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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 02-03-21

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>


CONTENTS / CONTENU

  • [01] Romano Prodi will attend the International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey
  • [02] Euro-zone in 2001 - Government deficit at 1.3% of GDP and public debt at 69.1% of GDP
  • [03] Commission clears steel processing Dutch joint venture in hot-rolled flat products sector
  • [04] EU Commission to appeal against New York court ruling
  • [05] Lettre de mise en demeure adressée à la France pour non-exécution de l'arrêt de la Cour relatif à la viande bovine britannique
  • [06] Telecommunications : Commission takes further action on unbundling - infringement proceedings against five Member States
  • [07] Assurance automobile : recours devant la Cour de Justice contre la France et le Luxembourg
  • [08] VAT : infringement proceedings against the UK for failure to implement a Court of Justice judgement and incorrect application of the sixth VAT Directive
  • [09] EU-Japan Symposium : Anna Diamantopoulou calls for culture change to root out age bias and keep older workers working
  • [10] Hearing on follow-up to the Green Paper "Compensation to crime victims" today in Brussels
  • [11] Commission Staff Economic Paper on "EMU and the euro the first 10 years"
  • [12] Commission Staff Economic Paper on "Deposit insurance and international bank deposits"
  • [13] Commission Staff Economic Paper on "Has EMU shifted policy ?"
  • [14] Disability : Non Discrimination + Positive Action = Equality
  • [15] Autre matériel diffusé Midday Express 21/03/2002 TXT: FR ENPDF:DOC:Midday Express 21/03/2002

  • [01] Romano Prodi will attend the International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey

    The President of the European Commission Romano Prodi will attend the International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico on Friday 22 March.

    [02] Euro-zone in 2001 - Government deficit at 1.3% of GDP and public debt at 69.1% of GDP

    According to Eurostat, in 2001, the government balance of the euro-zone and the EU15 were in deficit, while the debt ratio to GDP continued to improve. For the euro-zone, the government balance moved from a surplus of 0.2% of GDP in 2000 to a deficit of 1.3% in 2001, and for the EU15 from a 1.1% surplus in 2000 to a 0.6% deficit in 2001. Nevertheless, several countries continued to register a surplus. In 2001, the largest government surpluses relative to GDP were in Luxembourg (5.0%), Finland (4.9%), and Sweden (4.7%), while the largest government deficits were recorded by Germany (- 2.7%), Portugal (-2.2%), France and Italy (-1.4% each). Government debt ratio to GDP decreased in the euro-zone from 69.5% in 2000 to 69.1% in 2001, and in the EU15 from 63.9% to 63.0%. The ratio was reduced in all Member States in 2001 compared to 2000, apart from in Portugal and Sweden, where the debt rose from 53.4% to 55.6% and from 55.3% to 56.0% respectively.

    [03] Commission clears steel processing Dutch joint venture in hot-rolled flat products sector

    The European Commission has granted regulatory clearance to a deal whereby the Dutch companies IHC Holland N.V. and ODS B.V. will acquire joint control of a joint venture, Metalix, which will be active in specialized processing of hot-rolled flat steel products.

    [04] EU Commission to appeal against New York court ruling

    The European Union is not giving up on the action it has brought before the American courts against cigarette smuggling by US tobacco groups. In response to a proposal by European Budget Commissioner Michaele Schreyer, the Commission yesterday decided to appeal against a ruling by the New York District Court. "This is about large-scale smuggling and we are determined to continue combating this fraud with all the means at our disposal", said Ms Schreyer in Brussels. On 19 February the District Court refused to admit the complaint, as public revenue lost in other States could not be recovered through a US court. The EU alleges that American tobacco companies are involved in smuggling cigarettes, causing a loss of tax revenue in Europe. It is estimated that several hundred million euros in customs and tax revenue are lost every year.

    [05] Lettre de mise en demeure adressée à la France pour non-exécution de l'arrêt de la Cour relatif à la viande bovine britannique

    En vertu de l'article 228, paragraphe 1, du traité CE, un Etat membre est tenu d'exécuter un arrêt de la Cour de Justice des Communautés européennes. Le 13 décembre 2001, la Cour a déclaré illicite le refus de la France de mettre fin à l'embargo sur la viande bovine britannique (affaire C-1/00). La France est donc tenue de mettre en œuvre la législation européenne et de créer les conditions juridiques permettant la reprise des importations de viande bovine britannique en France. Jusqu'ici, la Commission européenne n'a été informée d'aucune mesure d'exécution de cet arrêt. Aussi a-t-elle adressé hier à la France une lettre de mise en demeure mentionnant l'infraction qui lui est reprochée par l'arrêt de la Cour. La France dispose de 30 jours pour présenter ses observations.

    [06] Telecommunications : Commission takes further action on unbundling - infringement proceedings against five Member States

    As part of its efforts to push for greater competition in broadband access, the European Commission has decided to open infringement proceedings against Germany, France, Ireland, the Netherlands and Portugal in relation to the Regulation on Unbundling of the Local Loop. The action is being taken because of the failure to ensure that the reference offer from incumbent operators is complete and sufficiently detailed. This offer should be sufficiently unbundled to allow competitors to pay just for what they require, and must provide in particular a breakdown of costs for the sub-loop so that an operator can install equipment closer to customers' premises than the local exchange. These proceedings follow the action taken in December 2001 against Germany, Portugal and Greece concerning shared access to the local loop, at which time the Commission made it clear that further legal action could be taken. The effectiveness of this action is clear from the fact that two of the Member States implicated in December, Portugal and Greece, have already remedied the problem involved, and the Commission is closing these two cases. Germany has also recently reported positive steps to remedy the situation, and the Commission will consider closing this case also. The Commission is once again making good its promise to act when adequate steps have not been taken in Member States to ensure that competition in local broadband access is encouraged, an objective that was reaffirmed by the Barcelona European Summit.

    [07] Assurance automobile : recours devant la Cour de Justice contre la France et le Luxembourg

    La Commission européenne a décidé de saisir la Cour de Justice contre la France et le Luxembourg concernant leurs systèmes obligatoires de bonus/malus pour l'assurance responsabilité civile automobile. Dans ces deux pays, l'évolution de la prime en fonction des dommages causés par les conducteurs continue à obéir à des critères obligatoires strictement détaillés dans des dispositions législatives incompatibles avec la libre commercialisation des produits d'assurance. La Commission considère que cette situation constitue une violation de la troisième directive d'assurance non-vie 92/49/CEE.

    [08] VAT : infringement proceedings against the UK for failure to implement a Court of Justice judgement and incorrect application of the sixth VAT Directive

    The European Commission intends to ask the United Kingdom to state what measures it has taken to comply with a judgment delivered by the European Court of Justice on 12 September 2000 concerning VAT on toll charges for road infrastructure. The request for information takes the form of a letter of formal notice, the first stage in infringement proceedings under Article 228 of the EC Treaty against a Member State which has failed to take the necessary steps to comply with a Court ruling. The Commission has also decided to take the UK to Court over a VAT exemption it grants taxable employers on some of their employees' costs. The Commission believes the exemption violates the Sixth Directive on the common system of VAT.

    [09] EU-Japan Symposium : Anna Diamantopoulou calls for culture change to root out age bias and keep older workers working

    Just days after the adoption of the European Commission's contribution to next month's UN Assembly on Ageing, employment and social affairs Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou will tomorrow close the ninth EU-Japan Symposium with a call for Europeans to do more to avoid premature retirement and improve employment opportunities for older workers. Her appeal, issued in the wake of last week's pledge by the Barcelona summit to raise the average effective age of retirement by up to 5 years (i.e. from present average of about 58 to approximately 63) by 2010, cited the benefits for older workers, companies, and budgets of staying in work longer. Raising the age at which people stop working will also help offset the impact of demographic dependency ratios which are due to double by mid- century.

    [10] Hearing on follow-up to the Green Paper "Compensation to crime victims" today in Brussels

    On 28 September 2001 the European Commisson adopted the above-mentioned Green Paper. The Paper launched a public consultation with all interested parties on possible measures to be taken at Community level to improve state compensation to crime victims in the EU. The Commission has received a considerable amount of replies, from Member States, professional organisations, and a wide range of non-governmental organisations. Having made a first assessment of the comments received, and as already announced in the Green Paper, the Commission has organised this hearing taking place today to further debate the issues raised in the Paper as well as the comments received. Further practical details can be found on the following website: http://europa.eu.int/comm/justice_home/unit/civil/crime_vict/annonce_gp_en.htm

    [11] Commission Staff Economic Paper on "EMU and the euro the first 10 years"

    EMU and the euro will face a number of challenges in the future. Common challenges suggested by economists can be grouped as follows : (1) fiscal policy making, (2) monetary policy making, (3) the euro area being a non- optimal currency area and (4) the political legitimacy of EMU. The Staff Paper issued by the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs examines the major lessons for EMU from the history of monetary unions and evaluates how EMU can respond to these standard challenges. Two basic conclusions emerge. First, the euro area is organised as a centralised monetary union, an institutional set-up that facilitates endurance. Second, policy makers within EMU are and will be involved in a process of policy learning. This process of learning by doing increases the long term viability of EMU. Full paper available on the web after 13h00: http://europa.eu.int/comm/economy_finance/publications/economic_papers/economicpapers165_en.htm

    [12] Commission Staff Economic Paper on "Deposit insurance and international bank deposits"

    This Staff Paper issued by the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs examines how international depositors respond to national deposit insurance policies. Countries with explicit deposit insurance are found to be relatively attractive to international non-bank depositors. Deposit schemes characterised by co-insurance, a private administration, and a low deposit insurance premium appear to be particularly favoured by these depositors. The sensitivity of non-bank deposits to deposit insurance policies opens up the possibility of international regulatory competition in this area. The EU directive on deposit insurance imposes minimum standards on national deposit insurance policies. This directive, however, is silent on several important features of deposit insurance such as the level of the deposit insurance premium. Hence, it may not preclude regulatory competition in Europe. Full paper available on the web after 13h00: http://europa.eu.int/comm/economy_finance/publications/economic_papers/economicpapers164_en.htm

    [13] Commission Staff Economic Paper on "Has EMU shifted policy ?"

    This Staff Paper issued by the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs assesses the extent to which the macroeconomic policy architecture of EMU represents a break with the past. It is argued that the key characteristics of the systematic component of macroeconomic policy in EMU may not be different from what they used to be. However, some important differences arise. The SGP guarantees fiscal solvency by explicitly limiting the variability of the deficit, while, in the past, governments ensured solvency by tightening fiscal policy to lower debt stocks. Additionally, the respect of the 3% ceiling and the prevalence of automatic stabilisation should reduce the variability of non-systematic fiscal policy in EMU. Full paper available on the web after 13h00: http://europa.eu.int/comm/economy_finance/publications/economic_papers/economicpapers166_en.htm

    [14] Disability : Non Discrimination + Positive Action = Equality

    At her address to the Spanish Presidency Conference on "Non Discrimination + Positive Action = Equality" today in Madrid, European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs Anna Diamantopoulou stressed : "We know that up to 37 million Europeans, at any point in time, are affected by some form of disability. From mild, to severe, to multiple disabilities. Physical, mental or sensory. And the numbers are growing. As people live longer. As people survive disases and accidents that were once fatal. Leaving many with disabilities. The challenge now is to deliver, not just life, but quality of life, opportunity and inclusion. This diversity must be reflected in our policies, measures and actions. And we must be aware of the multiple discriminations and barriers that people with disabilities can face. Women with disabilities can face the barrier of sexism like all women. Disabled migrant workers can also face racism like all migrant workers. Just as older people come up against age discrimination. Obstacles are often cumulative, too. With health problems linked to isolation, unemployment and poverty."

    [15] Autre matériel diffusé

    Speech by Pedro M. Solbes : "The economic situation, policies and policy co- ordination" at the Economic and Social Committee Plenary (20/03)

    Speech by Viviane Reding at the European Voice Conference on "Television without Frontiers"

    Discours de M. Bolkestein : "Integratie van de Europese financiële markt en gevolgen daarvan voor de EU-pensioenmarkten" (Leiden, ! embargo 13h30 !)

    Discours de Mme Reding : "Relancer le dialogue entre les cultures : le devoir politique et moral de l'Union européenne" au Colloque dialogue interculturel (20/03)


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


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