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Midday Express of 2005-12-22

European Commission - MEX/05/1222   22/12/2005

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EXME05 / 22.12

MIDDAY EXPRESS

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

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

22 / 12 / 05


I. Résultats de la Commission du 21 décembre 2005 -
Outcome of Commission meeting of 21 December

(voir aussi - see also ME of 21/12)

La Commission européenne a adopté une proposition pour un nouveau règlement sur l'alimentation biologique qui sera plus clair pour les consommateurs et les agriculteurs. Les nouvelles règles seront plus simples et donneront une plus grande latitude pour tenir compte des spécificités régionales concernant le climat et les conditions de production. Les producteurs d’aliments biologiques auront le choix d'utiliser ou non le logotype de l'UE signalant les produits issus de l'agriculture biologique. S'ils décident de ne pas l'utiliser, leurs produits devront obligatoirement porter la mention standard "UE BIOLOGIQUE". Seuls les aliments pour lesquels 95% au moins du produit final est issu de l'agriculture biologique pourront être ainsi étiquetés. Les denrées alimentaires contenant des OGM ne pourront pas bénéficier de l'étiquetage réservé aux produits biologiques, hormis ceux contenant jusqu'à 0,9% d'OGM pour cause de contamination accidentelle. Les importations de produits biologiques seront autorisées pour autant que les pays d’origine respectent les normes UE ou offrent des garanties équivalentes.

The European Commission has appointed Claus Haugaard Sørensen as the new Director-General of Directorate-General for Communication. Mr Sørensen will be responsible, under the authority of Vice-President Margot Wallström, for overall communication policy.

M. Matthias Ruete a été nommé directeur général de la direction générale de l'énergie et des transports. Dans le cadre de ses nouvelles fonctions, M. Ruete sera appelé, sous l'autorité du vice-président Barrot et du commissaire Piebalgs, chargé des transports et de l'énergie, à définir la stratégie globale, à gérer et à diriger la direction générale et à élaborer une stratégie dans les domaines de l'énergie et des transports, y compris dans celui de la sûreté et de la sécurité nucléaire. Il devra planifier et gérer utilement les activités de la direction générale, définir des orientations et veiller à l'efficacité de la direction. Il lui incombe également de garantir la cohérence et la compatibilité des politiques de la direction générale avec les objectifs généraux de la Commission.

Mr Alexander Italianer was appointed Deputy Secretary-General in the Secretariat-General. In his new capacity, Mr Italianer will support the overall activities of the Secretariat-General. He will represent the European Commission at senior level in inter-institutional forums and will chair inter-service groups. He will also have specific coordination and management responsibilities for a number of Directorates inside the Secretariat-General.

The European Commission has appointed Mr Fokion Fotiadis as the new Deputy Director-General of Directorate-General External Relations. In his new functions, Mr Fotiadis will be in charge of the European Neighbourhood Policy and of the relations with Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia, Middle East and South Mediterranean area. He will also coordinate the work of three directorates, two of which cover the geographic areas "Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asian Republics" and "Near and Middle East, South Mediterranean Region". Mr Fotiadis will be in charge of defining strategic guidelines for the negotiation and implementation of the Agreements and supervising the planning of the various cooperation models.


II. Other news - Autres nouvelles

The European Commission has issued a Statement of Objections against Microsoft for its failure to comply with certain of its obligations under the March 2004 Commission decision (the "March 2004 Decision", see IP/04/382). That decision found Microsoft to have infringed the EC Treaty rules on abuse of a dominant position (Article 82) by leveraging its near monopoly in the market for PC operating systems onto the markets for work group server operating systems and for media players. One of the remedies imposed by the decision was for Microsoft to disclose complete and accurate interface documentation which would allow non-Microsoft work group servers to achieve full interoperability with Windows PCs and servers. The Statement of Objections indicates that the Commission's preliminary view, supported by two reports from the Monitoring Trustee (see IP/05/1215), is that Microsoft has not yet provided complete and accurate specifications for this interoperability information. After giving Microsoft an opportunity to reply to the Statement of Objections, the Commission may impose a daily penalty.

Following the adoption of the fishing possibilities for 2006 by the Council of Fisheries Ministers, early this morning, Joe Borg, European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, described the agreement as a further step towards ensuring the environmental and economic sustainability of fisheries. Ministers were discussing the Commission proposals on catch levels for the Baltic Sea and for the rest of the Union's waters. With regard to the main proposal, Commissioner Borg said that the agreement reached would provide greater protection for the stocks that needed it most, namely cod and deep-sea fish stocks. The measures for the Baltic paved the way for the setting up of a multi-annual recovery plan for cod in 2007, he said. The Council also adopted a recovery plan for the sole stock in the Bay of Biscay. This plan aims to reduce the catches of sole until the stock reaches safe biological levels. A management plan will subsequently be put in place to ensure the continued protection of this stock.

Medical devices have become an increasingly important health care area in relation to their impact on health and health care expenditure. The sector covers some 10,000 types of products, ranging from simple bandages and spectacles, through life maintaining implantable devices, equipment to screen and diagnose disease and health conditions, to the most sophisticated diagnostic imaging and minimal invasive surgery equipment. The public expects that these devises meet the highest safety standards. Today, the European Commission has proposed amendments to the current legislative framework. The proposal has been developed involving extensive stakeholder consultation and has also been subject to a public consultation. This brought forward many relevant and important contributions which, where appropriate, were incorporated into the proposal. The most significant proposals concern conformity assessment, including design documentation and design review, clarification of the clinical evaluation requirements, post market surveillance, compliance of custom-made device manufacturers and the alignment of the original medical device directive 90/385/EEC.

Le 1er janvier 2006 sera une date importante pour la sécurité alimentaire au sein de l'UE. C'est en effet à cette date qu'entrera en vigueur un vaste ensemble de textes législatifs actualisés concernant les denrées alimentaires et les aliments pour animaux. Le train de mesures relatives à l'hygiène, le règlement concernant les critères microbiologiques applicables aux denrées alimentaires, le règlement relatif aux contrôles officiels des aliments pour animaux et des denrées alimentaires et le règlement relatif à l'hygiène des aliments pour animaux représentent un ensemble complémentaire de règles visant à renforcer et harmoniser l'action de l'Union dans le domaine de la sécurité alimentaire. Ces textes législatifs s'appliqueront à chaque maillon de la chaîne de production des denrées alimentaires, conformément à la démarche "de la ferme à la table" adoptée par l'UE. Un des principaux aspects de la nouvelle législation réside dans le fait que la responsabilité première du contrôle du respect des normes de sécurité définies incombera à la totalité des opérateurs du secteur des denrées alimentaires et des aliments pour animaux (des agriculteurs aux exploitants d'entreprises de transformation, en passant par les commerces de détail et les traiteurs) qui mettent ces produits sur le marché de l'Union.

An EU-wide ban on the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in animal feed enters into effect on January 1, 2006. The last four antibiotics which have been permitted as feed additives to help fatten livestock will no longer be allowed to be marketed or used from this date. The ban is the final step in the phasing out of antibiotics used for non-medicinal purposes. It is part of the European Commission's overall strategy to tackle the emergence of bacteria and other microbes resistant to antibiotics, due to their overexploitation or misuse.

Selon un nouveau rapport de la Commission, il faut intensifier les efforts visant à réduire le recours inopportun aux antibiotiques dans l'Union européenne et à faire pièce à l'apparition de "supermicrobes" résistant aux traitements médicaux. L'utilisation abusive ou inadéquate d'antibiotiques a entraîné une accélération de la prolifération générale de bactéries et d'autres microbes immunisés contre les médicaments que l'on utilise normalement pour en venir à bout. Ce phénomène, connu sous le nom de "résistance aux substances antimicrobiennes" (RSAM), peut représenter une grave menace pour la santé en ôtant toute efficacité aux traitements traditionnellement employés contre certaines affections. Le rapport publié aujourd'hui énumère les principales mesures que doivent prendre les pouvoirs publics pour éliminer la RSAM, parmi lesquelles un endiguement plus efficace des infections, une diminution de l'automédication par antibiotiques et une meilleure information des citoyens quant au bon usage des traitements antimicrobiens.

  • EU citizens highlight their interest in animal welfare

The results of an EU-wide internet consultation on the welfare of farm animals have been published today, serving to highlight the strong interest and concerns of the public on this subject. The survey which was launched on 8 November received over 40,000 responses by its closing date of 20 December. The results show that respondents believe that more should be done to ensure the welfare and protection of farm animals, particularly laying hens, broiler chickens and fur animals for example. Data was also collected on the sources of information used by citizens on this issue, and there was strong support for better labelling on the animal welfare conditions under which products were obtained. Respondents overwhelmingly believed that imported food products should be produced under animal welfare conditions at least as high as those applied in Europe, and most were also convinced that higher animal welfare standards could result in better animal health and more ethically acceptable food products. The Commission is currently preparing a 5-year Action Plan on the protection and welfare of animals, which is expected to be published by the end of January 2006. These results along with stakeholder input, research data and the findings of recent Eurobarometer surveys on consumer attitudes will help the Commission in shaping future policy decisions on the protection and welfare of animals. For full results of the consultation, see:

http://ec.europa.eu/food/consultations/action_plan_farmed_background_en.htm

La Commission européenne va organiser à Pékin, en collaboration avec le gouvernement de la République populaire de Chine et la Banque mondiale, une conférence internationale des donateurs sur le thème de la grippe aviaire et humaine, à laquelle ont été invités plus de quatre-vingt-dix pays et vingt-cinq organisations, dont l'Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS), l'Office international des épizooties (OIE) et l'Organisation des Nations unies pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture (FAO). Plusieurs commissaires - Mme Benita Ferrero-Waldner, MM. Markos Kyprianou et Louis Michel - préparent l'intervention qu'y fera la Commission elle-même, représentée pour l'occasion par le commissaire à la santé et à la protection des consommateurs, M. Kyprianou. Ce dernier, qui co-présidera la conférence, a déclaré : "La grippe aviaire menace le monde entier et seule une action conjointe de la communauté internationale visant à attaquer le problème à la racine nous permettra de nous protéger de manière efficace." La Commission est occupée à calculer, sur la base des disponibilités des budgets 'Relations extérieures' et 'Aide au développement', le montant définitif qu'elle s'engagera à verser. Ce montant sera annoncé à la conférence et viendra s'ajouter à l'aide qui sera accordée par les Etats membres de l'Union.

  • Commission clears acquisition of ACR by Kuehne + Nagel

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of ACR Logistics Holdings BV (ACR) of the Netherlands by Kuehne + Nagel International AG (K+N) of Switzerland. K+N is a worldwide logistics company and its activities include sea freight, airfreight and contract business logistics. ACR (formerly referred to as Hays Logistics) is a worldwide contract logistics provider. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

  • Commission clears acquisition of Budapest Airport by Fraport and Deutsche Bank

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of Budapest Airport Rt. of Hungary by Fraport AG of Germany and HAH Limited of the UK, an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Deutsche Bank AG of Germany. Fraport operates and manages airports in Frankfurt, Frankfurt-Hahn, Saarbrücken, Hannover, Antalya and Lima. HAH and Deutsche Bank are active in banking. Budapest Airport operates and manages Budapest airport. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

  • Commission clears acquisition of Budapest Airport by HTA and CDPQ

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of Budapest Airport Rt. (Budapest Airport) of Hungary by Hochtief AirPort GmbH (HTA.) of Germany and Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec (CDPQ) of Canada. HTA is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hochtief Aktiengesellschaft (HT) and focuses on airport management services. CDPQ is a financial institution which manages funds for public and private pension and insurance funds. Budapest Airport is a Hungarian company operating and managing the Budapest Ferihegy International Airport. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition by the incumbent Norwegian telecommunications operator Telenor ASA ("Telenor") of Europolitan Vodafone AB (which includes Vodafone Sverige AB, "Vodafone Sverige"), the Swedish mobile telecommunications operator, currently a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vodafone group. The Commission has concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area or any substantial part of it.

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Aral ČR a.s. ("Aral ČR") by OMV Aktiengesellschaft ("OMV"). Although both parties are active in retail and non-retail sale of fuel in the Czech Republic, there are a number of other multinational and local competitors active on the markets. The Commission therefore concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area or any substantial part of it and has therefore approved the concentration.

The European Commission has approved the proposed acquisition of the German slaughterhouse company Südfleisch by the Dutch-based Sovion group under the EU Merger Regulation. Both companies are active in the slaughtering of pigs and cattle and meat sales. The main impact of the transaction will be on the slaughtering markets in the southern region of Germany. The Commission has concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the slaughtering markets in the southern region of Germany or in any other markets where the parties are active.

La Commission européenne a ouvert la procédure formelle d'examen, prévue par l'article 88(2) du Traité CE, à l'égard du soutien public octroyé par la France à l'Institut Français du Pétrole (IFP) et certaines de ses filiales. L'IFP est un organisme à but non lucratif de recherche, de formation et de documentation dans le domaine des hydrocarbures et bénéficie à ce titre d'un soutien public qui s'est élevé à €200 millions en 2003 et à €163 millions en 2004. Sur le marché des technologies de raffinage et de pétrochimie, la Commission considère que l'IFP et son entreprise filiale Axens constituent un acteur unique, en concurrence avec d'autres opérateurs privés. De plus, la Commission estime que les dépenses de R&D de l'IFP et sa filiale sur ce marché sont au moins partiellement financées par l'aide versée par l'Etat pour les activités non lucratives de l'IFP et elle doute que ce financement soit compatible avec les règles communautaires en matière d'aides d'Etat. L'ouverture d'examen permettra à la Commission d'obtenir de plus amples informations sur le périmètre et la nature des activités menées par l'IFP et certaines de ses filiales et financées par l'Etat et donnera aux parties intéressées l'occasion de commenter la mesure. Elle ne préjuge pas du résultat de l'enquête.

La Commission européenne a approuvé la reconduction jusqu'à fin 2006 du régime économique et fiscal des îles Canaries. Ce régime vise à promouvoir les activités économiques aux Canaries en permettant aux entreprises établies dans une zone considérée comme une région périphérique de surmonter leurs handicaps structurels naturels. L'enveloppe de l'aide, d'un montant de €270,5 millions, stimulera la création d'entreprises et leur extension en soutenant l'investissement productif et en contribuant à leur capitalisation.

The European Commission has initiated a formal in-depth investigation under EC Treaty state aid rules (Article 87) into aid granted to Chemobudowa Kraków, a state-owned building company. Poland has notified two measures supporting the restructuring of Chemobudowa, both amounting to €2.67 million and have informed the Commission about other measures in favour of the company granted during the restructuring period. Poland claims that the latter do not constitute state aid. The Commission has doubts as to the compatibility of the notified measures and as to the absence of aid as regards the other measures. While the Commission has no competence to assess aid granted before accession, it needs to verify the aid character of all measures that are part of the same restructuring plan in order to assess the compatibility of the measures granted after accession, in particular to determine whether the aid is limited to the minimum necessary. The opening of the formal investigation will allow interested parties to comment, but does not prejudge the Commission's final decision.

Les réformes des services d'intérêt économique général (SIEG), tels que les télécommunications, les transports aériens et les services postaux, ont produit des avantages évidents pour les consommateurs européens en termes de prix réduits, de choix et de meilleurs services, comme le montre un rapport de la Commission européenne. Cependant, le progrès actuel est lent et des obstacles à la concurrence et à l'achèvement du marché unique européen subsistent. Il appartient à la fois à la Commission et aux Etats membres de résoudre ces questions. Une concurrence renforcée dans ces industries est également essentielle pour les Etats membres ayant adhéré en 2004 pour parer aux pressions inflationnistes résultant du processus de rattrapage.

The European Commission has presented two proposals to link the 'Community Design' system, which protects designs within the EU, with the international design registration system of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). The proposals would allow companies, with a single application, to obtain protection of a design not only throughout the EU with the Community Design, but also in the countries which are members of the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement concerning the international registration of industrial designs. The first proposal relates to the accession of the European Community to the Geneva Act. The second proposal contains the necessary provisions to give effect to that accession, in particular through an amendment of Council Regulation No 6/2002 on Community Designs.

  • Internal Market : Commission report on motor insurance issues

The European Commission has issued a report addressed to the European Parliament and the Council on two motor insurance issues – compensation bodies and third-party liability cover for trailers. Based upon various consultations with interested parties carried out in 2005, the report suggests possible solutions for improving compensation for victims of accidents with a trailer, which could be examined when there is a recasting of the Motor Insurance Directives in 2007-2008. The report also concludes that compensation bodies are operating smoothly in the EU and that no major revision of the Motor Insurance Directives is required at this stage. The report has been issued in the form of a Commission Staff Working Paper and is available at :

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/insurance/motor_en.htm

La Commission européenne a annoncé que deux cent dix-sept projets auront été subventionnés au titre de son programme Culture 2000 en 2005. Au total, les subventions représentent un montant dépassant €33 millions et auront bénéficié à environ 700 organisations culturelles réparties entre les 30 pays participant à Culture 2000 (2000-2006).

The European Commission has allocated €15 million in humanitarian aid for vulnerable populations in Burma/Myanmar and to Burmese refugees along the Myanmar-Thai border. This is the second allocation to the Burmese crisis in 2005, which in total has reached €16.5 million. This decision will aim at providing protection and addressing some of the basic humanitarian needs in the health, food aid, nutrition and water & sanitation sectors of around 770,000 people inside Myanmar. It will also provide humanitarian assistance to over 130,000 Burmese refugees along the Myanmar-Thai border. Funds are managed by the Commission's Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO), whose newly opened office in Yangon will help to monitor and increase the quality and impact of the aid delivered.

The European Commission will provide €1.5 million under its Rapid Reaction Mechanism to follow-up on the 3 October 2005 Council Conclusions on Colombia. After the July 2005 enactment of the Justice and Peace Law, the EU Council confirmed the "readiness of the EU and its Member States to assist the Colombian governement and civil society in providing support for communities affected by the internal conflict, victims groups, local reconciliation activities and reinsertion and demobilisation of child soldiers". The Commission will now support a number of measures to falicitate an effective and transparent implementation of the law and so contribute towards the consolidation of lasting prospects for peace.

The European Commission has granted important preferences (duty and quota-free access) to an additional 15 vulnerable developing countries that have implemented sustainable development and good governance policies under the 'GSP+' incentive.

According to Eurostat, the euro-zone industrial new orders index fell by 0.5% in October 2005 compared to September 2005. The index rose by 1.6% in September and remained unchanged in August. EU25 new orders remained stable in October 2005, after rises of 0.7% in September3 and of 0.2% in August. In October 2005 compared to October 2004, industrial new orders increased by 4.4% in the euro-zone and by 4.9% in the EU25.

A l'approche des fêtes de fin d’année, Eurostat examine le commerce extérieur de ces produits. Plus de 80% des jouets importés dans l'UE25 proviennent de Chine. L'UE25 est un importateur net de jouets en provenance du reste du monde. Entre 1999 et 2004, les importations de jouets de l'UE25 sont passées de €4,0 à 4,8 milliards et les exportations de 0,6 à 0,7 milliard. Près de la moitié des importations de jouets de l'UE25 étaient destinées au Royaume-Uni (€1,3 milliard) et à l'Allemagne (0,9 milliard). Avec des exportations d'un montant de €970 millions en 2004, l'UE25 est un important fournisseur de vins mousseux pour le reste du monde. La France (740 millions) a assuré plus des trois quarts de ce total. L'UE25 a importé pour €600 millions d'articles de Noël (principalement décorations de Noël et arbres de Noël artificiels) et €220 millions de guirlandes électriques en 2004. Le commerce extérieur des arbres de Noël naturels est principalement de nature intra-communautaire. 80% des arbres de Noël naturels importés proviennent du Danemark.

Today the IRENA indicator report on agriculture and the environment has been released. It provides a comprehensive overview on the interactions between agriculture and the environment in the European Union and is a tool for monitoring the integration of environmental concerns into the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).


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