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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 00-09-14

Midday Express: News from the EU Commission Spokesman's Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: EUROPA, the European Commission Server at <http://europa.eu.int>

MIDDAY EXPRESS

News from the Spokesman's midday briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi du Service Presse et Communicationb

14/09/2000


CONTENTS / CONTENU

  • [01] Ten years of EU merger control legislation
  • [02] Approbation de programmes de développement rural en faveur de la Pologne, de la Hongrie, de la Bulgarie, de la République tchèque, de la Lettonie et de la Slovénie
  • [03] Commission adopts further rural development programmes
  • [04] Euro-zone GDP grew by 0.9% ; +3.8% compared to the second quarter of 1999
  • [05] EU15 current account deficit euro 15 billion ; euro 0.1 billion surplus on trade in services
  • [06] Reduction of sugar quota
  • [07] New Members of Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) appointed
  • [08] John Cushnahan MEP to head the EU-Sri Lankan election observation mission
  • [09] Frits Bolkestein emphasises need for tax authorities to adapt to e- commerce

  • [01] Ten years of EU merger control legislation

    The Merger Regulation is one of the European Union's most successful achievements ; it is also a cornerstone of the EU competition policy, European Commission President Romano Prodi and Competition Commissioner Mario Monti stated today as they opened a two-day conference to celebrate 10 years of European merger control law. Mr Monti also highlighted the challenges ahead as mergers become increasingly more complex and continue to arrive on the Commission's desk in great numbers.

    [02] Approbation de programmes de développement rural en faveur de la Pologne, de la Hongrie, de la Bulgarie, de la République tchèque, de la Lettonie et de la Slovénie

    Six programmes de développement rural, devant être cofinancés au titre du programme communautaire de pré-adhésion SAPARD (Programme d'adhésion spécial pour l'agriculture et le développement rural), ont été approuvés par le comité STAR (comité des structures agricoles et du développement rural). Ils concernent la Pologne, la Hongrie, la Bulgarie, la République tchèque, la Lettonie et la Slovénie. Saluant le vote de cette première série de programmes, M. Franz Fischler, membre de la Commission européenne responsable de l'agriculture et du développement rural, a déclaré : "Notre objectif est de faire parvenir aux pays candidats, aussi rapidement que possible, des fonds permettant d'entamer la réalisation de projets. Les programmes indiquent comment les secteurs de l'agriculture et de l'agro- alimentaire des pays candidats préparent l'adhésion à l'UE. Les mesures proposées joueront un rôle de premier plan dans l'adoption de l'acquis et elles contribueront à renforcer la compétitivité dans la progression vers l'adhésion." 520 millions d'euros seront affectés chaque année à l'aide à la pré-adhésion dans le cadre de SAPARD. M. Fischler a rappelé que, pour garantir les engagements budgétaires pris pour 2000, il faut encore remplir une condition essentielle à la suite de l'adoption des programmes, à savoir mettre au point les conventions pluriannuelles de financement. Ensuite, le transfert des fonds sera possible, après approbation par la Commission de l'accréditation des agences SAPARD et la conclusion des conventions pluriannuelles et annuelles de financement.

    [03] Commission adopts further rural development programmes

    The European Commission has adopted the following Rural Development Programmes for the period 2000-2006 : Spain, Catalonia (total public contribution euro 400,98 million ; EU contribution euro 206,95 million ) ; Spain, Navarre (total public contribution euro 285,519 million ; EU contribution euro 143,871 million ) ; Spain, Aragon (total public contribution euro 471,358 million ; EU contribution euro 257,695 million).

    [04] Euro-zone GDP grew by 0.9% ; +3.8% compared to the second quarter of 1999

    (! embargo 12 am !) Euro-zone and EU15 GDP both grew by 0.9% during the second quarter of 2000, compared to the previous quarter, according to first estimates out today from Eurostat. These figures follow a rise of 0.9% and 0.8% for the euro-zone and the EU15, respectively, in the first quarter of 2000. Compared to the second quarter of 1999 euro-zone GDP grew by 3.8% and EU-15 by 3.7% in the second quarter. Both estimations are above the growth forecasted by the European Commission for the second quarter 2000 in its spring forecast earlier this year.

    [05] EU15 current account deficit euro 15 billion ; euro 0.1 billion surplus on trade in services

    (! embargo 12 am !) According to Eurostat, the EU15 external current account recorded a deficit of euro 15.0 billion in the second quarter of 2000, as compared with a surplus of euro 6.0 billion in the second quarter of 1999 and a deficit of euro 22.8 billion in the first quarter of 2000. In the second quarter of 2000 the EU15 external balance of trade in services recorded a surplus of euro 0.1 billion as compared with a surplus of euro 4.5 billion in the second quarter of 1999 and a deficit of euro 1.5 billion in the first quarter of 2000.

    [06] Reduction of sugar quota

    The Sugar Management Committee voted in favour of a draft European Commission Regulation to reduce for the 2000/2001 marketing year (beginning on July 1) the production quotas in the sugar sector by 498 800 tonnes. This will bring the quotas to a total of 14 719 786 tonnes compared to 15 218 586 tonnes last year. The reduction is necessary to bring the EU in conformity with their GATT obligations. These GATT commitments limit the exports of sugar and sugar products that may benefit from an export refund to 1 273 500 tonnes and the budget for the refunds to euro 499,1 million in this marketing year. The reduction effectively represents a linear cut of 3.278 % in the existing quotas for the different sugar products (A and B quota for sugar, isoglucose and inulin syrup). The draft regulation still has to be adopted formally by the Commission.

    [07] New Members of Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) appointed

    The European Commission today took a first step in the renewal of the mandate of the Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) by announcing the names of the eight independent scientists selected by open competition for membership of the new Committee. Chosen from 51 candidates by a selection process chaired by Nobel laureate Prof. de Duve, David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, said he was satisfied that "world class expertise" would again be available to the SSC which plays a key role in delivering scientific advice on complex issues such as BSE. The other eight members of the SSC will be the chairs of the 8 sectoral scientific committees whose mandates are also in the process of being renewed through open competition. The first meeting of the renewed SSC will take place in December 2000 ; meanwhile, the members of the existing SSC will continue to carry out their mandate.

    [08] John Cushnahan MEP to head the EU-Sri Lankan election observation mission

    The European Commission has appointed John Cushnahan, Member of the European Parliament, as Chief Observer for the forthcoming mission to observe the parliamentary elections in Sri Lanka on 10 October.

    [09] Frits Bolkestein emphasises need for tax authorities to adapt to e- commerce

    (! embargo 2 pm !) "Rather than regarding issues raised by globalisation and electronic commerce as a problem which threaten the fundamental integrity of existing tax systems, we should be looking at them as an opportunity and driving force to modernise these existing taxes and make them more efficient in practice", European Taxation Commissioner Frits Bolkestein said in his 14 September speech to the 'Vereninging voor Belastingwetenschap' in Amsterdam. "It is not just within the EU that tax administrations have to face the fact that many of the old and established certainties no longer hold. E-commerce in particular has highlighted deficiencies in existing tax systems world-wide and forced administrations to consider long-overdue reform and simplification. This is a process which is forcing tax administrations to look outside themselves. Their realisation that many of their problems can only be resolved by cooperating with each other can only be welcomed." On the specific issue of the Commission's June 2000 proposal on the application of Value Added Tax to products delivered electronically, Mr Bolkestein emphasised that the measure would "remove the competitive handicap currently affecting EU providers on both domestic and world markets" and was in full conformity with the international principles agreed at the OECD Ministerial conference in Ottawa in 1998. "We cannot allow competitive distortions to persist, to the detriment of European based e-commerce", he insisted.

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


    From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at http://europa.eu.int/
    © ECSC - EC - EAEC, Brussels-Luxembourg, 1995, 1996


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