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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 08-04-30

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>


CONTENTS / CONTENU

[I] Résultats de la Commission du 30 avril 2008 – Outcome of Commission meeting of 30 April 2008

  • [01] La Commission européenne propose d’améliorer l’accès du public aux documents des institutions de l’UE
  • [02] State aid: Commission approves rescue aid for WestLB
  • [03] State aid: Commission endorses €143 million aid to Ford for two large investment projects in Craiova, Romania
  • [04] State aid: Commission requests Austria to recover around €55 million from buyer of Bank Burgenland
  • [05] State aid: Commission approves £3.4 million public funding for broadband in Scotland
  • [06] State aid: Commission endorses €1.1 billion public service compensation for ‘Poste Italiane’ for 2006-2008
  • [07] State aid: Commission prohibits planned €9.56 million aid to IBIDEN Hungary
  • [08] Attribution des créneaux horaires aéroportuaires: la Commission clarifie les règles en vigueur
  • [09] La Commission autorise un régime d'aides la recherche et au développement dans le secteur du transport public en Allemagne
  • [10] Transport ferroviaire: la Commission adopte des lignes directrices concernant les aides d'Etat aux entreprises ferroviaires
  • [11] La Commission donne son feu vert au financement de la modernisation du matériel roulant ferroviaire en République Tchèque
  • [12] II. Other news - Autres Nouvelles
  • [13] A public-private research initiative to boost the competitiveness of Europe's pharmaceutical industry
  • [14] April 2008: Economic sentiment declines markedly in both the EU and the euro area
  • [15] April 2008: Business Climate Indicator for the euro area declines in April
  • [16] Euro area inflation estimated at 3.3%
  • [17] Mars 2008 - Le chômage stable 7,1% dans la zone euro
  • [18] Commission clears acquisition of Swiss Life Belgium by Delta Lloyd
  • [19] Commission clears joint venture between P7S1 and United Internet
  • [20] Commission launches consultation on possible ban of creosote as wood preservative
  • [21] European Community strengthens aviation relations with Australia
  • [22] Autre matériel diffusé Midday Express of 2008-04-30 Reference: MEX/08/0430 Date: 30/04/2008 EXME08 / 30.04

    MIDDAY EXPRESS

    News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

    30/04/08


  • [I] Résultats de la Commission du 30 avril 2008 – Outcome of Commission meeting of 30 April 2008

    [01] La Commission européenne propose d’améliorer l’accès du public aux documents des institutions de l’UE

    La Commission a adopté aujourd'hui des dispositions modifiant les règles d’accès aux documents des institutions communautaires. Par ces changements, la Commission réaffirme sa volonté de transparence et actualise les règles pour tenir compte de la jurisprudence récente. Ces changements ont en outre pour but de permettre aux institutions de répondre plus efficacement aux demandes des citoyens.

    [02] State aid: Commission approves rescue aid for WestLB

    The European Commission has authorised, under the EC Treaty’s rules on state aid, a risk shield granted by the State of North Rhine-Westphalia to protect WestLB against the volatility of its € 23 billion structured investment portfolio, following difficulties because of the subprime crisis in the financial markets. The Commission's investigation found that the risk shield constitutes state aid, but that the aid is in line with EU rules on rescue aid because strict conditions ensure that the aid is limited in time and reversible. The approval of the rescue aid does not prejudice the Commission's assessment of the restructuring plan Germany has committed to submit by 8th August 2008.

    [03] State aid: Commission endorses €143 million aid to Ford for two large investment projects in Craiova, Romania

    The European Commission has authorised, under EC Treaty state aid rules, €143 million of aid, which the Romanian authorities intend to grant to Ford for the production of vehicles and engines in Craiova, in the South West of Romania. The Commission found the measure to be compatible with the requirements of the Regional Aid Guidelines 2007-2013 (see <a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/05/1653&format=HTML&aged=1&language=EN&guiLanguage=en">IP/05/1653) and in particular with the rules on large investment projects. Ford's two projects involve investments of €600 million in total. They are expected to significantly increase direct and indirect employment while at the same time stimulating investment by suppliers and a transfer of leading-edge technology, thus benefiting the further development of the region.

    [04] State aid: Commission requests Austria to recover around €55 million from buyer of Bank Burgenland

    The European Commission has decided under EC state aid rules that Austria must recover some €55 million from Austrian insurance group Grazer Wechselseitige (GRAWE) following an in-depth investigation into the privatisation of Bank Burgenland. The investigation, opened in December 2006 (see IP/06/1849), found that the Austrian regional government of Land Burgenland had not behaved like a private market seller when it sold Bank Burgenland to the second highest bidder, GRAWE, disregarding a substantially higher offer from an Austro-Ukrainian consortium. The Commission decision confirms that a public vendor needs to clearly distinguish its role as a seller of an asset on an open market, and its role as a public authority who had granted state aid in the form of a guarantee to Bank Burgenland. A private seller would not have taken existing guarantee liabilities into consideration but would have taken the highest bid. By not doing so, Land Burgenland provided an undue competitive advantage to GRAWE that constitutes incompatible state aid. To remedy the distortion of competition and eliminate the aid, Austria must therefore recover the advantage from GRAWE, on the basis of the difference between the price offered by the Austro-Ukrainian consortium and the price paid by GRAWE, i.e. around € 55 million.

    [05] State aid: Commission approves £3.4 million public funding for broadband in Scotland

    The European Commission has authorised under the EC Treaty state aid rules £3.4 million (€4.32 million) of public funding for a broadband measure in remote and rural areas of Scotland. The measure is the final step to bring affordable broadband services to all Scottish citizens. The Commission concluded that the aid is well-targeted to achieve this objective and contains adequate safeguards to ensure that Scottish citizens will enjoy the benefits of a competitive broadband market.

    [06] State aid: Commission endorses €1.1 billion public service compensation for ‘Poste Italiane’ for 2006-2008

    The European Commission has decided not to raise objections under EC Treaty state aid rules to €1.1 billion compensation Italy granted to ‘Poste Italiane’ from 2006 to 2008 to meet the costs of fulfilling its universal postal service obligations. The state support is in line with EU rules on public service compensation because it does not over-compensate ‘Poste Italiane’ for providing these services, and so does not allow for cross- subsidies for other activities.

    [07] State aid: Commission prohibits planned €9.56 million aid to IBIDEN Hungary

    The European Commission has prohibited, under EC Treaty state aid rules a Hungarian regional investment aid of €9.56 million in favour of IBIDEN Hungary Gyárt Kft. IBIDEN produces substrates for diesel particulate filters. A Commission in-depth investigation, launched in July 2007 (see IP/07/1071), revealed that the project was not in line with the requirements of the EU rules on regional aid and in particular with the 2002 Multisectoral Framework on regional aid (see <a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/02/242&format=HTML&aged=1&language=EN&guiLanguage=en">IP/02/242). Notably, IBIDEN's market share was found to exceed the relevant 25% threshold. As the aid has not yet been granted, it was not necessary to order its recovery.

    [08] Attribution des créneaux horaires aéroportuaires: la Commission clarifie les règles en vigueur

    La Commission européenne a adopté aujourd'hui une communication relative l’application du règlement concernant l'attribution des créneaux horaires dans les aéroports de la Communauté. La communication clarifie un certain nombre de points en vue de garantir une meilleure application des règles en vigueur et d'accroître l'efficacité d'utilisation des capacités disponibles en quantité limitée dans les aéroports saturés de l'UE. Elle indique notamment que l'échange de créneaux horaires entre transporteurs aériens («marché secondaire») est admis.

    [09] La Commission autorise un régime d'aides la recherche et au développement dans le secteur du transport public en Allemagne

    La Commission européenne a approuvé aujourd’hui une aide d’État octroyée par l’Allemagne qui vise favoriser le développement d’un système de « billetterie électronique » dans le secteur des transports publics. Il s’agit d’une aide d’un montant d’environ 9,75 millions d’euros qui sera versée entre 2007 et 2009.

    [10] Transport ferroviaire: la Commission adopte des lignes directrices concernant les aides d'Etat aux entreprises ferroviaires

    La Commission européenne a adopté aujourd'hui des lignes directrices sur les aides d'État aux entreprises ferroviaires. Ces lignes directrices clarifient les règles applicables aux financements publics dont peuvent bénéficier les entreprises ferroviaires. La Commission accompagne ainsi le processus de libéralisation du secteur et fait en sorte que ces financements publics contribuent la mobilité durable en Europe.

    [11] La Commission donne son feu vert au financement de la modernisation du matériel roulant ferroviaire en République Tchèque

    La Commission a donné aujourd'hui son accord un programme d'aide l’acquisition et la modernisation du matériel roulant en République Tchèque. Pour la période 2008 – 2013, l'État tchèque va dépenser 4800 million CZK (173 millions EUR) dans la cadre de ce programme.

    [12] II. Other news - Autres Nouvelles

    [13] A public-private research initiative to boost the competitiveness of Europe's pharmaceutical industry

    The European Commission and the pharmaceutical industry began work today on implementing the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI). IMI aims to remove severe bottlenecks in the drug development process through innovative research projects, hence to accelerate the discovery and development of new medicines. It will launch later this year promising research projects in the areas of brain disorders, metabolic and inflammatory diseases. IMI is a unique public-private partnership between the European Commission and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).

    [14] April 2008: Economic sentiment declines markedly in both the EU and the euro area

    In April, the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) decreased by 3.8 points in the EU and by 2.5 points in the euro area, to 98.1 and 97.1 respectively. The fall in the EU indicator more than offset the rebound registered in March. In both regions, the ESI now stands below its long-term average.

    [15] April 2008: Business Climate Indicator for the euro area declines in April

    After a slight rebound in March, the Business Climate Indicator (BCI) for the euro area decreased again in April. The current level of the indicator still continues to suggest above historical average industrial production growth, but the decline points to a weakening of the monthly growth rates in the second quarter of 2008.

    Nearly all the components of the BCI worsened, production expectations being the only exception, which remained unchanged. Industry managers' appraisals of the production trend in recent months and of their total order books deteriorated sharply. Their assessments concerning export order books and stocks of finished products declined more moderately.

    [16] Euro area inflation estimated at 3.3%

    Euro area annual inflation is expected to be 3.3% in April 2008 according to a flash estimate issued by Eurostat. It was 3.6% in March. Euro area inflation is measured by the Monetary Union Index of Consumer Prices (MUICP). To compute the MUICP flash estimates, Eurostat uses early price information relating to the reference month from Member States for which data are available as well as early information about energy prices. The flash estimation procedure for the MUICP combines historical information with partial information on price developments in the most recent months to give a total index for the euro area. No detailed breakdown is available. Experience has shown the procedure to be reliable (15 times exactly anticipating the inflation rate and 9 times differing by 0.1 over the last two years). Further information can be found in Eurostat News Release 113/2001 of 5 November 2001.

    [17] Mars 2008 - Le chômage stable 7,1% dans la zone euro

    Dans la zone euro (ZE15), le taux de chômage corrigé des variations saisonnières, s’est établi 7,1% en mars 2008, inchangé par rapport février. Il était de 7,5% en mars 2007. Dans l’UE27, le taux de chômage s’est élevé 6,7% en mars 2008, également inchangé par rapport février. Il était de 7,3% en mars 2007. Selon les estimations d’Eurostat, 15,993 millions d’hommes et de femmes étaient au chômage en mars 2008 dans l’UE27, dont 10,930 millions dans la zone euro. Par rapport février 2008, le nombre de chômeurs a baissé respectivement de 93 000 et 26 000. Comparé mars 2007, le chômage a diminué de 1,4 million dans l'UE27 et de 0,6 million dans la zone euro. Ces chiffres sont publiés par Eurostat.

    [18] Commission clears acquisition of Swiss Life Belgium by Delta Lloyd

    The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of Swiss Life Belgium NV by Delta Lloyd NV of The Netherlands. Delta Lloyd is a financial services company. Its main activities are underwriting and distribution of insurance products. Swiss Life Belgium is a life insurer with a focus on pension products. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

    [19] Commission clears joint venture between P7S1 and United Internet

    The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of the newly created company Maxdome GmbH & Co. KG (Maxdome JV) by German companies SevenSenses GmbH, a subsidiary of ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG (P7S1) and 1&1 Internet AG (1&1), a subsidiary of United Internet AG. SevenSenses supplies pay-television and video-on-demand. P7S1 provides free-to-air television. 1&1 is an internet service provider. United Internet provides internet services. The joint venture, Maxdome JV, will be active in the video-on-demand sector. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

    [20] Commission launches consultation on possible ban of creosote as wood preservative

    The Commission is launching an online consultation to collect evidence about the possible consequences of a phase out of creosote, a widely used wood preservative. Recent studies have identified some risks to human health and to the environment when creosote comes into direct contact with soil or water. Like many other substances, creosote is being evaluated as part of the ten-year review programme of biocidal products, which should be complete by 2010. The Commission will use the evaluation to decide whether the substance should be included in a positive list of chemicals allowed for biocidal use. Creosote is a brownish-black oily liquid derived from coal tar. Its characteristic smoky odour can often be detected from equipment such as railway sleepers, telegraph poles and fences. Any decision to restrict its use or withdraw it from the market would have considerable economic and practical consequences. The consultation will also gather opinions about the availability of less hazardous or non- hazardous alternatives, and will be open from 30 April until 30 June 2008. More information is provided on the European Commission Environment web site: <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/environment/consultations_en.htm">http://ec.europa.eu/environment/consultations_en.htm

    Rediffusion

    [21] European Community strengthens aviation relations with Australia

    Today, the European Union and Australia signed an aviation agreement which allows European airlines to fly between any EU Member State and Australia. “I welcome this important step in the EU's air transport relations with Australia,” said Jacques Barrot, Vice-President in charge of transport. "This will pave the way for a comprehensive aviation agreement involving cooperation in key aviation areas such as competition, safety and the environment."

    [22] Autre matériel diffusé

    • Memo on Presidents of Commission, Council and Parliament will discuss climate change and reconciliation with European faith leaders on 5 May 2008 - Participants' list

    • Memo on State aid: Commission requests Austria to recover around €55 million from the buyer of Bank Burgenland (see also <a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/667&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en">IP/08/667)

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

    Notification préalable d'une opération de concentration :

    REWE/ADEG

    Nokia/Trolltech

    Scholz Recycling/ERG/ESR From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at http://europa.eu.int/


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