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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 01-02-05

Midday Express: News from the EU Commission Spokesman's Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: EUROPA, the European Commission Server at <>


News from the Spokesman's midday briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi du Service Presse et Communicationb

Midday Express 05/02/2001

  • [01] Visit of President Romano Prodi to the Mashrak countries boosts Barcelona Process The President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, will visit Jordan (7-8 February 2001), Lebanon (8-9 February) and Syria (9-10 February). The aim of the visit is to give fresh impetus to relations with these countries, revitalize the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and enable it to fulfill the strategic aims laid down at the Marseilles ministerial conference last November.
  • [02] Commission takes preliminary view that the agreements between SAS and Maersk Air infringe competition rules In a statement of objections sent on 2 February to SAS and Maersk Air, the European Commission has taken a preliminary view that the two airlines, by agreeing to share markets, have infringed Article 81 of the EC Treaty which prohibits concerted behaviour or agreements between companies that have an anti-competitive object or effect. As the situation currently stands, Maersk Air has stopped operations between Copenhagen and Stockholm, leaving SAS to dominate overwhelmingly that major Scandinavian route with the risk of higher prices for the one million passengers that fly between the two capitals every year. The Statement of Objections marks the opening of infringement proceedings and the parties are now entitled to present their defence in writing, as well as at an oral hearing.
  • [03] La Commission améliore la formation professionnelle dans le transport routier La Commission européenne a adopté une proposition de Directive qui prévoit de rendre obligatoire la formation professionnelle des chauffeurs dans le transport routier de marchandises et de passagers. Cette proposition vise à améliorer la qualité de prestations des chauffeurs, d'accroître le respect et la capacité d'attraction de la profession, de renforcer la sécurité routière et de favoriser la libre-circulation des travailleurs. En outre, de nouvelles règles communes doivent être adoptées pour prendre en considération les développements technologiques et le savoir-faire acquis dans ce secteur. La proposition prévoit des règles communes sur la formation initiale obligatoire pour tous les nouveaux conducteurs de véhicules transportant des marchandises ou des passagers, ainsi qu'une formation continue pour tous les conducteurs à intervalles réguliers. "La formation professionnelle est un aspect très important qui ne devrait jamais être oublié : c'est un facteur vital de l'amélioration constante des conditions de travail dans cette profession", a déclaré Loyola de Palacio, vice-présidente en charge des transports et de l'énergie. "Il est essentiel que tous les acteurs du secteur s'engagent pleinement dans la réussite de l'application de cette formation professionnelle", a-t-elle souligné.
  • [04] EU makes proposal for "win-win" solution to WTO agricultural negotiations Today in Geneva the European Union presented a comprehensive proposal for the WTO agricultural negotiations. The proposal is a positive contribution to the talks that began in March 2000, and is comprehensive in all senses of the word. Firstly, it covers all the elements of Article 20 of the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture, namely the aim of achieving further reductions in support and protection, non-trade concerns and the need to provide special and differential treatment to developing countries. Secondly, it is designed to be all-inclusive so that all parties feel that they have gained and not lost from the ongoing negotiations. Finally, it lays down what the EU is prepared to do in the process of trade reform, as well as asking others what they intend to contribute. This constructive input from the EU is well-timed, according to Franz Fischler, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries. "The EU is completely committed to negotiate a balanced agreement. In a successful trade negotiation, everyone wins and we are confident that our proposal is designed to achieve this. The BSE-crisis has strengthened the EU's position that agriculture is more than just an industry and has to be treated accordingly in the WTO. European agriculture is also about the environment, consumers and food safety. This is why we will stand firm to defend these non-trade concerns in the WTO talks. With the Agenda 2000 reforms we have proven our firm commitment to go down the road towards less trade- distorting, de-coupled farm support." The EU's position paper can be found on the Internet :
  • [05] Euro area business climate indicator down 0.28 in January 2001 (! embargo 12 am !) After a slight increase last month, the business climate indicator deteriorated in December to 0.95, according to the euro area business climate indicator published today by the European Commission (Directorate General Economic & Financial Affairs). This level is still historically quite high, nevertheless it confirms the downward trend registered since last August. This decline is in line with a slowing down in the industrial production since last summer, which is still, however, hovering far above its average between 1986 and 2000. The development of the indicator points to good but more cautious confidence of the industrial firms in the euro area. The document will be available on the internet at the following address: Please also see the following internet address:
  • [06] December 2000 industrial producer prices down 0.4% in euro-zone ; - 0.3% in EU15 (! embargo 12 am !) The euro-zone industrial producer price index fell by 0.4% in December 2000 compared with the previous month, Eurostat estimates today. It went up by 0.1% in November. EU15 prices, which had increased by 0.3% in November, declined by 0.3% in December. This decline of the overall rate in December is due to a strong decrease of the intermediate goods index, which fell by 1.4 % in the euro-zone and 1.2% in the EU15 after a rise of 0.1% and 0.5% respectively in November. The euro-zone and the EU15 indices for durable consumer goods were unchanged in the last two month, while the index for non-durable consumer goods increased by 0.3% and for capital goods by 0.1% in December. Producer prices increased by 5.4% in the euro-zone and 4.7% in the EU15 compared to December 1999. In November the rate reached 6.3% in the euro-zone and 5.5% in the EU15.
  • [07] Access to Environmental Information : Commission moves against Germany and Austria The European Commission has decided to issue a Reasoned Opinion (second warning letter) under Article 228 of the Treaty against Germany to enforce an earlier judgement of the European Court of Justice on the Access to Environmental Information Directive which has still not been complied with. Furthermore, the Commission has decided to refer Austria to the European Court of Justice for its failure to comply with the same Directive.
  • [08] Launching of a euro 1.3 million project on the training of judges in EU Law in the candidate countries On 5 and 6 February 2001, the European Commission, the European Institute of Public Administration (Antenna Luxembourg), representatives of Finland, France, Italy and Sweden, and of all 13 EU applicant States, are holding a launching conference in Bratislava for a new euro 1.3 million project which aims to strengthen the capacity of the applicant States to train judges in the area of EU law. Such training of judges is an important part of the EU's agenda for the creation of an area of freedom, security and justice, in which the rule of law is applied concretely.
  • [09] EU and China settle long-running dispute over pharmaceuticals The European Union and China have settled a long-running dispute over so- called administrative protection for pharmaceutical and agrochemical products from Austria, Finland and Sweden. The two sides last week reached an agreement that brings to an end a dispute that dates back to 1994 and caused losses the European industry estimates at euro 25 million. Welcoming the agreement between Representatives of the EU Delegation in Beijing and the Chinese Ministry for Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation (MOFTEC), Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said : "This is good news for EU pharmaceutical producers. We have managed to eliminate differential treatment according to the applicant's nationality. Applicants from all EU member States, including Austria, Finland and Sweden, will now be treated the same in China."
  • [10] Financial services : Commission launches second consultation on new capital adequacy framework The European Commission has launched a second round of consultations on a new capital adequacy framework for banks and investment firms. Financial service practitioners, market analysts, consumer groups, Member States and other interested parties have been invited to comment by the end of May 2001 on a consultative paper. Their contributions will help shape the proposals for a new EU capital adequacy framework planned for the autumn. The Commission's work complements efforts by the Committee on Banking Supervision of the Bank of International Settlements (known as the Basel Committee) to introduce a similar framework for banks at the international level. The consultation document is designed to be read in conjunction with a similar consultation on the new Basel Capital Accord launched by the Basel Committee on 16 January, but concentrates on issues where particular EU concerns need to be taken into account. Revised EU bank capital legislation must ensure that European banks and investment firms are able to respond quickly to market change and operate flexibly. The new rules must also pay due regard to the financing needs of small businesses. The Commission's consultation paper can be downloaded from the Europa Website:
  • [11] La Commission organise un débat public sur la protection des piétons Des idées pour améliorer la conception des automobiles en vue de limiter les cas de décès et d'accidents de piétons seront explorées lors d'un débat public organisé par la Commission européenne demain 6 février 2001 à Bruxelles. La Commission espère que l'industrie automobile répondra à ce débat en proposant de négocier des normes sévères de tests de sécurité pour les piétons. La Commission est disposée à évaluer la faisabilité d'une telle approche négociée au titre de sa stratégie générale pour la simplification de la réglementation sur l'environnement, mais n'exclut pas une approche législative en cas d'échec des négociations. Des membres du Parlement européen, des experts des Etats membres et d'autres parties intéressées, y compris des constructeurs d'automobiles et des organisations de consommateurs participeront à ce débat.
  • [12] Commission launches new call for proposals under the "European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights" aimed at the rehabilitation of torture victims The European Commission has launched a new call for proposals under chapter B7-7 of the EU budget, the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), for a sum of euro 12 million. This call is to support centres, both inside and outside the EU, which provide rehabilitation for victims of torture. The call and the projects selected will be managed by the newly created EuropeAid Co-operation Office. For further details see O.J. C37 of 03.02.01 or
  • [13] Frits Bolkestein calls for urgent implementation of Lisbon agenda (! embargo 6.45 pm, Brussels time !) "The Internal Market offers liberty, opportunity and prosperity on an unprecedented scale", said European Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein in a speech today in the Mansion House, London. "The project of economic integration through liberalisation of markets and the tearing down of tariff and customs barriers has been a deliberate attempt to undo the mistakes of nearly half a century of protectionism and isolationism that had brought Europe nothing but hyperinflation, poverty and mass unemployment." "Continuing and concerted reform efforts" will be required if we want to stand a serious chance of reaching the target agreed at the March 2000 Lisbon Summit of making Europe the most dynamic, competitive and knowledge-based economy in the world within ten years through an ambitious programme of supply-side economic reform. The Financial Services Action Plan forms a crucial part of this programme. However, Mr Bolkestein warned that "unfortunately, in the follow-up and implementation, Member States have sometimes been less than enthusiastic to turn declarations into actions. There's much poetry but not enough motion. If we want the prosperity we have achieved through our common endeavour to be long-lasting, we must get down to the business of economic reform. We must focus on what's feasible, on achievable targets leading to tangible results."
  • [14] Michaele Schreyer pleads for enhanced cooperation in energy taxation European Budget Commissioner Michaele Schreyer has highlighted the importance of harmonising energy taxation in the European Union. If the draft Directive on energy taxation, which the Commission proposed already four years ago, is blocked in the Council because of unanimity requirements, then an energy taxation could be a matter for enhanced cooperation of interested Member States, said Schreyer in Berlin at the 2001 Environment Conference of the German Greens in the Bundestag. Mrs Schreyer also described the EURATOM Treaty as an 'anachronism' and pleaded in favour of a common European initiative on solar energy.
  • [15] Fusion approuvée selon la procédure simplifiée Scroder Ventures Limited (UK) / Homebase (UK)


    From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at
    © ECSC - EC - EAEC, Brussels-Luxembourg, 1995, 1996

    Midday Express: News from the EU Commission Spokesman's Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
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