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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 06-06-28

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

[I] Résultats de la Commission de ce jour - Outcome of today's Commission meeting

  • [01] From Tampere to Tampere : Commission responds to EU citizen's demands to build up Europe as an area of freedom, security and justice
  • [02] La Commission modifie les lignes directrices pour le calcul des amendes dans les affaires antitrust
  • [03] Commission proposes the euro conversion rate for Slovenia
  • [04] Promouvoir la mobilité durable par une logistique du transport avancée
  • [05] Commission proposes to upgrade EU's relations with South Africa to a Strategic Partnership
  • [06] Marché intérieur : procédures d'infraction concernant l'Italie, l'Autriche et l'Espagne dans le domaine des pharmacies
  • [07] Free movement of capital : Italy referred to the Court of Justice over special powers in privatised companies
  • [08] Commission refers Ireland to Court of Justice over rules on compensation for drivers of uninsured vehicles
  • [09] Commission calls on Hungary to modify privatisation framework law
  • [10] Banking : Commission calls on Germany to modify its rules on use of the name "Sparkasse"
  • [11] Biofuels : Commission launches infringement procedures against Italy and Greece
  • [12] Energy performance of buildings : Commission sends reasoned opinions to Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Malta and Sweden
  • [13] Plans d'urgence radiologique : l'Italie devant la Cour de Justice pour non-application des dispositions Euratom
  • [14] Cross-border shopping : Commission decides to close the case against the UK over seizures of tobacco and cars
  • [15] Droits d'accises/cigarettes : prix minimaux de vente au détail des cigarettes – procédures d'infraction contre la France et la Belgique
  • [16] Commission refers Germany to the European Court of Justice on tobacco advertising
  • [17] Personnel : la Commission nomme le Directeur Général adjoint l'Agriculture et au Développement rural
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [18] Benita Ferrero-Waldner on current situation in Gaza
  • [19] Commission clears acquisition of Playa by MLLPHI, Farallon and Barceló
  • [20] Commission welcomes political agreement on new Directive to fight floods
  • [21] Commission brings together key countries to tackle illegal trade in caviar
  • [22] Autre matériel diffusé Midday Express of 2006-06-28 Reference: MEX/06/0628 Date: 28/06/2006 EXME06 / 28.6

    MIDDAY EXPRESS

    News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

    28/06/06


  • [I] Résultats de la Commission de ce jour - Outcome of today's Commission meeting

    [01] From Tampere to Tampere : Commission responds to EU citizen's demands to build up Europe as an area of freedom, security and justice

    Following the special meeting of the European Council in Tampere on 15-16 October 1999 where it was decided to create an area of freedom, security and justice in the European Union and ahead of the Justice and Home Affairs informal meeting in Tampere scheduled for 20-22 September 2006 the Commission now presents its first political assessment of progress in implementing the Hague Programme. European citizens urge the EU to put in place the necessary measures to make Europe a safe place to live in. The Union and the Member States must respond together to the challenge of being more effective in the fight against organised crime and terrorism, but also in the management of migration flows and the control of external borders. Implementing the multi-annual programme strengthening Freedom, Security and Justice in the EU, the so-called "Hague Programme", is a common goal, which imposes effective and accountable decision-making and clear political priorities.

    [02] La Commission modifie les lignes directrices pour le calcul des amendes dans les affaires antitrust

    La Commission européenne a adopté de nouvelles lignes directrices pour le calcul des amendes infligées aux entreprises qui contreviennent aux dispositions du traité CE interdisant les ententes et autres pratiques commerciales restrictives (article 81) ainsi que les abus de position dominante (article 82). Ces lignes directrices modifient celles qui avaient été adoptées en 1998 de manière renforcer l'effet dissuasif des amendes. Le règlement n° 1/2003 du Conseil (et le règlement n° 17/62 du Conseil avant lui) prévoit des amendes pouvant atteindre jusqu' 10% du chiffre d'affaires annuel total des entreprises. En vertu des nouvelles lignes directrices, le montant de l'amende peut aller, dans cette limite, jusqu' 30% des ventes annuelles concernées par l'infraction, multiplié par le nombre d'années de sa durée. Par ailleurs, une fraction de l'amende – appelée "droit d'entrée" – peut être perçue, quelle que soit la durée de l'infraction. Enfin, des amendes plus élevées seront infligées en cas de récidive. Les présentes lignes directrices seront applicables toutes les affaires antitrust, après leur publication au Journal officiel, qui devrait intervenir dans les deux prochains mois, dès lors que les griefs auront été communiqués aux entreprises concernées.

    [03] Commission proposes the euro conversion rate for Slovenia

    The European Commission has proposed that with effect from 1st January 2007 the euro will replace Slovenia's currency, the tolar, at the fixed and irrevocable conversion rate of 239.640 tolars for one euro. This is the central rate at which the tolar entered ERMII two years ago and at which the tolar-euro exchange rate has stayed close ever since. The decision on the conversion rate must be taken by the euro area finance ministers together with Slovenia during the next Ecofin Council on July 11.

    [04] Promouvoir la mobilité durable par une logistique du transport avancée

    La Commission européenne a adopté une Communication sur la logistique du transport de marchandises. La Communication préconise la nécessité d'une approche globale pour améliorer la logistique du transport et oriente le débat pour préparer un plan d'action en printemps 2007 pour promouvoir cette logistique. La logistique de transport permet d'optimiser les flux des marchandises. Ainsi la logistique est un outil indispensable pour répondre aux défis d’une mobilité croissante et de la compétitivité. La logistique est aussi un des instruments pour dissocier la mobilité de ses effets négatifs, comme la pollution, la congestion et la dépendance énergétique.

    [05] Commission proposes to upgrade EU's relations with South Africa to a Strategic Partnership

    The European Commission adopted a Communication proposing a Strategic Partnership between the European Union and South Africa. The document sets out a comprehensive long-term framework for the EU's relations with South Africa, which takes account the country's position as an anchor in the region and its important role on the African continent and in international relations. This renewed partnership covers political and economic relations and builds on existing privileged relations.

    [06] Marché intérieur : procédures d'infraction concernant l'Italie, l'Autriche et l'Espagne dans le domaine des pharmacies

    La Commission européenne a décidé de traduire l'Italie devant la Cour de justice européenne en raison de restrictions imposées par la législation nationale en matière de prise de participation et de propriété des pharmacies de détail. Selon la Commission, les dispositions juridiques italiennes telles qu'interprétées par la Cour constitutionnelle et telles que modifiées en avril 2006 sont contraires aux articles 43 et 56 du traité CE concernant respectivement la liberté d'établissement et la libre circulation des capitaux l'intérieur de l'UE. La Commission a en outre décidé de demander formellement l'Autriche et l'Espagne de modifier leurs règles nationales en matière d'établissement des pharmacies. Ces demandes de la Commission prennent la forme d'un "avis motivé" qui constitue la deuxième étape de la procédure d'infraction en vertu de l'article 226 du traité CE. En l'absence de réponse satisfaisante dans un délai de deux mois, la Commission pourra saisir la Cour de justice. Ces trois procédures d'infraction portent sur un ensemble de restrictions nationales existantes dans le domaine de l'ouverture et de la gestion de pharmacies telles que l'incompatibilité entre la distribution et la vente au détail de produits pharmaceutiques ; la réserve de propriété des pharmacies aux pharmaciens ; l'exclusion de pharmaciens non-nationaux de pharmacies nouvelles ; la préférence pour des pharmaciens avec expérience locale ; les limites territoriales et démographiques l'installation de pharmacies ; l'interdiction de cumul de propriété de plusieurs pharmacies ; les formes juridiques obligatoires pour les pharmacies.

    [07] Free movement of capital : Italy referred to the Court of Justice over special powers in privatised companies

    The European Commission has decided to refer Italy to the European Court of Justice because it considers that certain provisions of Italian law concerning investment in privatised companies constitute unjustified restrictions on the free movement of capital and the right of establishment in violation of EU Treaty rules (Articles 56 and 43).

    [08] Commission refers Ireland to Court of Justice over rules on compensation for drivers of uninsured vehicles

    The European Commission has decided to refer Ireland to the European Court of Justice over its rules excluding - regardless of the circumstances - payment of any compensation from the Irish Insurance Bureau to drivers of vehicles in cases where all vehicles involved in a collision are uninsured. This means that if a driver of an uninsured vehicle is involved in an accident with another uninsured vehicle but is blameless, that driver will not receive any compensation. The Commission considers that this is contrary to EU law, which requires that national compensation bodies cover victims of accidents caused by unidentified or uninsured vehicles.

    [09] Commission calls on Hungary to modify privatisation framework law

    The European Commission has decided to ask Hungary formally to modify its privatisation framework law (Act XXXIX of 1995 on the Sale of State-Owned Entrepreneurial Assets), which it considers to be incompatible with E law. The Commission considers that the law contains unjustified restrictions on the free movement of capital and right of establishment by conferring special rights for the state in 31 privatised companies in the form of voting priority ("golden") shares. The Commission’s request is in the form of a reasoned opinion, the second stage of the infringement procedures laid down in Article 226 of the EC Treaty. In the absence of a satisfactory reply from Hungary within two months of receiving the reasoned opinion, the Commission may decide to refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.

    [10] Banking : Commission calls on Germany to modify its rules on use of the name "Sparkasse"

    The European Commission has decided to ask Germany formally to modify its legislation (Article 40 of the "Kreditwesengesetz") which provides that the name "Sparkasse" (savings bank) may be used only by publicly-owned banks. The effect of this law is that a savings bank automatically loses the right to use the name "Sparkasse" after privatisation. The Commission considers that this is in violation of EC Treaty rules on the freedom of establishment (Article 43) and free movement of capital (Article 56), because it prevents private investors from benefiting from the goodwill value of the name. In this case the goodwill value corresponds to, amongst other things, the extent to which the name is considered favourably by the general public. The Commission's request applies only to this aspect of the privatisation, which in the Commission's view should be in accordance with EC Treaty freedoms, and in no way attempts to prescribe whether or not existing savings banks should in fact be privatised. The Commission's request is in the form of a reasoned opinion, the second stage of the infringement procedure laid down in Article 226 of the EC Treaty. Discussions between the German authorities and the Commission will continue in order to see if a solution compatible with Community law can be found. In the absence of a satisfactory reply from Germany within two months of receiving the reasoned opinion, the Commission may decide to refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.

    [11] Biofuels : Commission launches infringement procedures against Italy and Greece

    The European Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion (the second step of an infringement procedure) to Italy for failure to provide adequate reasons for setting a biofuel target considerably lower than the 2% reference value for 2005 laid down by the biofuels directive. The Commission also decided to initiate Court proceedings against Italy and send a reasoned opinion to Greece, as the two countries have not submitted the annual report on biofuel use that was due on 1 July 2005.

    [12] Energy performance of buildings : Commission sends reasoned opinions to Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Malta and Sweden

    The European Commission has sent reasoned opinion (the second step of an infringement procedure) to Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Malta and Sweden for failure to notify national implementing measures requested in 2002 Energy Performance of Buildings directive. The Directive aims at reducing energy consumption in buildings by obliging the Member States to lay down minimum energy performance standards and apply those for new buildings and for bigger existing buildings.

    [13] Plans d'urgence radiologique : l'Italie devant la Cour de Justice pour non-application des dispositions Euratom

    La Commission européenne a décidé de saisir la Cour de Justice européenne en raison de la non-conformité de la législation italienne avec les normes Euratom concernant la préparation de plans d'urgence et l'information préalable fournir obligatoirement la population dans l'hypothèse d'une situation d'urgence radiologique.

    [14] Cross-border shopping : Commission decides to close the case against the UK over seizures of tobacco and cars

    The European Commission has decided to close the case against the United Kingdom over its application of EU law relating to excise duties on tobacco and alcohol. The Commission considers that the changes made by the UK authorities in its policies and practices in relation to the importation of excise goods from other Member States are in line with the changes requested in the Commission's reasoned opinion. This latest Commission action follows on earlier letters, a formal request to the UK to change its law and a referral to the Court of Justice (see IP/01/1482, IP/02/1320, IP/03/1539, IP/04/867 and IP/04/1255 ).

    [15] Droits d'accises/cigarettes : prix minimaux de vente au détail des cigarettes – procédures d'infraction contre la France et la Belgique

    La Commission européenne a décidé d'adresser la France et la Belgique un avis motivé, deuxième étape de la procédure d'infraction prévue l'article 226 du traité CE, en raison de la fixation par ces Etats de prix minimaux de vente au détail des cigarettes. En effet, la Commission estime, conformément une jurisprudence constante de la Cour de justice européenne, que ces prix minimaux sont contraires la législation communautaire, faussent la concurrence et ne bénéficient qu'aux fabricants, en protégeant leurs marges bénéficiaires (voir IP/06/483). Pour atteindre l'objectif de réduction de la consommation de tabac, la Commission préconise une augmentation des droits d'accises sur les cigarettes bon marché. En l'absence d'une mise en conformité des législations de ces Etats membres dans un délai de deux mois compter de la réception de l'avis motivé, la Commission pourra décider de porter ces affaires devant la Cour.

    [16] Commission refers Germany to the European Court of Justice on tobacco advertising

    The European Commission has decided to refer Germany to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for non-transposition of the Tobacco Advertising Directive 2003/33/EC. The Court referral follows the letter of formal notice sent in October 2005 and a reasoned opinion sent in February 2006. The referral to the ECJ is the next step in the infringement procedure.

    [17] Personnel : la Commission nomme le Directeur Général adjoint l'Agriculture et au Développement rural

    Mr Jerzy Bodgan Plewa a été nommé Directeur Général adjoint la Direction Générale Agriculture et Développement rural en charge des Affaires Internationales. M. Plewa sera chargé, sous l'autorité du Directeur Général, de représenter la DG dans toutes les négociations et discussions relatives l'Agriculture et au développement rural, tant avec les Organisations internationales et les pays tiers qu'avec les Institutions européennes et les autres Directions Générales.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [18] Benita Ferrero-Waldner on current situation in Gaza

    European External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner made the following statement on the interruption of electricity supply and vital services : "All sides need to consider their responsibilities extremely carefully. Those holding the hostage Cpl Gilad Shalit should release him immediately. This kind of act can only make things worse for the Palestinian people. It is unacceptable to seek political goals by such means. We look to the Israelis to act with prudence. We understand their outrage, but diplomatic efforts to free the soldier must be allowed to work. I am disturbed by reports of interruption of electricity supply including in vital services such as hospitals. Everything must be done to prevent the humanitarian situation worsening. Both sides need to step back from the brink before this becomes a crisis that neither can control."

    [19] Commission clears acquisition of Playa by MLLPHI, Farallon and Barceló

    The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of Playa Hotels & Resorts, S.L. (Playa) of Spain by Merrill Lynch L.P. Holdings, Inc (MLLPHI) of the US, Cabana Investors B.V. (Farallon) of the US, part of the Farallon Group, and Barceló Corporación Empresarial, S.A. (Barceló) of Spain. MLLPHI acts as an equity investment arm of Merrill Lynch. Its business activities are investment bank and advice to corporations, governments, institutions and individuals worldwide, as well as management of financial assets. Farallon is active in the management of investment funds and accounts. Barceló operates hotels, mainly found in cities and holiday resorts. Playa is active in the acquisition, development and redevelopment of all- inclusive resorts in Mexico, Central America, the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean countries. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

    [20] Commission welcomes political agreement on new Directive to fight floods

    European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas welcomed the Council's political agreement on 27 June on the floods directive, proposed by the Commission last January. The directive aims to reduce and manage the risks that floods pose to people, the environment, infrastructure and property. It takes a three-step approach. First, Member states will undertake a preliminary flood risk assessment of their river basins and coastal areas. Second, where a significant risk of flood damage exists, member states will develop flood risk or hazard maps. Finally, flood risk management plans must be drawn up for these areas. The management plans are to include measures to reduce the probability of flooding and its potential consequences. They will address all phases of the flood risk management cycle but will focus particularly on prevention (for instance by avoiding construction in flood-prone areas), protection (by taking measures to reduce the likelihood of floods and/or the impact of floods in a specific location) and preparedness (for instance through providing safety instructions to the public).

    [21] Commission brings together key countries to tackle illegal trade in caviar

    In the face of serious declines in sturgeon populations, the European Commission is hosting until 29 June in Brussels the first ever meeting bringing together all the relevant stakeholders - including the Caspian States, the main trading and consumer countries and the secretariat of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) - to discuss ways of combating illegal trade in caviar (sturgeon eggs). It is estimated that for every sturgeon caught by licensed fishermen, 5 to 12 are fished by poachers and subsequently significant amounts are illegally traded worldwide. The EU is traditionally one of the main markets for caviar. An EC Regulation adopted on 4 May 2006 now requires that all caviar containers entering or leaving the EU bear a label specifying the source and the year of harvest (insert link to IP/06/611). International commercial trade is prohibited by CITES for two species of sturgeons and has to be regulated by governments through a permit system for all other sturgeon species. For more information about CITES implementation in the EU, visit :

    <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/environment/cites/home_en.htm">http://ec.europa.eu/environment/cites/home_en.htm

    [22] Autre matériel diffusé

    Strengthening freedom, security and justice in the EU: report on the implementation of The Hague Programme for 2005 (the so-called "The Hague Scoreboard Plus")

    Communication "Evaluation of EU policies on Freedom, Security and Justice"

    Implementing The Hague Programme: the way forward

    Améliorer la protection juridictionnelle dans les matières du Titre IV par un renforcement des compétences de la Cour

    Competition: revised Commission Guidelines for setting fines in antitrust cases – frequently asked questions

    Speech by Benita at Ferrero-Waldner : "Drug trafficking: the priorities for the future" at second Ministerial Conference on Drug Trafficking Routes from Afghanistan 'Paris 2 – Moscow 1' (Moscow)

    Speech by Charlie McCreevy : "Managing the Single Market better" at the EPC Conference 'TIE-ing up the loose ends: making better regulation work in practice' (27/06)

    Speech by Viviane Reding : "The Review 2006 of EU Telecom rules: Strengthening Competition and Completing the Internal Market" at annual meeting of BITKOM (27/06) From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at http://europa.eu.int/


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