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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 03-12-10

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] TVA : la Commission décide de proposer une prorogation de deux ans des taux réduits applicables aux services à forte intensité de main-d'oeuvre
  • [02] Commission fines members of organic peroxides cartel
  • [03] Réforme de la PAC : la Commission met en place un régime simplifié d'aides d'Etat en agriculture
  • [04] Commission proposes rules for first-ever "de minimis" aid in agriculture and fisheries
  • [05] Régime italien de consolidation de dettes dans le secteur agricole
  • [06] Dutch aid scheme for glasshouse horticulture
  • [07] Commission launches state aid probe into apparent VAT rebate in favour of Belgian firm Umicore S.A.
  • [08] Financement public de la télévision en France entre 1988 et 1994 proportionnel au coût de ces missions de service public
  • [09] Commission launches probe for state aid to Spanish steel company Solmed
  • [10] La Commission autorise les aides françaises et italiennes à l'autoroute ferroviaire expérimentale entre Lyon et Turin
  • [11] Commission approves Italian scheme to encourage combined transport
  • [12] La Commission souhaite mieux affirmer sa présence à Bruxelles
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [13] World Human Rights Day : Commission reaffirms EU commitment to promotion and defence of Human Rights
  • [14] Un ciel unique pour toute l'UE
  • [15] Commission approves alliance between BA and Iberia
  • [16] EU research drive to reduce air pollution from traffic
  • [17] Galileo : Loyola de Palacio se félicite des offres reçues pour la mise en concession
  • [18] Poul Nielson deplores the announced closure of another refugee camp in Ingushetia (Russian Federation)
  • [19] Poul Nielson met Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sudan Mustafa Osman Ismail
  • [20] First meeting of New European Consumer Consultative Group
  • [21] Autre matériel diffusé Midday Express 10/12/2003 TXT: FR ENPDF:DOC:Midday Express 10/12/2003[I] Résultats de la Commission de ce jour - Outcome of today's Commission meeting

  • [01] TVA : la Commission décide de proposer une prorogation de deux ans des taux réduits applicables aux services à forte intensité de main-d'oeuvre

    La Commission européenne proposera d'autoriser neuf Etats membres à continuer d'appliquer pendant deux années supplémentaires (c'est-à-dire jusqu'au 31 décembre 2005) les taux réduits de taxe sur la valeur ajoutée (TVA) qu'ils réservent actuellement à certains services à forte intensité de main-d'œuvre comme la rénovation de logements privés, la coiffure, le lavage de vitres et les petits services de réparation. La directive 1999/85/CE autorisait les Etats membres qui en avaient fait le choix (voir le document IP/99/1002) à réduire le taux de TVA frappant ces services pour une période expérimentale allant du 1er janvier 2000 au 31 décembre 2002 (ultérieurement prorogée à la fin de 2003), afin d'étudier les effets d'une telle réduction sur la création d'emplois et la lutte contre l'économie souterraine. En réponse à des demandes formulées par le Conseil des ministres de l'UE et du Parlement européen, la Commission a décidé de proposer une nouvelle prorogation de deux ans, sachant que les Etats membres ne se sont pas encore mis d'accord sur le projet de rationalisation et de simplification des règles générales relatives aux taux réduits de TVA avancé par la Commission (voir le document IP/03/1024). La proposition de prorogation proprement dite sera présentée sous peu.

    [02] Commission fines members of organic peroxides cartel

    In a decision adopted today, the European Commission has imposed fines totalling nearly €70 million on Atofina, Peroxid Chemie, Laporte (now known as Degussa UK Holdings), Perorsa and AC Treuhand AG for operating a cartel in the market for organic peroxide products, a chemical used in the plastic and rubber industries. This is the longest-lasting cartel ever uncovered by the Commission and the fine would have been much higher had not Akzo, which also participated in the price-fixing agreement, received full immunity for being the first to confess its existence to the Commission. AC Treuhand is not a producer but a Swiss-based consultancy company. Because it played a key role in the cartel from the end of 1993, organising meetings and hiding incriminating evidence, it was also found to have violated EU law.

    [03] Réforme de la PAC : la Commission met en place un régime simplifié d'aides d'Etat en agriculture

    Simplifier la gestion et assurer un contrôle efficace des aides d'Etat agricoles sans pour autant affaiblir la surveillance de la Commission européenne : c'est la situation avantageuse pour toutes les parties que vise à instaurer le règlement de la Commission adopté aujourd'hui. Le nouveau règlement permet aux Etats membres d'octroyer plusieurs types d'aides d'Etat agricoles sans devoir demander l'approbation préalable de la Commission. Cette exemption par catégorie permettra d'accélérer la mise en œuvre des nouvelles aides d'Etat en agriculture et facilitera également l'application des programmes nationaux destinés à renforcer les normes en matière d'environnement, de bien-être animal et d'hygiène dans le secteur agricole. Le règlement n'a pas pour objet d'édulcorer la substance de la réglementation sur les aides d'Etat et en particulier n'autorisera pas l'octroi d'aides d'Etat dans des domaines jugés incompatibles avec le marché intérieur. La proposition ne devrait donc en aucun cas être considérée comme une "renationalisation" des aides en faveur des agriculteurs. Les mêmes règles en matière d'aides d'Etat agricoles resteront applicables dans l'ensemble de l'UE.

    [04] Commission proposes rules for first-ever "de minimis" aid in agriculture and fisheries

    The European Commission has adopted a draft regulation concerning "de minimis" aid for the agriculture and fisheries sectors. The regulation would exempt national aid of up to €3,000 per farmer and fisherman over three years from the requirement of prior notification. This may seem low at a first glance but it must be born in mind that one in two farmers receives less than €2,000 on direct EU payments each year and that the average annual output per farmer is €42,500 (figure for 2001). To avoid large-scale support operations, Member States granting such aid would have to respect an overall ceiling roughly equal to 0.3% of its agricultural or fisheries output. Member States could grant aid fulfilling all the conditions of the regulation without prior approval by the Commission. But they would have to keep registers to show both ceilings have been respected. The draft will now be submitted to a broad consultation of Member States and third parties. The Commission plans to implement it towards the end of 2004.

    [05] Régime italien de consolidation de dettes dans le secteur agricole

    La Commission européenne a décidé d'ouvrir une enquête sur un régime de consolidation de dettes appliqué par la Région du Latium (Italie) en faveur des exploitations et coopératives agricoles. Ce régime, fondé sur une loi dont les dispositions modifiées ont été approuvées en 1996, également au terme d'une enquête, et dont un refinancement à hauteur d'un peu plus de 200.000 € a été proposé en 2001, prévoit une bonification d'intérêts sur des prêts d'une durée de quinze ans destinés à la consolidation de dettes coûteuses liées à des investissements déjà réalisés.

    [06] Dutch aid scheme for glasshouse horticulture

    The European Commission has decided to open an investigation into a proposed Dutch scheme to help glasshouse horticulture. The public contribution would be €15,123,000 and two companies would be set up to purchase land and glasshouses, manage them temporarily and resell them.

    [07] Commission launches state aid probe into apparent VAT rebate in favour of Belgian firm Umicore S.A.

    The European Commission has decided to launch an in-depth probe into a fiscal settlement concluded between the Belgian tax administration and the Belgian undertaking Umicore S.A. According to the terms of the settlement, the Belgian Government would waive a VAT liability of the undertaking amounting to over €20 million. The probe opened today aims to establish the precise facts of the case and invites interested parties to comment on the terms of the settlement in light of the general tax rules applicable to similar situations in Belgium.

    [08] Financement public de la télévision en France entre 1988 et 1994 proportionnel au coût de ces missions de service public

    La Commission européenne a décidé que les aides financières ad hoc versées entre 1988 et 1994 par l'Etat français aux chaînes publiques françaises de télévision France 2 et France 3 étaient limitées à la compensation des coûts liés à l'accomplissement de leurs missions de service public. Les services de la concurrence de la Commission ont également lancé la procédure dite de "mesures utiles" en adressant une lettre à la France indiquant sa position préliminaire sur la façon de mettre en place un financement des chaînes publiques qui sera transparent. La Commission suggère aussi des sauvegardes suffisantes pour que le financement public ne dépasse pas le coût de leurs activités de service public. Ces "mesures utiles" visent à faire en sorte que les radiodiffuseurs publics et privés soient soumis aux même conditions de concurrence sur les marchés commerciaux tels que celui de la publicité télévisuelle.

    [09] Commission launches probe for state aid to Spanish steel company Solmed

    The European Commission has decided to launch an in-depth probe into investment support given to the Spanish steel producer Solmed Galvanizados S.L. Solmed has received financial support amounting to around €4 million. The probe opened today aims to establish the precise facts of the case and invites interested parties to submit their views.

    [10] La Commission autorise les aides françaises et italiennes à l'autoroute ferroviaire expérimentale entre Lyon et Turin

    La Commission européenne a donné son accord aux aides françaises et italiennes au projet expérimental d'autoroute ferroviaire entre Aiton- Orbassano sur l'axe Lyon-Turin. Le nouveau service sera exploité par la société AFA - Autoroute Ferroviaire Alpine pendant la période 2003-2006.

    [11] Commission approves Italian scheme to encourage combined transport

    The European Commission has authorised an Italian aid scheme which intends to reduce the competitive disadvantages suffered by rail freight and combined transport in comparison with road transport.

    [12] La Commission souhaite mieux affirmer sa présence à Bruxelles

    Dans le cadre de sa politique immobilière et de la promotion des infrastructures, la Commission européenne a lancé aujourd'hui une stratégie, nouvelle et ambitieuse, visant à mettre en exergue sa présence et ses activités à Bruxelles. La Commission tentera ainsi de mieux intégrer ses bâtiments dans le paysage urbain, d'améliorer la qualité de l'architecture, en général, et l'accessibilité de ses immeubles, de promouvoir l'usage, par son personnel, des transports publics et de mettre en place des infrastructures sociales. Pour assurer le développement cohérent du quartier européen, la Commission voudrait favoriser encore la coopération interinstitutionnelle et souligne la nécessité, pour les autorités belges, de désigner un interlocuteur unique avec lequel les institutions européennes pourraient mettre en place un partenariat concernant toutes les questions liées au développement du quartier européen.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [13] World Human Rights Day : Commission reaffirms EU commitment to promotion and defence of Human Rights

    On the occasion of the World Human Rights day, the European Commission reiterates its commitment to the defence and promotion of Human Rights and democracy, which lie at the foundation of the EU. This commitment can be seen throughout the policies that the EU pursues both internationally as well as within the Union. In spite of the progress made in recent years, there are certainly no grounds for complacency. The Commission is determined to continue supporting human rights within the EU and worldwide with all the means at its disposal, in line with the EU Charter on fundamental rights.

    [14] Un ciel unique pour toute l'UE

    La Commission européenne se félicite de l'accord obtenu entre le Parlement européen et le Conseil sur la création d'un espace aérien européen unique au bénéfice des utilisateurs civils et militaires. Cet accord, intervenu à l'issue d'une procédure de conciliation entre les représentants des deux institutions, le 9 décembre à Bruxelles, porte sur l'ensemble des textes législatifs établissant les objectifs et les principes de fonctionnement du Ciel unique européen. Loyola de Palacio, Vice Présidente en charge de l'Energie et des Transports a déclaré : "Ces règlements permettront à l'UE de devenir le régulateur fort dont l'Europe a besoin pour disposer de mesures cohérentes et efficaces sur l'ensemble de son espace aérien." Suite à la deuxième lecture du Parlement, il s'agissait essentiellement de déterminer les conditions dans lesquelles la coopération entre les activités civiles et militaires ainsi que la définition des zones optimales de contrôle du trafic aérien pouvaient bénéficier d'une gestion plus intégrée. Cette question a été résolue en soulignant la valeur ajoutée qu'une discussion dans le cadre de l'UE pourra apporter à ces activités. L'accord obtenu par le comité de conciliation doit maintenant être ratifié par le Parlement réuni en séance plénière et par le Conseil.

    [15] Commission approves alliance between BA and Iberia

    The European Commission has cleared an alliance between British Airways (BA), Iberia and GB Airways, a franchisee of BA. The Commission initially had concerns that the alliance would reduce consumer choice and increase prices on a number of routes where the two partners have a strong position. But those concerns have been successfully resolved and the Commission can now grant antitrust immunity for the usual period of six years set in a 1987 Regulation, which defines the application of competition rules to the airline sector.

    [16] EU research drive to reduce air pollution from traffic

    Today the EU signed an agreement with the USA, Japan and China to address air pollution from transport. igned during a conference in Milan, the accord will allow for joint research on emissions and vehicle testing, and it foresees the creation of a common scientific platform to measure and benchmark air pollution from traffic. The joint effort will offer scientific support for the forthcoming international emission requirements for transport, and a basis for the next European standards for passenger cars and Light-Duty Vehicles (EURO V). In Milan, regulatory bodies, industrial stakeholders and scientists from all over the world are meeting to discuss emission measurement and testing systems, emission standards, their effects on human health, and new fuels, engines and after-treatment technologies.

    [17] Galileo : Loyola de Palacio se félicite des offres reçues pour la mise en concession

    L'entreprise commune Galileo a procédé le 9 décembre 2003 à l'ouverture des offres reçues dans le cadre de la phase de présélection devant conduire au choix du futur concessionnaire du système européen de navigation par satellite. Ainsi que l'a déclaré Loyola de Palacio, Vice-Présidente de la Commission européenne chargée des Transports et de l'Energie : "Le nombre et la qualité des offres reçues démontrent, s'il en était encore besoin, l'intérêt que portent les milieux d'affaires à ce grand projet européen et l'étendue de ses retombées commerciales".

    [18] Poul Nielson deplores the announced closure of another refugee camp in Ingushetia (Russian Federation)

    In reaction to the imminent closure of the Alina refugee camp in Ingushetia by the Russian and Ingush authorities, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Affairs, Poul Nielson, said : "I am deeply concerned by the closure of yet another camp in Ingushetia, especially during the harsh Caucasian winter. It is the third camp to be closed in Ingushetia in twelve months, in addition to the closure of a camp in Chechnya last year. I wish to recall that people displaced by the conflict in Chechnya should be allowed to stay in Ingushetia if they do not want to return yet. They should enjoy protection and assistance there. In order to respect the principle of voluntary return, authorities have to make sure that internally displaced persons who want to stay in Ingushetia for the moment are offered decent living conditions. Tented camps should only be closed if proper alternative accommodation is available and if IDPs are duly informed about possibilities of relocation. If this is not the case, there will be an assumption that some of the people who return to Chechnya do so for lack of other solutions rather than of their own free will. As long as the situation in Chechnya does not allow for a return there in decent conditions, IDPs should have the right to stay where there are currently. I recall that ECHO has continuously offered to provide alternative accommodation and has funded the construction of 180 very good quality rooms which, unfortunately, have remained empty since February because Ingush authorities do not authorise IDPs to move there. In view of the pressing needs due to the closure of Alina camp, where some 800 people are still registered, I urge once again the authorities to allocate these rooms to the families who need urgent shelter and to let the international community build adequate shelter in Ingushetia for the displaced and upgrade water and sanitation infrastructures in the camps where some of the families are going to be relocated."

    [19] Poul Nielson met Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sudan Mustafa Osman Ismail

    On 9 December European Commissioner for Development Assistance and Humanitarian Aid, Poul Nielson, met with Sudanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Mustafa Osman Ismail. The meeting which was part of a long an ongoing dialogue between the Commission and Sudan confirmed the quality of their relationship. The current promising peace process in Sudan was discussed. Mr Nielson expressed encouragement at the prospects of a final peace agreement and of the strong African ownership of the process. Stakeholders in Sudan and the region had invested enormously in the peace process. It was therefore important not to rush but to ensure a comprehensive and detailed peace agreement in order to maximise its political robustness and sustainability. Commissioner Nielson reaffirmed the EU's willingness to reassume broad scale development assistance to Sudan after the signature of a comprehensive peace agreement. €427 million would be available for development assistance to Sudan. The humanitarian crisis in Darfur was also discussed. Mr Nielson expressed concern at the difficult humanitarian situation but confirmed the continued engagement of the Commission in the delivery of humanitarian aid to Sudan. Through its Humanitarian Aid Office, ECHO, the Commission has since 1994 allocated over €200 million in Humanitarian assistance to both North and South Sudan. Allocations for 2003 alone have reached €24 million including a recent emergency decisions for €4 million to alleviate the consequences of the Darfur crisis.

    [20] First meeting of New European Consumer Consultative Group

    Consumer advocates from around the enlarged European Union are in Brussels today for the first meeting of the European Consumer Consultative Group (ECCG). The ECCG was created by the Commission in October this year to be its main forum for engaging with the consumer movement. The Group will hold regular exchanges of views with the Commission on EU policies that impact on consumers and, from time to time, produce written opinions on issues that it, or the Commission, regards as having special importance. The ECCG's predecessor, the Consumer Committee, produced opinions on subjects ranging from the introduction of the Euro to commercial practices aimed at children (see: http://europa.eu.int/comm/consumers/cons_org/associations/committ/opinions/opinions_en.htm). The group is composed of one representative from national consumer organisations from each of the 15 Member States of the EU, plus three representatives from European level consumer organisations. Observers from the new Member States take part in the work of the ECCG and will become full members after 1 May 2004. The members who meet in Brussels today have a mandate until the autumn of 2006. Over the next three years the ECCG will be a vital sounding board for the Commission as it faces up to the challenges of making EU enlargement work for consumers, contributing to the proper functioning of the EU's Internal Market and increasing consumer confidence. A recent opinion poll showed many Europeans still lack confidence in the consumer protection on offer in other EU Member States (see IP/03/1632). Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne said "Consumer organisations play an essential role, both in ensuring enlargement works for consumers and in enabling the EU to develop a common high standard of consumer protection. Engaging effectively with the consumer movement is therefore a top priority for the Commission." For a full list of members of the ECCG, see: http://europa.eu.int/comm/consumers/cons_org/associations/committ/list_members/members_en.pdf

    [21] Autre matériel diffusé

    Background note on EU commitment to promoting Human Rights and Democracy

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


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