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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 08-12-04

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] Convention to ban cluster munitions opened for signature
  • [02] Commission proposes new rights for bus and maritime passengers
  • [03] Antitrust: Commission consults on review of rules for assessing horizontal cooperation agreements
  • [04] Air quality: Commission proposes legislation to limit harmful vapour emissions from service stations
  • [05] First estimates for the third quarter of 2008 - Euro area and EU27 GDP down by 0.2%
  • [06] Commission clears acquisition of HVB by RBSK Group, DZ Bank Group and RZB Group
  • [07] Commission authorises a GM soybean
  • [08] Air passengers’ rights: Commission reiterates its priorities and highlights its planned action for 2009
  • [09] Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Fortis' Belgian and Luxembourg assets by BNP Paribas subject to divestment of BNP's Belgian consumer credit subsidiary
  • [10] State aid: Commission clears state aid to rescue and restructure Fortis Bank and Fortis Bank Luxemburg
  • [11] Autre matériel diffusé Midday Express of 2008-12-04 Reference: MEX/08/1204 Date: 04/12/2008 EXME08 / 04.12

    MIDDAY EXPRESS

    News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

    04/12/08


  • [01] Convention to ban cluster munitions opened for signature

    The Convention banning the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians opened for signature in an official ceremony hosted in Oslo. Norway has been one of the driving States behind the negotiation process which, started only last year, successfully culminated in the adoption of the Convention in Dublin last May by 107 States, including 21 EU Member States. The Convention will enter into force once at least 30 countries have ratified it. The European Commission, one of the world’s foremost donors to mine action for the last ten years, has been assisting countries and populations afflicted by cluster munitions as part of the EC’s de-mining, mine risk education and victim assistance programmes since 1998.

    [02] Commission proposes new rights for bus and maritime passengers

    The Commission adopted today two legislative proposals establishing sets of rights for passengers using bus and maritime services on both domestic and international routes. Rights include minimum rules on information for all passengers before and during their journey, assistance and compensation in the event of interruptions of journeys, measures in the event of delays and specific assistance for persons with reduced mobility. Like in the air and rail sectors, proposals foresee independent national bodies for settlement of disputes.

    [03] Antitrust: Commission consults on review of rules for assessing horizontal cooperation agreements

    The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the functioning of the current regime for the assessment of horizontal cooperation agreements under EU antitrust rules, in particular the Specialisation and Research & Development Block Exemption Regulations and the Horizontal Guidelines. The purpose of the review is to evaluate how these rules have worked in practice. The Commission welcomes comments up to 30th January 2009.

    [04] Air quality: Commission proposes legislation to limit harmful vapour emissions from service stations

    The Commission today proposed legislation to ensure that harmful petrol vapour which escapes during the refuelling of cars at service stations is captured and recycled. Petrol pumps in many service stations across the EU will need to be fitted with equipment that can recover 85% or more of this vapour. Petrol vapour contains benzene, which is known to cause cancer, and contributes to the formation of ground-level ozone ('smog'), one of the air pollutants most damaging to human health and the environment.

    [05] First estimates for the third quarter of 2008 - Euro area and EU27 GDP down by 0.2%

    GDP declined by 0.2% in both the euro area and the EU27 during the third quarter of 2008, compared with the previous quarter, according to first estimates released by Eurostat. In the second quarter of 2008, growth rates were -0.2% in the euro area and 0.0% in the EU27. Compared with the third quarter of 2007, seasonally adjusted GDP rose by 0.6% in the euro area and by 0.8% in the EU27, after +1.4% and +1.7% respectively for the previous quarter.

    [06] Commission clears acquisition of HVB by RBSK Group, DZ Bank Group and RZB Group

    The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of HVB Banca pentru Locuinte SA (HVB) of Romania by Raiffeisen Bausparkasse GmbH, belonging to the RBSK Group of Austria, Bausparkasse Schwäbisch Hall AG, controlled by the Deutsche Zentral-Genossenschaftsbank bank group (DZ) of Germany, and Raiffeisen Bank SA (RBRO) of Romania, controlled by the Raiffeisen Zentralbank Österreich Aktiengesellschaft group (RZB) of Austria. RBSK provides a saving and lending business for housing purposes. DZ provides banking, insurance and asset management services. RZB is a commercial and investment bank which owns RBRO, the universal bank in Romania. HVB provides a saving and lending business for housing purposes. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

    [07] Commission authorises a GM soybean

    The European Commission adopted today a Decision authorising GM soybean MON89788, also known as "Roundup Ready 2" soybean, for import and processing and food and feed uses. The Commission adopted the decision following an application submitted by the food biotechnology company Monsanto and a favourable scientific assessment from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which addressed all safety concerns. EFSA concluded that there is no risk to human or animal health or to the environment. MON89788 soybean underwent the full authorisation procedure set out in the EU legislation. As Member States failed to return a qualified-majority decision for or against this authorisation in the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH), and then in the Council, the dossier was sent back to the Commission for decision. The authorisation is valid for 10 years, and any products produced from this GM soybean will be subject to the EU's strict labelling and traceability rules. For more information, see: <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/biotechnology/index_en.htm">http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/biotechnology/index_en.htm

    Rediffusion

    [08] Air passengers’ rights: Commission reiterates its priorities and highlights its planned action for 2009

    On the Commission’s initiative, a meeting on the rights of passengers travelling by air was held on 2 and 3 December. The event, which brought together the trade and national administrations, reviewed the application of European regulations. The Commission announced its intention to adopt the corrective measures required early next year.

    [09] Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Fortis' Belgian and Luxembourg assets by BNP Paribas subject to divestment of BNP's Belgian consumer credit subsidiary

    The European Commission has cleared, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of the Belgian and Luxembourg subsidiaries of Fortis Holding, namely Fortis Bank Belgium, Fortis Banque Luxembourg, and Fortis Insurance Belgium, by BNP Paribas, a bank with retail operations primarily in France. This clearance is subject to the full divestment of BNP Paribas Personal Finance Belgium SA/NV ("PFB"), formerly Cetelem Belgium, including its stake in Fidexis and in the credit processing venture Cetelem Services (an EEIG), to which, inter alia, KBC Bank is also a party. The Commission's concerns were related to the issuing of credit cards in Belgium and partly in Luxembourg, where the merged entity would have become by far the largest player, thereby reducing clients' choice for credit cards. To address the Commission's concerns, BNP offered to divest entirely its Belgian credit card arm, PFB. In light of this commitment, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.

    [10] State aid: Commission clears state aid to rescue and restructure Fortis Bank and Fortis Bank Luxemburg

    The European Commission has approved under EC Treaty state aid rules, a support package granted between 29 September and 5 October 2008 by Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands to Fortis Bank and Fortis Bank Luxemburg following the crisis on the financial markets. Given Fortis Bank's size, market share in the retail sector and the prevailing crisis on the financial markets, the bank's collapse would have given rise to a systemic risk to the financial sector. The measures have restored the long term viability of the bank and are limited to the minimum necessary. To limit distortions of competition, Fortis Bank has, in particular, sold its Dutch operations, which accounted for 40% of its size, and thereafter was sold to BNP Paribas. The aid is therefore, compatible with the EU rules on state aid (Article 87(3)(b) of the EC Treaty), as explained in the Communication on how these rules apply to banks in times of crisis (see <a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/1495&format=HTML&aged=0&language=FR&guiLanguage=en">IP/08/1495).

    [11] Autre matériel diffusé

    • Memo Questions and answers - Bus and maritime passenger rights proposal

    • Memo on State aid: Overview of national rescue measures and guarantee schemes

    • Discours du Président Barroso 'Préparation du Conseil Européen' en Session plénière du Parlement européen, Bruxelles

    • Discours du Vice-président Tajani 'Droits des passagers aériens', Bruxelles

    • Speech by Commissioner McCreevy 'Financial market controversies and the outlook for next year', London – Embargo 18h30 CET

    • Speech by Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner 'Energy security: a strategic challenge for the EU's external relations in the 21st century', Brussels – in German only

    A disposition au secrétariat de Jonathan Todd (BERL 03/315):

    Notification préalable d'une opération de concentration :

    APMM/ Broström From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at http://europa.eu.int/


    Midday Express: News from the EU Commission Spokesman's Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
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