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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 98-05-07

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

07/05/98


CONTENTS / CONTENU

  • [01] Commission receives the final report of the Business Environment Simplification Task Force (BEST)
  • [02] Comptabilité : communication de la Commission sur le contrôle légal des comptes dans l'Union européenne
  • [03] Business and Consumer surveys for April 1998 : favorable economic conditions in Europe
  • [04] Investissements publics et privés dans l'UE
  • [05] Commission approves the merger of Commercial Union and General Accident
  • [06] Samedi 9 mai 1998 : Journée Portes Ouvertes au Parlement, au Conseil, à la Commission et au Comité des régions
  • [07] Conférence à Bruxelles sur l'insertion des jeunes par l'éducation et la formation
  • [08] Crise alimentaire nord-coréenne : la Commission affecte une enveloppe de 30 millions d'Ecus
  • [09] Nicaragua : Commission approves humanitarian aid worth ECU 1.56 million
  • [10] Central and East Africa : operation ECHO-Flight funding extended
  • [11] Neil Kinnock urges new approach to port policy

  • [01] Commission receives the final report of the Business Environment Simplification Task Force (BEST)

    European Commissioner Christos Papoutsis today received the final report of the Business Environment Simplification Task Force or BEST as it has become known. The report was formally handed to Mr Papoutsis by Professor Chris Evans, BEST's Chairman, on behalf of the 15 members of the BEST Task Force. The objective set for BEST by Commissioner Papoutsis when establishing the Task Force in September 1997 was to prepare an independent report which would make proposals for concrete measures to be taken by the Commission and the Member States in order to improve the regulatory and administrative environment and reduce the burdens which restrict the growth and job creation potential of businesses, particularly small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The central theme during BEST's considerations has been the promotion of enterprise and entrepreneurship along with the related concerns to enhance the competitiveness of European SMEs. BEST has produced 19 main specific recommendations each containing at least two possible action lines. These include recommendations on education and training, simplification of administrative procedures, combating late payments, making taxation more business friendly and accessing new technologies and encouraging innovation.

    [02] Comptabilité : communication de la Commission sur le contrôle légal des comptes dans l'Union européenne

    Une communication sur l'évolution future du contrôle légal des comptes dans l'Union européenne vient d'être adoptée par la Commission européenne. La communication présente les grandes lignes d'un programme de travail dont les principaux volets portent sur la révision des normes en matière d'audit comptable, les systèmes de contrôle de la qualité de l'audit et les règles relatives à l'indépendance des contrôleurs légaux. Ces travaux, qui seront principalement entrepris dans le cadre du nouveau comité sur le contrôle légal des comptes, auront pour objectif d'améliorer la qualité et la cohérence du contrôle légal dans l'ensemble des Etats membres, de manière à fournir une plus grande certitude aux utilisateurs des états financiers, en particulier les investisseurs, les créanciers et les salariés, et d'encourager de la sorte l'investissement transfrontalier. La Commission n'envisage pas, au stade actuel, de modifier ou de compléter la législation existante, mais elle n'hésitera pas à présenter ultérieurement des propositions législatives si cela s'avérait nécessaire.

    [03] Business and Consumer surveys for April 1998 : favorable economic conditions in Europe

    The latest results from the business and consumer surveys conducted by the European Commission's Directorate General for economic and financial affairs are published today. The economic sentiment indicator rose again and reached a historically high level, above the peak recorded in the late eighties. The main factor behind the favorable economic sentiment is the buoyant stock markets, which continue to soar. Consumer confidence remained on the same high level as last month, which was also the case for the expected financial situation of households and the expected general economic situation. By contrast, the present general economic situation was considered to be better. European industrialists' production expectations and assessments of order books and, in particular, export order books was revised downwards in April, contributing to a slight drop in the industrial confidence indicator. The rate of capacity utilisation in manufacturing industry improved again, reaching 83.6% for the European Union as a whole in April.

    [04] Investissements publics et privés dans l'UE

    Les investissements publics et privés dans l'Union européenne (UE), formation brute de capital fixe (FBCF), ont atteint leur niveau le plus bas et ne représentaient plus que 18,4% du PIB en 1996, comme l'indique aujourd'hui Eurostat, l'Office statistique des Communautés européennes à Luxembourg. Le Portugal (24,2%), l'Autriche (23,4%) et l'Allemagne (20,6%) ont enregistré les pourcentages les plus élevés alors que les taux les plus faibles ont été observés en Suède (14,8%), au Royaume-Uni (15,1%), en Finlande (16,1%) et au Danemark (16,8%). A l'échelle de l'UE, ce pourcentage s'est chiffré à 18,8% en 1995, contre 22,0% en 1980. Au cours des années 1980, le taux le plus faible a été de 19,2% en 1985 et en 1986. De 1985 à 1996, de fortes baisses ont été enregistrées en Italie (de 20,7% à 17,0%) et en Finlande (de 24,0% à 16,1%). En 1996, la FBCF des administrations publiques correspondait, dans l'ensemble de l'UE, à 2,4% du PIB, atteignant ainsi un nouveau record à la baisse. En 1980, elle s'élevait à 3,2%. La FBCF privée atteignait 16,0% du PIB en 1996. Entre 1980 et 1994, elle est passée de 18,9% à 15,9%. La FBCF privée comprend tout les investissements qui n'ont pas été enregistrés dans le secteur des administrations publiques, y compris les entreprises publiques tels les chemins de fer.

    [05] Commission approves the merger of Commercial Union and General Accident

    The European Commission has approved the merger of the two United Kingdom (UK) composite insurers Commercial Union and General Accident. The main impact of the merger will be in the non-life insurance sector in the UK, where it will have only a limited effect in terms of industry concentration. There are strong competitors, such as Royal Sun Alliance Guardian, Legal and General, etc., who will be able to limit the effects of the concentration even in the classes of insurance where combined market shares will be highest (travel insurance, commercial property insurance, and fidelity guarantee insurance). Other factors which limit the effects of the concentration include the fact that insurance companies usually have the expertise and resources to offer new product lines when profitable, that there is evidence of increasing cross-border trade in non-life markets, and that insurance distribution networks are undergoing a significant degree of change (in the form of direct telephone selling by underwriters for example).

    [06] Samedi 9 mai 1998 : Journée Portes Ouvertes au Parlement, au Conseil, à la Commission et au Comité des régions

    Pour la troisième fois, le Parlement européen, le Conseil de l'Union européenne, la Commission européenne et le Comité des régions organisent une Journée Portes Ouvertes conjointe le 9 mai prochain. Le Comité économique et social s'y associera. Le public pourra visiter les bâtiments "Espace Léopold", "Justus Lipsius", "Breydel", le siège du Comité des régions (79, rue Belliard) et l'Euro Info Point au Rond-Point Schuman. Cette initiative qui, cette année, coïncide avec la Fête de l'Europe (anniversaire de la déclaration de Robert Schuman le 9 mai 1950), traduit la volonté de transparence et de proximité vis-à-vis du citoyen des institutions européennes.

    [07] Conférence à Bruxelles sur l'insertion des jeunes par l'éducation et la formation

    Edith Cresson, membre de la Commission européenne, responsable pour l'éducation, la formation et la jeunesse, ouvre aujourd'hui une conférence de deux jours sur le thème "Insertion de tous les jeunes dans la société par l'éducation et la formation". Faisant suite aux recommandations du Sommet européen pour l'emploi des 20 et 21 novembre 1997, la conférence vise à développer des propositions concrètes dans différents domaines qui touchent les jeunes en difficulté, notamment la formation des formateurs, l'usage des nouvelles technologies, la validation des connaissances, le rôle des entreprises dans la formation et le partenariat local.

    [08] Crise alimentaire nord-coréenne : la Commission affecte une enveloppe de 30 millions d'Ecus

    Face à la poursuite de la crise alimentaire en Corée du Nord, la Commission européenne lance un programme intégré de 30 millions d'Ecus d'aide alimentaire et d'actions d'appui à la réhabilitation du secteur agricole. La Commission fournira 86.000 tonnes d'aide alimentaire afin de pourvoir aux besoins humanitaires immédiats mais fournira également 30.000 tonnes de fertilisants et financera des projets pilotes et d'assistance technique dans le but d'encourager les efforts pour réhabiliter et moderniser le secteur agricole nord-coréen.

    [09] Nicaragua : Commission approves humanitarian aid worth ECU 1.56 million

    The European Commission has approved humanitarian aid worth ECU 1.56 million for public health-related projects in Nicaragua. The aid, managed by the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), will enable European non-governmental organisations to carry out programmes over the next nine months. Nicaragua's poverty has depressed public health standards, and epidemics are a constant worry. Cholera, diarrhoea, and diseases carried by mosquitoes, including malaria and dengue fever, are now widespread. The government has appealed for help, mainly in reinforcing preventive measures. ECHO's partners will be involved in projects to provide clean drinking water, adequate sanitation, medicines and medical aid, as well as health education programmes. The non-governmental organisations working on this project are : Movimiento Por la Paz, el Desarme y la Libertad (Spain), Gruppo Volontario Civile (Italy), Solidaridad Internacional (Spain), Movimondo (Italy) and Action contre la Faim (France).

    [10] Central and East Africa : operation ECHO-Flight funding extended

    The European Commission has approved funding worth ECU 8.8 million to support Operation ECHO-Flight to continue for a year until end-March 1999. ECHO-Flight, managed by the European Community Humanitarian Office, enables humanitarian aid to be flown into crisis-stricken areas of Somalia, Southern Sudan and Mali. Launched in May 1994, the service involves seven aircraft based in Nairobi, Djibouti, Mandera, Bamako and Lokichoggio. ECHO Flight is a lifeline in a region where overland transport is too hazardous because of security risks and lack of roads. ECHO Flight carries passengers and cargo, as well as organising evacuations in emergency medical cases and on grounds of security. The service is designed primarily for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in humanitarian aid operations. It is free of charge to them and funded jointly by the Commission and Member States. Between May 1994 and April 1998, ECHO-Flight clocked up over 42,000 flight hours. It has carried over 117,000 passengers, as well as 3,380,000 kg of food, medical supplies and materials to support humanitarian aid programmes. Among NGOs that have used the ECHO- Flight service are Médecins Sans Frontières (Netherlands and Spain), Action Contre la Faim (France) and Save the Children Fund (UK). In all, over 100 NGOs have access to the service.

    [11] Neil Kinnock urges new approach to port policy

    "Even though the European Union's (EU) port sector handles 90 per cent of EU trade with third countries, ports have never received the attention they deserve in the Community transport policy", Neil Kinnock, European Commissioner responsible for Transport Policy, said today. He told a Barcelona conference on "The future perspectives for European Sea Ports" that the Commission's Green Paper on ports and maritime infrastructure aims to maximise the potential of the port sector and is based on three main policy approaches : initiatives to improve port efficiency, actions to improve port infrastructure and the integration of ports into the transport system and measures to ensure free and fair competition in the port sector.

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


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


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