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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 03-03-19

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] Public consultation confirms need for action by the Convention to establish European Public Prosecutor
  • [02] Free movement of capital : Commission asks Germany to justify its Volkswagen law
  • [03] Commission approves rescue aid to BBP Service GmbH
  • [04] Commission finds that subsidy for German company Linde AG did not constitute aid
  • [05] Commission authorises "Temporary Defensive Mechanisms" for the German shipbuilding industry
  • [06] Commission partially approves a proposed UK aid scheme that promotes waste recycling
  • [07] Commission authorises aid for the restructuring of the German airline LTU
  • [08] Les compagnies maritimes belges bénéficieront d'un régime fiscal plus favorable
  • [09] La Commission accepte le régime français de compensations aux compagnies aériennes suite au 11 septembre
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [10] Pneumonia/SARS : EU's communicable disease network regularly updates health authorities on latest developments
  • [11] No avian influenza in Belgium
  • [12] Fourth quarter 2002 : production in the construction sector down by 0.8% in euro-zone; down by 0.2% in EU15
  • [13] Quatrième trimestre 2002 par rapport au quatrième trimestre 2001 : les coûts de la main-d'oeuvre ont augmenté de 3,7% dans la zone euro ; hausse de 3,6% dans l'UE15
  • [14] L'attestation de conducteur permettra désormais de combattre l'emploi irrégulier de chauffeurs routiers
  • [15] WTO agriculture talks : Harbinson 2 does not bring WTO members closer
  • [16] Customs : Commission welcomes Council authorisation to negotiate with US on transport security cooperation
  • [17] Les tensions mondiales mettent en lumière la nécessité de recherches avancées sur la sécurité au niveau de l'Union européenne
  • [18] Anna Diamantopoulou opens the mid-term review of the EU's Social Policy Agenda
  • [19] Anna Diamantopoulou launches high level conference on Inter-Cultural Dialogue
  • [20] Social Summit : Greek Presidency and Commission launch first 'Tripartite Social Summit for Growth and Employment'
  • [21] 21 mars 2003 : une journée sur l'avenir de l'UE dans les écoles
  • [22] EU and Russia advance space cooperation agenda
  • [23] EU contribution to the spring 2003 vaccination campaign against foot- and-mouth disease in Turkish Thrace
  • [24] Autre matériel diffusé Midday Express 19/03/2003 TXT: FR ENPDF:DOC:Midday Express 19/03/2003[I] Résultats de la Commission de ce jour - Outcome of today's Commission meeting

  • [01] Public consultation confirms need for action by the Convention to establish European Public Prosecutor

    The European Commission has adopted the follow-up report on the public consultation conducted during 2002 on the Green Paper on the establishment of a European Public Prosecutor for the protection of the financial interests of the European Union. The protection of the EU's financial interests is a top priority for the Commission, especially with the forthcoming discussion on a constitutional Treaty. Michaele Schreyer, Commissioner responsible for budget and the fight against fraud, stressed that with the revision of the Treaty, the moment has come to strengthen the protection of the EU's financial interests and to guarantee that an area of freedom and justice is also free of fraud and corruption involving the EU budget. She called on the Convention to be open to an ambitious solution in the new treaty.

    [02] Free movement of capital : Commission asks Germany to justify its Volkswagen law

    The European Commission has decided to send a formal request to Germany to provide justification concerning certain provisions of the 1960 Volkswagen law (VW-law), as subsequently modified and reflected in the company's statutes. This state measure, based on a 1959 agreement between the Bund and the Land of Lower Saxony, de facto today reserves some special rights to the Land of Lower Saxony which with share voting rights of roughly 21% has over the past years traditionally been the biggest single shareholder of the German carmaker. The Commission is concerned that certain provisions of that law could act as a disincentive on investment from other Member States, in violation of EC Treaty rules on the free movement of capital (Article 56) and the right of establishment (Article 43). The Commission's request takes the form of a letter of formal notice, the first stage of infringement procedures under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. In the absence of a satisfactory reply within two months, the Commission may decide to issue a formal request to the German Government to amend the law in the form of a so-called 'reasoned opinion'.

    [03] Commission approves rescue aid to BBP Service GmbH

    The European Commission has approved rescue aid in favour of BBP Service GmbH, Oberhausen, Germany. The notified aid, a 90% State guarantee for two credit lines of a total of € 52.5 million, will allow BBP Service GmbH to continue its operations for six months giving the company time to decide on its future.

    [04] Commission finds that subsidy for German company Linde AG did not constitute aid

    The European Commission has decided that a subsidy of €4.6 million given by Germany to Linde AG in 1997 did not constitute aid within the scope of the EU Treaty. This decision follows the judgment of the Court of First Instance of 17 October 2002 in Case T-98/00.

    [05] Commission authorises "Temporary Defensive Mechanisms" for the German shipbuilding industry

    In accordance with the Council Regulation establishing a "Temporary Defensive Mechanism" (TDM) to shipbuilding, the European Commission has authorised Germany's aid scheme in favour of its shipbuilding industry. In line with the TDM, the scheme's aim is to offset the effects of unfair competition from Korea in the shipbuilding sector. The scheme will allow subsidies of up to 6% of a ship's contract price. These funds may be granted to German shipyards in case there has been unfair competition from Koran yards offering a lower price.

    [06] Commission partially approves a proposed UK aid scheme that promotes waste recycling

    The European Commission has granted partial approval to an aid programme called the Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP). This programme comprises several aid measures, the objective of which is to promote the recycling of waste in the United Kingdom. The Commission took a positive decision with respect to the aid measures that are directed at small and medium sized enterprises, which are located in assisted areas. However, the Commission, at this stage, has doubts on whether the other aspects of the WRAP Environmental Scheme, according to which investments by private companies in recycling facilities outside assisted areas can be approved.

    [07] Commission authorises aid for the restructuring of the German airline LTU

    The European Commission has authorised aid for the restructuring of the Germany airline LTU (Lufttransport Unternehmen GmbH). This aid will make it possible for the company to contribute to the financing of a restructuring plan intended to return it to viability by 2004. Funds totalling €100 million, guaranteed to the extent of 80% by North Rhine-Westphalia, can now be released by the two lending banks. They must be totally repaid by 2009 at the latest. The situation of LTU had become critical since the announcement of the bankruptcy of its main shareholder, Swissair, at the beginning of October 2001, against the background of the repercussions on the air transport sector of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.

    [08] Les compagnies maritimes belges bénéficieront d'un régime fiscal plus favorable

    La Commission européenne a décidé d'approuver une grande partie des mesures fiscales que la Belgique envisageait de mettre en œuvre pour le secteur de transport maritime.

    [09] La Commission accepte le régime français de compensations aux compagnies aériennes suite au 11 septembre

    La Commission européenne a considéré que le régime de compensation temporaire des coûts additionnels de sûreté encourus par les compagnies aériennes communautaires après le 11 septembre 2001 ne constituait pas une aide d'Etat.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [10] Pneumonia/SARS : EU's communicable disease network regularly updates health authorities on latest developments

    The first two cases of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in the European Union were confirmed by German health authorities yesterday. Several suspected cases of SARS have been reported by several EU Member States and accession country Slovenia. Scientists in Hong Kong claim to have identified the virus which is causing this atypical pneumonia. The Commission is monitoring the situation closely through the early warning and response system (EWRS) of the EU's network for the epidemiological surveillance and control of communicable diseases and is also in permanent contact with the World Health Organisation (WHO). To coordinate national measures, the Commission convened an extraordinary meeting of the EU's communicable disease network in Luxembourg on Tuesday. The main conclusions of the meeting are : the surveillance system has been working efficiently ; SARS is spread from person to person only through close contact, people most at risk are therefore healthcare workers and family members of SARS cases ; special guidance has been given to airlines and medical professionals ; Member States continue to update regularly on the situation through the EWRS. Putting the issue in a broader public health perspective, Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne said : "Cases like SARS demonstrate only too clearly that contagious diseases require a high level of preparedness across borders. Imagine if it had been an influenza pandemic which, in the past, had a devastating impact on humans. In order to meet the contemporary public health threat of communicable diseases, we must strengthen coordination and surveillance at EU level. The most effective way to do so is by setting up a European centre for disease control."

    [11] No avian influenza in Belgium

    As the suspicion of avian influenza in Belgium has been ruled out by laboratory testing, the protective measures put in place by the European Commission have now been lifted. In the Netherlands, the existing measures have been prolonged until 27 March with some changes in the possible movements of poultry within the country.

    [12] Fourth quarter 2002 : production in the construction sector down by 0.8% in euro-zone; down by 0.2% in EU15

    According to Eurostat, seasonally adjusted production in the construction sector decreased by 0.8% in the euro-zone and by 0.2% in the EU15 in the fourth quarter of 2002, compared to the third quarter of 2002. In the third quarter, production was stable in the euro-zone and increased by 0.4% in the EU15, after a decrease of 1.2% in both zones in the second quarter.

    [13] Quatrième trimestre 2002 par rapport au quatrième trimestre 2001 : les coûts de la main-d'oeuvre ont augmenté de 3,7% dans la zone euro ; hausse de 3,6% dans l'UE15

    D'après Eurostat, dans l'ensemble de l'économie, le coût horaire total de la main-d'œuvre dans la zone euro a augmenté de 3,7% en termes nominaux, au cours du quatrième trimestre 2002 par rapport au quatrième trimestre 2001. L'augmentation était de 3,5% au troisième trimestre 2002. Dans l'UE15, la hausse a été de 3,6% au cours du quatrième trimestre 2002, contre 3,5% au trimestre précédent. Parmi les pays pour lesquels les données sont disponibles, le Portugal (2,3%) a enregistré la plus faible hausse annuelle et les Pays-Bas (4,4%) la plus forte.

    [14] L'attestation de conducteur permettra désormais de combattre l'emploi irrégulier de chauffeurs routiers

    Ce 19 mars 2003 entrera en application le règlement (CE) N° 484/2002 qui instaure l'attestation de conducteur. Cette mesure fait partie du "paquet social" proposé par la Commission en novembre 2000 pour renforcer la compétitivité et la qualité du marché intérieur du transport par route. Les abus qui ont conduit des entreprises de l'Union à employer un nombre croissant de chauffeurs non communautaires dans des conditions ne respectant pas les législations nationales et communautaires du travail, devraient être désormais circonscrits grâce à ces mesures qui représentent une avancée significative dans la lutte contre le dumping social.

    [15] WTO agriculture talks : Harbinson 2 does not bring WTO members closer

    Yesterday, Mr Harbinson, Chair of the WTO agriculture negotiations, tabled a slightly revised draft for modalities. In a first reaction, European Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler and Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said : "We fully appreciate Mr Harbinson's efforts. But we do not see this draft as bringing the WTO Members closer. Harbinson 2 is largely identical to the first draft. Severe imbalances remain. We have tabled substantial and ambitious proposals on all items under the Doha mandate (domestic support, export support, market access). We have moved our domestic policies in the right direction, and we should continue to do so in the future. We do hope that realism will also prevail over unrealistic expectations in Geneva. As Mr Harbinson himself proposes, technical work on export credits, food aid, special safeguard for developing countries or non- trade concerns must now continue to maintain the dynamic process of the negotiations. We also believe that tariff preferences, crucial to many developing countries, and the rationale of the domestic support classification (the 'boxes') have to be further examined. The EU remains fully committed to a substantial outcome of the negotiations on agriculture within the parameters of the Doha Declaration."

    [16] Customs : Commission welcomes Council authorisation to negotiate with US on transport security cooperation

    The European Commission has welcomed the agreement on 18 March by the EU's Council of Ministers on a mandate for the Commission to negotiate with the United States (US) on mutually acceptable customs controls of goods, particularly of goods transported in containers, so as to address the threat of terrorist attacks. The customs control arrangements which the Commission will negotiate with the US on behalf of the EU will complement US initiatives launched after the attacks of 11th September 2001 to establish international co-operation so as to integrate security checks in normal customs controls before goods leave a country. The Commission fully shares the concerns of the US about improving security and considers that the most effective means to meet these concerns is by cooperation at EU level with the US. This EU-level approach would also prevent differential treatment of Member States and trade diversion within the EU. Another objective of the negotiations is to ensure that legitimate transatlantic trade is not hindered by the increased security arrangements and that controls standards are equalised for US and EU operators. Preliminary talks with the US have already taken place and formal negotiations will begin as soon as possible.

    [17] Les tensions mondiales mettent en lumière la nécessité de recherches avancées sur la sécurité au niveau de l'Union européenne

    Les tensions actuelles et les menaces qui pèsent sur la sécurité au niveau mondial renforcent la nécessité d'un véritable engagement politique en faveur d'un programme spatial européen susceptible de préserver les intérêts européens et d'améliorer la sécurité de la population européenne, a déclaré aujourd'hui Philippe Busquin, Commissaire européen chargé de la Recherche, lors d'une conférence sur le thème "Sécurité européenne et espace". Il a insisté sur l'importance de prévoir une composante sécuritaire dans toute politique spatiale européenne future. Le 21 janvier, la Commission a adopté un livre vert sur la politique spatiale européenne, dans lequel elle préconise la mise en œuvre d'une politique spatiale d'envergure mondiale pour l'UE qu'il conviendra aussi d'intégrer dans le futur traité de l'Union. Des informations publiées cette semaine montrent que la non-coordination et la dispersion des efforts de recherche et de développement nuisent à l'efficacité de la recherche de l'UE dans le domaine de la défense. Pour donner suite à sa communication intitulée "Vers une politique de l'Union européenne en matière d'équipements de défense" présentée le 11 mars 2003, la Commission invitera les Etats membres, les entreprises et la communauté scientifique à dresser la liste des besoins communs dans les domaines de la recherche liés à la sécurité planétaire. Elle lancera aussi des initiatives en vue de coordonner ces recherches à l'échelon de l'UE, en se concentrant sur un nombre limité de technologies clés comprenant éventuellement des applications spatiales.

    [18] Anna Diamantopoulou opens the mid-term review of the EU's Social Policy Agenda

    Anna Diamantopoulou, European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, today opens a two-day conference in Brussels on the mid-term review of the EU's Social Policy Agenda agreed by the Nice summit in December 2000. The conference, also addressed by European Parliament President Pat Cox and Greek President of the Employment and Social Affairs Council Dimitrios Reppas, will discuss four themes : full employment, quality in work and mobility ; modernising social protection and promoting social inclusion ; managing change and quality in industrial relations ; equal opportunities and non-discrimination. The conference will analyse progress to date and explore any necessary refocusing of the Social Policy Agenda. Key factors in this analysis will be the challenge of EU enlargement and a sharpening of the notion of 'the cost of non-social policy'.

    [19] Anna Diamantopoulou launches high level conference on Inter-Cultural Dialogue

    Dialogue and cooperation between ethnic and religious groups is the theme of the high level round table meeting which will be held in Brussels tomorrow, on the initiative of European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs Anna Diamantopoulou. The meeting, which takes place on the eve of the International Day against Racism, will bring together leading experts from around Europe to look at practical ways of combating discrimination and encouraging dialogue and action between communities. This meeting is the third and final in a series of Round Tables which have been organised by the Commission in cooperation with the Vienna-based European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia.

    [20] Social Summit : Greek Presidency and Commission launch first 'Tripartite Social Summit for Growth and Employment'

    The first meeting of the Tripartite Social Summit for Growth and Employment will take place tomorrow morning 20 March 2003 on the eve of the European Council's Spring Summit in Brussels. The summit, to be chaired by Greek President of the EU Costas Simitis and European Commission President Romano Prodi, will exchange views on implementation of the Lisbon strategy and the contribution of the social partners to achieving the goals of the strategy. The summit will also be attended by Greek Minister for Employment and Social Affairs, Dimitrios Reppas, Italian Minister Roberto Maroni, Irish Minister Frank Fahey and Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou. The objective of the Tripartite Social Summit for Growth and Employment is to strengthen contacts between the social partners and the European institutions on economic and social policies and to send a strong political signal about the importance of tripartite concertation in boosting the involvement of the social partners in the achievement of the Lisbon objectives. The Nice European Council of December 2000 invited the social partners to play a full role in the implementation of the EU's Social Policy Agenda and the achievement of the objectives set by the European Council in Lisbon. It also called upon the social partners to present their contributions at an annual meeting to take place before each Spring Summit. Informal social summits at the highest level have taken place since the Nice summit. At these meetings, at Stockholm in March 2001 and Barcelona in March 2002, the 'troika', the Commission President and a restricted delegation of social partners have discussed the social partners' contribution to the Lisbon strategy.

    [21] 21 mars 2003 : une journée sur l'avenir de l'UE dans les écoles

    Déjà 200 personnalités se sont inscrites au "Printemps de l'Europe", initiative de débat sur l'avenir de l'Union Européenne dans les écoles. Il s'agit de plusieurs membres de la Commission européenne, de la Convention, du Parlement européen et des institutions nationales qui animeront un débat avec les élèves et les enseignants le 21 mars prochain, jour du "Printemps de l'Europe".

    [22] EU and Russia advance space cooperation agenda

    Today in Brussels European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin met Mr Yuri Koptev, Director-General of Rosaviakosmos, the Russian Space Agency. They discussed current and future progress in Euro-Russian cooperation in space, within the "Space Partnership". They addressed the need for common research on the EU Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security (GMES) satellite programme, on launchers and on the satellite positioning systems Galileo and Glonass. The Green Paper on European Space Policy, elaborated jointly by the European Commission and the European Space Agency, was also on the agenda. Moreover, Russia can now participate in EU projects as a full and equal partner under the EU 6th Research Framework Programme (2003-2006). Commissioner Busquin and Mr Koptev discussed opportunities for joint research projects in the space field. They exchanged views on long- term issues such as the joint exploration of the solar system and new spaceship engines.

    [23] EU contribution to the spring 2003 vaccination campaign against foot- and-mouth disease in Turkish Thrace

    The European Commission has supplied 500,000 doses of trivalent vaccine against foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) for use in the Thrace region of Turkey. More vaccines will be delivered through EU-sponsored co-operation with the FAO-based European Commission for the Control of FMD (EUFMD). In order to maintain the necessary level of disease preparedness, sufficient quantities of vaccine will be kept in store for possible emergency use in Europe until the antigen stocks are replenished. The EU has been supporting Turkey for many years in the attempt to control FMD in the whole of Turkey and to eradicate it in the Thrace region. To this end the EU has not only supplied vaccines in emergency cases in 1998, 2000 and 2001, but also provided technical assistance to monitor the efficiency of the vaccination. Recently the EU arranged for independent quality control of the vaccines produced in Turkey for the 2003 campaign. According to the initial and a repeat test, the potency of two of the antigens included in the trivalent Turkish vaccine was found to be too low to ensure a protective level of immunisation. The Commission therefore used the European Antigen Bank for immediate formulation into vaccine of a part of the appropriate EU antigen stocks and the delivery of the ready-to-use vaccines to Turkey. The antigen bank once more met the established benchmarks in close cooperation with the Commission, the manufacturer and the competent authorities in Turkey. The Commission will follow up the success of the vaccination campaign in Turkey by providing necessary reagents and equipment to monitor the level of immune response in vaccinated animals in Thrace and parts of Anatolia.

    [24] Autre matériel diffusé

    Note sur les résultats du Conseil Agriculture et Pêche (parties 'sécurité alimentaire' et 'pêche')

    Discours de Mme de Palacio : "Galileo va de l'avant" à la journée d'information Galileo (18/03)

    Speech by Anna Diamantopoulou : "The fight against anti-semitism and islamaphobia: bringing communities together" at roundtable organised by European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (! embargo 20/03 10 am !)

    Speech by Anna Diamantopoulou : "he social partners and the Lisbon strategy" at the Tripartite Social Summit for Growth and Employment (! embargo 20/03 10.30 !)


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


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