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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 01-05-02

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

From: EUROPA, the European Commission Server at <>


News from the Spokesman's midday briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi du Service Presse et Communicationb

Midday Express 02/05/2001

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

  • [01] Commission implements regulation to bring WTO banana dispute to an end The European Commission has adopted a regulation to implement the banana import regime in line with the understanding arrived at with the US before Easter and later with Ecuador. The new rules cover the management of import licence arrangements and will apply from 1 July 2001. As at present, the new arrangements will be largely managed on the basis of historical references, albeit with significant changes (see below). "Today's decision shows the determination of the Commission to end this never-ending story. We are delivering. I am particularly glad that following three weeks of intense consultations we have an agreement with Ecuador. It is now possible to say that the major parties to this long running dispute have agreed on a balanced solution", Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler said. Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy added : "This WTO-compatible system the Commission has implemented today signals not only the end of the banana dispute but will result in the lifting of some $ 200 million worth of US sanctions which is the good news EU exporters have been waiting for".
  • [02] Commission's shipbuilding report shows South Korea has consolidated its lead Korean shipyards are still distorting the international market by pricing ships below cost, according the European Commission's fourth report on the situation in world shipbuilding, adopted today. Based on the latest detailed costings of orders placed with South Korean yards, the report finds that, despite record worldwide demand for new ships last year, serious difficulties continue to affect the EU shipbuilding sector as a result of unfair trading practices by South Korean competitors. The report notes that the year 2000 saw a significant expansion in orders for new ships, with 56% more orders being placed than in 1999. Most of this increase, triggered by an expanding world economy, higher oil prices and historically low ship prices in certain market segments, has benefitted South Korean yards, which again increased their market share. EU yards have also benefitted from stronger demand, mainly for cruise ships, a sector where Korean yards offer no direct competition. In 2000, South Korea consolidated its position as the world's largest shipbuilding country, accounting for more than 35% of all tonnage ordered worldwide.
  • [03] EU and the UN to strengthen active partnership (! embargo 4 pm !) The European Union is committed to strengthening its contribution to the work of the United Nations (UN). Commenting on today's adoption by the European Commission of a Communication on EC/UN work on development and humanitarian matters, President Romano Prodi said : "The European Union is one of the main actors on the international scene. Our policy is based on our strong belief of the importance of development cooperation, and in particular, our commitment to eradicating global poverty. This belief makes us a natural supporter of the UN. Europe is seeking global solutions, and has always recognised the role and authority of UN institutions. Until now, the European Commission has always been present in the complexity of the UN system and we have grown in importance within the different UN institutions. Now, considering the responsibilities of the Commission and the UN, the relationship between the two must go beyond ad-hoc cooperation. We are looking for a structured, predictable and demanding partnership." Reacting to today's announcement, the UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan said : "The European Union is a major contributor to many aspects of the work of the United Nations, especially in the field of development and humanitarian aid. I am therefore really delighted that the European Commission is seeking to strengthen this cooperation even further. Together, we can do much to bring about a better and more peaceful world."
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [04] Commission clears joint venture between Thomas Cook Holdings and British Airways The European Commission has cleared a joint venture between tour operator Thomas Cook Holdings and British Airways in the UK package holiday sector. Under the terms of the deal notified for clearance under the European Union's merger regulation on 29 March, Thomas Cook Holdings and British Airways will transfer to the joint venture their UK short-haul and long- haul tour operating businesses.
  • [05] Civil action against tobacco companies RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris On Tuesday 1 May 2001, Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York heard the oral argument by the defendants and the plaintiff in the case 'European Community v. RJR Nabisco Inc. et al. & Philip Morris Companies Inc.', notably on the issue of admissibility of the complaint.
  • [06] EU and Ecuador reach agreement to resolve WTO banana dispute On 30 April, the EU and Ecuador announced that they have reached an agreement today to resolve their long-standing dispute over bananas in the World Trade Organisation (WTO). It builds on intensive contacts between the European Commission and Ecuador in the last year, and on the understanding reached between the European Commission and the United States on 11 April. Welcoming the agreement, European Commissioners for Trade, Pascal Lamy, for Agriculture, Franz Fischler, and Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Heinz Moeller said : "This is a decisive step to put this saga to rest. It is a landmark result in that the European Commission and Ecuador, a developing country and the single largest exporter of bananas, have achieved this satisfactory outcome. It is now possible to say that the major parties to the long running banana dispute have been able to agree on a solution that represents a fair balance between the competing interests. These interests include the main supplier of bananas to the EU, the producers of bananas in the EU, the ACP countries and of course the European consumers. It is also a clear victory for the WTO as it helped resolving a difficult dispute between developing and developed countries."
  • [07] Opening of the second "Brussels Economic Forum" European Commission President Romano Prodi is opening today (15h00) the second "Brussels Economic Forum", a high level public debate on economic policy making in the European Union organised by the Directorate General of economic and financial affairs. The Forum is an annual event bringing together academia, private sector economists, social partners, specialised media and the wider public. The debate will cover the economic outlook and coordination of economic policy in the Union. For the first time this year a special session is dedicated to the New Economy : the myths, the reality and the challenges for economic policy makers in Europe. The Commission with its regular macroeconomic forecasts, its annual European Economy Review and its recommendation on the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines, plays a central role and provides significant contributions to the economic coordination process. Pedro Solbes, Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, declared : "It is my ambition to use this Forum as the occasion to have a genuine and open debate on these issues and to give further impetus to public scrutiny." For further information and registration please consult :
  • [08] Food, e-commerce and trade : Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue in Brussels on 2-4 May The Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) is a forum of US and EU consumer organisations which develops joint consumer policy recommendations to the US government and the European Commission to promote consumer interests in policy making. So far, a total of 40 European and 24 US consumer organisations have joined the initiative founded in 1998. The agenda of the 4th TACD conference in Brussels on 2-4 May covers food, electronic commerce and trade related issues. The format of the conference consists of plenary sessions and working group meetings and includes speakers such as Commissioners David Byrne, responsible for Health and Consumer Protection, and Pascal Lamy, responsible for Trade. Journalists are invited to attend the plenary sessions of the TACD at the Centre Borschette (the closing session is on Friday, 4 May, from 15:15 to 17:00h).


    From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at
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