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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 08-01-31

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] I. Infringements
  • [02] Free movement of services: Commission inquires into restrictions on the provision of certain gambling services in Sweden
  • [03] Free movement of services: Commission inquires into restrictions on gambling services in Germany
  • [04] Free movement of capital: Commission refers Portugal to the European Court of Justice over special rights held by the State/public entities in Portugal Telecom
  • [05] Freedom of establishment: Commission inquires into restrictions on the establishment of retail facilities in Poland
  • [06] Free movement of services: infringement proceedings against Sweden
  • [07] Public procurement: infringement proceedings against Italy
  • [08] Public procurement: infringement proceedings against Germany
  • [09] Internal Market: Commission acts to ensure Member States implement EU laws
  • [10] Internal Market: Commission refers Czech Republic, Poland and Spain to Court of Justice over non-implementation of Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID)
  • [11] State aid: Commission requests Austria to clarify financing of public service broadcaster ORF
  • [12] VAT- Commission tackles Germany over taxation of withdrawals for private use of immovable property from business assets
  • [13] Direct taxation: Commission takes steps against Belgium for failure to adopt national implementing measures of the Merger Directive
  • [14] State aid: Commission requests Italy to respect Court rulings on recovery of incompatible state aid
  • [15] VAT – Commission takes steps against Austria, Malta and Finland as regards the inclusion of the car registration tax in the amount on which VAT is levied in the cases of supplies of road vehicles
  • [16] VAT: The Commission takes Finland to the Court of Justice on excluding the services supplied by public legal aid offices from the scope of VAT
  • [17] VAT: Commission refers the UK to the Court and launches infringement proceedings against Spain concerning the refund of VAT to non established taxable persons
  • [18] Telecoms Rules: Commission refers Poland and Belgium to the European Court of Justice
  • [19] Taxation of outbound dividends: Commission takes steps against Germany, Estonia and the Czech Republic
  • [20] Direct taxation: Commission requests Germany to end discriminatory rules applied to non-resident taxpayers (mainly artists, sportsmen and journalists)
  • [21] TVA – La Commission traduit la France devant la Cour de justice pour sa législation concernant les taux de TVA appliqués aux opérations effectuées par les entreprises de pompes funèbres
  • [22] Direct taxation: Infringement proceedings against Germany for its discriminatory depreciation-rules applied to buildings situated abroad
  • [23] Direct taxation: Commission takes Portugal to the Court due to its discriminatory 2005 tax amnesty legislation
  • [24] Accises/Prix minimaux de vente au détail des cigarettes: La Commission traduit l'Autriche et l'Irlande devant la Cour de justice
  • [25] VAT – Commission takes steps against Poland for the application of a reduced rate on supplies of certain children's items and the exemption applied to supplies of buildings
  • [26] Waste water treatment: Commission gives France final warning
  • [27] Italy: Commission sends final warning over waste crisis in Campania region
  • [28] Environment: Commission to pursue legal action against Greece over infringements
  • [29] Nature protection: Commission takes Malta to court over spring hunting, closes Finnish case
  • [30] Nature protection: Commission takes legal action against Portugal over protected bird areas
  • [31] Commission acts to close gaps in employment equality rules
  • [32] Exigences de sécurité dans les tunnels: la Commission envoie un avis motivé au Royaume-Uni
  • [33] Installations de réception portuaires pour les déchets d'exploitation des navires et les résidus de cargaison: la Commission décide de poursuivre la Belgique et l'Estonie devant la Cour européenne de justice
  • [34] Ceintures de sécurité et dispositifs de retenue pour enfants: la Commission envoie un avis motivé au Royaume-Uni
  • [35] La Commission européenne adresse un avis motivé la République tchèque concernant l'adhésion l'accord de garanties conclu avec l'Agence internationale de l'énergie atomique
  • [36] La Commission demande la Pologne de corriger ses procédures d'octroi de droits l'égard des ressources en hydrocarbures
  • [37] Mergers: Commission opens infringement procedure against Spain for not lifting conditions imposed by CNE on acquisition of Endesa by Enel and Acciona
  • [38] Commission refers Poland to the ECJ over the ban of marketing of genetically modified seeds
  • [39] Commission refers Greece to the ECJ over violations of the animal by- products legislation
  • [40] II. Other news - Autres Nouvelles
  • [41] January 2008: Economic sentiment decreases further in both the EU and the euro area
  • [42] January 2008: Business Climate Indicator for the euro area declines further in January
  • [43] La promotion d'une «langue personnelle adoptive» renforce le multilinguisme et le dialogue interculturel, conclut le groupe des intellectuels créé l'initiative de la Commission européenne
  • [44] State aid: Commission opens in-depth inquiry into financial measures granted to Finnish property company Ålands Industrihus
  • [45] State aid: Commission authorises €5.2 million restructuring aid for Spanish catering company Vanyera 3
  • [46] State aid: Commission endorses €165.6 million regional aid to Qimonda for DRAM wafer project in Dresden, Germany
  • [47] State aid: Commission authorises €70 million in aid from French Industrial Innovation Agency for “MINimage” R&D programme
  • [48] Consumers: Commission launches new system of Consumer Investigations
  • [49] Leonardo da Vinci programme strengthens employability, knowledge and self-confidence
  • [50] Euro area unemployment stable at 7.2%
  • [51] L'inflation de la zone euro estimée 3,2%
  • [52] Commission clears acquisition of WPS and APP by Wacker Chemie Midday Express of 2008-01-31 Reference: MEX/08/0131 Date: 31/01/2008 EXME08 / 31.01

    MIDDAY EXPRESS

    News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

    31/01/08


  • [01] I. Infringements

    [02] Free movement of services: Commission inquires into restrictions on the provision of certain gambling services in Sweden

    The European Commission has decided to send an official request for information on national legislation restricting the supply and promotion of certain gambling services to Sweden. In April 2006 the Commission sent a similar request for information to Sweden concerning sports betting (<a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/06/436&format=HTML&aged=1&language=EN&guiLanguage=en">IP/06/436). In this new case the Commission wishes to verify whether all national measures relating to poker games and tournaments are consistent and therefore compatible with Article 49 of the EC Treaty, which guarantees the free movement of services.

    [03] Free movement of services: Commission inquires into restrictions on gambling services in Germany

    The European Commission has decided to send to Germany an official request for information on national legislation restricting the supply of gambling services. The Commission wishes to verify whether the measures in question are compatible with Articles 43, 49 and 56 of the EC Treaty. This decision relates only to the compatibility of the national measures in question with existing EU law. It does not have any implications for the liberalisation of the market for gambling services generally, or for the entitlement of Member States to seek to protect the general interest, so long as this is done in a manner consistent with EU law i.e. that any measures are necessary, proportionate and non-discriminatory.

    [04] Free movement of capital: Commission refers Portugal to the European Court of Justice over special rights held by the State/public entities in Portugal Telecom

    The European Commission has decided to refer Portugal to the European Court of Justice as it considers that the special rights held by the State in Portugal Telecom discourage investment from other Member States in violation of EC Treaty rules.

    [05] Freedom of establishment: Commission inquires into restrictions on the establishment of retail facilities in Poland

    The European Commission has decided to send an official request for information on the Polish legislation restricting the establishment of retail facilities in Poland. The Commission wishes to verify whether the measures in question are compatible with Article 43 of the EC Treaty which guarantees the freedom of establishment. The letter of formal notice is the first step in an infringement procedure under Article 226 of the EC Treaty.

    [06] Free movement of services: infringement proceedings against Sweden

    The Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion to Sweden as it believes that restricting the choice of legal adviser for persons receiving legal aid to lawyers whose services will not lead to claims for additional costs is contrary to Article 49 of the EC Treaty.

    [07] Public procurement: infringement proceedings against Italy

    The European Commission has decided to refer Italy to the European Court of Justice over the procurement of waste management services by the city of Contigliano.

    [08] Public procurement: infringement proceedings against Germany

    The European Commission has decided to refer Germany to the European Court of Justice over a contract for the supply of a software application. The Commission has also decided to send a reasoned opinion to Germany concerning the award of a public service contract for the disposal of biodegradable and green wastes by the municipality of Bonn.

    [09] Internal Market: Commission acts to ensure Member States implement EU laws

    The European Commission has acted to ensure that the Capital Requirement Directives are implemented in Hungary and Spain and that the Fifth Motor Insurance Directive is implemented in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland and Malta.

    [10] Internal Market: Commission refers Czech Republic, Poland and Spain to Court of Justice over non-implementation of Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID)

    The European Commission has decided to refer three Member States to the European Court of Justice over non-implementation of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (2004/39/EC), known as 'MiFID', and its implementing Directive (2006/73/EC). The Member States concerned are the Czech Republic and Poland for Directive 2004/39/EC and the Czech Republic, Poland and Spain for Directive 2006/73/EC. The deadline for transposition of those measures expired on 31 January 2007.

    [11] State aid: Commission requests Austria to clarify financing of public service broadcaster ORF

    The European Commission has requested under EC Treaty state aid rules clarifications from Austria concerning the public service remit, financing and control of the public service broadcaster ORF. Following several complaints, the Commission has come to the preliminary view that the current financing system is no longer in line with the EU's state aid rules. The Austrian authorities now have the opportunity to submit their comments and to propose changes to the funding system.

    [12] VAT- Commission tackles Germany over taxation of withdrawals for private use of immovable property from business assets

    The European Commission has decided to send Germany a formal request to change its law regarding the VAT taxation of withdrawals for private use of immovable property from business assets. The withdrawal of land or buildings from business assets is subject to VAT pursuant to German administrative instructions while the Commission opines that they should be VAT exempt.

    [13] Direct taxation: Commission takes steps against Belgium for failure to adopt national implementing measures of the Merger Directive

    The European Commission has formally requested Belgium to transpose into national law the 2005 Directive (<a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/05/193&format=HTML&aged=1&language=EN&guiLanguage=en">IP/05/193) amending the Mergers Directive and to communicate the national implementing measures. The request takes the form of a ‘reasoned opinion’ (second step of the infringement procedure provided for in article 226 of the EC Treaty). If the relevant national legislation is not amended in order to comply with the reasoned opinion, the Commission may decide to refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.

    [14] State aid: Commission requests Italy to respect Court rulings on recovery of incompatible state aid

    The European Commission has formally requested Italy to implement two European Court of Justice decisions ordering the recovery of illegal and incompatible state aid. Although the relevant ECJ judgements date back to 2004 and 2006, the Italian authorities have still not notified the Commission that the recovery has been successfully completed. The Commission's requests take the form of 'reasoned opinions', the second step of infringement proceedings for failure to respect a Court judgement (Article 228 of the EC Treaty). If Italy continues to fail to comply with the ECJ decisions, the Commission may refer it to the Court for a second time and request the ECJ to impose fines until the aid has been fully recovered. These fines can take the form of periodic penalty payments, lump sums or both (see also <a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/05/193&format=HTML&aged=1&language=EN&guiLanguage=en">MEMO/05/482).

    [15] VAT – Commission takes steps against Austria, Malta and Finland as regards the inclusion of the car registration tax in the amount on which VAT is levied in the cases of supplies of road vehicles

    The European Commission has formally requested Austria, Malta and Finland to change their legislation as regards the inclusion of the amount of the car registration tax within the amount on which VAT is levied in the case of supply of road vehicles. The Commission considers that the registration tax should not be included in the taxable amount of VAT. The requests take the form of a reasoned opinion (second step of the infringement procedure provided for in article 226 of the EC Treaty).

    [16] VAT: The Commission takes Finland to the Court of Justice on excluding the services supplied by public legal aid offices from the scope of VAT

    The Commission has decided to bring Finland before the Court of Justice with regard to its legislation excluding from the scope of VAT the services supplied by public legal aid offices.

    [17] VAT: Commission refers the UK to the Court and launches infringement proceedings against Spain concerning the refund of VAT to non established taxable persons

    The European Commission has decided to refer the UK to the European Court of Justice following its refusal to amend its legislation concerning the refund of VAT borne by taxable persons not established in the EU. It has also requested Spain to change its administrative practice concerning the refund of VAT to taxable persons established in a Member State of the Community other than Spain.

    [18] Telecoms Rules: Commission refers Poland and Belgium to the European Court of Justice

    In a new round of infringement proceedings for Telecoms Rules, the European Commission has decided to refer two cases to the European Court of Justice, and opened two new infringement proceedings. Three reasoned opinions, the second stage of an infringement proceeding, have also been sent and eight infringement cases are now closed. The most important issue of this round of telecoms infringement proceedings is the independence of national telecoms regulators.

    [19] Taxation of outbound dividends: Commission takes steps against Germany, Estonia and the Czech Republic

    The European Commission has sent requests for information in the form of letters of formal notice (the first step of the infringement procedure of Article 226 of the EC Treaty) to Germany and Estonia about their rules under which dividends (and in the case of Germany also interest) paid to foreign pension funds may be taxed more heavily than dividends (and interest) paid to domestic pension funds. It also sent a letter of formal notice to the Czech Republic about its rules under which dividends paid to foreign companies are taxed more heavily than dividends paid to domestic companies. Germany, Estonia and the Czech Republic are asked to reply within two months.

    [20] Direct taxation: Commission requests Germany to end discriminatory rules applied to non-resident taxpayers (mainly artists, sportsmen and journalists)

    By a Supplementary Reasoned Opinion under Article 226 of the EC Treaty, the European Commission has formally requested Germany to modify the withholding tax system applied at source on the income of certain categories of non-resident taxpayers – particularly artists, journalists and sportsmen. Following the Reasoned Opinion sent in March 2007 (see <a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/413&format=HTML&aged=1&language=EN&guiLanguage=en">IP/07/413), Germany introduced in April 2007 a restricted possibility to deduct business expenses from the gross income and increased the withholding tax rate from 25% to 40% in case business expenses were allowed for deduction. On the other hand, similar German resident tax payers are allowed to declare their net (deduction of business expenses taken into account) income annually.

    [21] TVA – La Commission traduit la France devant la Cour de justice pour sa législation concernant les taux de TVA appliqués aux opérations effectuées par les entreprises de pompes funèbres

    La Commission a décidé de traduire la France devant la Cour de justice en raison de l'application par la France de taux de TVA différents aux opérations réalisées par les entreprises de pompes funèbres, alors qu'il s'agit en réalité d'une seule et même prestation.

    [22] Direct taxation: Infringement proceedings against Germany for its discriminatory depreciation-rules applied to buildings situated abroad

    The European Commission has formally requested Germany to modify its legislation related to reducing-balance ("degressive") depreciation for wear and tear on buildings. According to German law, reduced balance depreciation is only applicable to buildings situated in Germany. The Commission considers this limitation incompatible with the principle of free movement of capital in the Internal Market.

    [23] Direct taxation: Commission takes Portugal to the Court due to its discriminatory 2005 tax amnesty legislation

    The European Commission has decided to refer Portugal to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) because its 2005 tax amnesty legislation, which provided regularization at a preferential penalty rate of 2.5% for investments in Portuguese government bonds (instead of 5% in any other assets). The Commission considers that the tax amnesty did not respect the free movement of capital given that it dissuaded regularizing assets in forms other than Portuguese government bonds.

    [24] Accises/Prix minimaux de vente au détail des cigarettes: La Commission traduit l'Autriche et l'Irlande devant la Cour de justice

    La Commission européenne a décidé de saisir la Cour de justice l'encontre de l'Autriche et de l'Irlande 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 des Communautés européennes, que ces prix minimaux sont contraires la législation communautaire, faussent la concurrence, et ne bénéficient qu'aux fabricants, en protégeant leurs marges bénéficiaires. Pour atteindre l'objectif de réduction de la consommation de tabac, la Commission préconise une augmentation des droits d'accises sur les cigarettes.

    [25] VAT – Commission takes steps against Poland for the application of a reduced rate on supplies of certain children's items and the exemption applied to supplies of buildings

    The European Commission has formally requested Poland to amend its legislation with regard both to the reduced VAT rate it applies to the supplies of certain children's items and to the exemption applied to supplies of buildings or parts thereof. The requests take the form of reasoned opinions (second step of the infringement procedure provided for in Article 226 of the EC Treaty). If the relevant national provisions are not amended within two months in order to comply with the respective reasoned opinions, the Commission may decide to refer these matters to the European Court of Justice.

    [26] Waste water treatment: Commission gives France final warning

    The European Commission is sending France a final written warning alerting it that it will be taken to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for the second time and possibly face fines unless it quickly brings its waste water treatment up to EU standards. France is still not complying with the 1991 EU directive on urban waste water treatment, despite having been condemned by the ECJ for this.

    [27] Italy: Commission sends final warning over waste crisis in Campania region

    The European Commission is sending Italy a final written warning over the chronic waste crisis plaguing Naples and the rest of the Campania region. Since just before Christmas thousands of tonnes of garbage have been left uncollected by the roadside in Campania because waste disposal sites are full. This situation has led to incidents in which angry residents have set fire to waste piles in the streets. The uncollected waste and the open fires pose serious health and environmental risks through the spread of disease and pollution of air, water and land.

    [28] Environment: Commission to pursue legal action against Greece over infringements

    The European Commission has decided to take legal action against Greece in two cases where EU rules to protect the environment are being violated. The cases concern hazardous waste management and bird conservation. The Commission is taking Greece to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over its failure to adopt and implement appropriate legislation for hazardous waste treatment, and over a separate failure to fully transpose EU legislation for the protection of wild birds into Greek law. A separate case regarding sewage sludge treatment is being closed.

    [29] Nature protection: Commission takes Malta to court over spring hunting, closes Finnish case

    The European Commission is bringing Malta before the European Court of Justice for allowing the hunting of two species of birds in spring, a key period of migration and breeding. In another case, the Commission is halting legal proceedings against Finland on spring hunting following changes in its legislation to ensure that hunting would not be permitted during this period in the future.

    [30] Nature protection: Commission takes legal action against Portugal over protected bird areas

    The European Commission is taking legal action against Portugal for measures affecting two Special Protected Areas designated for the conservation and protection of wild birds. The measures violate the EU's directive on the conservation of wild birds.

    [31] Commission acts to close gaps in employment equality rules

    The Commission has today sent reasoned opinions to 11 Member States to fully implement EU rules prohibiting discrimination in employment and occupation on the grounds of religion and belief, age, disability and sexual orientation. The countries concerned – the Czech Republic, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, France, Italy, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Finland and Sweden – have two months to respond, failing which the Commission can decide to take them to the European Court of Justice. Also, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Germany and two complementary letters of formal notice to Latvia and Lithuania. The Employment Equality Directive (2000/78/EC) was agreed in 2000 with a deadline for implementation into national law of December 2003.

    [32] Exigences de sécurité dans les tunnels: la Commission envoie un avis motivé au Royaume-Uni

    La Commission européenne a envoyé aujourd'hui un avis motivé au Royaume- Uni, qui n'a pas remis le rapport obligatoire prévu par la directive 2004/54 concernant les exigences de sécurité minimales applicables aux tunnels du réseau routier transeuropéen. Cette directive fixe les exigences techniques permettant d'atteindre un niveau minimal de sécurité dans les tunnels et s'applique tous les tunnels du réseau routier transeuropéen d'une longueur supérieure 500 mètres.

    [33] Installations de réception portuaires pour les déchets d'exploitation des navires et les résidus de cargaison: la Commission décide de poursuivre la Belgique et l'Estonie devant la Cour européenne de justice

    La Commission européenne a décidé aujourd'hui de saisir la Cour européenne de justice contre la Belgique et l'Estonie pour défaut de se conformer la législation communautaire concernant l’amélioration de la disponibilité et de l’utilisation des installations de réception portuaires pour les déchets d'exploitation des navires et les résidus de cargaison.

    [34] Ceintures de sécurité et dispositifs de retenue pour enfants: la Commission envoie un avis motivé au Royaume-Uni

    La Commission européenne a décidé aujourd’hui d’adresser un avis motivé au Royaume-Uni au motif qu’il n’a pas transposé, Gibraltar, la directive sur l’utilisation obligatoire de ceintures de sécurité et de dispositifs de retenue pour enfants dans les véhicules, ni communiqué ses mesures d’exécution. Cette directive a pour but d’améliorer la sécurité des usagers de la route, notamment des enfants.

    [35] La Commission européenne adresse un avis motivé la République tchèque concernant l'adhésion l'accord de garanties conclu avec l'Agence internationale de l'énergie atomique

    La Commission européenne a décidé ce jour de transmettre un avis motivé la République tchèque pour non-adhésion l'accord entre la Communauté européenne de l'énergie atomique, ses États membres non dotés d'armes nucléaires et l'Agence internationale de l'énergie atomique (AIEA) relatif au traité sur la non-prolifération des armes nucléaires. Si la République tchèque ne prend pas les mesures nécessaires pour adhérer cet accord, la Commission saisira la Cour de justice.

    [36] La Commission demande la Pologne de corriger ses procédures d'octroi de droits l'égard des ressources en hydrocarbures

    La législation communautaire vise assurer l'accès et l'exercice non discriminatoire des activités de prospection, d'exploitation et d'extraction des hydrocarbures. La Commission a constaté certains défauts de conformité des mesures d'exécution prises par la République de Pologne. Des effets négatifs sont craindre en termes de concurrence dans le secteur.

    [37] Mergers: Commission opens infringement procedure against Spain for not lifting conditions imposed by CNE on acquisition of Endesa by Enel and Acciona

    The European Commission has formally requested Spain to explain why it has not withdrawn the conditions imposed by the Spanish Energy Regulator (CNE), as modified by the decision of the Spanish Minister of Industry and Tourism of 19 October 2007. The Commission declared the conditions to be contrary to EU law in a decision adopted on 5 December 2007 under Article 21 of the EU Merger Regulation (see <a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/413&format=HTML&aged=1&language=EN&guiLanguage=en">IP/07/1858). The request takes the form of a “letter of formal notice”, which is the first step of infringement proceedings under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If there is no satisfactory reply within 15 working days, the Commission may issue a formal request to Spain to comply with its decision. This request would be in the form of a ‘reasoned opinion’, the second stage of infringement proceedings.

    [38] Commission refers Poland to the ECJ over the ban of marketing of genetically modified seeds

    The European Commission decided today to refer Poland to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over the violation of the Community legislation relating to genetically modified seeds. The Polish Law on seeds and plant protection, as adopted on April 27, 2006, introduces a total ban of trade of GMO seeds varieties on Polish territory. As a result it is no longer possible to include varieties of genetically modified seeds in the National Register of Varieties. As the issues of use and trade of GM seeds is harmonised at Community level, the Commission informed Poland, by a letter of formal notice, dated October 18, 2006, and subsequently a reasoned opinion adopted on June 29, 2007, that the above mentioned measures constitute a violation of the provisions of articles 22 and 23 of Directive 2001/18/EC on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms, as well as of articles 4 and 16 of Directive 2002/53/EC on the common catalogue of varieties of agricultural plants. On the basis of the information provided by the Polish authorities in their replies to these letters, the Commission has no alternative but to refer Poland to the ECJ. In their reply, the Polish authorities confirm their intention to maintain the ban Polish authorities believe that the use of GM seeds encroaches on the sphere of public morality, an encroachment that would justify a total ban on GM seeds, on the basis of Article 30 of the Treaty. Restrictions based on the provisions of Article 30 can only be invoked in sectors that are not harmonised at the Community level, which is not the case with the marketing of seeds.

    [39] Commission refers Greece to the ECJ over violations of the animal by- products legislation

    The European Commission has decided to refer Greece to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over violations of the animal by-products (ABPs) legislation. Regulation (EC) No 1774/2002 provides stringent conditions throughout the food and feed chains governing the safe collection, transport, storage, handling, processing, use and disposal of animal by- products. Animal by-products (ABPs) are parts of a slaughtered animal that are not directly consumed by humans. The use of certain ABPs in animal feed can spread BSE and other animal diseases or spread chemical contaminants such as dioxins. ABPs can also pose a considerable threat to animal and human health via the environment, if not properly disposed of. To address these health risks, the Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Greece on 4 April 2006 for not properly addressing lack of effective supervision and official controls as well as deficiencies in the safe handling of ABPs. Moreover, a mission of the Food and Veterinary Office to Greece in 2005 revealed additional violations, which have been the subject matter of a parallel proceeding. In particular, the Commission sent a reasoned opinion on 12 October 2006 and a complementary reasoned opinion on 18 July 2007 to Greece for its failure to ensure that the establishments treating ABPs are approved in accordance with requirements of the Regulation as well as to address the deficient incineration of "specified risk material." The Commission deems that no appropriate measures have been taken to date to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Regulation. The referral of the infringement case before the Court of Justice may lead to declare that a Member State has failed to fulfil an obligation under the EC Treaty and, at a later stage, if the infringement persists, to condemn the Member State concerned to pay a lump sum and/or penalty payment.

    [40] II. Other news - Autres Nouvelles

    [41] January 2008: Economic sentiment decreases further in both the EU and the euro area

    In January, the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) decreased further in both the EU and the euro area. It fell by 2.6 points in the EU and by 1.7 points in the euro area, to 103.2 and 101.7 respectively. The indicator, which has been on a downward path since mid-2007, nevertheless still remains above its long-term average in both areas.

    [42] January 2008: Business Climate Indicator for the euro area declines further in January

    Following a decrease in December, the Business Climate Indicator (BCI) for the euro area continued to decline in January. The indicator is still at a relatively high level, which suggests that economic activity in the industry sector will continue to grow at a solid pace, despite the deceleration in industrial production growth registered in November 2007.

    [43] La promotion d'une «langue personnelle adoptive» renforce le multilinguisme et le dialogue interculturel, conclut le groupe des intellectuels créé l'initiative de la Commission européenne

    Le groupe des intellectuels constitué dans le but de conseiller la Commission en ce qui concerne la contribution du multilinguisme au dialogue interculturel a présenté aujourd'hui son rapport, intitulé «Un défi salutaire», au commissaire Orban. Dans le contexte de l'année européenne du dialogue interculturel 2008, ce groupe, présidé par M. Amin Maalouf, formule des propositions sur la manière dont les langues peuvent favoriser le dialogue interculturel et la compréhension mutuelle, établissant un lien clair entre diversité linguistique et intégration européenne.

    [44] State aid: Commission opens in-depth inquiry into financial measures granted to Finnish property company Ålands Industrihus

    The European Commission has opened a formal investigation to examine whether a number of measures granted by the Local Government of Åland in favour of Ålands Industrihus Ab (ÅI), a publicly owned commercial property company on the Åland islands in Finland, are compatible with EC Treaty state aid rules. The Commission is concerned that these measures were granted to ÅI under conditions that would not be acceptable to a prudent market economy investor. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives interested parties a possibility to submit their comments. It does not prejudge the outcome of the procedure.

    [45] State aid: Commission authorises €5.2 million restructuring aid for Spanish catering company Vanyera 3

    The European Commission has authorised, under EC Treaty state aid rules, restructuring aid amounting to €5.2 million, in the form of a guarantee, that the regional government of the Canary Islands intends to grant to the catering company Vanyera 3. After a revision of the restructuring plan to ensure the company's return to long-term viability and to establish compensatory measures limiting the distortion of competition, the Commission found the aid compatible with EC Treaty state aid rules.

    [46] State aid: Commission endorses €165.6 million regional aid to Qimonda for DRAM wafer project in Dresden, Germany

    The European Commission has authorised, under EC Treaty state aid rules, €165.6 million of regional aid, which the German authorities intend to grant to Qimonda for the conversion of its existing and the construction of a new DRAM wafer plant in Dresden. The Commission found the measure to be compatible with the Single Market, as it meets the requirements of the applicable 1998 Regional Aid Guidelines and the rules for regional aid for large investment projects of 2002 (see <a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/02/242&format=HTML&aged=1&language=EN&guiLanguage=en">IP/02/242). The high-tech investment project of €1.2 billion by Qimonda will significantly contribute to the regional development of Saxony and does not exceed any of the relevant assessment thresholds on aid intensity, market power and additional production capacity.

    [47] State aid: Commission authorises €70 million in aid from French Industrial Innovation Agency for “MINimage” R&D programme

    The European Commission has decided not to raise any objections under Community state aid rules to the €70 million financial aid granted by France to the MINimage research and development (R&D) programme. The programme, which is being implemented in association with Saint-Gobain, French research bodies and small businesses, is coordinated by the STMicroelectronics group. Its objective is to perfect a new generation of micro-cameras for mobile phones.

    [48] Consumers: Commission launches new system of Consumer Investigations

    EU Commissioner Meglena Kuneva today announced the launch of the new "Consumer Market Watch" process which investigates how markets in various sectors of the economy perform from a consumer perspective. There are two steps to the new process. The first is a comprehensive screening of retail markets against 5 key consumer indicators - prices, complaints, switching rates, satisfaction and safety - for patterns which could indicate market malfunctioning. These irregularities – which may be indicative of practices which distort consumer choice and hinder competition at the retail level - can then trigger the second phase of the process, an in- depth, targeted consumer market investigation and corrective actions. The far reaching new Consumer Market Watch process also benchmarks the strength of the consumer environment in different Member States and the degree of integration of the retail internal market.

    [49] Leonardo da Vinci programme strengthens employability, knowledge and self-confidence

    Participation in projects financed by the Leonardo Da Vinci vocational training programme brings substantial social and economic benefits, a recent study funded by the European Commission has shown. It demonstrates that international mobility of this kind is a strong incentive for personal, linguistic, social and professional development.

    [50] Euro area unemployment stable at 7.2%

    The euro area (EA13) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate stood at 7.2% in December 2007, unchanged compared with November. It was 7.8% in December 2006. The EU27 unemployment rate was 6.8% in December 2007, compared to 6.9% in November. It was 7.6% in December 2006. In December 2007, the lowest rates were registered in the Netherlands (2.9%) and Denmark (3.1%), and the highest in Slovakia (10.8%) and Spain (8.6%). These figures are published by Eurostat.

    [51] L'inflation de la zone euro estimée 3,2%

    Selon une estimation rapide publiée par Eurostat, le taux d'inflation annuel de la zone euro s'établirait 3,2% en janvier 2008. En décembre 2007, le taux était de 3,1%. L'inflation de la zone euro est mesurée par l'Indice des Prix la Consommation de l'Union Monétaire (IPCUM). Pour élaborer les estimations rapides de l'IPCUM, Eurostat utilise les informations préliminaires sur les prix du mois de référence des États membres pour lesquels les données sont disponibles, ainsi que des informations préliminaires sur les prix de l'énergie. La procédure d'estimation rapide de l'IPCUM combine des informations historiques avec des informations partielles sur les variations récentes de prix de manière obtenir un indice total pour la zone euro. Il n'existe pas de ventilation détaillée. L’expérience a montré que la procédure d'estimation était fiable (anticipation exacte du taux d'inflation dans 17 cas et différence de 0,1 dans 7 cas au cours des deux dernières années). Des informations complémentaires sont disponibles dans le communiqué d'Eurostat 113/2001 du 5 novembre 2001.

    [52] Commission clears acquisition of WPS and APP by Wacker Chemie

    The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of Wacker Polymer Systems GmbH & Co. KG (WPS) of Germany and Air Products Polymers Holdings, L.P. (APP) of the US by Wacker Chemie AG (Wacker), controlled by the Dr Alexander Wacker Familiengesellschaft mbH of Germany. Wacker is mainly active in the production and distribution of silicon wafers, silicones and materials such as silicon carbide and advanced ceramics. WPS produces powders based on vinyl acetate monomer. APP produces dispersions based on vinyl acetate monomer. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

    Autre matériel diffusé

    • Memo on Antitrust: Commission has carried out inspections in the ship classification sector

    • Memo on Portugal – Operational programme 2007-13: "Norte" region

    • Memo on New round of infringement proceedings under the EU telecoms rules: What are the issues?

    • Memo Directive "emploi" (2000/78/CE): liste des Etats membres auxquels un avis motivé ou mise en demeure sera envoyé

    • Memo on The Employment Equality Directive

    • Memo on EU Consumer MarketWatch. Questions & Answers.

    • Speech by President Barroso on "Europe – the Time has come for dynamic consolidation" From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at http://europa.eu.int/


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