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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 06-06-22

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

[I] Résultats de la Commission du 22 juin 2006 - Outcome of Commission meeting of 22 June 2006

  • [01] Third report on practical preparations for the euro: Commission urges Slovenia to speed up final steps
  • [02] Keep Europe moving: a transport policy for sustainable mobility
  • [03] Aides d’État: la Commission lance une procédure formelle d’examen sur les aides la recherche et au développement dans le domaine de l’aéronautique accordées par la Belgique
  • [04] State aid: Commission orders Dutch public service broadcaster NOS to pay back €76.3 million excess ad hoc funding
  • [05] Aides d’Etat : La Commission autorise la prolongation et l’extension du régime des zones franches urbaines en France
  • [06] Commission proposes new Regulation on de minimis aid specifically for fisheries
  • [07] Wine: Profound reform will balance market, increase competitiveness, preserve rural areas and simplify rules for producers and consumers
  • [08] Climate change: More effort needed to reverse EU's greenhouse gases emission trends
  • [09] Better regulation: Simplifying environmental legislation while preserving high environmental standards
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [10] Commissioner for External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner to meet President of the Republic of Moldova, Vladimir Nicolae Voronin.
  • [11] April 2006 compared to March 2006 - Industrial new orders down by 0.2% in euro area - EU25 up by 0.4%
  • [12] Insurance: public hearing on 'Solvency II'.
  • [13] Education in Europe : new and easy access to key information
  • [14] Commission seeks views on the Unit Prices Directive
  • [15] Rédiffusion
  • [16] Avian flu: Commission proposes “upstream” measures to support poultry market
  • [17] The Commission welcomes the launch of the steel industry's new sectoral social dialogue committee
  • [18] Autre matériel diffusé
  • [19] (!embargo 16h00!) Speech by Ján Figel on “My vision for European Student Mobility in the next Decade” at the Future of European student mobility – Conference organised by the UK Erasmus Student Committee
  • [20] (!embargo 14h45!) Speech by Neelie Kroes “State aid enforcement in an enlarged Union – more partnership for increased efficiency at the Conference on State Aid Enforcement Midday Express of 2006-06-22 Reference: MEX/06/0622 Date: 22/06/2006 EXME06 / 22.6

    MIDDAY EXPRESS

    News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

    Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communicationb

    22/06/06


  • [I] Résultats de la Commission du 22 juin 2006 - Outcome of Commission meeting of 22 June 2006

    [01] Third report on practical preparations for the euro: Commission urges Slovenia to speed up final steps

    With only six months to go before the expected adoption of the euro, the European Commission today urged Slovenia to step up the final preparations for a successful introduction of the single currency expected to take place on 1 January 2007. The Commission particularly encourages the Slovenian authorities, consumer associations and the retail sector to ensure that there are no abuses when prices are converted into euros. In its third report on the state of practical preparations for the introduction of the euro in the Member States with a derogation , the Commission also encourages the countries, which aspire to adopt the euro in 2008, to speed up their own preparations.

    [02] Keep Europe moving: a transport policy for sustainable mobility

    The European Commission adopted today the orientation for the future EU transport policy. Mobility is essential for Europe’s prosperity and for free movement of citizens. The negative impact of mobility in terms of energy use and environmental quality must be reduced. Next to actions foreseen in the 2001 White Paper, such as boosting rail and maritime connections for long distance freight transport, additional instruments will be needed to achieve these objectives. They include a freight logistics action plan; intelligent transport systems to make mobility greener and more efficient; a debate on how to change mobility of people in urban areas; an action plan to boost inland waterways; and an ambitious programme for green power in trucks and cars.

    [03] Aides d’État: la Commission lance une procédure formelle d’examen sur les aides la recherche et au développement dans le domaine de l’aéronautique accordées par la Belgique

    La Commission européenne a lancé une procédure formelle d’examen au titre de l’article 88, paragraphe 2, du traité CE sur un régime d’aides d’État mis en place par la Belgique afin d'apporter une aide la recherche et au développement aux entreprises du secteur aéronautique. En outre, la Commission a ouvert une procédure semblable sur les aides individuelles accordées ce titre la société Techspace Aero. La Commission a des doutes quant aux conditions selon lesquelles les prêts accordés dans le cadre de ce régime d’aides seront remboursés. Ces deux enquêtes seront publiées au journal officiel de l’Union européenne, et les tiers intéressés pourront émettre des commentaires sur les mesures prises. L’ouverture d’une procédure formelle d’examen ne préjuge en aucun cas du résultat.

    [04] State aid: Commission orders Dutch public service broadcaster NOS to pay back €76.3 million excess ad hoc funding

    The European Commission has ordered the Dutch authorities to recover €76.3 million plus interest from NOS, the umbrella organisation of public broadcasters in the Netherlands, following an investigation under EC Treaty state aid rules into ad hoc payments from the Dutch State to the public broadcasters between 1994 and 2005. The investigation has shown that the payments went beyond the financial needs of broadcasters for public service purposes and resulted in NOS building up financial reserves.

    [05] Aides d’Etat : La Commission autorise la prolongation et l’extension du régime des zones franches urbaines en France

    La Commission Européenne a autorisé en France: la prolongation jusqu’au 31 décembre 2011 des zones franches urbaines (ZFU) existantes et l’extension du régime 15 nouvelles zones ainsi que l’extension du périmètre de 29 zones existantes, en vertu des règles du traité CE sur les aides d’Etat. Dans les 100 quartiers classés ZFU, les micros et petites entreprises nouvellement crées ou implantées depuis le 1er janvier 2006 pourront bénéficier d’exonérations de charges sociales patronales, d’impôts sur les bénéfices, de taxe professionnelle et de taxe foncière.

    [06] Commission proposes new Regulation on de minimis aid specifically for fisheries

    The European Commission has today adopted a draft Regulation on de minimis aid in the fisheries sector. The current Regulation, which applies to both agriculture and fisheries, exempts national aid of up to € 3,000 per farmer or fisherman over a period of three years, from prior notification to the Commission. De minimis aid is state aid deemed not to distort competition. Under the new Regulation, which would apply only to the fisheries sector, the ceiling would be raised to € 30 000 per three-year period, per beneficiary, on condition that the total amount of such aid represents less than 2.5% of the annual national fisheries output. Member States have to record and compile all relevant information to show that both ceilings have been respected. The draft Regulation will now go to Member States for consultation before returning to the Commission for adoption.

    [07] Wine: Profound reform will balance market, increase competitiveness, preserve rural areas and simplify rules for producers and consumers

    The European Commission today called for a root-and-branch reform of the Common Market Organisation for wine. The plan aims to increase the competitiveness of EU wine producers, strengthen the reputation of EU wines, win back market share, balance supply and demand and simplify the rules, while preserving the best traditions of EU wine production and reinforcing the social and environmental fabric of rural areas. The Commission considers four options for reform, and comes out clearly in favour of a radical reform model specific to the wine sector. This would involve either a one-step or a two-step approach. The two-step approach would begin with measures to bring supply and demand back into balance before focusing on improving competitiveness, including the abolition of the system of planting rights. Producers would be offered generous incentives to grub up uneconomic vineyards, outdated market support measures such as distillation would be abolished and the systems of labelling and wine-making practices would be updated and simplified. Money would be redirected towards Rural Development measures tailor-made for the wine sector and Member States would receive a national financial envelope to pay for measures decided at national level. Under the “one-step” variant, the system of planting rights restrictions would be either allowed to expire on 1 August 2010, or be abolished immediately, and the current grubbing-up scheme would also be abolished at the same time. After an in-depth debate on its ideas, the Commission plans to table legislative proposals in December 2006 or January 2007.

    [08] Climate change: More effort needed to reverse EU's greenhouse gases emission trends

    Greenhouse gas emissions from the EU-15 member states rose by 0.3% between 2003 and 2004, says the European Commission. Despite this rise, EU-15 emissions stood 0.9% lower than in the base year (mostly 1990) even though the EU-15 recorded economic growth of 32% over the same period. Nevertheless greater efforts are needed to reduce EU-15 emissions to 8% below base year levels for the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period (2008-2012). The forthcoming national allocations of emission allowances for 2008-2012 under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme will be a crucial tool for ensuring member states achieve their Kyoto targets. EU-25 emissions, for which there is no collective Kyoto target, rose by 0.4% from 2003 to 2004 but were still 7.3% below base year levels.

    [09] Better regulation: Simplifying environmental legislation while preserving high environmental standards

    The EU’s and Member States’ environmental laws have contributed to better protect the environment and improve citizens’ lives. At the same time, reporting and registration requirements bring about substantive administrative burden for companies, in particular for small and medium- sized companies. In line with the European Commission’s overall “Better Regulation” strategy to reduce unnecessary red-tape, a Commission conference held in Brussels today showcases concrete initiatives by Member States to reduce the administrative costs faced by businesses requiring environmental permits. All of the examples represent best or good practice in administrative simplification because they continue to ensure the same high level of protection of the environment but at reduced cost to business.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [10] Commissioner for External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner to meet President of the Republic of Moldova, Vladimir Nicolae Voronin.

    The Commissioner and the President will exchange views on political and economic reforms in Moldova and the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan more than one year after its endorsement. They will also discuss the perspectives for a settlement of the conflict in Transnistria and further cooperation on border issues in light of the reinforcement of the EU Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine, currently underway, and of the successful implementation of the new customs regime between Moldova and Ukraine. During his first visit to Brussels, the President will also be meeting Vice President Franco Frattini, Commissioners Mariann Fischer Boel and Andris Piebalgs.

    [11] April 2006 compared to March 2006 - Industrial new orders down by 0.2% in euro area - EU25 up by 0.4%

    The euro area industrial new orders index fell by 0.2% in April 2006 compared to March 2006. The index decreased by 1.6% in March and increased by 3.6% in February. EU25 new orders grew by 0.4% in April 2006, after a fall of 1.2% in March and a rise of 1.0% in February. Excluding ships, railway and aerospace equipment, in April 2006 industrial new orders grew by 2.3% in the euro area and by 1.7% in the EU25. In April 2006 compared to April 2005, industrial new orders increased by 4.4% in the euro area and by 4.1% in the EU25. Total industry excluding ships, railway and aerospace equipment grew by 5.9% in the euro area and by 5.3% in the EU25.

    [12] Insurance: public hearing on 'Solvency II'.

    A public hearing was held by the Commission on 21 June, assembling 250 participants and discussing in 4 roundtables the planned introduction of a new solvency regime for insurance undertakings. This new solvency regime, called Solvency II, follows the introduction of a similar regime introduced for banks, commonly referred to as Basel II. Participants broadly welcomed the planned introduction of this new solvency regime. A number of useful comments were made which the Commission will consider when preparing its proposal, which is scheduled for July 2007. The public hearing is part of the impact assessment which will accompany the Commission's proposal and puts into effect the better regulation agenda which the Commission has decided to follow when preparing new legislative initiatives. In his closing comments, Commissioner McCreevy insisted on the need for supervisors from all Member States to work closely together in order to make the new system work in the interest of all stakeholders.

    [13] Education in Europe : new and easy access to key information

    Launched in 1980, Eurydice is the institutional network for gathering, monitoring, processing and circulating key information on education systems and policies throughout Europe. The network launches a revamped website. www.eurydice.org will offer as from today various modes for browsing and Eurydice’s most recent publications, comparative studies, indicators and its databases. Studies cover different subjects such as teacher education, foreign language teaching, Information and Communication Technologies, etc...and offers information on 31 countries (UE 25 + Lichtenstein, Iceland, Norway, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey). Browsing is available in English, French and German, but most documents are available in several languages.

    [14] Commission seeks views on the Unit Prices Directive

    The European Commission has adopted a Communication on the implementation of the Unit Prices Directive (1998/6/EC) in the Member States, to consult interested parties as to the impact of the Directive on the internal market and the overall level of consumer protection. The Unit Prices Directive of 1998 requires traders to indicate both the selling price and the price per unit on all products they offer consumers, e.g. the price per litre, kilogram etc. The aim is to facilitate price comparison and improve consumer information. The Directive states that this information must be unambiguous, clearly legible and easy to identify. If advertising mentions the selling price it must also indicate the unit price. For products sold in bulk, only the unit price must be indicated. While all Member States have introduced national laws transposing the requirements of the Directive, in some areas there are significant differences between Member States. For instance, Member States may stipulate certain products that are exempt from having to carry a unit price in their countries (for instance, some Member States have exempted ready meals made of a number of different products, cooking herbs sold in pots, chocolate eggs etc). Member States may also exempt small retail businesses or, for instance, certain types of itinerant trade, e.g. mobile stallholders, from the requirement of having to display unit price for a transitional period. Member States have taken different approaches to these exemptions. All interested parties are invited to submit replies to the Commission by 1 September 2006. For further information: <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/cons_int/safe_shop/price_ind/index_en.htm">http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/cons_int/safe_shop/price_ind/index_en.htm

    [15] Rédiffusion

    [16] Avian flu: Commission proposes “upstream” measures to support poultry market

    The management committee for eggs and poultry today approved a Commission proposal to allow the co-financing by the EU budget of measures to support the poultry market, because of the negative effects of the recent avian flu crisis. The proposal specifies the type of measures which can be 50 percent financed by the EU. It focuses on “upstream” measures, i.e. those which aim to temporarily reduce production, such as the destruction of hatching eggs. It sets a maximum level of compensation per unit destroyed as well as the maximum number of units per Member State and the time period covered by each measure. The Commission does not propose co-financing of “downstream” measures such as aid for private storage or the destruction of existing stocks of poultry meat. Some 14 Member States have applied for EU support for their poultry sector. The expected cost to the EU budget of the measures proposed is between €50 and €65 million.

    [17] The Commission welcomes the launch of the steel industry's new sectoral social dialogue committee

    The steel industry's social partners - the European Metal Workers Federation (EMF) and the European Confederation of Iron and Steel Industries (EUROFER) - have launched the 32nd sectoral social dialogue committee with the full backing of the European Commission. This new committee will monitor the social, economic and employment consequences of EU policies on the steel sector. It will also examine how structural changes within the steel industry in Europe and worldwide affect employment. The expiry of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 2002 ended decades of fruitful dialogue between representatives of one of the EU's most historic sectors. Today's renewed co-operation will allow the social partners to contribute jointly to the global competitiveness of the steel sector and could lead to European agreements, bringing real benefits to the European Steel Industry and its 300,000 workers. It will also allow the steel industry's social partners to contribute to consultations launched by the Commission on social policy. At the inaugural meeting, the social partners will adopt the rules of procedure of their committee and their work programme for 2006-2008 which will cover the areas of health and safety, training and structural change.

    [18] Autre matériel diffusé

    Speech by Charlie McCreevy “The Commission’s work programme for 2007“ at the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs

    Speech by Charlie McCreevy “Insurance Solvency: the way forward“ at the Public Hearing on ‘Solvency II’

    Speech by Vice-President Frattini on “The need for a unified stance in combating racism and xenophobia” at the Seminar on Racims and xenophobia in Vienna

    [19] (!embargo 16h00!) Speech by Ján Figel on “My vision for European Student Mobility in the next Decade” at the Future of European student mobility – Conference organised by the UK Erasmus Student Committee

    Speech by Mariann Fischer Boel “EU wine sector: the need for urgent reform”

    Speech by Mariann Fischer Boel “:Towards a sustainable European wine sector” in Brussels

    Speech by Vladimír Spidla “:The European Market Place on Corporate Social Responsibility at the European Market Place on Corporate Social Responsibility Conference

    [20] (!embargo 14h45!) Speech by Neelie Kroes “State aid enforcement in an enlarged Union – more partnership for increased efficiency at the Conference on State Aid Enforcement

    Examples of reducing administrative burdens on enterprises

    EU wine reform: background information on the wine sector From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at http://europa.eu.int/


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