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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 97-01-31

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>

MIDDAY EXPRESS

News from the Spokesman's midday briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi du Porte-Paroleb

31/01/97


CONTENTS / CONTENU

  • [01] Jacques Santer congratulates new Austrian Chancellor
  • [02] Commission approves a revised cooperation arrangement between Swedish Match Sverige AB and Skandinavisk Tobakskompagni A/S concerning the Prince brand of cigarettes in Sweden
  • [03] Commission initiates second phase proceedings on BT-MCI merger
  • [04] European Forum on the transfer of ownership in SMEs
  • [05] President Stoyanov visits the European Commission
  • [06] Joćo de Deus Pinheiro stresses need for conflict prevention and regional co-operation in East Africa
  • [07] Sir Leon Brittan: tackling the moral and political challenges of globalisation
  • [08] Padraig Flynn calls for a reform of our social protection systems
  • [09] Franz Fischler: "Austria should not be afraid of the euro"

  • [01] Jacques Santer congratulates new Austrian Chancellor

    The President of the European Commission Jacques Santer has congratulated Viktor Klima, the new Federal Chancellor of Austria. In his message, Mr Santer said he was convinced that Chancellor Klima would continue the committment of his predecessors for the construction of Europe.

    [02] Commission approves a revised cooperation arrangement between Swedish Match Sverige AB and Skandinavisk Tobakskompagni A/S concerning the Prince brand of cigarettes in Sweden

    The European Commission has decided to approve a revised cooperation arrangement between Swedish Match Sverige AB and Skandinavisk Tobakskompagni A/S concerning the Prince brand of cigarettes in Sweden. Following serious doubts expressed by the Commission as to the compatibility with the competition rules of their exclusive licensing arrangement, the two companies have come forward with a radical re- definition of their continued cooperation. The changes, which meet the Commission's concerns, will involve an important structural overhaul of the Swedish cigarette market, and should contribute to a real and immediate increase in competition.

    [03] Commission initiates second phase proceedings on BT-MCI merger

    The European Commission has decided to open second-phase proceedings in the BT (British Telecommunications plc) and MCI (MCI Communications Corporation) merger notification. The merger would take place against a background of rapid change in the telecommunications sector, and in particular the granting of 44 new international facilities licences in the UK. And although many of the parties' activities are complementary, the Commission's enquiries suggest a certain number of areas in which further investigations are required.

    [04] European Forum on the transfer of ownership in SMEs

    The transfer of Small and Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which is vital for the survival of the enterprise, will be the subject of the European Forum that will take place in Lille, France, on 3-4 February 1997 at the initiative of the European Commission. The Forum has three aims: to raise awareness of the need for entrepreneurs to prepare the transfer of business in advance; to develop and assess best practices for successful transfers; to agree on conclusions and recommendations. By the year 2000 one in three SMEs in the European Union will have transferred ownership from the present generation to the next. However, most SMEs do not pay much attention to the issue of transfer of SMEs although this is a matter of crucial importance of their well-being and even survival. The European Observatory for SMEs has estimated that about 1.5 million SMEs in Europe risk closure and about 6.3 million jobs are at risk, if transfer is not dealt with seriously by businessmen and public authorities.

    [05] President Stoyanov visits the European Commission

    Yesterday, on the occasion of his first official visit abroad since his election, the President of Bulgaria Mr. Petar Stoyanov, met President Jacques Santer and Commissioner Hans van den Broek. They discussed the political and economic crisis in Bulgaria. President Stoyanov welcomed the emergency social assistance programme recently decided by the European Union to give income support for the most needy parts of the population. Regarding the economic problems now facing Bulgaria, the European Commission declared its willingness to consider an initiative to mobilise international support, provided the necessary stabilisation and economic reform measures are put into place by the Bulgarian authorities.

    [06] Joćo de Deus Pinheiro stresses need for conflict prevention and regional co-operation in East Africa

    The European Development Commissioner, Joćo de Deus Pinheiro, has just completed visits to Ethiopia, Eritrea and Uganda as part of his official tour of the East African region. In his political talks with Heads of State or Government and the Secretary General of the Organisation for African Unity, Mr Pinheiro called on the region's leaders to activate mechanisms of conflict prevention and regional co-operation aiming at creating the necessary conditions for stability and economic development. He highlighted respect for human rights and good governance as main features of the EU's development policy. The visit also provided the opportunity to sign, together with the European Investment Bank, national and regional co-operation agreements under the Lomé IV Convention for a total amount of ECU 1,079 million in grants and loans.

    [07] Sir Leon Brittan: tackling the moral and political challenges of globalisation

    (!!! embargo 8.30 pm !!!) Globalisation of the economy makes people fear they will lose their jobs and governments fear they will lose sovereignty, says Sir Leon Brittan in a speech in Davos this evening. Some see protectionism as the answer, but this will only compound problems in the medium term. Others assert that politics must regain the ascendency over economics. This is a simplistic response. Financial markets and world trade have reduced governments' control over the economy. We need to persuade people of the legitimacy of new institutions such as the EU and the WTO rather than tear them down. Globalisation must not be made the scapegoat. It does not simply make the rich richer, nor will it lead to a single global culture. Business and political leaders must promote understanding of the huge changes under way and build multilateral mechanisms to manage this change in a way that ensures that economic decisions remain politically acceptable. (!!! embargo 8.30 pm !!!)

    [08] Padraig Flynn calls for a reform of our social protection systems

    Speaking today in Gothenburg, Social Affairs Commissioner Padraig Flynn said that our social protection systems are facing major challenges. "Our systems were designed as income replacement, either temporarily because of sickness or unemployment, or permanently because of disability or retirement. They fitted the social and labour market structures of the times... In Europe as a whole, expenditure on social protection has increased from 24% of GDP in 1980 to over 28% in 1994 - a staggering ECU 1, 800 billion." The response to the Commission's Communication on "The future of Social Protection" shows that there is a general consensus on the need for reform and that our social protection systems must take better account of the realities of today's labour market and become more employment-friendly.

    [09] Franz Fischler: "Austria should not be afraid of the euro"

    In his speech on the relationship between Austria and the euro at the Austrian Chamber of Commerce in Vienna yesterday evening, Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler stressed that "we will have to take people's doubts and fears much more into consideration in the future." Besides the technical and legal aspects of preparing for the euro, the importance of informing and reassuring the public should not be forgotten, Mr Fischler stressed. With the Schilling, Austrians associated security, stability and an identity. The concept and preparation of the euro as well as the stability pact were worked out specifically to give the euro, too, the characteristics of security, stability and confidence, not just in the short, but also in the long term.

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


    From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at http://europa.eu.int/
    © ECSC - EC - EAEC, Brussels-Luxembourg, 1995, 1996


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