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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 02-04-24

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>


CONTENTS / CONTENU

  • [01] Les grandes orientations des politiques économiques de 2002
  • [02] Printemps 2002 : prévisions économiques 2001-2003
  • [03] Economic forecasts for the Candidate Countries (2001-2003) - Spring 2002
  • [04] Commission sends proposal for modernised "Staff Regulations" to Council and Parliament for adoption
  • [05] La Commission met en oeuvre sa décision sur la mobilité des hauts fonctionnaires
  • [06] La Commission autorise en partie les compensations prévues en faveur du secteur de l'électricité belge
  • [07] Commission decides to prolong current State Aid framework for Research and Development
  • [08] Commission approves Northern Ireland exemption from the Aggregates Levy
  • [09] Affaire Verlipack : la Commission constate une aide incompatible avec le marché commun par les autorités wallonnes en faveur du groupe Beaulieu
  • [10] Commission authorises the United Kingdom to grant €6.5 million to its coal industry
  • [11] No objections to State aid measures in favour of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link project
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [12] Commission clears creation of Austrian heating fuel joint venture Thermoteam
  • [13] Commission clears acquisition of Swiss Life France by Fortis France
  • [14] Animal welfare : Commission supports research into better conditions for animal breeding and better food quality
  • [15] Investment services : constructive open hearing on revision of Directive
  • [16] Anna Diamantopoulou will call for more investment in human resources at 'G8 Labour and Employment Ministers Conference' in Montreal
  • [17] Seville : EU leaders to launch Information Society partnership with Latin America and the Caribbean
  • [18] Commission to support education for displaced children in Northern Maluku province, Indonesia
  • [19] Commission supports three NGO projects for Burmese refugees and internally displaced people
  • [20] Commission announces support programmes for displaced persons in northern Sri Lanka
  • [21] Autre matériel diffusé Midday Express 24/04/2002 TXT: FR ENPDF:DOC:Midday Express 24/04/2002[I] Résultats de la Commission de ce jour - Outcome of today's Commission meeting

  • [01] Les grandes orientations des politiques économiques de 2002

    La Commission européenne a adopté sa recommandation concernant les grandes orientations des politiques économiques (GOPE) des Etats membres et de l'Union européenne en 2002. Ces orientations, qui couvrent à la fois les politiques macroéconomiques et structurelles, sont au cœur du dispositif de coordination des politiques économiques de l'UE. Les GOPE 2002 viennent renforcer la stratégie de politique économique intégrée adoptée par l'UE. Pour que soient atteints ses objectifs ambitieux, les GOPE appellent les Etats membres à accélérer le rythme de la réforme économique. Elles recommandent de faire plus particulièrement porter l'effort sur quatre points : 1) préserver la stabilité macroéconomique ; 2) accroître le taux d'activité de la main-d'œuvre ainsi que l'emploi et remédier à la persistance du chômage ; 3) améliorer les conditions d'une croissance forte de la productivité ; et 4) promouvoir un développement durable dans l'intérêt des générations présentes et futures.

    [02] Printemps 2002 : prévisions économiques 2001-2003

    L'économie de la zone euro s'est contractée au dernier trimestre 2001, mais une reprise progressive s'est amorcée, grâce au retour de la confiance, à la reconstitution des stocks, qui étaient tombés au plus bas, et au redémarrage des échanges internationaux. La consommation privée jouera un rôle essentiel dans l'accélération de la reprise durant la première moitié de l'année. Au cours du second semestre, la croissance devrait s'accélérer dans la zone euro jusqu'à atteindre son niveau potentiel au quatrième trimestre 2002. Les prévisions tablent sur une croissance moyenne de près de 3,0% l'année prochaine. Malgré une hausse temporaire du chômage en 2002, la création d'emplois se poursuivra : 1,8 million d'emplois nouveaux devraient voir le jour dans la zone euro durant les deux prochaines années. En 2003, le taux de chômage moyen repassera, selon les prévisions, sous son niveau de 2001. L'inflation, quant à elle, devrait reculer au cours du deuxième trimestre 2002 et se maintenir en moyenne autour de 2,0% à la fois cette année et l'année prochaine. Enfin, le déficit des administrations publiques de la zone euro devrait se creuser deux années de suite, pour des raisons conjoncturelles, et atteindre 1,4% du PIB en 2002. Toutefois, le solde structurel sous-jacent ne devrait pas se détériorer en 2002, les Etats membres s'étant engagés à ce que leurs finances publiques se trouvent dans une situation proche de l'équilibre ou excédentaire à partir de 2003 ou 2004.

    [03] Economic forecasts for the Candidate Countries (2001-2003) - Spring 2002

    As a result of the worsened international economic climate, economic growth slowed down in the candidate countries at the end of 2001. Nevertheless, due to strong domestic demand, most candidate countries showed resilience and the extent of the slowdown remained limited, in line with our Autumn 2001 forecast. The weak economic development in the second half of 2001 weighs heavily on the average growth rate in the current year, despite the accelerating recovery. An expected return to normal external and domestic developments should make it possible to reach 4% average growth in 2003. Lower international commodity prices have contributed to an inflation reduction in 2001. The expected further slowdown of average inflation over the forecasting period is mainly the result of policy efforts to reduce inflation in the high-inflation countries Romania and Turkey. Continued enterprise restructuring and higher productivity growth resulted in net employment losses and a higher unemployment rate in 2001. Over the forecasting period, employment losses should be progressively compensated by higher employment creation and should lead to a slightly improved overall labour market situation in 2003. Despite weaker demand for exports and strong domestic demand, external deficits declined slightly in 2001, due to more favourable terms of trade. The acceleration of export demand in 2002 and 2003 should prevent a significant deterioration of external balances, even with strong domestic demand. General government deficits remain relatively high as the combined result of lower growth and counter- cyclical fiscal policies in some countries in the early years, and high transition-related expenditures over the whole forecasting period.

    [04] Commission sends proposal for modernised "Staff Regulations" to Council and Parliament for adoption

    The European Commission has formally adopted its proposal on a modernised set of Staff Regulations. The detailed proposal, which has gone through extensive consultation and negotiation, will immediately be sent to the European Parliament for its opinion and to the Council for adoption, scheduled for mid-2003. Today's Decision is a major stride in the process of administrative Reform and modernisation initiated in 1999 by the Prodi Commission. All the most significant proposals for change that were made in the March 2000 Reform Strategy White Paper are now either being implemented by the Commission or are before the other Institutions for adoption. The Commission is confident that all of its internal reforms will be fully operational well before the first possible date of accession of new Member States. Welcoming today's achievement, Reform Vice-President Neil Kinnock said : "Our proposals are being made to promote quality, efficiency and opportunity, to bring the career development of EU officials up to date with best practice in public services, and to modernise pay and allowances in ways that sustain fairness whilst still enabling the European Civil Service to attract people of high ability and commitment. The proposals also fully honour our promise to stay within the spending limits set by the Member States in mid 1999. I therefore hope that the Parliament and Council which gave us the clear mandate for reform and modernisation will turn these personnel policy measures into law so they can be put into action on schedule."

    [05] La Commission met en oeuvre sa décision sur la mobilité des hauts fonctionnaires

    La Commission européenne a mis en oeuvre une série de mesures de mobilité de ses hauts fonctionnaires, comme annoncé en janvier. 13 Directeurs- Généraux (DG) et DG adjoints (DGA) sont par conséquent transférés à de nouvelles fonctions à partir du 1er juillet ou, dans certains cas, du 1er septembre. Sept autres postes de ce niveau seront pourvus après publication d'avis de vacance, dont deux seront publiés tant à l'intérieur qu'à l'extérieur de la Commission. Les décisions d'aujourd'hui impliquent que la Commission aura bientôt rempli son objectif qu'aucun DG ou DGA ne reste au même poste pendant plus de sept ans d'ici à la fin de 2002.

    [06] La Commission autorise en partie les compensations prévues en faveur du secteur de l'électricité belge

    La Commission européenne a décidé de ne pas soulever d'objection sur deux des trois volets d'une mesure visant à compenser l'impact de la libéralisation du marché de l'électricité sur les sociétés Electrabel et SPE. Ces deux volets concernent le coût de démantèlement de certaines installations nucléaires et la promotion de l'électricité verte. En même temps, la Commission a décidé d'ouvrir une procédure d'examen approfondi sur le troisième volet du dossier, qui prévoit de faire payer par l'Etat belge une partie de la part des pensions des employés de ces sociétés normalement à la charge des entreprises.

    [07] Commission decides to prolong current State Aid framework for Research and Development

    The European Commission has decided to prolong the existing State Aid framework for Research and Development without any modification until the end of 2005. This decision was taken following a review of the framework, which the Commission initiated in March 2001 with a call for comments by Member States and any interested third party. Having assessed the comments received and following further deliberations on the issue, the Commission has decided to continue to apply the current rules until 31.12.2005. A communication to this effect will be published in the Official Journal.

    [08] Commission approves Northern Ireland exemption from the Aggregates Levy

    The European Commission has decided not to raise objections to the temporary exemption for Northern Ireland from the "Aggregates Levy", which was introduced by the United Kingdom on 1 April. It is an environmental tax that is levied on the commercial exploitation of rock, sand and gravel when used as aggregate for construction purposes. The purposes of the levy (AGL) are to maximise the use of recycled aggregate and alternatives to virgin aggregate, and to promote the efficient use of virgin aggregate. The AGL is, therefore, designed to encourage a shift in demand away from virgin aggregate towards recycled and alternative aggregates.

    [09] Affaire Verlipack : la Commission constate une aide incompatible avec le marché commun par les autorités wallonnes en faveur du groupe Beaulieu

    Au terme d'une enquête qui a débuté dans le cadre de l'affaire Verlipack, la Commission européenne a conclu que l'intervention des autorités wallonnes vis-à-vis du groupe Beaulieu, entreprise belge établie en Flandre et un des principaux fabricants européens de tapis, pour un montant d'environ 2,8 millions d'€ est une aide incompatible avec le marché commun qui doit être remboursée.

    [10] Commission authorises the United Kingdom to grant €6.5 million to its coal industry

    The United Kingdom is authorised to grant a total of €6.5 million by way of operating aid to four coal production units. This aid is intended to cover operating losses in 2001.

    [11] No objections to State aid measures in favour of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link project

    The European Commission has decided to approve the modified State aid measures in favour of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) project recently notified by the UK Government. Following the decision of Railtrack UK Ltd not to purchase a section of the infrastructure, financial arrangements needed to be amended. The Commission concludes that the revised financial measures in favour of CTRL are compatible with competition rules : they promote the execution of an important project of European interest and compensate for an additional financial burden that other undertakings will not have to bear.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [12] Commission clears creation of Austrian heating fuel joint venture Thermoteam

    The European Commission has granted clearance under the Merger Regulation to the creation of an Austrian alternative fuel joint venture called Thermoteam Alternativebrennstoffsverwertungs GmbH by Lafarge Perlmoser AG and waste disposal company Saubermacher Dienstleistungs-AG, which is controlled by Germany's Hypo- and Vereinsbank AG and Lafarge Perlmoser. (The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure)

    [13] Commission clears acquisition of Swiss Life France by Fortis France

    The European Commission has granted clearance under the Merger Regulation to the acquisition of the undertaking Fortis France SA, active in the life insurance and retirement savings, by Swiss Life France belonging to Swiss Life of Switzerland. (The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure)

    [14] Animal welfare : Commission supports research into better conditions for animal breeding and better food quality

    Where does our beefsteak come from ? How are animals fed and treated ? In the aftermath of the mad cow and other food scare crises, European consumers are more and more concerned about "farm to fork" food safety. EU research can help improve animal breeding and living conditions. The European Commission discussed farm animal welfare research at the European level with researchers and other stakeholders during a seminar held in Brussels yesterday. Participants addressed results so far achieved by EU- supported research, and identified the EU's requirements for future research in this area. The Commission currently supports projects directly related to animal welfare with €7.5 million. In addition, several animal health projects also contain aspects of welfare research. Research projects include studies into the transport of cattle over long distances, locomotory dysfunctions in turkey production and genes associated with stress in pigs. This is the first time that scientists involved in EU- funded research have been brought together with representatives of consumer and welfare groups to discuss how research can help implement and develop innovative animal welfare and food safety policies.

    [15] Investment services : constructive open hearing on revision of Directive

    There was a constructive discussion amongst over 200 participants representing financial intermediaries, exchange operators and supervisory authorities attended the second open hearing on revision of the Investment Services Directive (ISD), hosted by the European Commission in Brussels on 22 April. The revised Directive will bring EU regulation up to date with the reality of modern investment markets, where orders from buyers and sellers of stock are increasingly being executed outside "traditional" regulated exchanges, in particular by Alternative Trading Systems (ATS) and in-house by banks. Debate at the hearing focussed on creating a level playing field so that exchanges, ATSs and banks can compete transparently without fragmenting the market, compromising efficiency and weakening investor protection. The open hearing was the latest demonstration of the Commission's commitment to systematic consultation of the financial services industry and the public, in line with the approach to reforming securities markets agreed with the European Parliament and the Council on the basis of proposals by the committee of wise men chaired by Alexandre Lamfalussy (see IP/02/195). Discussions at the hearing were based on the Commission's latest consultation document on ISD revision, published on 25 March 2002 (see IP/02/464) and available on the Europa website at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/internal_market/en/finances/mobil/isd/index.htm. The deadline for responses to the consultation is 31 May 2002.

    [16] Anna Diamantopoulou will call for more investment in human resources at 'G8 Labour and Employment Ministers Conference' in Montreal

    Anna Diamantopoulou, European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, will call for more investment in human resources from governments and business at the seventh G8 employment ministerial which takes place between 25-27 April in Montreal, Canada. Mrs Diamantopoulou said : "More investment in human resources is not only a question for EU governments and business 'at home'. It is an objective which must also permeate EU policies towards our partner countries. The Lisbon target of 'better jobs' does not stop at the EU's borders."

    [17] Seville : EU leaders to launch Information Society partnership with Latin America and the Caribbean

    Ministers, Regulators, Private Sector and Civil Society representatives from the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean will meet in Seville on 26-27 April 2002 to discuss means to establish a long term partnership aimed at building an open, inclusive and democratic Information Society in these regions. The @LIS cooperation programme of the European Commission (see IP/01/1761) will be officially launched on this occasion. A contribution to the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean, to be held on 17-18 May in Madrid, will also be prepared during the event.

    [18] Commission to support education for displaced children in Northern Maluku province, Indonesia

    The European Commission has decided to fund two NGO projects worth €2.58 million in support of primary school aged children in North Maluku Province, Indonesia, where education has been disrupted by conflict, violence and displacement. The projects will be implemented over three years by Save the Children (UK) (€1,720,000) and World Vision Deutschland (€860,000).

    [19] Commission supports three NGO projects for Burmese refugees and internally displaced people

    The European Commission is to provide €4.9 million to three NGOs projects supporting the population in Rakhine State, Western Burma/Myanmar and in refugee camps in Thailand. These projects will be implemented by Action Contre la Faim, the Burma Border Consortium and Malteser Hilfedienst.

    [20] Commission announces support programmes for displaced persons in northern Sri Lanka

    The European Commission is to finance two assistance programmes for internally displaced people and households affected by the conflict in Sri Lanka. The two projects are worth €3.35 million, and will be carried out by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (€1.95 million) and CARE Deutschland (€1.4million). The objective of the project is to minimise internal displacement, facilitate voluntary return and re-integration and to help internally displaced people to find solutions as well as to improve living conditions and rights for victims of conflicts.

    [21] Autre matériel diffusé

    Discours de Mme de Palacio : "Les défis immédiats de la politique énergétique européenne: une plus grande sécurité nucléaire et un développement accru des énergies renouvelables" à la Commission ITRE du Parlement européen (23/04)

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


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