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Daily News – 04.12.2006

Midday Express of 2006-12-04

Commission Européenne - 04/12/2006

EXME06 / 4.12

MIDDAY EXPRESS

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

04 / 12 / 06

Mme Benita Ferrero-Waldner, membre de la Commission européenne chargé des relations extérieures et de la politique européenne de voisinage, a présenté de nouvelles propositions destinées à renforcer et développer encore la politique européenne de voisinage (PEV). Les 18 premiers mois de mise en œuvre de la PEV ont donné de bons résultats. La nouvelle communication explique comment accroître l'incidence de cette politique en proposant des mesures par lesquelles l'Union européenne aiderait ses partenaires désireux d'entreprendre des réformes, à le faire mieux et plus rapidement, tout en fournissant des incitations de nature à convaincre ceux qui continuent à hésiter. Les nouvelles propositions sont assorties de rapports de suivi sur les partenaires de la PEV dont les plans d'action PEV ont été mis en œuvre en 2005. Cette communication alimentera les travaux de la présidence allemande à venir, au cours du premier semestre 2007.

(! embargo 14h15 !) On the occasion of the visit to the European Commission of Kazakh President Noursoultan Nazarbaev, the EU and the Republic of Kazakhstan signed today a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that establishes the basis for enhanced energy cooperation. Both parties have also initialled an Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy that will be signed officially at a later stage. "With these two documents, the Republic of Kazakhstan and the European Union have laid the foundations of constructive cooperation in the energy sector which will be extremely fruitful for both parts", said Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso.

Après plus de 40 ans de dictature et de guerre, la République Démocratique du Congo (RDC) dispose désormais d'un Président élu au suffrage universel direct, d'une Constitution moderne ratifiée massivement et d'un Parlement démocratique représentatif de tous les citoyens. Le Commissaire au Développement et à l'Aide humanitaire, Louis Michel, qui se rendra le 6 décembre à Kinshasa pour l'investiture du Président Joseph Kabila, propose un doublement de l'aide au développement européenne pour soutenir la reconstruction de l'Etat congolais. Un premier paquet de €33 millions sera consacré à renforcer la gouvernance et les institutions au service des citoyens.

La Commission européenne propose une suppression progressive du droit d'apport d'ici 2010 afin de favoriser la croissance des entreprises de l'Union européenne. Le droit d'apport est un impôt indirect prélevé sur les apports aux sociétés de capitaux et sur les opérations de restructuration de ces sociétés. Compte tenu de ses effets économiques néfastes, il constitue un obstacle à la croissance économique. Aujourd'hui, sur les 25 Etats membres, seuls sept (la Grèce, l'Espagne, Chypre, le Luxembourg, l'Autriche, la Pologne et le Portugal) continuent de le percevoir.

  • Commission clears acquisition of part of Acorn by Sun Group

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of the Autobar Packaging Business (the Business) of Acorn Netherlands Z B.V. (Acorn) of the Netherlands by Sun Group of the US. Sun Group manages private equity investment funds. The Business manufactures disposable, flexible and rigid packaging products. Acorn is the holding company of the Business. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

  • Commission clears acquisition of Gondola by Cinven

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of Gondola Holdings plc (Gondola) of the UK by Cinven Limited also of the UK. Cinven provides investment management advice and services to a number of investment funds, which have controlling interests in various trading companies. Gondola is the holding company for the Pizza Express, Ask and Zizzi restaurant chains in the UK. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

The EU Council endorsed on 1st December European Commission proposals to strengthen EU policies, actions and programmes so as to promote decent work both within the Union and worldwide. Decent work – which covers more and better jobs with welfare protection, equal opportunities and social dialogue – can help developing countries fight poverty. Improving working and living conditions can also help EU Member States better confront the challenges of globalisation, technological progress and demographic change. The first EU-level conference on effectively implementing decent work through EU internal and external policies, including Employment and Social Affairs, Development and Trade, will take place in Brussels on 4-5 December.

  • Experts meet to discuss avian influenza and wild birds

The role of wild birds in the spread of avian influenza during the outbreaks in the EU earlier this year is being discussed at a special meeting of Member State veterinary and ornithology experts, hosted by the European Commission in Brussels on 1st December. The aim of the meeting is to review the knowledge on this issue and the progress made in dealing with this threat and to ensure closer cooperation between the veterinary and ornithological sectors in addressing any future incidences of the disease.

  • Ban on imports of live captive birds prolonged

A European Commission proposal to prolong, for three months, the EU ban on all imports of live captive birds was endorsed by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health on 1st December. The ban, which was first adopted in October 2005 as part of EU preventative measures against avian influenza, will remain in place until 31 March 2007. Originally, the Commission had not intended to extend this ban. Instead, it had intended to amend the entire set of provisions for captive bird imports, including quarantine requirements, laid down in Decision 2000/666/EEC. However, before putting forward such a proposal, the Commission required the scientific evaluation of the situation by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). In October 2006 EFSA adopted its opinion on the animal health and welfare risks associated with live bird imports, which became officially available in mid-November. The opinion identified a number of ways in which the provisions for captive bird imports could be improved so as to significantly reduce any risk posed to animal health in the EU. The Commission needs more time to carefully consider EFSA's evaluation before deciding on the most appropriate measures for captive bird imports in the future. The aim is to put forward a proposal on these measures in early 2007. Given the global avian influenza situation, it was deemed necessary to keep the current import ban in place until these new protection measures are in place.

For more information, see:

http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/health_consumer/dyna/influenza/index.cfm

  • Commission reaction to REACH agreement

The European Commission very much welcomes the agreement achieved on 30 November in the negotiations between the Finnish Presidency, acting for the Council, and the European Parliament, represented by Mr Florenz, Chairman for the Environment Committee, and Mr Sacconi, Rapporteur, with a view to adopting REACH at the second reading. At this meeting, the Commission, represented by Vice-President Günter Verheugen and Commissioner Stavros Dimas, indicated its support for the compromise package which emerged. It is a marked improvement of the present situation regarding health and environment. At the same time, it safeguards the competitiveness of the European industry, paying particular attention to the situation of SMEs, and encourages innovation. While it is a matter for the Parliament and Council to make a final decision on the package, the Commission believes that it will allow the Union to move forward with implementing a major policy initiative to the benefit of its citizens.

The euro area industrial producer price index remained unchanged in October 2006 compared with September 2006, while EU25 prices rose by 0.2%. In September prices fell by 0.5% in the euro area and by 0.7% in the EU25. In October 2006 compared to October 2005, industrial producer prices increased by 4.0% in the euro area and by 4.3% in the EU25. These figures come from Eurostat.

The opportunities and challenges of rail transport in a changing economic and social environment: this was the main topic of discussion at the "Mobility in the European Union: what place for rail?" conference organised by the European Commission in Brussels today.

European Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs participated today in the opening ceremony of the start up of Estlink, an underwater electricity cable that will connect the electricity systems of Finland and Baltic States. The cable connects Estonia to Finland, and thereby the Nordic transmission grid to the Baltic States. "Up until now, the Baltic States were an electricity island. The Estlink will enable electricity trade between the Baltic States and Finland, effectively putting an end to the isolation of the region", said Commissioner Piebalgs.

European Regional policy Commissioner Danuta Hübner visited on 2 December Lower Silesia, a region in south-west Poland, to discuss the development opportunities for regions as detailed in the new European Cohesion Policy 2007-2013. Danuta Hübner met Lower Silesia Marshal Paweł Wróblewski, Wroclaw President Rafał Dutkiewicz, and Wrocław Technology University chancellor Tadeusz Luty. The Commissioner noted that Lower Silesia needs to build on the innovation capacity and effective partnerships between different stakeholders in order to boost competitive knowledge based economy. She also underlined the central role of cities in the economic and social development of the region.

  • EU and Norway reach agreement on fishing possibilities for 2007 (01/12)

The European Commission, on behalf of the European Union, and Norway have agreed on the levels of fishing possibilities, for next year, on the seven joint fish stocks in the North Sea. The negotiations took place in a very positive and constructive atmosphere. The Parties took into account the latest scientific advice when agreeing the fishing possibilities, as well as the need to ensure sustainable fisheries. The measures agreed include the implementation of a revised long-term management plan for haddock, which will come into effect in 2007. The two Parties also agreed on the guiding principles for a future long-term management plan for plaice which should be set up in the near future. There are currently four joint multi-annual plans in place for cod, haddock, saithe and herring. In addition, the Parties also reached agreement on a series of exchanges of fishing possibilities in the North Sea and North-East Atlantic, which will provide fishing opportunities for both Parties to fish in a sustainable manner on species of common interest. Further real progress has been made in strengthening control and enforcement so as to fight illegal fishing activities.

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