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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 07-05-04

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] Slovenia's changeover to the euro - a clear success
  • [02] Emissions trading : Commission adopts decision on Estonia's national allocation plan for 2008-2012
  • [03] Climate change : IPCC report confirms EU call for deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions
  • [04] La Commission ouvre une enquête approfondie concernant le projet d'acquisition de Worldspan par Travelport
  • [05] Commission approves proposed merger between Statoil and Hydro
  • [06] Antitrust : Commission has carried out inspections in the marine hose sector
  • [07] Le processus de Kimberley : le Liberia accède au commerce légal de diamants
  • [08] Benita Ferrero-Waldner visits Yemen and announces a minimum of €60 million for assistance during 2007-2010
  • [09] Lancement Berlin du programme pour l'éducation et la formation tout au long de la vie
  • [10] Cyprus : Commission adopts Decision allowing trade in honey and fish across the Green Line
  • [11] Further research into Electromagnetic Fields is necessary, scientific committee concludes
  • [12] UN discussions on future action to combat climate change
  • [13] Pioneering agreement on collaborative health research between the EU and China
  • [14] Commission tables ambitious proposal to protect marine ecosystems and fish stocks in South Pacific
  • [15] Le commissaire Louis Michel remet le Prix Lorenzo Natali 2006 la journaliste de Hong Kong Leu Siew Ying
  • [16] March 2007 compared to March 2006 : volume of retail trade up by 2.6% in euro area ; up by 3.8% in EU27
  • [17] Autre matériel diffusé Midday Express of 2007-05-04 Reference: MEX/07/0504 Date: 04/05/2007 EXME07 / 4.5

    MIDDAY EXPRESS

    News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

    04/05/07


  • [01] Slovenia's changeover to the euro - a clear success

    The changeover to the euro in Slovenia was a swift and smooth affair and although the price of some goods and services increased, overall inflation has remained broadly stable, shows a Communication adopted by the Commission four months after Slovenia became the 13th member of the euro area. For the other countries waiting to adopt the euro, the experience shows that the 'Big Bang' approach - i.e. irrevocable locking of the exchange rate and simultaneous introduction of the euro banknotes and coins – works and that a two-week dual circulation period is sufficient provided that the changeover is well and timely prepared. In some aspects, e.g. return of legacy cash, Slovenia even performed better than when the euro cash was introduced in 2002, thereby minimising costs and burdens on businesses.

    [02] Emissions trading : Commission adopts decision on Estonia's national allocation plan for 2008-2012

    The European Commission today concluded the assessment of Estonia's national plan for allocating carbon dioxide (CO2) emission allowances for the 2008-2012 trading period of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). The Commission accepted Estonia's national plan on condition that certain changes are made, including a reduction in the total number of emission allowances proposed. The cleared annual allocation is 12.7 million tonnes of CO2 allowances, 47.8% less than Estonia had proposed. The Emissions Trading Scheme ensures that greenhouse gas emissions from the energy and industry sectors covered are cut at least cost to the economy, thus helping the EU and its Member States to meet their emission commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.

    [03] Climate change : IPCC report confirms EU call for deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions

    European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas called on developed and advanced developing countries to commit to substantially reducing their greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades following today's report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on mitigating global warming. The consensus report from IPCC's working group III (WG III) confirms the EU's analysis that global emissions must start to fall within the next 15 years and then be cut to around half of 1990 levels by 2050 if the world is to have a fair chance of preventing irreversible and possibly catastrophic global changes. The report projects that unless urgent action is taken global emissions in 2030 will be 25-90% higher than today, making it all but certain that global warming will reach dangerous levels.

    [04] La Commission ouvre une enquête approfondie concernant le projet d'acquisition de Worldspan par Travelport

    La Commission européenne a ouvert une enquête approfondie, en application du règlement CE sur les concentrations, concernant le projet d'acquisition de Worldspan par Travelport. Les deux sociétés sont spécialisées dans les services électroniques de distribution de voyage par l'intermédiaire d'un système mondial de distribution (SMD). L'enquête initiale menée par la Commission sur ce marché a permis d'établir que l'opération proposée soulèverait des problèmes de concurrence sur le marché de la fourniture de services de SMD aux prestataires de services de voyage (compagnies aériennes, sociétés de location de véhicules, hôtels, etc.) dans l'Espace économique européen (EEE) et aux agents de voyage dans plusieurs Etats membres (Belgique, Hongrie, Irlande, Italie, Pays-Bas et Royaume-Uni). La décision d'ouvrir une enquête approfondie ne préjuge pas du résultat final de l'enquête. La Commission dispose présent d'un délai de 90 jours ouvrables (jusqu'au 13 septembre 2007) pour prendre une décision finale sur la question de savoir si l'opération de concentration entraverait ou non de manière significative une concurrence effective dans l'EEE ou une partie substantielle de celui-ci.

    [05] Commission approves proposed merger between Statoil and Hydro

    The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed merger between the Norwegian company Statoil and the petroleum business of Norsk Hydro, also of Norway. The merged entity will be controlled by the Norwegian state. After examining the operation, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area or any substantial part of it.

    [06] Antitrust : Commission has carried out inspections in the marine hose sector

    The European Commission can confirm that on 2nd and 3rd May 2007 Commission officials carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of several marine hose producers in France, Italy and the United Kingdom. The function of marine hoses is to transport crude oil and petroleum products, for example for loading and unloading tanker ships. The Commission has reason to believe that the companies concerned may have violated Article 81 of the EC Treaty, which prohibits practices such as price fixing. The Commission coordinated its investigative measures with the US Department of Justice in the context of a suspected worldwide cartel concerning marine hoses.

    [07] Le processus de Kimberley : le Liberia accède au commerce légal de diamants

    La Communauté européenne, assurant la présidence du processus de Kimberley en 2007, a admis aujourd'hui le Liberia en tant que participant la suite d'une évaluation effectuée par une mission d'experts qui s'est rendue dans le pays. Cette mission, dirigée par la Commission européenne accompagnée de représentants du Botswana, de l'industrie du diamant et de la société civile, s'est rendue au Liberia en mars 2007 ; elle est arrivée la conclusion que le Liberia remplissait les conditions d'une adhésion. Après la décision du Conseil de sécurité des NU du 27 avril de lever son embargo sur les diamants du Liberia et l'adhésion de ce pays au processus de Kimberley intervenue aujourd'hui, le Liberia sera dorénavant en mesure d'exporter légalement ses diamants bruts dans d'autres pays membres du processus de Kimberley. Le processus continuera de soutenir et de contrôler strictement le Liberia après son adhésion. Ainsi, la Côte d'Ivoire est le seul pays encore soumis aux restrictions imposées par les Nations unies sur le commerce des diamants.

    [08] Benita Ferrero-Waldner visits Yemen and announces a minimum of €60 million for assistance during 2007-2010

    On 6 and 7 May 2007, European Commissioner for External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, will pay an official visit to the Republic of Yemen, where she will meet with President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Mujawer, Minister for Foreign Affairs Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, and Minister of Planning Abdulkarim al-Arhabi. She will also have the opportunity to hold discussions with civil society and political parties, and address students at Sana’a University. While in Sana’a, Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner will formalise with the Yemeni authorities the 2007-2010 assistance strategy that the Commission has designed for the country, which is accompanied by a €60 million aid package. This strategy will focus on good governance, private sector development and human capital development. With this assistance, the Commission will contribute to improve governance, to alleviate poverty and help facilitate Yemen’s integration into the world economy. Further resources could be drawn from specific instrument addressing thematic issues such as food security.

    [09] Lancement Berlin du programme pour l'éducation et la formation tout au long de la vie

    Le lancement européen du programme pour l'éducation et la formation tout au long de la vie, programme phare de l'Union européenne dans le domaine, précisément, de l'éducation et de la formation, se déroulera les 6 et 7 mai 2007 Berlin, lors d'une conférence placée sous les auspices de la présidence allemande de l'UE. Cette conférence est organisée par le ministère fédéral allemand de l'Education et de la Recherche avec le soutien de la Commission européenne. Le programme, qui s'étendra sur la période 2007-2013, est le premier programme européen de financement couvrant tout le spectre des possibilités d’acquisition de connaissances, de l'enfance la vieillesse.

    [10] Cyprus : Commission adopts Decision allowing trade in honey and fish across the Green Line

    The European Commission today adopted a Decision authorising for the first time the trade in certain animal products, namely honey and fish, across the Green Line in Cyprus. EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said: "Today's decision offers a welcome opportunity for Cyprus to build on the promising increase in trade across the Green Line, to the benefit of both communities. This trade has increased steadily in volume and value since the Commission authorised the trade in potatoes and citrus fruits in 2005. At the same time, it ensures through the appointment of independent experts that the food traded is sampled and surveyed for compliance with EU requirements." The so-called Green Line Regulation, adopted in 2004, has provided a clear EU framework for the crossing of people and goods across the Green Line since the accession of Cyprus to the EU. The Green Line Regulation prohibited expressly the movement of animals and animal products, until sufficient information became available with regard to the state of animal health in the areas in which the government of the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control. Under a Regulation adopted in February 2005 concerning agriculture and facilities for persons crossing the line, the prohibitions on the trade of live animals and animal products could be lifted subject to the provisions of the EU Food Law rules. The Commission Decision authorising the trade in honey and fish across the Green Line was approved unanimously by Member States in the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health on 22 March 2007.

    [11] Further research into Electromagnetic Fields is necessary, scientific committee concludes

    The European Commission has published today an opinion of the scientific committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENHIR) on the possible health risks of Electromagnetic Fields (EMF). The opinion does not reveal new evidence of risks but makes recommendations for further research to be carried out in certain areas. The Commission will follow-up on this recommendation in research work planned under the 7th Research Framework Programme. The opinion by SCENHIR focuses primarily on whether health effects occur at low exposure levels, and in particular in relation to long term exposure. The opinion concludes that no health effects have been consistently demonstrated for radio frequency fields (e.g. for mobile phones) below the limits set in Community legislation, although the data available is limited. For intermediate frequency fields (e.g. for video display units), the data is sparse and proper evaluation of possible long term effects is important. For extremely low frequency (ELF) fields (e.g. household appliances or nearby power lines), the opinion confirms the conclusion from its 2001 opinion that ELF magnetic fields are possibly carcinogenic, mostly based on occurrence of childhood leukaemia. The opinion concludes that an association with heart disease and breast cancer is unlikely and with neurodegenerative diseases and brain tumours is uncertain. The existing data for static fields (e.g. in hospital applications) is inadequate and developments require risk assessments in relation to occupational exposure. On environmental effects, there is insufficient data to identify whether a single exposure standard is appropriate to protect all environmental species. In view of the gaps in knowledge identified in the opinion, the SCENHIR proposes further and appropriate research to be conducted, which will be taken into account by the Commission. The opinion can be found at:

    <a href="http://europa.eu.int/comm/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scenihr/04_scenihr_en.htm">http://europa.eu.int/comm/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scenihr/04_scenihr_en.htm

    [12] UN discussions on future action to combat climate change

    United Nations discussions on future action to combat climate change, including targets for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, will take place at official level from 7 to 18 May in Bonn, Germany. The meeting will prepare for the next UN ministerial discussions on climate change, to be held in December in Bali, Indonesia. European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas called on all parties to make rapid progress so that formal negotiations on a new global climate change agreement can be launched in Bali. "The latest reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the work of the world's leading experts in the field, have confirmed not only that urgent action to cut global emissions is needed if we are to prevent dangerous levels of climate change, but that it is also feasible and affordable," Commissioner Dimas said. "The European Union has set out its proposals for bold global action in the climate and energy package endorsed by EU leaders at their spring summit in March. It is now time for our partners to follow suit." The two-week Bonn conference will bring together officials from the 190 member countries of the UN climate change convention as well as from the 172 parties to the Kyoto Protocol.

    [13] Pioneering agreement on collaborative health research between the EU and China

    The European Commission and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have signed an agreement to start joint collaborative research projects in four fields of health research. This is the first such agreement where the mechanism of proposal selection follows the Framework Programme scheme and the resulting projects will be jointly funded by the EU's 7th Research Framework Programme and China. China is one of the most important non-European countries participating in EU research projects. Since the signing of the joint Science and Technology agreement between the EU and China in 1998, and its renewal in 2004, several Chinese research groups have participated in EU projects. In the Health Research part of the EU's 6th Research Framework Programme, China participated in 31 research projects, many of which are ongoing, with the EU contributing €3.7 million to Chinese partners.

    [14] Commission tables ambitious proposal to protect marine ecosystems and fish stocks in South Pacific

    The European Commission, acting on behalf of the European Union, has put forward ambitious measures to contain fishing effort and limit the destructive impact of some fisheries on the marine environment in the South Pacific. This move took place at the meeting of Parties to a future Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO) for non-tuna fish stocks in the region which opened in Reñaca, Chile last Monday. The Commission has proposed measures which would strictly implement the sections relating to bottom gear fisheries of the Sustainable Fisheries Resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in December last year. Furthermore, fishing effort would be frozen on both demersal (close to the sea floor) and small pelagic stocks (mid-water) at 2007 levels. The EU was one of the main backers of the UNGA resolution which calls for all vulnerable marine ecosystems on the high seas to be closed to bottom fisheries until appropriate conservation and management measures are in place to prevent any destructive impacts. The resolution also effectively reverses the burden of proof requiring the non-destructive nature of the fishery to be demonstrated before it can be authorised to continue. In parallel, the European Commission is also calling for a freeze on fishing effort in the region until such time as the biological status of the main non-tuna stocks can be adequately assessed. This would comprise an indefinite freeze on fisheries using bottom gears on demersal stocks such as orange roughy, alfonsino, and toothfish, and a two-year freeze on fishing effort on jack mackerel, the principal commercial small pelagic stock. The purpose of the meeting in Reñaca is to advance work on establishing a legal framework for a South Pacific RFMO, and to establish voluntary interim measures to ensure sound precautionary management of fish stocks and the marine environment pending the setting up of the RFMO. Adoption of the Commission’s proposed package would set a strong precedent for existing RFMOs both in terms of implementing the UNGA resolution well in advance of the 31 December 2007 deadline, and in terms of precautionary management of fishing effort. The parties to this week’s meeting in Reñaca are hoping to reach agreement on interim measures which would apply until the new Convention is negotiated and enters into force. The Commission believes that a consensus can be found to implement measures to conserve fish stocks and protect vulnerable ecosystems.

    [15] Le commissaire Louis Michel remet le Prix Lorenzo Natali 2006 la journaliste de Hong Kong Leu Siew Ying

    A l'occasion de la journée internationale de la liberté de la presse, Louis Michel, le commissaire européen chargé du développement et de l’aide humanitaire, a remis le Grand Prix Lorenzo Natali 2006 la journaliste de Hong¬ Kong Leu Siew Ying pour son rapport intitulé "From Village Protest to National Flashpoint". L'article primé raconte l’histoire de villageois de la province de Guangzhou/sud de la Chine qui tentent de révoquer leur dirigeant élu en raison de soupçons de corruption. Quatorze autres journalistes ont également reçu des prix Natali pour leur engagement en faveur des droits de l'homme et de la démocratie.

    [16] March 2007 compared to March 2006 : volume of retail trade up by 2.6% in euro area ; up by 3.8% in EU27

    In March 2007, compared with March 2006, the volume of retail trade grew by 2.6% in the euro area (EA13) and by 3.8% in the EU27. Compared with February 2007, the retail sales index rose by 0.5% in the euro area and by 0.6% in the EU27. In March 2007, compared with March 2006, retail trade of "food, drinks and tobacco" increased by 2.1% in the euro area and by 2.3% in the EU27. The non food sector increased by 2.7% and by 5.0% respectively. Among the Member States for which data are available, total retail trade rose in Latvia (+27.7%), Estonia (+24.1%), Lithuania (+15.9%), Bulgaria (+13.5%), Poland (+13.1%), Sweden (+9.5%), Finland (+9.2%), Slovenia (+9.0%), Luxembourg (+8.9%), Slovakia (+6.2%), Spain (+5.5%), the United Kingdom (+5.2%), France (+5.0%), Denmark (+4.0%), Portugal (+3.4%), Austria (+1.9%) and Belgium (+0.1%), while a fall was recorded in Germany (- 0.7%).

    [17] Autre matériel diffusé

    Preparation Agriculture/Fisheries Council of May 2007

    Speech by Mariann Fischer Boel : "Prospects for the EU grain and oilseeds sectors" at Conference by COCERAL European Grain and Oilseed Convention

    Speech by Günter Verheugen : "SMEs - an opportunity for Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Social Responsibility - an opportunity for SMEs" at Responsible Entrepreneurship Exchange (03/05)

    Discours de M. Jacques Barrot : "La future politique maritime de l'UE : une vision européenne des océans et des mers" (03/05, Brême)

    Speech by Leonard Orban : "Words can prove mightier than military divisions" at opening of Prague Book Fair (03/05, Prague)

    Discours de M. Louis Michel : "Une presse libre et responsable est un ressort indispensable de la démocratie et de l'Etat de Droit" la remise des Prix 'Lorenzo Natali' (03/05)

    Calendrier du 7 au 12 mai 2007

    Top News from the European Commission (07 May – 03 June 2007) From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at http://europa.eu.int/


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