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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 09-02-11

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] 112: Commission says EU single emergency number must get multilingual
  • [02] State aid: Commission approves Swedish scheme to recapitalise banks
  • [03] State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into Dutch tax exemption for natural gas used for production of ceramic products
  • [04] State aid: Commission finds aid to BT partially unlawful and orders recovery
  • [05] State aid: Commission endorses €39 million regional investment aid to ersol Thin Film GmbH for production of thin-film solar modules in Erfurt, Germany
  • [06] Commission clears Dutch regulator OPTA's proposal to enhance competition in the broadcasting markets
  • [07] State aid: Commission endorses €56 million aid to Sunfilm for production of thin-film solar modules in Saxony, Germany
  • [08] Huit aéroports polonais bénéficieront d'aides d'état
  • [09] Austrian Airlines: The Commission opens the formal investigation procedure regarding its sale to Lufthansa and plans of Austrian Government for its restructuring
  • [10] La Commission autorise l'aide de la région flamande en faveur de la construction d'un terminal intermodal Anvers
  • [11] European Commissioner Louis Michel welcomes Zimbabwe power-sharing government
  • [12] Commission supports clean and sustainable transport in Europe's cities
  • [13] Decent work can be part of the solution to the economic crisis
  • [14] Joe Borg visits Lower Normandy
  • [15] Including Aviation into the ETS: Commission announces list of aircraft operators and their responsible Member States
  • [16] Five finalists announced for the European Union prize for contemporary architecture - Mies van der Rohe Award 2009
  • [17] Autre matériel diffusé Midday Express of 2009-02-11 Reference: MEX/09/0211 Date: 11/02/2009 EXME09 / 11.02

    MIDDAY EXPRESS

    News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

    11/02/09


  • [01] 112: Commission says EU single emergency number must get multilingual

    Since December 2008, EU citizens can contact emergency services from anywhere in the European Union by dialing 112, the EU-wide emergency number, free of charge from both fixed and mobile phones. But, only one in four Europeans knows that this life-saving number exists in other Member States and almost three in ten 112 callers in other countries have encountered language problems. Today the Commission, along with the European Parliament and the Council, declared February 11 "European 112 Day" to spread the word about 112 and push national authorities to make the EU's single emergency number more multilingual.

    [02] State aid: Commission approves Swedish scheme to recapitalise banks

    The European Commission has approved, under EC Treaty state aid rules, a Swedish aid scheme intended to bolster the financing of the real economy by providing capital to banks. The scheme is in line with the Commission’s guidance on support measures for banks during the financial crisis (see IP/08/1495 and IP/08/1901). In particular, the measures are limited in time and require a significant proportion of private investment alongside with the state intervention. The Commission therefore concluded that the scheme is an adequate means to remedy a serious disturbance of the Swedish economy and as such in line with Article 87.3.b of the EC Treaty.

    [03] State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into Dutch tax exemption for natural gas used for production of ceramic products

    The European Commission has opened a formal investigation under EC Treaty State aid rules into a tax exemption by the Dutch State for the delivery of natural gas used in installations for the production of ceramic products. As the proposed tax exemption only regards natural gas used by the Dutch ceramic industry, the Commission is of the preliminary view that this measure confers a selective advantage on the ceramic industry and would therefore constitute state aid. Such operating aid can be authorised only in exceptional circumstances, for example when it is related to environmental protection. At this stage The Netherlands has not demonstrated compliance with the EU Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection (see IP/08/80 and MEMO/08/31). The opening of an in-depth investigation gives The Netherlands and interested parties the possibility to comment on the proposed measure.

    [04] State aid: Commission finds aid to BT partially unlawful and orders recovery

    The European Commission has concluded that a UK Crown guarantee covering the pension liabilities of British Telecom plc on the EU telecommunications markets is partially unlawful under EC Treaty state aid rules. The Commission does not call into question the safeguards for BT's employees at the time of privatisation, introduced by the guarantee. However, as a consequence of the guarantee, BT is partially exempted from certain common law financial obligations, such as the payment of a levy to the Pension Protection Fund since 2005. Following an in-depth investigation, opened in November 2007 (see IP/07/1802), he Commission concluded that this exemption conferred an unfair competitive advantage to BT that constitutes state aid. Such aid cannot be justified under EU rules because it merely dispenses BT from charges that its competitors have to pay. The UK must therefore recover the aid by ensuring that a full levy is paid to the Fund.

    [05] State aid: Commission endorses €39 million regional investment aid to ersol Thin Film GmbH for production of thin-film solar modules in Erfurt, Germany

    The European Commission has authorised, under EC Treaty state aid rules, €39.72 million of regional investment aid, which the German authorities intend to grant to ersol Thin Film GmbH for the production of thin-film solar modules in Erfurt, Germany. The project involves investments of €371 million and is expected to create 461 direct new jobs in the region. The Commission found the measure to be compatible with the requirements of the EU Regional Aid Guidelines 2007-2013 (see <a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/05/1653&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en">IP/05/1653), and in particular with its rules on large investment projects, as ersol Thin Film would not gain significant new market shares and the investment takes place in a fast growing market, the photovoltaic sector. Therefore the positive impact of the investment on regional development can be considered to outweigh the potential distortions of competition.

    [06] Commission clears Dutch regulator OPTA's proposal to enhance competition in the broadcasting markets

    The European Commission, taking into account the specific situation of the Dutch market, cleared, in a letter published today, the Dutch telecoms regulator's proposal to impose regulatory obligations on the four largest cable operators in the Netherlands, Ziggo, UPC, Delta and CAIW. These obligations will allow alternative providers of radio and TV ('RTV') signals to compete more effectively with the broadcasting offers over cable. In addition, Ziggo and UPC will have to allow other market parties to sell the formers' analogue radio and TV package, allowing the latter to service consumers. At the same time, the Commission is inviting OPTA to avoid prolonging analogue transmission services as this could lead to inefficient investments and limit the development of innovative digital services and infrastructures. OPTA should implement swiftly and effectively the detailed terms and conditions of the remedies required in order to generate a market structure which is more prone to competitive dynamics.

    [07] State aid: Commission endorses €56 million aid to Sunfilm for production of thin-film solar modules in Saxony, Germany

    The European Commission has authorised, under EC Treaty state aid rules, €56 million of regional investment aid, which the German authorities grant to Sunfilm for the production of thin-film solar modules in Saxony, Germany. The project involves a total investment of €393 million and is expected to create at least 380 new jobs in the region. The Commission found the measure to be compatible with the requirements of the Regional Aid Guidelines 2007-2013 (see IP/05/1653) and in particular with the rules on large investment projects, as Sunfilm would not gain significant new market shares and the investment takes place in a fast growing market, the photovoltaic sector. Therefore the positive impact of the investment on regional development can be considered to outweigh the potential distortions of competition.

    [08] Huit aéroports polonais bénéficieront d'aides d'état

    La Commission européenne a autorisé aujourd'hui un régime d'aides au profit de huit aéroports polonais. Cofinancé par le Fond de cohésion hauteur de 251,5 millions d'Euros, ce programme d'aides permettra, entre autres, la construction de nouveaux terminaux et la modernisation des pistes d'atterrissage.

    [09] Austrian Airlines: The Commission opens the formal investigation procedure regarding its sale to Lufthansa and plans of Austrian Government for its restructuring

    The European Commission has today decided to open the formal investigation procedure into the privatisation and restructuring of Austrian Airlines whereby it will be taken over by Lufthansa. The Commission expresses doubts that the price to be paid by Lufthansa reflects the market price for what is being sold, that the Austrian State has acted as private investor and whether the restructuring plan as notified is in accordance with the Community framework for rescue and restructuring of firms in difficulty.

    [10] La Commission autorise l'aide de la région flamande en faveur de la construction d'un terminal intermodal Anvers

    La Commission européenne a approuvé aujourd’hui une aide d'Etat destinée financer partiellement la construction d'un terminal intermodal pour conteneurs continentaux dans l'enceinte du port d'Anvers.

    [11] European Commissioner Louis Michel welcomes Zimbabwe power-sharing government

    European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, has welcomed today's inauguration of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe as part of the power- sharing agreement entered into with President Mugabe.

    [12] Commission supports clean and sustainable transport in Europe's cities

    The European Commission's Directorate-General for Energy and Transport presented more details today on a number of significant actions aimed at improving the sustainability of transport in our towns and cities at a Conference on Urban Mobility, held in Brussels in association with the European Sustainable Energy Week. More than 300 participants from 50 countries, including representatives from public authorities, industry, academia and civil society attended this Conference on Urban Mobility to consider how best to provide high quality urban transport for citizens and businesses in the years to come. Aimed at improving mobility in European cities, these actions include the preparation of a new Civitas programme as well as the launching of studies on so-called 'green zones' and the integration of different transport modes in urban areas. Another action is the creation of an internet site to help public authorities in their purchases of clean and energy efficient vehicles. Vice-Presented Antonio Tajani had presented these proposals at a Civitas Conference on 21 January 2008 in Toulouse (See <a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/09/17&format=HTML&aged=0&language=FR&guiLanguage=en">SPEECH/09/17). For more information visit - <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/transport/urban/index_en.htm">http://ec.europa.eu/transport/urban/index_en.htm and http://www.civitas.eu

    [13] Decent work can be part of the solution to the economic crisis

    Vladimír `pidla, EU Commissioner for Employment, will today address the International Labour Organisation's 8th Regional Meeting of Ministers from Europe and Central Asia in Lisbon, Portugal. Delegates will examine the employment and social consequences of the economic crisis and the Commissioner will set out his ideas on limiting the impact of the crisis on the most vulnerable: decent work can be part of the solution.

    [14] Joe Borg visits Lower Normandy

    European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Joe Borg will visit the French region of Lower Normandy (Basse-Normandie) tomorrow and Friday. He will meet the President of the region, Mr Laurent Beauvais, the Prefect, Mr Christian Leyrit, members of the research community and fishermen. On Thursday , afternoon, the Commissioner will participate in a debate at the University of Caen on maritime research, where he will outline the innovative EU strategy for maritime research. He will also visit the University's Biotechnology Marine Laboratory. The visit will be followed by a joint press conference with President Beauvais (at the University). Later in the afternoon, Commissioner Borg will meet with the Bureau of the Atlantic Arc Commission of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe (CPMR). He will update Bureau members on new developments in relation to the integrated maritime policy, and the need to reform the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). On Friday morning, the Commissioner will visit the port of Barfleur, followed by a tour of Europe's largest mollusc hatchery at Gateville. The upcoming CFP reform and topics of interest to the sector will be discussed with fishermen and regional leaders in Cherbourg. Mr Borg will explain his vision for a policy that is based on a simpler and more effective system, gives greater ownership to stakeholders, strengthens the role of regional stakeholders and reinforces the external dimension of the policy. A press conference will be held following the meeting (Cherbourg City Hall).

    [15] Including Aviation into the ETS: Commission announces list of aircraft operators and their responsible Member States

    Today the Commission published a list of aircraft operators to be included in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme as of 1 January 2012. The list is part of the implementation of the legislation to include aircraft operators in the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Aviation activities of aircraft operators that operate flights arriving at and departing from Community aerodromes will be included in the scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community. Each aircraft operator is covered by a single Member State, which will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the requirements of the legislation. Member States are responsible for the aircraft operators to which they issued an operating licence and for the aircraft operators whose emissions in 2006 were mostly attributable to that Member State. The list was drawn up together with EUROCONTROL, the international organisation responsible for European air traffic management. The Commission will update the list each year by 1 February to include aircraft operators that have subsequently performed an aviation activity as defined in the legislation. Air transport plays a major role in the EU economy, but while the EU's total greenhouse gas emissions are falling, aviation's share of overall EU-greenhouse gas emissions is growing faster than any other sector and risks undermining the progress achieved through emission cuts in other sectors. The Commission now invites feedback from Member States and other relevant stakeholders by 31 March 2009 and will publish a revised list if necessary.

    Further information: For more details on aviation's inclusion in the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme, please visit: <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/aviation_en.htm">http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/aviation_en.htm

    Rediffusion

    [16] Five finalists announced for the European Union prize for contemporary architecture - Mies van der Rohe Award 2009

    The European Commission and the Fundació Mies van der Rohe today announced the finalists for the 2009 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture - Mies van der Rohe Award, one of the most important and prestigious prizes on the international architecture scene. The winner of the Mies van der Rohe prize will be announced in May in Barcelona.

    [17] Autre matériel diffusé

    • Memo on 112, the single European emergency number: Frequently Asked Questions

    • Speech by Commissioner Borg: "Upcoming reform of the Common Fisheries Policies"

    • Speech by Commissioner Dimas: "The competitiveness of the car industry and climate change"

    • Speech by Commissioner Rehn: "European elections and the challenges ahead" From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at http://europa.eu.int/


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