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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 97-04-21

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

From: EUROPA, the European Commission Server at <>


News from the Spokesman's midday briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi du Porte-Paroleb



  • [01] Jacques Santer: "A message for the sceptics"
  • [02] Country report on Portugal
  • [03] ECU 12 million for cross-border cooperation between Austria and Italy
  • [04] Padraig Flynn says Ireland is in a very healthy position for participation in EMU
  • [05] Accounting and auditing: Mario Monti outlines what needs to be done to achieve Single Market goals
  • [06] Ritt Bjerregaard: "Participation of NGOs essential in improving the environment"

  • [01] Jacques Santer: "A message for the sceptics"

    (!!! embargo 4 pm !!!) In the "Sicco Mansholt Lecture 1997", today in Amsterdam, the President of the European Commission Jacques Santer called upon sceptics to recognise the achievements and advantages of the European Union and not to stand in the way of further progress. "There is not point at all in keeping our feet on the brakes, it is even dangerous". The single currency would happen on time, Jacques Santer said, because "the chances have never been better" and the alternative of failure was unacceptable. "Let us stop conjuring the ghosts of defeat". Jacques Santer also said that the successful conclusion of the Intergovernmental Conference in June in Amsterdam was imperative. Citizens had to be convinced by the Treaty reform because they "will be asked to agree to the Treaty of Amsterdam, through their Parliaments, and directly through referenda". "Rejection of the new Treaty would be catastrophic" for the inner cohesion of the Union and for enlargement which the Union could then not envisage. In order to carry the support of the citizens, the Treaty of Amsterdam should "respond more directly to their personal concerns", such as unemployment and the lack of security. Institutional reform with more majority voting should avoid us "getting trapped in a vicious circle of paralysis, lack of credibility, undermined confidence and deeper paralysis. Moreover, citizens "want to see an end to the confusion and helplessness which the Union too often displays in foreign and security matters. (!!! embargo 4 pm !!!)

    [02] Country report on Portugal

    The Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs, under the authority of Commissioner Yves-Thibault de Silguy, has just released a study on "The Economic and Financial Situation in Portugal" which was recently discussed in the Economic Policy Committee (EPC). The study covers the development of the Portuguese economy since the early 1990s, with particular emphasis on growth performance, the pursuit of stability and structural reform. It analyses the impressive progress in nominal stability in the Portuguese economy during the 1990s. The marked fall in consumer price inflation from around 13% in 1990 to about 3% in 1996 is the most notable achievement in this respect. This was accompanied by a substantial decline in interest rates, with the differential of long-term rates vis-á-vis the German mark falling from some 10 percentage points in 1991 to around 1 percentage point at the end of 1996. As to public finances, the general government deficit, which stood at close to 7% of GDP in 1993, fell to some 4% in 1996 and the debt to GDP ratio started to decline in that year. The study provides an analysis of the economic policies underlying these achievements and is part of the overall process of multilateral surveillance in the European Union.

    [03] ECU 12 million for cross-border cooperation between Austria and Italy

    The European Commission is to make ECU 11.85 million available to further cross-border cooperation between Austria and Italy. Under the programme just approved by the Commission, Austria will receive ECU 4.57 million and Italy ECU 7.28 million. Taking part in the programme, an Interreg II Community Initiative, will be the Austrian Bundesländer Carinthia, Tyrol and Salzburg and, on the Italian side, the autonomous province of Bolzano (Südtirol), the region of Veneto and the autonomous region of Friuli- Venezia Giulia. The programme aims at improving natural, agricultural and forestry resources, increasing economic cooperation and the developpement of tourism.

    [04] Padraig Flynn says Ireland is in a very healthy position for participation in EMU

    Speaking today in Dublin at a conference on "The euro and business," Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner, Padraig Flynn, said that on all the criteria, budget deficit, debt ratio, inflation and exchange rate, "Ireland is in a very healthy position." He went on to say that "barring dramatic and unforeseen economic developments, I expect that Ireland will be on the list of Member States which will be recommended by the European Commission to the Council of Ministers as suitable for transition to EMU. In turn I expect that both the Council and the Heads of State, who will take the final decision on who qualifies for membership in a year's time, will not deviate from the Treaty provisions on EMU." On the issue of the link between the Irish pound and sterling, the Commissioner argued against the pessimism which surrounds this question. He said, "Clearly, it would be ideal if the U.K. were also to participate in EMU along with Ireland. However, there is a clear need to plan for the possibility of British non- participation in EMU."

    [05] Accounting and auditing: Mario Monti outlines what needs to be done to achieve Single Market goals

    (!!! embargo 7 pm !!!) An overview of the Action Plan for the completion of the Single Market, currently being prepared by the European Commission, was outlined by Commissioner Mario Monti in a speech in London on 21 April to the Institute of Chartered Accountants. The Action Plan covers priority measures necessary to ensure that the full benefit of the Single Market is achieved before the introduction of the euro on 1 January 1999. Mr Monti noted in particular that a Single Market for investment requires financial information published by companies to be of high quality and comparable from one Member State to another. Consequently, existing weaknesses must be adressed, there needs to be a common definition of what the statutory audit should consist of and freedom to provide auditing services throughout the European Union (EU) must become a reality. "To adapt the legislative framework I am currently examining the possibility of amending the 4th Directive and of introducing a sectoral Directive in the field of professional qualifications", said Mr Monti. As for the issue of joint and several liability, the Commission would consider taking an initiative only if it was clear that differences between national rules constitute a barrier to the free movement of services in the EU. (!!! embargo 7 pm !!!)

    [06] Ritt Bjerregaard: "Participation of NGOs essential in improving the environment"

    During her visit to the Czech Republic, Environment Commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard gave the opening address at the launching conference of the Phare-funded education programme "Creating greater public awareness". In her speech, the Commissioner encouraged larger involvement of NGOs in the Czech environmental policy, since they can help push the development in the right direction, in particular through their influence in ares such as education and the media. Mrs Bjerregaard also underlined that it is essential that the Czech Republic continues its efforts to meet the full "acquis communautaire" in the field of environment in order to qualify for future membership of the Union.


    From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at
    © ECSC - EC - EAEC, Brussels-Luxembourg, 1995, 1996

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