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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 05-12-14

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] Résultats de la Commission du 13 décembre 2005 -

  • [01] TV without Frontiers : Commission proposes modernised rules for digital era TV and TV-like services
  • [02] Stratégie pour le développement durable : la Commission présente une nouvelle plateforme pour l'action
  • [03] Financial penalties for Member States who fail to comply with judgments of the European Court of Justice : Commission clarifies rules
  • [04] Commission improves rules for access to the file in merger and antitrust procedures
  • [05] Telecoms : Commission opens new round of infringement proceedings, but also sees positive results of previous ones
  • [06] Temps de travail dans les transports routiers : dix Etats membres tardent mettre en œuvre les règles
  • [07] La Commission est déterminée faire respecter les droits des passagers aériens
  • [08] Speed limitation devices and road safety : Commission refers Ireland to Court of Justice
  • [09] Slovakia taken to court over training given to lorry drivers
  • [10] Saisine de la Cour l'encontre du Luxembourg sur les certificats d'immatriculation
  • [11] Interoperability of the trans-European high-speed rail system : Commission takes the Slovak Republic to the Court
  • [12] La France ne peut interdire aux clubs de football d'entrer en bourse
  • [13] Free movement of capital : Commission asks Portugal to submit its observations on special rights held by Portugal in Portugal Telecom
  • [14] Free movement of capital : Commission opens an infringement procedure against Italy on the issue of acquisition of stakes in domestic banks
  • [15] Marchés publics : procédures d'infraction l'encontre de l'Espagne, de l'Italie et de la Suède
  • [16] Economies d'énergie : la Commission renvoie le Portugal et le Luxembourg devant la Cour de justice
  • [17] Commission urges Luxembourg, Italy, Portugal and Slovakia to implement Biofuels Directive
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [18] Commission proposes repeal of exemption for liner shipping conferences
  • [19] Commission welcomes upholding of the Commission's decision in GE/Honeywell case
  • [20] Marché intérieur : création d'un "groupe européen des organes de surveillance du contrôle légal des comptes"
  • [21] Is there a brain drain ? What Europe does for its researchers
  • [22] EU supports the first ISPA projects in Croatia
  • [23] La Commission consacre €4,5 millions la préparation aux catastrophes naturelles en Communauté Andine
  • [24] Commission provides €2 million humanitarian aid for Indonesia
  • [25] Benita Ferrero-Waldner urges wide participation in Iraqi elections
  • [26] REACH : Commission welcomes Council's agreement on new EU chemical legislation
  • [27] László Kovács' statement on Marks & Spencer case
  • [28] Autre matériel diffusé Midday Express of 2005-12-14 Reference: MEX/05/1214 Date: 14/12/2005 EXME05 / 14.12

    MIDDAY EXPRESS

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

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

    Communication

    14/12/05


  • [I] Résultats de la Commission du 13 décembre 2005 -

    Outcome of Commission meeting of 13 December

    [01] TV without Frontiers : Commission proposes modernised rules for digital era TV and TV-like services

    A proposal to update the EU's 1989 "TV without Frontiers" Directive, to keep pace with rapid technological and market developments in Europe's audiovisual sector, was tabled by the European Commission today. In line with the principle of better regulation, the proposal aims to reduce the regulatory burden on Europe's providers of TV and TV-like services and to give more flexibility for financing audiovisual content by new forms of advertising. The proposal will also create a level playing field for all companies that offer TV-like services, irrespective of the technology used to deliver them (e.g. broadcast, high-speed broadband, third generation mobiles). The Commission therefore proposes replacing disparate national rules on protection of minors, against incitement to racial hatred and against surreptitious advertising with a basic, EU-wide minimum standard of protection for audiovisual on demand services. This new policy approach should accelerate the advent of a seamless single market for TV and TV-like services and promote a strong and creative European content industry.

    [02] Stratégie pour le développement durable : la Commission présente une nouvelle plateforme pour l'action

    L'examen de la stratégie européenne en faveur du développement durable entrepris par la Commission européenne appelle l'ensemble des gouvernements, entreprises, ONG et citoyens proposer des méthodes nouvelles et plus performantes pour s'orienter vers un mode de vie favorisant davantage le développement durable et saisir les occasions qui se présentent. Publiée aujourd'hui, l'étude réaffirme l'engagement de la Commission poursuivre son action décisive pour le changement et définit de nouvelles actions concrètes pour les années venir.

    [03] Financial penalties for Member States who fail to comply with judgments of the European Court of Justice : Commission clarifies rules

    The European Commission has adopted a Communication which clarifies and develops the policy of the Commission in asking the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to impose a periodic penalty payment and a lump sum on a Member State which fails to comply with a judgment of the ECJ. This clarification was required after the ruling of the ECJ on 12 July 2005 in Case C-304/02, Commission v French Republic.

    [04] Commission improves rules for access to the file in merger and antitrust procedures

    The European Commission has revised its rules for access to the Commission's files by parties involved in its merger and antitrust cases in order to increase the transparency of competition procedures and underline the Commission's commitment to due process and parties' rights of defence. The revision takes the form of an update to the existing Notice on the rules of procedure for access to the Commission's competition file from 1997 (see IP/97/50), taking into account the revisions to the Merger Regulation (see IP/02/1856), the modernisation of antitrust enforcement (see IP/02/1739) and experience gained in applying the former rules. The revised Notice clarifies both the extent and the exercise of the right of access to the file. The revised Notice also increases procedural efficiency by confirming that access to the file can be granted either electronically or on paper.

    [05] Telecoms : Commission opens new round of infringement proceedings, but also sees positive results of previous ones

    In a further round of infringement proceedings concerning the EU's telecom rules, the European Commission has decided to take Sweden and Poland to the European Court of Justice for failing to implement EU rules on electronic communications. In 12 cases from the previous infringement rounds, the Commission has sent reasoned opinions (step two in the infringement procedure under Article 226 of the EC Treaty) to the Czech Republic (2), France, Greece, Latvia, Malta, Poland (2), Slovakia, Germany, Finland and the UK. These countries now have two months in which to respond. They could also face action before the European Court of Justice if they fail to comply with the EU telecom rules. In addition, the Commission has sent letters of formal notice (step one in the infringement procedure – failure of a Member State to fulfill an obligation) to the UK, Portugal, Cyprus, the Czech Republic and Lithuania. At the same time, the Commission is closing nine cases from previous infringement rounds, as the Member States concerned have meanwhile ensured effective implementation of the EU framework for electronic communications.

    [06] Temps de travail dans les transports routiers : dix Etats membres tardent mettre en œuvre les règles

    La Commission européenne a envoyé un avis motivé – dernière étape avant le dépôt d&#8217;une plainte formelle devant la Cour de justice – l'Allemagne, l'Autriche, l'Espagne, la Grèce, l'Irlande, l'Italie, au Luxembourg, aux Pays-Bas, au Portugal et la République tchèque, ces pays n'ayant pas communiqué leurs mesures nationales de mise en œuvre concernant le temps de travail dans le secteur des transports routiers. Les règles en matière de temps de travail couvrent le temps de conduite, de chargement et de déchargement, d'entretien des véhicules et d'exécution des tâches administratives. Le but de cette législation est d'améliorer et d'harmoniser les conditions sociales des travailleurs des transports routiers sur le marché européen des transports, en contribuant ainsi une meilleure santé et une plus grande sécurité des travailleurs, une concurrence loyale et une sécurité routière accrue.

    [07] La Commission est déterminée faire respecter les droits des passagers aériens

    La Commission européenne a décidé de saisir la Cour de Justice l'encontre de l'Autriche, la Belgique, le Luxembourg et la Suède, et d'envoyer un avis motivé la Slovaquie pour non respect de la législation européenne sur les droits des passagers aériens. Ces pays n'ont en effet pas rempli toutes leurs obligations en vertu du règlement, entré en vigueur le 17 février 2005, qui offre aux passagers aériens une protection renforcée en cas de refus d'embarquement, d'annulation de vol ou de retard important. A ce jour, ils n'ont toujours pas établi de système de sanctions efficace l'égard des compagnies aériennes en infraction.

    [08] Speed limitation devices and road safety : Commission refers Ireland to Court of Justice

    The European Commission has referred Ireland to the Court of Justice for continued failure to notify measures transposing into national law EU legislation on the installation and use of speed limitation devices for certain categories of motor vehicles. Improving road safety is an ongoing priority of European transport policy.

    [09] Slovakia taken to court over training given to lorry drivers

    The European Commission decided to refer Slovakia to the Court of Justice for failing to comply with European legislation on the minimum level of training given to drivers of HGVs over 7.5 tonnes and to coach drivers. This legislation helps to improve road safety by providing drivers with advanced training, building on that required for their basic diving licence. It also enhances the operation of the internal market in road transport by ensuring drivers have a uniform level of training.

    [10] Saisine de la Cour l'encontre du Luxembourg sur les certificats d'immatriculation

    La Commission européenne a décidé de poursuivre le Luxembourg devant la Cour de Justice pour défaut de transposition en droit national de la législation européenne relative l'introduction du certificat d'immatriculation harmonisé. Cette législation contribue notamment améliorer la sécurité routière en permettant de contrôler la compétence des conducteurs conduire leur catégorie de véhicule. Elle améliore également le bon fonctionnement du marché intérieur du transport routier en harmonisant les certificats d'immatriculation.

    [11] Interoperability of the trans-European high-speed rail system : Commission takes the Slovak Republic to the Court

    The European Commission has decided to lodge a case with the European Court of Justice against the Slovak Republic for failure to respect EU legislation on the interoperability of the trans-European high-speed rail system. The aim of this legislation is to ensure the interoperability of the networks, particularly in the field of technical standardisation. The Directive (Council Directive 96/48/EC of 23 July 1996 on the interoperability of the trans-European high-speed rail system, Official Journal L 235, 17/09/1996) sets the conditions to be met in order to achieve interoperability of the trans-European high-speed rail system within the EU, related to the construction, upgrading and operation of the infrastructures and rolling stock. For these purposes, technical specifications for interoperability (TSIs) have been adopted by the Commission on the 30th May 2002 and are applicable to any new high-speed project, including placing railway components on the market.

    [12] La France ne peut interdire aux clubs de football d'entrer en bourse

    La Commission européenne a demandé officiellement la France de modifier sa législation qui interdit aux clubs de football et aux autres clubs sportifs d'entrer en bourse. De l'avis de la Commission, cette interdiction constitue une entrave injustifiée la libre circulation des capitaux, en violation du traité CE (article 56). La demande de la Commission a été adressée sous la forme d'un avis motivé, ce qui correspond la deuxième étape de la procédure d'infraction prévue l'article 226 du traité CE. Si la France ne donne pas de réponse satisfaisante dans les deux mois, la Commission peut décider de saisir la Cour de justice européenne. Les contacts avec les autorités françaises seront poursuivis pour déterminer si une solution peut être trouvée, qui soit compatible avec le droit communautaire.

    [13] Free movement of capital : Commission asks Portugal to submit its observations on special rights held by Portugal in Portugal Telecom

    The European Commission has decided to send Portugal a formal request to submit its observations on the special rights held by the State/public entities in Portugal Telecom and established in the privatisation decree- laws and Articles of Association of the Company. The legal framework governing the privatisation of Portugal Telecom provided for privileged shares (A-shares), the majority of which were to be held by the State/public entities. Although the number of A-shares was reduced during the successive privatisation phases, the corresponding privileges, as defined in the Articles of Association of the Company, were maintained. These privileges include special power to appoint one third of the board and the chairman of the company and several veto powers on resolutions on the election of Directors and the audit board ; decisions on profit distributions ; capital increases ; bond issues ; opening of branches and changes in the registered office ; changes in the Articles of Association ; approval of holdings - by shareholders engaged in a competing activity - above 10% of the company's ordinary shares. The Commission is concerned that, in violation of EC Treaty rules (Article 56-Free movement of capital and Article 43-Right of Establishment), these special powers constitute an unjustified restriction on the free movement of capital and the right of establishment, in so far as they hinder both direct investment and portfolio investment. The Commission request is in the form of a letter of formal notice, the first stage in the infringement procedure laid down in Art 226 of the EC Treaty.

    [14] Free movement of capital : Commission opens an infringement procedure against Italy on the issue of acquisition of stakes in domestic banks

    The European Commission has decided to send Italy a formal request to submit its observations on provisions in its national regulatory framework that apply to supervisory decisions on the acquisition of stakes in domestic Italian banks by other EU banks. The provisions in question are the 1993 Banking Law and the 'Istruzioni di vigilanza per la banche', which further refer to Article 2359 Civil Code and a decision by an interministerial committee. The Commission is concerned that this framework may allow for the exercising of supervisory authority which lacks procedural transparency and can create legal uncertainty. This could therefore act as a disincentive to investment from other Member States in the Italian banking industry, in violation of EC Treaty rules on the free movement of capital (Article 56) and the right of establishment (Article 43). The Commission's request takes the form of a letter of formal notice, the first stage of infringement procedures under Article 226 of the EC Treaty.

    [15] Marchés publics : procédures d'infraction l'encontre de l'Espagne, de l'Italie et de la Suède

    La Commission européenne a engagé des actions l'encontre de l'Espagne, de l'Italie et de la Suède afin de remédier aux infractions au droit communautaire sur les marchés publics. Elle a officiellement demandé l'Espagne de modifier la loi sur l'urbanisme (désignée par l'acronyme "LRAU") de la Communauté valencienne. Cette demande prend la forme d'un avis motivé, deuxième étape de la procédure d'infraction prévue l'article 226 du traité CE. Si aucune réponse satisfaisante n'est reçue dans les trois semaines, la Commission peut saisir la Cour de justice européenne. La Commission a également décidé de renvoyer l'Espagne devant la Cour pour des dispositions concernant la stabilité de l'emploi applicables dans la Communauté autonome de Madrid. En outre, la Commission a décidé, en vertu de l'article 228 du traité CE, d'adresser l'Espagne une lettre de mise en demeure demandant des informations complètes sur l'exécution d'arrêts de la Cour de justice exigeant qu'elle transpose correctement en droit national certaines directives communautaires sur les marchés publics. Par ailleurs, la Commission a décidé de renvoyer l'Italie devant la Cour de justice dans trois affaires distinctes concernant respectivement l'achat d'hélicoptères légers destinés la police et au corps national des pompiers, les procédures de recours liées l'attribution des marchés publics et la procédure suivie par Azienda Casa Emilia Romagna de Reggio Emilia pour l'attribution de marchés publics de travaux relatifs l'entretien et la construction de logements sociaux. Enfin, la Commission a envoyé une demande officielle la Suède propos de la décision prise par plusieurs exploitants de centrales nucléaires d'exclure un cabinet de conseil de leurs marchés de services. Cette demande prend la forme d'un "avis motivé", qui constitue la deuxième phase de la procédure d'infraction prévue par l'article 226 du traité CE. Faute d'une réponse satisfaisante dans un délai de deux mois, la Commission peut saisir la Cour de justice.

    [16] Economies d'énergie : la Commission renvoie le Portugal et le Luxembourg devant la Cour de justice

    La Commission européenne a décidé de poursuivre la procédure légale d'infraction l'encontre du Portugal et du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg pour non respect de la législation européenne sur l'étiquetage énergétique des réfrigérateurs et congélateurs usage domestique. Dans le cas du Luxembourg, l'infraction porte également sur la législation européenne sur l'étiquetage énergétique des fours électriques et des climatiseurs usage domestique. Cette législation fait partie de l'arsenal de mesures qui visent maîtriser la demande énergétique dans l'UE.

    [17] Commission urges Luxembourg, Italy, Portugal and Slovakia to implement Biofuels Directive

    The European Commission has decided to take Luxembourg, Italy and Portugal to the Court of Justice and to send a reasoned opinion to Slovakia for failure to fulfil their obligations under the Biofuels Directive. This Directive requires that an increasing proportion of all diesel and gasoline sold in the Member States be biofuels, starting with 2% in 2005 and progressively increasing so as to reach a minimum of 5.75% of fuels sold in 2010. The Commission also sent letters of formal notice to 16 Member States about the national report they need to submit to the Commission for the year 2005.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [18] Commission proposes repeal of exemption for liner shipping conferences

    The European Commission has proposed to repeal the block exemption of liner conferences from the EC Treaty competition rules' ban on restrictive business practices (Article 81). The current block exemption, established by Council Regulation 4056/86, allows carriers to fix prices and regulate capacity jointly. Repealing the exemption will benefit EU exporters by lowering transport prices whilst maintaining reliable services. This will enhance the competitiveness of EU industry, furthering the Lisbon Strategy. The Commission proposal would also bring maritime tramp and cabotage services under the scope of the competition implementing rules (Regulation 1/2003), giving the Commission jurisdiction to apply the competition rules in the sector. The proposal to repeal Council Regulation 4056/86 will now be forwarded to the EU's Council of Ministers for adoption by qualified majority and to the European Parliament for consultation. After its adoption the Commission will publish guidelines on the application of the competition rules to the sector.

    [19] Commission welcomes upholding of the Commission's decision in GE/Honeywell case

    The European Commission welcomes the rulings by the Court of First Instance today upholding the Commission's decision in July 2001to prohibit the merger between the General Electric Co. (GE) and Honeywell Inc. The Commission prohibited the merger as it considered that the deal would significantly impede effective competition in the markets for aerospace products and industrial systems and deprive customers from the benefits of competition. The Court's rulings confirm that the Commission was right to block the merger in view of its adverse impact on some of the markets concerned.

    [20] Marché intérieur : création d'un "groupe européen des organes de surveillance du contrôle légal des comptes"

    La Commission européenne a créé un "groupe européen des organes de surveillance du contrôle légal des comptes (GEOSCL)". Ce groupe assurera la coordination des nouveaux systèmes publics de surveillance des contrôleurs légaux et des cabinets d'audit dans l'Union européenne. Il pourra aussi apporter un soutien technique la Commission dans l'élaboration d'éventuelles mesures d'application de la 8ème directive "droit des sociétés" , par exemple dans le cadre de l'approbation de normes d'audit internationales ou de l'évaluation des systèmes publics de surveillance de pays tiers.

    [21] Is there a brain drain ? What Europe does for its researchers

    It is regularly said that Europe has to become "the most competitive knowledge-based society" in the world. A key element of this is the European Research Area, which regroups all EU support for the better coordination of research activities and the convergence of research and innovation policies, at national and EU levels. In this way, the EU can bring together its work in this area and build a "single market" for research and innovation. Skilled researchers, ready to move from one country to another whether inside or outside Europe, have an essential role to play in achieving this ambitious objective. However, acquiring skills, in particular through this mobility, is not always simple and easy: administrative procedures can be long and complicated ; salaries can be low ; recruitment sometimes appears quite mysterious ; a new environment can be difficult to understand and to move in ; there can be uncertainty about a career path. Europe, through several recent and less recent initiatives, tries to tackle these obstacles and ease the researchers' life and career.

    [22] EU supports the first ISPA projects in Croatia

    The European Commission decided on the first two financing memoranda in the environment and transport fields in Croatia. For the first time Croatia is to benefit from the Pre-Accession Instrument for Structural Policies - ISPA, with a grant of more than €51 million.

    [23] La Commission consacre €4,5 millions la préparation aux catastrophes naturelles en Communauté Andine

    La Commission européenne a débloqué une enveloppe d'aide humanitaire de €4,5 millions afin de poursuivre ses activités de préparation aux catastrophes en Communauté Andine. Ces crédits sont alloués par l'intermédiaire du service d'aide humanitaire de la Commission européenne (ECHO), qui dépend du commissaire Louis Michel. L'assistance fournie visera renforcer la capacité de réponse des populations vulnérables vivant dans les régions les plus exposées aux risques de catastrophes naturelles

    [24] Commission provides €2 million humanitarian aid for Indonesia

    The European Commission has adopted €2 million decision to help tackle humanitarian needs in Indonesia. The funds, targeting nutrition, water and sanitation, will benefit around 130,000 vulnerable people in various provinces. The aid is managed by the Commission's Humanitarian Aid department under the responsibility of Commissioner Louis Michel.

    [25] Benita Ferrero-Waldner urges wide participation in Iraqi elections

    Tomorrow, December 15th, the Iraqi people will go to the polls to choose their representatives for the next four years. This is a major step in a political transition that began with Iraq's first pluralist elections last January, and which has included the drafting of a new Constitution, and the approval of that Constitution by referendum this autumn. On the eve of the elections, Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said : "I hope all Iraqis will make full use of their new-won democratic rights, and participate in these historic elections. The Commission trusts the Iraqi government will do its utmost to guarantee a fully transparent and inclusive electoral process so that these elections can take Iraq another step towards establishing political structures that represent all Iraqis." She added : "This is a critical moment for Iraq and I hope all political and religious leaders will call for a halt to the violence that has taken so many lives and slowed the country's transition. The result we all want to see in tomorrow's election is the victory of democracy over violence for the sake of all the Iraqi people."

    [26] REACH : Commission welcomes Council's agreement on new EU chemical legislation

    The European Commission welcomed on 13 December the Council's political agreement on a comprehensive new system aimed at ensuring greater safety in the manufacture and use of chemical substances. The new system, REACH, will establish an integrated system for the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals. REACH will ensure that the gaps in existing information on the hazardous properties of some 30,000 chemicals are filled and that the necessary information on the safe use of substances is transmitted along the industrial supply chain leading to reduced risks for workers, for consumers, and for the environment. REACH will reverse the burden of proof so that industry, both producers and importers of substances, rather than the public authorities, will have to assume greater responsibility for providing the necessary information and taking effective risk management measures. The formal Common Position of the Council should be approved under the Austrian Presidency in May 2006, a step that will pave the way for the second reading of the proposal by the European Parliament. Parliament adopted its first reading of REACH on 17 November.

    [27] László Kovács' statement on Marks & Spencer case

    László Kovács, the European Commissioner for taxation and customs, welcomed the ruling of the European Court of Justice on 13 December in the Marks & Spencer case on cross-border loss relief. "The Court took a position that is supported by the Commission regarding the application of the principle of freedom of establishment for cross-border loss relief. The Court ruled essentially that Member States granting relief to companies for losses of subsidiaries must allow such relief also in the case of non- resident subsidiaries, if the losses cannot be taken into account in the Member State of residence of those subsidiaries. To deny the relief in such cases is, in the Court's view, contrary to the principle of freedom of establishment under the EC Treaty. It is clear that Member States and the Commission will have to work together so as to draw conclusions from this judgement with a view to ensuring clarity for businesses operating within the Internal Market and ensuring that Treaty obligations are respected. It is also clear that we cannot at this stage make any calculations on budgetary consequences for the Member States concerned." The Commission is planning to present a Communication on cross border loss relief to the Parliament and Council next year that will take account of this ruling. For further information see press release issued by the Court: <a href="http://curia.eu.int/en/actu/communiques/cp05/aff/cp050107en.pdf">http://curia.eu.int/en/actu/communiques/cp05/aff/cp050107en.pdf

    [28] Autre matériel diffusé

    Speech by President Barroso on preparation of the European Council at plenary session of European Parliament (Strasbourg)

    Commission proposal for a modernisation of the Television without Frontiers Directive : frequently asked questions

    Frequently asked questions on the review of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy

    Infringement proceedings in the field of electronic communications: What are the issues at stake?

    Proposal to repeal block exemption for liner shipping conferences – frequently asked questions

    Speech by Joe Borg : "Economic challenges of a European all-embracing maritime policy" at the 'Economy of the Sea 2005' (Paris)

    Food aid : EU urges US reform (Hong Kong)

    Speech by Peter Mandelson : "We can make this meeting the success we need to keep the Round moving" at WTO Sixth Ministerial Conference (Hong Kong)

    Speech by Mariann Fischer Boel : "Bananas: EU committed to fair deal for all developing countries" at WTO Sixth Ministerial Conference (Hong Kong)

    Discours de M. Jacques Barrot : "Eurovignette" au Parlement européen (13/12, Strasbourg) From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at http://europa.eu.int/


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