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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 06-10-25

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 24 October 2006 -

  • [01] State aid: Commission opens inquiry into France’s guarantee to Finnish electricity producer TVO
  • [02] State aid: Commission prolongs specific state aid rules for shipbuilding
  • [03] State aid: Commission approves regional aid maps 2007-2013 for the Czech Republic, Ireland and Lithuania
  • [04] State aid: Commission simplifies procedures for approving regional aid with new block exemption Regulation
  • [05] EU-China relations: Commission sets out its strategy
  • [06] European Commission authorises rescue aid for Polish company C. Hartwig
  • [07] La Commission progresse vers un accord UE-Kazakhstan sur l’utilisation pacifique de l’énergie nucléaire
  • [08] La Commission autorise deux aides Air Caraïbes pour améliorer les dessertes régionales
  • [09] Commission adopts Communication on reducing alcohol related harm in Europe
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [10] Dans le cadre de la 4ème Journée européenne de la justice civile, la Commission européenne et le Conseil de l'Europe organisent le deuxième Prix Balance de cristal, pour la qualité de la justice civile
  • [11] La Commission propose d’adapter la FEMIP pour renforcer le soutien aux PME et l’importance du partenariat avec les pays méditerranéens
  • [12] Community Lisbon Programme and National progress reports well on track
  • [13] Sri Lanka: Commission provides €5 million for conflict victims and refugees in Tamil Nadu
  • [14] A step forward in the promotion of Short Sea Shipping and the Motorways of the Sea
  • [15] Aides d’Etat : la Commission poursuit la France devant la Cour de Justice pour non récupération d’aides illégales
  • [16] The celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome to focus on youth
  • [17] Human cells and tissues: Commission adopts safety rules for processing, preservation, storage and distribution
  • [18] Commission publishes report on GM food and feed legislation
  • [19] Commission clears acquisition of TBT Logistics by Apollo Group
  • [20] Second quarter of 2006 - EU25 current account deficit € 22.0 billion - € 20.7 billion surplus on trade in services
  • [21] Financial Services Action Plan (FSAP): workshop to assess how to evaluate economic impact
  • [22] Rédiffusion
  • [23] Consolidating 50 years of delivery. The Commission work programme for 2007
  • [24] Mergers: Commission approves proposed acquisition of Schleipen & Erkens by Mondi
  • [25] Commission adopts a recommendation on the efficient use of nuclear decommissioning funds
  • [26] Commission welcomes Council adoption of new rules on the health of farmed fish
  • [27] Autre matériel diffusé Midday Express of 2006-10-25 Reference: MEX/06/1025 Date: 25/10/2006 EXME06 / 25.10

    MIDDAY EXPRESS

    News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

    Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communicationb

    25/10/06


  • [I] Résultats de la Commission du 24 October 2006 -

    Outcome of Commission meeting of 24 October

    [01] State aid: Commission opens inquiry into France’s guarantee to Finnish electricity producer TVO

    The European Commission has launched an in-depth investigation to establish whether the guarantee granted by France to a €570 million loan from a syndicate of banks financing the Finnish electricity producer Teollisuuden Voima Oy (TVO) is compatible with EC Treaty rules on state aid. The Commission considers that it needs to obtain clarifications from France and interested parties so as to establish whether the total costs of the loan (interest rate plus guarantee premium paid by TVO to the French Government) conform with market practices for this type of financial tool. The opening of an in-depth investigation allows interested parties to comment on the measure and on the initial assessment made by the Commission. It does not prejudge the outcome of the procedure.

    [02] State aid: Commission prolongs specific state aid rules for shipbuilding

    The European Commission has decided to prolong the Framework on state aid rules for shipbuilding by two years, until 31 December 2008. The current Framework, which came into force at the beginning of 2004 (see IP/03/1607) and is due to expire on 31 December 2006, takes into account the characteristics of the shipbuilding industry, including provisions about the use of aid for innovation which are unique in EU state aid law. Given the limited period of application of these rules, the Commission wants to acquire more experience before deciding on the future of these rules.

    [03] State aid: Commission approves regional aid maps 2007-2013 for the Czech Republic, Ireland and Lithuania

    The European Commission has approved under EC Treaty state aid rules the regional aid maps covering the period 2007-2013 for the Czech Republic, Ireland and Lithuania. These decisions form part of a wider exercise to review regional aid systems in all Member States in accordance with the new Regional Aid Guidelines (see IP/05/1653 and MEMO/05/491) adopted in December 2005. The new guidelines aim at re-focussing regional aid on the most deprived regions of the enlarged EU, while allowing to improve competitiveness and to provide for a smooth transition. The maps of nine other Member States (Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Luxembourg and Malta) have already been approved by the Commission (see IP/06/1176 and IP/06/1393).

    [04] State aid: Commission simplifies procedures for approving regional aid with new block exemption Regulation

    The European Commission has adopted under EC Treaty state aid rules a new block exemption Regulation for regional investment aid (aid which promotes the economic development of disadvantaged regions). Member States will no longer have to notify regional investment aid schemes to the Commission if they fulfil the conditions set out in the Regulation. The Regulation is based on the new Guidelines for regional aid 2007-2013 which were adopted in December 2005 and which are in line with EU cohesion policy and European Council requests for less and better targeted state aid (see IP/05/1653 and MEMO/05/491). The Commission has also adopted new notification forms for regional aid schemes that do not meet the conditions of the new Regulation and thus still have to be notified individually to the Commission for endorsement prior to their implementation.

    [05] EU-China relations: Commission sets out its strategy

    The European Commission agreed today on an ambitious new agenda for EU- China relations for the coming years. The new strategy seeks to respond to China’s re-emergence as a global economic and political power. The EU’s fundamental approach to China remains one of engagement and partnership. A closer strategic partnership means mutual responsibilities increase. Today’s initiative sets out a comprehensive approach, identifying as priorities support for China’s transition towards a more open and plural society, sustainable development, including co-operation with China on energy issues, climate change and international development; trade and economic relations; strengthening bilateral co-operation, including on science and technology, and migration; and the promotion of international security, both in East Asia and beyond and more broadly on non- proliferation issues. It is accompanied by a trade policy paper setting out the challenges of our trade and investment relations in more detail.

    [06] European Commission authorises rescue aid for Polish company C. Hartwig

    The Commission has today authorised rescue aid for C. Hartwig S.A. Warszawa, a company operating in international freight transport. The aid consists of a loan in the amount of 5,000,000 Polish zlotys (€ 1,254,842.11) for the next six months. This loan will allow the company to continue its operations while it prepares its restructuring.

    [07] La Commission progresse vers un accord UE-Kazakhstan sur l’utilisation pacifique de l’énergie nucléaire

    La Commission a adopté aujourd’hui une recommandation au Conseil en vue de la conclusion d’un accord de coopération entre la Communauté européenne de l'énergie atomique (Euratom) et le gouvernement de la République du Kazakhstan concernant l’utilisation pacifique de l’énergie nucléaire. L’accord complétera les initiatives de coopération existantes en matière de sûreté et de fusion nucléaires en instaurant un cadre stable pour le développement d’un commerce nucléaire entre les deux parties.

    [08] La Commission autorise deux aides Air Caraïbes pour améliorer les dessertes régionales

    La Commission européenne a autorisé aujourd’hui deux aides d’État la compagnie aérienne Air Caraïbes en vue de favoriser le développement du transport aérien régional destination des Antilles ainsi qu’entre les Antilles et la Guyane. L’une des aides servira affréter un Embraer 190 de 100 places qui sera utilisé sur les rotations entre la Guadeloupe, la Martinique et la Guyane. L’autre permettra d’affréter un ATR 72-500 de 70 places qui servira sur les rotations entre la Guadeloupe, la Martinique et Saint-Martin. Cette dernière remplace l’aide approuvée par la Commission le 22 février 2006 , entre- temps annulée par les autorités françaises.

    [09] Commission adopts Communication on reducing alcohol related harm in Europe

    The European Commission today adopted a Communication setting out an EU strategy to support Member States in reducing alcohol related harm. The Communication addresses the adverse health effects of harmful and hazardous alcohol consumption in Europe, which is estimated to cause the deaths of 195,000 people a year in the EU. The priorities identified in the Communication are: to protect young people and children; reduce injuries and deaths from alcohol-related road accidents; prevent harm among adults and reduce the negative impact on the economy; raise awareness of the impact on health of harmful alcohol consumption; and help gather reliable statistics. The Commission has identified areas where the EU can support the actions of Member States to reduce alcohol related harm, such as financing projects through the Public Health and Research Programmes, exchanging good practice on issues such as curbing under-age drinking, exploring cooperation on information campaigns or tackling drink-driving and other Community initiatives. The Communication also maps out actions which Member States are taking, with a view to promoting good practice, proposes an Alcohol and Health Forum of interested parties and sets out areas where industry can make a contribution, notably in the area of responsible advertising and marketing. Acknowledging the role of Member States in this policy area the Commission does not intend to propose legislation at European level.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [10] Dans le cadre de la 4ème Journée européenne de la justice civile, la Commission européenne et le Conseil de l'Europe organisent le deuxième Prix Balance de cristal, pour la qualité de la justice civile

    La Commission européenne et le Conseil de l’Europe ont créé en 2003 une «Journée européenne de la justice civile», le 25 octobre de chaque année, afin de mettre la justice civile véritablement portée de main des citoyens européens.

    [11] La Commission propose d’adapter la FEMIP pour renforcer le soutien aux PME et l’importance du partenariat avec les pays méditerranéens

    La Facilité euro-méditerranéenne d'investissement et de partenariat (FEMIP) a apporté une contribution importante l'investissement et la croissance économique dans le Sud de la Méditerranée, mais son soutien au secteur privé, et notamment au développement des petites et moyennes entreprises (PME), peut être renforcé. Le bilan, effectué par la Commission européenne, de l'action de cette Facilité, créée il y a quatre ans et gérée par la Banque européenne d'investissement, conclut qu’il convient de faire plus pour les PME, et que les pays partenaires doivent participer davantage aux orientations de la Facilité. La communication de la Commission sur la FEMIP devrait être examinée en novembre par les ministres des finances de l'Union européenne.

    [12] Community Lisbon Programme and National progress reports well on track

    A first assessment of action at European level within the partnership for Growth and Jobs demonstrates that the relaunched Strategy is starting to deliver results. The first progress report on the implementation of the Community Lisbon Programme (CLP) shows that by 31July 2006, the European Commission had adopted 75 of the 102 policy actions covered by the CLP up to 2007. The onus is now on the European Parliament and Council to adopt these proposals as quickly as possible. The momentum will be further increased with the scheduled adoption, by the end of the year, of the Services Directive, the 7th Research Framework Programme and SESAR (the European air traffic control infrastructure modernisation programme). Political leadership will be required to make progress on issues such as patent policy and the Payment Services Directive. This report is presented in parallel to the national progress reports submitted by Member States for their areas of responsibility under the Partnership for Growth and Jobs. After assessing the national progress reports, the Commission will present its Annual Progress Report on 12 December 2006.

    [13] Sri Lanka: Commission provides €5 million for conflict victims and refugees in Tamil Nadu

    The European Commission has allocated a further €5 million in humanitarian aid to help conflict-affected people in Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu, India, in addition to the €7 million decision adopted in July 2006. This new allocation will cover basic needs such as shelter, water, sanitation and healthcare with a particular focus on vulnerable groups such as women and children. Funds are channelled through the European Commission Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) under the responsibility of Commissioner Louis Michel.

    [14] A step forward in the promotion of Short Sea Shipping and the Motorways of the Sea

    The European Commission and the Finnish Presidency are organising a seminar on Short Sea Shipping and the Motorways of the Sea, to be held in Brussels on 26 and 27 October 2006. This will be the first joint meeting on this subject to take place with the participation of experts on the Motorways of the Sea, freshly appointed by the Member States and the 21 national Short Sea Shipping Promotion Centres. These centres have been progressively established with the Commission's support. We welcome among their number the Cypriot national centre, which was established during the summer. The purpose of the meeting is to report on the support actions undertaken by the Member States and the European Union.

    [15] Aides d’Etat : la Commission poursuit la France devant la Cour de Justice pour non récupération d’aides illégales

    La Commission européenne a décidé de saisir la Cour de Justice en raison du non-respect par la France de la décision de la Commission du 16 décembre 2003. Cette décision considérait que les aides accordées par la France sous forme d’exemption d’impôt liée la reprise d’entreprises en difficulté étaient incompatibles avec les règles du traité CE en matière d’aides d’Etat et devaient être récupérées auprès des bénéficiaires (voir IP/03/1738). Près de trois ans après la décision, la France n’a toujours pas pris les mesures nécessaires pour récupérer les aides en question comme exigé dans la décision.

    [16] The celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome to focus on youth

    Yesterday the European Institutions gave their green light to several projects and events to be carried out thought the European Union in 2007, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signature of the Rome Treaties. The purpose is twofold: celebrating the freedom, peace and prosperity that the European Union has accomplished so far, and looking at the future and at what kind of Europe the citizens, and in particular the young, wish for the future. The Youth Package which includes “United Schools of Europe”, “Spring Day in Europe” and a Youth Summit in Rome, was given the highest priority.

    [17] Human cells and tissues: Commission adopts safety rules for processing, preservation, storage and distribution

    The European Commission has adopted a second set of technical rules to help implement EU legislation on quality and safety standards for human tissues and cells. A first set of implementing rules was adopted in February, providing safety rules for the first phases of the process: donation, procurement and testing (see MEX/06/0208). This second set of rules covers the subsequent phases: processing, preservation, storage and distribution. It also incorporates tissue coding requirements, measures to ensure traceability between donor and recipient and vice versa, and rules for reporting serious adverse reactions and events. Among the measures laid down in the new Directive are requirements for the accreditation of tissue establishments and tissues and cell preparation processes. The Directive also details the procedures that tissue establishments have to follow for notifying serious adverse reactions and events to the national competent authorities, as well as the procedures for the annual reporting on these notifications to the European Commission. With a view to ensuring that all human tissues and cells are traceable from the donor to the end user and vice versa, the Directive also defines the basis for a single European identifying code for all donated material. These rules will help to ensure a high level of public health protection in all Member States, and prevent the transmission of diseases via donated tissues and cells.

    [18] Commission publishes report on GM food and feed legislation

    [19] Commission clears acquisition of TBT Logistics by Apollo Group

    The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of TNT Logistics Holdings B.V of The Netherlands, TNT Container Logistik GmbH and TNT Logistics GmbH of Germany and certain assets related to the TNT business activities in France (together TNT Logistics) by the Apollo Group of the US. The Apollo Group is active in portfolio investments. TNT Logistics offers domestic and cross border contract logistics services. It designs, implements and operates complex supply chain solutions. Currently, TNT Logistics is part of TNT N.V. (The Netherlands), active in mail and express freight delivery services. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure

    [20] Second quarter of 2006 - EU25 current account deficit € 22.0 billion - € 20.7 billion surplus on trade in services

    According to the latest revisions, the EU25 external current account recorded a deficit of € 22.0 billion in the second quarter of 2006, as compared to a deficit of € 11.7 billionn in the second quarter of 2005 and a deficit of € 34.3 billionn in the first quarter of 2006. In the second quarter of 2006, compared to the second quarter of 2005, a higher deficit was recorded in the goods account (€ -36.4 billion compared to € -15.8 billion n), while the surplus of the services account increased (€ +20.7 billion compared to €+18.3 billion), and the deficit in the current transfers account remained stable (€-11.0 billion in both quarters). The income account balance moved from a deficit (-3.2 billion) to a surplus (€+4.8 billion). The surplus recorded in the services account (€+20.7 billion) is mainly the result of surpluses in "other business services" (€+8.1 billion), financial services (€+7.0 billion), transportation (€+4.2 billion) and computer and information services (€+2.3 billion), partially offset by deficits in royalties and license fees (€-2.0 billion) and in travel (€-1.4 billion). The EU25 external current account in the second quarter of 2006 recorded a surplus with the USA (€+27.4 billion euro), Canada (€+4.2 billion), Switzerland (€+4.1 billion) and Hong Kong (€+2.4 billion) and a deficit with China (€-25.3 billion), Russia (€-15.9 billion) and Japan (€-6.7 billion). These provisional data, issued by Eurostat.

    [21] Financial Services Action Plan (FSAP): workshop to assess how to evaluate economic impact

    The European Commission hosts today leading economic experts representing the financial services industry, national supervisors, academics and consumers, who will share their views on right methodology for the evaluation of the economic impact of the Financial Services Action Plan (FSAP). The Workshop will be composed of four panel sessions corresponding to the initial objectives of the FSAP:(1) Single wholesale market; (2) Open and secure retail markets; (3) Wider conditions for an optimal single market (including Company Law, Corporate Governance, accounting and auditing issues). The purpose of the Workshop is to identify the key economic parameters that should be covered in the Evaluation Study, as well as to refine possible methodologies to measure the impact of the FSAP.T he Evaluation Study will be commissioned to an external contractor, who will be selected through an open call for tender. The call will be launched in early 2007. The study is expected to be completed by 2009. The Commission also welcomes contributions from stakeholders who are not able to participate in the Workshop. These can be sent to: MARKT-FSAP- WORKSHOP@ec.europa.eu

    More information, including the Programme, is available at: <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/finances/actionplan/index_en.htm">http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/finances/actionplan/index_en.htm

    [22] Rédiffusion

    [23] Consolidating 50 years of delivery. The Commission work programme for 2007

    The European Commission has today adopted its work programme for 2007. As the European Union prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, the Commission has mapped out the concrete action it will take to meet its strategic objectives for 2007. For the first time, the Commission identifies a series of 21 strategic initiatives that will be the main focus of its work in 2007. In addition, the Commission sets out a further series of priority actions to be adopted over the next 12 to 18 months. The work programme takes the better regulation initiative to a new phase, by identifying simplification initiatives and withdrawals of pending legislation, and includes a list of priorities for communicating with citizens for the first time.

    [24] Mergers: Commission approves proposed acquisition of Schleipen & Erkens by Mondi

    The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the German company Schleipen & Erkens by the group Mondi Packaging. After examining the operation, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the EEA or any substantial part of it.

    [25] Commission adopts a recommendation on the efficient use of nuclear decommissioning funds

    Driven by the overarching importance of the safety of citizens, the European Commission has adopted today a new Recommendation with measures to ensure adequate and properly managed financial resources for all decommissioning activities of nuclear installations as well as for the safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste.

    [26] Commission welcomes Council adoption of new rules on the health of farmed fish

    Markos Kyprianou, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, has welcomed the adoption of a new Directive on the health of farmed fish and shellfish and disease control in the aquaculture sector, at the Agriculture Council today. The Directive, which was proposed by the Commission last year, (see IP/05/1062) aims to improve the health of aquaculture animals in the EU by upgrading the current legislation and introducing a series of new measures, including more emphasis on disease prevention at each point in the production chain. In setting down clear-cut and harmonised EU rules, the new legislation should also help to boost competitiveness in the EU aquaculture sector, which has a production value of some €2.6 million a year, and facilitate increased trade in fishery products.

    [27] Autre matériel diffusé

    Memo on State aid : Commission Guidelines on National Regional Aid for 2007-2013, the Czech Republic, Ireland and Lithuania – frequently asked questions

    Memo on Alcohol-related harm in Europe – Key data

    Memo on First Assessment of Community Lisbon Programme From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at http://europa.eu.int/


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