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EXME07 / 20.11

MIDDAY EXPRESS

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

20 / 11 / 07

The European Commission has set out a package of initiatives to modernise the European single market and to bring more benefits to Europeans, building on past successes. The single market has already helped create competitive companies, reduced prices, more choice for consumers and a Europe attractive for investors. The Commission's measures are based on extensive consultation. They will ensure that the single market does even more to take advantage of globalisation, empower consumers, open up for small businesses, stimulate innovation and help maintain high social and environmental standards.

Danuta Hübner, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, today received Mr. Bozidar Djelic, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia. They discussed the state of play of relations between the European Union and Serbia in general and possible perspectives of cooperation in the area of regional development.

  • EU/China Customs cooperation: First electronic exchanges of information on sea containers in the framework of the secure and smart trade lanes pilot project

The customs administrations of the United Kingdom, of the Netherlands and of China have exchanged today for the first time electronic information on sea containers leaving their territory through the ports of Rotterdam, Felixstowe and Shenzhen. This is an important step in our customs cooperation with China and paves the way for reciprocity and mutual recognition of security measures, which the European Community has always favoured. This operation took place in close cooperation with the European Commission in the framework of the secure and smart trade lanes pilot project launched in September 2006 (see IP/06/1206) by the Commission and the Customs administration of China. The purpose of the project is to test and ensure security from the point of filling containers throughout its journey until its final destination.

Between 2000 and 2006, EU27 exports of goods to the 10 ASEAN countries rose from €42 billion to €49 billion, while imports increased from €75 billion to €79 billion. The EU27 deficit in trade with ASEAN fell from €34 billion in 2000 to €29 billion in 2006, accounting for 15% of the total EU27 external trade deficit. ASEAN accounted for around 5% of the EU27's total external trade in goods in 2006. On the occasion of the EU-ASEAN Summit, which will take place on 22 November 2007 in Singapore, Eurostat, issues data on trade in goods between the 27 Member States of the EU and the 10 members of ASEAN.

Having assessed the budgetary developments in Poland since the adoption of a new Council recommendation, last February, the European Commission concludes that the deficit is likely to be below 3% this year. But, at the same time, it is expected to rebound above 3% in 2008, according to the Commission's autumn economic forecasts based, inter alia, on the draft budget adopted by the outgoing government. This calls for additional measures to put the Polish budget firmly on a sustainable path, especially in view of the positive economic outlook enjoyed by the country.

The European Commission has decided under EC Treaty state aid rules that operating aid worth around €80 million granted by Italy in the form of a preferential electricity tariff since 2005 is incompatible with the Single Market and needs to be recovered from the beneficiaries. The preferential electricity tariff is granted to the manufacturing plants of ThyssenKrupp (steel), Cementir (cement) and Terni Nuova Industrie Chimiche (chemicals) located in the Umbria Region. It was originally set up in 1962 to compensate the expropriation of a hydroelectric power plant. Based on its in-depth investigation launched in July 2006 (see IP/06/1038), the Commission has concluded that the prolongation of the electricity tariff until 2010 constitutes operating aid because it can no longer be considered compensatory in nature and its only effect is to improve the beneficiaries' competitive position. Such aid distorts competition and trade between Member States and is consequently prohibited by the EC Treaty.

The European Commission has imposed a total of € 74 790 000 fines on Sony, Fuji and Maxell for fixing prices for professional videotapes sold to customers in Europe, in violation of the EC Treaty’s ban on cartels and restrictive business practices (Article 81). Between 1999 and 2002, Sony, Fuji and Maxell managed to raise or otherwise control prices through a series of regular meetings and other illicit contacts. Sony's fine has been increased by 30% for obstructing the Commission's investigation during on-site inspections at its premises. Fuji's and Maxell's fines are reduced by 40% and 20% respectively because they co-operated with the investigation under the Commission's 2002 Leniency Notice (see IP/02/247 and MEMO/02/23). There was no immunity applicant in this case. For the calculation of the fines, the Commission applied for the first time its new 2006 Guidelines (see IP/06/857 and MEMO/06/256).

La Commission européenne a dévoilé aujourd’hui son projet visant à rationaliser la politique agricole commune de l’Union européenne et à en poursuivre la modernisation. L’exercice, que l’on appelle «bilan de santé de la PAC», se fonde sur l’approche adoptée lors des réformes de 2003. L’objectif est d’améliorer le fonctionnement de la PAC sur la base de l’expérience acquise depuis 2003 et de l’adapter en fonction des nouveaux défis et possibilités qui se présentent en 2007 dans une Union européenne à 27 États membres. Si les réformes ont permis de moderniser la PAC, le bilan de santé offre l’occasion idéale de poursuivre le réexamen de cette politique.

Technology developments can enhance the protection of privacy and at the same time allow law enforcement authorities for a secure and timely access to information, including personal data. The Conference on Public Security, Privacy and Technology, organised by the European Commission brings together public and private sectors representatives to discuss this topics.

The European Commission has published a Communication on the Review of the Lamfalussy Process, a four-level regulatory approach for the adoption, implementation and enforcement of legislation and implementing measures across the securities, banking and insurance sectors. Although the process has broadly met its overall objectives, there is a growing consensus that some important changes are required in order to make it more efficient. In particular, the functioning of the Level 3 Committees must be improved to enhance supervisory convergence and cooperation.

  • Rediffusion

Danuta Hübner, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, today received Mr. Bozidar Djelic, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia. They discussed the state of play of relations between the European Union and Serbia in general and possible perspectives of cooperation in the area of regional development.

The European Commission has released €1.5 million in fast-track aid to to help the most vulnerable people affected by Cyclone Sidr which struck Bangladesh yesterday evening. The category 4 cyclone hit coastal regions with winds up to 240km/h causing wide-spread devestation and loss of life. Early reports already put the death-toll in the hundreds with hundreds of thousands of people displaced. Expressing his sympathy with the victims, Louis Michel, the European Commissioner responsible for Development and Humanitarian Aid said: "This is a major tragedy with hundreds already known to have died and hundreds of thousands suffering from this disaster. Homes, crops and livelihoods have been destroyed and people need help quickly. The fast-track funding that we are deploying will focus on meeting basic humanitarian needs in the stricken area."


A disposition au secrétariat de Jonathan Todd (BERL 03/315):

Notification préalable d'une opération de concentration :

Sony Ericsson/Motorola/UIQ

Cinven/Coor Management Services

Calyon/Société Générale/Newedge


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