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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 97-04-23

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

23/04/97


CONTENTS / CONTENU

[I] Résultats de la Commission de ce jour - Outcome of today's Commission meeting

  • [01] La situation économique dans l'Union européenne
  • [02] External aspects of Economic and Monetary Union
  • [03] Une vue globale de la politique et des actions énergétiques
  • [04] Commission to recover ECU 539 million of CAP expenditure from the Member States - financial year 1993
  • [05] Prolongation des mesures de sauvegarde à l'importation de riz en provenance des pays et territoires d'Outre-Mer (PTOM)
  • [06] Commission proposes the creation of a Community framework for airport charges
  • [07] Commission launches new policy on Hong Kong
  • [08] Commission calls for a continent-wide European transport network to meet the needs of the 21st century
  • [09] La Commission lance une nouvelle initiative pour prévenir la fraude dans le domaine de la fiscalité indirecte
  • [10] Commission clears Anglo American's purchase of Lonrho shares subject to the stakes being reduced to less than 10%
  • [11] Commission has decided to open the procedure for possible aid to Philips and Rabobank under the technolease transaction (Netherlands)
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [12] Investment, deregulation and trade covered by high-level EU-Japan talks

  • [I] Résultats de la Commission de ce jour - Outcome of today's Commission meeting

    [01] La situation économique dans l'Union européenne

    La Commission européenne a examiné la situation économique dans l'Union, à la lumière des prévisions économiques du printemps élaborées par ses services. La Commission a constaté avec satisfaction que les Etats membres s'étaient encore rapprochés des critères de convergence et qu'une majorité de pays seraient sans doute en mesure de participer à l'Union monétaire dès le 1er janvier 1999. En particulier, l'accélération de la croissance du PIB annoncée dans les précédentes prévisions de la Commission semble se confirmer, grâce aux taux d'intérêts bas, au retour récent du dollar à des niveaux plus réalistes, au dynamisme de la demande extérieure, à une évolution favorable des salaires et au maintien d'une inflation faible. Une croissance plus vigoureuse aidera les Etats membres dans leurs efforts ambitieux pour maîtriser les finances publiques. Elle devrait aussi contribuer à la réduction du chômage, qui reste pour l'Union la priorité de la politique économique. À la suite de cette discussion, la Commission a finalisé sa recommandation concernant les grandes orientations des politiques économiques, qui seront présentées au Conseil européen d'Amsterdam. Au vu des résultats budgétaires pour 1996, la Commission a aussi recommandé que les Pays-Bas et la Finlande soient retirés de la liste des pays présentant un déficit excessif. Enfin, la Commission a adopté des propositions de recommandations au Conseil concernant les dix autres pays avec un déficit excessif.

    [02] External aspects of Economic and Monetary Union

    The European Commission examined a working document on the implications of the introduction of the euro for economic and monetary relations with countries outside the European Union. The document provides a first analysis of economic and institutional consequences of the introduction of the euro as an international currency alongside the dollar and the yen. With the euro, Europe will have a presence on the international monetary scene which better corresponds to Europe's economic and commercial weight. This will progressively lead to more balanced international monetary relations and should make companies in the euro zone less vulnerable to external developments. The document also looks at the probable use of the euro for central bank reserves, pricing in commodity markets and international trade more generally and in the composition of investment portfolios. It concludes that, although there is likely to be a progressive shift towards greater use of the euro, this is unlikely to provoke significant exchange rate movements when the euro is introduced. The institutional implications for the international monetary system are examined: it will be important to clarify how the external exchange rate policy will be defined in good time for the start of stage 3 of monetary union on 1 January 1999. At the same time, the implications for existing international financial institutions such as the G7 and the IMF will need to be settled. The document, reflecting the first analysis of the Commission's services, will be sent to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. It will also allow the Commission to provide a more concrete response to the growing number of questions from Europe's economic and trading partners about the consequences of EMU for them.

    [03] Une vue globale de la politique et des actions énergétiques

    La Commission européenne a adopté une communication visant à accroître la transparence de la politique énergétique communautaire. Elle dresse pour la première fois un tableau complet qui donne une vue globale des actions de l'Union européenne dans le domaine de l'énergie. Elle couvre aussi bien les actions développées en coopération avec les Etats membres que les actions propres de l'Union au travers des initiatives prises dans le cadre des différentes politiques et programmes communautaires. Cette communication permet ainsi une analyse approfondie et complète des différentes composantes de la politique énergétique et constitue la base pour décider des orientations futures, qui permettront à l'Union européenne de faire face aux grands défis des années à venir, en ce qui concerne les entreprises et les citoyens, découlant d'une évolution rapide et profonde de la situation énergétique.

    [04] Commission to recover ECU 539 million of CAP expenditure from the Member States - financial year 1993

    The European Commission adopted a decision approving agricultural expenditure on the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) as declared by Member States for the 1993 financial year. This decision approved expenditure of ECU 31,920.2 million, rejected ECU 539 million and postponed a decision involving a further ECU 120 million. Essentially the implication of this decision is that ECU 539 million which has already been paid out on behalf of the European Union by Member States in 1993 under the CAP will be clawed back and a decision on the approval or rejection of a further ECU 120 million is postponed pending the outcome of the conciliation procedure.

    [05] Prolongation des mesures de sauvegarde à l'importation de riz en provenance des pays et territoires d'Outre-Mer (PTOM)

    La Commission européenne a décidé de fixer un nouveau contingent tarifaire de 69.610 tonnes de riz en provenance des pays et territoires d'Outre-Mer (PTOM) pour la période du 1er mai au 30 septembre 1997. Suite à la forte augmentation des importations de ce produit en provenance des PTOM, la Commission avait déjà introduit le 8 janvier 1997 des mesures de sauvegarde limitant les importations de riz dans l'Union européenne à 44.278 tonnes pour la période allant du 1er janvier au 30 avril 1997. Le Conseil des Ministres n'ayant pas encore adopté la proposition de la Commission de révision de la décision d'association des PTOM visant, entre autres, à résoudre définitivement les conditions d'importation de riz, la Commission décide de prolonger les mesures de sauvegarde au-delà du 30 avril 1997.

    [06] Commission proposes the creation of a Community framework for airport charges

    The European Commission agreed a proposal that would create the legislative framework for a Union-wide system of airport charges based on three main principles: cost-relatedness, transparency, and non-discrimination The legislation, which must be discussed fully and agreed at the Council of 15 EU Transport Ministers before it can become law, is part of the Commission's programme of air liberalisation intended to ensure fair and equitable market conditions for the benefit of all airport users - the airlines themselves as well as passengers. Airport charges cover the cost of providing airport facilities and services. They are not the same as airport taxes (which are imposed by national authorities and usually collected by the airport on behalf of the Treasury).

    [07] Commission launches new policy on Hong Kong

    The European Commission has launched a strategy designed to look beyond the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty on 1 July and to build close Euroepan Union (EU)-Hong Kong ties in the years ahead. In a communication to the Council, the Commission argues that far from being a time to downgrade links with Hong Kong, 1997 must mark another step forward in the relationship, both bilaterally and in multilateral fora. It shows how the EU's close ties with Hong Kong can be developed still further, and how important Hong Kong could be to the evolution of relations in Asia as a whole. The communication calls for the EU to produce an annual report covering the full range of EU-Hong Kong relations, including commerce, finance, cooperation and human rights. It also states the Commission's confidence in the efforts being made to ensure that the independent passport to be issued by the SAR (Special Administrative Region) on its own authority is secure, that Hong Kong should be assessed after the handover on its own merits for visa purposes, as it is now, and that free access to the EU would be in the interests both of the EU and of Hong Kong.

    [08] Commission calls for a continent-wide European transport network to meet the needs of the 21st century

    The European Commission announced a five-point action plan aimed at building a continent-wide transport network covering the countries of central and eastern Europe, the European countries of the former Soviet Union and the European Union's (EU) partners in the Mediterranean to meet the needs of the 21st century. In a document analysing how best to connect the EU's transport network with that of its neighbours as the Union prepares for enlargement the Commission also announced that it would put forward a multi-country programme for extending TransEuropean transport networks (TENs) to eastern Europe under the Commission's re-modelled Phare programme. The Communication proposes establishment of a Pan-European Network Partnership, to bring together all those with a role to play in developing the Network: the Union, Member States, the other countries concerned, the international financial institutions and the private sector.

    [09] La Commission lance une nouvelle initiative pour prévenir la fraude dans le domaine de la fiscalité indirecte

    La Commission européenne a adopté une proposition de programme (Fiscalis) visant à renforcer les efforts de l'Union européenne et des États membres pour prévenir et éliminer la fraude à la TVA et aux droits d'accises. Le programme Fiscalis, dont la durée prévue s'étend du 1er janvier 1998 au 31 décembre 2002, fournit les instruments (systèmes de communication et d'échange d'informations) nécessaires aux fonctionnaires nationaux pour coopérer dans la prévention de la fraude. En vue d'encourager cette coopération, le programme Fiscalis comporte des mesures pour réunir des fonctionnaires nationaux dans des travaux de prévention de la fraude en situation réelle et pour leur donner les connaissances et les compétences nécessaires. Les pays associés d'Europe centrale et orientale, ainsi que Chypre, pourront participer au programme.

    [10] Commission clears Anglo American's purchase of Lonrho shares subject to the stakes being reduced to less than 10%

    Anglo American Corporation, the South Africa mining conglomerate, has agreed to a European Commission demand to reduce its shareholding in Lonrho, the UK based trading and mining operation, from 27.5% to 9.99%. This reduction is to be carried out within an agreed timetable should no other solution to the Commission's competition concerns be found. Today's decision maintains the strict application of European competition rules to the platinum sector and will permit the three South African platinum producers -Anglo, Lonrho and Gencor - to continue to exist separately.

    [11] Commission has decided to open the procedure for possible aid to Philips and Rabobank under the technolease transaction (Netherlands)

    The European Commission has decided to open the procedure for possible aid for Philips, electronics manufacturer and Rabobank, a Dutch bank. At the end of 1993 Philips sold certain of its know-how to Rabobank for DFL 2.78 billion of which Rabobank paid immediately in cash DFL 600 million to Philips. The know-how how was at the same time leased-back by Philips from Rabobank for a period of 10 years to assure that Philips could continue to use the know-how for its business. In return for the lease back Philips owes Rabobank an annual royalty payment of DFL 140 million and Rabobank is in addition entitled to 50% of the proceeds of licenses based on the know- how. The Commission is examining if the Philips and Rabobank transaction involves discriminatory application of tax rules by which the enterprises would have obtained undue benefits.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [12] Investment, deregulation and trade covered by high-level EU-Japan talks

    The European Commission and Japan have held their annual High Level Consultations in Brussels. They reviewed bilateral trade and investment relations, examined progress towards deregulation in Japan, and analysed the current state and the prospects for cooperation. They agreed that trade disputes should firstly be addressed through bilateral discussion, but that resort to the World Trade Organisation dispute settlement mechanism is a natural step if bilateral solutions cannot be found. In this context Japan has agreed to a further round of consultations on fish products and to work together to advance Japan's accession to the 1958 UN- ECE Agreement on cars. The continuation of objective analysis of trade flows was also agreed, with the Commission suggesting the idea of a joint study into the reasons why European investment in Japan is so low. The Commission welcomed the dialogue over deregulation in Japan, but said progress so far had been disappointing.

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


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


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