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Daily News – 05.08.2005

Midday Express of 2005-08-05

European Commission - 05/08/2005

EXME05 / 5.8

MIDDAY EXPRESS

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

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Général Presse et Communication

05 / 08 / 05

  • José Manuel Barroso and Joaquín Almunia at Wim Duisenberg's memorial service

The President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso and the Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Joaquín Almunia will attend the memorial service for Wim Duisenberg this Saturday in Amsterdam at 11.00 a.m. They will pay their last respects to Mr Duisenberg who was president of the European Central Bank from its creation in 1998 until 2003. President Barroso and Commissioner Almunia want to express their personal appreciation for the key role played by Mr Duisenberg in giving credibility and independence to the European Central Bank. Mr Duisenberg made a vital contribution to the successful introduction of the euro and the creation of the monetary union in Europe.

  • Statement by Franco Frattini on Italian decision on the legal proceedings in regard to the London bombing suspect

The setting of the date, the 17th of August, for the extradition hearing of Issac Hamdi, at the Court of Appeal of Rome, one of the men suspected of carrying out the attempted bombings on 21 July in London is considered as "good and important news" by European Commission Vice-President Franco Frattini. He stated on 4 August : "The timely and swift decision of the Court of Appeal of Rome confirms the serious commitment of Italian judicial authorities, and particularly of public prosecutors investigating on this case, at a time when the challenge to establish new and continuing cooperation among EU Member States is crucial. Furthermore, this decision shows the strategic importance of the new legal instruments developed by the EU, such as the European Arrest Warrant, capable of delivering the real added value of European action at the very time when the Union is confronted with difficult challenges, i.e. after London bombings. This shows that Europe is finally playing its role."

La Commission européenne a débloqué une enveloppe d'aide humanitaire de €3,5 millions afin de poursuivre ses activités de prévention et de préparation aux catastrophes en Asie centrale, à savoir au Kazakhstan, au Kirghizistan, au Tadjikistan, au Turkménistan et en Ouzbékistan. Ces crédits sont alloués par l'intermédiaire du service d'aide humanitaire de la Commission (ECHO), qui dépend du commissaire Louis Michel. L'assistance fournie visera à renforcer la capacité des communautés locales à prévoir, réagir à et affronter les catastrophes et protéger les communautés vulnérables contre des catastrophes naturelles potentielles, grâce à des travaux d'infrastructure à petite échelle.

The European Commission, has adopted a decision worth €4 million to support the protection activities of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the Central African Republic, the Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Azerbaijan, the Philippines and Pakistan. The funds are channelled through the Commission's humanitarian aid department (ECHO) which comes under the responsibility of Commissioner Louis Michel.

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Pinnacle Systems Inc. (Pinnacle), by Avid Technology Inc. (Avid). Both are US-based companies active in the digital video products market. After a thorough investigation the Commission has concluded that the operation will not result in a significant impediment to effective competition in the European Economic Area or any substantial part of it.

  • Commission clears acquisition of Dexia-Kom and KF by Dexia CL and Kommunalkredit

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of Dexia Kommunalkredit Bank AG (Dexia-Kom) of Austria and Kommunalkredit Finance a.s. (KF) of the Czech Republic by Dexia Crédit Local (Dexia CL) of France, controlled by Dexia S.A. of Belgium and Kommunalkredit Austria AG (Kommunalkredit) of Austria, controlled by Österreichische Volksbanken AG (ÖVAG) of Austria. Dexia CL is a licensed bank specialised in public finance organised under French law. Dexia CL holds approximately 50.84% of shares of Dexia-Kom, which before the transaction was a mere holding company controlling its shareholdings in its two subsidiary companies active in the financial services markets in Slovakia and Poland, including public finance services. Kommunalkredit is a licensed bank with its main business focus on public finance mainly in Austria, Switzerland and new Member States. It provides public finance services in the Czech Republic through its subsidiary KF. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

In its 2004 annual report on Hong Kong the European Commission acknowledges significant economic developments, improvement in legislative reform, and growing trade relationship between the EU and Hong Kong. However, it has raised concerns on the implementation of the "One country Two Systems" principle and hopes for further progress in line with the high level of autonomy granted to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).

  • Internal Market : Commission publishes mortgage credit costs and benefits study

The European Commission has published a report on the costs and benefits of further integration of the EU mortgage credit market, carried out on its behalf by London Economics, a UK-based economic consultancy which was awarded the contract after an open call for tender. The report predicts that intervention at EU level has the potential to facilitate and promote integration, leading to greater competition and increased product completeness in national mortgage markets. The report estimates the current (2005) value to the EU economy of such increased integration over the next ten years at €94.6 billion, which amounts to 0.89% of current EU GDP. The Commission will study carefully the report and the basis for the findings as part of its assessment of the business case for Commission intervention in the EU mortgage credit market. The Commission's general view is that integration in the EU mortgage credit market can occur in many different ways - e.g. by lenders establishing branches/subsidiaries in other Member States or through cross-border mortgage credit funding activity - and not just in the small niche area of 'pure' cross-border transactions (where the consumer is based in one Member State and the lender in another). This approach is reflected in both the report and the recently published Commission Green Paper on Mortgage Credit. These documents are available at :

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/finservices-retail/home-loans/index_en.htm

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