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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 08-01-23
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CONTENTS / CONTENU
MIDDAY EXPRESSNews from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction GĂ©nĂ©rale Communicationb
 Commission assesses stability programmes of Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and FinlandToday the European Commission examined the updated stability programmes of Finland, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. All four have reached, maintained or exceeded the objective they have set themselves to have sound public finances. Luxembourg and the Netherlands have presented budgetary strategies that are in line with the sound principles established in the Stability and Growth Pact. In both countries, the trajectory seems sufficient to maintain, by a large margin, their medium-term objective (MTO) (see below). Germany has achieved a remarkable budgetary consolidation and reached its MTO of a balanced budget already in 2007 but will relapse into a small deficit in 2008, in structural terms, unless it maintains a firm control over expenditure. No specific recommendation is considered necessary for Finland, which expects to easily achieve and indeed exceed its MTO of a 2% surplus throughout the programme period. Finland is also at low risk with regard to the long-term sustainability of its public finances. Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands are at medium risk.
 Commission assesses convergence programmes of Hungary, Sweden and the United KingdomHaving examined its updated convergence programme , the European Commission finds that Swedenâ€™s budgetary stance is a sound one as it has surpassed its medium-term objective, a surplus of 1% of GDP, by a large margin and plans for equally safe positions in the years ahead. The pace of fiscal consolidation in the United Kingdom appears insufficient and should be strengthened significantly. Regarding Hungary, the budgetary stance in its updated programme seems broadly consistent with a durable correction of the excessive deficit by 2009. But for this to happen, the government needs to implement the planned budgetary measures and structural reforms fully and effectively. Hungary is at high risk with regard to the long-term sustainability of its public finances, while the United Kingdom is at medium risk and Sweden at low risk
 Mergers: Commission clears proposed acquisition of Cumerio by Norddeutsche AffinerieThe European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of sole control of Cumerio SA of Belgium by Norddeutsche Affinerie AG (NA) of Germany. Both companies are active at several stages of the copper processing chain, in particular producing copper cathodes, copper rod and copper shapes. In September 2007 the Commission opened an in-depth investigation to check whether the proposed acquisition might significantly impede competition, in particular with regard to the European market for copper shapes (see IP/07/1354). Copper shapes are formats cast from pure copper, which are called cakes when they have a rectangular section and billets when they have a circular section. However, the in-depth inquiry has shown that factors such as overcapacity on the market, very substantial in-house production of shapes by other firms, ease of entry and competition on the downstream markets of semi- finished copper products make it unlikely that the transaction would have harmful effects on consumers. The Commission has therefore concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition within the European Economic Area (EEA) or a significant part of it.
 Antitrust: Commission fines synthetic rubber producers â‚¬ 34.2 million for price fixing cartelThe European Commission has imposed fines totalling â‚¬ 34 230 000 on the Bayer and Zeon groups for fixing prices for Nitrile Butadiene Rubber (NBR) in violation of the EC Treatyâ€™s and the EEA Agreementâ€™s ban on cartels and restrictive business practices (Article 81 of the EC Treaty and Article 53 of the EEA Agreement). NBR is used mainly in car manufacturing for fuel and oil handling hoses, seals, o-rings and water handling applications. Between late 2000 and 2002, Bayer and Zeon managed to raise or otherwise stabilise prices through a series of meetings and other illicit contacts. Bayer's and Zeon's fines are reduced by 30% and 20%, respectively, because they co-operated with the investigation under the Commission's 2002 Leniency Notice (see IP/02/247 and MEMO/02/23). However Bayer's fine was increased by 50% because it had been fined for cartel activity in a previous Commission decision.
 Les femmes sont plus nombreuses Ă travailler, mais il leur faudrait aussi des emplois Â«meilleursÂ»Les femmes continuent de jouer un rĂ´le moteur dans la croissance de l'emploi en Europe mais restent dĂ©favorisĂ©es par rapport aux hommes sur le marchĂ© du travail, selon un rapport adoptĂ© aujourd'hui par la Commission europĂ©enne. MalgrĂ© un niveau d'Ă©tudes plus Ă©levĂ©, les femmes sont toujours moins employĂ©es et moins bien payĂ©es que les hommes. L'Ă©dition 2008 du rapport sur lâ€™Ă©galitĂ© entre les femmes et les hommes sera prĂ©sentĂ©e aux dirigeants de l'Union europĂ©enne (UE) lors du sommet de printemps qui aura lieu les 8 et 9 mars.
 Industrial new orders up by 2.7% in euro areaThe euro area (EA13) industrial new orders index grew by 2.7% in November 2007 compared with October 2007. The index grew by 2.5% in October, EU27 new orders increased by 1.9% in November 2007 after a rise of 5.5% in October. Excluding ships, railway & aerospace equipment industrial new orders gained 0.6% in the euro area and 0.5% in the EU27 in November 2007. In November 2007 compared with November 2006, industrial new orders increased by 11.9% in the euro area and by 15.7% in the EU27. Total industry excluding ships, railway & aerospace equipment grew by 6.6% in the euro area and by 8.1% in the EU27. These estimates are released by Eurostat.
 L'UE27 a enregistrĂ© un dĂ©ficit des Ă©changes courants de 17,2 milliards d'eurosSelon les derniĂ¨res rĂ©visions, le compte des opĂ©rations courantes de lâ€™UE27 avec les pays tiers a enregistrĂ© un dĂ©ficit de â‚¬ 17,2 milliards d'euros au troisiĂ¨me trimestre 2007, contre un dĂ©ficit de â‚¬ 24,6 milliards au troisiĂ¨me trimestre 2006 et un dĂ©ficit de â‚¬ 16,3 milliards au deuxiĂ¨me trimestre 2007. Au troisiĂ¨me trimestre 2007, par rapport au troisiĂ¨me trimestre 2006, le dĂ©ficit du compte des biens s'est rĂ©duit (â‚¬ -41,5 milliards d'euros contre â‚¬ -44,5 milliards), tandis que l'excĂ©dent du compte des services s'est accru (â‚¬ +23,2 milliards contre â‚¬ +16,7 milliards). L'excĂ©dent du compte des revenus a diminuĂ© (â‚¬ +14,8 milliards contre â‚¬ +16,5 milliards), tandis que le dĂ©ficit du compte des transferts courants est restĂ© pratiquement stable (â‚¬ -13,8 milliards contre â‚¬ -13,3 milliards). Ces donnĂ©es provisoires, publiĂ©es par Eurostat sont sujettes Ă rĂ©vision.
 Science and Research Commissioner Janez PotoÄŤnik meets representatives of the European Biofuels Technology PlatformYesterday, 22 January, Janez PotoÄŤnik, European Science and research Commissioner met with representatives of the European Biofuels Technology Platform. After the meeting he released the following statement: "I had a very interesting meeting today with the European Biofuels Technology Platform, an organisation which brings together more than 100 representatives of the agriculture and forestry sectors, food, paper and biotechnology industry, biofuels industry, oil companies, car manufacturers, universities and researchers to move forward on the research needed to develop Europe's use of biofuels. We discussed their Strategic Research Agenda, which will be presented officially on 31 January. This document provides a long-term view on how to overcome the technical and non- technical challenges of sustainable use of biofuels within Europe. It is well known that the increased use of biofuels will need to be accompanied by technological developments. In particular we discussed the balance of existing "first generation" biofuels and future "second generation" biofuels, which can be produced more efficiently, with far fewer emissions and from a wider range of agricultural products. The environmental performance of biofuels depends very much on the different production pathways. If produced and used sensibly, biomass used for fuel can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It can also be used to reclaim degraded land, reduce erosion, stabilise slopes and improve water retention and water quality. The Strategic Research Agenda sets a 70% target for carbon emission savings. I was extremely encouraged by the clear priority given by the Technology Platform leaders to environmental concerns throughout the biofuels chain. I strongly supported their intention to take into account in their future research issues such as biodiversity, water use and changes in land-use, and to closely align their work with tomorrow's Directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources. also strongly encouraged the members of the European Technology Platform to ensure their close involvement in the "Bio-energy Europe Initiative" that we proposed as part of the Strategic Energy Technology Plan in November 2007. "Bio-energy Europe" will focus on next generation biofuels in the context of an overall strategy for bio-energy." The Biofuels Technology Platform: www.biofuelstp.eu
 En visite au Tchad, le Commissaire Louis Michel annonce 10Mâ‚¬ pour la stabilisationLe Commissaire europĂ©en au dĂ©veloppement et Ă l'aide humanitaire, en visite au Tchad du 20 au 22 janvier 2008, a signĂ© aujourd'hui un Programme d'Accompagnement Ă la Stabilisation (PAS) de 10 millions d'euros destinĂ© Ă l'Est du Tchad.
Autre matĂ©riel diffusĂ©
â€˘ Memo on Competition: Commission action against cartels â€“ Questions and answers
â€˘ Speech by Commissioner McCreevy to the Institute of International and European Affairs in Brussels
<!-- PRV_REF ID="SPEECH|08/33|0|EN" -->â€˘ Speech by Vice President
Verheugen on The Strategy for Growth and J
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