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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 01-10-03

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 03/10/2001

[I] Résultats de la Commission du 2 octobre 2001 - Outcome of Commission meeting of 2nd October

  • [01] EU steps up fight against financing of international terrorism The European Commission proposes that Member States freeze all funds held by 27 organisations and individuals suspected of supporting and financing terrorist activities. The proposed Council regulation is a binding legal instrument that would apply to the holding and transfer of funds within the EU. Romano Prodi, President of the Commission, said : "This is one of a series of measures taken promptly by the Commission in response to the dreadful attacks on the USA on 11 September. The European Union is united in its resolve and the Commission will continue to ensure that the European response remains comprehensive and coherent. There must be nowhere to hide in Europe."
  • [02] The future direction of EU consumer policy : Commission stirs up public debate The European Commission has adopted a Green Paper on fair trading practices, addressing the key issues of consumer protection. The Green Paper aims to stimulate a wide debate on options to improve the functioning of the business-to-consumer (B2C) Internal Market. It sets out two main strategic options for the future development of EU regulation of B2C commercial practices. The first option is a strategy based on further harmonisation addressing specific issues and to continue the approach of the last two decades. The second option is based on complementing specific legislative measures with a framework directive covering B2C commercial practices. The paper also seeks views on priority areas for harmonisation and on the various options for a possible framework directive. In edition, it equally sets out options for ensuring and improving enforcement of consumer protection rules.
  • [03] Marché intérieur : la Commission propose un règlement destiné à lever les restrictions aux promotions des ventes La Commission européenne a proposé un règlement du Conseil et du Parlement européen destiné à lever les restrictions aux promotions des ventes au sein du marché intérieur qui ont été identifiées par la Commission. Ce règlement éliminera les barrières aux promotions des ventes transfrontières érigées par le biais de dispositions nationales en matière de rabais, primes, cadeaux, concours et jeux promotionnels et les remplacera par des exigences de transparence et d'information destinées à permettre la libre circulation. Etant donné que ces outils promotionnels sont utilisés par toutes les sociétés (et notamment les PME), le projet de règlement représente un instrument clé pour faciliter la communication commerciale par delà les frontières de l'Union. Il existe un besoin urgent d'un ensemble commun de règles fondamentales pour ces instruments promotionnels liés aux prix, en raison de l'introduction de l'euro et de la mise en œuvre de la directive sur le commerce électronique dans les législations nationales en janvier 2002.
  • [04] Réseau transeuropéen : la Commission veut concentrer l'effort sur les goulets d'étranglement et un nombre limité de grands projets Dans la foulée du nouveau Livre blanc sur les transports, la Commission européenne propose de concentrer les investissements sur les projets d'infrastructures du réseau transeuropéen de transport contribuant à résorber les goulets d'étranglement et lutter contre la congestion. A cette occasion, la Commission propose également de mettre à jour la liste des grands projets prioritaires, de relever le taux maximal de financement communautaire pour certains projets ferroviaires critiques ainsi que pour les projets transfrontaliers avec les futurs pays adhérents. "La révision des orientations communautaires du réseau transeuropéen vise en priorité à désengorger les grands axes et éliminer les goulets d'étranglements qui asphyxient le réseau transeuropéen dans de nombreuses zones vitales pour l'économie et pour le bon fonctionnement de notre société", a déclaré Loyola de Palacio, Vice-Présidente en charge de l'Energie et des Transports. "Cette révision est un axe essentiel de la mise en œuvre du nouveau Livre blanc", a-t-elle ajouté.
  • [05] Commission welcomes progress of accession negotiations since adoption of the 'road map' Endorsed by the European Council of Nice in December 2000 and implemented since, the 'road map', which outlines the timetable for the remaining accession negotiations, has proved to be successful. It has given the negotiations a new momentum by allowing substantial progress on several, often difficult issues including the environment, free movement of persons or free movement of capital. It sent a clear signal to the applicant countries that their efforts are worthwhile. The progress made allowed the European Union, at its summit in Göteborg in June, to set the objective of the participation of candidate countries in the European elections of 2004 as members of the EU. The special meeting of the European Council in Gent, on 19 October 2001, provides for an opportunity to review the implementation of the roadmap during the first half of its duration. For that purpose, the European Commission, at the initiative of Enlargement Commissioner Günter Verheugen, yesterday adopted a "mid-term review of the implementation of the enlargement strategy" which examines the progress made in the accession negotiations for the chapters covered by the roadmap in 2001.
  • [06] La Commission inflige des amendes à six entreprises membres de l'entente sur le gluconate de sodium La Commission européenne a infligé des amendes d'un total de 57.53 millions d'euros à Archer Daniels Midland Company Inc., Akzo Nobel N.V, Avebe B.A., Fujisawa Pharmaceutical Company Ltd., Jungbunzlauer AG et Roquette Frères S.A. pour avoir fixé le prix du gluconate de sodium et s'être réparti le marché de ce produit, une substance chimique utilisée principalement pour nettoyer le métal et le verre, avec des applications telles que le lavage de bouteilles, le nettoyage d'ustensiles et le décapage de peinture. Cette décision intervient à l'issue d'une enquête approfondie qui a démontré qu'entre 1987 et 1995, les six entreprises, qui représentaient ensemble la quasi totalité de la production mondiale, ont mis en œuvre une entente secrète.
  • [07] Commission initiates formal investigation with respect to proposed aid in favour of Hamburger AG The European Commission has decided to initiate the State aid investigation procedure laid down in Art. 88(2) of the EC Treaty with respect to proposed aid amounting to euro 54 million in favour of Hamburger AG, Pitten (Austria), for the construction of a new plant producing corrugated base paper located in Brandenburg (Germany). The Commission doubts that the aid is compatible with the EC Treaty.
  • [08] BSE : Commission authorises aid measures for Baden-Württemberg and Austria The European Commission has authorised Baden-Württemberg (Germany) to pay income aid worth some euro 5.1 million to beef farmers who have suffered losses between November 2000 and June 2001 because of the consequences of the BSE-crisis. The authorisation follows the line taken in earlier decisions for Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The Commission considered that the crisis in the beef market constitutes an exceptional event, which justifies such income aid. The Commission has also authorised various BSE-related aid measures in Austria, with a budget worth more than euro 29 million, to compensate farmers where BSE has been found on the farm, for BSE-test costs and for transport and disposal of certain materials like animal feed which could no longer be used, risk material, etc.
  • [09] La Commission enquête sur trois aides d'Etat en faveur de l'agriculture prévues dans la loi de finances italienne de 2001 La Commission européenne a ouvert une procédure formelle d'enquête portant sur un financement supplémentaire de 119 millions d'euros (230 milliards ITL) concernant une aide approuvée par le Conseil en 1997, destinée à acquitter les sommes dues par les membres de coopératives agricoles qui s'étaient personnellement portés caution pour les coopératives en cas d'insolvabilité de ces dernières. La Commission a également ouvert une enquête formelle à propos d'une aide au sauvetage et à la restructuration de sociétés en difficulté, ainsi qu'à propos d'aides en faveur de la promotion ainsi que de la recherche et du développement. Dans tous les cas, dans la situation actuelle, la Commission a des doutes quant à la compatibilité de ces aides avec les dispositions applicables aux aides d'Etat de l'UE.
  • [10] Commission authorises aid to the German coal industry for 2002 The German coal industry can receive State aid of euro 2 billion (DM 4,055 million) for the period 1 January 2002 to 23 July 2002.
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [11] Commission signs joint document on space partnership with Russia Today, European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin, and the Director General of the Russian Space Agency, Youri Koptiev, signed a Joint Document on the Euro-Russian Space Partnership in the margin of the EU-Russia summit. The aim of this declaration is to further strengthen the long- standing cooperation in this field, including the European Space Agency and Rosaviakosmos. Areas of special interest will be the following : launch services, notably the possibility of launching Soyuz rockets from the European space centre in Kourou ; satellite navigation systems such as Galileo and Glonass ; the initiative for building a European capacity for Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES). Furthermore, the partnership will include new space programme activities encompassing space science and technology, crewed missions, planetary exploration, the utilisation of the International Space Station and the development of future transportation systems. A high level Steering Board will be established to implement the partnership for space and to ensure that each joint programme satisfies well-identified goals and requirements ; a fair and cost-effective division of activities is established ; a financially- viable scheme is implemented within each project ; the expected benefits accrue to each party.
  • [12] Commission concludes cooperation agreements on nuclear energy with Russia In the margin of the EU-Russia summit, European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin and the Russian Minister for Atomic Energy, Mr Alexander Roumyantsev, have signed two Cooperation Agreements in the fields of nuclear safety and controlled nuclear fusion. These Agreements are part of the research strategy by Mr Busquin aiming at opening up the European Research Area to third countries and at fostering the collaboration with the Russian Federation. The main thrust of the Agreement on nuclear safety concerns reactor safety, radiation protection, nuclear waste management, decommissioning of obsolete installations as well as accountancy and control of nuclear material. The Agreement on nuclear fusion centres around the research into generating energy by controlled fusion and on the technology to build a suitable type of reactor, called ITER. The first Agreement has an initial duration of 10 years the second of five years ; both are renewable for another five years. The cooperation consists chiefly in the exchange of technical knowledge, experts, materials and equipment as well as training and joint studies/activities. The implementation of both Agreements will be supervised by joint working groups, which meet regularly. All costs are borne by the party that incurs them. In the case of nuclear fusion it is worth noting that the Commission proposes to spend euro 700 million in the next research framework programme (2003-2006).
  • [13] August / September 2001 : euro area Business Climate Indicator continuous to fall (! embargo 12 am !) The Business Climate Indicator (BCI) continued to fall in August and September bringing it down to, respectively, levels of -0.46 and -0.57. This continuing decline is in line with negative growth in industrial production in the euro area. BCI is calculated on the basis of input from the business and consumer survey results published yesterday. Approximatelyround 85% of the answers to the surveys used in the BCI were given before 11 September 2001.
  • [14] Août 2001 : les prix à la production industrielle ont baissé de 0,1% dans la zone euro et dans l'UE15 (! embargo 12h00 !) Au mois d'août 2001, les prix à la production industrielle ont baissé de 0,1% par rapport au mois de juillet dans la zone euro, selon les estimations publiées aujourd'hui par Eurostat. Les prix dans l'UE15 ont également baissé de 0,1%. Au mois de juillet, l'indice avait baissé de 0,5% dans les deux zones. Au mois d'août 2001 et par rapport au mois d'août 2000, les prix à la production industrielle ont progressé de 1,7% dans la zone euro et de 1,6% dans l'UE15, confirmant le ralentissement des hausses de prix observé depuis le mois d'octobre 2000.
  • [15] July 2001 compared to July 2000 : volume of retail trade up by 1.3% in euro-zone ; EU15 up by 2.3% (! embargo 12 am !) In July 2001, as compared to July 2000, the volume of retail trade gained 1.3% in the euro-zone and 2.3% in the EU15, Eurostat estimates today. Compared to June 2001, sales increased by 0.3% in the euro- zone and by 1.3% in the EU15. In July 2001, as compared to July 2000, retail trade of "food, drinks, tobacco" rose by 1.9% in the euro-zone and by 2.6% in the EU15. Retail trade in "Non food products" increased by 1.2% in the euro-zone. Of the non food products, "Textiles, clothing and footwear" registered a growth of 1.0% in the euro-zone and 3.9% in the EU15. "Books, newspapers and other sales in specialised stores" augmented by 0.5% and 0.7% respectively in the euro-zone and in the EU15. However, "household goods" decreased by 1.8% in the euro-zone and by 0.6% in the EU15. The monthly news release on Retail Trade has been extended in order to meet users' demands. Information on new sectors is now available and for the first time Eurostat is able to publish separately a detailed information on more than 95% of the total retail trade.
  • [16] Go ahead given for euro 45 million Leader+ programme for rural development in the Spanish region of Valencia The European Commission approved the Community Initiative Leader+ programme in the Spanish region of Valencia. Welcoming the decision, Franz Fischler, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries, said : "This programme aims to pilot new ideas to help build a more sustainable society, economy and environment for rural Spain. It aims to improve the quality of life for all those who live in rural areas. Leader+ will help to increase the added value of local products and to make the best use of natural and cultural resources." The total public expenditure under this programme is euro 45 million, over a period ending in 2006. This includes an EU contribution of euro 30 million.
  • [17] Commission decides to give euro 23 million to help the return of refugees in Croatia The European Commission has today approved a programme for euro 23.2 million for the return of refugees and displaced people in Croatia. These funds are the latest of an overall contribution by the Commission of more than euro 80 million to the refugee return process in the country. The money announced today should allow 5,000 people to return to their pre-war homes, as well as stimulating economic activity in the areas of return.
  • [18] First Meeting of the Mexico-European Union Joint Committee On 2 October 2001, the first meeting of the Joint Committee established by the Economic Partnership, Political Coordination and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and Mexico was held in Brussels.
  • [19] Franz Fischler visits Mercosur to "build up momentum for successful WTO farm negotiations" European Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler will visit the Mercosur countries Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay from 6 to 16 October. He will hold bilateral meetings with the respective governments and representatives of the agriculture sector and visit several farms. During his visit Commissioner Fischler will seek to build up the momentum for successful agriculture negotiations within the new round of World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations, to be launched at the forthcoming WTO Ministerial. He will seize the opportunity to reiterate the EU's commitment to make progress in the ongoing Mercosur/EU trade liberalisation negotiations. "The partnership between the Mercosur countries and the EU has already provided great opportunities from which both parties have benefited. In all aspects of our relationship politically and commercially, through investments and through cooperation the EU has shown itself to be a good customer and good friend to Mercosur. The fact that the EU submitted a huge unilateral tariff offer in July which would lead to the liberalisation of 90% of current agricultural trade, underlines this." During his visit, Mr Fischler will also address bilateral issues such as wine and spirits.
  • [20] Anna Diamantopoulou wants concrete results from European Year of People with Disabilities 2003 Anna Diamantopoulou, European Commissioner in charge of employment and social affairs, will tell the Council next Monday 8 October in Luxembourg that they should rapidly adopt the Commission proposal to make 2003 the European Year of People with Disabilities. The year-long campaign, for which the Commission has proposed a budget of euro 12 million, will seek support from political and business leaders and personalities from the world of entertainment and sport. As many as 10,000 events to promote the year are expected to be organised at European, national, regional and local levels. Mrs Diamantopoulou said : "The main purpose of the year is to drive forward the political agenda for full integration of people with disabilities which we set out last year in our policy paper 'Towards a barrier-free Europe for people with disabilities'". Mrs Diamantopoulou will also see at first hand the latest assistive technology for the disabled on Friday 5 October at the Düsseldorf 'RehaCare' International Fair, the largest exhibition of its kind in the world. At the fair, she will speak at a conference on the theme 'rehabilitation comes before longterm healthcare dependency'. Mrs Diamantopoulou stated : "It is astonishing that, in 2001, we still do not have a single market in assistive technologies for people with disabilities. Some national social security systems apply discriminatory rules in favour of national suppliers for reimbursement of equipment such as wheelchairs. This makes equipment needlessly expensive for the disabled. We will fight this practice wherever we identify it."
  • [21] Autre matériel diffusé Commission statement by Chris Patten on the situation in Afghanistan (02/10, EP, Strasbourg) Commission statement by Chris Patten on arms exports (02/10, EP, Strasbourg) Commission statement by Poul Nielson on humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and the region (02/10, EP, Strasbourg) Discours de M. Barnier : Déclaration de la Commission en vue de la préparation de la réunion informelle des chefs d'Etat ou de gouvernement qui se tiendra à Gand le 19 octobre (PE, Strasbourg)

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


    From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at http://europa.eu.int/
    © 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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