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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 06-03-09

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

[I] Résultats de la Commission du 8 mars 2006 -

  • [01] Mergers : Commission launches procedure against Poland for preventing Unicredit/HVB merger
  • [02] Libre circulation des capitaux : la Commission ouvre une procédure d'infraction contre la Pologne dans le cadre de la concentration UniCredit/HBV
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [03] La Commission adopte une communication sur les mesures prendre pour que les flottes de pêche européennes redeviennent économiquement viables
  • [04] Commission requests further investigations on three unusual cases of TSE in sheep
  • [05] Commission clears acquisition of OFIC by ABN Amro and Astorg
  • [06] Commission clears acquisition of Heinz European seafood by Lehman Brothers
  • [07] La Commission se propose de réduire la bureaucratie pour les aides publiques de faible montant
  • [08] Commission endorses public funding to bridge broadband communications gap in Ireland
  • [09] La Commission approuve une enveloppe de €3 millions destinée renforcer la coordination de l'aide humanitaire sous l'égide des Nations Unies
  • [10] Commission approves €4 million to strengthen refugee protection
  • [11] Commentaires de Louis Michel l'issue des rencontres entre les principaux acteurs internationaux sur le Darfour
  • [12] Award Ceremony for the 2005 Lorenzo Natali Prize
  • [13] La Commission lance une consultation publique sur les étiquettes RFID intelligentes
  • [14] Prevention of payment fraud : Commission and countries aiming to join EU increase cooperation
  • [15] New decision of Eurostat on deficit and debt - recording of military equipment expenditure
  • [16] Markos Kyprianou visits Egypt to discuss avian influenza
  • [17] Autre matériel diffusé Midday Express of 2006-03-09 Reference: MEX/06/0309 Date: 09/03/2006 EXME06 / 9.3

    MIDDAY EXPRESS

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

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

    Communication

    09/03/06


  • [I] Résultats de la Commission du 8 mars 2006 -

    Outcome of Commission meeting of 8 March 2006

    [01] Mergers : Commission launches procedure against Poland for preventing Unicredit/HVB merger

    The European Commission has come to the preliminary conclusion that the Polish Government has violated the EU's Merger Regulation (Article 21), which gives the Commission exclusive powers to take decisions on mergers of a Community dimension. In particular, the Commission considers that the Polish Government has encroached on the Commission's exclusive competence by requiring Italian bank Unicredit to divest its shares in Polish bank BPH, despite the fact that the Commission already authorised, on 18th October 2005 (see IP/05/1299), Unicredit's acquisition of BPH as part of its takeover of German bank HVB. The Commission has therefore decided to send a letter to the Polish authorities, asking them to justify their actions within 15 working days. The Commission has also opened an infringement procedure against the Polish measures based on the EC Treaty's Internal Market rules (see IP/06/276).

    [02] Libre circulation des capitaux : la Commission ouvre une procédure d'infraction contre la Pologne dans le cadre de la concentration UniCredit/HBV

    La Commission européenne a décidé d'inviter officiellement la Pologne présenter ses observations sur une clause de non-concurrence contenue dans l'accord de privatisation de la Banque Pekao conclu en 1999 entre le ministre polonais du trésor et le groupe bancaire UniCredit. Cette clause empêche en principe UniCredit d'investir dans l'un des concurrents de Pekao sur le marché polonais. Elle a été invoquée par les autorités polonaises lorsque celles-ci ont invité Unicredit vendre sa participation dans un concurrent de Pekao dans le cadre de la procédure de concentration UniCredit/HBV. La Commission craint que cette clause n'enfreigne les règles du Traité CE sur la libre circulation des capitaux (article 56) et le droit d'établissement (article 43). La demande de la Commission prend la forme d'une mise en demeure, qui constitue la première étape de la procédure d'infraction prévue l'article 226 du Traité CE. En l'absence d'une réponse satisfaisante dans les deux mois, la Commission pourra adresser au gouvernement polonais une demande formelle sous la forme d'un "avis motivé", afin qu'il s'abstienne de recourir la clause de non-concurrence dans le cadre de procédures de concentration et qu'il modifie en conséquence l'accord de privatisation de Pekao. La Commission a également entamé une procédure contre la mesure polonaise fondée sur le règlement européen sur les concentrations (voir IP/06/277).

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [03] La Commission adopte une communication sur les mesures prendre pour que les flottes de pêche européennes redeviennent économiquement viables

    La Commission européenne a adopté aujourd’hui une communication sur les moyens d'améliorer la situation économique du secteur de la pêche. Dans ce document sont analysées les causes des difficultés économiques que connaissent actuellement plusieurs flottes de pêche européennes, difficultés aggravées par la récente augmentation du prix des carburants. Les mesures envisageables face cette situation y sont également exposées. La Commission indique tout d'abord le type d'aide au sauvetage et la restructuration que les Etats membres peuvent accorder dans le cadre des règles en matière d'aides d'Etat afin d'aider les sociétés en difficulté s'adapter pour repartir sur des bases économiques plus saines. Elle s'intéresse ensuite aux mesures long terme nécessaires en vue de favoriser un retour durable la rentabilité pour le secteur de la pêche européen dans son ensemble.

    [04] Commission requests further investigations on three unusual cases of TSE in sheep

    An expert panel from the Community Reference Laboratory in Weybridge has informed the European Commission that test results from the brains of two sheep from France and one from Cyprus show an unusual molecular profile that warrants further investigation, and while some data suggest that the samples may not be BSE in sheep, "there is insufficient evidence to definitively rule out BSE". In line with EU legislation, the Commission has requested that further investigations be carried out. TSEs are Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies, a family of diseases characterised by a degeneration of brain tissue such as Creutzfeldt Jackob Disease in humans, scrapie in sheep and BSE in cows. The Commission, together with Member States, is considering a review of the current TSE monitoring programmes in sheep in order to get a better picture on the significance of these three cases. Following the detection of unusual TSE cases in these sheep in France and Cyprus, the Commission had asked the CRL to continue investigations. The next level of testing, recommended by the CRL expert panel and which has been requested by the Commission, entails the use of the mouse bioassay test and will take between 12-18 months to complete. BSE has never been found under natural circumstances in sheep, but the first case of BSE in a goat was confirmed last year (IP/05/132). The sheep now being evaluated were detected as part of the EU-wide surveillance programme for TSE strains in small ruminants. Whatever the final test findings show, there is no risk to public health, as the sheep did not enter the food and feed chain and strict animal health measures are applied to all farmed ruminants.

    [05] Commission clears acquisition of OFIC by ABN Amro and Astorg

    The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of the OFIC Group (OFIC) of France by ABN Amro CapitalFrance SA (ABN Amro) of France, controlled by ABN Group Netherlands, and Astorg Partners (Astorg) of France. ABN Amro and Astorg are venture capital companies. OFIC produces and distributes roofing materials and packaging for eggs. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

    [06] Commission clears acquisition of Heinz European seafood by Lehman Brothers

    The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of the European seafood business of HJ Heinz Company (Heinz) of the US by Lehman Brothers Merchant Banking Partners III L.P., controlled by Lehman Brothers Holding Inc (Lehman Brothers), also of the US. Lehman Brothers is an investment company active in equity income sales, trading and research, private investment company management, investment banking, investment in real estate and asset management. Heinz' European seafood activities include the fishing, processing and distributing of canned tuna, salmon, mackerel and sardines and other seafood products. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

    [07] La Commission se propose de réduire la bureaucratie pour les aides publiques de faible montant

    La Commission européenne se propose d'exempter plus de subventions de faible montant de l'obligation de notification prévue par les règles sur les aides d'Etat du traité CE. Cette initiative s'inscrit dans le cadre du plan d'action dans le domaine des aides d'Etat, qui vise simplifier les règles en la matière et raffiner l'analyse économique des aides. La Commission propose de porter le plafond prévu par l'actuel règlement "de minimis" de €100.000 €150.000. Les subventions qui ne dépassent pas ce plafond ne constituent pas des aides d'Etat et n'ont pas être notifiées au préalable la Commission. La proposition contient également un certain nombre de sauvegardes afin d'éviter toute exploitation abusive de ces dispositions. Les Etats membres seront invités présenter leurs observations sur cette proposition avant son adoption définitive par la Commission.

    [08] Commission endorses public funding to bridge broadband communications gap in Ireland

    The European Commission has authorised, under EC Treaty state aid rules, a programme to boost broadband availability in Ireland. Ireland is lagging behind most EU-15 Member States in broadband penetration. The Irish Government will create open-access Metropolitan Area Networks (“MANs&#8221;) in over 120 Irish towns at a cost of €170m, with support from EU structural funds. The Commission concluded that the aid was not likely to distort competition within the EU significantly.

    [09] La Commission approuve une enveloppe de €3 millions destinée renforcer la coordination de l'aide humanitaire sous l'égide des Nations Unies

    La Commission européenne, par l'intermédiaire de sa Direction générale de l'aide humanitaire (ECHO), a décidé d'apporter une aide de €3 millions pour soutenir et renforcer les systèmes d'information essentiels la coordination de l'aide humanitaire par le Bureau des Nations unies pour la coordination des affaires humanitaires (OCHA)

    [10] Commission approves €4 million to strengthen refugee protection

    The European Commission has decided to provide €4 million of humanitarian aid to support and enhance refugee protection programmes run by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

    [11] Commentaires de Louis Michel l'issue des rencontres entre les principaux acteurs internationaux sur le Darfour

    Le Commissaire européen au Développement et l'Aide humanitaire, Louis Michel, s'est entretenu le 8 mars Bruxelles avec les principaux acteurs politiques internationaux sur le conflit dans la région du Darfour, au Soudan. Il a souligné le rôle central, dans les volets politique et sécuritaire, de l'Union Africaine et a lancé un appel aux parties pour accélérer les progrès dans les négociations d'Abuja, sur base d'une feuille de route, avec des engagements concrets, vérifiables et un calendrier précis.

    [12] Award Ceremony for the 2005 Lorenzo Natali Prize

    The European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, will award the 2005 Lorenzo Natali prizes at the Solvay library in Brussels, tomorrow Friday 10 March at 14h30. For participation, please register at: <a href="http://www.prixnatali.info">www.prixnatali.info. Fifteen journalists have been nominated for the prize for their commitment to human rights and democracy. The Lorenzo Natali prize is given annually by the European Commission in five world regions to commemorate the former Vice-president of the European Commission Lorenzo Natali, a fervent defender of human rights.

    [13] La Commission lance une consultation publique sur les étiquettes RFID intelligentes

    Les étiquettes d'identification par radiofréquences, ou étiquettes RFID ("Radio Frequency Identification Devices"), qui remplaceront bientôt les codes barres dans les supermarchés, ouvrent de vastes perspectives pour l'économie et la société. Les possibilités de localisation, d'identification et de traçage qu'elles offrent suscitent toutefois des inquiétudes quant au respect de la vie privée et la sécurité, auxquelles s'ajoutent les problèmes d'interopérabilité technique et de compatibilité internationale des systèmes. Pour répondre ces inquiétudes, dont certaines pourraient demander une solution législative, la Commission lance aujourd'hui une vaste consultation publique dans le cadre d'une conférence de haut niveau sur la technologie de l'identification par radiofréquences (RFID), l'occasion du salon professionnel du CeBit 2006 de Hanovre, en Allemagne.

    [14] Prevention of payment fraud : Commission and countries aiming to join EU increase cooperation

    The European Commission has held a two-day seminar on prevention of payment fraud with countries aiming to join the EU, which took place on 8-9 March 2006 in Brussels. It was attended by representatives from the public and private sectors of Bulgaria and Romania (accession countries) ; Croatia, Turkey and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (candidate countries) ; and Serbia and Montenegro and Bosnia Herzegovina (potential candidate countries). The aim of the seminar was to enable police officers, prosecutors and regulators from these countries to increase their knowledge and awareness of the issues involved in payment fraud. It was a first step towards enhancing cooperation on payment fraud between EU Member States and these countries.

    [15] New decision of Eurostat on deficit and debt - recording of military equipment expenditure

    Eurostat has taken a decision on the recording, in national accounts, of some borderline cases of military equipment expenditure under long-term contracts, and on acceptable source data to be used for compiling these statistics. In the context of the Excessive Deficit Procedure monitoring, and following bilateral consultations with Member States, Eurostat has observed cases of complex contracts for military equipment that led to uncertainties as to the appropriate recording in national accounts (ESA 95), to heterogeneous accounting practices across Member States, and to significant difficulties in terms of source data availability. The decision specifies the time of recording of government expenditure, and thus the impact on the government deficit, for borderline cases of military equipment under long-term contracts, notably in cases of leased equipment, complex systems or heavy equipment built over many years. In addition, because long-term contracts and the nature of the military goods create specific source data difficulties, the decision also specifies those cases where cash source data could be acceptable as proxies for deliveries for military equipment expenditure, pending improvement of accrual based source data.

    [16] Markos Kyprianou visits Egypt to discuss avian influenza

    Markos Kyprianou, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, will visit Egypt from 11-14 March. During his time in there, the Commissioner will meet with Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, Health Minister Hatem El Gabaly and Minister of Agriculture Amin Abazza, amongst others. A key topic for discussion will be current outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza, both in Egypt and globally. The first cases of H5N1 avian influenza were reported in Egypt on 17 February, and since then the disease has spread within the country, mostly among backyard poultry. The result has been that over 3.2 million birds have had to be culled so far in Egypt, due to avian influenza outbreaks. Mr Kyprianou will receive an update on the avian influenza situation from the national authorities and discuss ways in which the EU could assist the Egyptians in their efforts to tackle the disease. Speaking before his visit, Commissioner Kyprianou said, "Egypt is faced with a very difficult challenge in its battle against this virulent disease, and the EU will do anything that it can to help. The EU wishes to assist Egypt in this battle, to help control the disease on the ground and also because Egypt is on the route of migratory birds returning from Africa through Eastern Europe. We need to put all our energies into containing and controlling avian influenza, and into trying to prevent it from spreading further, whether in Europe, Africa, Asia or elsewhere."

    [17] Autre matériel diffusé

    Improving the economic situation of the fishing sector

    The TSE community reference laboratory strain typing expert group (STEG)

    Questions and answers on TSEs in sheep

    State aid : proposal to extend scope of 'de minimis' rule – frequently asked questions

    Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID) - frequently asked questions

    Speech by Neelie Kroes : "More private antitrust enforcement through better access to damages: an invitation for an open debate" at conference 'Private enforcement in EC competition law: the green paper on damages actions'

    Speech by Neelie Kroes : "Competition in the energy sector: preliminary results of the Commission's inquiry and next steps in anti-trust enforcement" at first annual seminar and conference on Energy Law and Policy (! embargo 14h30 !)

    Speech by Charlie McCreevy : "The Development of the European Capital Market" at London School of Economics (! embargo 14h00 !)

    Speech by Andris Piebalgs : "A Common Energy Policy for Europe" at EU Energy Policy and Law Conference

    Speech by Margot Wallström : "Forced prostitution in the framework of world sports events" (PE, 08/03)

    Speech by Viviane Reding : "Television is going mobile - and needs a pan European policy approach" at international CeBIT Summit (08/03, Hannover)

    Speech by Benita Ferrero-Waldner : "Bertha von Suttner - a visionary European" (08/03) From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at http://europa.eu.int/


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