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Midday Express of 2003-04-16

European Commission - MEX/03/0416   16/04/2003

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  • Commission's competition services settle Marathon case with Gasunie

      The European Commission's competition department has decided to close its probe into the suspected refusal by Dutch gas company Gasunie to grant access to its pipeline network to the Norwegian subsidiary of US oil and gas producer Marathon in the nineties. Network access is a key plank of EU legislation to create a European single market for gas and any unjustified refusal to grant access is a violation of European competition rules. Marathon experienced difficulties in a number of European countries, but Gasunie, like Thyssengas in the past, has taken measures to improve transparency of its access regime and to better handle access requests. The investigation continues regarding the behaviour of three other incumbent gas companies in Europe, which had rejected Marathon's access request.

  • La Commission propose de prolonger jusqu'à 2006 les programmes "Culture 2000" et MEDIA

      La Commission européenne propose au Conseil et au Parlement européen de prolonger à l'identique les programmes culturels communautaires existants dans les domaines de la culture et de l'audiovisuel jusqu'à la fin de 2006, afin d'assurer la continuité de l'action communautaire dans ces domaines jusqu'à l'entrée en vigueur des nouvelles perspectives financières de l'Union en 2007. Le programme "Culture 2000", qui soutient la coopération entre acteurs culturels pour mettre en évidence la diversité culturelle européenne et favoriser la création d'un espace culturel commun, se termine en effet à la fin de 2004. Les programmes MEDIA Plus et MEDIA Formation, de soutien à la création et à l'industrie audiovisuelles européennes, se terminent à la fin de 2005. Avant la fin de 2003, Viviane Reding, commissaire à l'Education et à la Culture, fera au Collège des propositions pour les programmes devant commencer début 2007.

  • March issuance of euro-denominated bonds in line with March last year

      The war against Iraq was the main driving force behind financial market developments in March. Government bonds continued to benefit from a safe-haven status at the beginning of the month, but expectations of a short war in Iraq led to a sharp equity market rally from 11 to 21 March and a sharp price correction in government bond markets. The euro yield curve shifted slightly upwards over the month as a whole, while the slope of the curve was unchanged with the two-year/ten-year spread steady at about 165 basis points. Total issuance of euro denominated bonds in March amounted to €157 billion. This is €20 billion less than in February and is broadly comparable to issuance volumes in March 2002 and March 2001. With respect to composition of issuance, the main characteristic was a decline in corporate issuance to only €6.2 billion or 4% of total issuance. Full report on: http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/bondmarkets_en.htm

  • March 2003 : Euro-zone annual inflation stable at 2.4% ; EU15 stable at 2.3%

      Euro-zone annual inflation was 2.4% in March 2003, the same as in February, Eurostat the Statistical Office of the European Communities in Luxembourg reports today. A year earlier the rate was 2.5%. EU15 annual inflation was 2.3% in March 2003, the same as in February. A year earlier the rate was 2.3%. EEA annual inflation was 2.3% in March 2003. In March, the highest annual rates were recorded in Ireland (4.9%), Greece (3.9%) and Portugal (3.8%) ; the lowest rates were observed in Germany (1.2%), United Kingdom (1.6%) and Belgium (1.7%).

  • February 2003 : industrial production up by 0.2% in euro-zone ; up by 0.3% in EU15

      Seasonally adjusted industrial production increased by 0.2% in the euro-zone in February 2003 compared to January 2003, Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities in Luxembourg, estimates today. Production increased by 1.3% in January 2003 after a fall of 1.4% in December 2002. Output in the EU15 increased by 0.3% in February 2003, after a rise of 1.0% in January and a fall of 1.2% in December 2002. In February 2003 compared to February 2002, industrial production increased by 1.8% in the euro-zone and by 1.3% in the EU15.

  • EU survey results : Europe goes on-line for health information, but still prefers more traditional sources

      Where do Europeans turn when they want reliable information on health? A Eurobarometer survey published today by the European Commission shows that, across the EU, nearly one in four Europeans (23%) use the internet to get health information. The picture varies considerably, though, between countries : in Denmark and the Netherlands around 40% of people use the internet for health information, while in Greece, Spain, Portugal and France usage is at 15% or less. Health professionals, such as doctors and pharmacists, are still by far the most important source of health information for Europeans and the traditional media - television, newpapers, magazines - still outperform the internet. Other key findings of the survey are that medical and health organisations achieve the highest trust rating on health issues (84%), while businesses and political parties receive the lowest (16% and 11% respectively).

  • Une ultime réunion à nouveau chargée pour le comité scientifique directeur

      Six ans après sa création, le comité scientifique directeur (CSD) s'est réuni pour la toute dernière fois les 10 et 11 avril 2003. Lors de cette réunion, le CSD a rendu des avis sur 19 questions en suspens liées à l'ESB ainsi que sur l'harmonisation des méthodes d'évaluation des risques. C'est désormais l'Autorité européenne de sécurité des aliments qui fournira les avis scientifiques à la base de la politique de la Commission en matière de sécurité alimentaire à l'échelon européen.

  • La Commission présente les objectifs de l'UE pour la Conférence mondiale des radiocommunications de 2003

      La Commission européenne a adopté une communication qui définit les priorités et les objectifs que l'Union européenne défendra lors de la conférence mondiale des radiocommunications de 2003 (CMR-03). Cette conférence qui est organisée à intervalles réguliers par l'Union internationale des télécommunications se tiendra à Genève du 9 juin au 4 juillet 2003 ; elle vise à actualiser les décisions d'attribution de fréquences et les autres conditions d'utilisation du spectre radioélectrique au niveau mondial. Parce qu'elles déterminent les conditions d'accès au spectre radioélectrique, les négociations de la CMR-03 sont potentiellement cruciales pour la réalisation de certaines politiques et initiatives communautaires clés comme la société de l'information (communications mobiles 3G, réseaux locaux sans fil) et la politique des transports (système Galiléo de radionavigation par satellite). Par cette communication, la Commission invite le Parlement européen et le Conseil à appeler les Etats membres à soutenir activement les propositions européennes élaborées en vue de la CMR-03 par la Conférence européenne des administrations des postes et des télécommunications (CEPT) en considération des objectifs des politiques communautaires.

  • Giovannini Group report calls for an integrated EU clearing and settlement within three years

      The second report by a group of financial market experts chaired by Alberto Giovannini on clearing and settlement has been published today. The Group's report responds to a mandate from Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pedro Solbes and Internal Market and Taxation Commissioner Frits Bolkestein. They both welcomed the report. The Group's report suggests a strategy for removing within three years the fifteen barriers to integration identified in its first report (of November 2001 - see IP/01/1654). The Group suggests a sequence of actions to remove the barriers, allocating responsibility for each action between the private sector and national governments. The Group identifies a set of issues of concern to national authorities. These issues cost effectiveness, fair competition and systemic risk are then examined in the context of three possible models of consolidation. Commenting on the second report, Commissioner Solbes highlighted the importance of integrated clearing and settlement arrangements as part of a broader process of economic reform within the EU. "An integrated clearing and settlement system is essential for the efficient functioning of the EU financial system", said Mr Solbes. "And, it is difficult to see how the EU can achieve its objective in terms of boosting economic performance without a financial system that functions to maximum efficiency." Commissioner Bolkestein added : "Removing the barriers to cross-border clearing and settlement is an important condition for ensuring properly functioning financial markets. We will build upon the valuable work of the Giovannini Group in a forthcoming Communication outlining how the Commission intends to ensure efficient and cost-effective cross-border clearing and settlement in the EU."

      The full report is available on The DG ECFIN web page:

      http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/giovannini/clearing_settlement_arrangements140403.pdf or on the DG MARKT web-page :

      http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/en/finances/mobil/clearing/index.htm

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