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C/02/130

8797/02 (Presse 130)

(OR. fr)

2426th Council meeting INTERNAL MARKET/CONSUMERS/TOURISM Brussels, 21 May 2002

Presidents :

Ms Celia VILLALOBOS TALERO

Minister for Health and Consumer Affairs

Mr Ramón de MIGUEL

State Secretary for European Affairs

of the Kingdom of Spain

CONTENTS (1)

PARTICIPANTS 

ITEMS DEBATED

VCONSUMERSTHE EURO AND CONSUMERS PAGEREF _Toc10042495 \h VIIIGREEN PAPER ON CONSUMER PROTECTION PAGEREF _Toc10042496 \h VIIICONSUMER POLICY STRATEGY PAGEREF _Toc10042497 \h VIIIEUROPEAN CONSUMER DAY PAGEREF _Toc10042498 \h IXHYGIENE OF FOODSTUFFS PAGEREF _Toc10042499 \h IXSALES PROMOTIONS PAGEREF _Toc10042500 \h IXOTHER BUSINESS PAGEREF _Toc10042501 \h IX-DISTANCE MARKETING OF FINANCIAL SERVICES PAGEREF _Toc10042502 \h IXINTERNAL MARKETREVIEW OF THE INTERNAL MARKET STRATEGY Council conclusions PAGEREF _Toc10042503 \h XBETTER REGULATION - Council Resolution PAGEREF _Toc10042504 \h XIINTERNAL MARKET SCOREBOARD PAGEREF _Toc10042505 \h XIISERVICES OF GENERAL ECONOMIC INTEREST PAGEREF _Toc10042506 \h XIIJOINT WORK PROGRAMME OF THE THREE PRESIDENCIES FOR THE INTERNAL MARKET PAGEREF _Toc10042507 \h XIICOMMUNITY PATENT PAGEREF _Toc10042508 \h XIIPUBLIC CONTRACTS PAGEREF _Toc10042509 \h XIII-Award of public supply contracts, public service contracts and public works contracts PAGEREF _Toc10042510 \h XIII-Procurement procedures of entities operating in the water, energy and transport sectors PAGEREF _Toc10042511 \h XIIICUSTOMS 2007 PROGRAMME PAGEREF _Toc10042512 \h XIVRECOGNITION OF PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS PAGEREF _Toc10042513 \h XIVSTATUTE FOR A EUROPEAN COOPERATIVE SOCIETY PAGEREF _Toc10042514 \h XIVITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATEINTERNAL MARKET PAGEREF _Toc10042515 \h XV--Airbag module PAGEREF _Toc10042516 \h XVTRANSPORT PAGEREF _Toc10042517 \h XV--GALILEO * PAGEREF _Toc10042518 \h XVENVIRONMENT PAGEREF _Toc10042519 \h XV--Environmental noise * PAGEREF _Toc10042520 \h XV--Short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) * PAGEREF _Toc10042521 \h XVEMPLOYMENT AND SOCIAL POLICY PAGEREF _Toc10042522 \h XVI--Risks arising from physical agents (vibration) * PAGEREF _Toc10042523 \h XVIEXTERNAL RELATIONS PAGEREF _Toc10042524 \h XVI--Andorra mutual administrative assistance in customs matters PAGEREF _Toc10042525 \h XVI--Russia Programme of cooperation for non-proliferation and disarmament PAGEREF _Toc10042526 \h XVI--OSCE Observer Mission on the border between Georgia and Russia PAGEREF _Toc10042527 \h XVI--Europe Agreements with the Republic of Latvia and the Republic of Lithuania Additional Protocols on industrial products "PECA Agreements" PAGEREF _Toc10042528 \h XVIECSC PAGEREF _Toc10042529 \h XVII--Russia/Kazakhstan steel products PAGEREF _Toc10042530 \h XVIIANTI-DUMPING PAGEREF _Toc10042531 \h XVII--Bicycles from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand termination of the procedure PAGEREF _Toc10042532 \h XVIIBUDGET PAGEREF _Toc10042533 \h XVII--Supplementary and amending budget No 2/2002 PAGEREF _Toc10042534 \h XVII

For further information call 02 285 6083, 285 6700 or 285 7459

PARTICIPANTS

The Governments of the Member States and the European Commission were represented as follows:

Belgium :

Mr Charles PIQUÉMinister for Economic Affairs and Scientific Research, with responsibility for the Policy on Large Towns and Cities
Denmark :
Mr Bendt BENDTSENMinister for Economic Affairs, Trade and Industry
Germany :
Ms Renate KÜNASTFederal Minister for Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture
Mr Hansjörg GEIGERState Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice
Mr Axel GERLACHState Secretary, Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Technology
Greece :
Mr Apostolos TSOCHATZOPOULOSMinister for Development
Mr Christos THEODOROUState Secretary for Development
Spain :
Ms Celia VILLALOBOS TALEROMinister for Health and Consumer Affairs
Mr Ramón de MIGUELState Secretary for European Affairs
France :
Mr Renaud DONNEDIEU de VABRESMinister attached to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and the French-speaking World, with Responsibility for European Affairs
Ireland :
Mr Tom KITTMinister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (with special responsibility for Labour Affairs, Consumer Rights and International Trade)
Italy :
Mr Rocco BUTTIGLIONEMinister without portfolio, Minister for Community policies
Luxembourg :
Mr Henri GRETHENMinister for Economic Affairs, Minister for Transport
Netherlands :
Ms Annemarie JORRITSMA-LEBBINKDeputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economic Affairs
Austria :
Mr Martin BARTENSTEINFederal Minister for Economic Affairs and Labour
Portugal :
Mr José Luis ARNAUTMinister attached to the Prime Minister
Mr Carlos COSTA NEVESState Secretary for European Affairs
Finland :
Mr Jari VILÉNMinister for Foreign Trade and European Affairs
Sweden :
Mr Leif PAGROTSKY

Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with responsibility for Trade

Ms Britta LEJONMinister at the Ministry of Justice, with responsibility for Democracy Issues and Consumer Affairs
United Kingdom :
Ms Melanie JOHNSONParliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Competition, Consumers and Markets
* * *
Commission :
Mr Erkki LIIKANEN

Mr Frits BOLKESTEIN

Mr David BYRNE

Member

Member

Member

TOURISM

FUTURE OF EUROPEAN TOURISM - Council Resolution

"THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION

HAVING REGARD TO

  • the Council Conclusions on Employment and Tourism of 26 November 1997 (2);

  • the Council Conclusions on Tourism and Employment of 21 June 1999 (3);

  • the Lisbon European Council Conclusions of 23 and 24 March 2000, in particular with regard to the open method of coordination;

  • the Conclusions and the plan of action of the extraordinary European Council of 21 September 2001;

  • the Commission Communication to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: "Working together for the future of European Tourism" (4);

  • the report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on: "Follow-up of the European Council of 21 September: the Situation in the European tourism sector" (5);

  • the conclusions of the Internal Market, Consumers and Tourism Council on 26 November 2001 (6),

    WHEREAS

    1. Tourism being one of the main sectors in the European economy, because of its contribution to GDP in each Member State and of the level of employment it generates, contributes largely to the fulfilment of the targets established in the Lisbon and Cardiff Process and to the attainment of a true internal services market. It is conducive to a high level of employment and social welfare, sustainable growth, better quality of life and European integration and also to social and economic cohesion, making a considerable contribution to the objectives of convergence.

    2. Tourism is a sector of a transversal nature, affected by numerous EU-policies. While there is no common European tourism policy, many Community policies and measures in fields such as transport, environment, the new information technologies, food hygiene, energy and tax matters, have a direct effect on the tourism sector, although its interests are not always taken into account before a decision is taken. This calls for a broad framework of coordination between these policies and measures.

    3. The development of tourism and sustainability goals being compatible targets, tourism activities should aim at contributing to the preservation and improvement of the environment. Tourism should take into consideration the interests of economic, social and environmental sustainability and the need to preserve natural, cultural and ecological resources.

    4. To gain knowledge of the European tourism market, it is necessary to have the appropriate information with which to appraise the tourism activity in the Community.

    5. Europe is the principal destination of European citizens, it is clear however that the leading position occupied by Europe as a tourist destination at the world level is slowly weakening, as shown in the World Tourism Organisation reports and forecasts.

EMPHASIZES THAT

    1. structures and means existing throughout the Community should be used according to the open method of coordination and taking account of the principle of subsidiarity while encouraging the active participation of enterprises and economic and social players;

    2. in addition to the requirements of Council Directive 95/57/CE on the collection of statistical information in the field of tourism, it is desirable to provide for measurement instruments, such as Tourism Satellite Accounts, to improve the knowledge and the analysis of the economic impact of tourism while recognising their importance in the design and execution of Community policies, above all, in situations of crisis;

    3. it is necessary, including for the strengthening of the system of consultation and cooperation between Member States and the tourism industry, that a systematic analysis be made on the repercussion of Community measures on the tourism sector, taking into account the interests and needs of the tourism sector in the design and implementation of the measures;

    4. tourism in Europe being comprised mostly by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), it is essential to give tourism industry a better access to instruments within the framework of the EU to help them to increase their economic performance and to strengthen their competitiveness; this, in turn, will enable them to enhance their contribution to sustainable development and lead to the creation of wealth and employment;

    5. with a view to contributing to the improvement of the global image of the European Union in the world, consideration could be given to analysing the present image as well as to discussing the possibilities of improving it, for instance through the new information and communication technologies, through benchmarking of best practises or through the coordination of certain combined promotional activities by tourism authorities and/or industry, while ensuring that competition among Member States is not distorted;

    6. it is necessary to strengthen the role of the Advisory Committee on Tourism, notably with regard to the dialogue between public and private stakeholders;

    7. it is important to cooperate within the existing frameworks with the private stakeholders and public authorities in the candidate countries, other neighbouring countries and the Mediterranean region;

    8. it is necessary to encourage close cooperation between the European Community and international organisations active in the field of tourism;

    9. it is important to promote the ethical dimension of tourism, in particular with regard to the introduction of instruments to fight against all forms of exploitation of women and children, and to tourism as an instrument to fight against poverty in developing countries, and to foster initiatives to increase awareness from the tourism industry, public authorities and civil society, of the importance of these issues;

INVITES THE COMMISSION TO

    1. present each year to the Advisory Committee on Tourism a written and regularly updated note outlining the various measures envisaged by the Commission which may affect the tourism sector, in order for this Committee to establish a planning of discussions on issues of interest for the sector;

    2. involve the Advisory Committee on Tourism in the monitoring of the measures proposed in the Commission Communication: "Working together for the future of European Tourism";

    3. promote the dialogue between public sector, tourism industry and other stakeholders, notably in the framework of an annual European Tourism Forum;

    4. take stock of and to disseminate information on cooperation networks at European level to promote accessible, sustainable, high quality tourism and competitive businesses;

    5. facilitate the creation of a system to interconnect regional, national, transnational and international bodies specialised in tourism surveys or engaged in the analysis of the sector's economic and social reality and in the support to the sector;

    6. inform regularly public and private tourism stakeholders on the financial and non-financial EU-instruments available to enterprises and regions and their possible use;

    7. facilitate the process of measuring the economic impact of tourism through Member States implementing Tourism Satellite Accounts according to the common European methodology, and, if necessary, to adapt the requirements for collecting relevant statistical information;

    8. closely follow the work carried out with regard to the definition of sustainable development indicators in the field of tourism in view of the preparation of an Agenda 21 for the European tourism;

    9. facilitate the voluntary exchange of information between Member States with regard to specific legislation ruling the exercise of tourism enterprises as well as the requirements for access to the professions existing in the field of tourism to facilitate the dissemination of best practices;

    10. strengthen the work for the purpose of increasing economic players' awareness of the need to improve information and criteria, comparable throughout the European Union, concerning tourism accessibility for disabled persons;

    11. promote actively the use of quality indicators of tourist destinations on the basis of a European manual agreed by all Member States, in particular through the development of Information Technology systems permitting the exchange of information between tourist destinations;

INVITES MEMBER STATES TO

    1. participate in the implementation of the cooperation approach between tourism stakeholders through the open method of coordination;

    2. identify bodies specialised in tourism surveys or engaged in the analysis of the sector's economic and social reality and in the support to the sector, and to encourage their interconnection at European level;

    3. promote the good use of Community financial and non-financial instruments so as to benefit the tourism sector;

    4. provide the necessary legal and statistical information as well as harmonised tourism indicators to enable an integrated evaluation of tourism activity throughout the European Union;

    5. actively launch a process towards the implementation of Tourism Satellite Accounts according to the common European methodology;

    6. favour the use, by tourism enterprises and destinations, of sustainable development indicators in the field of tourism, on a voluntary basis;

    7. participate on a voluntary basis in the exchange of information regarding specific legislation ruling the exercise of tourism enterprises as well as the requirements laid down by Member States for access to the professions existing in the field of tourism to facilitate the dissemination of best practices;

INVITES THE EUROPEAN TOURISM INDUSTRY AND OTHER STAKEHOLDERS OF THE TOURISM SECTOR TO

    1. participate actively in and support the efforts undertaken by the European Community and the Member States to improve the accessibility, the competitiveness and the quality of European tourism;

    2. strengthen their representation in European structures in order to promote the political awareness on the tourism issues, in particular in the preparation of the Tourism Satellite Accounts and in the organisation of the annual meetings of the European Tourism Forum;

INVITES THE COMMISSION, THE MEMBER STATES AND THE OTHER STAKEHOLDERS OF THE TOURISM SECTOR TO

    1. encourage the interaction and partnership between both destinations and local stakeholders across Europe;

    2. work towards tools and an approach of quality benchmarking and their implementation on a voluntary basis in tourist destinations and enterprises with a view to improve competitiveness and quality in the European tourism sector;

    3. strengthen their efforts to facilitate disabled persons' accessibility to tourism;

    4. reflect upon the different means to strengthen the position and image of Europe as a diverse and attractive set of destinations and on the future sustainable growth of tourism in Europe;

    5. make best possible use of the Information and Communication Technologies for the implementation of the aforementioned initiatives."

CONSUMERS

THE EURO AND CONSUMERS

The Council considered the situation following the introduction of the euro in the 12 Member States of the euro zone. Commissioner BYRNE confirmed that although the introduction of the euro was proving satisfactory, the Commission was still keeping a careful eye on the situation.

The President concluded that the Council would hold a more detailed discussion on the subject later in the year, based on a technical analysis to be carried out by the Commission.

GREEN PAPER ON CONSUMER PROTECTION

The Council was briefed on the progress of the Commission's preparations for a communication on the follow-up to the Green Paper on consumer protection. Commissioner BYRNE outlined the broad thrust of the document, which was scheduled for adoption in June as part of the legislative package linked to the White Paper on governance; the document was designed to step up consultations on the substance of a future framework Directive on consumer protection.

The President concluded that the Council would return to the issue before the end of the year in order to hold a detailed debate on the basis of the Commission communication.

The Green Paper, which was adopted by the Commission in October 2001, sets out an analysis of the current situation and possible options for the future; it invited interested parties to comment, in particular on whether the policy should from now on be based on the existing specific directives or on a mixed approach including a framework directive and sectoral directives. The Commission reported to the Council on the initial results of the consultation exercise on 1 March 2002

CONSUMER POLICY STRATEGY

The Council noted the presentation by Commissioner BYRNE of a Commission communication setting out a consumer policy strategy for the period 2002-2006 and proceeded to hold an exchange of views.

The President concluded that the Council would return to the issue at one of its forthcoming meetings in order to assess the Commission strategy in greater detail.

Following expiry of the 1999-2001 action plan, the communication sets out an indicative list of measures which the Commission proposes to adopt over the next five years, to achieve the following objectives:

 A high level of consumer protection;

 Effective enforcement of consumer protection rules;

 Involvement of consumer organisations in EU policy-making.

These objectives should pave the way for integration of consumer concerns into all other Community policies and help to prepare for enlargement of the Union in terms of consumer policy.

EUROPEAN CONSUMER DAY

The Council was informed by the Presidency of the conclusions of the Fourth European Consumer Day, which was held in Madrid from 13 to 15 March 2002. Various representatives of consumer organisations, European institutions and Member States took part in the meeting, the main topic of which was "consumer representation".

The conclusions were submitted at the close of the Madrid meeting, noting that it would be in the participants' interests to broaden the existing channels available to consumer representatives to participate in Community and national decision-making processes, increase the economic support provided and consider a reform of the legal framework, taking account of the guidelines in the Green Paper, that would allow the free movement of goods and services to be accompanied by a high degree of consumer protection.

HYGIENE OF FOODSTUFFS

The Council was informed of progress on the proposal for a Regulation laying down general rules on the hygiene of foodstuffs (8480/02). The Presidency underlined the importance of concluding this matter as soon as possible, as it would be submitted to the Agriculture Council for political agreement at its meeting on 27 June, with a view to the adoption of a common position.

It was pointed out that this matter forms part of a package of five proposals presented by the Commission in July 2000 with a view to consolidating, updating and simplifying Community legislation in this area. The principles laid down in the proposal are as follows: application of the hygiene rules throughout the food production chain; making producers primarily responsible for food safety; traceability of all foodstuffs and all ingredients contained therein.

SALES PROMOTIONS

The Council held a policy debate on certain key issues raised by the proposal for a Regulation concerning sales promotions, inter alia the proposed scope and level of harmonisation, how the rules would be applied to professionals and consumers, and the issue of sales below cost.

The debate clarified those issues and how the proposal for a Regulation fitted in with the Green Paper on consumer protection, thus helping to identify key elements for continuing the discussion, in cooperation with the future Danish Presidency, on the best way to achieve progress on this matter.

The proposal aims to establish rules relating to sales promotion, in order to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market, while offering enhanced levels of consumer protection, protection of minors and protection of public health.

OTHER BUSINESS

  • DISTANCE MARKETING OF FINANCIAL SERVICES

Commissioner BYRNE made a statement on the proposal for a Directive on the distance marketing of financial services, following the European Parliament's second reading. The President stated that the Council would consider the European Parliament's Opinion as soon as possible.

INTERNAL MARKET

REVIEW OF THE INTERNAL MARKET STRATEGY Council conclusions

The Council noted the Commission's presentation of its communication on the 2002 Review of the Internal Market Strategy and adopted the following conclusions.

"In the context of the economic reform process and the Council's conclusions of 1 March 2002 (7), as well as the strategic priorities identified by the Barcelona European Council;

The Council,

    1. WELCOMES the Commission's 2002 Review of the Internal Market Strategy (8) which sets out the measures which are deemed necessary over the next 18 months to improve the proper operation of the internal market by addressing the shortcomings identified by successive Cardiff reports, so that it can contribute fully to making the European Union the most dynamic and competitive economy in the world by 2010;

2. ENDORSES the overall approach and general orientation of this Review;

    3. TAKES THE VIEW that by reducing the number of target actions the Review has gained in focus, which should enhance its effectiveness and help it to fulfil its role as a roadmap for implementing core priorities;

4. AGREES that there is no need for a fundamental change in the direction of internal market

policy but rather a sustained effort to speed up the pace of delivery of target actions;

    5. RECOGNISES that responsibility for completing these target actions is shared by all three major EU institutions and the Member States;

    6. WELCOMES the emphasis in the Review on successful economic reform, on reinforcing the fundamentals of the internal market and on strengthening the capacity of the candidate countries to play their full part in an enlarged internal market, particularly through targeted administrative cooperation;

    7. REAFFIRMS its commitment to seeking early agreement on those target actions which are of particular relevance for the internal market, such as the public procurement legislative package and the Community patent, in accordance with the conclusions of the Barcelona European Council;

    8. RECOGNISES too the need to make rapid progress on those target actions which are due for completion no later than December 2002 in accordance with the conclusions of the Barcelona European Council, in the areas of financial services, transport, energy and modernisation of competition rules;

    9. CALLS ON the Commission to make similar rapid progress in those areas for which it has responsibility, particularly the Strategy to remove barriers to the internal market in services, its Action Plan on Better Regulation as well as an evaluation methodology and guidelines for State aids for services of general economic interest, in accordance with paragraph 42 of the conclusions of the Barcelona European Council;

    10. URGES Member States, in accordance with the conclusions of the Barcelona European Council, to ensure that, by the time of the 2003 Spring European Council, the transposition target of 98,5% of all internal market legislation is achieved by all Member States, as well as a transposition target of 100% of directives whose implementation is more than two years overdue;

    11. AGREES that greater priority needs to be given to improving the operation of the basic concepts on which free circulation of goods and services is based, such as mutual recognition, compliance and enforcement, market surveillance, conformity assessment, and standardisation; INVITES the Commission to take initiatives to improve mutual recognition by enhancing legal certainty and, where appropriate, based on a clearly defined need, to improve the effectiveness of legislation based on the "new approach"; ASKS the Commission to make specific references to outstanding technical barriers in its Internal Market Scoreboard;

    12. AGREES that greater priority also needs to be given to removing obstacles to the mobility of persons within the internal market;

    13. WELCOMES overall progress made on standardisation and CONSIDERS that this should continue to be reflected in the Internal Market Scoreboard, while stressing the need for further progress in key sectors such as construction products and machinery;

    14. UNDERLINES the need not only to monitor progress in completing target actions but also to measure the impact of these actions; STRESSES the importance of conducting regular price surveys to enhance transparency and consumer awareness; therefore, CALLS ON the Commission to continue its work to develop appropriate indicators in close cooperation with the Member States and to publish the results in the Internal Market Scoreboard;

    15. REAFFIRMS its intention to work towards timely completion of the target actions and to monitor progress at its meeting (Internal Market, Consumer Affairs and Tourism) in November 2002 and regularly thereafter."

BETTER REGULATION - Council Resolution

The Council took note of information from the Commission on its next action plan and the communications which would go with it, and adopted the following Resolution:

"The Council,

recalling the conclusions of the Lisbon, Göteborg, Laeken and Barcelona European Councils,

reaffirming the high priority which it attaches to simplifying and improving the regulatory environment, as expressed in its conclusions of 1 March 2002 on the internal market aspects of the Cardiff economic reform process;

    1. LOOKS FORWARD TO the Commission's Action Plan and its communications on impact assessment and on minimum standards for public consultation which are expected in time for the Sevilla European Council;

    2. EXPECTS the Commission to take into account in particular the recommendations of the Mandelkern Group (9);

    3. AGREES with the Commission's suggestions in its communication of December 2001 on Simplifying and Improving the Regulatory Environment (10) that priority should be given to

       - simplifying and improving the acquis communautaire, including codification, recasting and other forms of consolidation;

      - well-prepared and more appropriate legislation, accessible to citizens, consumers and business, based on strengthening prior consultation, a coherent EU-level method for impact assessment of all significant proposals, covering inter alia economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainable development, and making better use of the available regulatory instruments including alternatives to formal regulation;

 - improved transposition and application of Community law;

    4. EMPHASIZES that Community Institutions and the Member States should effectively support this work and that efforts to improve the regulatory environment must be pursued at both Community level and in the Member States with priority being given to measures designed to alleviate the administrative burden on SMEs;

    5. STRESSES THE IMPORTANCE of improving the dialogue between all three Community Institutions involved in the legislative process, as well as with the Member States, with a view to improving the quality of Community legislation and speeding up work; RECOGNISES the importance of effective internal coordination on better regulation within the Member States and within the Community Institutions;

    6. WELCOMES in this context the steps already taken towards establishing an appropriate interinstitutional framework, in response to the conclusions of the Barcelona European Council, thus engendering a culture of better regulation throughout the Community Institutions and Member States; STRESSES the importance of permanent monitoring of the complete and swift implementation of the Action Plan by the Community Institutions and by the Member States, making full use of the expertise built up in the Mandelkern Group;

    7. CALLS UPON THE COMMISSION to include proposals on the various points mentioned above in its forthcoming Action Plan;

    8. REAFFIRMS, finally, its intention to give priority to the effective follow-up to the Commission's Action Plan in close contact with the European Parliament, the Commission and the Member States."

INTERNAL MARKET SCOREBOARD

The Council noted Commissioner BOLKESTEIN's presentation of the latest version of the Scoreboard, which sets out the progress made in reaching the internal market's aims.

This document, which the Commission publishes every six months, contains an analysis of Member States' deficits in transposing Community legislation.

SERVICES OF GENERAL ECONOMIC INTEREST

Commissioner BOLKESTEIN briefed the Council on the progress made by the Commission in drawing up a communication on an evaluation methodology for services of general economic interest, which would be submitted to the Seville European Council on 21 and 22 June.

It will be recalled that the Barcelona European Council of 15 and 16 March had asked the Commission to:

     present its Communication on evaluation methodology at the May Internal Market Council and report to the Seville European Council on the state of work on the guidelines for State aids and if necessary propose a block exemption regulation in this area;

     continue its examination with a view to consolidating and specifying the principles on services of general economic interest, which underlie Article 16 of the Treaty, in a proposal for a framework directive, while respecting the specificities of the different sectors involved and taking into account the provisions of Article 86 of the Treaty.

JOINT WORK PROGRAMME OF THE THREE PRESIDENCIES FOR THE INTERNAL MARKET

The Council noted the joint work programme of the three Presidencies for the internal market up to the end of the first half of 2003, as presented by the current Spanish and the two forthcoming Danish and Greek Presidencies.

An updated version of the programme is submitted to Council every six months. The Council took particular note of the emphasis on the benefits to be gained by citizens, consumers and small and medium-sized enterprises from smooth operation of the internal market and on speeding up work on structural reform and removing the remaining obstacles to the free movement of goods and services, in the run-up to Union enlargement.

COMMUNITY PATENT

The Council held an in-depth discussion, on the basis of a Presidency compromise proposal designed to establish a common policy approach on the main aspects of the proposal for a Regulation on the Community patent and adopted the following conclusions.

"The Council has taken note of the significant progress made under the Spanish Presidency, building on the work carried out under the previous Presidencies. It reiterates the fundamental principle that "nothing is finally agreed until everything has been agreed". On that understanding, the Council agrees to regard the common political approach set out in the Annex to 8782/02 as the basis for further work.. Taking into account the considerable importance which Member States attach to the jurisdictional system, the Council will continue its discussions inter alia on this issue in particular, on the basis of further input from the Commission. The Council will review the balance of the resulting overall package to ensure that a final and global agreement will meet the criteria laid down by the European Council, reflecting the needs of business."

The Barcelona European Council of 15 and 16 March called on the Council to reach a common policy approach at this meeting, affirming that the Community patent "must be an efficient and flexible instrument obtainable by businesses at an affordable cost, while complying with the principles of legal certainty and non-discrimination between Member States and ensuring a high level of quality".

The proposal is intended to create a single patent which will be valid throughout the territory of the European Union. It provides that the Community patent will be granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich in accordance with the requirements and procedures laid down in the European Patent Convention (EPC) and its implementing regulation.

PUBLIC CONTRACTS

  • Award of public supply contracts, public service contracts and public works contracts

  • Procurement procedures of entities operating in the water, energy and transport sectors

The Council reached political agreement on the proposal for a Directive on the coordination of procedures for the award of public supply contracts, public service contracts and public works contracts ("classical" Directive). On the basis of that agreement the text of the common position will be finalised with a view to adoption and then forwarded to the European Parliament under the codecision procedure, once agreement has been reached on the proposal for a Directive coordinating the procurement entities operating in the water, energy and transport sectors ("utilities" Directive).

The Council took note of a progress report on the latter Directive and instructed the Permanent Representatives Committee to continue discussions aimed at reaching a common position.

The existing public procurement Directives impose competitive tendering for public contracts, transparency and equal treatment for all tenderers to ensure that the contract is awarded to the tender offering best value for money.

The proposed new Directives are designed firstly to simplify and clarify the existing rules, and secondly to adapt them to modern administrative needs in an economic environment that is changing as a result of new factors such as the liberalisation of telecommunications and the use of new technologies. With the object of enhancing transparency in the award process and of combating corruption and organised crime, the new Community rules are also designed to make for greater clarity in the criteria determining the award of the contract and the selection of tenderers.

The legislative package on public procurement is key element of the programme to boost the European economy set out at the Lisbon European Council on 23 and 24 March 2000 and confirmed by the Barcelona Council on 15 and 16 March 2002. Council agreement on the "classical" Directive is a decisive step towards implementation of simpler and more effective rules in this area.

CUSTOMS 2007 PROGRAMME

Having noted a broad consensus on the text of the Decision adopting an action programme for customs in the Community ("Customs 2007") and pending the Opinion of the European Parliament, the Council laid down a general approach, by a qualified majority, whilst noting the reservations of a number of delegations on the legal basis.

The aim of the Customs 2007 Programme is to extend the measures introduced under the previous two programmes, which had achieved positive results in the uniform application throughout the Community of EU legislation on customs. To avoid any break in implementing those measures, the Customs 2007 Programme is due to apply as of 1 January 2003.

The objectives of the proposed new programme are to achieve continuous improvement of the functioning of the internal market in the customs field, prepare for enlargement and subsequently for the full integration of the new Member States, so that all customs administrations in the enlarged Community can act as one single administration. A total appropriation of EUR 133 million has been earmarked for the programme.

The Commission proposal is based on Article 95 of the Treaty, which is the same legal basis as for the previous programmes. Yet since one of the important aims of the proposed Customs 2007 Programme is to strengthen customs cooperation, a number of delegations consider that the appropriate legal basis should be Article 135 of the Treaty. However, a joint legal basis combining both Articles 95 and 135 may be acceptable.

RECOGNITION OF PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS

The Council noted the Commission's presentation of a proposal for a Directive on the recognition of professional qualifications which is aimed at clarifying and consolidating current Directives relating to seven professions and simplifying their application, whilst maintaining the main conditions.

This proposal follows the Commission communication of February 2001 on New European Labour Markets, Open for All, with Access for All, the conclusions of the Stockholm European Council on 23 and 24 March 2001, and the creation of a task force to consider the issue.

STATUTE FOR A EUROPEAN COOPERATIVE SOCIETY

The Council reached unanimous agreement on the proposal for a Regulation on the Statute for a European cooperative society. This consensus will enable the Employment and Social Policy Council on 3 June 2002 to adopt an overall approach to the proposed Regulation, as well as to the proposal for a Directive supplementing the Statute for a European cooperative society with regard to the involvement of employees.

Rather than use Article 95 of the Treaty as a legal basis for the Regulation (qualified Council majority and codecision with the European Parliament), the Council agreed to use Article 308 which provides for Council unanimity and consultation of the European Parliament, as in the case of the Regulation on the Statute for a European Company. However, the Commission reserved the right to continue examining this matter until the Council meeting on 3 June.

This dossier is one of three brought forward by the Commission in 1992 in the social policy field (the other two setting up the European Association and the European Mutual Society). All three proposals are under consideration by the Employment and Social Policy Council. Their aim once Community legislation on the European Company has been adopted is to enable the three future entities to derive maximum benefit from the establishment of the internal market in the same way as public limited liability companies.

ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE

The documents whose references are given are available on the Council's Internet site http://consilium.europa.eu. Acts adopted with statements for the Council minutes which may be released to the public are indicated by an asterisk; these statements may be obtained by following the procedure indicated above or from the Press Office.

INTERNAL MARKET

Airbag module

The Council adopted a Decision enabling the Community to vote in favour of the draft Regulation of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe concerning airbag approvals in the context of the UN/ECE Agreement on the adoption of uniform technical prescriptions for wheeled vehicles, equipment and parts (10148/00). This draft Regulation aims to abolish the technical barriers to trade in this area between the Contracting Parties, whilst ensuring a high level of safety and environmental protection.

TRANSPORT

GALILEO *

The Council adopted the Regulation on the setting up of a joint undertaking responsible for managing the development phase of the GALILEO satellite navigation system (7637/02), in accordance with the agreement reached at its meeting on 25 and 26 March 2002. Set up for four years and based in Brussels, it will be the task of the joint undertaking to mobilise the funds assigned to that programme.

The purpose of GALILEO to which the Council has frequently given a political impetus is to set up a European system providing uniform services, including for northern latitudes, by means of satellites in medium orbit. The development phase will continue until 2005 and will be followed by the deployment phase until 2007 and the operational phase beginning in 2008.

ENVIRONMENT

Environmental noise *

Following the agreement reached on 8 April 2002 in the context of conciliation with the European Parliament, the Council adopted the Directive relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise (3611/02). The Directive should provide a basis for developing and completing the existing set of Community measures concerning the major sources of noise, in particular road and rail vehicles and infrastructure, aircraft, outdoor and industrial equipment and mobile machinery, and for developing additional measures, in the short, medium and long term.

Short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) *

Following the agreement reached on 24 April 2002 in the context of conciliation with the European Parliament, the Council adopted the amendment of Directive 76/769/EEC in respect of restrictions on the marketing and use of certain dangerous substances and preparations with reference to short-chain chlorinated paraffins (3617/02).

SCCPs are classified as dangerous to the environment, since they are very toxic to aquatic organisms and may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment. Under this Directive, alkanes, C10-C13, chloro (short-chain chlorinated paraffins), may not be placed on the market for use as substances or as constituents of other substances or preparations in concentrations higher than 1% in metalworking or for fat liquoring of leather. Finally, before 1 January 2003, all remaining uses of SCCPs will be reviewed by the European Commission, in the light of any relevant new scientific data on risks posed by SCCPs to health and the environment.

EMPLOYMENT AND SOCIAL POLICY

Risks arising from physical agents (vibration) *

Following the agreement reached on 8 April 2002 in the context of conciliation with the European Parliament, the Council adopted the Directive on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (vibration) (sixteenth individual Directive in the context of Directive 89/391/EEC) (3616/02).

The minimum requirements provided for by this Directive enable Member States to maintain or adopt more favourable provisions for the protection of workers. Its implementation should not serve to justify any regression in relation to the situation which already prevails in each Member State.

EXTERNAL RELATIONS

Andorra mutual administrative assistance in customs matters

The Council agreed to the EC-Andorra Joint Committee adopting an Annex on mutual administrative assistance in customs matters (5671/02), which will be annexed to the Agreement between the European Economic Community and the Principality of Andorra in the form of an exchange of letters.

Russia Programme of cooperation for non-proliferation and disarmament

The Council adopted a Decision intended to implement Joint Action 1999/878/CFSP by making a financial contribution to the unit of experts under the European Union Cooperation Programme for Non-proliferation and Disarmament in the Russian Federation (7468/02). This Decision is intended to provide for the programme's continuation for 2002 and 2003.

OSCE Observer Mission on the border between Georgia and Russia

The Council adopted a Joint Action regarding a contribution of the European Union towards reinforcing the capacity of the Georgian authorities to support and protect the OSCE Observer Mission on the border of Georgia with the Ingush and Chechen Republics of the Russian Federation. The amount allocated to the Joint Action is EUR 100 000. (8151/02)

Europe Agreements with the Republic of Latvia and the Republic of Lithuania Additional Protocols on industrial products "PECA Agreements"

The Council adopted Decisions on the signing of two Additional Protocols to the Europe Agreements establishing Associations between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Latvia and the Republic of Lithuania, of the other part, on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products.

The two protocols were also signed on 21 May 2002 (see press release 8954/02 Presse 146).

ECSC

Russia/Kazakhstan steel products

The representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, adopted two Decisions, one concerning Russia (7299/02) and the other concerning Kazakhstan (7298/02), designed to amend the Decisions for autonomous Community quotas applicable to trade in certain steel products covered by the ECSC Treaty (Decision 2001/932/ECSC for Russia and Decision 2001/934/ECSC for Kazakhstan). In particular the Decisions extend the period covered by these arrangements, initially set to continue until 30 June 2002, to 31 December 2002.

ANTI-DUMPING

Bicycles from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand termination of the procedure

The Council adopted a Regulation terminating the anti-dumping procedure and repealing the antidumping measures applicable to imports of bicycles originating in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand (8418/02).

BUDGET

Supplementary and amending budget No 2/2002

The Council approved at second reading draft supplementary and amending budget No 2/2002 rejecting the two amendments proposed by the European Parliament and instructed the Presidency to draw up the budget documents to be forwarded to it.

The purpose of the DSAB is twofold: firstly, application of Decision 2000/597/EC, Euratom on the system of the European Communities' own resources, which entered into force on 1 March 2002, and secondly, the budgeting as revenue of EUR 10 000 million as a preliminary amount of the surplus carried over from the financial year 2001.

(1) Where declarations, conclusions or resolutions have been formally adopted by the Council, this is indicated in the heading for the item concerned and the text is placed between quotation marks.

(2) 12413/97 PV/CONS 68 TOUR 19.

(3) 9432/99.

(4) 13975/01.

(5) 14551/01.

(6) 14551/01.

(7) 6818/02 MI 44 POLGEN 11 ECOFIN 94 + COR 1.

(8) COM(2002) 171 final 8006/02 MI 63.

(9) 14654/01 MI 195 POLGEN 33.

(10) COM(2001) 726 - 15225/01 MI 211.


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