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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 02-12-11

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] Commission adopts new proposals to reform European Governance
  • [02] Commission adopts comprehensive reform of EU merger control
  • [03] Commission proposes new cereal import regime for the US and Canada
  • [04] La Commission conclut son examen du cas Olympic Airways
  • [05] Air transport : Commission investigates the nature of advantages granted to Ryanair when it set up operations at Charleroi airport
  • [06] Compagnies aériennes : la Commission refuse la prolongation française du régime de compensation des coûts subis suite aux attentats du 11 septembre 2001 aux Etats-Unis
  • [07] Transport aérien : la Commission enquête sur les avantages reçus par Intermed sur la ligne régulière Gérona-Madrid
  • [08] Secteur aérien privé d'assurance : la Commission autorise les aides mises en place par l'Italie
  • [09] Commission authorises Danish environmental subsidies for the transport of goods by rail
  • [10] Maritime transport : Commission clears introduction of a tonnage tax in Ireland
  • [11] Le régime fiscal spécial applicable aux centrales de trésorerie en France n'est pas conforme aux règles sur les aides d'Etat
  • [12] Commission approves rescue aid for German electronics manufacturer Grundig AG
  • [13] La Commission autorise des réductions fiscales en faveur de la zone franche de Madère (Portugal)
  • [14] Commission reduces planned aid to BMW for new car plant in Leipzig (Germany)
  • [15] La Commission considère que le régime fiscal du Centre financier de Trieste n'est plus conforme aux règles sur les aides d'Etat
  • [16] Price decreases of up to 40% lead Commission to close telecom leased line inquiry
  • [17] Aides au secteur de l'agriculture en Espagne suite à la hausse du coût du carburant
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [18] Commission proposes significant reductions in fishing catches to fend off moratorium on cod fisheries in 2003
  • [19] La Commission lance une consultation publique sur l'apprentissage des langues
  • [20] Court of Justice confirms validity of Tobacco Products Directive
  • [21] Public support for the EU and the euro remains strong, despite concern over global developments
  • [22] EU citizens' awareness of enlargement improving, but knowledge gaps remain
  • [23] La Commission adopte trois décisions accordant une aide humanitaire de plus de 2 millions d'€
  • [24] Commission to help finance Aceh peace accord
  • [25] EU-Iran : launch of negotiations on new agreements with Iran
  • [26] Pascal Lamy welcomes WTO appellate body ruling on privatised foreign steel companies
  • [27] Autre matériel diffusé Midday Express 11/12/2002 TXT: FR ENPDF:DOC:Midday Express 11/12/2002[I] Résultats de la Commission de ce jour - Outcome of today's Commission meeting

  • [01] Commission adopts new proposals to reform European Governance

    The European Commission has adopted a broad set of measures with a view to improving the decision-making in the European Union within existing Treaties. At the same time the Commission presented a report concerning progress achieved on this area since July 2001 when the White Paper for European Governance was issued. Taking into account the recently decided measures on "Better Regulation" the Commission has now fulfilled most part of its commitments undertaken in the White Paper (see IP/01/1096 of 25 July 2001).

    [02] Commission adopts comprehensive reform of EU merger control

    The European Commission has decided the most far-reaching reform of its merger control regime since the entry into force of the EU Merger Regulation in 1990. "The reforms will significantly improve our merger control system making it, I believe, a model to be emulated worldwide", said Competition Commissioner Mario Monti. Besides a proposal for a revised Merger Regulation, which requires approval by EU ministers, the Commission has also adopted draft guidelines on the appraisal of mergers between competing firms ('horizontal mergers') providing guidance to the business and legal community. Last but not least, a series of non-legislative measures will be taken which are intended to improve the Commission's decision-making process, including the creation of a post of Chief Competition Economist. "This new position will be occupied by an eminent economist who will be tasked with providing an economic viewpoint to decision-makers, as well as ongoing guidance to the Commission's investigative staff", added Mr Monti. "I am convinced that this appointment will do much to increase the soundness of our economic analysis, not only in the field of merger control but also in competition and State aid cases more generally."

    [03] Commission proposes new cereal import regime for the US and Canada

    The European Commission has adopted a proposal asking the Council to approve the agreement on a new regime for imports of medium and low quality wheat and barley reached with both the US and Canada in November. The agreement, in the form of an exchange of letters between the EU on the one side and the US and Canada on the other, foresees the opening of a tariff rate quota (TRQ) of 2 981,600t for medium and low quality wheat with a duty of 12€/t. The US will benefit from a country allocation of 572,000t and Canada of 38,000t within this quota. Outside the quota the duty will be 95€/t. For barley, a quota of 50,000t will be opened for malting barley, with a duty of 8€/t, and another quota of 300,000t with a duty of 16€/t for other barley. Outside the quotas the current duty of 93€/t will be maintained. After adoption of the proposal by the Council, the new system will be implemented on 1 January 2003.

    [04] La Commission conclut son examen du cas Olympic Airways

    La Commission européenne a adopté sa décision finale par laquelle elle demande à la Grèce de récupérer une partie des aides précédemment accordées par l'Etat grec à Olympic Airways, ainsi que de nouvelles aides octroyées après 1998 de manière illégale, soit un total d'environ 194 millions €. Elle considère en effet que l'ensemble de ces aides a permis à Olympic Airways de bénéficier d'un traitement préférentiel par rapport à ses concurrents en faussant les conditions de concurrence dans le marché commun. Elle a par ailleurs constaté qu'un prêt de 19,5 millions € en faveur d'Olympic Airways ne constituait pas une aide. En outre, elle a confirmé que la compensation reçue pour déménager vers le nouvel aéroport de Spata ainsi que l'application d'une TVA de 8% sur les liaisons domestiques étaient compatibles avec les règles de concurrence.

    [05] Air transport : Commission investigates the nature of advantages granted to Ryanair when it set up operations at Charleroi airport

    The European Commission has decided to open a formal investigation into the advantages granted to the airline when it set up its first base in mainland Europe at Charleroi in 2001. It has doubts regarding the nature of the measures taken by the Walloon Region and by Brussels South Charleroi Airport, which exclusively benefit Ryanair and might constitute State aid incompatible with the proper functioning of the internal market.

    [06] Compagnies aériennes : la Commission refuse la prolongation française du régime de compensation des coûts subis suite aux attentats du 11 septembre 2001 aux Etats-Unis

    La Commission européenne avait approuvé le régime initial de compensation des coûts subis suite aux attentats des Etats-Unis pour la période de 4 jours durant laquelle l'espace aérien avait été interdit au trafic. Elle a par contre considéré incompatible avec le bon fonctionnement du marché intérieur sa prolongation prévue par la France après la reprise des vols vers les Etats-Unis.

    [07] Transport aérien : la Commission enquête sur les avantages reçus par Intermed sur la ligne régulière Gérona-Madrid

    La Commission européenne a décidé d'ouvrir la procédure formelle d'examen des avantages reçus par la compagnie aérienne Intermediación Aérea SL (Intermed) sur la ligne régulière entre Gérona et Madrid. Elle exprime en effet des doutes quant à la nature des mesures prises par le Gouvernement de la Communauté autonome de la Catalogne exclusivement au bénéfice d'Intermed, qui pourraient être assimilées à des aides d'Etat incompatibles avec le bon fonctionnement du marché intérieur.

    [08] Secteur aérien privé d'assurance : la Commission autorise les aides mises en place par l'Italie

    La Commission européenne a autorisé le régime de garantie d'assurances pour le secteur aérien mis en place par l'Italie du 28 septembre 2001 au 31 octobre 2002 suite aux attentats terroristes aux Etats-Unis du 11 septembre 2001.

    [09] Commission authorises Danish environmental subsidies for the transport of goods by rail

    The European Commission has decided not to raise any objections to the prolongation of a Danish environmental aid scheme, which intends to support the transport of goods by rail on Danish territory. The aid is in line with the White Paper on European transport policy, which acknowledges the need to shift transport from road to rail.

    [10] Maritime transport : Commission clears introduction of a tonnage tax in Ireland

    The European Commission has decided to approve the fiscal package aimed at replacing the normal corporation tax by a tax based on the net tonnage of the fleet for maritime companies engaged in international traffic.

    [11] Le régime fiscal spécial applicable aux centrales de trésorerie en France n'est pas conforme aux règles sur les aides d'Etat

    Après un examen approfondi, la Commission européenne est parvenue à la conclusion que le régime fiscal spécial applicable aux centrales de trésorerie situées en France n'était pas conforme aux dispositions des règles communautaires sur les aides d'Etat. La Commission a engagé une procédure formelle à l'encontre de ce régime en juillet 2001. Cette procédure s'inscrivait dans le cadre d'une enquête de grande envergure sur les régimes d'aides fiscales, lancée par la Commission dans douze Etats membres. Etant donné qu'au moment de la mise en oeuvre de ce régime, tant les autorités françaises que les bénéficiaires avaient des raisons légitimes de penser que ce régime ne constituait pas une aide d'Etat, la Commission a décidé de ne pas demander le remboursement des avantages fiscaux éventuellement perçus.

    [12] Commission approves rescue aid for German electronics manufacturer Grundig AG

    The European Commission has approved rescue aid to Grundig AG, Nürnberg. The notified aid, a 90% guarantee for a €45 million loan from the German State of Bavaria, will allow Grundig to continue operations for six months giving the company time to decide on its future.

    [13] La Commission autorise des réductions fiscales en faveur de la zone franche de Madère (Portugal)

    La Commission européenne a autorisé un nouveau régime d'aides en faveur des sociétés qui s'installeront dans la zone franche industrielle et le centre de services internationaux de la Zone franche de Madère pendant la période 2003-2006. Dans sa décision, la Commission considère en particulier que ces aides, octroyées sous forme de réductions des taux d'impôt sur les revenus jusqu'à fin 2011, seraient susceptibles de contribuer à la diversification économique de la région. En outre, ces aides devront pallier les handicaps liés à la dépendance de la région vis-à-vis d'un nombre réduit de secteurs (tels le tourisme et les travaux publics).

    [14] Commission reduces planned aid to BMW for new car plant in Leipzig (Germany)

    The European Commission has decided that Germany must reduce the planned regional investment aid in favour of BMW for the construction of a new car plant in Leipzig (Saxony). After conducting the formal investigation procedure the Commission found that aid amounting to around €363 million for a total eligible investment of around €1205 million is compatible with the EU rules for State aid and the framework for aid to the motor vehicle industry in particular. A further €55 million is considered incompatible with the common market and may not be granted.

    [15] La Commission considère que le régime fiscal du Centre financier de Trieste n'est plus conforme aux règles sur les aides d'Etat

    A la suite d'une enquête approfondie, la Commission européenne est arrivée à la conclusion que le Centre de services financiers et d'assurance de Trieste ne remplissait plus les conditions prévues par les règles de l'UE concernant les aides d'Etat. Ce régime fiscal spécial a été approuvé à l'origine par la Commission en 1995 en vue de favoriser le développement de marchés financiers dans les pays d'Europe de l'Est et les pays issus de l'ex-Union soviétique. Le 11 juillet 2001, la Commission a invité l'Italie à supprimer ce régime, qui n'était jamais entré en vigueur. Cette invitation s'inscrivait dans le cadre d'une vaste enquête menée par la Commission sur des régimes d'aides fiscales dans douze Etats membres.

    [16] Price decreases of up to 40% lead Commission to close telecom leased line inquiry

    The European Commission has closed its inquiry into the telecom sector's pricing of leased lines, due to a significant drop in prices since the inquiry's launch in July 1999. In its initial findings, the Commission pointed to high prices and diverging pricing policies across Member States, which could not be justified by differences in cost. Three years later, the sector inquiry produced a significant decrease in the price for international telecom leased lines across the EU. Subsequent to the sector inquiry's launch on 27 July 1999, the price for 2Mbps leased lines, the most commonly used bandwidth, have decreased by, on average, 30% to 40%.

    [17] Aides au secteur de l'agriculture en Espagne suite à la hausse du coût du carburant

    La Commission européenne a pris une décision finale partiellement négative à l'égard des mesures de soutien prises par l'Espagne suite à la hausse du prix de carburant et pour lesquelles elle avait ouvert la procédure formelle d'examen en avril 2001. La Commission estime que plusieurs mesures directement liées à la hausse du prix du carburant ne tombent pas sous les règles d'aide d'Etat. Par contre, elle considère que pour deux mesures du paquet presenté (bonification de prêts et de garanties et certains avantages fiscaux), l'Espagne n'a pas pu démontrer qu'elles sont limitées à compenser les dommages subis suite à cette hausse de prix du carburant. La Commission doit donc considérer ces mesures comme des aides au fonctionnement incompatibles avec les règles de concurrence.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [18] Commission proposes significant reductions in fishing catches to fend off moratorium on cod fisheries in 2003

    The European Commission is proposing significant cuts in catches in its proposals for next year for a number of important EU white fish stocks, in particular cod, haddock and whiting which are caught together. These reductions, which must be accompanied by a system to control fishing effort on the fisheries concerned, are crucial if a moratorium on fishing for a number of cod stocks is to be averted. Total Allowable Catches (TACs) are based on the latest advice from independent scientists. In this case, the advice was to close targeted cod fisheries in the North Sea, Irish Sea, west of Scotland and Skagerrak as these cod stocks are on the edge of collapse. In order to assure some continuity of economic activity in the fisheries concerned, the Commission proposes TACs consistent with a significantly reduced risk to the main threatened stocks. However, scientific evidence shows that to be effective these conservation measures must be accompanied by effort restrictions and appropriate control measures. In the absence of agreement at the December (16-19) Council meeting on fishing effort controls to ensure compliance with low catch limits, the Commission will have no option but to withdraw its TAC proposals for the species concerned and to propose instead closure of the relevant fisheries. The Commission also proposes substantial reductions in TACs for other stocks for which the lowest possible level of fishing has been advised as well as for stocks which are outside safe biological limits. For these stocks, the Commission intends to propose recovery plans. Today's proposal does not include TACs for a group of stocks which the EU co-manages with Norway, pending an agreement with that country.

    [19] La Commission lance une consultation publique sur l'apprentissage des langues

    Les dix années au cours desquelles l'Union européenne a consenti des investissements substantiels dans des programmes en faveur de l'apprentissage des langues et de la diversité linguistique ont été couronnées, en 2001, par l'Année européenne des langues, qui a remporté un franc succès. L'Année a suscité beaucoup d'enthousiasme pour l'apprentissage des langues dans toute l'Europe. Elle a fait prendre conscience à un plus grand nombre de citoyens des avantages liés à la connaissance de langues étrangères et a donné lieu à toute une série d'initiatives en Europe, aux niveaux local, régional et national. La Commission européenne est résolue à faire en sorte que l'élan soit maintenu.

    [20] Court of Justice confirms validity of Tobacco Products Directive

    European Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne welcomed yesterday's ruling of the European Court of Justice on the Tobacco Products Directive which toughens EU rules on manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products : "The Tobacco Products Directive is one of our most effective pieces of European legislation in the fight against tobacco consumption. I welcome that the Court confirmed that the harmonisation of the Internal Market is the proper legal basis of the Tobacco Products Directive and that the harmonisation measures in the Directive are proportionate." Mr Byrne recalled that the Tobacco Advertising Directive adopted last week also uses Article 95 of the Treaty as its legal base. The Court further concluded that the ban of manufacturing cigarettes which do not comply with the maximum levels set by the Directive - 10 mg per cigarette for tar, 1 mg per cigarette for nicotine and 10 mg per cigarette for carbon monoxide - does not only apply to products for the Internal Market but also affects cigarettes manufactured in the EU for exports to third countries. However, the ban of misleading descriptors such as "mild" or "light" only applies to tobacco products marketed within the EU (Judgement of the Court in Case 491/01 of 10 December 2002).

    [21] Public support for the EU and the euro remains strong, despite concern over global developments

    Public support for the European Union and the euro remains strong in the 15 EU Member States, according to the latest Eurobarometer survey. The poll, which questioned more than 16,000 people across the EU between October 1 and November 5, found a large majority of citizens believe that their country's membership of the EU is a good thing. Support for the euro remains strong, and confidence in the Commission has increased to its highest level since Eurobarometer began asking this question in spring 1999. A large majority of respondents gave their backing to a common foreign and security policy and a constitution for the EU. At the same time, however, public concern is growing over the global geopolitical and economic situation, with a majority of people fearful of war, economic downturn and worsening employment conditions.

    [22] EU citizens' awareness of enlargement improving, but knowledge gaps remain

    Public awareness of enlargement has increased across the 15 European Union Member States since September, according to a new Flash Eurobarometer survey, published today. The poll, which questioned more than 15,000 people between November 11 and 20, found an overwhelming majority of EU citizens support the enlargement process and recognise the practical benefits it will bring. Knowledge about which countries are candidates for accession and the timetable has also picked up, but remains at low a level. There has also been a slight increase in concern about the potential negative effects of enlargement on social welfare and decision-making.

    [23] La Commission adopte trois décisions accordant une aide humanitaire de plus de 2 millions d'€

    La Commission européenne a récemment adopté des décisions prévoyant une aide humanitaire en faveur du Nicaragua (0,5 million d'€), du Paraguay (0, 92 million d'€) et de Cuba (0,6 million d'€). Cette aide passera par l'intermédiaire de l'Office d'aide humanitaire (ECHO), placé sous l'autorité du commissaire Poul Nielson.

    [24] Commission to help finance Aceh peace accord

    The European Commission contributes €2.3 million to support the implementation of the peace agreement between of the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). The grant was made available from the Commission's special "Rapid Reaction Mechanism" and covers the cost of up to 50 international peace monitors for a period of six months. The Commission is funding this action together with several EU member States, the USA and Japan.

    [25] EU-Iran : launch of negotiations on new agreements with Iran

    Tomorrow the European Commission will launch negotiations on a Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) with Iran, alongside the parallel negotiations on political dialogue and counter-terrorism conducted by the EU Presidency (currently Denmark). These negotiations should lead to the first contractual agreement between the EU and the Islamic Republic, and will pave the way for closer economic and political ties. Moves towards closer relations with Iran will be subject to continued monitoring of progress in that country on political, economic and social reform. The agreements will be concluded and enter into force as a package. They are interdependent, indissociable, and mutually reinforcing elements of the EU's global approach to relations with Iran.

    [26] Pascal Lamy welcomes WTO appellate body ruling on privatised foreign steel companies

    European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy welcomed yesterday the WTO Appellate Body ruling confirming that the so-called "same person" methodology, used by the US to determine whether the new privatised producer had received any benefit from prior financial contributions to state-owned producers, was inconsistent with WTO law. The methodology used by the US to impose Countervailing (CVD) measures in a number of cases affecting EU steel producers presumed that, even if a fair market value had been paid by the new owner, this had not extinguished a prior benefit, if the exporting company maintained the same productions facilities and customers after the privatisation. The Appellate Body has now clarified that this methodology is inconsistent with the WTO agreement on Subsidies and Countervaling Measures. It has also found that 12 related CVD measures against EC firms are WTO-inconsistent. The EU expects that the US will change its methodology and address the CVD measures without delay. For more information: http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/212_abr_e.doc

    [27] Autre matériel diffusé

    Open letter from Franz Fischler to the European fishermen

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


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