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EXME04 / 29.11


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

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

29 / 11 / 04

  • Draft decision on genetically modified maize MON 863 to be referred to Council

Following today's vote in the Regulatory Committee on the release of genetically modified organisms into the environment, the draft decision to authorise the import and processing of the genetically modified maize known as MON 863 will pass on to the Council of Ministers. The Committee, which is set up under Directive 2001/18/EC and representing the Member States, did not reach the qualified majority necessary to support the Commission proposal to authorise the maize. The Commission will now, in the coming weeks, formally transmit the proposal to the Council of Ministers for decision. The Council can either adopt or reject the proposal with a qualified majority. If no decision is taken after three months, the file returns to the Commission which can then adopt it. If authorized, the Bt-maize, which has been modified for resistance to corn rootworm, would be clearly labelled as containing GM maize, in accordance with the labelling and traceability legislation in force since 15 April 2004. It would be authorized for import and processing, for example as animal feed, but not for cultivation or human food.

Adapter le régime alimentaire pour réduire l'occurrence de la maladie d'Alzheimer ou de l'ostéoporose et plus généralement pour améliorer l'état de santé chez les personnes âgées, telles sont les possibilités mises au jour par la recherche sur la nutrition et la santé menée par l'Union européenne. Des spécialistes des effets de la nutrition sur le vieillissement se réunissent aujourd'hui à Bruxelles pour examiner les derniers progrès, réfléchir à la manière dont les résultats de leurs travaux pourraient être utilisés par les autorités sanitaires, le corps médical et le secteur de l'alimentation et de la restauration, et pour envisager les futures pistes de recherche dans ce domaine.

  • Commission clears acquisition of Ahold Iberia by Permira

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of Dutch company Ahold Iberia by Permira Holdings Limited (PHL), based in Guernsey. PHL is a private equity company which focuses on pan-European investments. Ahold Iberia belongs to the Ahold Group. It is the holding company of Ahold Supermercados, the seventh largest food retailer in Spain with 572 stores. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

  • Deep sea species : Commission proposes to cut catches of very vulnerable fish stocks

According to scientists, catches of most deep sea stocks must urgently be reduced. The species concerned are slow growing and as such are particularly vulnerable to overexploitation. Furthermore, despite recent efforts at improving data on fisheries activities, knowledge of these species is still scant. The European Commission proposes therefore that fishing effort and quotas be reduced for 2005 and 2006 in fisheries that have been regulated for the past two years. It also proposes to limit effort and catches in hitherto unregulated fisheries such as deep sea sharks. Where applying scientific advice would involve cuts in catches of over 50%, these would be limited to 50% ; where substantial but unspecified cuts are advised, these would be set at 30%. The fishing effort of the fleets concerned would be reduced and, in some fisheries, closed areas established. Species concerned include orange roughy, black scabbardfish, roundnose grenadier, Greenland halibut, ling, tusk and red seabream. The Commission believes that, by leading the way, the EU will encourage other Parties to apply similar restrictions on their fleets to protect the stocks concerned. It will continue to promote this approach within the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC). The Commission proposal can be accessed at the following address:

  • EU and Norway reach agreement on fishing possibilities

The European Commission, on behalf of the European Union, and Norway have agreed on the levels of fishing possibilities for the seven joint fish stocks in the North Sea. The two Parties will start developing a joint management system for other joint stocks such as anglerfish, horse mackerel, sandeel and Norway pout. They have also agreed to reduce the levels of swaps particularly for industrial species (sandeel and Norway pout) and pelagic species, to take account of the biological state of these stocks. They will consult later on further transfers of sandeel, once the EU has established the fishing possibilities for 2005 for this stock. It was not possible to finalise the negotiations on fishing possibilities in Greenland waters as these have not yet been established for Greenland halibut. The two parties will return to this matter shortly. The agreed TACs and quotas are available at :

  • Commission restricts imports of Romanian horses to push for improved health and welfare conditions

The European Commission today adopted a decision to restrict the import of horses from Romania following repeated reports from the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) of shortcomings regarding both health and welfare conditions of horses exported to the EU from Romania. Problems included insufficient testing for diseases, incomplete certificates and a lack of proper identification of exported animals, in violation of Directive 90/426/EEC on animal health conditions for the movement and import from third countries of equidae. In addition, horses intended for export to the EU from Romania were being kept in unacceptable conditions including over-crowding and insufficient access to food and water. Poor welfare conditions are closely linked to health problems. The EU is specifically committed to pushing for improved animal welfare and expects these import restrictions to act as a spur to quickly improve the conditions for the affected horses. The import measures do not affect the temporary admission of registered horses for races and cultural events. In addition, horses for slaughter and for breeding and production can continue to be imported if they meet strict import conditions. The measures enter into force immediately. In order to follow up the situation continuously and withdraw the measures as soon as possible, the Hungarian authorities responsible for the Border Inspection Posts bordering with Romania and the competent authorities of the Member States where horses are imported should provide the Commission with detailed information on the situation and the measures taken. In light of the information received the measures could be reviewed by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health. The new legislation on animal transport adopted last Monday will further improve the welfare of animals transported within the EU, particularly through innovative measures such as the mandatory transport of horses in individual stalls.

The European Commission has earmarked €51 million in humanitarian aid for the victims of conflict in Sudan. This amount includes at least €31 million for the people affected by the crisis in the Darfur region. This aid package will help provide the victims with food and nutritional support, shelter, access to clean water and sanitation, emergency health care and protection for vulnerable civilians. The aid will be channelled by ECHO, the European Commission's humanitarian aid department. It brings the total Commission aid for Sudan (including development aid) for this year to more than €248 million, including about €215 million for the victims of the Darfur crisis.

The EU, alongside six WTO members (Brazil, Canada, India, Korea, Japan and Mexico), received on 26 November WTO authorisation to impose retaliatory measures against the US for failing to bring its legislation into conformity with its international trade obligations. This was a formal step before retaliatory measures could be imposed. These measures will take the form of additional import duties on wide variety of US products from an indicative list approved by the WTO that includes machinery, foodstuffs, textiles and paper products. The EU has urged the US to avoid retaliation by complying with its international obligations.

Danuta Hübner, the European Commissioner responsible for Regional Policy, meets on 29 and 30 November in Rotterdam the ministers of the EU Member States in charge of territorial cohesion and urban policy. The Dutch Presidency has prepared these two informal ministerial meetings. On the first day and concerning territorial cohesion, the meeting will discuss an agenda for specific actions to be taken during the next two-three years on how to exploit Europe's diversity for sustainable economic growth. Concerning urban policy, which will be on the agenda on the second day, Member States and Commission will discuss how cities empower Europe and how they contribute to the objectives of the Lisbon strategy aiming to make the EU the world's most dynamic and competitive economy.

Les 30 novembre et 1er décembre 2004, l'Action Jean Monnet organise à Bruxelles, en collaboration avec l'ECSA (Association européenne d'études des Communautés européennes), la 7ème conférence internationale ECSA-World sur le thème de "L'Union européenne et les ordres mondiaux émergents: perceptions et stratégies". Quelque 500 participants, accueillis par José Manuel Barroso, Président de la Commission européenne, et Ján Figel, Commissaire chargé de l'éducation, de la formation, de la culture et du multilinguisme, pourront débattre avec des orateurs prestigieux de la place de l'UE sur la scène internationale.

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