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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 03-05-01

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] Budget communautaire 2004 : le premier budget de l'Union élargie
  • [02] Commission reorganises its Competition department in advance of enlargement
  • [03] Conditional clearance for Toll Collect joint venture between Daimler Chrysler and Deutsche Telekom
  • [04] Commission clears Siemens/Drägerwerk hospital equipment venture subject to divestitures
  • [05] Commission approves 3rd Generation mobile network sharing in the United Kingdom
  • [06] Commission assesses updated stability programme of Austria
  • [07] Customs tariffs : Commission suspends preferences granted to Serbia and Montenegro with regard to sugar
  • [08] Tableau de bord des aides d'Etat dans l'UE - douze des quinze Etats membres ont respecté l'engagement pris à Stockholm de réduire les aides
  • [09] Inquiry into aid planned for Peugeot's Ryton (West Midlands) plant
  • [10] Formal investigation into Italian shipbuilding guarantee scheme
  • [11] La Commission autorise des aides à l'investissement dans les zones urbaines défavorisées en France
  • [12] La Commission autorise un régime d'aides français pour la promotion du transport combiné
  • [13] Commission accepts most of the compensation for Austrian airlines for the consequences of 11 September
  • [14] La Commission enquête sur les aides françaises à "Sernam", filiale routière de la SNCF
  • [15] Commission authorises further State aid for the high speed rail link between London and the Channel tunnel
  • [16] Public procurement : Commission gives green light to Thessaloniki metro contract
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [17] La Commission salue l'amélioration de l'accessibilité aux transports privés pour les personnes handicapées
  • [18] April 2003 : The Business Climate Indicator for the euro area continued its decline
  • [19] April 2003 : economic sentiment improved slightly in both the EU and the euro area
  • [20] Estimation rapide - avril 2003 : l'inflation de la zone euro estimée à 2,1%
  • [21] EU to support reform of Palestinian Authority with new forms of aid
  • [22] Des observateurs de l'UE déployés au Rwanda pour le référendum constitutionnel du 26 mai 2003
  • [23] EU-Egypt relations : Egyptian Ministers visit Commission (28-29/04)
  • [24] Autre matériel diffusé Midday Express 30/04/2003 TXT: FR ENPDF:DOC:Midday Express 30/04/2003[I] Résultats de la Commission de ce jour - Outcome of today's Commission meeting

  • [01] Budget communautaire 2004 : le premier budget de l'Union élargie

    La Commission européenne a adopté ses propositions budgétaires pour 2004 (avant-projet de budget - APB). A compter du 1er mai 2004, le budget de l'UE sera doté des crédits nécessaires à 25 Etats membres. D'après la proposition de la Commission, le volume des dépenses de l'Union élargie atteindra les 100 milliards d'€. Mme Michaele Schreyer, membre de la Commission, l'a souligné : "2004 est une année historique pour le budget communautaire. Outre les crédits destinés aux Etats membres actuels, ce budget prévoit aussi des fonds pour dix nouveaux Etats membres. Malgré cela, la part du budget communautaire dans le RNB de l'UE tombera sous la barre des 1%. C'est bien la preuve que le financement de l'élargissement repose sur des bases solides. Nous avons réussi à concilier discipline budgétaire et ambition dans les programmes de dépenses pour l'Union élargie." L'autre particularité du budget 2004 est qu'il sera examiné pour la première fois dans sa nouvelle structure, fondée sur les activités politiques. Par ailleurs, contrairement aux précédents élargissements, celui-ci n'aura pas lieu au 1er janvier, mais au 1er mai. C'est pourquoi l'APB contient les prévisions budgétaires relatives à l'UE-15 et à l'UE-25. Le budget de l'UE- 15 entrera en vigueur au début de l'exercice 2004 et l'augmentation au titre de l'élargissement aura lieu à la date de l'adhésion, le 1er mai.

    [02] Commission reorganises its Competition department in advance of enlargement

    The European Commission has decided on the first major re-organisation of its Directorate General for Competition for 13 years. Prompted by the modernisation of the EU's anti-trust rules, and reforms in merger and State aid control, the re-organisation of the DG is designed to increase the efficiency of the Commission's competition law enforcement in due time for prior to enlargement on 1st May 2004. Responsibility for the handling of merger and anti trust cases will progressively be integrated into sectoral Directorates. A new enforcement unit is created to enforce the Commission's State aids decisions and ensure recovery of illegal subsidies.

    [03] Conditional clearance for Toll Collect joint venture between Daimler Chrysler and Deutsche Telekom

    The European Commission has authorised the acquisition of joint control by DaimlerChrysler AG and Deutsche Telekom AG of the newly created joint venture Toll Collect GmbH. Toll Collect will establish and operate a system for the collection of road toll from heavy trucks in Germany which, at the same time, can be used as a platform to provide telematics services. The Commission feared that the transaction would lead to a dominant position of DaimlerChrysler on the emerging market for telematics systems in Germany. DaimlerChrysler and Deutsche Telekom successfully resolved these concerns by offering commitments.

    [04] Commission clears Siemens/Drägerwerk hospital equipment venture subject to divestitures

    The European Commission has approved, subject to conditions, the merger of the medical ventilators, anaesthesia delivery systems and patient monitoring businesses of Siemens AG and Drägerwerk AG, two German companies. The Commission was concerned that Siemens and Drägerwerk through their Dräger Medical joint venture would hold too high a share of the markets concerned which would have been detrimental for hospitals. But Siemens successfully solved these concerns by offering to sell its ventilator and anaesthesia delivery business as well as to provide the necessary interface information for its equipment to work with rivals' patient monitors and clinical information systems.

    [05] Commission approves 3rd Generation mobile network sharing in the United Kingdom

    According to the decision taken today, site sharing in itself does not raise competition concerns. The European Commission's investigation has furthermore revealed that national roaming between licensed network operators benefits consumers by allowing the operators involved to offer better and quicker coverage, especially in less built-up and more remote areas of the UK. It also helps the launch of innovative 3rd Generation ("3G") services. Roaming will not include the top ten cities in the UK but be limited to smaller cities and rural areas. National roaming in smaller cities can benefit from an exemption form the antitrust rules until 31 December 2007 for rural areas the exemption expires on 31 December 2008.

    [06] Commission assesses updated stability programme of Austria

    The European Commission has adopted a recommendation to the Council of Ministers on the updated stability programme of Austria, which covers the period 2003-2007. This is in accordance with the Council Regulation on the strengthening of the surveillance of budgetary positions and the surveillance and co-ordination of economic policies. The programme projects output growth to accelerate from 1% in 2002 to some 2½% by 2005, resulting in an annual average growth rate of 2.1% over the period 2003-2007, which appears plausible. Regarding public finances, in 2002 the government position weakened markedly, although output growth accelerated slightly. For the years to come, the updated programme foresees deficits over the entire programme period, which in three out of five years are set to exceed 1% of GDP. In particular, the deficit is set to widen markedly in 2005 due to major income tax cuts to be covered only partly by accompanying expenditure restraint. Figures for gross government debt were significantly revised upwards to almost 68% of GDP in 2002. This was mainly due to a rectification of the Austrian gross debt reporting relating to debt issued for public enterprises ("Rechtsträgerfinanzierung"). The debt-to-GDP-ratio is now expected to fall to slightly below the 60% reference value by 2007 only. The Commission concludes that the projected budgetary position is only partly in compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact. Therefore, Austria should make greater efforts to achieve and maintain budgetary balance earlier than envisaged. On the basis of the Commission recommendation, the Council is expected to adopt a formal opinion on the updated Austrian stability programme on 13 May.

    [07] Customs tariffs : Commission suspends preferences granted to Serbia and Montenegro with regard to sugar

    The European Commission has suspended, for an initial period of three months, the preferential (zero) tariff on sugar imported into the European Union from Serbia and Montenegro. This decision has been taken on the basis of findings, by the European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF), according to which the system currently in place in Serbia and Montenegro is totally inadequate to verify whether the sugar exported to the EU under these preferential arrangements indeed originates within Serbia and Montenegro. If necessary, the three-month suspension could be extended further.

    [08] Tableau de bord des aides d'Etat dans l'UE - douze des quinze Etats membres ont respecté l'engagement pris à Stockholm de réduire les aides

    Le tableau de bord de la Commission européenne indique que la baisse du niveau global des aides d'Etat se poursuit. Au cours d'une période représentative de cinq ans, comprise entre 1997 et 2001, les aides d'Etat sont passées de 102 milliards d'€ à 86 milliards d'€. Toutefois, elles ont connu une légère hausse entre 2000 et 2001, en passant de 85,2 milliards d'€ à 86 milliards d'€. Les deux Etats membres qui ont contribué le plus à cette baisse sont l'Allemagne - avec une réduction de 6 milliards d'€ - et l'Italie - avec une réduction de 4 milliards d'€. En termes relatifs, les aides d'Etat ont représenté 0,99% du produit intérieur brut (PIB) de l'UE en 2001. Conformément à l'engagement pris à Stockholm, le niveau des aides d'Etat a diminué dans douze des quinze Etats membres. Les progrès sont surtout notables lorsque l'aide est calculée en pourcentage du PIB. Dans ce cas, la moyenne de l'UE est passée de 1,16% pour la période 1997-1999 à 1, 01% pour la période 1999-2001.

    [09] Inquiry into aid planned for Peugeot's Ryton (West Midlands) plant

    The European Commission has decided to initiate the formal investigation proceedings concerning aid amounting to £16 million for investments of a Peugeot plant in Ryton, United Kingdom. At this stage, the Commission has not been able to establish that the planned aid meets the criteria of the Community framework for state aid to the motor vehicle industry. The formal investigation proceedings allow the UK and interested parties to submit their observations.

    [10] Formal investigation into Italian shipbuilding guarantee scheme

    The European Commission has initiated a formal investigation procedure concerning possible State aid involved in an Italian Shipbuilding Guarantee Fund. After an initial assessment of the scheme which is not yet operative - the Commission cannot exclude that the scheme involves State aid within the meaning of Article 87(1) of the Treaty.

    [11] La Commission autorise des aides à l'investissement dans les zones urbaines défavorisées en France

    La Commission européenne a approuvé le régime français sur les Zones franches urbaines (ZFU) qui vise à soutenir l'activité économique dans les quartiers urbains défavorisés de ce pays. L'objectif de ce régime est de renforcer le tissu économique de proximité de ces quartiers, composé essentiellement de petites entreprises, en permettant de nouvelles implantations et créations d'entreprises, avec des incitations sous forme d'un régime spécifique d'exonérations fiscales et sociales favorables à l'emploi.

    [12] La Commission autorise un régime d'aides français pour la promotion du transport combiné

    La Commission européenne a donné son accord au régime français à l'exploitation de services réguliers de transport combiné de marchandises alternatif à la route. Les bénéficiaires seront les opérateurs de services de transport combiné, qui assemblent les différents maillons de la chaîne logistique. Le régime sera en vigueur pendant la période 2003-2007 avec un budget annuel de l'ordre de 30 à 40 millions d'€.

    [13] Commission accepts most of the compensation for Austrian airlines for the consequences of 11 September

    The European Commission has accepted most (approximately €2 million) of the compensation proposed by Austria for its airlines for the costs incurred following the attacks of 11 September 2001 in the USA. The Commission, which had already approved part of this scheme in 2002 (€1.4 million) on the other hand refused a part amounting to €50,000 which went beyond the period covered by the Commission communication.

    [14] La Commission enquête sur les aides françaises à "Sernam", filiale routière de la SNCF

    La Commission européenne a décidé d'ouvrir la procédure d'enquête à l'égard des versements effectués par la France à la société de transport routier "Sernam" après avoir appris que les conditions d'octroi et le montant de l'aide, tels qu'approuvés en mai 2001, ont été substantiellement modifiés. Ces modifications font également l'objet d'une plainte collective soumise à la Commission.

    [15] Commission authorises further State aid for the high speed rail link between London and the Channel tunnel

    The European Commission has approved an amendment to the State aid measures in favour of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) project, which was recently notified by the UK Government. The Commission concludes that the amendment is compatible with State aid rules as it promotes the execution of an important project of European interest, the high speed rail link between London and the Channel tunnel.

    [16] Public procurement : Commission gives green light to Thessaloniki metro contract

    On the basis of the information at its disposal, the European Commission has decided, after a thorough investigation, that there is no indication that the contract for the construction of a metro system in Thessaloniki, Greece breaches EU public procurement law. In the Commission's view, the contract does not breach the principle of equal treatment for all bidders, does not depart unacceptably from the original tender documents and is a legitimate concession contract where the holder of the concession bears part of the risk. The contract was awarded in 1999 to a consortium known as the Thessaloniki Metro Joint Venture Company. The total cost of the project is estimated at more than €700 million. The Commission's decision takes account of a January 2003 preliminary ruling by the European Court of Justice on a case (C-57/01) referred by a Greek court on some aspects of the Thessaloniki metro contract. The decision relates only to public procurement law and is without prejudice to other aspects of EU law. In particular, the Greek authorities will now need to submit their financial arrangements for clearance under EC Treaty state aid rules.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [17] La Commission salue l'amélioration de l'accessibilité aux transports privés pour les personnes handicapées

    Plus de 3 millions de personnes dans l'Union européenne disposent actuellement d'un permis de conduire pour voitures privées adaptées aux besoins des personnes handicapées. Ceci est un des résultats des travaux du projet européen QUAVADIS présentés par la Commission européenne, dans le cadre de l'année européenne pour les personnes à mobilité réduite.

    [18] April 2003 : The Business Climate Indicator for the euro area continued its decline

    The Business Climate Indicator (BCI) for the euro area decreased by 0.12 percentage points between March and April, reaching a value of -0.70. Its worsening followed the strong decline recorded in March. This decrease was mainly driven by a deterioration in opinion about production trends in the recent past, as well as a worsening in total order books and export order books. Production expectations and stocks of finished products remained unchanged.

    [19] April 2003 : economic sentiment improved slightly in both the EU and the euro area

    The economic sentiment indicator (ESI) increased slightly in April 2003 in both the EU and the euro area, following its drop in March. It increased by 0.2 percentage points in the EU, reaching a value of 98.2, and by 0.1 percentage points in the euro area, where it attained a value of 97. The slight increase in the ESI is attributable to improvements in the consumer and retail trade confidence indicators. These improvements more than offset a further deterioration in the industrial confidence indicator. The construction confidence indicator remained unchanged in the euro area but deteriorated in the EU as a whole.

    [20] Estimation rapide - avril 2003 : l'inflation de la zone euro estimée à 2,1%

    Selon une estimation rapide publiée aujourd'hui par Eurostat, le taux d'inflation annuel de la zone euro s'établirait à 2,1% en avril 2003. En mars 2003, le taux était de 2,4%.

    [21] EU to support reform of Palestinian Authority with new forms of aid

    The European Commission is announcing new forms of assistance to support the reform process in the Palestinian Authority. These will be available to the new government formed by Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and will also help address the reform agenda outlined in the Road Map on the Middle East Peace Process. The new Reform Support Instrument is composed of an €80 million finance facility targeted on the payment of arrears to small enterprises and social services and €10million for technical assistance to facilitate implementation of reforms of public finance. These new instruments are being introduced in order to build on the achievements of previous support for Palestinian reforms, taking into account the Government of Israel's resumption of tax transfers which were withheld from September 2000 to October 2002. The current system of monthly payments of Direct Budgetary Assistance will be discontinued. Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten said : "Our Direct Budgetary support has been a success : it has helped maintain the PA as a viable interlocutor for future negotiations, it made possible the provision of a basic minimum of social services to the Palestinian population, and since it has been made available only on strict conditions, it has been a lever to encourage important reforms to improve standards of governance, above all transparency and accountability in management of public finances. Now, Israel's resumption of tax transfers allows us to change the form of our assistance - but our objectives remain the same : a stronger PA administration, better conditions for the Palestinian people and a continuing process of reform."

    [22] Des observateurs de l'UE déployés au Rwanda pour le référendum constitutionnel du 26 mai 2003

    L'UE déploie aujourd'hui une mission d'observation des élections afin de surveiller les préparatifs et l'organisation du référendum du 26 mai 2003 concernant l'adoption d'une nouvelle constitution au Rwanda, appelée à remplacer la loi fondamentale transitoire, en vigueur depuis 1994. Ce référendum, qui sera suivi d'élections présidentielles et législatives dans un délai de six mois, est une étape importante dans la phase de transition instaurée au lendemain du génocide de 1994 et la mise en place d'institutions démocratiques au Rwanda. Le Commissaire aux Relations extérieures, Chris Patten, a désigné Colette Flesch, membre du Parlement européen et de la Commission du développement et de la coopération du Parlement européen, comme observateur en chef de cette mission. Le déploiement de la mission d'observation fait suite à une invitation lancée par la commission électorale nationale du Rwanda. La mission témoigne des efforts déployés par l'UE pour appuyer le processus de démocratisation au Rwanda et est financée par l'Initiative européenne pour la démocratie et les droits de l'homme. Le coût de la mission d'observation est de 379.684€.

    [23] EU-Egypt relations : Egyptian Ministers visit Commission (28-29/04)

    During an intensive two day programme in Brussels, the Egyptian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ms Fayza Aboulnaga, and Dr El Saidi, Minister of Industry and Technological Development met, with Chris Patten, European Commissioner for External Relations. Two financing agreements were signed for a total of €73 million : Trade Enhancement Programme (€40 million) ; and Programme of Assistance to the Reform of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (total €66 million of which EC contribution €33 million). The Ministers also had meetings in the Directorate General for External Relations (with Deputy Director-General Michael Leigh and with the Director Middle East and South Mediterranean Christian Leffler) and in EuropeAid (with the Director for the South Mediterranean, Near and Middle East Richard Webber). Discussions covered a wide range of issues linked to the programming and execution of the economic and technical co-operation programmes between the EU and Egypt. Both sides are committed to making bilateral cooperation 'better and faster' in its delivery and in its impact. The Ministers were also received by Philippe Busquin, Commissioner for Research & Development, when they discussed the state of play of the negotiations of the EU/Egypt Scientific Cooperation Agreement, both parties expressing the wish for a rapid and positive outcome. They also met Erkki Liikanen, Commissioner for Enterprise and Information Society, to discuss subjects of mutual interest.

    [24] Autre matériel diffusé

    Discours de M. Fischler : "Jährliche Strategieplanung (APS) 2004" devant la commission Agriculture du PE (29/04)

    Questions and answers on animal by-products


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


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