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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 01-01-25

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 Service Presse et Communicationb

Midday Express 25/01/2001

[I] Résultats de la Commission du 24 janvier 2001 - Outcome of Commission meeting of 24 January

(voir aussi see also ME of 24.1)

  • [01] La Commission propose un statut pour les partis politiques européens La Commission européenne a adopté une proposition de règlement sur le statut et le financement des partis politiques européens. Cette proposition répond à des attentes très fortes en matière de participation démocratique et de transparence financière. Le Président Romano Prodi a présenté cette proposition devant la conférence des Présidents de groupe politique du Parlement européen en déclarant : "Cette initiative législative est une avancée politique importante. Elle contribue à créer les conditions favorables pour le lien si nécessaire entre les institutions, en particulier le Parlement européen, et les citoyens de l'Union." Ce règlement devra être adopté à l'unanimité par le Conseil après consultation du Parlement.
  • [02] La Commission évalue la mise à jour pour 2000 du programme de stabilité de la France (2002-2004) La Commission européenne a adressé une recommandation au Conseil sur la mise à jour pour 2000 du programme de stabilité de la France, présentée le 11 janvier 2001, qui couvre la période 2001-2004. La Commission a conclu que ce programme actualisé était conforme aux exigences du pacte de stabilité et de croissance. De bonnes performances macroéconomiques ont permis de dégager d'importantes marges au niveau des recettes et la situation des finances publiques s'est améliorée en 2000 ; le déficit des administrations publiques est tombé à 1,4% du PIB, ce qui est inférieur aux prévisions du programme actualisé de 1999 ; il aurait cependant été possible d'obtenir de meilleurs résultats budgétaires en 2000, compte tenu de l'évolution favorable de l'économie et des finances publiques. Le ratio de la dette publique, chiffré à 58,4% du PIB en 2000, devrait continuer de fléchir durant cette période pour s'inscrire dans une fourchette de 53% à 54,5% (en excluant les licences UMTS). Les projections relatives aux finances publiques reposent sur deux scénarios macroéconomiques qui avancent deux estimations plausibles pour la croissance potentielle (2,5% et 3%). Le scénario favorable est présenté comme l'objectif assigné à la politique économique, et comme le plus probable. Sur la base de cette recommandation de la Commission, le Conseil devrait rendre le [12 février 2001] un avis formel sur le programme de stabilité actualisé de la France.
  • [03] La Commission évalue le programme de stabilité actualisé de l'Italie (2000-2004) La Commission européenne a adopté une recommandation au Conseil des ministres sur le programme de stabilité actualisé de l'Italie, qui couvre la période 2000-2004. La Commission note que ce programme fixe de nouveaux objectifs légèrement plus stricts pour le solde budgétaire des administrations publiques en 2000 et au-delà. En outre, la réduction du ratio de la dette, qui doit tomber en dessous de 100% du PIB en 2003, est confirmée. Les nouveaux objectifs pour 2001 et les années suivantes sont conformes à la fois à l'avis du Conseil du 28 février 2000 relatif au précédent programme de stabilité actualisé et aux grandes orientations de politique économique de juin 2000. L'Italie doit s'engager fermement à respecter ces objectifs pour que le processus d'ajustement puisse continuer à se dérouler de façon satisfaisante. Tout dérapage doit être rapidement corrigé, au moyen notamment d'un contrôle plus rigoureux des dépenses courantes primaires, afin d'obtenir comme prévu des excédents primaires élevés. L'Italie doit en outre ne ménager aucun effort pour améliorer les futurs objectifs budgétaires et accélérer le processus d'assainissement afin de réduire plus rapidement son ratio de la dette publique, qui demeure élevé. Sur la base de la recommandation de la Commission, le Conseil Ecofin devrait rendre un avis formel sur le programme de stabilité actualisé de l'Italie le [12 février 2001].
  • [04] Commission assesses 2000 Stability Programme for Greece (2000-2004) The European Commission has adopted a recommendation to the Council of Ministers on the Stability Programme of Greece (2000-2004). The Commission concludes that the programme is in line with the requirements of the Stability and Growth Pact and the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines. The programme is based on a macroeconomic scenario assuming strong, investment- led economic growth ; the Commission considers the macroeconomic projections of the programme as ambitious at the upper level of possibilities of the Greek economy. The government balance is projected to be in surplus of 0.5% of GDP already in 2001. The budgetary consolidation strategy of the programme in based, as in the past, on high primary surpluses and continuous reduction in interest payments ; the government debt ratio is expected to decline by about 20 percentage points to 84% of GDP in 2004. A key element of the programme is the commitment to continue structural reforms. On the basis of the Commission's recommendation, the Council is expected to adopt a formal opinion on the Stability Programme of Greece on [12 February 2001].
  • [05] Commission assesses updated Austrian Stability Programme (2000-2004) The European Commission has adopted a recommendation to the Council of Ministers on the updated Stability Programme for Austria (2000-2004). The programme envisages a decline in the general government deficit ratio from 1.4% of GDP in 2000 to a balanced position in 2002 and beyond. The debt ratio is expected to fall to 55.3% of GDP. This implies a much faster deficit reduction than foreseen in the previous update of the programme. The Commission concludes that the medium-term budgetary targets in the updated programme are in line with the Stability and Growth Pact and the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines. The programme projects average annual output growth of 2.6% over the period 2001-2004 which appears feasible. Given the currently favourable economic conditions the timing and speed of the budgetary consolidation seem appropriate. On the basis of the Commission's Recommendation, the Council is expected to adopt a formal Opinion on the updated Austrian programme on [12 February 2001].
  • [06] Commission puts forward recommendations on budgetary policy for Ireland The European Commission has adopted a recommendation to the Council of Ministers on the 2000 update of Ireland's Stability Programme (2001-2003). The Commission concludes that the 2000 update is in line with the requirements of the Stability and Growth Pact but that Irish budgetary plans for 2001 are inconsistent with the 2000 Broad Economic Policy Guidelines (BEPG) adopted last June by the European Council in Feira. The 2000 update of Ireland's Stability Programme estimates a general government surplus of 4.7% of GDP in 2000 and projects an average surplus ratio of 4.2% over the remaining period covered. The Commission welcomes such surpluses, that would clearly be sufficient to provide a safety margin against breaching the deficit threshold of 3% of GDP in the event of normal cyclical fluctuations. However, given the evidence and further risks of overheating of the Irish economy, the Commission and the Council have in the 2000 BEPG urged the Irish authorities to use budgetary policy to ensure economic stability. In the course of 2000, the extent of overheating has increased even if the headline inflation in December 2000 ended slightly below the November peak. CPI inflation averaged 5.6% in 2000 against a prediction of 3.1% in the last stability programme update. In spite of this, budgetary plans for 2001 are expansionary and pro-cyclical and are therefore considered inconsistent with those guidelines. The Commission has therefore recommended to the Ecofin Council to adopt, on [12 February 2001], a recommendation under Article 99.4 addressed to the Irish government with a view to ending the inconsistency of the expansionary aspects of budgetary plans with the BEPG.
  • [07] Commission assesses updated United Kingdom Convergence Programme (2000- 2005) The European Commission has made a recommendation to the Council of Ministers on the updated United Kingdom Convergence Programme. The Commission's conclusion is that the budgetary projections of the updated programme are in line with the requirements of the Stability and Growth Pact and the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines. The updated programme presents the macroeconomic and budgetary perspectives for the period 1999- 2000 to 2005-2006. Economic growth is expected to be around its trend rate, estimated to be 2½% a year, over the years 2001-2002 to 2005-2006, of the programme. The budget is expected to show surpluses to 2001-2002 and deficits thereafter rising to around 1% of GDP in the three final years of the programme. The debt to GDP ratio is expected to fall to 35% in 2005- 2006. On the basis of the Commission recommendation, the Council is expected to adopt a formal opinion on the updated United Kingdom Convergence Programme on [12 February 2001].
  • [08] Commission assesses updated Danish Convergence Programme (2000-2005) The European Commission has adopted a recommendation to the Council of Ministers on the 2000 update of the Danish convergence programme (2000- 2005). The Commission concludes that the updated programme is clearly in line with the requirements of the Stability and Growth Pact and the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines. GDP growth is projected to be 2.4% in 2000 and thereafter to slow down to 1.7% for the remainder of the period. The general government budget balance is expected to show strong surpluses of above 2.5% of GDP for the entire period 2000-2005. Such surpluses would be clearly sufficient to provide a safety margin against breaching the deficit threshold of 3% of GDP in normal cyclical fluctuations. The debt to GDP ratio is expected to fall substantially to some 34% in 2005. On the basis of the Commission's recommendation, the Council is expected to adopt a formal opinion on the updated Danish convergence programme on [12 February 2001].
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [09] Michaele Schreyer se félicite du soutien allemand dans l'action civile contre Philip Morris et RJ Reynolds La Commissaire européenne au Budget, Michaele Schreyer, salue la décision du gouvernement allemand de se joindre à l'action civile de la Commission contre Philip Morris et RJ Reynolds : "La décision de la République fédérale est, après celle de l'Italie la semaine dernière, importante et bienvenue. La contrebande de cigarettes coûte des milliards au budget communautaire et au budget de M. Eichel. C'est pourquoi il est primordial pour les intérêts allemands que la République fédérale soutienne activement la Commission dans son combat contre le trafic de cigarettes".
  • [10] Commission clears Ricoh acquisition of Lanier Worldwide The European Commission has approved the acquisition of control of US photocopying machines distributor Lanier Worldwide by Japan's Ricoh. Both companies are active in the office automation sector, but the concentration does not give rise to any competition concerns.
  • [11] Franz Fischler signs pre-accession financing agreements with Estonia, Latvia and Poland Today, European Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries Franz Fischler signs the Multi-annual Financing Agreements with Estonia, Latvia and Poland. The agreements outline EU management and control rules for agriculture and rural development in the candidate countries. The signature is a vital step in making the pre-accession agriculture programmes operational. The Multi-annual Financing Agreements preserve the principle of a fully decentralised management by the candidate countries. Welcoming the progress being made by the candidate countries, Mr Fischler said "Today's signing is no doubt important, but it is not the final step. I hope that the candidate countries will continue their efforts to make Sapard operational as quickly as possible. It is up to them to determine when the projects can get under way." Commissioner Fischler also announced that he would examine the possibility to extend the 2002 deadline for spending EU-funds earmarked for Sapard in the 2000 budget to 31 December 2003. The signature with Estonia takes place today at 12.00, with Latvia at 16.00 and with Poland at 17.00, all in Breydel, 12th floor, Salon Brun. Interested journalists are welcome to attend.
  • [12] Internal Market : infringement procedures for failure to implement Directives The European Commission has decided to send twenty two formal requests to twelve Member States to notify within two months measures to implement five different Internal Market Directives. The Directives in question concern payment systems, investor compensation schemes, specialist doctors, right of establishment for lawyers and insurance. The formal requests take the form of so-called 'reasoned opinions', that is the second stage of infringement procedures laid down in article 226 of the EC Treaty. Should a Member State that has received a reasoned opinion fail to give a satisfactory reply within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. The latest Single Market Scoreboard indicates that implementation of Internal Market Directives has considerably improved in most Member States over the last three years but that one in eight Internal Market Directives has still not been implemented in every Member State (see IP/00/1356).
  • [13] TVA : procédures d'infraction à l'encontre de l'Allemagne, de la France et de l'Espagne relatives au taux de la TVA La Commission européenne a décidé de saisir la Cour de Justice européenne à l'encontre de l'Allemagne en ce qui concerne le taux de taxe sur la valeur ajoutée (TVA) applicable à certaines prestations artistiques, de la France pour application de taux différenciés au gaz et à l'électricité et de l'Espagne pour application d'un taux réduit au gaz liquéfié de pétrole et aux cyclomoteurs.
  • [14] La Commission prend des mesures à l'encontre de neuf Etats membres au sujet des produits chimiques dangereux La Commission européenne a décidé de saisir la Cour de justice européenne du manquement de l'Espagne, de la France, de la Grèce, de l'Irlande, de l'Italie et du Luxembourg à leur devoir de communication des informations requises en vertu de la directive sur les PCB. Les PCB sont des produits chimiques dangereux très toxiques, persistants et capables de bio- accumulation. La Commission a également décidé d'envoyer une deuxième lettre d'avertissement (avis motivé) à l'Allemagne, au Danemark et à la Suède pour le même manquement. En dépit d'un avertissement antérieur, ces neuf Etats membres n'ont pas envoyé à la Commission les inventaires et les plans relatifs au traitement et à l'élimination des PCB. Le délai initialement prévu pour l'envoi des informations est arrivé à expiration en septembre 1999.
  • [15] Water pollution : Commission moves against Ireland The European Commission has decided to proceed to the European Court of Justice against Ireland for non-respect of the European Union's 1976 Dangerous Substances Directive and has also decided to notify a Reasoned Opinion (second warning letter) to Ireland for non-respect of the 1991 Nitrates Directive. The decision on the 1976 Directive relates to general failures concerning required pollution reduction programmes for dangerous substances, as well as specific weaknesses in Irish measures for phosphorous, the substance which gives greatest concern for Irish water quality. The decision on the 1991 Directive relates to Ireland's failure to designate vulnerable zones for waters polluted by nitrates from agriculture and to adopt corresponding preventive and clean-up measures. There is similar action under way against other Member States. Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström commented : "I am concerned that Ireland is the only Member State not to have yet notified any nitrate vulnerable zones, and would urge the Irish authorities to take the necessary steps as soon as possible, including action for nitrate-polluted groundwaters on which small rural communities depend for their drinking water. As regards the 1976 Dangerous Substances Directive, I would also urge the Irish authorities to do more. For the most important substance, phosphorous, Irish measures are moving in the right direction, but need to go further."
  • [16] Qualité des eaux de baignade : la Commission prend des mesures à l'encontre du Danemark et de la Belgique La Commission européenne a décidé de former un recours contre le Danemark devant la Cour de justice européenne fondé sur le non respect de la directive sur la qualité des eaux de baignade. Pour ce qui est de la Belgique, la Commission a décidé d'ouvrir une procédure en vue de faire respecter un précédent arrêt de la Cour. Margot Wallström, Commissaire chargé de l'Environnement, a commenté la décision ainsi : "Je demande instamment au Danemark et à la Belgique de faire figurer la conformité de leurs eaux de baignade aux normes communautaires parmi les questions à régler en priorité en 2001".
  • [17] Excédent de 1,7 milliard d'euros du commerce extérieur pour la zone euro en novembre 2000 ; déficit de 7,2 milliards d'euros pour l'UE15 (! embargo 12h00 !) D'après les premières estimations d'Eurostat pour le mois de novembre 2000, la zone euro a enregistré un excédent du commerce extérieur de 1,7 milliard d'euros avec le reste du monde, comparé à +3,2 milliards en novembre 1999. L'excédent (révisé) enregistré au mois d'octobre était de 2,3 milliards, par rapport à +7,0 milliard en octobre 1999. Les premières estimations du solde des échanges extra-UE15 pour le mois de novembre conduisent à un déficit de 7,2 milliards d'euros, par rapport à -3,3 milliards en novembre 1999. Au mois d'octobre, le déficit (révisé) était de 5,3 milliards, contre -0,6 milliard en octobre 1999.
  • [18] Macro-financial assistance - a crucial instrument for supporting stability and economic development in partner countries The European Commission has published its regular "Report on the implementation of macro-financial assistance to third countries in 1999". The report assesses economic and reform progress in all the recipient countries and provides an overview of EC macroeconomic assistance. A total of euro 136 million of macro-financial assistance was disbursed in 1999, notably to the NIS and Balkans region. In 2000, the Commission has continued to provide macro-financial assistance and has disbursed euro 222 million. The countries of the Western Balkans are now emerging as the main recipients (the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has received euro 20 million in grants and euro 10 million in loans, Bosnia and Herzegovina received euro 10 million in grants and Montenegro received euro 12.95 million in grants). Pedro Solbes, Commissioner in charge of Economic and Monetary Affairs, who also co-chairs the High Level Steering Group for Southeast Europe, underlined that the report highlights that macro- financial assistance continues to be a crucial instrument for supporting stability and economic development in partner countries, notably the less advanced transition economies of Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe.
  • [19] "Culture 2000" : 219 projets sélectionnés la première année Le nouveau programme communautaire dans le domaine culturel, "Culture 2000", a aidé l'année dernière 219 projets pour un montant final qui sera supérieur à 32 millions d'euros. Les projets retenus après avis d'experts indépendants consistent en des actions de coopération culturelle et en la création de réseaux culturels européens.
  • [20] Poul Nielson meets with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in Japan On the occasion of the opening of the UN University Conference "Partners in Humanitarian Crisis" in Tokyo co-organised by the European Commission, the European Commissioner for Development cooperation and Humanitarian Aid, Mr Poul Nielson, met with the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to discuss issues of national interest. The meeting with Mr Annan represents another step in the strengthening of EU-UN relations. President Romano Prodi is currently paying an official visit to UN organisations in Geneva. Mr Nielson informed Mr Annan of the preparations for the third UN Conference on Least Developed Countries (Brussels, May 2001) that is being hosted by the EU and funded with euro 7 million from the Commission. Mr Nielson stressed the importance attached by the Commission in this event. Mr Annan expressed strong interest in the Commission's proposal to grant duty and quota free access to products from the Least Developed Countries (the "Everything but Arms" initiative), seeing this as a meaningful and needed contribution to improving the global prospects of a better North- South relationship. Mr Nielson is currently on an official visit to Japan where he is exploring possibilities to strengthen cooperation with the Japanese Government in the development and humanitarian fields. Improving donor cooperation in the different UN fora has also been high on the agenda between the two sides.
  • [21] Fusion approuvée selon la procédure simplifiée Commercial Union Italia SpA / Banca Popolare di Lodi / JV
  • [22] Autre matériel diffusé Discours de Mme Reding devant la commission de la culture, de la jeunesse, de l'éducation, des médias et des sports du PE Discours de M. Patten : "The role of the European Union on the world stage" au India Habitat Centre - Jawarharlal Nehru University (New Delhi, ! embargo 15h00 !)

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


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


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