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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 03-01-08

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>


CONTENTS / CONTENU

  • [01] Commission considers that an excessive government deficit exists in Germany
  • [02] Commission assesses the German stability programme update (2002-2006)
  • [03] La Commission évalue le programme de stabilité actualisé de l'Italie (2002-2006)
  • [04] Commission assesses the 2002 update of the stability programme of Greece (2002-2006)
  • [05] Commission assesses updated stability programme of Finland (2002-2006)
  • [06] La Commission évalue l'actualisation 2002 du programme de stabilité de la France (2004-2006)
  • [07] Commission assesses the 2002 update of the Swedish convergence programme (2002-2004)
  • [08] La législation relative aux comptes séparés pour les entreprises de service public reste insuffisante dans plusieurs Etats membres
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [09] October 2002 compared to October 2001 : volume of retail trade up by 1.6% in euro-zone ; EU15 up by 2.7%
  • [10] North Korea : Commission grants €9.5 million in emergency humanitarian food aid for children
  • [11] Caucase du Nord : la Commission octroie 3 millions d'€ en faveur des victimes du conflit en Tchétchénie Midday Express 08/01/2003 TXT: FR ENPDF:DOC:Midday Express 08/01/2003[I] Résultats de la Commission de ce jour - Outcome of today's Commission meeting

  • [01] Commission considers that an excessive government deficit exists in Germany

    The European Commission, in an opinion on the budgetary situation prepared under the obligations of Article 104.5 of the Treaty and adopted today, concludes that an excessive deficit exists in Germany. On the basis of Article 104.6, it recommends to the Council to adopt a similar decision. Finally, the Commission recommends to the Council to address a recommendation to Germany, in the sense of Article 104.7. The Commission is thereby honouring its obligations laid down in Article 104 of the Treaty, as well as its political commitments given in the European Council resolution on the Stability and Growth Pact for a strict, timely and effective functioning of the Pact.

    [02] Commission assesses the German stability programme update (2002-2006)

    The European Commission has adopted a recommendation for a Council Opinion on the updated Stability Programme of Germany, which covers the period 2002- 2006. The programme broadly complies with the requirements of the revised "code of conduct on the content and format of stability and convergence programmes" is broadly consistent with the 2002 Broad Economic Policy Guidelines. Under the main scenario of the programme the budget deficit for 2003 is projected to reach some 2¾% based on economic growth of 1½% and on the assumption of approval by the Bundesrat of the full consolidation package. In the Commission's view there are risks to this scenario. In the following years, on the basis of growth rates above potential, the update projects the deficit to decline steadily and leading to a balanced budgetary position by 2006. Under this scenario German government finances will in line with the Commission Communication of 27 November 2002 (IP/02/1742) see an annual improvement in its underlying budgetary position by more than 0.5% of GDP on average. The update also confirms that in 2002 the debt level has exceeded the 60% of GDP reference value of the Treaty. Given that the general government deficit for 2002 has exceeded the 3% of GDP reference value, the Commission has today recommended to the Council to decide that an excessive deficit exists in Germany (IP/03/xx). In the Commission's view, the implementation of a consistent budgetary adjustment programme should be underpinned by far reaching reforms to raise Germany's growth potential. Moreover, achieving a budgetary position close to balance and reducing the debt level is essential to strengthen the sustainability of government finances in view of the budgetary pressures stemming from an ageing population. On the basis of the Commission's Recommendation, the Council is expected to adopt an Opinion on the updated German stability programme on [21 January 2003].

    [03] La Commission évalue le programme de stabilité actualisé de l'Italie (2002-2006)

    La Commission européenne a transmis ce jour au Conseil de l'Union européenne une recommandation concernant le programme de stabilité actualisé de l'Italie, qui couvre la période 2002-2006. Ce programme n'est que partiellement conforme aux grandes orientations de politique économique pour 2002. L'analyse effectuée par les services de la Commission soulève certaines réserves quant à la qualité de l'ajustement et met en lumière les incertitudes qui grèvent la réalisation des objectifs budgétaires actualisés. En 2003, l'ajustement reposera sur d'importantes mesures temporaires qui devront être remplacées ultérieurement par des mesures plus durables. Quant aux incertitudes évoquées ci-dessus, elles concernent plus particulièrement les projections macroéconomiques du programme tablant sur une croissance très forte et les mesures d'assainissement budgétaire sous- jacentes (censées remplacer partiellement les mesures temporaires), importantes mais non précisées, qui seraient nécessaires à partir de 2004 pour atteindre le niveau de déficit visé. L'absence d'informations détaillées sur les mesures complémentaires prévues pour réaliser les objectifs budgétaires au-delà de 2003 est contraire aux prescriptions du code de conduite actualisé relatif au contenu et au format des programmes de stabilité et de convergence. La Commission recommande au Conseil d'inviter l'Italie à fournir d'ici au mois de mars un complément d'information sur sa stratégie budgétaire et fiscale après 2003. Les incertitudes pesant sur le budget compromettent évidemment aussi les objectifs en termes de réduction de la dette publique, conditionnés par une reprise vigoureuse et par le maintien d'un excédent primaire élevé. La Commission estime que le ratio d'endettement élevé de l'Italie requiert un rythme de réduction minimum de la dette nettement supérieur à celui observé ces dernières années. L'Italie est donc invitée à faire en sorte que sa dette diminue suffisamment au cours de la période du programme. Sur la base de la recommandation de la Commission, le Conseil devrait adopter le [21 janvier 2003] un avis officiel sur le programme de stabilité de l'Italie.

    [04] Commission assesses the 2002 update of the stability programme of Greece (2002-2006)

    The European Commission made today a recommendation for a Council opinion on the 2002 updated stability programme of Greece which covers the period 2002-2006. The current update is based on a macroeconomic scenario of relatively high rates of GDP growth, underpinned by high public and private investment related to the preparation for the Olympic Games of 2004 and continuing strong financial inflows from the 3rd CSF until 2006. The 2002 update incorporates the revised government accounts that resulted from decisions adopted in 2002 in order to ensure compliance with ESA accounting rules. Following these revisions, the previously estimated government surpluses for 2000 and 2001 turned into deficits, changing thus significantly the starting point of the medium term budgetary projections. In addition, the government debt ratio increased in 2000 and 2001. These budgetary developments, in particular the slow pace of reduction in the government debt ratio, in a period when the Greek economy has been growing at high rates, is a matter of serious concern. They underline also the urgent need for action to ensure a credible and faster budgetary adjustment and debt reduction over the update programme period. The programme is projecting the general government accounts to improve gradually recording a surplus of 0.2% of GDP in 2005 and 0.6% of GDP in 2006. The cyclically- adjusted budgetary position should improve coming closer to balanced but remain in deficit (0.6% of GDP) until the end of the period covered by the programme. The government debt ratio is projected to fall by over 17 percentage points as compared with 2002, to 87.9% of GDP in 2006. However, the adjustment effort presented in the programme is strongly back-loaded, postponed to a large extent to the years beyond 2003. The programme partly conforms with the 2002 Broad Economic Policy Guidelines. On the basis of the Commission recommendation, the Council is expected to adopt a formal opinion on the stability programme of Greece on [21 January 2003].

    [05] Commission assesses updated stability programme of Finland (2002-2006)

    The European Commission today made a recommendation to the Council of Ministers on the updated stability programme of Finland, which covers the period 2002-2006. Finland's stability programme update estimates the general government surplus in 2002 at 3.8% of GDP and projects surpluses of above 2% of GDP for the remainder of the programme period. This is based on the assumption of output growth accelerating from a trough of 0.7% in 2001 to an estimated 2.8% in 2003, and reaching a rate of close to its trend of some 2½% towards the end of the programme period, which appears plausible. The sound budgetary position projected in the updated programme is welcome, but also necessary by the prospect of an exceptionally strong impact on public finances of population ageing in Finland. Structural reforms, notably of the pension system system should significantly improve the sustainability of public finances. The Commission concludes that the Finnish budgetary position is in compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact. The economic and budgetary policies presented in the updated programme are also broadly consistent with the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines. On the basis of the Commission recommendation, the Council is expected to adopt a formal opinion on the updated Finnish stability programme on [21 January].

    [06] La Commission évalue l'actualisation 2002 du programme de stabilité de la France (2004-2006)

    La Commission européenne a publié une recommandation pour un avis du Conseil relatif au programme de stabilité actualisé de la France couvrant la période 2003-2006. Cette évaluation de l'actualisation 2002 intervient deux mois après l'adoption par la Commission d'une recommandation au Conseil en vue de donner un avertissement préventif à la France afin d'empêcher l'apparition d'un déficit excessif en 2003 (IP/02/1704). La principale conclusion de l'évaluation de la Commission est que le programme de stabilité actualisé n'est pas pleinement conforme à la principale exigence du pacte de stabilité et de croissance, à savoir l'obligation de parvenir, à moyen terme et sur la période couverte par le programme, à une situation budgétaire proche de l'équilibre ou excédentaire. Le programme se conforme partiellement aux recommandations des grandes orientations de politique économique pour 2002. En 2003, l'effort d'ajustement budgétaire corrigé des évolutions cycliques s'élève à peine à 0,2% du PIB selon les calculs de la Commission. En moyenne, la position budgétaire sous-jacente s'améliorera de seulement 0,5 point de pourcentage sur la période 2002- 2006. Pour la Commission, les autorités françaises devraient intensifier leurs efforts d'assainissement budgétaire, en particulier sur les années 2003 et 2004. Cela leur permettrait de réduire le risque d'un franchissement du seuil de référence de 3% du PIB par le déficit en 2003 et d'achever la transition vers une position budgétaire équilibrée en 2006. Compte tenu de l'impact prévisible du vieillissement démographique après 2006, la France doit faire preuve d'une plus grande ambition budgétaire. Enfin, le programme prévoit une augmentation du ratio de la dette publique, qui passerait de 57,3% du PIB en 2001 à 59,1% en 2003, sans prendre en compte l'impact d'opérations financières récemment décidées. Sur la base de la recommandation de la Commission, le Conseil est invité à adopter un avis sur le programme de stabilité actualisé de la France le [21 janvier 2003].

    [07] Commission assesses the 2002 update of the Swedish convergence programme (2002-2004)

    The European Commission has adopted a recommendation to the Council on the 2002 update of the Swedish convergence programme, which was presented on 29 November 2002 and covers the period 2002-2004. The Commission concludes that the updated programme is in compliance with the requirements of the Stability and Growth Pact and broadly in line with the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines. However, the lack of detailed information in the programme for 2005 is not in line with the revised "code of conduct on the content and format of stability and convergence programmes". In the 2002 update, GDP growth is forecast to be 2.1% in 2002, 2.5% in 2003 and 2.5% in 2004. The public finances are expected to remain in surplus in each year to 2004. The Commission forecasts lower GDP growth and lower surpluses in the public finances, both in actual and underlying terms. Indeed, on the basis of the Commission's calculations the surplus in the underlying budgetary position would be below the Sweden's 2% of GDP surplus target in 2002-04. This results from the fact that the considerable fiscal stimulus in 2001 and 2002 is only partially reversed in the following years. Therefore, maintaining tight expenditure control remains important. Continued fiscal consolidation is also justified in order to achieve long-term sustainability of public finances in the light of ageing populations. The debt-to-GDP ratio fell below the 60% of GDP reference value in 2000 and is expected to continue on a downward trend over the programme period. Sweden is expected to continue to fulfil the convergence criteria on inflation and long-term interest rates. However, the Swedish krona has still not participated in ERM2 and it has exhibited some volatility against the euro in the period since the previous update was submitted. Sweden does still not fulfil the exchange rate criterion. On the basis of the Commission's recommendation, the Ecofin Council is expected to adopt a formal opinion on the updated Swedish convergence programme on [21 January 2003].

    [08] La législation relative aux comptes séparés pour les entreprises de service public reste insuffisante dans plusieurs Etats membres

    Plusieurs Etats membres n'ont toujours pas transposé les modifications apportées à la directive dite sur la transparence, en vertu desquelles les entreprises à qui sont confiées des missions de service public doivent tenir des comptes séparés pour leurs missions publiques, d'une part, et les services qu'elles proposent en concurrence sur le marché libre, d'autre part. La Commission a donc décidé de saisir la Cour de justice pour des affaires en cours à l'encontre de la Finlande, de la France, de l'Irlande, de l'Italie, du Portugal et de la Suède. Dans un cas similaire, la Commission a ouvert une nouvelle procédure à l'encontre de la Belgique et du Luxembourg.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [09] October 2002 compared to October 2001 : volume of retail trade up by 1.6% in euro-zone ; EU15 up by 2.7%

    In October 2002, as compared to October 2001, the volume of retail trade increased by 1.6% in the euro-zone and by 2.7% in the EU15, Eurostat estimates today. Compared to September 2002, sales rose by 0.7% in both zones. In October 2002, as compared to October 2001, retail trade of "food, drinks and tobacco" increased by 1.9% in the euro-zone and by 2.5% in the EU15. The non food sector gained 1.6% in the euro-zone and 3.2% in the EU15.

    [10] North Korea : Commission grants €9.5 million in emergency humanitarian food aid for children

    The European Commission has adopted a humanitarian aid decision worth €9.5 million to help meet the winter needs of pregnant and nursing women and children in North Korea. The aid is being channelled through ECHO, the Humanitarian Aid Office of the European Commission, which comes under the responsibility of Commissioner Poul Nielson. Commenting on the decision, Mr Nielson said : "A significant proportion of North Korea's population of 23 million faces food shortages and the situation is likely to worsen during the winter. Children are particularly at risk with many already seriously malnourished. The aim of this funding is quite simply to save the lives of people in desperate straits, in keeping with basic humanitarian principles."

    [11] Caucase du Nord : la Commission octroie 3 millions d'€ en faveur des victimes du conflit en Tchétchénie

    La Commission européenne a octroyé une aide humanitaire d'un montant de 3 millions d'€ destinée à couvrir les besoins alimentaires des victimes du conflit en Tchétchénie. Les personnes déplacées et la population locale la plus vulnérable en Tchétchénie ainsi que les déplacés tchétchènes dans la république voisine d'Ingouchie, 253.000 personnes au total, bénéficieront de cette intervention. Les fonds, alloués via l'Office d'aide humanitaire (ECHO) placé sous la responsabilité du Commissaire Poul Nielson, permettront au Programme Alimentaire mondial de poursuivre les opérations nécessaires afin de venir en aide à la population tchétchène durant l'hiver. Depuis le début de la crise actuelle, à l'automne 1999, plus de 90 millions d'€ ont été alloués par ECHO en faveur des victimes du conflit en Tchétchénie, faisant de l'UE le plus important bailleur de fonds de la région.

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


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