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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 97-04-30

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

30/04/97


CONTENTS / CONTENU

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

  • [01] Single market: Commission agrees outline of action plan
  • [02] La Commission adopte un plan d'action pour la réforme du transit douanier en Europe
  • [03] Commission adopts rigorous preliminary draft budget for 1998
  • [04] MAP 2000 - Modernisation of Administration and Personnel: Commission modernises its services
  • [05] Green Paper on European food law
  • [06] Consumer health: towards a proper food policy
  • [07] La Commission propose un meilleur accès des travailleurs à la formation continue
  • [08] Commission reaches agreement with Spain concerning second GSM licence
  • [09] La Commission demande le remboursement de 1,9 milliard de Pta par l'entreprise aéronautique Casa (Espagne)
  • [10] La Commission déclare illégales les aides en faveur de Ferdofin Siderurgica Srl
  • [11] Aides à l'entreprise Asociación General Agraria Mallorquina S.A. (AGAMA) en Espagne
  • [12] Commission authorises a total of £ 891 million in aid to cover the inherited liabilities of the United Kingdom coal industry
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [13] Greek government proposes to speed up telecommunications liberalisation
  • [14] La Commission approuve la prise de participation de Siemens dans HUF
  • [15] Yves-Thibault de Silguy: "The Euro will become a major international currency"

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

    [01] Single market: Commission agrees outline of action plan

    The outline of an Action Plan to achieve a properly functioning Single Market before the introduction of the Euro on 1 January 1999 has been adopted by the European Commission. The draft Action Plan centres on four strategic targets, namely making Single Market rules more effective, dealing with key market distortions, removing sectoral obstacles to market integration and delivering a Single Market for the benefit of all citizens. To achieve each of these targets, a series of specific actions is listed, including both legislative and non-legislative initiatives. The Commission also announced that it will regularly publish a "Single Market Scoreboard" containing detailed indicators of the state of the Single Market and of Member States' level of commitment to fulfilling the Action Plan. Following discussions on the basis of this outline with Member States, the European Parliament and other interested parties, the Commission will adopt the definitive Action Plan for presentation to the Amsterdam European Council in June, as announced by President Jacques Santer at the European Council in December 1996 in Dublin.

    [02] La Commission adopte un plan d'action pour la réforme du transit douanier en Europe

    La Commission européenne a adopté le Plan d'action pour la réforme des systèmes de transit dans le but de rétablir la fiabilité de ces régimes douaniers qui sont indispensables au développement de l'économie européenne et au bon fonctionnement du marché unique. Le Plan d'action présente l'ensemble des mesures globales et spécifiques, réglementaires et opérationnelles, que la Commission entend présenter selon un calendrier précis, afin d'assurer au transit douanier un haut niveau d'efficacité et de sécurité, garantissant ainsi le juste équilibre entre facilité offerte aux opérateurs et protection des intérêts financiers des Etats membres et de l'Union européenne (UE). Il inclut également l'informatisation du transit et la négociation d'une nouvelle convention de transit avec les partenaires européens de l'UE. Ces actions s'intègrent dans une démarche plus large visant à garantir la mise en oeuvre des politiques communes en matière de douane, de fiscalité indirecte et de lutte contre la fraude. Suivant la recommandation du Parlement européen, les services douaniers nationaux doivent être amenés à "fonctionner comme s'ils ne faisaient qu'un". Le Plan d'action exigera une parfaite coordination entre les administrations des douanes des quinze Etats membres de l'UE et les partenaires de la Communauté de l'AELE et d'Europe centrale, et ce certainement au niveau de l'introduction des techniques modernes destinées à faciliter les échanges et à lutter contre la fraude, estimée à plus d'un milliard d'écus au cours des sept dernières années.

    [03] Commission adopts rigorous preliminary draft budget for 1998

    The European Commission adopted its preliminary draft budget for 1998. The expenditure proposals total ECU 91,307 million in commitment appropriations and ECU 84 727 million in payment appropriations. The growth rate compared to the 1997 budget has been limited to 2.4% in commitments and less than 2.9% in payments. For agricultural spending internal and external policies the increase is only 0.5%. Thus, the rigorous objectives set by the Commission in its budgetary orientation debate in January (budget to grow by no more than 3%) have been more than met. The Financial Perspectives decided by the European Council in Edinburgh (December 1992) would have allowed a growth rate of 7% in commitments and even 10.5% in payments. Compared to the Edinburgh decisions, the preliminary draft budget for 1998 means savings of ECU 5,800 million for the Member States. With this rigorous budget proposal the European Union is making a substantial contribution to the sustainability of budgetary stability in the Member States in the run up to the Economic and Monetary Union. Furthermore, it is gradually creating budgetary margins which will facilitate the later enlargement of the Union. With regard to its personnel, the Commission continues the policy of zero-growth, as it had already been established in the 1997 budget.

    [04] MAP 2000 - Modernisation of Administration and Personnel: Commission modernises its services

    Decentralisation, rationalisation, simplification, are the key words of the modernisation programme of the European Commission, MAP 2000, approved today. MAP 2000 is an extension in the staff and administration field of the SEM 2000 (Sound and Efficient Management) exercise. This programme is set in three phases comprising important modifications of the personnel policy and of the Commission's administration, preparing the Commission for the future challenges. In the field of decentralisation the aim is to transfer responsibility of central administration to each service making them responsible for the management of their own resources. This will increase the cost awareness among the staff and strengthen the "value for money" approach. Simplification and rationalisation are implemented by the reduction of administrative steps in the decision-making and by shortening procedures.

    [05] Green Paper on European food law

    The European Commission has decided to publish a Green Paper on European food law, with the aim of launching a public debate on the extent to which current legislation on foodstuffs meets the needs and expectations of consumers, producers, manufacturers and traders and the extent to which measures to ensure the independence, objectivity, equivalence and effectiveness of the control and inspection systems are meeting their basic objectives to ensure a safe and wholesome supply. As a starting point for discussion, the Green Paper identifies a number of basic goals for Community food law: to ensure a high level of protection of public health, safety and the consumer, to ensure the free movement of goods within the internal market and to ensure the competitiveness of European industry and enhance its export prospects. At the end of the consultation process the Commission will consider what changes may be necessary. These changes may consist of: a proposal for a general Directive on food law in society, consolidation or reformulation of existing legislation, and suggestions or proposals of a non-legislative nature, including changes in procedures and working methods.

    [06] Consumer health: towards a proper food policy

    The European Commission adopted a Communication on Consumer Health and Food Safety with the aim of introducing a proper food policy as announced by the Commission's President, Jacques Santer, before the European Parliament on 18 February 1997. The Commission has already separated responsibilities for legislation from those for scientific advice and control and put the latter under the responsibility of the Commissioner in charge of Consumer Policy and Health Protection, Emma Bonino. The staff of the relevant Directorate General (DG XXIV) will be strengthened with 263 officials, mostly from internal transfers and partly through new recruitments for which the Commission today made the corresponding budget proposals. In today's Communication, the Commission indicates that scientific advice will be sought from eminent and fully independent scientists, that their opinions and working methods will be accessible to all interested parties and that scientific committees will be regrouped and coordinated by a Scientific Steering Committee. Control and inspection will be pursued on the basis of priorities set under risk assessment procedures, a "plough to plate" approach covering the whole food chain, and formal audit procedures assessing national control systems. The new approach will be implemented through the Commission's Food and Veterinary Office which will be established in Ireland. The Commission will ensure a rapid follow-up of food safety emergencies through safeguard measures and a rapid alert system. For greater transparency, the Commission will open up the channels of communication and information among all parties concerned and towards the public.

    [07] La Commission propose un meilleur accès des travailleurs à la formation continue

    L'accès à la formation continue dans l'Union européenne demeure très inégal en fonction des Etats membres et des catégories de travailleurs. Après une analyse détaillée des différentes formules en vigueur dans les Etats membres, la Commission européenne propose, au titre des actions du Pacte de confiance pour l'emploi, pour 1997, de lancer trois initiatives visant à la fois à renforcer significativement l'Europe sociale et à contribuer à l'établissement d'une véritable "Union de la connaissance": l'ouverture d'une concertation avec les partenaires sociaux sur le thème de l'accès aux compétences; une proposition de décision du Conseil devant permettre une évaluation comparative des progrès accomplis en la matière, sur base de rapports régulièrement adressés par les Etats membres et les partenaires sociaux; et enfin une priorité plus marquée en faveur de la formation continue et de l'accès aux compétences au cours des deux dernières années du programme européen de formation professionnelle Leonardo da Vinci (1994- 1998).

    [08] Commission reaches agreement with Spain concerning second GSM licence

    The European Commission has approved an agreement reached in Spain which removes the distortion of competition resulting from the granting of the second GSM (mobile) licence in Spain. The agreement covers corrective measures which the Spanish Government proposes to take in respect of Airtel Movil, the licence holder. The Commission considers that the measures taken are globally equivalent to the 85 billion peseta licence fee which Airtel Movil paid when receiving the licence. This decision is important for the introduction of competition into the Spanish telecommunications markets and will enable genuine competition to take place in respect of mobile telephony. The decision on the timetable for the liberalisation of the remaining aspects of Spanish telecommunications markets will be taken by the Commission shortly.

    [09] La Commission demande le remboursement de 1,9 milliard de Pta par l'entreprise aéronautique Casa (Espagne)

    La Commission européenne a décidé que le Gouvernement espagnol exige le remboursement de 1,9 milliard de Pta (12 millions d'Ecus) d'aides perçues par l'entreprise publique aéronautique CASA. Au cours de la période 1991- 1993 CASA a obtenu un prêt de 7,2 milliards de Pta (45 millions d'Ecus) pour financer le développement de l'avion CASA-3000 destiné à devenir un avion de 70 à 80 places. Le projet fut arrété en 1994. Jusqu'à présent les autorités espagnole n'ont pas exigé le remboursement du prêt. La Commission estime que l'effet de distorsion de concurrence entraîné par l'aide à CASA sera compensé par le remboursement.

    [10] La Commission déclare illégales les aides en faveur de Ferdofin Siderurgica Srl

    La Commission européenne a décidé de déclarer illégales et incompatibles avec le marché commun les aides accordées par l'Italie à l'entreprise Ferdofin Siderurgica Srl. La Commission a, des lors, décidé d'enjoindre aux autorités italiennes la récupération des aides en cause ainsi que d'informer la Commission dans un délai de deux mois des mesures prises pour s'y conformer.

    [11] Aides à l'entreprise Asociación General Agraria Mallorquina S.A. (AGAMA) en Espagne

    La Commission européenne a décidé d'ouvrir la procédure d'aide d'état à l'encontre de certaines aides, sous forme de prêts, d'apports de capital et de remise de dettes, octroyées à l'entreprise Agama S.A., qui a comme activité la vente de dérivés laitiers de sa production propre et la commercialisation de produits acquis à des tiers. Sur base des informations disponibles, la Commission considère ces aides, qui ne sont pas conformes aux lignes directrices communautaires pour les aides d'état au sauvetage et à la restructuration des entreprises en difficulté, comme étant incompatibles avec le marché commun. Elle a mis le gouvernement espagnol en demeure de présenter ses observations dans un délai d'un mois à compter de la notification de la décision.

    [12] Commission authorises a total of £ 891 million in aid to cover the inherited liabilities of the United Kingdom coal industry

    The European Commission has authorised aid to be granted to the United Kingdom's coal industry, amounting to a total of £ 891 million, for the period from the financial year 1998/1999 until the expiry of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Treaty in July 2002. The authorised aid is intended to cover the inherited liabilities of the UK coal industry, arising from industrial events before the privatisation of the British Coal Corporation. The aid is chiefly to cover the environmental damage caused by the production activities carried out by the British Coal Corporation, the British Coal Corporation's obligations to its former workers, exceptional social-welfare benefits to be paid to redundant workers as well as the costs arising from the residual activities following the privatisation of the British Coal Corporation.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [13] Greek government proposes to speed up telecommunications liberalisation

    The Greek Minister for Transport and Telecoms, Mr Charis Kastanides met yesterday with Mr Karel Van Miert, Competition Commissioner to explain how the Greek Government would accelerate the implementation in Greek national law of all European Telecommunications Directives of which the implementation deadlines have already elapsed. Last December, Commissioner Van Miert had expressed his worries about the implementation delays in Greece which were preventing undertakings to provide telecommunications services, already liberalised in all other Member States, such as data services and satellite communications. At the meeting, yesterday in Brussels, Minister Kastanides has forwarded a precise timetable to fill this gap so that Greece can join the rest of the Union in the area. Commissioner Van Miert thanked the Greek Minister for the efforts made and said the Commission would now follow up the implementation of this time schedule. While welcoming this positive move, the Commission will continue to process infringement procedures against Greece until it is satisfied that all the relevant european Telecommunications Directives have been properly implemented.

    [14] La Commission approuve la prise de participation de Siemens dans HUF

    La Commission européenne a autorisé la prise de participation de SIEMENS Aktiengesellschaft ("Siemens") dans Hülsbeck & Fürst GmbH & Co. KG et Hülsbeck & Fürst Industrieverwaltung GmbH ("HUF"). Siemens acquiert par cette opération le contrôle de l'entreprise, en commun avec ses commanditaires initiaux.

    [15] Yves-Thibault de Silguy: "The Euro will become a major international currency"

    (!!! embargo 3.30 pm !!!) Speaking at a conference in New York organised by the Association for the Monetary Union of Europe and Euromoney, Yves- Thibault de Silguy, Commissioner responsible for Economic, Monetary and Financial Affairs, underlined three main messages: "globalisation and technical progress are unstoppable. The political game is also very different, following the end of the cold war. The euro is Europe's response to these changes; the euro will be a reality sooner than you think: in just over 600 days, the euro will be a major currency in world financial markets; there will be an impact on all businesses, not just those in Europe. European companies are preparing themselves. I hope that I have provided you with an incentive to do the same".

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


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


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