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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 07-02-08

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] Consumers : Commission acts to boost confidence in digital worldA major new drive to fundamentally overhaul core EU consumer rules – including guarantees, refunds, cooling off periods - to adapt them to the challenges of a fast changing digital world has been launched today with the adoption of a European Commission Green Paper reviewing the existing rules. Consumer spending (households and non-profile institutions) accounts for a total of 58% of EU GDP. Consumer confidence is a key factor determining how and when consumers spend their money in different sectors of the economy. All the evidence is that consumers are not yet "comfortable" enough in the digital and online world to seize its full potential. Only tiny fraction - 6% of EU consumers - are currently shopping online cross border. With the help of the feedback from the Green Paper, the Commission aims to boost consumer confidence in the EU Single Market, with a single and simple set of rules which empower consumers to know their rights, make sound choices and ensure adequate protection when things go wrong. Clear legal rules will also incentivise operators, particularly SMEs to venture beyond borders un-tapping the potential for integration for the retail side of the market. The Green Paper invites comments and contains over 28 concrete suggestions (cutting across 8 Directives) for possible new action.
  • [02] SME retailers take to e-commerce but it’s strictly national
  • [03] La Commission décide que les allègements fiscaux applicables la production régionale en Sicile constituent une aide illégale
  • [04] Commission endorses German energy tax exemptions but orders partial recovery of energy tax breaks in France, Ireland and Italy
  • [05] Lessons learned from the November 2006 electricity blackout : better Europe-wide cooperation needed
  • [06] La Commission nomme les membres du comité d'examen des avis sur les normes comptables
  • [07] Financial services : conference on better financial education for EU consumers
  • [08] L'UE envoie une mission d'observation électorale surveiller les élections présidentielles en Mauritanie
  • [09] Commission launches agriculture trade talks with Egypt
  • [10] Entreprises européennes - faits et chiffres : les entreprises européennes vues travers les statistiques
  • [11] Stavros Dimas remet les prix de la Semaine européenne de la mobilité aux villes de Léon, Budapest et Bologne
  • [12] Autre matériel diffusé Midday Express of 2007-02-08 Reference: MEX/07/0208 Date: 08/02/2007 EXME07 / 8.2

    MIDDAY EXPRESS

    News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

    08/02/07


  • [01] Consumers : Commission acts to boost confidence in digital worldA major new drive to fundamentally overhaul core EU consumer rules – including guarantees, refunds, cooling off periods - to adapt them to the challenges of a fast changing digital world has been launched today with the adoption of a European Commission Green Paper reviewing the existing rules. Consumer spending (households and non-profile institutions) accounts for a total of 58% of EU GDP. Consumer confidence is a key factor determining how and when consumers spend their money in different sectors of the economy. All the evidence is that consumers are not yet "comfortable" enough in the digital and online world to seize its full potential. Only tiny fraction - 6% of EU consumers - are currently shopping online cross border. With the help of the feedback from the Green Paper, the Commission aims to boost consumer confidence in the EU Single Market, with a single and simple set of rules which empower consumers to know their rights, make sound choices and ensure adequate protection when things go wrong. Clear legal rules will also incentivise operators, particularly SMEs to venture beyond borders un-tapping the potential for integration for the retail side of the market. The Green Paper invites comments and contains over 28 concrete suggestions (cutting across 8 Directives) for possible new action.

    [02] SME retailers take to e-commerce but it’s strictly national

    E-commerce seems to be the key to further opening the retail internal market, as 57% of retailers say they now sell via the internet. But more than two thirds of them sell exclusively domestically. And of the 29% who do sell cross-border most do to only or two other Member States. More would like to sell cross-border (48% of EU retailers are prepared to do so). These are among the main findings of a Eurobarometer survey on business attitudes towards cross-border sales, released today by the European Commission to coincide with a major consultation exercise on consumer rules. However, there are still significant barriers to an EU-wide business- to-consumer market, with perceived insecurity of transactions, differences in national fiscal regulations and consumer rules being the main concerns. Forty three percent of retailers believed that their cross-border sales would increase if laws regulating consumer transactions were the same throughout the EU.

    [03] La Commission décide que les allègements fiscaux applicables la production régionale en Sicile constituent une aide illégale

    La Commission européenne a décidé que les incitations fiscales adoptées par la Sicile dans le cadre de deux lois régionales étaient incompatibles avec les règles du traité CE en matière d'aides d'Etat. Les régimes en question prévoient une exonération de l'impôt italien sur les activités régionales de production ("IRAP") en faveur des sociétés exerçant des activités dans certains secteurs en Sicile. Ces exonérations étant susceptibles de fausser la concurrence au sein du marché unique de l'UE en favorisant de manière sélective certaines catégories d'entreprises, elles ne peuvent donc pas être appliquées. Aucune aide n'ayant encore été accordée au titre de ces mesures, il n'y a pas lieu que la Commission en demande la récupération.

    [04] Commission endorses German energy tax exemptions but orders partial recovery of energy tax breaks in France, Ireland and Italy

    The European Commission has decided that Germany's exemptions from energy taxation for dual use of energy products (such as in steel production, where the energy product is also used as a raw material) and for use of energy products in processing minerals (such as cement and glass production) do not constitute aid under EC Treaty state aid rules since they are a consistent part of the overall national tax system. However the Commission has decided that tax exemptions from heavy fuel duty granted by France, Ireland and Italy for alumina production do constitute state aid because in all three Member States, these exemptions are highly selective and in practice benefit only one company per country and one sector (alumina production). The Commission concluded that 80% of the value of the tax exemptions for the period as of 1 January 2004 is compatible with the state aid rules. However, since the beneficiaries have not engaged in binding agreements to improve their environmental record, the Commission has, in accordance with the guidelines on state aid for environmental protection (see IP/00/1519), found the remaining 20% to be illegal state aid and ordered France, Ireland and Italy to recover this money from the beneficiary companies Alcan, Aughinish and Eurallumina. In December 2005, the Commission already ordered the recovery of part of the tax exemptions for alumina production in France, Ireland and Italy for the period 2002- 2003 (see IP/05/1542). France, Ireland and Italy must now suspend the payment of the compatible aid to beneficiaries until they have paid back the aid found incompatible in the present and in the previous decision.

    [05] Lessons learned from the November 2006 electricity blackout : better Europe-wide cooperation needed

    Lack of co-ordination between the companies responsible for transmitting electricity – so called transmission system operators (TSOs) - was the main reason for the 4th November 2006 system disturbance, which affected 15 million consumers in Europe. The final report on the incident, released on 6th February by the European Energy Regulators, demonstrates that common action at European level is urgent. Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs had asked for the assessment of the European Regulators Group (ERGEG), on the lessons to be learned from this event. This report provides clear evidence that the malfunctioning of the system is worse than previously thought.

    [06] La Commission nomme les membres du comité d'examen des avis sur les normes comptables

    La Commission européenne a nommé les sept membres du comité d'examen des avis sur les normes comptables, dont le rôle consiste conseiller la Commission sur le processus d'adoption des normes internationales d'information financière (IFRS) et des interprétations du Comité d'interprétation des normes d'information financière internationales (IFRIC). Le comité d'examen aura pour tâche d'apprécier le caractère équilibré et objectif des avis rendus par le Groupe consultatif pour l'information financière en Europe (EFRAG) concernant l'adoption de ces normes et interprétations. Ces nominations constituent la dernière étape de la mise en place d'un groupe consultatif indépendant dans le domaine de la comptabilité, décidée par la Commission en juillet 2006 (voir IP/06/1001).

    [07] Financial services : conference on better financial education for EU consumers

    To raise awareness of the need to provide high-quality financial education to consumers, the European Commission is organising a conference on "Increasing Financial Capability" in Brussels on 28 March 2007. Financial education has a vital role to play in ensuring that EU consumers and investors are equipped with the knowledge they need to make crucial financial decisions for themselves and their families, in areas such as planning for the costs of a child's education, managing credit sensibly, ensuring an adequate level of insurance cover and making provisions for retirement. This conference will also serve as a forum to exchange best practices between existing providers of financial education.

    [08] L'UE envoie une mission d'observation électorale surveiller les élections présidentielles en Mauritanie

    Faisant suite l'invitation du gouvernement mauritanien, la Commission européenne a décidé de déployer dans le pays une mission d’observation électorale de l’Union européenne l'occasion des élections présidentielles prévues pour le 11 mars 2007. Cette mission d'observation sera dirigée par Mme Marie-Anne Isler-Beguin, membre français du Parlement européen. Ces élections font suite aux récentes élections municipales et législatives, également observées par l'Union, et mettront un terme au cycle électoral engagé par les autorités mauritaniennes, il y a six mois, avec la réussite du référendum constitutionnel.

    [09] Commission launches agriculture trade talks with Egypt

    As proposed by Mariann Fischer Boel, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development to Mohamed Rachid, Egyptian Minister of Foreign Trade and Industry, the Commission and Egypt held a First round of negotiations on further liberalisation of trade in agriculture, processed agricultural and fishery products between Egypt and the European Union on 7-8 February 2007 in Cairo. The negotiations are based on the spirit of the process set out in the 2005 Rabat Roadmap, which aims at wide-ranging liberalisation of trade in agriculture, processed agricultural and fishery products between the EU and the countries of the southern Mediterranean which are covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Association Agreement. The ambition is a Free Trade Area by 2010. At the same time, following the enlargement of the European Union to include Bulgaria and Romania as of 1 January 2007, the Commission and Egypt discussed a technical adaptation Protocol to extend the provisions of the Association Agreement to the two new Member States.

    [10] Entreprises européennes - faits et chiffres : les entreprises européennes vues travers les statistiques

    La nouvelle édition de "European Business – Facts and figures", publiée par Eurostat, fournit une vue d'ensemble complète de la structure, de l'évolution et des caractéristiques des entreprises européennes et de leurs différents secteurs d'activité: de l'énergie et des industries extractives aux communications, en passant par les services d'information et les médias. La publication présente les dernières statistiques disponibles provenant d'un large éventail de sources et décrivant pour chaque activité: la production et l'emploi, la spécialisation nationale et la distribution régionale, la structure des coûts, la productivité et la rentabilité, l'importance des petites et moyennes entreprises (PME), le commerce extérieur, etc.

    [11] Stavros Dimas remet les prix de la Semaine européenne de la mobilité aux villes de Léon, Budapest et Bologne

    M. Stavros Dimas, membre de la Commission européenne chargé de l'environnement, a remis le prix 2007 de la Semaine européenne de la mobilité la ville espagnole de Léon. Le deuxième prix a été décerné Budapest et le troisième prix Bologne. La Semaine européenne de la mobilité est une manifestation soutenue par la Commission qui se tient chaque année et qui vise promouvoir la mobilité durable dans les villes en encourageant l'utilisation de moyens de déplacement peu ou non polluants tels que la marche, la bicyclette, les transports publics et le covoiturage. La mise en place de mesures permanentes facilitant l'usage de ces moyens de transport de substitution constitue une obligation pour les villes qui souhaitent participer l'initiative. Les prix ont récompensé les meilleures contributions la Semaine européenne de la mobilité de l'année dernière, qui était axée sur la lutte contre le changement climatique et laquelle ont participé 1.322 villes, impliquant au total plus de 200 millions de personnes. Le jury indépendant composé d'experts a choisi d'accorder la première place la ville de Léon, en raison de la grande variété des activités qu'elle a organisées lors de cette semaine et de l'efficacité de sa stratégie de communication sur la mobilité durable. La remise des prix par M. Dimas a eu lieu le 7 février l'occasion d'un atelier organisé au Comité des régions Bruxelles en vue de la préparation de la Semaine européenne de la mobilité 2007 qui se déroulera du 16 au 22 septembre.

    [12] Autre matériel diffusé

    Frequently Asked Questions: The Review of EU Consumer Protection Rules "The Review of the Consumer Acquis"

    Commission welcomes the European Court of Justice ruling on Belgian beer case

    Speech by Peter Mandelson : "Europe in the global age: open or closed?" at Stockholm School of Economics (! embargo 14h00 CET !)

    Speech by Olli Rehn : "Orhid Agreement: Vital for European Path" at Conference on the Ohrid Framework Agreement (Skopje)

    Speech by Andris Piebalgs : "Energy for a Changing World: The New European Energy Policy" at the EPP seminar 'Europe's Energy Challenges' (07/02) From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at http://europa.eu.int/


    Midday Express: News from the EU Commission Spokesman's Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
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