchés. Le rapport est donc une contribution importante aux travaux préparatoires du Conseil européen de Stockholm des 23 et 24 mars 2001. Il analyse les développements politiques intervenus depuis la fin 1997. Trois grands thèmes sont abordés: l'amélioration des conditions cadres des PME, les instruments financiers et les programmes d'aide aux PME et l'élargissement, la préadhésion et la coopération avec les pays tiers. Il s'agit du dernier rapport publié au titre du troisième programme pluriannuel pour les PME qui s'est achevé en 2000. Le nouveau "Programme pluriannuel pour les entreprises et l'esprit d'entreprise, en particulier en ce qui concerne les petites et moyennes entreprises (2001-2005)" a été adopté par le Conseil le 20 décembre 2000.
  • [14] Agriculture : Franz Fischler signs Multi-Annual and Annual Financing Agreement with Hungary European Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries Franz Fischler today signed the Multi-annual Financing Agreement and the Annual Financing Agreement with Hungary. As budgetary procedures have now been completed in respect of the financial commitment for the year 2000, both agreements were signed on the same day. This brought Hungary another step closer to making the pre-accession agriculture programmes fully operational. After today's signature, the implementation of the Sapard Programme will require conclusion of the Agreements and the adoption of the Commission Decision on the accreditation of the Sapard Agency. Sapard aims to support the efforts made by the Central and Eastern European applicant countries in the pre-accession period as they prepare for their participation in the common agricultural policy and the single market. Mr Fischler expressed his satisfaction with the progress being made by Hungary and stated : "We are edging closer to the completion of the necessary steps for the transfer of funds under Sapard. I urge our partners in Hungary, and in the nine other applicant countries, to continue to demonstrate their commitment to the enlargement process and to the successful implementation of the Sapard initiative." On the Annual Agreement, the deadline for spending EU-funds earmarked for Sapard in the 2000 budget is 31 December 2002. Commissioner Fischler said he intends to explore the possible justification and need for extending this deadline.
  • [15] EU removes textiles quotas for Sri Lanka in market access deal The European Union will remove all textiles quotas from imports from Sri Lanka with immediate effect. In return, Sri Lanka has brought down a range of tariffs and has bound all its tariffs for the textiles and clothing sector at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Welcoming the agreement, European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said : "The agreement with Sri Lanka shows that the EU is ready and willing to do more to open its market for textiles and clothing to countries that are themselves ready to make concrete and tangible improvements on market access for EU exports in the sector."
  • [16] EU removes restrictions on textiles trade with Bosnia and Herzegovina The European Union has agreed to lift restrictions on trade in textile products with Bosnia and Herzegovina with immediate effect. The decision, approved by EU ministers early this week, provides for the elimination of the quantitative restrictions the EU has hitherto applied to textile and clothing exports originating in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • [17] Frits Bolkestein underlines key role of Internal Market in EU enlargement (! embargo 3 pm !) "Enlargement will bring an Internal Market of over 500 million consumers and an open, border-free area where goods, services, capitals and persons can circulate freely", noted European Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein in a March 1 speech in Brussels. "Alignment with Single Market rules constitutes an eminently sensible economic programme for the candidate countries. For the Commission, it is a conditio sine qua non for enlargement because otherwise we would weaken or put at risk the proper functioning of the Internal Market. The Single Market is at the core of the European Union. Opening up fifteen national markets into one Single Market has stimulated production, increased competition, reduced prices and increased demand within the European Union. Accession negotiations are based on the full implementation of the existing body of EU law by the applicant countries. If technical adjustments and temporary transitional measures prove necessary, the Union's position is that such measures must be limited in time and scope, and accompanied by a plan with clearly defined stages towards full alignment. Furthermore, they must not involve changes, which disrupt the proper functioning of the rules or policies of the Union, or lead to significant distortion of competition."
  • [18] Poul Nielson calls for children to be made a priority in humanitarian assistance Mr Poul Nielson, the European Commissioner in charge of Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid, today addressed the Swedish Presidency seminar on "Children affected by Armed Conflict and Forced Displacement" taking place in Norrköping, Sweden. Mr Nielson states : "We are ready to make children a priority in humanitarian assistance". In the course of his speech, referring to the Commission's position on war-affected children as set out at last September's Winnipeg conference, he underlines the importance of securing compliance with the existing international legal framework in this area. He also stresses, that concrete actions, rather than new international instruments, are now needed to relieve the plight of children in conflict situations. "The full impact of armed conflict on children is not yet sufficiently documented. Instead of basing ourselves on 'qualified guesswork' the collection of adequate data is crucial", Mr Nielson argues. This seminar forms part of a contribution to the preparation of the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Children, to be held in September 2001. It is attended by high-level participants including António Vitorino (Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs), Sweden's Minister for Development Cooperation, Mrs Maj-Inger Klingvall and Mrs Graça Machel and Mr Olara Otunnu, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representatives for Children and Armed Conflict.
  • [19] Fusion approuvée selon la procédure simplifiée Thomson Multimedia S.A. (FR) / Technicolor (UK)
  • [20] Autre matériel diffusé Discours de M. Solbes : "Is there an e-Economy ?" à la conférence 'The e- Economy in Europe : its potential impact on EU enterprises and policies' Discours de Mme de Palacio : "Le programme de travail de la Commission" devant le Comité Economique et Social Intervention de M. Patten sur l'Irak (PE) Intervention de M. Patten sur Mercosur (PE)

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


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


    Midday Express: News from the EU Commission Spokesman's Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
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