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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 04-07-01

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] Commission urges Member States to speed up opening of electricity and gas markets
  • [02] Commission clears Statoil's sole control of Scandinavian petrol station chain SDS
  • [03] Commission clears joint control of Finnish software vendor Solid Information
  • [04] Taxation in the EU from 1995 to 2002 : EU25 overall tax burden decreased from 41.1% of GDP in 2001 to 40.4% in 2002 ; lower tax burden on average in the new Member States
  • [05] Mai 2004 : le ch√īmage dans la zone euro stable √ 9,0% ; l'UE25 en baisse √ 9,0%
  • [06] Commission welcomes Romania's decision on visa requirements for nationals of Serbia-Montenegro
  • [07] "No compulsory genetic testing for newborn babies in Europe", says Philippe Busquin
  • [08] Textiles and clothing : seven recommendations to improve the competitiveness of the EU industry
  • [09] High level meeting between Commission and WHO - signature of strategic partnership agreement on health in developing countries
  • [10] EU-ACP : EU supports Pacific Islands open Permanent Representation to the WTO in Geneva Midday Express of 2004-07-01 Reference: MEX/04/0701 Date: 01/07/2004 EXME04 / 1.7

    MIDDAY EXPRESS

    News from the Press and Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

    Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Général Presse etb

    Communication

    01/07/04


  • [01] Commission urges Member States to speed up opening of electricity and gas markets

    European legislation adopted last year sets 1 July 2004 as the date for full opening of the gas and electricity markets for all business consumers. From today millions of businesses throughout the enlarged EU should be able to benefit from competition for their energy supply. However the large majority of Member States are late in implementing this legislation and work still needs to be done to create a level playing field across the 25 Member States. "Member States agreed in 2003 on the legal framework for competitive and fair electricity and gas markets, including effective regulation, unbundling of networks and far reaching consumer protection. It is now up to them to live up to their responsibilities and fulfil the firm engagement they took to open the markets by this month", Vice-President of the European Commission Loyola de Palacio stated.

    [02] Commission clears Statoil's sole control of Scandinavian petrol station chain SDS

    The European Commission has authorised the acquisition by the Norwegian oil and gas producer Statoil of sole control over Statoil Detaljhandel Skandinavia AS, which operates a chain of retail stations selling fuel and other consumer products in Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

    [03] Commission clears joint control of Finnish software vendor Solid Information

    The European Commission has granted clearance under the Merger Regulation to the joint acquisition of the Finnish privately-owned company Solid Information Technologies Oy by investment funds Apax Europe IV, ultimately controlled by The Hirzell Trust, and the Finnish private equity investor CapMan Funds, controlled by CapMan Plc. (The operation, notified on 2 June 2004, was examined under the simplified merger review procedure).

    [04] Taxation in the EU from 1995 to 2002 : EU25 overall tax burden decreased from 41.1% of GDP in 2001 to 40.4% in 2002 ; lower tax burden on average in the new Member States

    According to Eurostat, in 2002, the overall tax burden (i.e. the total amount of taxes and social security contributions) in the EU25 stood at 40.4% of GDP. The tax-to-GDP ratio increased from 40.5% in 1995 to 41.8% in 1999, then declined steadily from 1999 to 2002. From 2000 these reductions in the majority of Member States have been partly due to reforms in tax systems, particularly through cuts in personal income tax rates and in social contributions. In 2002, as compared with 2001, the EU25 tax-to-GDP ratio decreased by 0.7 percentage points. In all ten new Member States (NMS), the tax-to-GDP ratio was lower in 2002 than the EU15 average (40.5%), ranging from 28.8% in Lithuania to 39.8% in Slovenia.

    [05] Mai 2004 : le ch√īmage dans la zone euro stable √ 9,0% ; l'UE25 en baisse √ 9,0%

    Le taux de ch√īmage de la zone euro, corrig√© des variations saisonni√®res, s'est √©lev√© √ 9,0% en mai 2004, inchang√© par rapport au mois d'avril, selon les donn√©es publi√©es aujourd'hui par Eurostat. Il √©tait de 8,9% en mai 2003. Le taux de ch√īmage de l'UE25 a atteint 9,0% en mai 2004, en baisse par rapport √ avril, o√ļ il √©tait de 9,1%. Il √©tait √©galement de 9,1% en mai 2003. En mai 2004, les taux les plus bas ont √©t√© enregistr√©s √ Chypre, au Luxembourg et en Autriche (4,2% chacun), en Irlande (4,5%), au Royaume-Uni (4,7% en mars) et aux Pays-Bas (4,9% en avril). Les taux de ch√īmage √©taient les plus √©lev√©s en Pologne (18,9%), en Slovaquie (16, 4%), en Lituanie (11,5%) et en Espagne (11,1%).

    [06] Commission welcomes Romania's decision on visa requirements for nationals of Serbia-Montenegro

    European Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Antonio Vitorino stated : "By requiring visas for Serbia-Montenegro nationals, Romania honours its commitments. It is clear that Romania will have to align its legislation with EU legislation ahead of accession. That obviously includes the Visa Regulation (539/2001) and its list of countries for which a visa requirement is imposed, which includes Serbia and Montenegro. Romania has indeed not only to adopt the necessary legal provisions but also to put in place the necessary administrative structures in advance of accession in order to ensure effective implementation upon accession. With the decision to impose such a visa requirement from 1 July 2004, Romania is honouring one of its commitments undertaken in the context of the justice and home affairs negotiations, which has to be seen as a relevant step towards alignment with the acquis in this field."

    [07] "No compulsory genetic testing for newborn babies in Europe", says Philippe Busquin

    On 30 June, European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin rejected stories in several media claiming he had called for genetic testing of all newborn babies in Europe. He said : "I have never advocated any such point of view. It is not the role nor the intention of the Commission to ask EU Member States to impose universal genetic screening of babies. Genetic testing is a matter of free choice and of ethical rules being decided by EU Member States. The Commission does not regulate ethics. I certainly welcome the contribution of the expert group on genetic testing which presented its report to the Commission on May 6-7, 2004. But its recommendations are simple suggestions ‚Äď and they don't call for universal genetic testing of babies! Genetic testing can certainly help in the early detection of illnesses, but can never be made compulsory. European citizens rightly expect that the results of genetic tests are reliable and that their genetic information is used properly and following strict quality and ethical standards. The Commission is in particularly studying the issue of quality and reliability of this new technology, that must be used in a responsible and voluntary way and in a climate of confidence with the public at large."

    [08] Textiles and clothing : seven recommendations to improve the competitiveness of the EU industry

    The high level group on textiles meeting on 30 June has adopted seven recommendations to improve the competitiveness of the EU textiles and clothing industry and ensure that it keeps its status of world leader. Participants gathering in Brussels included European Commissioners for Trade Pascal Lamy and for Enterprise and Information Society Erkki Liikanen, representatives from EU Member States (France, Italy, Germany and Portugal), Members of the European Parliament as well as representatives from industry, retailers, distributors, European textiles associations, trade unions and local textile and clothing associations. The Commission will prepare a report to the Council by September, with proposals for implementing the recommendations adopted by the High Level Group.

    [09] High level meeting between Commission and WHO - signature of strategic partnership agreement on health in developing countries

    On Friday 2 July, a high level meeting between the European Commission and the Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Lee Jong- Wook will take place in Brussels. Dr¬ Lee will meet with Commissioners David Byrne, Poul Nielson, Margot Wallstr√∂m, Pascal Lamy and Pavel Telińćcka. The high level meeting takes place in the framework of the enhanced cooperation between WHO and the EU which was put in place in 2001. The areas of cooperation include : health information ; health monitoring and disease surveillance ; communicable disease surveillance ; environment ; health related research and technological development ; mobilising and coordinating resources ; seconding staff. At 12h30 a Strategic Partnership agreement to reinforce joint efforts to reduce poverty and improve health conditions in developing countries will be signed. Commissioners Nielson and Byrne are co-signatories. Journalists are invited to attend and will have an opportunity to question participants at 12h30 in room 5A BREY.

    [10] EU-ACP : EU supports Pacific Islands open Permanent Representation to the WTO in Geneva

    This week the Pacific Islands Forum countries opened their permanent representation to the WTO in Geneva. The Pacific Office has been supported by a ‚ā¨280,000 grant from the European Development Fund. European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said : "The WTO negotiations have to be accessible to all, including the smaller members who have special needs and constraints. The establishment of the Pacific Office will help the Pacific region to be better represented in WTO. It will also facilitate the active participation of the small islands and economies in our joint efforts to move the Doha Agenda forward." The Pacific Office will be the regional representation of 14 Pacific ACP countries in Geneva (Cook Islands, Fed. States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu). It will strengthen the capacity of the currently three Pacific WTO members - Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands - and three observers - Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu - to participate in WTO. None of these countries is currently permanently represented in Geneva. Moreover the office will serve as an information channel for the other countries in the Pacific region not currently members or observers. 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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