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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 02-10-28

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] Lack of action depletes fish stocks : scientific advice recommends moratorium on cod fisheries
  • [02] "Seize opportunity to build strong CAP before it is too late", Franz Fischler urges after Brussels Summit
  • [03] La Commission autorise la mise en place d'une plate-forme commerciale de fret aérien, dénommée GF-X, entre plusieurs compagnies aériennes européennes
  • [04] Commission clears acquisition of Interlanden by Deutsche Post
  • [05] Second quarter of 2002 : EU15 current account surplus €7.0 billion ; €5.0 billion surplus on trade in services
  • [06] Libre circulation de marchandises : la Belgique devant la Cour pour entraves aux importations de fauteuils roulants
  • [07] Commission decides to refer Austria to Court over killing of birds of prey in Lower Austria
  • [08] Tobacco control : progress at WHO negotiations
  • [09] Anna Diamantopoulou welcomes agreement on new EU directive limiting noise at work
  • [10] Anna Diamantopoulou welcomes Romania's agreement to shadow EU employment strategy in run-up to accession
  • [11] Anna Diamantopoulou welcomes Bulgaria's agreement to shadow EU employment strategy in run-up to accession
  • [12] Enlargement becomes an early reality as candidate countries sign 6th EU Research Framework Programme
  • [13] Commission approves €29 million in support of Palestinian reform efforts and in response to the deteriorating situation on the ground
  • [14] L'UE va envoyer des observateurs à Madagascar pour les élections législatives du 15 décembre 2002
  • [15] Internal Market : Brussels event aims to build on Solvit's early success in helping citizens and businesses assert their rights
  • [16] Des associations de consommateurs européennes et américaines se réunissent pour discuter, entre autres, de la sécurité des aliments, des OGM et de l'accès aux médicaments
  • [17] Commission welcomes inaugural meeting of European Regulators' Group in Telecoms
  • [18] Fifth meeting of the Contact Group for European Financial Control Organisations in Malta (28-29/10)
  • [19] Anna Diamantopoulou : "Information society, yes. Information elite, no"
  • [20] Autre matériel diffusé Midday Express 28/10/2002 TXT: FR ENPDF:DOC:Midday Express 28/10/2002

  • [01] Lack of action depletes fish stocks : scientific advice recommends moratorium on cod fisheries

    A number of cod fisheries should be closed in EU waters, according to the latest scientific advice from the independent International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) published on Friday 25 October. Scientists have for several years been warning about the growing depletion of a number of fish stocks, in particular cod. Franz Fischler, European Commissioner responsible for Agriculture, Rural development and Fisheries commenting on the alarming new advice said : "I don't want to say 'I told you so'. But it is galling, after repeatedly warning of the dire consequences of inaction, to see our worst fears realised and to be now faced with recommendations for a moratorium on some cod fisheries. It is clear that in the absence of effective conservation and control measures these stocks are being persistently overfished. Previous data were distorted by misreporting of catches and illegal landings. We now have to recognise that the state of these stocks has never been worse."

    [02] "Seize opportunity to build strong CAP before it is too late", Franz Fischler urges after Brussels Summit

    Speaking at the Agra Europe Conference in Brussels today, Franz Fischler, European Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries, stressed that last week's Brussels Summit was a success. "The deal on financing opens the way for EU enlargement. This is good news for Europe. For European agriculture, the decisions mean the following. We now have a clear idea of the farm budget available in the future. For me, this means a clear mandate to try and guarantee a long-term planning security for our agriculture. We now also know that the milk reform and all other upcoming reforms, as well as a part of the direct payments for the new Member States, will have to be financed out of this fixed budget. On the other hand, the means for rural development have not been restricted. The contrary, the Heads of States have even reminded us of the importance of support for less favoured areas. Concerning the timing of the implementation of the Mid-Term Review (MTR), the Commission will fully respect the wishes of the Heads of States. But the fundamental issues and the aims that were addressed in the MTR remain unchanged. We now must put these aims into the perspective of the new financial framework. I am convinced that if we do not act quickly, the gap between our ambitious policy objectives and what the CAP delivers to consumers, citizens and farmers would grow further. And sooner or later it would become unsustainable. We must therefore seize the opportunity to build a strong and sustainable Common Agricultural Policy before it is too late", Mr Fischler said.

    [03] La Commission autorise la mise en place d'une plate-forme commerciale de fret aérien, dénommée GF-X, entre plusieurs compagnies aériennes européennes

    La Commission européenne a donné son feu vert au projet de création, par Lufthansa, Air France, British Airways et Global Freight Exchange Limited, d'une entreprise commune dénommée GF-X Operations Limited. GF-X fournira une plate-forme commerciale électronique d'entreprise à entreprise ("B2B") qui facilitera la vente des capacités de fret aérien entre les transitaires (les acheteurs) et les transporteurs (les vendeurs) de fret aérien. L'étude de marché réalisée par la Commission a confirmé que GF-X constituerait un mode de distribution supplémentaire pour ce qui est de la capacité de fret aérien et qu'il n'y avait aucune crainte à avoir quant à la création ou au renforcement éventuels d'une position dominante du fait de l'opération envisagée. De plus, l'entreprise commune est constituée de façon à prévenir toute coordination des comportements concurrentiels des sociétés mères sur le marché du transport de fret aérien.

    [04] Commission clears acquisition of Interlanden by Deutsche Post

    The European Commission has granted clearance under the Merger Regulation to the acquisition of Dutch door-to-door mailings distributor Interlanden B.V. by Deutsche Post AG. Through the notified deal, Deutsche Post and Interlanden's previous parent Wegener N.V. will also create a mail joint venture. (The operation, notified on 27 September 2002, was examined under the simplified merger review procedure).

    [05] Second quarter of 2002 : EU15 current account surplus €7.0 billion ; €5.0 billion surplus on trade in services

    According to the latest revisions issued today by Eurostat, the EU15 external current account recorded a surplus of €7.0 billion in the second quarter of 2002, as compared with a deficit of €11.2 billion in the second quarter of 2001 and a surplus of €0.2 billion in the first quarter of 2002. In the second quarter of 2002 the EU15 external balance of trade in services recorded a surplus of €5.0 billion as compared with a surplus of €6.5 billion in the second quarter of 2001 and a deficit of €0.4 billion in the first quarter of 2002.

    [06] Libre circulation de marchandises : la Belgique devant la Cour pour entraves aux importations de fauteuils roulants

    La Commission européenne a décidé de saisir la Cour de justice à l'encontre de la Belgique concernant sa législation qui revient à entraver la commercialisation de fauteuils roulants fabriqués dans d'autres Etats membres, en imposant des conditions trop restrictives pour leur remboursement dans le cadre du régime de sécurité sociale nationale. La décision de la Commission vise à faire appliquer les dispositions du Traité CE garantissant la libre circulation des marchandises (article 28), que tous les Etats membres se sont engagés à respecter. Lesdits obstacles ont d'ailleurs pour effet de limiter le choix de fauteuils roulants disponibles pour les utilisateurs sur le territoire belge.

    [07] Commission decides to refer Austria to Court over killing of birds of prey in Lower Austria

    The European Commission has decided to refer Austria to the Court of Justice for allowing the killing of birds of prey in the state of Lower Austria. The Commission considers this practice to be in breach of the Wild Birds Directive, which prohibits the killing of wild birds. While certain exceptions can be granted to the prohibition, strict conditions must be fulfilled. The Commission considers that, in this case, the state of Lower Austria grants derogations for the shooting of birds of prey in far too high a number, and without respecting the strict conditions laid down in the Directive. This practice undermines the conservation of vulnerable wild bird species.

    [08] Tobacco control : progress at WHO negotiations

    Commenting on the progress made at the latest round of discussions on a Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) initiated by the World Health Organisation (WHO), European Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne said : "I am pleased that further progress could be achieved in several areas such as packaging and labelling and illicit trade of tobacco products. On advertising, more and more governments speak out in favour of a total ban and I am pleased to see that a large majority of countries and policymakers withstand tobacco lobbyists' influence, as the link between tobacco advertising and consumption is well established. I am thankful that the World Medical Association, representing ten million doctors from around the world, joined forces and calls on governments to act now and to end all tobacco advertising. I believe we need to show a strong commitment and the EU is working hard to making this Convention a real tool in our fight against tobacco consumption. The negotiations at the WHO present a unique opportunity to create a legal instrument that will be binding worldwide." The negotiations have become an integral part of the EU's tobacco control strategy and a large number of accession countries have already chosen to associate with the EU's position. In a bilateral meeting between the Commission and the WHO, progress was made on the organisation of a high-level round table to address requests from developing countries to create a new global tobacco fund. The fifth round of the FCTC negotiations ended in Geneva last weekend and the last round will take place in February 2003. The FCTC will become a mixed Convention, requiring ratification by Member States and the EU and is planned to be adopted in May 2003. Full details of the FCTC negotiations at: http://www.who.int/home-page

    [09] Anna Diamantopoulou welcomes agreement on new EU directive limiting noise at work

    European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs Anna Diamantopoulou has welcomed the agreement of the European Parliament and the Council on minimum health and safety standards for noise exposure at the workplace. The political agreement, which the Commission hopes will be adopted formally by the two institutions before the end of the year, brings in new, stricter limits on noise at work but ensures that this implies no unnecessary new burdens on business. The directive provides for a limit on exposure to noise at work of an average of 87 dB calculated over a period of one week and will come into force three years after formal adoption, with an additional two years (thus, five in total) for the music and entertainment sector. The existing directive of 1986 sets a limit of 90 dB.

    [10] Anna Diamantopoulou welcomes Romania's agreement to shadow EU employment strategy in run-up to accession

    At a ceremony in Bucharest today, European Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou meets Romanian Labour Minister, Marian Sârbu, to sign an agreed joint assessment by the Commission and Romania of the country's progress in preparing its labour market for EU membership. The assessment already carried out for nine candidate countries welcomes the steps the country has taken to implement new measures on labour disputes, workplace insurance and the fight against social exclusion. It also acknowledges that, at 6.5%, the headline unemployment rate in what is still a largely agricultural economy is currently low but that longterm and youth unemployment are already problematic, especially in the cities. The assessment stresses that the major economic restructuring ahead will raise considerable challenges for employment and that labour market reform must pave the way for, and support, structural change. Boosting job creation in the formal economy and in services, and encouraging people to take jobs in services and other new sectors is a high priority. A crucial challenge is to review the tax and benefit system. In her address, Ms Diamantopoulou points out that Romania urgently needs to raise and adapt the skill and education levels of its present and future labour force. She also says that the country needs to ensure that wage rises do not fuel inflation and budgetary excess but work in favour of economic and labour market reforms. On equal opportunities, she welcomes the recent law on gender parity. Nevertheless, as the joint assessment paper shows, she says that the employment rate for women still lags behind that of men by over ten percentage points. She will stress that the country needs to progress further towards full integration of the Roma community.

    [11] Anna Diamantopoulou welcomes Bulgaria's agreement to shadow EU employment strategy in run-up to accession

    At a ceremony in Sofia tomorrow 29 October, European Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner, Anna Diamantopoulou, will meet Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Labour Minister, Lydia Shouleva, to sign the joint assessment paper setting out employment policy priorities for Bulgaria. The assessment charts Bulgaria's progress in preparing its labour market for EU membership. The assessment already carried out for ten candidate countries, including Romania today congratulates the country on the structural reforms it has undertaken to encourage macroeconomic stability and sustained growth. The Commission recognises that Bulgaria now possesses the essential features of a functioning market economy. It acknowledges, though, that the path has been tough and that, after falling in the mid-nineties, unemployment has risen again - to 21.4% last year. The employment rate, at 47.7%, is now some sixteen percentage points below the EU figure as restructuring away from declining public employers and labour intensive sectors has continued. One of the main messages from the paper is that Bulgaria now needs to strengthen its ability to generate employment, especially in private sector and service jobs and in those branches of manufacturing which are expanding. To this end, it calls upon Bulgaria to invest heavily in education, matching it to modern labour market needs in the emerging, formal sector. On fiscal and pay matters, the assessment says pay-setting mechanisms should be reviewed to encourage skills acquisition while the tax-benefit system should provide more incentive for job creation and work take-up in the new expanding sectors. The joint assessment paper calls for equal opportunities for the minority Roma and Turkish populations, whose education levels are lower than for the general population and who are in a disadvantaged position in the labour market. It also insists on more effort to allow women into the labour market since the employment rate for women trails that of men by six percentage points.

    [12] Enlargement becomes an early reality as candidate countries sign 6th EU Research Framework Programme

    On 29 October 2002 in Brussels, the European Commission and Candidate Countries (CCs) will sign association agreements on the €17.5 billion 6th EU Research Framework Programme (FP6 2003-2006). Commission President Romano Prodi, Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin and Enlargement Commissioner Günther Verheugen will welcome Research Ministers from Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Turkey, to sign Memoranda of Understanding. Participants will also discuss the role and opportunities for Candidate Countries in FP6. Candidate countries will have the same rights and obligations as EU Member States within FP6. Research will therefore be the first area in which EU enlargement becomes a reality.

    [13] Commission approves €29 million in support of Palestinian reform efforts and in response to the deteriorating situation on the ground

    The European Commission is providing a further €7 million for humanitarian aid operations in the Palestinian Territories, another €7 million towards reform of the Palestinian judiciary, €5 million in emergency support for the private sector, and €10 million in support of the health sector. This aid will be channelled through the EU Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) and the EuropeAid Co-operation Office. The Commission is anxious to ensure full access for the delivery of its assistance. Since mid-2001 there have been over 20 incidents involving European NGOs, other contractors working for the Commission and EC officials who have been prevented from carrying out their tasks properly. External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten said : "The projects sponsored by the European Commission are concrete initiatives in response to the worsening crisis and in support of the ongoing Palestinian reform process. Israel must make it easier for humanitarian workers to do their job in the Palestinian territories." Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Poul Nielson commented : "The humanitarian crisis facing the Palestinian people is deepening and I am concerned at the increasingly difficult situation on the ground for humanitarian missions in the region. I urge Israel to allow full, safe, and unfettered access to those in desperate need who depend on international assistance."

    [14] L'UE va envoyer des observateurs à Madagascar pour les élections législatives du 15 décembre 2002

    La Commission européenne a adopté le 24 octobre 2002 une décision de financement pour une mission d'observation de l'Union européenne en vue des élections législatives à Madagascar du 15 décembre 2002. Les élections législatives devraient constituer une étape importante sur la voie de la stabilisation politique du pays.

    [15] Internal Market : Brussels event aims to build on Solvit's early success in helping citizens and businesses assert their rights

    The European Commission is organising a half-day conference on the morning of the 30th October at the EU's Economic and Social Committee in Brussels. The aim is to increase awareness of the Solvit problem-solving network and of the benefits it can bring to citizens and businesses who use it. The network of Solvit Centres, one in each Member State, has been operational since 22nd July 2002 and has already resolved some practical problems. Solvit aims to help users to assert and enforce their Internal Market rights - for example to work, set up businesses or provide goods and services anywhere in the EU - in cases where public administrations are not correctly applying EU law. The Solvit network, with the support of an online data management system, aims to find a solution within ten weeks. Journalists accredited with the Commission are welcome to attend the conference.

    [16] Des associations de consommateurs européennes et américaines se réunissent pour discuter, entre autres, de la sécurité des aliments, des OGM et de l'accès aux médicaments

    David Byrne, commissaire européen chargé de la santé et de la protection des consommateurs, a adressé un message de soutien au Dialogue transatlantique des consommateurs (TACD) à la veille de sa cinquième réunion annuelle. Le TACD est un forum d'associations de consommateurs américaines et européennes qui élabore et adopte des recommandations concernant la politique à mener à l'intention de la Commission et du gouvernement des Etats-Unis d'Amérique et qui défend les intérêts des consommateurs tout au long du processus d'élaboration des politiques aux niveaux européen et américain. Le TACD se réunit à Washington DC ces 29 et 30 octobre en présence de représentants de l'Union européenne et du gouvernement des Etats-Unis.

    [17] Commission welcomes inaugural meeting of European Regulators' Group in Telecoms

    The inaugural meeting of the European Regulators' Group for electronic communications networks and services was held on 25 October in Brussels. In his opening address Erkki Liikanen, European Commissioner for Enterprise and the Information Society said : "Today is an important day as we embark towards the implementation of the new regulatory framework. This inaugural meeting formally marks the establishment of the European Regulators' Group. It brings into being one of the key components of the EU policy on electronic communications, networks and services". He also said : "The European Commission and National Regulatory Authorities need to look together at what specific actions can be undertaken, ensuring that the European markets develop in an efficient and sustainable way. Any actions must take into account two factors : first the need to ensure that the new regulatory framework is fully implemented on time and that it remains stable; second, that the integrity of the European Internal Market and the principles of competition policy are respected."

    [18] Fifth meeting of the Contact Group for European Financial Control Organisations in Malta (28-29/10)

    Representatives from EU Candidate Countries and EU Member States will meet in Valletta on 28/29 October in Malta. The Contact Group for European Financial Control Organisations is open for the 13 EU applicant countries and the 15 EU Member States, supported by the services of the DG Budget of the European Commission. The seminar will be opened by Ms Michaele Schreyer, Commissioner for Budget and the Secretary to the Cabinet of the Maltese Prime Minister, Mr Fiorini Lowell. The objectives of the Contact Group meetings are to provide for a platform to clarify concepts and share experience in public internal financial control and audit, exchange information on financial control and audit methodology and give an impetus to research and studies related to financial control. The first day of this year's meeting is devoted to the criteria for management and control of EU financial aid in the transition from EU-aid prior to accession to EU financial assistance after accession. The second day of the meeting will be devoted to the improvement of the effectiveness of the Member States' and the Commission's control responsibilities by developing "joint audits of the Traditional Own Resources".

    [19] Anna Diamantopoulou : "Information society, yes. Information elite, no"

    Addressing the 'Social and Human Capital in the Information Society' conference today in Brussels, Anna Diamantopoulou, European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs says : "Human capital the knowledge, skills and attributes that a person holds - is perhaps the most important input into the knowledge-based economy. Vital for productivity. Competitiveness. For quality jobs. If we are to maximise the potential of the new economy, our workforce must be skilled and trained. To meet new labour market needs. To meet the demands of new and rapidly changing technologies. Over the past five years, over 60% of all new jobs created have been in the high-skilled sectors. Yet, we see that : 150 million EU citizens lack even a basic level of secondary education ; school drop-out rates have reached up to 25% in some countries ; less than 10% of adults take part in further education and training. The messages are clear : skills, training and education are vital for Europe's future economic growth, productivity, well-being and sustainability and our fundamental challenge is to ensure that the knowledge society is open and accessible to all people -we must not create a new class division of 'digital haves' and 'digital have nots'. Whether between countries, regions, groups or individuals."

    [20] Autre matériel diffusé

    Congratulations message from President Prodi to President Lula da Silva

    Speech by Erkki Liikanen : "Better regulation in Europe" at the Orgalime meeting (25/10)

    Speech by Erkki Liikanen : "EU Environment and Industry policy in the context of Sustainable Development" at the Orgalime meeting (25/10) Speech by Philippe Busquin : "Research in Europe" at a Lecture at the Royal Society of Edinburgh


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


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