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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 99-02-17

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

17/02/99


CONTENTS / CONTENU

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

  • [01] Duty-free sales and employment - Commission suggests appropriate measures
  • [02] Promotion d'emplois : la Commission propose une Directive permettant un taux de TVA réduit sur certains services
  • [03] La Commission encourage la participation des femmes aux programmes de recherche
  • [04] Commission enjoins Germany to provide information on Leuna 2000 investment (Thuringia, Germany)
  • [05] La Commission vérifie les recapitalisations de la société TASQ SA effectuées par le Crédit Lyonnais et le CDR (France)
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [06] EU requests WTO panel against US section 301 legislation
  • [07] Commission approves take-over of Danzas by Deutsche Post

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

    [01] Duty-free sales and employment - Commission suggests appropriate measures

    The European Commission has responded to the Vienna European Council's request to examine how the abolition of intra-European Union (EU) duty-free sales on 1 July 1999 would impact on employment and how to minimise potential employment problems, including the possibility of a limited extension. On the basis of its analysis, the Commission considers that the abolition of intra-EU duty-free will not have a significant negative impact on employment overall, but that an extension of intra-EU duty free would create uncertainty and disadvantage normal retailers and other means of transport. As with the phasing out of any subsidy which distorts competition, any short-term negative effects on employment are expected to be more than offset by long-term job creation effects, especially if the national tax revenue currently lost as a result of the existence of intra- EU duty-free were used to reduce the tax burden on labour. However, given the top priority the Commission attaches to job creation, it urges Member States to counteract possible short-term regional or social difficulties which may arise with the appropriate Structural Fund instruments. There is also room for developing an additional specially-tailored EU financial measure to tackle any specific and local problems directly linked to the abolition of intra-EU duty-free sales were the EU's Council of Ministers to request it. Any extension of the transitional period of intra-EU duty-free sales would not resolve the short-term negative effects on employment, but would only delay the necessary adjustment and also damage operators which have already started to adapt.

    [02] Promotion d'emplois : la Commission propose une Directive permettant un taux de TVA réduit sur certains services

    La Commission européenne a présenté une proposition de Directive permettant aux Etats membres qui le souhaitent d'appliquer à titre expérimental un taux de TVA réduit sur certains services à haute intensité de main-d'œuvre (par exemple services de réparation de biens meubles corporels, de rénovation de bâtiments, d'aide à domicile,…). Cette mesure vise à stimuler le fort potentiel d'emplois des entreprises offrant des services de proximité par l'allégement de la TVA. En outre, elle pourrait aider à réintégrer dans le circuit officiel une partie des activités tombées dans l'économie souterraine. Cette initiative s'inscrit dans la "stratégie de Vienne pour l'Europe" qui définit la création d'emplois comme la première priorité de l'Union européenne.

    [03] La Commission encourage la participation des femmes aux programmes de recherche

    Promouvoir l'égalité des chances au niveau de la recherche et stimuler la recherche pour et sur les femmes dans le cadre des activités de recherche de l'Union européenne (UE) : tels sont les objectifs de la Communication "Femmes et Sciences", adoptée aujourd'hui par la Commission européenne. La Commission engagera un vaste débat en ce sens avec les Etats membres et fixera notamment un seuil plancher de 40% pour ce qui est de la participation des femmes dans les bourses de recherche Marie Curie, dans les assemblées consultatives, ainsi que dans les panels d'évaluation du 5ème programme-cadre de recherche (PCRD), lancé au début 1999.

    [04] Commission enjoins Germany to provide information on Leuna 2000 investment (Thuringia, Germany)

    The European Commission has enjoined Germany to provide information necessary to assess State aid for the construction of the Leuna 2000 refinery. The Commission has approved aid for the turnkey plant contract which Elf Acquitaine awarded to a consortium, Thyssen Lurgi Technip (TLT). Following allegations that the aid was excessive because the actual cost of the project was substantially lower than notified, the Commission opened an inquiry in 1997. However, the Commission is to this day lacking important cost data. It is therefore requesting Germany to submit information, notably vendor bids received by TLT at the time the contract was prepared and used by TLT in formulating the contract price. The Commission is also requesting samples of actual prices paid to subcontractors by TLT for specified work done and confirmed by invoice payments, as well as detailed cost statistics of TLT. The German government has one month to provide the requested information.

    [05] La Commission vérifie les recapitalisations de la société TASQ SA effectuées par le Crédit Lyonnais et le CDR (France)

    La Commission européenne a approuvé l'ouverture d'une procédure au titre des aides d'Etat en faveur de l'entreprise TASQ SA, spécialisée dans le domaine de la maintenance informatique. Cette procédure porte sur les recapitalisations d'un montant de 26,922 millions d'euros (176,6 millions de FF) de l'entreprise entre 1988 et 1991 par le Crédit Lyonnais et entre 1995 et 1997 par le CDR (Consortium de Réalisations), société publique de défaisance du Crédit Lyonnais, qui était jusqu'en septembre 1998 l'actionnaire de TASQ SA. Ces recapitalisations sont susceptibles de contenir des éléments d'aides d'Etat et doivent être notifiées à la Commission. Celle-ci a pris connaissance de ces opérations, qui ne lui avaient pas été notifiées, à la suite d'une plainte déposée par un concurrent. A ce stade, la Commission n'étant pas en mesure de conclure, des renseignements supplémentaires doivent lui être soumis afin de lui permettre d'effectuer les vérifications nécessaires.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [06] EU requests WTO panel against US section 301 legislation

    Today, at a meeting of the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) in Geneva, the European Union (EU) requested the establishment of a WTO panel against the Section 301 procedure of the 1974 US Trade Act. This legislation has been the domestic legal basis for most of the US sanctions and threats of sanctions. Most recently, Section 301 has provided the impetus behind the unilateral US threat of sanctions against the EU over its new banana regime, even though there is no WTO ruling against this regime. The EU considers that the Section 301 legislation violates key WTO provisions, in particular the prohibition of unilateral action in Article 23 of the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU). If the US rejects today's EU request, the EU's request will be accepted automatically at the next DSB.

    [07] Commission approves take-over of Danzas by Deutsche Post

    The European Commission has cleared the operation by which Deutsche Post has notified its public take over bid of Danzas, a Swiss based international transport company. The operation is of a complementary nature and may lead to an insignificant addition of market shares only in a few markets. The Commission has therefore decided to declare the operation compatible with the Common Market and the European Economic Area Agreement.

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


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


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