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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 98-01-16

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

16/01/98


CONTENTS / CONTENU

  • [01] Le rôle de l'Union européenne dans le processus de paix au Proche- Orient et son aide future
  • [02] WTO ruling on EU hormone ban is a victory for Europan consumers
  • [03] La Commission adopte des critères révisés d'attribution du label écologique aux produits en papier mince
  • [04] ECU 137 million from the European Union to help the Rhine-Meuse Area to act against floods
  • [05] European Union funds democratic elections in Cambodia
  • [06] Commission supports for Barents Euro-Arctic Council
  • [07] Neil Kinnock : "Rail policy thinking has been preoccupied by the past for too long"
  • [08] Franz Fischler: "Offensive strategy at next WTO-Round will give EU possibility to raise important issues such environment, food safety and quality"

  • [01] Le rôle de l'Union européenne dans le processus de paix au Proche- Orient et son aide future

    La Commission européenne vient d'approuver une Communication au Conseil des Ministres et au Parlement européen sur le rôle de l'Union européenne (UE) dans le processus de paix au Proche-Orient. Le but du document est de fournir des éléments pour un débat approfondi au sein de l'UE sur la situation actuelle au Proche-Orient et l'impact de la stratégie politique et économique de l'UE pour la région. La communication fournit une analyse (i) de la situation actuelle du processus de paix au Proche-Orient, (ii) de l'aide financière et politique de l'UE, (iii) de l'interface avec le partenariat euro-méditerranéen, (iv) des résultats de l'aide économique de l'UE aux Palestiniens, (v) des atouts et des insuffisances de l'effort de l'aide internationale et, dans sa partie finale, (vi) du rôle complémentaire de l'UE à côté du rôle déterminant des Etats-Unis dans le processus.

    [02] WTO ruling on EU hormone ban is a victory for Europan consumers

    The European Commission today welcomed the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) ruling which accepted the substantive arguments of the European Union (EU) case in favour of maintaining the ban on the use of hormones for growth promoting purposes. The WTO's Appellate Body ruled that the EU has the right to establish on a scientific basis a level of consumer protection which it considers appropriate and which is higher than the level resulting from international health standards. The Appellate Body also upheld the EU view that the ban was not inconsistent with other EU policies. On a third point, the Appellate Body maintained that the hormone ban in the EU is not based on a risk assessment because the scientific studies do not focus specifically on residues in meat of hormone-treated cattle. The Commission will now examine carefully together with the other EU institutions and the Member States how to implement the EU's international obligations, in particular with respect to a new risk assessment along the indications given by the Appellate Body.

    [03] La Commission adopte des critères révisés d'attribution du label écologique aux produits en papier mince

    La Commission européenne a adopté des critères révisés et simplifiés pour l'attribution du label écologique aux produits en papier mince. Dans le cadre de ces critères révisés, les catégories de produits comprenant le papier hygiénique et le papier de cuisine ont été regroupées au sein d'une même catégorie, les "produits en papier mince". L'élargissement de cette catégorie vise à couvrir des produits destinés à l'hygiène personnelle, à l'absorption de liquides et au nettoyage de surfaces souillées. Cela signifie que les producteurs ont désormais la possibilité d'appliquer le label écologique (logo représentant une fleur) à une catégorie de produits plus large, et qu'ils peuvent ainsi montrer au public que leurs produits respectent les normes environnementales exigeantes qui ont été fixées. De leur côté, les consommateurs peuvent choisir en toute connaissance de cause des produits arborant le label écologique.

    [04] ECU 137 million from the European Union to help the Rhine-Meuse Area to act against floods

    Belgium, France, Germany, Luxemburg, the Netherlands and Switzerland will be able to work together in the field of flood prevention thanks to a new type of European Union interregional cooperation programme. The main objective of the new Interreg II C programme "Interreg Rhine-Meuse Activities" (IRMA) is to prevent damage which floods cause to the catchment area of the rivers and to create a balance between the different activities concerning sustainable management of water in the area. The total cost of the programme amounts to ECU 427 million, with ECU 137 million coming from the European Regional Development Fund, the rest from the countries involved.

    [05] European Union funds democratic elections in Cambodia

    The European Union (EU) officially announced today that it will contribute ECU 9.5 million (approx. US$ 10.5 million) for the preparation and carrying out of free and fair elections in Cambodia. ECU 8.3 million are dedicated to the electoral registration process, ECU 0.1 million to training of the local media and ECU 1.1 million to the provision of an independent European Observation Unit throughout the electoral process.

    [06] Commission supports for Barents Euro-Arctic Council

    External Relations Commissioner Hans van den Broek will participate on 19 and 20 January in a meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) which will take place at Luleå, Sweden, under Swedish chairmanship. The European Commission actively supports cooperation in the Barents region as a means to promote peace, prosperity, stability and security, as well as to strengthen links between the European Union (EU) and its neighbours. EU assistance in the Barents region is provided through use of existing EU instruments, notably Tacis, Interreg, and the "Objective 6" programmes. Since 1991, over ECU 300 million has been made available to the region. This covers activities in a wide range of fields, including the promotion of regional development and trans- frontier cooperation, the safeguarding of the region's environment, the improvement of nuclear safety and the handling of nuclear waste, the enhancement of educational and cultural exchange, and the promotion of research and development. At Luleå, Hans van den Broek will also have bilateral meetings with the Foreign Minister of Russia, Mr Yvgeni Primakov, the Foreign Minister of Norway, Mr Knut Vollebæk, and US Deputy Secretary of State, Mr Strobe Talbott.

    [07] Neil Kinnock : "Rail policy thinking has been preoccupied by the past for too long"

    Neil Kinnock, European Commissioner for transport policy, welcomes the opening of the first rail freight freeways as an important step in the Commission's strategy to overcome some of the historical handicaps of international rail freight. "Railway undertakings now have a real opportunity - and a pressing need - to rethink their policies and remake their industry to deliver services that meet customer needs," he said announcing a series of legislative proposals designed to promote international rail freight and so ease road congestion.

    [08] Franz Fischler: "Offensive strategy at next WTO-Round will give EU possibility to raise important issues such environment, food safety and quality"

    In his speech at the International Green Week in Berlin on January 15, Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Franz Fischler emphasised the need to make EU agricultural products more competitive in order to benefit from positive trends on the international world markets. "However we can only make use of growing opportunities on international markets if we make our products more competitive and decouple exports from export subsidies", Mr Fischler said referring to the next WTO-round. By choosing an offensive strategy as proposed in the Agenda 2000 for the next multilateral trade negociations, the EU would be in a position to raise important issues such as food safety and quality and the environment besides the classic ones being export subsidies, import restrictions and market access. Mr Fischler further noted that "we cannot accept that Europe's agricultural sector must face disadvantages in world trade simply because it tries to meet the growing environmental expectations of its citizens" and urged for an offensive strategy putting the EU in stronger negociation position at the next WTO-round.

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


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


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