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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 01-10-24

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 24/10/2001

[I] Résultats de la Commission du 23 octobre 2001 - Outcome of Commission meeting of 23 October

  • [01] La Commission propose la ratification du protocole de Kyoto et un système d'échange de droits d'émission La Commission européenne a adopté un important ensemble d'initiatives en vue de lutter contre le changement climatique. Il s'agit d'une proposition de ratification du protocole de Kyoto par l'UE, d'un projet de directive concernant l'échange de droits d'émission de gaz à effet de serre dans l'UE et d'une communication présentant d'autres mesures destinées à réduire les émissions de gaz à effet de serre. La Commission réaffirme ainsi l'engagement de l'UE de mettre en vigueur le protocole de Kyoto avant le sommet mondial sur le développement durable ("Rio+10") qui se tiendra à Johannesburg en septembre 2002 et d'atteindre l'objectif fixé à Kyoto. Margot Wallström, membre de la Commission chargée de l'environnement, a déclaré : "Avec ces propositions, nous tentons de concrétiser l'ambition de l'Union européenne de montrer la voie dans la lutte contre le changement climatique. En présentant, parallèlement à l'instrument de ratification, des propositions en vue de la mise en œuvre d'un système d'échange de droits d'émission et d'autres mesures de réduction des émissions, nous voulons prouver que nous sommes déterminés à honorer les engagements que nous avons pris. J'espère que les autres parties au protocole de Kyoto agiront elles aussi rapidement en vue de sa ratification et de sa mise en œuvre. Nous n'avons pas de temps à perdre dans notre lutte contre le changement climatique." Elle a ajouté : "Le système d'échange de droits d'émission constituera un élément important de notre stratégie de réduction des émissions avec un rapport coût/efficacité maximal."
  • [02] Airlines left without insurance following the attacks in the US : Commission authorises UK to grant emergency aid measures The European Commission continues to act swiftly to counteract the impact of the terrorist attacks in the United States on air transport. It has authorised emergency aid granted by the United Kingdom to airlines left without adequate insurance against the risks of terrorism and acts of war following the attacks of 11 September. Without this aid, which is granted for a period of one month, planes would have been grounded from 24 September onwards. The Commission is currently examining the compatibility of similar emergency aid schemes notified by the other Member States and plans to adopt new decisions in the coming days.
  • [03] Company taxation : Commission suggests single consolidated tax base The European Commission has just presented a strategy for company taxation in the EU. The Commission believes that company taxation systems in the EU have failed to keep up with developments such as globalisation, economic integration in the Internal Market and Economic and Monetary Union. A new approach is needed. There are large variations - up to 30% - in effective company tax rates across the EU. Economic modelling suggests that the differences in effective tax rates are attributable mainly to differences in national statutory tax rates rather than to differences in the size of the tax base. The Commission continues to believe that company tax rates are a matter for Member States to decide. Furthermore, the Commission has identified a number of tax obstacles to cross-border economic activity in the Internal Market where EU action is necessary and proposes a two-track strategy to remove them. The Commission plans a number of targeted measures on such issues as the extension of the Directives on dividends and mergers, cross border loss relief, transfer pricing, and double taxation conventions. At the same time, the Commission believes that companies must in the longer term be allowed a consolidated corporate tax base for their EU wide activities to avoid the current costly inefficiencies of fifteen separate sets of tax rules. The Commission in its study has identified a number of ways of achieving a consolidated base and it plans to launch and lead a wide-ranging and detailed debate on the subject.
  • [04] Unleashing the economic potential of Europe's public sector information for future development of European Content The European Commission has adopted a Communication aiming to improve the exploitation of public sector information throughout Europe. The purpose is to remove the many barriers content companies are facing trying to develop the next generation of cross-border information services and products based on public sector information. The overall aim is to put these European companies on an equal footing with companies in other markets such as the US, where simpler access and re-use regimes have led to a market up to five times larger than that in Europe. While the Communication comprises a set of European-level measures to facilitate the re-use of government information resources, the Commission is also considering to ease the existing barriers through a directive.
  • [05] La Commission adopte une décision sur le contrôle des relations entre La Poste et les entreprises de routage en France La Commission européenne a adopté une décision relative aux modalités de contrôle des relations entre La Poste française et les entreprises de routage spécialisées dans le conditionnement et la préparation de courrier. La Commission voit un conflit d'intérêt dans les relations entre La Poste et les entreprises de routage dans la mesure où la première est à la fois concurrente de ces entreprises privées et leur partenaire obligé en raison du monopole postal. Ce conflit d'intérêt, de l'avis de la Commission, l'incite à abuser de sa position dominante. Dans la mesure où la réglementation française ne prévoit pas des modalités de contrôle suffisamment efficaces et indépendantes pour neutraliser ce conflit d'intérêt, la Commission considère que la l'Etat français s'est mis en contravention avec l'article 86(1) en liaison avec l'article 82 du traité.
  • [06] Commission reports on economic and budgetary developments in Ireland The European Commission has adopted a report to the Council on the economic and budgetary developments in Ireland in 2001. The report is a response to an invitation contained in the Council Recommendation addressed to Ireland on 12 February 2001 (IP/01/105). Unexpected developments, like the crisis in the agricultural sector and the world economic slow-down, are slowing down the economy considerably and thereby reducing inflationary pressures. Moreover, the implementation of the budget in 2001 has kept expenditure under control. The tax-preferred saving scheme and the tax recovery scheme introduced after the recommendation have also eased some of the short-term demand pressures. Much of the force of the inconsistency addressed in the Recommendation between the Irish budgetary plans and the goal of economic stability have therefore been reduced. Despite these developments overheating is diminishing very slowly and underlying inflation still persists. Continued vigilance in the preparation of the 2002 budget is therefore justified.
  • [07] Commission proposes transition periods for candidate countries for excise duties on cigarettes Taking into account the need to safeguard the functioning of the internal market, as well as the political, economic and social implications for the candidate countries of an immediate alignment on the EU legislation (the 'acquis communautaire'), the European Commission has proposed to grant limited transition periods for excise duties on cigarettes. Ranging from two to three years according to the candidate countries, these periods will have to be accompanied by plans with clearly defined stages for the application of the 'acquis' in the countries concerned. This proposal, made at the initiative of Enlargement Commissioner Günter Verheugen, will have to be approved by the Member States before being negotiated with the candidates.
  • [08] Commission moves against UK over travellers' rights to bring home alcohol and tobacco The European Commission has decided to send the United Kingdom a formal request for information about its application of EU law relating to excise duties on tobacco and alcohol. All EU citizens have a right to buy tobacco and alcohol in other Member States, duty paid, for non-commercial use and to bring these products home. The Commission is concerned that the controls currently being applied at UK ports and airports, and the sanctions being applied when UK excise duty law is breached, may breach the EU rules which give travellers the right to buy abroad. The Commission's request for information will take the form of a so-called "letter of formal notice", the first stage of the infringement procedure used to ensure that all EU Member States uphold the rules agreed at European level. The British authorities have two months to respond to the letter of formal notice. In the absence of a satisfactory reply, the Commission may proceed to the second stage of the infringement procedure a formal request for the UK to change its practices, in the form of a reasoned opinion. Ultimately, the Commission can refer a Member State to the European Court of Justice for failure to apply EU law properly.
  • [09] La Commission approuve l'apport de capitaux effectué en 1999 en faveur de Santana Motor (Andalucia) ainsi qu'une aide régionale à cette entreprise La Commission européenne vient de décider qu'une injection de capital effectuée en faveur du constructeur automobile espagnol Santana Motor en 1999 ne constituait pas une aide d'Etat. Elle a également approuvé partiellement une aide à l'investissement accordée à cette même entreprise en liaison avec son plan stratégique pour 1998-2006.
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [10] Statement by European Commission President Romano Prodi on decommissioning of arms in Northern Ireland "I welcome the decision to decommission arms in Northern Ireland. Violence has no place in a democracy. The European Union is founded on values of peace, reconciliation and respect for all traditions. I hope that the people of Northern Ireland will now be able to play their part in the life of the European Union free from the threat of violence."
  • [11] Commission clears acquisition of Heller Financial by GE Capital The European Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of Heller Financial by GE Capital, both of the United States. While these two companies have overlapping activities in the Europe in factoring (a form of working capital financing) and in the provision of equipment finance to companies, the transaction does not raise any competition concerns.
  • [12] Transport aérien : la Commission considère que l'accord CE-Suisse doit faire l'objet d'une application anticipée La Commission européenne considère que l'impact des décisions prises en faveur de Swissair et Crossair a des répercussions directes et immédiates sur le transport aérien en Europe. En effet, ces compagnies sont en concurrence directe avec leurs homologues communautaires, qui font face à la même situation de crise. Les accords bilatéraux étant sur le point d'être ratifiés, et d'entrer en vigueur, aucune décision en faveur d'une compagnie couverte par ces accords ne saurait être prise sans une vérification complète de sa compatibilité avec le droit communautaire dans le transport aérien. En conséquence, à l'instar de l'accord sur le transport routier, la Commission considère que les termes de l'accord Communauté Européenne (CE) - Suisse sur le transport aérien doivent d'ores et déjà être appliqués.
  • [13] BSE : Scientific Steering Committee publishes opinion on potential risk of BSE in sheep and goats The Scientific Steering Committee, advising the European Commission on Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathies (BSE) and other multi-disciplinary consumer health issues, today published an opinion about the safety of sheep and goat products if BSE were to be confirmed or become probable in these small ruminants. The SSC had been asked to address these questions in view of a possible confirmation of the presence of BSE in sheep brains in ongoing experiments in the UK as announced by the UK Food Standards Agency in August this year. The UK government department responsible for the experiments however informed on October 18th that the brain materials from the early 1990's that were used in the tests were unsuitable for the purpose.
  • [14] Welfare of animals during transport : Council approves mandate for negotiating international rules The Agriculture Council meeting yesterday in Luxembourg agreed to mandate the European Commission to negotiate on behalf of the EU the ongoing review of the European Convention of the Council of Europe for the protection of animals during international transport. This convention is legally binding once adopted. The negotiation mandate covers all areas which fall into EU competence. Matters of national competence like transport of animals for non-commercial reasons and transport less than 50km will be negotiated by the Member States. Agriculture Ministers defined also guidelines for these negotiations : the Commission must seek to ensure that a high level of animal protection is extended to international animal transports outside the EU borders, and that the provisions of the new convention are in line with existing EU legislation. Subsequent scientific developments and practical experience have to be taken into account. The rules of the new Convention are expected to be agreed in 2002.
  • [15] EU confirms imports not to blame for US steel industry woes as US International Trade Commission announces investigation findings The European Commission yesterday expressed strong concern and renewed disappointment as the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) issued the results of the first part of its investigation into the difficulties faced by the US steel industry, launched in June. The ITC now has two months to propose remedies to the US Government. These could lead to significant restrictions on US imports of steel from third countries. The US President will subsequently have to decide on whether or not to take action and whether to follow the ITC's recommendations. Reacting to the news Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said : "We disagree with the ITC's findings. We shall continue watch this matter closely. As I have said before, if the US decides to close its market as a result of this investigation it should be in no doubt that we will take this matter up in the WTO. Shifting responsibility for the problems facing the US steel industry onto the rest of the world by imposing protectionist measures will only make matters worse."
  • [16] EU Election Observation Mission deployed in Nicaragua In view of the 4 November general elections in Nicaragua, the EU has deployed an Election Observation Mission (EOM) in Nicaragua. The decision follows an invitation from the Nicaraguan Government issued last April and an exploratory mission which visited the country in June.
  • [17] Commission backs efforts of Ecuadorian Government to promote preventive alternative development in Northern provinces Yesterday, at the meeting of the Consultative Group for Ecuador hosted by the Belgian Presidency of the European Union in Brussels, Mr Heinz Moeller Freile, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Ecuador, presented his Government's Preventive Alternative Development and Social Welfare Programme. The European Commission welcomed this programme and stated that its assistance programmes give priority to the Northern provinces : more than euro 57 million will be made available for projects in this region in the period 2002-2006.
  • [18] EU sex equality rules and Mother Christmas The European Commission has rejected as 'a marketing prank' the claim by the Woolworths store that they are forced to sell Mother Christmas outfits alongside their Father Christmas suits or risk breaching the EU's gender equality rules. The Commission pointed out that EU rules aim to prevent discrimination against female employees at work and have nothing at all to do with the characteristics of goods sold in shops.
  • [19] Mergers approved under the simplified procedure Solectron corporation (USA) / C-MAC Industries Inc. (Canada) Atle AB (Sweden) / Pricerunner AB (Sweden) Alcoa Inc. (USA) / BHP Billiton plc (UK & AUS)
  • [20] Autre matériel diffusé Note sur les résultats du Conseil Agriculture Speech by David Byrne : "Preparedness on bio-terrorism" at the Agriculture Council (23/10, Luxembourg) Discours de M. Prodi : "L'ora della vera solidarietà" au Parlement européen (Strasbourg)


    From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at
    © 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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