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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 06-07-19

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] Ensemble de mesures pour renforcer la solidarité entre les Etats membres en matière de gestion des frontières et pour lutter contre l'immigration clandestine
  • [02] Commission adopts guidelines on state aid to support risk capital investments in SMEs
  • [03] Commission approves proposed acquisition of J.M. Huber's on-site paper coating mineral business by Omya, subject to conditions
  • [04] Commission gives positive assessment of Germany's action to correct excessive deficit by 2007
  • [05] La Commission approuve l'octroi d'une aide de €100 millions d'euros des fonds de capital-investissement du sud de l'Italie
  • [06] Commission endorses €206.1 million aid for cluster of nine electronics production facilities in Kobierzyce (Poland)
  • [07] Commission prohibits public funding for additional broadband network in Appingedam (Netherlands)
  • [08] La Commission autorise le régime de soutien de l'Agence française de l'innovation industrielle en faveur des programmes mobilisateurs
  • [09] Commission demands repeal of Luxembourg's preferential tax regime for financial holdings
  • [10] VAT : Commission asks the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Portugal for information on the application of reduced VAT rates to children's diapers
  • [11] La Commission traduit la France devant la Cour de justice pour non- récupération d'une aide d'Etat illégale
  • [12] Commission requests Italy to comply with EU rules on electronic communications
  • [13] Commission authorises Germany to grant €2.5 billion aid to its coal industry for the year 2006
  • [14] Libre circulation des capitaux : la Commission clôt la procédure engagée contre l'Espagne au sujet de la loi de privatisation
  • [15] Maritime transport : Commission approves a tonnage tax regime for Lithuanian shipping
  • [16] Commission authorises Dutch Province of Gelderland to grant €4.6 million aid for environmental protection and innovation in public transport
  • [17] Tobacco advertising : Commission takes action against Italy and Hungary
  • [18] La Commission nomme sa directrice générale adjointe de la concurrence
  • [19] Commission appoints Deputy Director-General for Economic and Financial Affairs
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [20] Value Added Tax : Commission believes that German and Austrian requests to apply a generalised reverse charge mechanism cannot be allowed as special derogations
  • [21] Commission clears acquisition of Jämtlamell by SCA Forest
  • [22] €10 million for Niger's children
  • [23] May 2006 : Euro area external trade deficit €3.2 billion - €15.7 billion deficit for EU25
  • [24] Autre matériel diffusé Midday Express of 2006-07-19 Reference: MEX/06/0719 Date: 19/07/2006 EXME06 / 19.7

    MIDDAY EXPRESS

    News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

    19/07/06


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

    [01] Ensemble de mesures pour renforcer la solidarité entre les Etats membres en matière de gestion des frontières et pour lutter contre l'immigration clandestine

    La Commission européenne a adopté un ensemble de mesures comprenant: 1) une communication sur les priorités en matière de lutte contre l'immigration clandestine de ressortissants de pays tiers ; 2) une proposition de règlement établissant un code des visas communautaire ; et 3) une proposition de règlement relatif aux compétences et au financement d'équipes d'intervention rapide aux frontières, détachées dans un autre Etat membre pour lui fournir une assistance technique et opérationnelle. Ce train de mesures intensifie sensiblement les efforts déployés par l'UE pour renforcer la solidarité entre Etats membres et lutter plus énergiquement contre l'immigration clandestine. Il répond la nécessité de disposer d'une politique commune des visas qui soit efficace et cohérente au niveau de l'Union, d'arrêter des mesures claires et ciblées pour combattre le phénomène croissant de l'immigration clandestine, et d'approfondir la notion de solidarité dans le domaine des migrations et de l'asile, notamment en matière de gestion des frontières.

    [02] Commission adopts guidelines on state aid to support risk capital investments in SMEs

    The European Commission has adopted guidelines to determine when state aid to support risk capital investment in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is compatible with EC Treaty state aid rules (Article 87). The rules will facilitate access to finance for SMEs in their early stages of development, particularly where alternative means of funding from financial markets are lacking (i.e. market failure). Better access to capital will spur their growth and create more jobs in the EU. The guidelines form part of the Commission's efforts, announced in the State Aid Action Plan (SAAP - see IP/05/680 and MEMO/05/195), to encourage Member States to focus state aid on improving the competitiveness of EU industry, in particular through innovation, and on creating sustainable jobs, while minimising distortions of competition. The guidelines include a 'safe harbour' of €1.5 million investment per SME over 12 months (below which a market failure has been found to exist), a light assessment procedure for clear cut cases fulfilling certain conditions and assessment criteria which ensure that state funding will leverage private investment, target market failures and be proportionate.

    [03] Commission approves proposed acquisition of J.M. Huber's on-site paper coating mineral business by Omya, subject to conditions

    The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition by Swiss-based Omya of US-based J.M. Huber's on-site precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC) business, subject to conditions. J.M. Huber is selling its twelve on-site PCC production facilities which were purpose built on paper mill sites to provide a ready supply of minerals used in paper production. Six of these plants are in the European Economic Area (the rest are in the US, Canada, Brazil and Russia). The case was originally referred to the Commission by the Finnish Competition Authority who considered the proposed transaction liable to affect trade between Member States and significantly affect competition. The Commission's in- depth investigation revealed that the concentration as initially notified would have led to the elimination of a potential competitor in the market for the supply of calcium carbonates for paper coating. To restore effective competition, Omya and Huber have committed to divest to a suitable purchaser an on-site PCC plant in Finland together with its PCC coating technology. The Commission has concluded that the proposed transaction, as modified, would not significantly impede effective competition in the EEA or a significant part of it. The Commission's clearance decision is conditional upon full compliance with the commitments.

    [04] Commission gives positive assessment of Germany's action to correct excessive deficit by 2007

    The European Commission considers that Germany is on track to correct its excessive deficit by 2007 at the latest, as requested by the Council in March 2006, provided it fully implements the 2006 and 2007 budgets. No further steps are needed at present under the excessive deficit procedure, but further efforts will be necessary beyond 2007 to reach the objective of a balanced budget. The Commission will continue to monitor the situation closely.

    [05] La Commission approuve l'octroi d'une aide de €100 millions d'euros des fonds de capital-investissement du sud de l'Italie

    La Commission européenne a autorisé, conformément aux règles du traité CE applicable aux aides d'Etat (article 87), l'octroi d'un financement public hauteur de €100 millions des fonds de capital-investissement du sud de l'Italie destinés des investissements dans des petites et moyennes entreprises innovantes (PME) principalement au cours des premières phases de leur croissance. Pour la première fois, la Commission a en outre approuvé une aide destinée compenser une partie des coûts de prospection de nouvelles opérations supportés par les gestionnaires des fonds. Etant donné que toutes les conditions fixées dans la communication de la Commission de 2001 sur les aides d'Etat et le capital- investissement sont remplies, la Commission considère que l'aide n'affecte pas les conditions des échanges dans une mesure contraire au marché unique et est donc compatible avec les règles du traité CE en matière d'aides d'Etat.

    [06] Commission endorses €206.1 million aid for cluster of nine electronics production facilities in Kobierzyce (Poland)

    The European Commission has endorsed, under the EC Treaty's rules on state aid, €206.1 million of aid which Poland intends to grant to eight Korean- based companies to set up a cluster of nine electronics projects in Kobierzyce, Poland (Lower Silesia). The total eligible costs of the nine investment projects is €711.1 million.

    [07] Commission prohibits public funding for additional broadband network in Appingedam (Netherlands)

    The European Commission has decided to prohibit, under EC Treaty state aid rules, public funding for the planned construction of a fibre access network in the Dutch town of Appingedam. The project concerns an area already served by broadband networks and the Commission considered that the aid was not necessary to remedy either a market failure or unaffordable prices for broadband services. The Commission considered that the planned aid would distort competition and harm private investment to an extent which would outweigh the positive effects of the project. This is the first time that the Commission has declared a subsidy for a broadband network incompatible with the state aid rules.

    [08] La Commission autorise le régime de soutien de l'Agence française de l'innovation industrielle en faveur des programmes mobilisateurs

    La Commission européenne a décidé de ne pas soulever d'objection en vertu des règles CE sur les aides d'Etat l'égard du régime d'aides mis en place par la France et géré par l'Agence de l'innovation industrielle. Ce régime en faveur des programmes mobilisateurs pour l'innovation industrielle est doté d'un budget annuel d'€1 milliard. La Commission a estimé qu'il remplit les conditions définies dans l'encadrement des aides d'Etat la recherche et au développement. Les aides d'un montant supérieur €5 millions prévues pour le financement de programmes de plus de €25 millions devront néanmoins être notifiées pour examen individuel la Commission avant leur octroi.

    [09] Commission demands repeal of Luxembourg's preferential tax regime for financial holdings

    The European Commission has decided that the preferential tax regime in favour of Luxembourg's Exempt, Milliardaire and Financial Holdings of 1929 violates EC Treaty state aid rules (Article 87). The scheme is granted under a Luxembourg law from 1929, predating the EC Treaty, and therefore constituting existing aid. Following an in-depth investigation opened in February (see IP/06/132) and a preliminary four-year review, the Commission has concluded that the scheme grants unjustified tax advantages to providers of certain financial services who set up holding structures in Luxembourg. It distorts competition and trade by altering the level playing field between financial undertakings and induces them to create dedicated structures in Luxembourg to reduce their current tax liabilities. Modifications introduced by a law of 21 June 2005 narrowed the scope of the scheme but the regime still constitutes state aid as the tax advantages remain unchanged. The Commission decision requires the scheme to be repealed by the end of 2006, while its effects for the existing holdings must be definitively eliminated by the end of 2010 (allowing the existing beneficiaries to exit from the existing holding structures without incurring tax penalties). As the scheme is existing aid, the Commission's decision is only for the future and the beneficiaries need not repay aid received until its final elimination.

    [10] VAT : Commission asks the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Portugal for information on the application of reduced VAT rates to children's diapers

    The European Commission has decided to send requests for information in the form of letters of formal notice to several Member States about their application of reduced VAT rates to children's diapers. The Commission believes that reduced rates on these goods do not comply with the Sixth VAT Directive (77/388/EEC), which was revised for the last time in February 2006. However, the Commission fully supports social and family friendly policies, as part of the EU's response to the pressing challenge of demographic ageing. For these reasons the Commission will in parallel take the necessary steps in order to create a legal basis for the application of reduced VAT rates to children's diapers. The Member States involved are asked to reply within two months to the letters of formal notice, which are the first step of the infringement procedure laid down in Article 226 of the EC Treaty. Their arguments will be taken into account in the report on the application of reduced VAT rates which the Commission will present to the ECOFIN Council in 2007. On the basis of this report, the Commission will draft a proposal in order to amend Annex H of the Sixth VAT directive as appropriate.

    [11] La Commission traduit la France devant la Cour de justice pour non- récupération d'une aide d'Etat illégale

    La Commission européenne a décidé de saisir la Cour de justice l'encontre de la France en application des règles du traité CE relatives aux aides d'Etat pour non-respect d'une décision de la Commission du 2 août 2004 concernant France Télécom. Cette décision avait conclu que le traitement préférentiel accordé France Télécom par le régime français de la taxe professionnelle était incompatible avec le marché unique et elle avait ordonné la France de récupérer l'aide déj accordée auprès du bénéficiaire. Les autorités françaises n'ont toutefois encore pris aucune mesure concrète et effective pour récupérer l'aide.

    [12] Commission requests Italy to comply with EU rules on electronic communications

    The European Commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice to Italy requesting information about its broadcasting legislation's compatibility with EU rules on competition in the markets for electronic communications networks and services and the New EU Regulatory Framework for Electronic Communications. The Commission is concerned that the Italian legislation fails to fulfil the obligations established by EU competition rules insofar as it introduces unjustified restrictions to the provision of broadcasting transmission services and attributes unjustified advantages to existing analogue operators. A letter of formal notice is the first step in the infringement procedure under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. Italy has now two months to respond to the concerns expressed by the Commission.

    [13] Commission authorises Germany to grant €2.5 billion aid to its coal industry for the year 2006

    The European Commission has decided not to raise any objections to the €2.5 billion aid package which Germany is proposing to grant to its coal industry for the year 2006. The aid is compatible with the proper functioning of the internal market.

    [14] Libre circulation des capitaux : la Commission clôt la procédure engagée contre l'Espagne au sujet de la loi de privatisation

    La Commission européenne a décidé de clore la procédure d'infraction engagée contre l'Espagne au vu des mesures prises pour se conformer l'arrêt de la Cour de justice européenne du 13 mai 2003. L'arrêt avait établi que, en maintenant en vigueur certaines dispositions de la loi 5/1995 sur la privatisation, ainsi que les décrets royaux concernant Repsol SA, Telefónica de España SA, Telefónica Servicios Móviles SA, Argentaria, Tabacalera SA, et Endesa SA, dans la mesure où ils instaurent un régime d'autorisation administrative préalable, l'Espagne avait manqué aux obligations qui lui incombent en vertu des dispositions du traité CE relatives la libre circulation des capitaux (article 56). Cette décision fait suite la notification par l'Espagne des mesures prises le 26 mai 2006 afin de se conformer l'arrêt de la Cour.

    [15] Maritime transport : Commission approves a tonnage tax regime for Lithuanian shipping

    The European Commission has approved the introduction of a tonnage tax system whereby tax liable entities in Lithuania engaged in international transportation by ship or a directly related activity can change the tax base for their operating profits. Companies fulfilling certain criteria may opt for a "tonnage tax" for the taxation of their profits from international maritime traffic. The tax will be calculated according to the net tonnage of their fleet, instead of the normally applicable corporation tax. The authorised scheme will run from January 2007 for 10 years and is expected to cost up to €0.6 million a year.

    [16] Commission authorises Dutch Province of Gelderland to grant €4.6 million aid for environmental protection and innovation in public transport

    The European Commission has decided not to raise any objections to the €4.6 million aid which the Dutch Province of Gelderland plans to allocate to initiatives which explore new ways for protecting the environment and making public transport more efficient and more appealing to the users.

    [17] Tobacco advertising : Commission takes action against Italy and Hungary

    Today the European Commission sent "reasoned opinions" to Hungary and Italy for incorrect transposition into national law of Directive 2003/33/EC of 26 May 2003 on advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products. These Member States allow exemptions or introduce derogations from the sponsorship ban which is a core aspect of the Directive. They had already received a "letter of formal notice" in April 2006. They now have two months to comply, otherwise the Commission will resort to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to declare that those Member States fail to fulfil their obligations under the Directive. "The Commission is clear that there can be no derogations from the Directive’s ban on tobacco sponsorship for cross-border events, whether it’s for Formula One or for other events", said Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou. The Commission is also considering the replies to letters of formal notice sent to the Czech Republic and Spain in April. On 28 June 2006 the Commission decided to refer Germany to the European Court of Justice for non-transposition of the same Directive. For further information, please visit:

    <a href="http://europa.eu.int/comm/health/ph_determinants/life_style/Tobacco/tobacco_en.htm">http://europa.eu.int/comm/health/ph_determinants/life_style/Tobacco/tobacco_en.htm

    [18] La Commission nomme sa directrice générale adjointe de la concurrence

    Mme Nadia Calviño a été nommée directrice générale adjointe de la direction générale de la concurrence, chargée des concentrations. Elle sera responsable de l'élaboration et de la formulation des politiques de l'UE/Commission dans le domaine des concentrations.

    [19] Commission appoints Deputy Director-General for Economic and Financial Affairs

    The European Commission has appointed Marco Buti Deputy Director-General of the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs. Mr Buti will be in charge of economic studies and research, the economies of the Member States, structural reforms and the Lisbon Strategy as well as economic evaluation. He will ensure the coordination of the macroeconomic policy surveillance and the implementation of structural reforms under the Lisbon strategy.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [20] Value Added Tax : Commission believes that German and Austrian requests to apply a generalised reverse charge mechanism cannot be allowed as special derogations

    The European Commission has objected to the derogation requests made in accordance with Article 27 of the Sixth VAT Directive by Austria and Germany for a general application of the reverse charge mechanism. Article 27 provides for derogation from the harmonised general rules of VAT if those derogations are targeted, restricted and proportionate. The requests were made in the context of a desire by Austria and Germany to tackle the phenomenon of businesses disappearing without paying their VAT liabilities. The only way to introduce very broad measures to change the VAT system would be by amending the Sixth VAT Directive under Article 93 of the EC Treaty (which requires consultation of the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee).

    [21] Commission clears acquisition of Jämtlamell by SCA Forest

    The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of Jämtlamell Industri AB (Jämtlamell) of Sweden by SCA Forest Products AB (SCA Forest), also of Sweden, belonging to the group Svenska Cellulosa AB SCA (publ) (SCA). SCA Forest produces and sells publication papers, pulp, sawn timber and forest based biofuel. Jämtlamell produces and sells sawn timber and forest based biofuel. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

    [22] €10 million for Niger's children

    The European Commission has allocated an extra €10 million in humanitarian aid for vulnerable children in Niger. The aim is to reduce child malnutrition and mortality. Since the beginning of this year, more than 150,000 children in Niger have been admitted to nutritional centres, many of which are supported by the Commission's aid. The aid is also being used to improve access to primary health care for young children and their mothers, and to help the poorest families regain their food self- sufficiency, for example through distributing seeds to families who visit nutrition centres. A recent culling of chickens due to an outbreak of avian flu has contributed to the food shortage. The €10 million in aid comes on top of €8.3 million of humanitarian assistance the Commission has granted to Niger since the start of the food crisis in 2005.

    [23] May 2006 : Euro area external trade deficit €3.2 billion - €15.7 billion deficit for EU25

    The first estimate for the euro area trade balance with the rest of the world in May 2006 gave a €3.2 billionn deficit against a 2.3 billion surplus in May 2005. The April 2006 balance was -€1.9 billion, compared with +1.6 billion in April 2005. In May 2006 compared with April 2006, exports, seasonally adjusted, rose by 1.2% and imports by 1.4%. The first estimate for May 2006 extra-EU25 trade was a €15.7 billion deficit, compared with -7.3 billion in May 2005. In April 20062, the balance was - €14.5 billion, compared with -9.4 billion in April 2005. In May 2006 compared with April 2006, exports, seasonally adjusted, rose by 0.5% and imports by 1.8%. These data are released by Eurostat.

    [24] Autre matériel diffusé

    EU policy to fight illegal immigration

    Rapid reaction teams of border guards

    Community code on short-stay visas

    Guidelines on state aid to promote risk capital investment in SMEs – frequently asked questions From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at http://europa.eu.int/


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