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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 07-10-11

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] Commission congratulates European winners of Nobel science prizes
  • [02] Ententes : la Commission ouvre le marchĂ© gazier belge Ă la concurrence
  • [03] Commission reopens investigation into restructuring of Polish machinery producer Huta Stalowa Wola
  • [04] La Commission autorise une aide de €31 millions de l'Agence française de l'innovation industrielle en faveur du programme de R&D "Osiris"
  • [05] La Commission ouvre une enquĂŞte approfondie au sujet de l'aide de €31 millions en faveur du fabricant français d'appareils mĂ©nagers FagorBrandt
  • [06] Commission clears acquisition of Hospitality Invest by AIG and Orco
  • [07] Commission carries out inspections in the international freight forwarding sector
  • [08] Member States deliver no opinion in Standing Committee on proposals for the authorisation of 4 GMOs
  • [09] Commission decides against further sugar withdrawal
  • [10] Euro area GDP up by 0.3% and EU27 GDP up by 0.5%
  • [11] Cohesion policy 2007-2013 : two new Estonian programmes launched
  • [12] Cohesion policy 2007-2013 : Commission adopts new series of Polish regional programmes
  • [13] 200.000 personnes participent aux JournĂ©es europĂ©ennes de l'emploi
  • [14] Benita Ferrero-Waldner to visit Kaliningrad 11-12 October 2007
  • [15] Andris Piebalgs welcomes the Russian-Ukrainian agreement on the gas payments issue
  • [16] Autre matĂ©riel diffusĂ© Midday Express of 2007-10-11 Reference: MEX/07/1011 Date: 11/10/2007 EXME07 / 11.10

    MIDDAY EXPRESS

    News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

    11/10/07


  • [01] Commission congratulates European winners of Nobel science prizes

    Four European scientists have been awarded the Nobel prizes for Medicine, Physics and Chemistry. Sir Martin Evans, of Cardiff University, shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine with two scientists based in America for their work on mouse genetics. Albert Fert of Université Paris-Sud and CNRS and Peter Grünberg of Forschungszentrum Jülich shared the Nobel Prize for Physics for their discovery of the effect underlying data retrieval from hard disks. Gerhard Ertl of the Fritz-Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society in Berlin has been honoured with the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his study of chemical processes on solid surfaces.

    [02] Ententes : la Commission ouvre le marché gazier belge à la concurrence

    Les engagements offerts par Distrigas aux fins de l'ouverture du marché du gaz belge viennent d'être rendus contraignants par une décision formelle de la Commission européenne. Ces engagements dissipent les craintes soulevées par la Commission au cours d'une enquête menée en application des règles du traité CE sur l'abus de position dominante (article 82). La Commission redoutait des problèmes d'approvisionnement sur le marché gazier belge en raison des contrats à long terme conclus par Distrigas avec les consommateurs de gaz. Conformément à ces engagements, Distrigas devrait réduire les volumes de gaz liés par des contrats à long terme, ce qui devrait permettre à d'autres fournisseurs de gaz de se positionner en tant que concurrents en vue de la constitution d'un portefeuille de clients et, partant, encourager la concurrence sur le marché gazier belge. À la lumière des engagements offerts par Distrigas, la Commission a décidé de mettre fin à son enquête.

    [03] Commission reopens investigation into restructuring of Polish machinery producer Huta Stalowa Wola

    The European Commission has launched an in-depth investigation to establish whether the modification of the restructuring plan of Huta Stalowa Wola (HSW), a Polish industrial machinery company, is compatible with EC Treaty state aid rules. The Commission authorised restructuring aid for HSW in 2006 (see IP/06/1874), but HSW modified its restructuring plan without notifying the change to the Commission. The opening of a formal investigation will give interested parties an opportunity to comment. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.

    [04] La Commission autorise une aide de €31 millions de l'Agence française de l'innovation industrielle en faveur du programme de R&D "Osiris"

    La Commission européenne a décidé de ne pas soulever d'objection en vertu des règles du traité CE sur les aides d'Etat à l'égard du soutien financier accordé par la France au programme de recherche-développement (R&D) intitulé "OSIRIS". Le groupe Soufflet coordonne ce programme en association avec l'entreprise Maguin et un laboratoire de recherche français. L'objectif du projet est de développer de nouveaux produits et procédés biotechnologiques afin d'améliorer en particulier l'exploitation des ressources agricoles en biocarburant et en nutrition animale. L'aide s'élève à €31 millions.

    [05] La Commission ouvre une enquête approfondie au sujet de l'aide de €31 millions en faveur du fabricant français d'appareils ménagers FagorBrandt

    La Commission européenne a ouvert une enquête approfondie afin d'établir si une aide d'un montant de €31 millions que les autorités françaises ont l'intention d'accorder au fabricant d'appareils ménagers FagorBrandt est compatible avec les règles du traité CE régissant les aides d'Etat accordées aux entreprises en difficulté, en particulier en ce qui concerne le retour de l'entreprise à la viabilité et la limitation de l'aide au minimum nécessaire. La Commission s'inquiète également de ce que l'aide puisse être utilisée pour financer le remboursement d'aides illégales d'un montant de 22,5 millions d'euros que FagorBrandt a reçues en 2002 (voir IP/03/1738). L'ouverture d'une enquête approfondie permet aux parties intéressées de présenter leurs observations au sujet des mesures proposées. Elle ne préjuge pas l'issue de la procédure.

    [06] Commission clears acquisition of Hospitality Invest by AIG and Orco

    The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of Hospitality Invest S.á.r.l. of Luxembourg by American International Group, Inc. (AIG) of the US and the Orco Property Group (Orco) of Luxembourg. Hospitality Invest is currently solely controlled by Orco. AIG provides general insurance, life insurance and retirement services. Orco is active in investment in real estate and in hospitality. Hospitality Invest owns and operates hotels in Central and Eastern Europe. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

    [07] Commission carries out inspections in the international freight forwarding sector

    The European Commission can confirm that on 10th October 2007 Commission officials carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of various providers of international freight forwarding services. Freight forwarding is the organisation of transportation of items along with related activities such as customs clearance, warehousing and ground services. The Commission has reason to believe that the companies concerned may have violated EC Treaty rules that outlaw restrictive business practices (Article 81). The Commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the relevant national competition authorities. Surprise inspections are a preliminary step in investigations into suspected cartels. The fact that the Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour; nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself. The Commission respects the rights of defence, in particular the right of companies to be heard in antitrust proceedings. There is no strict deadline to complete cartel inquiries. Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the extent to which the undertakings concerned cooperate and the exercise of the rights of defence.

    [08] Member States deliver no opinion in Standing Committee on proposals for the authorisation of 4 GMOs

    On 10 October, the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health returned no definitive opinion either for or against European Commission proposals to authorise 3 genetically modified maize varieties (for food and feed, import and processing) and a GM potato (for feed and adventitious presence in food and feed). As a result, the Commission must now transmit the dossiers to Council. If the Council does not reach a position within the months, the proposals will be sent back to the Commission for final adoption. The proposals to authorise the 4 GMOs are based on favourable scientific assessments from the European Food Safety Authority, which addressed all safety concerns and found there to be no risk to human or animal health or to the environment from these products. The 3 maize varieties in question - Mon863xNK603, Mon863xMon810 and Mon863xMon810xNK603 - are resulting from the combination, by conventional breeding, of genetic modifications that are already authorised. The proposal is to authorise them for food and feed use and for import and processing, but not for cultivation. The GM potato – EH92-527-1 also called "Amflora" - which the Commission is proposing to authorise is genetically modified for a higher starch yield, and would be used primarily for industrial purposes. The by- products from the industrial process would also be allowed to be used as animal feed. The GM potato would not be authorised for food use but a 0.9% tolerance for adventitious presence is foreseen. A separate Decision on the authorisation of this potato for cultivation is to be taken by the Commission under the framework of Directive 2001/18/EC. The authorisations would be valid for 10 years, and any products produced from these GMOs would be subject to the EU's strict labelling and traceability rules. For more information, see:

    <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/biotechnology/index_en.htm">http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/biotechnology/index_en.htm

    [09] Commission decides against further sugar withdrawal

    Based on an updated market forecast for the sugar marketing year 2007/08, the European Commission has decided to maintain unchanged the level of preventive withdrawal of 2 million tonnes of sugar decided in March 2007 (see IP/07/231). This enabled beet growers to reduce sowings accordingly and hence to avoid a massive sugar surplus - estimated at least 4 millions tonnes prior to preventive action. The recently updated market forecast shows a reassuringly balanced market for 2007/08. This is due to the impact of the preventive withdrawal and to the extraordinary decision to maintain export refunds in 2007/08. Uncertainty concerning the forecast of certain variables, mainly imports, is not deemed sufficient to justify active intervention at EU level. The 2007/08 traditional supply needs for EU refiners are not subject to any withdrawal following provisions adopted by Council on 9 October.

    [10] Euro area GDP up by 0.3% and EU27 GDP up by 0.5%

    Euro area (EA13) GDP grew by 0.3% and EU27 GDP by 0.5% in the second quarter of 2007, compared with the previous quarter, according to second estimates from Eurostat. In the first quarter of 2007, growth rates were +0.8% in both the euro area and the EU27. In comparison with the same quarter of the previous year, seasonally adjusted GDP grew in the second quarter of 2007 by 2.5% in the euro area and by 2.8% in the EU27, after +3.2% and +3.4% respectively in the previous quarter. In the second quarter of 2007 and among the Member States for which seasonally adjusted GDP data are available, Latvia (+2.7%) recorded the highest growth rate compared with the previous quarter, followed by Slovakia (+2.4%) and Lithuania (+2.1%).

    [11] Cohesion policy 2007-2013 : two new Estonian programmes launched

    The European Commission has adopted two Operational Programmes that frame actions under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund in Estonia for the next seven years. The programmes are entitled: "Development of economic environment" and "Development of living environment". The implementation of EU Cohesion policy can now start on the ground.

    [12] Cohesion policy 2007-2013 : Commission adopts new series of Polish regional programmes

    A ceremony will take place in Brussels today to mark the adoption of five Operational Programmes (OPs) for Poland, to cover Cohesion Policy implementation for 2007-2013. Danuta HĂĽbner, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, will sign the programmes in the presence of Mr Jerzy Kwiecinski, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Regional Development and marshals from the five regions.

    [13] 200.000 personnes participent aux Journées européennes de l'emploi

    Les Journées européennes de l'emploi, qui se sont déroulées pendant dix jours simultanément dans 230 villes d'Europe à partir du 24 septembre, ont attiré plus de 200.000 participants. Des demandeurs d'emploi et des employeurs ont pu avoir des contacts directs à l'occasion de 500 événements différents, allant de salons de recrutement à des séminaires et des conférences sur la mobilité. La manifestation de Bruxelles, organisée au siège de la Commission européenne, a attiré 10.000 demandeurs d'emploi. Par ailleurs, EURES – le portail européen sur la mobilité de l'emploi – héberge actuellement 1,4 million d'offres d'emploi, soit une augmentation de 40% par rapport à l'année dernière.

    [14] Benita Ferrero-Waldner to visit Kaliningrad 11-12 October 2007

    European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, will go to Kaliningrad on 11-12 October 2007 . It is her second visit showing once again the European Commission's commitment to make its development and co-operation with neighbouring regions such as Poland, Lithuania and the Baltic Sea a success story. During her visit, the Commissioner will meet with Presidential Aide Sergey Yastrzhembsky and Governor Georgy Boos and Minister of Regional Development, Dmitryi Kozak, to discuss the development prospects of Kaliningrad and further EU support including improvements to Kaliningrad border crossings. She will also address the International Conference on Cross-Border Co- operation between Regions in the Baltic Sea area involving of Russia, EU member states and Norway. The EU is keen to help this unique area benefit and develop alongside its European Union neighbours and will allocate €132 million for the region (Kaliningrad, Poland, Lithuania) for 2007- 2013 via cross-border-co-operation programmes.

    [15] Andris Piebalgs welcomes the Russian-Ukrainian agreement on the gas payments issue

    European Energy Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, welcomed the agreement reached on 9 Octobber in Moscow between Russian and Ukrainian energy authorities on the dispute about gas payments that arose last week. Commissioner Piebalgs had called both parties to find a speedy solution to the problem in a press statement issued on 2nd October. "The rapid solution of this bilateral commercial issue and the level of transparency shown by both parts during the affair strengthens the reputation of Russia and Ukraine as reliable supply and transit countries to EU markets", said Commissioner Piebalgs.

    [16] Autre matériel diffusé

    Antitrust: Commission increases competition in the Belgian gas market – frequently asked questions

    Speech by Joaquin Almunia : "Matching Efficiency with Fairness" at annual Research Conference

    Speech by Neelie Kroes : "Global Europe – competing and cooperating" at 'Women in European Business' EB conference (Frankfurt)

    Opening remarks by President José Manuel Barroso at press conference : "An ocean of opportunity: a new integrated maritime policy for the European Union" (10/10)

    Introductory remarks by Joe Borg at press conference for the launch of Integration Maritime Policy for the European Union (10/10)

    Speech by Joe Borg : "An ocean of opportunity: a new integrated maritime policy for the European Union" at Committee of the Regions' plenary session (10/10)

    Speech by Joe Borg : "An Ocean of Opportunity: A new Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union" at European Parliament's plenary session (10/10)

    Speech by Danuta HĂĽbner : "Netherlands and Germany: Celebrating a golden jubilee in cross-border cooperation" (10/10, Enschede-Gronau) From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at http://europa.eu.int/


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