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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 04-12-20

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] Le redressement conjoncturel dans la zone euro s'est ralenti durant le troisième trimestre 2004
  • [02] Aarhus Convention : Commission welcomes agreements to strengthen citizens' involvement in environmental matters
  • [03] Alrosa and De Beers offer diamond trade commitments
  • [04] Commission clears Cytec's acquisition of UCB's Surface Specialties business, subject to conditions
  • [05] Commission clears acquisition of BIAC by MABSA and the Belgian State
  • [06] Commission clears acquisition of MGC by Permira, PEP and Marazzi
  • [07] Commission clears acquisition of BVAG by VWD
  • [08] Commission clears acquisition of Deutschbau Holding by Viterra
  • [09] Commission clears acquisition of BERU by BorgWarner
  • [10] La Commission saisit la Cour de justice Ă l'encontre des Etats membres n'ayant pas transposĂ© les normes communautaires de lutte contre la discrimination
  • [11] Pension taxation : Commission requests Sweden to end discrimination against foreign pension funds
  • [12] Commission considers Finland's tax rules concerning employment-related income paid to non-residents incompatible with EC Treaty
  • [13] VAT - Commission takes Austria and Finland to the Court of Justice
  • [14] Douane : la Commission saisit la Cour de Justice contre l'Italie concernant la redevance environnementale sicilienne
  • [15] TVA : remboursement de la TVA aux assujettis non Ă©tablis dans l'Etat de remboursement - la Commission traduit le Luxembourg devant la Cour de Justice
  • [16] Taxation : infringement proceedings against Italy for failure to notify the Commission of national measures implementing two EU Directives
  • [17] TVA : la Commission poursuit des procĂ©dures d'infraction Ă l'encontre de la Grèce, l'Espagne, la France et la Pologne
  • [18] La Commission annonce 100 millions d'€ de dons en faveur du Burundi
  • [19] La Commission se rĂ©jouit de la volontĂ© d'apaisement des PrĂ©sidents Kabila et Kagame
  • [20] Autre matĂ©riel diffusĂ© Midday Express of 2004-12-20 Reference: MEX/04/1220 Date: 20/12/2004 EXME04 / 20.12

    MIDDAY EXPRESS

    News from the Press and Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

    Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Général Presse etb

    Communication

    20/12/04


  • [01] Le redressement conjoncturel dans la zone euro s'est ralenti durant le troisième trimestre 2004

    Il ressort du rapport trimestriel sur la zone euro publié ce jour par la Commission européenne que la croissance du PIB est restée légèrement inférieure aux prévisions au cours du troisième trimestre. Il faut cependant replacer dans leur contexte les données récentes, qui semblent indiquer que des risques continuent de peser sur les perspectives de croissance à court terme. Ce ralentissement intervient en effet après un premier semestre durant lequel l’évolution de l’économie a été plus favorable que prévu. En outre, l’activité économique ne s’est pas ralentie partout dans la zone euro, mais s’est renforcée au contraire dans plusieurs pays. Enfin, l’évolution survenue durant le troisième trimestre résulte principalement de mouvements de grande ampleur des composantes les plus instables de la demande, et doit donc être interprétée avec prudence.

    [02] Aarhus Convention : Commission welcomes agreements to strengthen citizens' involvement in environmental matters

    The European Commission welcomes the green light given today by the Environment Council for the European Union to ratify the Aarhus Convention. The Council also reached a political agreement on a Regulation that will apply the Convention’s provisions to Community institutions and bodies. The Aarhus Convention lays down a set of basic rules to promote citizens' involvement in environmental matters and improve enforcement of environmental law. It grants the public access to environmental information, provides for participation in environmental decision-making, and allows the public to seek redress when environmental law is infringed, including breaches of the two previous rights.

    [03] Alrosa and De Beers offer diamond trade commitments

    In response to an investigation launched by the European Commission into a possible violation of EC Treaty competition rules, Alrosa and De Beers have offered commitments to the Commission regarding their notified rough diamonds Trade Agreement.

    [04] Commission clears Cytec's acquisition of UCB's Surface Specialties business, subject to conditions

    The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the proposed acquisition of UCB’s Surface Specialties (Surface Specialties) business by Cytec Industries Inc. (Cytec) of the US. The Commission’s review highlighted serious concerns in two amino resins markets, but Cytec was able to address these concerns by offering to divest Surface Specialties’ Fechenheim plant (Germany), which accounts for almost all of Surface Specialties European production. In the light of these commitments, the Commission has concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the EEA or any substantial part of it and has therefore approved the concentration

    [05] Commission clears acquisition of BIAC by MABSA and the Belgian State

    The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of Brussels International Airport Company (BIAC) by the Luxembourg-based undertaking Macquarie Airports Brussels S.A. (MABSA) and the Belgian State. MABSA belongs to the Macquarie Group, an Australian banking group active in investment banking, fund management, financial advisory and leasing activities. BIAC is the owner and operator of Brussels National Airport, located in Zaventem, Belgium. It manages the airport infrastructure and coordinates and controls the activities of the various operators at the airport. It is currently controlled by the Belgian State, which owns 63.56% of its shares. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

    [06] Commission clears acquisition of MGC by Permira, PEP and Marazzi

    The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of MGC of Italy by Guernsey- based undertaking Permira, Private Equity Partners (PEP) of Italy and Marazzi also of Italy. MGC is active in the production and distribution of ceramic tiles. Marazzi is a holding company, controlled by the Marazzi family, which currently owns MGC. Permira and PEP are both private equity firms controlling several companies, none of whom is active in the ceramic tiles market, or in upstream or downstream markets. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

    [07] Commission clears acquisition of BVAG by VWD

    The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of German company Braunschweiger Versorgungs-AG (BVAG) by Veolia Water Deutschland GmbH (VWD). Veolia is a large French utility with activities in water, waste water disposal, energy and transport. Its German water and waste water business is operated by VWD whose activities focus on Berlin and the German Länder of Sachsen and Sachsen-Anhalt. BVAG's main business is the distribution of electricity, gas, water and district heating in the city of Braunschweig. It is also active in the generation and trade of electricity in other regions of Germany. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

    [08] Commission clears acquisition of Deutschbau Holding by Viterra

    The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of Deutschbau Holding by German company Viterra. Deutschbau Holding is currently jointly controlled by Viterra and DB Real Estate Management GmbH (a joint venture approved by the Commission in 1997). Viterra is active in the management and rental of residential real estate. Its assets are mainly located in the Ruhr area and the Rhein-Main-region in Germany. Viterra is also active in the sale of private and commercial real estate. Deutschbau Holding is the holding company of Deutschbau Wohnungsgesellschaft GmbH and Deutschbau Immobilien- Dienstleistungen GmbH. Deutschbau Wohnungsgesellschaft owns approximately 33.200 appartments, which are located all over Germany, however very few of them in the Ruhr region and the Rhein-Main-region. Deutschbau Immobilien- Dienstleistungen is mainly involved in the management of apartments of Deutschbau Wohnungsgesellschaft and to a minor extent apartments belonging to third parties. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

    [09] Commission clears acquisition of BERU by BorgWarner

    The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of German company BERU AG by US company BorgWarner. BorgWarner is mainly active in the manufacture and supply of products for the management and enhancement of engines and torque management products. BERU is a supplier of components and systems for diesel cold-start technology, ignition technology and electronics and sensors technology. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

    [10] La Commission saisit la Cour de justice à l'encontre des Etats membres n'ayant pas transposé les normes communautaires de lutte contre la discrimination

    La Commission européenne a annoncé qu'elle citerait cinq Etats membres devant la Cour de justice pour non transposition de la directive sur l'égalité en matière d'emploi. Cette directive, qui interdit les discriminations fondées sur l'âge, le handicap, la religion ou l'orientation sexuelle dans le domaine de l'emploi et la formation professionnelle, aurait dû être transposée en droit interne au plus tard au mois de décembre, l'année dernière.

    [11] Pension taxation : Commission requests Sweden to end discrimination against foreign pension funds

    The European Commission has decided to send a formal request to Sweden to amend its discriminatory pension tax legislation. The main problem is that, under Swedish law, pension contributions that an employer makes on behalf of his employees to foreign pension funds are not tax deductible while contributions paid to domestic funds are. The request is in the form of a reasoned opinion, the second stage of the infringement procedure under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. This action demonstrates the new Commission's commitment to continue the work commenced by the previous Commission on the elimination of tax obstacles to the cross-border provision of occupational pensions (see IP/01/575 and MEMO/01/142).

    [12] Commission considers Finland's tax rules concerning employment-related income paid to non-residents incompatible with EC Treaty

    The European Commission has sent Finland a formal request to amend its legislation concerning the taxation of employment-related salaries and pensions. Under Finnish law such income is subject to a final withholding tax at a rate of 35% when it is paid to non-resident individuals whereas for resident individuals it is taxed according to a progressive scale. The Commission considers that the difference in the tax treatment of the two categories of taxpayer, in so far as it results in a higher tax burden on the income of non-resident individuals in situations objectively similar to those of residents, constitutes indirect discrimination on the grounds of nationality prohibited by the Treaty. The request is in the form of a reasoned opinion, the second stage of the infringement procedure under Article 226 of the Treaty. If Finland does not amend its legislation within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the Court of Justice.

    [13] VAT - Commission takes Austria and Finland to the Court of Justice

    The European Commission has decided to take Austria to the Court of Justice over a simplified tax scheme which it applies on passenger transport operators established in other Member States or certain third countries and which does not comply with the Sixth VAT Directive. The Commission is taking similar action against Finland because it has maintained the obligation, in certain circumstances, for foreign businesses engaging in economic activity in Finnish territory to designate a tax representative, despite the entry into force of Directive 2000/65/EC (see IP/00/1168) which was intended to eliminate such obligations.

    [14] Douane : la Commission saisit la Cour de Justice contre l'Italie concernant la redevance environnementale sicilienne

    La Commission européenne a décidé de saisir la Cour de Justice à l'encontre de l'Italie au sujet de la redevance environnementale sicilienne. La Commission estime que cette redevance, qui, en substance, frappe le gaz nature en provenance d'Algérie, est contraire au tarif douanier commun de la Communauté Européenne (CE) ainsi qu'aux principes fondamentaux qui régissent la politique commerciale commune et aux obligation internationales de l'UE découlant de l'accord de coopération avec l'Algérie. Les autorités italiennes n'ont ni répondu à l'avis motivé, deuxième étape de la procédure d'infraction prévue à l'article 226 du traité CE, qui leur avait été adressé en juillet 2004 (voir IP/04/948), ni mis en conformité avec le droit communautaire la législation italienne concernant ladite redevance.

    [15] TVA : remboursement de la TVA aux assujettis non Ă©tablis dans l'Etat de remboursement - la Commission traduit le Luxembourg devant la Cour de Justice

    La Commission européenne a décidé de saisir la Cour de Justice à l'encontre du Grand Duché de Luxembourg au sujet des retards excessifs pour le remboursement aux assujettis non établis au Luxembourg de la taxe sur la valeur ajoutée (TVA). Ces remboursements sont actuellement effectués avec des retards considérables, certains remboursements datant de 2000 n'étant pas encore intervenus. Cette situation constitue une violation du délai de six mois imposé par la huitième directive relative au système commun de TVA (79/1072/CEE) et entraîne d'importantes difficultés de trésorerie pour les opérateurs économiques.

    [16] Taxation : infringement proceedings against Italy for failure to notify the Commission of national measures implementing two EU Directives

    The European Commission has decided to refer Italy to the European Court of Justice for failing to notify it of national measures implementing Directive 2002/94/EC on mutual assistance for the recovery of tax claims. The Commission has also officially requested Italy to notify it of the national measures taken to implement Directive 2003/96/EC of 27 October 2003 restructuring the Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity. This official request is in the form of a reasoned opinion, the second stage of an infringement proceeding under Article 226 of the Treaty. If Italy fails to bring its legislation into line within two months of receiving the reasoned opinion, the Commission may also bring this case before the Court of Justice.

    [17] TVA : la Commission poursuit des procédures d'infraction à l'encontre de la Grèce, l'Espagne, la France et la Pologne

    La Commission européenne a décidé d'envoyer aux pays suivants des demandes formelles de rectifier des mauvaises applications de la réglementation relative à la taxe sur la valeur ajoutée (TVA) : à l'encontre de la Grèce pour d'une part le refus d'exonérer l'aspect "assurance" des contrats d'assistance routière et d'autre part, l'obligation imposée aux assujettis non établis d'avoir un représentant fiscal alors que cette obligation a été supprimée par la directive 2000/65/CE; à l'encontre de l'Espagne en ce que la législation espagnole prévoit la perception d'une TVA sur des prestations de services rendues à titre gratuit même si elles sont effectuées à des fins professionnelles; à l'encontre de la France en ce qu'elle a introduit, en ce qui concerne les produits emportés dans les bagages des voyageurs de pays tiers, des limites non prévues par la directive; et à l'encontre de la Pologne en ce qu'elle exonère certaines prestations de services d'accès à internet alors que celles-ci devraient être taxées. Les demandes sont sous forme des avis motivés (seconde phase de la procédure d'infraction prévue par l'article 226 du Traité). En l'absence d'une mise en conformité des législations de ces Etats membres endéans un délai de deux mois à compter de la réception de l'avis motivé, la Commission pourra décider de porter ces affaires devant la Cour de justice européenne.

    [18] La Commission annonce 100 millions d'€ de dons en faveur du Burundi

    Le Commissaire européen Louis Michel, lors de sa visite à Bujumbura au Burundi le 17 décembre 2004, a signé et annoncé de nouveaux dons de la Commission européenne à hauteur de 100 millions d'€. Ces financements viennent en supplément du vaste programme d’appui de la Commission déjà en cours. Ces appuis massifs ont tous pour objectifs la lutte contre la pauvreté et la consolidation du processus de paix.

    [19] La Commission se réjouit de la volonté d'apaisement des Présidents Kabila et Kagame

    Le Commissaire européen au Développement et à l'Aide humanitaire Louis Michel a adressé le samedi 19 décembre un appel pressant aux autorités et à la population de la République Démocratique du Congo (RDC) pour mener à bon terme la transition démocratique : "La paix, la démocratie et la prospérité sont à portée de main au Congo pour la première fois en 40 ans. Nous sommes à quelques mois d’un nouveau départ, d’une nouvelle indépendance. Saisissez cette chance!"

    [20] Autre matériel diffusé

    Note sur la préparation du Conseil Agriculture / Pêche (21-22/12)

    Discours de M. Louis Michel : "Les élections doivent restituer au peuple congolais ses droits à la liberté, à la démocratie et au bonheur" devant la Commission Electorale Indépendante (18/12, République Démocratique du Congo) From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at http://europa.eu.int/


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