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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 03-10-30

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 gives strong support to European maritime transport sector
  • [02] Service public maritime : la Commission simplifie les règles applicables aux petites îles
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [03] Statement on Microsoft
  • [04] Statement on Mastercard
  • [05] "Bouge ton corps, muscle ta tête" : des milliers de participants dans les starting-blocks pour le lancement de l'Année européenne de l'Education par le Sport
  • [06] Commission action plan for people with disabilities
  • [07] La Commission propose de signer la convention européenne sur la protection des animaux en transport international
  • [08] Removing obstacles to development : Commission proposes €250 million to support African-led peace keeping operations in Africa
  • [09] Accelerating the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria : Commission commits further €170 million to the Global Fund
  • [10] Commission hosts a conference in Brussels on the European Refugee Fund
  • [11] EU and Asia forge closer business links Midday Express 30/10/2003 TXT: FR ENPDF:DOC:Midday Express 30/10/2003[I] Résultats de la Commission du 29 octobre 2003 - Outcome of Commission meeting of 29 October (voir aussi see also ME of 29/10)

  • [01] Commission gives strong support to European maritime transport sector

    The European Commission has unveiled the new guidelines on State aid to maritime transport. These guidelines follow the same approach as their former 1997 version but they are strongly reinforcing the monitoring of the effects of State aid and provide new guidance on tax exemptions rules for seafarers and public support to Short Sea Shipping. The new framework will continue to allow Member States to support the European maritime industry by means of favourable tax environments while ensuring a level playing field in the internal market. "Maritime transport is of great importance for the EU due to its impact in economic and social terms, but also on environmental grounds", explained Loyola de Palacio, Commission Vice- President in charge of Transport and Energy. "The new framework will significantly contribute to its promotion and give the needed instruments for maintaining a competitive and of quality EU flag. This will also have a relevant impact on employment and maritime safety issues", she added.

    [02] Service public maritime : la Commission simplifie les règles applicables aux petites îles

    La Commission européenne a adopté une Communication qui traite du cabotage maritime et pose les jalons de la simplification des règles pour le transport public maritime vers ou au départ des petites îles. "Il est important de libérer des contraintes administratives les autorités des Etats membres responsables de la desserte des petites îles : la décision de la Commission permet de garantir la transparence et la non-discrimination sans alourdir les procédures", a déclaré Loyola de Palacio, Vice-Présidente en charge des transports et de l'énergie. 40% des îles bénéficieront désormais de mesures dérogatoires.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [03] Statement on Microsoft

    The European Commission confirms that a series of letters were sent to a number of companies active in the information and consumer technology sector. The purpose of these requests for information is to enable the Commission to assess the conditions offered by Microsoft for the licensing of their IT related technology to original equipment manufacturers (OEM's) in the IT and consumer electronics sector. Such letters are a routine step and do not signify that the Commission has reached any conclusions as to the assessment of these licensing conditions under the competition rules. The Commission has not contacted Microsoft on these issues because the fact finding process is at a very early stage. The content of the letters sent by the Commission is confidential and no further details will be supplied at this stage.

    [04] Statement on Mastercard

    In light of concerns that retailers are obliged to pay unfair prices for accepting Mastercard payment cards, the European Commission has sent Mastercard a statement of its preliminary view on the Mastercard interchange fees. According to this preliminary view, retailers have no choice but to accept Mastercard payment cards. The fees for this payment system have been rising steadily during the last years. This could indicate that Mastercard has unlimited discretion to set the interchange fees at a revenue maximising level. In the Commission's preliminary view, Mastercard should make its fee structure transparent to retailers. Furthermore, interchange fees should not be set above costs of providing services to the benefit of retailers and consumers. Interchange fees are paid by retailer banks to cardholder's banks for each transaction with Mastercard payment cards. Retailer banks pass the cost on to retails who, in turn, pass it on to consumers through higher retail prices. The Commission's statement has a preliminary character. Mastercard has been given access to the file and will be given the opportunity to be heard in an oral hearing. The Commission's intervention follows similar investigations by the OFT in the United Kingdom and the Australian Reserve Bank. The UK investigation focuses on MasterCard's domestic interchange fees in the UK, which are distinct from the Commission's examination of MasterCard's cross-border interchange fees.

    [05] "Bouge ton corps, muscle ta tête" : des milliers de participants dans les starting-blocks pour le lancement de l'Année européenne de l'Education par le Sport

    Le 1er janvier 2004 débutera l'Année européenne de l'Education par le Sport. Pendant 12 mois, dans 28 pays, l'Union européenne encouragera la promotion des valeurs éducatives du sport, ainsi que le renforcement des liens entre les mondes sportif et éducatif, montrant qu'en plus de la passion et de la compétition, le sport véhicule des valeurs citoyennes, contribuant à une meilleure éducation. Un slogan ("Bouge ton corps, muscle ta tête") et un logo accompagneront un ensemble de près de 200 manifestations et événements.

    [06] Commission action plan for people with disabilities

    The European Commission has today presented an Action Plan to promote equal opportunities for people with disabilities across the board in the enlarged Europe. The Action Plan, which will run from 2004 to 2010, demonstrates the commitment of the Commission to concrete follow-up of the designation of 2003 as European Year of People with Disabilities. The plan aims to develop concrete actions to improve economic and social integration of people with disabilities. It is designed to build on the achievements of the European Year and to ensure that the new Directive on equal treatment in employment and occupation (2000/78/EC), which must be on Member States' statute books by 2 December 2003, is implemented effectively. The first two-year phase of the Plan, which starts in 2004, will focus on creating the conditions for people with disabilities to access the mainstream labour market.

    [07] La Commission propose de signer la convention européenne sur la protection des animaux en transport international

    La Commission européenne a adopté une proposition de décision concernant la signature, par l'Union européenne, de la convention européenne sur la protection des animaux en transport international qui vient d'être révisée. Cette convention internationale renforcera les exigences en matière de protection des animaux transportés tant dans l'UE que, d'une manière plus vaste, en Europe. Elle revoit la convention existante adoptée en 1968 et introduit d'importantes améliorations en matière de bien-être des animaux qui sont compatibles avec la récente proposition de la Commission en matière de transport des animaux (voir IP/03/1023) ainsi qu'avec la législation communautaire existante.

    [08] Removing obstacles to development : Commission proposes €250 million to support African-led peace keeping operations in Africa

    The European Commission has adopted a proposal to mobilise €250 million from the European Development Fund (EDF) for a peace facility (PF) for Africa. The PF should support African-led peace-keeping operations in Africa. It will be based on the principles of : (i) ownership reinforcing the capacity of the African people to deal with African conflicts ; (ii) solidarity through financial contributions from all African countries ; and (iii) development recognising that without peace and stability there can be no development in Africa. The proposal is a timely response to a call made by African leaders at the African Union summit in Maputo in July 2003.

    [09] Accelerating the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria : Commission commits further €170 million to the Global Fund

    European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Poul Nielson today welcomed approval by EU Member States to accelerate the disbursement of €170 million in funding to the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, to be drawn from the European Development Fund (EDF).

    [10] Commission hosts a conference in Brussels on the European Refugee Fund

    The Directorate-General for Justice and Home Affairs of the European Commission hosts a conference on the European Refugee Fund (ERF) on 30 and 31 October 2003 in Brussels, in order to carry out wide-ranging consultations with the Member States and with organisations taking part in the ERF projects. The first phase of implementation of the ERF will end on 31 December 2004, and the Commission intends to put forward, before the end of 2003, a proposal for a legal base for a new instrument, so as to enable it to be operational from 1 January 2005. Participants to the conference include representatives of national administrations of each Member State, representatives of the political and parliamentary world, NGOs, practitioners in the area of asylum, local and regional administrations and international organisations active in the area of asylum policy and/or in the implementation of measures covered by the ERF. The Fund was set up by Council Decision of 28 September 2000 to cover the period 2000-04 and given an indicative budget of €216 million over five years. ERF's aim is to translate into operational and financial terms the principle of solidarity between Member States in implementing a common policy on asylum. It operates on the basis of shared management with the Member States. The Fund covers measures relating to the reception, integration and return of refugees, asylum applicants and beneficiaries of subsidiary or temporary protection arrangements in a Member State.

    [11] EU and Asia forge closer business links

    After the success of the first Asia-Invest Forum held in 2002 in Beijing, China, the Asia-Invest Forum 2003 is taking place today in Ho Chi Minh City, reflecting the significant role of Vietnam in the EU-Asian trade and investment relationships. The Forum will be attended by representatives of important EU and Asian private sector business organisations to discuss future orientations of European-Asian economic cooperation and to strengthen existing partnerships as well as to create new ones. The Forum will be inaugurated by the Head of Delegation of the European Commission to Vietnam, Mr Marcus Cornaro, and by the Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Planning and Investment, H.E. Mr Nguyen Bich Dat. Through presentations by top international experts and during workshops important topics will be discussed, including : the promotion of dialogue with and between the private sector in Europe and Asia, the impact of ASEAN regional economic integration and co-operation, and the exchange of best practices in attracting inward foreign investment, and in building a trade facilitating environment. The Asia-Invest Forum is scheduled to take place twice a year in the EU and Asia, supported by the EuropeAid Cooperation Office. The next event is planned for Sri Lanka towards the end of May, early June 2004.

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


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