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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 04-07-20

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

[I] RĂ©sultats de la Commission du 19 juillet 2004 -

  • [01] La Commission demande Ă la Cour de justice europĂ©enne de dĂ©terminer si Mme Cresson a manquĂ© Ă ses obligations de membre de la Commission
  • [02] GMOs : Commission authorises import of GM-maize for use in animal feed
  • [03] Commission decides not to oppose recorded music JV between Sony and Bertelsmann
  • [04] Ukraine : Commission approves an amendment to a Euratom Loan Decision for the safety upgrade of two nuclear units
  • [05] La Commission autorise partiellement des aides au secteur de la pĂŞche français
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [06] New Directive to improve public participation in environmental impact assessments
  • [07] Questions phytosanitaires et commerce mondial : l'UE adhère Ă de nouvelles règles internationales
  • [08] Commission clears acquisition of Alcatel's Mobile Phone Division by TCL Communication Technology
  • [09] Savings taxation : Commission welcomes Council agreement on 1 July 2005 application date
  • [10] Passenger car taxation : public consultation on proposals for Community legislation
  • [11] Green light for €182.9 million for agriculture and rural development in Slovakia
  • [12] Go ahead for €3.59 billion rural development plan for Poland
  • [13] Go ahead for €754.14 million rural development plan in Hungary
  • [14] Green light for €353.1 million rural development plan in the Republic of Slovenia
  • [15] Green light for €561.8 million for rural development plan of Slovakia
  • [16] La Commission engage des poursuites judiciaires contre l'Espagne pour infractions au droit europĂ©en de l'environnement
  • [17] Luxembourg : Commission pursues legal action in six cases of breaches of EU environmental law
  • [18] Greece : Commission pursues legal action in nine cases for breach of EU environmental law
  • [19] Enhanced EU-Japan cooperation on aerospace
  • [20] Pascal Lamy in Turkey to discuss bilateral trade issues
  • [21] Chris Patten to visit Sarajevo and Mostar on 22nd and 23rd July
  • [22] Enjoy your holidays - and enjoy your rights! Ten basic principles of consumer protection
  • [23] Selon la Commission, l'euro a connu un succès au cours de ses cinq premières annĂ©es d'existence, mais d'importantes difficultĂ©s l'attendent
  • [24] New study on fiscal policy in EMU : rules, discretion and political incentives
  • [25] Autre matĂ©riel diffusĂ© Midday Express of 2004-07-20 Reference: MEX/04/0720 Date: 20/07/2004 EXME04 / 20.7

    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

    20/07/04


  • [I] RĂ©sultats de la Commission du 19 juillet 2004 -

    Outcome of Commission meeting of 19 July 2004

    [01] La Commission demande à la Cour de justice européenne de déterminer si Mme Cresson a manqué à ses obligations de membre de la Commission

    La Commission européenne a décidé de saisir la Cour de justice du dossier concernant les allégations selon lesquelles Mme Cresson aurait manqué à ses obligations pendant son mandat de commissaire. Les infractions à l'article 213 du traité dont il s'agirait concernent des cas de "favoritisme" et de "négligence caractérisée". Cette décision fait suite à une analyse très approfondie de tous les éléments dont disposait la Commission ainsi qu'à une audition de Mme Cresson et de ses avocats le 30 juin 2004.

    [02] GMOs : Commission authorises import of GM-maize for use in animal feed

    The European Commission has authorised the placing on the market of the genetically modified maize known as NK603 for import and processing. This decision is valid for 10 years and results from an application submitted by the company Monsanto. Imports of the maize, whether in bulk shipments, bags or other containers, will have to be labelled as containing genetically modified maize. The NK603 maize is already widely used in other parts of the world with no reports of any adverse effects on health or the environment. This authorisation, which is backed by science, covers the specific use for imports of the GM maize and processing for use in animal feed or for industrial purposes. A separate decision in terms of authorisation of the NK603 maize for use in food will be taken in the coming months.

    [03] Commission decides not to oppose recorded music JV between Sony and Bertelsmann

    The European Commission has granted regulatory approval to the creation of Sony BMG, a joint venture combining the recorded music businesses of Sony and Bertelsmann after concluding that it did not have sufficiently strong evidence to oppose the deal. The Commission will keep a close watch on the music sector as it becomes even more concentrated and would very carefully scrutinise any further major concentration in the industry.

    [04] Ukraine : Commission approves an amendment to a Euratom Loan Decision for the safety upgrade of two nuclear units

    On behalf of Euratom, the European Commission has approved an amendment to the decision taken in 2000 to grant a loan to the Ukrainian National Nuclear Power Company Energoatom for unit 2 at Khmelnitsky and unit 4 at Rovno nuclear power plants in Ukraine, the so-called K2R4 project. The loan will now exclusively target enhanced plant safety by financing the safety upgrade investments to be made after start-up of the plants that are now both close to completion. The amount of the Euratom loan has been reduced to the € equivalent of USD 83 million. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has recently approved a loan of USD 42 million for the same project.

    [05] La Commission autorise partiellement des aides au secteur de la pêche français

    La Commission européenne a autorisé certaines aides accordées par la France sous forme d'allègement de charges financières et sociales suite à une pollution pétrolière provoquée par le naufrage de l' "Erika" en décembre 1999 et à une tempête violente peu de temps après. La Commission a estimé que ces mesures étaient justifiées lorsqu'elles concernaient les aquaculteurs de la côte Atlantique particulièrement affectés par ces événements. En revanche, pour les autres aquaculteurs, ainsi que pour les pêcheurs, ces aides ont été jugées incompatibles avec le marché commun et devront être récupérées. La Commission a autorisé également certaines aides en faveur du secteur de la pêche en Corse entre 1986 et 1999. Toutefois, celles relatives à la construction de navires ou à leur modernisation avec augmentation de puissance, octroyées entre le 1 janvier 1997 et le 28 octobre 1998, ont été jugées incompatibles avec le marché commun. Elles devront aussi être récupérées. Les aides à l'achat de navires d'occasion ont, quant à elles, été autorisées.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [06] New Directive to improve public participation in environmental impact assessments

    European citizens will from now on be able to have more influence on decisions which will affect their environment. From tomorrow, 21 July 2004, the environmental effects of a wide range of public plans and programmes must be assessed under better and more open planning procedures. These measures are set out in a new European law, the Directive on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), which must be implemented by all Member States tomorrow. Local waste management plans or road building plans for regions are examples that come under the SEA directive. It will also apply to land use, agriculture, water management, tourism, industry and energy. When drawing up relevant plans or programmes public authorities will have to make an environmental report to identify, describe and assess their likely effects on the environment. Amongst the effects to be covered are those on biodiversity, fauna and flora, soil and water, climatic factors, landscape and on human health. The SEA Directive enables everybody to express their opinion on the environmental report and on the draft plan or programme. Both the environmental report and the outcome of the public consultation must be taken into account when the plans are decided upon.

    [07] Questions phytosanitaires et commerce mondial : l'UE adhère à de nouvelles règles internationales

    Le Conseil Agriculture a approuvé une version révisée de la convention internationale de protection des végétaux (CIPV) afin de renforcer son rôle dans l'adoption de normes internationales. Le Conseil a également décidé que l'Union, en tant que telle, serait partie à la CIPV, à côté des 25 Etats membres. Ces deux décisions reconnaissent l'importance croissante de la CIPV dans le système du commerce mondial. L'organisation mondiale du commerce (OMC) accorde à ses membres le droit d'imposer des restrictions aux importations si la protection de leur agriculture contre les maladies ou les parasites des plantes l'exige. Ce droit est énoncé dans l'accord de l'OMC sur les mesures sanitaires et phytosanitaires (accord SPS), qui invite également la CIPV à définir des normes internationales qui permettent de garantir que les membres de l'OMC s'entendent sur une approche harmonisée, sans utiliser indûment ces mesures comme des entraves aux échanges. La convention ainsi révisée officialise le secrétariat de la CIPV et instaure un organe directeur, la "commission des mesures phytosanitaires", chargé de définir, pour les mesures phytosanitaires, des normes internationales qui seront reconnues dans le cadre de l'accord SPS. Le processus de définition des normes, prévu par la CIPV, met l'accent sur la participation, sur la consultation et sur la compétence technique. Les nouvelles règles prévoient explicitement la participation d'entités telles que l'Union européenne.

    [08] Commission clears acquisition of Alcatel's Mobile Phone Division by TCL Communication Technology

    The European Commission has cleared, under the Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Alcatel's mobile phone business, which involves the design and distribution of mobile handsets, by Hong-Kong based mobile handset manufacturer TCL.

    [09] Savings taxation : Commission welcomes Council agreement on 1 July 2005 application date

    The European Commission has welcomed the adoption by the EU's Council of Ministers of a decision establishing the application date of 1 July 2005 for the Council Directive to allow effective taxation of interest income from cross-border investment of savings that is paid to individuals within the EU. The Council adopted this Directive as part of a package of three measures to combat harmful tax competition in June 2003 (see IP/03/787), but postponed until the end of June 2004 its decision on whether the conditions had been met for the provisions of the Directive to be applied in the EU. Now that agreement has been reached on all matters of substance with Member States' dependent and associated territories and with Switzerland (see IP/04/803), Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino on the application of measures equivalent to or the same as those in the savings directive, the necessary conditions exist to enable the Savings Tax Directive's provisions to be applied in the EU.

    [10] Passenger car taxation : public consultation on proposals for Community legislation

    The European Commission has launched an online consultation for views from the public and business on reforming EU passenger car taxation systems so as to remove tax obstacles which distort the functioning of the Internal Market. The consultation, which runs until 10 September 2004, is based on a questionnaire which seeks information on the tax problems encountered when passenger cars are moved from one Member State to another and views on four possible options for resolving those problems. The consultation follows the Commission's Communication on passenger car taxation of September 2002 (see IP/02/1274) in which the Commission recommended in particular the gradual phasing out of registration taxes and the introduction of a new tax structure linked to CO² emissions. The opinions expressed during the present public consultation will be taken into account in a proposal on this subject that the Commission is due to present at the end of this year. More information, including the questionnaire and a document describing the issues in more detail, is available on the Europa website at :

    <a href="http://europa.eu.int/comm/taxation_customs/taxation/consultations/car_taxation_en.htm">http://europa.eu.int/comm/taxation_customs/taxation/consultations/car_taxation_en.htmÂ

    [11] Green light for €182.9 million for agriculture and rural development in Slovakia

    The European Commission approved Slovakia's Operational Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development for the period 2004 2006. The outcome of negotiations between Slovakia and the Commission on financial aid from the Structural Funds, it will cover Slovakia's Objective 1 regions and is aimed at modernising farming and encouraging rural development. Of the total assistance of €182.9 million the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF) Guidance Section will contribute €181.1 million and the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG) €1.8 million.

    [12] Go ahead for €3.59 billion rural development plan for Poland

    The European Union's Committee for Agriculture Structures (STAR) gave a favourable opinion to the Polish Horizontal Rural Development Plan (HRDP). Worth in total €3.592 billion, the EU contribution will amount to €2.866 billion during the three-year period 2004-2006. It will be complemented with Polish public funding of €726 million. With this rural development plan, the EU will help Poland to improve the profitability of farms in less favoured areas, to set up specific agri-environment schemes, to step up afforestation activities, to convert small farms into viable farming units, to meet EU standards for farming, and will offer them technical assistance for the implementation of the plan. The Commission will formally approve the plan in the coming weeks. This money comes on top of the €1.8 billion "Operational Programme for Restructuring and Modernisation of the Food Sector and Rural Development" the Commission approved on 8 July (see IP/04/871).

    [13] Go ahead for €754.14 million rural development plan in Hungary

    The EU's Committee for Agricultural Structures (STAR) gave a favourable opinion on the Hungarian Rural Development Plan (RDP). The programme is worth €754.14 million for the period 2004-2006, of which the EU contribution amounts to €602.30 million, with the balance financed from Hungarian national funds. The plan, which covers the whole territory of Hungary, includes a broad range of rural development measures. It seeks to improve income and safeguard employment in the rural areas, and to support environment friendly agricultural development, more rational land-use, and landscape management. The plan will help to maintain farming activities and to improve farm incomes in less-favoured areas. It should also help increase the forest cover and enhance the environmental features of new forests. The plan encourages semi subsistence farms to become economically viable and supports the setting up of producer groups. The Commission will formally adopt the plan in the coming weeks.

    [14] Green light for €353.1 million rural development plan in the Republic of Slovenia

    The Committee on Agricultural Structures and Rural Development (STAR Committee) has given its favourable opinion to the Slovene Rural Development Plan (RDP) worth €353.1 million. The EU contribution to the plan will amount for €281.6 million over the three-year period 2004-2006. The rest will be financed from Slovene national funds. The plan includes a range of rural development measures that are tailor-made for the needs of Slovene rural areas. It aims to mitigate the differences in farm profitability in less-favoured areas that result from natural conditions, to improve the unfavourable age structure of farmers, and to provide to a sufficient extent for the farming of agricultural land in conformity with the principles of Good Farming Practice.

    [15] Green light for €561.8 million for rural development plan of Slovakia

    The European Union's Committee for Agriculture Structures (STAR) has given its favourable opinion to the Rural Development Plan (RDP) of the Slovak Republic 2004-2006. Worth €561.8 million overall, the EU contribution will amount to €397.1 million during the three-year period 2004-2006, and the rest will be complemented with Slovak public and private financing. Slovakia has a good tradition of farming and the country has huge forestry potential. With this rural development plan, the EU will support Slovakia to improve the profitability of farms, to maintain farming in less favourite areas, to set up specific agri-environment schemes, to step up afforestation activities and improve forest management, to help farmers meet environmental standards. The plan encourages also semi subsistence farms to become more economically viable and supports the setting up producer groups. The Commission will formally approve the plan in the coming weeks. This comes on top of 182.9 million "Operational Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development" which the Commission has approved (IP/04/961).

    [16] La Commission engage des poursuites judiciaires contre l'Espagne pour infractions au droit européen de l'environnement

    La Commission européenne a décidé d'entamer des procédures d'infraction à l'encontre de l'Espagne concernant sept cas de manquement au droit de l'environnement de l'UE. Les problèmes concernent principalement l'élimination de déchets, les eaux urbaines résiduaires et des projets de construction qui peuvent affecter des sites naturels et l'environnement en général. La Commission demande à l'Espagne de se conformer à un arrêt de la Cour de justice européenne qui l'a condamnée pour ce qui concerne un certain nombre de décharges incontrôlées. Ces sites constituent une menace pour la santé humaine et pour l’environnement. Dans les autres cas, la Commission a envoyé à l'Espagne des avertissements écrits. Par cette action, la Commission veut s'assurer que les autorités espagnoles appliquent correctement le droit communautaire en matière d'environnement pour protéger la grande biodiversité de ce pays et garantir à ses citoyens un environnement de qualité.

    [17] Luxembourg : Commission pursues legal action in six cases of breaches of EU environmental law

    The European Commission has decided to pursue infringement proceedings against Luxembourg in six cases concerning EU environment law. In this way, the Commission aims to improve Luxembourg's compliance with legislation that provides citizens with a high quality of life and has positive effects on the state of the environment in the EU. In five cases the Commission has sent final written warnings, which represent the last step before a Court referral. These cases relate to gaps in legislation covering industrial accidents, inadequate treatment of urban wastewater and the non- transposition of laws on emissions trading and integrated water management. In addition, Luxembourg has received a first written warning about missing plans to improve air quality.

    [18] Greece : Commission pursues legal action in nine cases for breach of EU environmental law

    The European Commission has decided to pursue infringement proceedings against Greece in nine cases involving EU environmental law. In one case, the Commission will request that Greece complies with a ruling by the European Court of Justice. The Court had condemned Greece for not having eliminated correctly electrical equipment containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). PCBs are industrial chemicals that were once widely used as flame retardants, but cause cancer. In three other cases, the Commission will refer Greece to the Court after Greece ignored its earlier warnings. These three cases involve unsafe handling of sludge from a waste water plant in the area of Athens, an illegal landfill on Crete and lack of protection of a rare viper species on Milos. In another five cases the Commission will send Greece written warnings. Through its action, the Commission seeks to ensure that Greece is correctly applying EU environment law. Failure to do so means that citizens do not receive the level of environmental protection that they are entitled to.

    [19] Enhanced EU-Japan cooperation on aerospace

    On 20 July 2004, in the margins of Farnborough Airshow, the EU (the European Commission and the governments of the EU Member States most concerned) and Japan (METI) brought together EU and Japanese aerospace industries to build a closer relationship and industrial cooperation. In this regard, Trade Commissioner Pascale Lamy stated : "Today, civil aerospace is a global industry. Worldwide subcontracting has become an industrial reality. We see our role in facilitating such business practices wherever possible. The EU-Japan meeting on industrial cooperation is part of this effort. Today the potential for industrial cooperation between both regions does not yet match the tremendous capabilities of Japanese and European aerospace companies. We need to change this over time by promoting a more favourable environment for international trade and international industrial cooperation in the aerospace sector."

    [20] Pascal Lamy in Turkey to discuss bilateral trade issues

    European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy will travel to both Istanbul and Ankara on 21-22 July to discuss bilateral trade issues with the government, business and civil society. This visit will be coupled with the Fourth Euro- Med trade ministerial conference, which Commissioner Lamy will co-chair in Istanbul on 21 July. On the eve of his departure Pascal Lamy said : "Our Customs Union with Turkey, which will celebrate at the end of next year its tenth birthday, provides for a deep trade relationship which is constantly evolving. This is an excellent opportunity to meet up with the Turkish government, as well as other key interested parties such as business associations, trade unions and NGOs, to discuss the best ways in which we can deepen and widen our important trade relationship."

    [21] Chris Patten to visit Sarajevo and Mostar on 22nd and 23rd July

    Chris Patten, European Commissioner for External Relations, will be visiting Sarajevo on 22nd July, before travelling to Mostar on 23rd July for the opening of the "Old Bridge". During the visit he will meet the High Representative, Lord Ashdown, Prime Minister Adnan Terzić, Foreign Minister Mladen Ivanić, Minister of Security Bariša olak and the Director for European Integration Osman Topčagić. This will be an opportunity to discuss progress by the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) in implementing reforms necessary for the European Commission to recommend opening of the negotiations for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement. Commissioner Patten will attend the first meeting of the Police Restructuring Commission and visit the new State Information Protection Agency, reflecting the Commission's provision of over €10 million for Police reform in BiH.

    [22] Enjoy your holidays - and enjoy your rights! Ten basic principles of consumer protection

    July and August will see millions of people crossing internal borders in the European Union as they head off on their holidays. For most holidaymakers EU consumer protection law is probably one of the last things on their mind. But what happens if the package tour operator they are travelling with goes bankrupt ? Or if they are pressured into signing an unfair contract while on holiday in another EU country ? To help consumers "know their rights" in situations such as these Commissioners David Byrne and Pavel Telička have today published an information note entitled "Consumer Protection in the European Union: 10 Basic Principles". This outlines the key ways in which EU law protects consumers’ rights – whether they are holidaying on the Baltic coast or the Mediterranean Riviera. It also tells citizens how they can get further advice and information about their consumer rights. "Our message to citizens is enjoy your holidays – and enjoy your rights. This demonstrates the real value that Europe brings to its citizens", said Commissioner Telička. The full text of the note is available at: <a href="http://europa.eu.int/comm/consumers/index_en.htm">http://europa.eu.int/comm/consumers/index_en.htm

    [23] Selon la Commission, l'euro a connu un succès au cours de ses cinq premières années d'existence, mais d'importantes difficultés l'attendent

    La Commission européenne a publié aujourd'hui un rapport sur les cinq premières années d'existence de l'Union économique et monétaire (UEM) qui met en relief la contribution positive que la monnaie unique a apportée à la stabilité macroéconomique ainsi que le rôle moteur qu'elle a joué dans l'accélération de l'intégration économique en Europe. Toutefois, le rapport attire également l'attention sur certains défis majeurs qui se profilent à l'horizon pour la zone euro. Joaquin Almunia, membre de la Commission chargé des affaires économiques et monétaires, a déclaré : "Les cinq années d'existence de l'Union économique et monétaire représentent une performance politique et institutionnelle remarquable pour l'UE. Il convient désormais de s'attaquer aux causes restantes de l'apathie de la croissance dans l'Union."

    [24] New study on fiscal policy in EMU : rules, discretion and political incentives

    A new study carried out by economists in the European Commission's Directorate General of Economic and Financial Affairs states that the fiscal philosophy of EMU's budgetary rules is to bring deficits close to balance and then let automatic stabilisers play freely. Given the large tax and benefit systems in Europe, relying mainly on automatic stabilisation would allow a relatively high degree of cyclical smoothing while avoiding the typical pitfalls of fiscal activism. While this is, in most circumstances, good economic policy, it is evidently not regarded as good politics. The current difficulties of EMU's fiscal policy framework have little to do with its alleged fault lines and much to do with the resurgence of electoral budget cycles amid a weak system of incentives to abide by the agreed rules. Full document available on :

    <a href="http://europa.eu.int/comm/economy_finance/publications/economic_papers/economicpapers206_en.htm">http://europa.eu.int/comm/economy_finance/publications/economic_papers/economicpapers206_en.htm

    [25] Autre matériel diffusé

    Questions et réponses sur la position de la Commission dans l'affaire Cresson

    Dossier sur les faits concernant Mme Cresson

    Outcome of Agriculture/Fisheries Council of July 2004 From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at http://europa.eu.int/


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