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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 01-07-25

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 25/07/2001

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

  • [01] La Commission propose un plan d'action pour les régions frontalières La Commission européenne a présenté un plan d'action pour les régions frontalières voisines des pays candidats à l'adhésion. Il s'agit de 23 régions de Finlande, d'Allemagne, d'Autriche, d'Italie et de Grèce. Le plan d'action propose pour ces régions une série de mesures qui devraient contribuer à la préparation à l'élargissement de l'Union. Elles devraient promouvoir en particulier le groupement des régions situées de part et d'autre des frontières dans le cadre du processus d'adhésion.
  • [02] La Commission propose le principe d'égalité des frais entre les paiements nationaux et les paiements transfrontières en euro La Commission européenne a décidé de proposer un règlement selon lequel les frais des transactions en euro dans le marché intérieur devraient être les mêmes pour les paiements qui franchissent une frontière que pour ceux strictement à l'intérieur d'un Etat membre. Cette disposition s'appliquerait dès le 1er janvier 2002 pour les paiements par carte et les distributeurs automatiques de billets et à partir du 1er janvier 2003 pour les virements et les chèques. Ce délai supplémentaire d'un an devrait permettre l'automatisation complète des réseaux interbancaires. Le 1er janvier 2002 l'apparition des pièces et des billets en euro matérialisera pour le citoyen l'existence de la monnaie unique. Mais toutes les informations dont dispose la Commission montrent qu'en l'état actuel et sans changement de la part des banques les frais bancaires pour les paiements transfrontières en euro par carte, distributeur automatique, chèque ou virement resteront aussi chers qu'aujourd'hui et très supérieurs aux frais perçus pour les paiements nationaux. Dans ces conditions les citoyens de l'Union ne pourront pas bénéficier pleinement des avantages pratiques de la monnaie unique. Cette décision a été prise par la Commission après avoir mis en garde les banques à maintes reprises et depuis des nombreuses années.
  • [03] Commission condemns Deutsche Post AG for intercepting, surcharging and delaying incoming international mail The European Commission has adopted a formal decision finding that Deutsche Post has abused its dominant position in the German letter market by intercepting, surcharging and delaying incoming international mail which it erroneously classified as circumvented domestic mail (so-called A-B-A remail). The abusive behaviour of Deutsche Post warrants the imposition of a fine. However, due to the legal uncertainty that prevailed at the time of the infringement, the Commission has decided to impose only a "symbolic" fine of euro 1,000 on Deutsche Post.
  • [04] Commission clears venture between De Beers and LVMH but warns De Beers on Supplier of Choice agreements Following an in-depth investigation under the European Union's merger control law, the European Commission has today authorised the creation of a joint venture between De Beers and LVMH. This joint venture company, Rapids World, will be active in the retail of diamond jewellery to be sold under the De Beers brand. Separately, the Commission has sent a statement of objections to De Beers on its Supplier of Choice agreements, which have also been notified for regulatory approval, warning that the agreements violate EU competition law as they currently stand.
  • [05] Commission proposes temporary defensive mechanism for shipbuilding against unfair Korean practices The European Commission has adopted a proposal for a Council Regulation which would put in place a temporary defensive mechanism for European shipbuilding. The proposal is one element of the Commission's two part strategy against unfair Korean practices in this sector and will cover the market segments that are considerably injured by these practices. It comes after a series of negotiations between the Commision and Korea, which failed to produce an agreement that would restore normal trading conditions. The proposal is an accompanying measure to dispute settlement proceedings against Korea, which will be initiated in the WTO as soon as the Council expresses its favourable position on the temporary defensive mechanism. Competition Commissioner Mario Monti said : "This proposal is an exceptional response to a difficult problem: it does not at all represent a general reintroduction of operating aid to shipbuilding, which came to an end on 31 December 2000, but will strengthen the Community's efforts to combat damaging anti-competitive practices by Korea."
  • [06] BSE : export restrictions of Portuguese beef gradually lifted from 1 August onwards The European Commission has decided the date to gradually lift the ban on Portuguese beef exports as from 1 August 2001, thus allowing the resumption of certain dispatches under the strict conditions of the Data Based Export Scheme (DBES). Member States had agreed in March to the lifting of the embargo in general but the concrete date was yet to be determined. The Commission's decision was taken after the latest control missions of the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) in May and June this year confirmed the correct implementation of the scheme on the ground and after the results were presented to Member States in a meeting of the Standing Veterinary Committee on 10 July. Only de-boned meat from animals born after 1 July 1999, between 6 and 30 months of age and complying with the conditions of the DBES are eligible for export. The ban on exports of live bovine animals from Portugal remains in place.
  • [07] Expiration du traité CECA : la Commission propose un nouveau régime d'aides d'Etat à l'industrie houillère Les règles relatives aux aides d''Etat en faveur de l''industrie houillère expirent avec le traité CECA le 23 juillet 2002. Dans le cadre du renforcement de la sécurité d'approvisionnement énergétique de l'UE, la Commission propose aujourd'hui des mesures qui s'insèrent dans la création par les Etats membres d'un socle de sources indigènes d'énergie primaire. Un socle d'énergie primaire implique la promotion ou le maintien de sources d'énergie communautaires, et plus particulièrement des énergies renouvelables et de la houille. C'est dans ce contexte que la proposition de règlement du Conseil adoptée par la Commission établit un ensemble de règles afin d'encadrer les interventions des Etats en faveur de l'exploitation houillère communautaire après l'expiration du traité CECA. "Il est essentiel de maintenir dans les prochaines années une production européenne d'énergie primaire, afin de se prémunir contre les incertitudes d'une trop forte dépendance extérieure", a déclaré Loyola de Palacio, vice- présidente en charge de l'énergie et des transports. "L'UE ne peut pas perdre son savoir-faire et ses compétences : elle doit permettre une disponibilité potentielle de houille qui, avec les mesures de promotion des énergies renouvelables, constituera la garantie d'une plus grande autonomie de l'Europe", a-t-elle souligné.
  • [08] Commission authorises the United Kingdom to grant nearly euro 13 million to its coal industry The United Kingdom has been authorised to grant operating aid totalling euro 12.8 million (£21 million) for four coal production units. The aid is intended to cover operating losses in 2001.
  • [09] Autorisation des aides espagnoles à la compagnie maritime Trasmediterranea La Commission européenne a autorisé les aides versées par l'Espagne à la compagnie maritime Trasmediterranea afin de liquider le contrat de service public conclu avec l'Etat en 1978, pour un montant de 93.521.240 euros (15.560.625.000 pesetas). En outre, la Commission a également décidé de ne pas soulever d'objections aux aides destinées à compenser les obligations de service public assumées par l'entreprise, en 1998, à l'intérieur de l'archipel des Canaries, pour un montant de 9.916.700 euros (1.650.000.000 pesetas).
  • [10] Commission raises no objection to a proposed aid in favour of Glunz AG The European Commission has decided not to raise objections with regard to proposed State aid amounting to euro 70 million in favour of Glunz AG, Nettgau (Germany), for the establishment of an integrated centre for wood- processing.
  • [11] Commission launches investigation into planned aid to DaimlerChrysler and Mitsubishi for a new engine plant in Kölleda (Thüringen) The European Commission has decided to launch a thorough investigation into regional aid totalling euro 63,8 million which Germany plans to grant to DaimlerChysler AG and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation. The Commission has so far not been able to establish whether the planned aid meets the requirements of the specific State aid framework for the automobile sector. It is asking Germany to provide within one month all the necessary information for the assessment of the case.
  • [12] Commission approves rescue aid of some euro 2 billion for Bankgesellschaft Berlin The European Commission has approved the Federal Government's application in respect of rescue aid of some euro 2 billion to be granted by the Land of Berlin to Bankgesellschaft Berlin AG (BGB) with a view to enabling it to restore in the short term its pre-crisis solvency ratio of 9.7%. The aid had become necessary following substantial losses by BGB above all in the real estate sector, which caused its equity capital to fall below the statutory solvency ratio of 8% ; otherwise, the Federal Banking Supervisory Office would have had to intervene. Approval for the rescue aid has been given after the Federal Banking Supervisory Office had made its position clear regarding the amount of capital needed to keep BGB in business in the short term and after the Federal Government had undertaken to present to the Commission within six months a comprehensive restructuring plan for BGB.
  • [13] La Commission déclare incompatible avec le traité CE une aide d'Etat pour la construction d'un navire de croisière français La Commission européenne a décidé de déclarer incompatible avec le marché commun une aide non notifiée accordée par la France aux investisseurs qui ont financé la construction du navire "Le Levant". Elle estime que ce navire ne contribuera pas de manière significative au développement de Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon et que les conditions d'octroi d'une "aide au développement" ne sont donc pas remplies. L'aide illégale ayant déjà été accordée, elle doit être récupérée. La Commission considère qu'il incombe aux investisseurs, en tant que bénéficiaires directs de l'aide et propriétaires actuels du navire, de procéder à cette restitution. "Le Levant" est exploité par l'entreprise CIL, qui est aussi censée en devenir le propriétaire final.
  • [14] La Commission décide de ne pas soulever d'objections à l'égard d'une aide à l'investissement en faveur d'Atmel Rousset (France) La Commission européenne a décidé de ne pas soulever d'objections à l'égard d'une aide à l'investissement destinée à agrandir le site de fabrication de semi-conducteurs d'Atmel Rousset dans le département français des Bouches- du-Rhône. Les coûts admissibles au bénéfice de l'aide s'élèvent à 373 millions d'euros et la Commission a calculé que l'aide de 73 millions d'euros représente un équivalent-subvention net de 11,8%. Une aide de ce niveau respecte les règles communautaires en matière d'aides d'Etat.
  • [15] Commission investigates restructuring and privatisation of mixed shipyard KSG in the Netherlands The European Commission has decided to open a formal State aid investigation procedure with respect to measures taken by the Dutch authorities in support of the restructuring of Koninklijke Schelde Groep (KSG) and the subsequent sale of the company to Damen Shipyards Group (Damen) for a symbolic NLG 1. These measures concern capital injections of euro 47.7 million and an interest free loan of euro 20.4 million for the relocation of the military activities of the yard. It is not clear to what extent the aid falls within the scope of the Treaty articles on measures for the protection of the essential interests of a Member State's security. The Commission doubts whether the measures in favour of the shipyard can be justified under the guidelines for rescue and restructuring aid to firms in difficulty and the shipbuilding regulation. The Commission will also investigate whether the price paid by Damen contains an aid element. The Dutch authorities maintain that the measures constitute a cheaper solution than KSG's bankruptcy. In spite of this, the Commission does not exclude the existence of State aid.
  • [16] Commission investigates new aid to Neue Erba Lautex GmbH and takes Germany to Court for non-execution of negative decision on aid to "old" Erba Lautex The European Commission initiated the formal investigation procedure on new aid of some euro 7.83 million (DM 15.32 million) to both Neue Erba Lautex GmbH and the bankrupt Erba Lautex GmbH. The two legal entities form a single economic unit. The Commission has also decided to take Germany to the European Court of Justice for not executing a negative decision on aid of some euro 61.36 million (DM 120 million) in favour of the now bankrupt Erba Lautex GmbH. The company, which is active in the textile industry, is located in Saxony (Germany).
  • [17] La Commission adopte un document de méthodologie d'analyse des aides d'Etat liées à des coûts échoués dans le domaine de l'électricité La Commission européenne a adopté un document énonçant les principes selon lesquels elle analysera la compatibilité avec le Traité des aides d'Etat visant à compenser les investissements ou engagements à long terme pris par les entreprises du secteur électrique à l'époque ou le marché de l'électricité était clos et rendus non économiques par la libéralisation du secteur.
  • [18] Commission gives green light to "stranded costs" compensation by Spain, Austria and The Netherlands The European Commission has decided not to raise objections to measures in Austria, the Netherlands and Spain aiming at compensating power companies for non recoverable costs ("stranded costs") arising from investments or commitments taken prior to the liberalisation of the Community electricity market. The Commission's decision also covers measures aiming at ensuring the security of energy supply in Austria and Spain.
  • [19] Beef : Commission authorises euro 418 million income aid for farmers in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany Italy and Spain The European Commission has authorised Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Spain to pay income aid worth a total of some euro 418 million to beef farmers who have suffered losses between November 2000 and June 2001 because of the consequences of the BSE crisis. Normally, such income aid may not be paid by Member States. However, the Commission recognises that the current crisis in the beef market is exceptional, and therefore justifies such aid. The Commission has also authorised a series of other BSE-related State aids in Italy and Germany, like the restocking of herds on farms where BSE has been found. These State aids amount to around euro 92 million.
  • [20] Commission investigates Italian State aid (Sardinia) covering fuel price differences The European Commission has initiated the formal investigation procedure with respect to an Italian (Sardinia) State aid to compensate farmers for the higher price of gas oil with respect to that of natural gas. The measure is contained in a comprehensive law for Sardinia, called Testo Unico, which regulates the granting of a large number of different aids to the agricultural sector. The Commission does not have objections to the rest of the Testo Unico.
  • [21] Italie : la Commission ouvre une enquête à propos d'une aide d'environ 10 millions d'euros au secteur avicole L'association italienne pour les interventions sur les marchés agricoles (AIMA) a l'intention d'accorder aux aviculteurs italiens une compensation pour les pertes de revenu dues à la "crise de la dioxine" en Belgique de 1999. Cette crise aurait causé une chute importante de la production, du commerce, et une forte diminution de la consommation de produits avicoles en Italie. Le montant de l'aide - 20 milliards d'ITL, soit 10.329.138 euros - correspond à la différence entre les prix moyens dans les pays non touchés par la crise et les prix italiens durant la période juin-juillet 1999 (cette période étant celle que la compensation doit couvrir). La Commission considère que la perturbation d'un marché due aux préoccupations des consommateurs face à la dioxine ne constitue pas en soi un événement exceptionnel. En conséquence, si l'Italie ne démontre pas le caractère exceptionnel de cette perturbation, cette aide ne pourra pas être autorisée.
  • [22] Importation des bananes : la Commission engage une procédure d'infraction contre la France La Commission européenne a décidé d'engager une procédure d'infraction contre la France à propos de l'accès des opérateurs aux contingents tarifaires à l'importation des bananes. Il s'agit de la première étape d'une procédure qui peut aboutir à la Cour de Justice européenne. La France a reconnu des droits d'importation à un taux de douane réduit pour une quantité de bananes supérieur à 50.000 tonnes. Par contre, selon la Commission, sur le fondement de l'article 4 du règlement 896/2001, qui a mis en œuvre le nouveau régime à l'importation des bananes, la France aurait dû reconnaître à ses opérateurs des droits à l'importation pour une quantité annuelle d'environ 4.000 tonnes de bananes.
  • [23] Communications commerciales : la Commission décide de saisir la Cour de justice à l'encontre de la France La Commission européenne a décidé de saisir la Cour de justice contre la France en ce qui concerne les restrictions ayant pour effet d'interdire aux producteurs de boissons alcoolisées l'accès aux marchés des services d'émissions télévisées, de parrainages sportifs et de publicité transfrontières. La Commission considère que les mesures d'application (sous la forme d'un code de conduite) prises par les autorités françaises en application de la "loi Evin" (réglementant la publicité pour les boissons alcoolisées) en France sont de nature à restreindre de façon disproportionnée la fourniture de services de vente de médias transfrontières par les organisateurs de manifestations sportives dans les autres Etats membres. La Commission estime d'autre part que ces mesures ont pour effet d'empêcher les producteurs de boissons alcoolisées d'acheter des services publicitaires et de parrainage auprès des organisateurs de manifestations sportives dans d'autres Etats membres.
  • [24] Autre matériel diffusé Commission will fully implement "Activity Based Management" by 2004
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [25] Commission clears acquisition of joint control by Saab Ericsson Space (Sweden) and Stork (The Netherlands) of Fokker Space (The Netherlands) The European Commission has approved the acquisition of the Dutch satellite equipment manufacturer Fokker Space by Saab Ericsson Space and Stork, which will exercise joint control over Fokker Space.
  • [26] Structural Funds : Commission adopts an INTERREG programme for Germany (Saxony) and Poland (Lower Silesia) of euro 42.7 million The European Commission has adopted the first of three cross-border cooperation programmes between Germany and Poland which will be financed by the Community initiative INTERREG III A. It concerns the border regions of Saxony and Lower Silesia. The main priorities are the development of the economy on both sides of the border and better transnational cooperation. The total amount available until 2006 is euro 56.9 million of which the EU finances about euro 42.7 million. Euro 18.4 million come from national and regional budgets and private funding. The programme involves a population of about 2.4 million.
  • [27] Structural Funds : Commission adopts an INTERREG programme for Germany (Saxony) and the Czech Republic of euro 170.7 million The European Commission has adopted the cross-border cooperation programme between Germany and the neighbouring border regions of the Czech Republic which will be financed by the Community initiative INTERREG III A. The programme concerns the Land of Saxony and its main priorities are the development of the economy on both sides of the border and better transnational cooperation. The total amount available until 2006 is euro 244.2 million of which the EU finances about euro 170.7 million. Euro 73.5 million come from national and regional budgets and private funding.
  • [28] EU and US agree on procedures for exploring compensation in the Copyright dispute The European Union and the United States have reached a procedural agreement on the handling of the WTO Copyright dispute. The parties will explore possible means to compensate the EU music industry for the losses due to the "business exemption" of the US Copyright Act. Pascal Lamy, EU Commissioner for Trade, welcomed the agreement and said: "This agreement is in line with our determination to manage trade disputes in a professional and efficient manner. Instead of adopting a confrontational approach, we have started a constructive dialogue with a view to compensating European musicians until such time as the US Copyright Act is amended".
  • [29] EU accepts US request for more time to comply with WTO ruling on anti- dumping law The European Union has agreed to allow the US more time to implement a World Trade Organisation ruling against anti-dumping/anti-trust legislation dating from 1916. The extension, which comes further to a US request to the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body, would give the US until 31 December 2001 to implement the WTO ruling that condemned the act. European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said : "I note with satisfaction that the US intends to comply fully with the WTO rulings - and, in this context, we are ready to give them a little more time if that is needed to resolve this question."
  • [30] Third annual report by the Commission on the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region The European Commission has approved the Commission's third annual report on the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HK SAR). The report covers the year 2000, and assesses developments in the HK SAR and in its relations with the European Union. The report notes that, generally speaking, the 'one country, two systems' principle continued to work well during the year 2000 some ten years after the approval by the Basic Law by China, and over three years after the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty.
  • [31] First Annual Report by the Commission on the Macao Special Administrative Region In its first Annual Report on the Macao Special Administrative Region, approved today, the European Commission considers that, one year after the hand-over, Macao had made a good start. As is the case with Hong Kong, the "One Country, Two Systems" principle is generally working well in Macao.

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


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


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