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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 01-05-08

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>


News from the Spokesman's midday briefing

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

Midday Express 08/05/2001

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

  • [01] Commission's 2002 budget proposals : facing short-term problems, fulfilling long-term commitments The European Commission has adopted its budgetary proposals for 2002 (Preliminary Draft Budget or 'PDB 2002'). They amount to around euro 100 billion in commitments and almost euro 98 billion in payments, a rise of 3.4% and 4.8% respectively from 2001. Budget Commissioner Michaele Schreyer declared : "These proposals reflect the Commission's political priorities while maintaining our commitment to strict budgetary discipline. The Berlin ceilings are fully respected and we propose to stabilise our payments at their 2001 level of 1.06% of the EU GNP. The Commission is also committed to improve its management of these funds by reducing the outstanding commitments." She noted that : "This PBD arrives at crucial time for agriculture. 2002 will be the third year of Agenda 2000 reform of the common agricultural policy. We are also facing the uncertainties and the risks of the crisis generated by the BSE and the foot-and-mouth disease. I think that the Commission tackles this challenge with both determination and prudence by proposing to set a reserve of euro 1 billion in the agriculture budget and leaving a margin of euro 365 million under the Berlin ceiling." Mrs Schreyer added that : "These plans also show that we are living up to our long-term commitments towards non-EU countries and EU- candidate countries".
  • [02] La Commission interdit le système de double prix de Glaxo Wellcome en Espagne La Commission européenne a décidé d'interdire le système de double prix que Glaxo Wellcome (GW) avait introduit pour l'ensemble de ses produits pharmaceutiques en Espagne. GW avait notifié ce système à la Commission pour approbation en 1998. Selon ce système de double prix, GW exige de ces grossistes en Espagne qu'ils payent un prix plus élevé pour les produits qu'ils exportent vers d'autres Etats membres que pour les mêmes produits destinés à être revendus sur le marché domestique espagnol. Ce système vise à limiter le commerce parallèle à l'intérieur du marché unique. Selon la Commission, ce système porte atteinte à l'objectif de la Communauté, à savoir l'intégration des marchés nationaux, et réduit la concurrence par les prix pour les produits de GW. La Commission a également conclu que le système de double prix ne peut pas être justifié d'un point de vue économique. GW est tenue de mettre immédiatement un terme à son système de double prix et d'informer la Commission, dans un délai de deux mois, des démarches entreprises à cette fin.
  • [03] Commission sets out strategy on Korean shipbuilding case following investigation into unfair trade practices Further to adoption of its fourth report on the state of the EU shipbuilding industry last week, the European Commission has approved the strategy it will propose to the Council of Ministers on 14/15 May, in order to address the persistent problems posed to the European shipbuilding industry by unfair trade practices by Korean shipyards. The investigation into subsidies carried out under the Trade Barriers Regulation (TBR) has established that substantial subsidies have been granted to Korean shipyards through both export and domestic programmes which contravene the WTO's 1994 Subsidies Agreement. On this basis, the Commission will recommend that the matter be taken before the WTO through the initiation of a dispute settlement procedure by 30 June unless an amicable solution can be reached in the interim period. In parallel, the Commission will propose accompanying measures in the form of a temporary support mechanism to European shipyards for the market segments considerably injured by unfair Korean trade practices and for the period required for the conclusion of the WTO procedure. Its entering into force will be simultaneous with the effective start of the WTO action. After today's meeting, Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said : "Following the results of our investigation which confirm the suspicions of EU industry, we will recommend to the Council that the EU should pursue this matter through the WTO by 30 June. Although we have not closed the door to an amicable solution with the Korean authorities, the clock is now ticking."
  • [04] Commission proposes a fresh strategy for promoting Human Rights and democratisation The European Commission has adopted a Communication on "The EU's Role in Promoting Human Rights and Democratisation in Third Countries". Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten said : "The EU has always favoured an approach to promoting human rights based on partnership and cooperation, rather than sanctions and other negative measures. We want to work both with governments and civil society to achieve sustainable change. The moral case for action is unquestionable. But it is also in our interests. Democratic societies which respect human rights are also the EU's best trading partners, and the least likely to sink into expensive conflict. That is why respect for human rights must be a central element of the EU's approach, and one which we should use our dialogue and co- operation programmes - including the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights - to pursue".
  • [05] Commission authorises aid to Holzmann The European Commission has concluded its investigation and authorised restructuring aid for Philipp Holzmann AG. According to the Commission, the company's restructuring plan is basically conducive to restoring its long- term viability. To achieve that end, however, it will also be crucial to implement the measures still outstanding rapidly. The Commission considers that the amount of aid is relatively small in proportion to the total financing package, and that the resultant distortions of competition will be offset by a clear reduction in the company's market presence. In its proceedings the Commission also examined and approved the credit line granted by the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau at the end of 2000 for one year as part of a revised plan.
  • [06] Commission raises no objection to State aid in favour of Wacker Chemie GmbH The European Commission has decided not to raise objections with regard to proposed State aid amounting to euro 119 million in favour of Wacker Chemie GmbH Nünchritz (German Land of Saxony), for the extension and modernisation of the former Hüls AG silicone plant.
  • [07] Commission requests Germany to bring State guarantees for public banks into line with EC law After intensification in the recent months of the contacts with the German Government on the system of State guarantees for public law credit institutions ("Anstaltslast" and "Gewährträgerhaftung"), the European Commission adopted today a decision, proposing to the German Government so- called "appropriate measures" in order to render the guarantee system compatible with the State aid rules of the EC Treaty. The German Government is requested to submit by the end of September of this year its proposals for the concrete changes to be carried out.
  • [08] Fisheries : Commission opens investigation into Dutch and Italian aid schemes The European Commission has opened a formal investigation into state aid schemes in Italy and the Netherlands which provide for compensation to the fishing industry for last year's increase in fuel prices. The Italian scheme relates to compensation measures and rebates on contributions and tax, while the Netherlands propose to reimburse fishermen for the social contributions they paid in 2000. After a preliminary assessment of these schemes, the Commission has doubts about their compatibility with EU rules governing state aid.
  • [09] La Commission approuve une partie des aides à la restructuration à 'Brittany ferries' La Commission européenne a décidé d'approuver une partie de l'aide reçue par le groupe 'Brittany Ferries' dans son processus de restructuration. En effet, la Commission estime que 316 millions de FF (48 millions d'euros) d'aides octroyés au groupe vont permettre à 'Brittany Ferries' de retrouver une viabilité durable après avoir mis en œuvre un programme de restructuration, et que les prévisions annoncent déjà un résultat net positif du groupe pour 2002/2003. Ce programme comprend notamment le redimensionnement de ses activités, la réorganisation de la desserte de ses lignes, la mise en œuvre d'un plan social et la réduction de ses coûts d'exploitation. Par contre, la Commission considère que la tranche d'aide additionnelle pour un montant de 80 millions FF (12 millions d'euros) est potentiellement créatrice de distorsions de la concurrence et n'est pas nécessaire pour redresser la situation du groupe, et par conséquent n'a pas été autorisée.
  • [10] Commission authorises the United Kingdom to grant aid amounting to £25 million to the UK coal industry The United Kingdom is allowed to grant £25 million (euro 40 million) in operating aid to be shared between four coal mines to cover operating losses in 2001.
  • [11] La Commission décide de saisir la Cour de Justice pour non- transposition par la France de la Directive gaz La Commission européenne a décidé d'engager un recours à l'encontre de la France auprès de la Cour de Justice européenne pour non-application de la Directive "Gaz" avant la date butoir du 10 août 2000. Cette Directive a pour objet d'ouvrir à la concurrence le marché du gaz naturel dans l'Union européenne.
  • [12] Alain Marcilhacy, ancien Directeur à IBM France, est nommé comme membre externe du Comité de Suivi de l'Audit interne de la Commission Alain Marcilhacy, Délégué Général de l'Institut Français de l'Audit Interne de 1992 à 2001 et ancien Directeur d'IBM/France pour les systèmes de contrôle, participera comme membre à part entière aux réunions du Comité de Suivi de l'Audit interne (CSA) de la Commission européenne. Le CSA, mis en place dans le contexte de la réforme de la gestion financière, du contrôle et de l'audit à la Commission, a pour mission d'assurer que les recommandations des rapports d'audit soient suivies d'effet et mises en oeuvre correctement, et supervise la qualité des activités d'audit interne. Le comité est présidé par la Commissaire au Budget Michaele Schreyer. Le Vice-Président Neil Kinnock est membre de droit, aux côtés de Viviane Reding et Antonio Vitorino, nommés par le Collège.
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [13] Commission provides carers of the blind, deaf and mentally handicapped with euro tokens for familiarisation With a view to helping the groups of population suffering from sensory or intellectual disabilities to familiarise themselves with the euro coins, the European Commission has produced 37,000 sets of eight euro tokens each, corresponding to the denominations of the euro coins. Pedro Solbes, Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, handed the first of these sets to representatives of these groups of population at a special ceremony today in Brussels. The euro tokens will be distributed, through the Member States, to trainers of these groups.
  • [14] La Commission met fin à la procédure antitrust ouverte à l'encontre de banques néerlandaises et belges, celles-ci ayant décidé de modifier leurs commissions de change La Commission européenne a décidé de clore la procédure antitrust concernant les commissions de change pour les monnaies de la zone euro qu'elle avait engagée à l'encontre des banques néerlandaises ABN AMRO, Fortis Bank Nederland, GWK, ING Bank et Postbank, ainsi que des banques belges ABN AMRO Belgium, BBL (Banque Bruxelles Lambert) et Caisse Privée Banque, ces deux dernières appartenant au groupe ING. Cette mesure fait suite à la décision prise individuellement par ces banques de réduire sensiblement, avec effet immédiat, les commissions de change applicables au public et d'instaurer, dans le courant de l'année, la gratuité du service. Ces banques fixent ainsi leurs prix indépendamment d'autres banques néerlandaises et belges que la Commission soupçonne de fixer des tarifs pour les opérations de change en espèces. Les consommateurs bénéficieront ainsi d'un service moins coûteux et concurrentiel avant la période des vacances d'été.
  • [15] Statement by European External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten on events in Banja Luka "I strongly condemn the violence by a crowd of Bosnian Serb thugs in Banja Luka yesterday. It takes a particularly sick cast of mind to attack old women attending a ceremony that was supposed to symbolise peace and reconciliation. We look to the Republika Srpska authorities to find those responsible and to make sure they face justice. EU taxpayers are spending huge sums to assist Bosnia and Herzegovina including the Republika Srpska : the sort of medieaval behaviour we saw yesterday has no place in modern Europe."
  • [16] Augmentation du revenu agricole réel de 1,9% en 2000 (! embargo 12h00 !) En 2000, le revenu agricole réel par actif a augmenté de 1,9% dans l'UE15, selon les estimations révisées publiées aujourd'hui par Eurostat, l'Office statistique des Communautés européennes à Luxembourg. Dans la zone euro, l'augmentation du revenu a été de 2,3%. L'accroissement du revenu par actif dans l'UE15 en 2000 est essentiellement dû à la réduction continue du volume de la main-d'œuvre agricole (-3,0%). Les estimations montrent une grande diversité dans la variation du revenu agricole réel par actif selon les Etats membres. Le revenu agricole était supérieur aux niveaux de 1999 dans onze Etats membres (Finlande, Danemark, Belgique, Luxembourg, Allemagne, Irlande, Espagne, Pays-Bas, Grèce, Autriche et France). Les taux de croissance s'échelonnaient de +24,8% en Finlande et +23,8% au Danemark à +1,3% en France. En revanche, le revenu agricole a diminué en Suède (-1,1%), en Italie (-2,8%), au Royaume-Uni (-8, 0%) et au Portugal (-9,3%).
  • [17] Commission gives euro 4.5 million in humanitarian aid to Guinea The European Commission is providing humanitarian aid worth euro 4.5 million to help victims of the fighting in frontier areas of Guinea adjacent to Sierra Leone and Liberia. The aid is earmarked principally for health care, water and food. It is being channelled by the Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) through partner organisations working in the region.
  • [18] From research to action Conference on sciences and sustainability Tomorrow, European Commissioners Philippe Busquin (Research) and Margot Wallström (Environment) will participate in a conference addressing the question of whether the time lag between research results and political action in the field of sustainable development can be shortened. The conference entitled 'Bridging the gap between research and policy' is organised jointly by the Swedish presidency and the Commission from the 9th to the 11th of May in Stockholm. Discussions on the first day will concentrate on research and environment policies. Commissioner Busquin and Kjell Larsson, Swedish Minister for the Environment will participate in a press conference at 12h30 on Wednesday, 9th. The second day will feature workshops on a wide range of issues such as health and environment; climate change and transport/energy ; sustainable development and global trade/the citizen ; greening agriculture ; information technology, and the precautionary principle. On the third day, the conclusions will be presented in a panel discussion chaired by Achilleas Mitsos, Director General of the EU Research Directorate General.
  • [19] Premier sommet européen sur le eLearning à Bruxelles (10-11 mai) Viviane Reding, Commissaire européenne responsable de l'Education et de la Culture, organise avec l'industrie le premier sommet sur le eLearning à La Hulpe, Bruxelles, à la fin de cette semaine. Des ministres et des représentants de grandes entreprises dans les domaines des TIC et du multimédia étudieront les partenariats possibles entre public et privé pour la mise en œuvre du Plan d'action eLearning adopté par la Commission le 28 mars. Le Plan d'action vise à encourager la coopération entre institutions européennes, Etats membres, praticiens de l'éducation et de la formation et acteurs économiques pour l'utilisation à l'école des nouvelles technologies de l'information et de la communication.
  • [20] Daring to risk going bust : Commission and stakeholders discuss how to handle business failure In many parts of Europe, business failure still attracts stigma. This serves not only as a barrier to abandoning a loss-making business in time, but also works as a deterrent to restarting a business. Encouraging more positive cultural attitudes to entrepreneurial risk-taking and failure will not only help raise public awareness of the nature of entrepreneurship, but also foster the entrepreneurial talent needed to create jobs and sustain economic growth. The Business Failure seminar (Noordwijk, the Netherlands, 10 and 11 May 2001) will draw a comprehensive picture of the impact of business failure on entrepreneurship. This joint initiative by the European Commission and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs will provide a forum for sharing and comparing good enterprise policy practice and initiating dialogue. Participants will include entrepreneurs, business associations, national and European small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) organisations, financial institutions, universities, legal experts and civil servants.
  • [21] Margot Wallström visits Moscow for talks on strengthening EU-Russia environmental cooperation European Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström will visit Moscow on 9- 11 May for high-level talks on strengthening EU-Russia dialogue and cooperation on environmental issues. Commissioner Wallström's discussions in Moscow will help defining the common priorities that should be included in a Communication to be adopted during the autumn setting out ideas and options for further discussion between the EU and Russia in the field of environment. Speaking about her visit, Margot Wallström said : "Russia is hugely important to the global and European environment. The EU and Russia face a range of common environmental concerns such as energy/climate change, ozone depletion, loss of biodiversity, nuclear safety, air and water pollution and the Baltic, Barents and Black Seas. Environmental interaction between the EU and Russia and the need for cooperation - will grow steadily as the EU enlarges to the east and the economic transformation of central Europe and Russia proceeds."
  • [22] Europe Day Hotline on free movement for students, trainees, volunteers and job seekers From the 9th May, European Citizen Action Service and the European Youth Forum are setting up a telephone and electronic hotline. Students, trainees, volunteers and newly qualified job seekers will be able to ask questions about their right of free movement within the European Union and about educational and training programmes. Young people from all over Europe are invited to call + 32 2 548 04 94 or to e-mail (ecas@ecas.org) questions related to mobility. Lawyers can answer questions in English, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Greek and Swedish. Problems are likely to include visas, residence permits, medical cover, recognition of academic and professional qualifications, access to information on jobs in other EU countries, EU programmes in the fields of education, vocational training and youth. This free service will be available until the end of May. It completes existing EU services such as "Europe Direct" or the EURES- Network.
  • [23] Autre matériel diffusé Note sur les résultats du Conseil Ecofin (aspects marché intérieur) Note sur les cas 'Ciel Ouvert' au Tribunal Discours de M. Busquin : "ERA as a support for the sustainable development" à la Conférence 'Bridging the gap' (Stockholm, ! embargo 09/05, 10 am !)


    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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