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

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

10 / 10 / 05

European Commission launches PLAN D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate
The European Commission has today launched its Plan D (Democracy, Dialogue, Debate) laying the foundations for the profound debate about Europe’s future which is to take place in the months to come. Faced with French and Dutch no votes on the European Constitution, Heads of Government called for a “period of reflection” to enable a broad debate to take place in each Member State. Ultimately, Governments must steer these national debates forward, but the Commission has a key role in facilitating the process. The Commission’s “Plan D” - Democracy, Dialogue and Debate - puts in place a framework, through national governments, for a 25 country debate on Europe’s future. The clear objective is to build a new political consensus about the right policies to equip Europe to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

450 millions € pour la restructuration et la reconversion des vignobles
La Commission européenne a adopté deux décisions sur la restructuration et la reconversion des vignobles. La première décision porte sur l'allocation financière indicative de 450 millions € aux États membres producteurs de vin en faveur de la restructuration et de la reconversion des vignobles pour la campagne de commercialisation 2005/2006. La deuxième décision concerne l'allocation définitive pour la campagne 2004/2005.

Simulation d’un tremblement de terre en Sicile dans le cadre d’un exercice de protection civile européen
Ce week-end, des équipes de protection civile italienne, française, grecque, portugaise, suédoise et britannique participeront à un exercice de protection civile en vue de simuler les réponses à un tremblement de terre en Sicile. M. Stavros Dimas, membre de la Commission responsable de l’Environnement, assistera à l’exercice, qui exige le déploiement d’équipes de recherche et de sauvetage et d’autres spécialistes en gestion des catastrophes. Il s’agit là du quatrième exercice international sur le terrain organisé dans le cadre du mécanisme de protection civile de l’UE en 2005. Les exercices de ce type permettent aux équipes de protection civile de collaborer plus efficacement en cas de catastrophe réelle.

Sustainable Energy Forum, Amsterdam, 13-14 October 2005
The first meeting of the Sustainable Energy Forum is taking place today and tomorrow in Amsterdam, hosted by the Dutch authorities. This will be the first time that Member States, the European Parliament, the Commission, industry and stakeholders in the field of sustainable energy will gather. “The coming years will be a watershed period for both European and global energy policy as a result of a changing market. We will need to continue to develop and diversify our energy supply, and we should increase the efficiency of our energy systems,” said Commissioner Piebalgs.

La Commission clôture la procédure contre l’Italie concernant les règles comptables applicables aux clubs de sport professionnels («loi Salva Calcio»)
La Commission européenne a décidé de clore la procédure d’infraction contre l’Italie concernant sa loi dite «Salva Calcio» relative aux informations financières à fournir par les clubs de sport professionnels. La Commission considère qu’étant donné les récents amendements apportés à cette loi, il n’y a plus violation des règles comptables communautaires.

Free movement of capital: Commission calls on Italy to modify law on privatised companies and to apply Court ruling on investment in energy companies
The European Commission has decided to ask Italy formally to modify its legislation that provides for the exercise of special powers in privatised companies. The Commission is concerned that the criteria for the exercise of special powers provided in the Decree of 10 June 2004 do not justify the control of the ownership and management structure of the privatised companies concerned and therefore could constitute unjustified restrictions on the free movement of capital and the right of establishment in violation of the EU Treaty rules (Article 56 and 43 respectively). The Commission’s request is in the form of a reasoned opinion, the second stage of the infringement procedures laid down in Article 226 of the EC Treaty. In the absence of a satisfactory reply from Italy within two months of receiving the reasoned opinion, the Commission may decide to refer the matter to the European Court of Justice. The Commission has also decided to remind Italy of its obligation to comply with a Court of Justice ruling of 2 June 2005 regarding the law on investment in energy companies. The Court found that the automatic suspension of voting rights for shareholdings in excess of 2% in Italian electricity and gas companies, where such holdings are acquired by public companies not quoted on the stock exchange and holding a dominant position in their own domestic markets, breaches the EC Treaty rules on the free movement of capital (Article 56). The request for information on Italy’s compliance with the Court ruling takes the form of a ‘letter of formal notice’ under EC Treaty infringement procedures related to compliance with Court of Justice rulings (Article 228).

Electronic Communications: Commission takes action against nine Member States to ensure competitive conditions in the market
Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland and Slovenia are the countries which are targeted by the European Commission in a new round of infringement proceedings concerning the EU telecom rules. The European Commission today sent letters of formal notice to seven EU Member States for so far failing to notify it of electronic communications market reviews required by the EU regulatory framework for electronic communications. Market reviews are designed to ensure that rules are updated to keep pace with changing markets and are only applied where there is a lack of competition. Obligations should only be imposed on dominant operators. The Member States concerned by this aspect in this new round of infringement proceedings are Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg, and Poland. Sending a letter of formal notice is the first stage of an infringement proceeding under Article 226 of the EC Treaty (failure of a Member State to fulfil an obligation). The Member States concerned now have two months to respond to the Commission’s concerns. Further infringement proceedings have been opened against Estonia because of legal deficiencies regarding definition of markets and transitional regime; and against Cyprus and Slovenia, where the independence of the national telecom regulator is not yet in line with EU law requirements. Because of a continued lack of number portability, Infringement proceedings against Malta have been moved to the second stage (reasoned opinion).

Commission indicator forecasts euro area quarterly GDP growth of 0.2% to 0.6% for the third quarter and 0.4% to 0.8% for the fourth quarter.
The indicator-based model for quarterly GDP growth for the euro area, developed by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs, forecasts a range of 0.2% to 0.6% for the third quarter of 2005 and a range of 0.4% to 0.8% for growth in the fourth quarter of 2005. These forecasts are unchanged compared to the previous release.

Mergers: Commission clears planned acquisition of Salomon by Amer Group, subject to conditions
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition by Finnish winter sport hard goods manufacturer Amer Group of the Salomon business segment of Germany’s Adidas-Salomon AG. The Commission's clearance is conditional upon substantial modifications of the current cooperation agreement between Salomon and the Austrian ski manufacturer Fischer GmbH. In light of these commitments, the Commission has concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.

Joe Borg visits Sweden
After his visit to Lisbon at the beginning of the week, Joe Borg, Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, will leave for Sweden this afternoon. He will have a meeting with Minister of Agriculture, Food and Consumer Affairs, Ms Ann-Christin Nykvist, and Director-General of the Swedish Board of Fisheries, Axel Wenblad, in Gothenburg. Topics for discussion will include the proposed European Fisheries Fund, the long-term management plan for Baltic cod, autonomous tariff quotas and the eel management measures, proposed last week by the Commission. Commissioner Borg will also highlight the possibilities that are available under the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG), to co-finance campaigns to encourage fish consumption. Tomorrow morning, the Commissioner will meet with representatives of the Swedish fisheries sector to hear their concerns at first hand and to discuss the best way to achieve sustainable fisheries. He intends to congratulate stakeholders for their contribution to the setting up of the Regional Advisory Councils, which are one of the pillars of the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. The Commissioner will also reaffirm his conviction that constructive and permanent dialogue with stakeholders is vital to the successful management of the European Union’s fisheries resources. Mr Borg will then visit the newly-established Swedish Fisheries Monitoring and Control Centre at Tangudden before watching a demonstration of the selective grid which Sweden has recently developed to help conserve cod and reduce discards in the shrimp and Norway lobster fisheries. Commissioner Borg will leave Gothenburg for Helsinki in the afternoon to start a visit to Finland.

Régions: Annuaire statistique 2005 - La diversité régionale en chiffres - des données sur les 268 régions de l’UE25, de la Roumanie et de la Bulgarie
Eurostat publie aujourd’hui une nouvelle édition de l’annuaire statistique des régions de l’UE, qui couvre les 254 régions des 25 États membres de l’UE définies au niveau 2 de la nomenclature des unités territoriales statistiques (NUTS 3), ainsi que les 14 régions de la Bulgarie et de la Roumanie. Cette édition inclut cette année des chapitres sur la population, l’agriculture, le PIB, les comptes des ménages, le marché de l’emploi, les transports, la science, la technologie et l’innovation, les entreprises, la santé, les statistiques urbaines, l’éducation.

(for more information: STAT/05/129 – A. Torres - tel: 295 4629 - fax: 295 1413)

Second estimate for the second quarter of 2005 - Euro-zone GDP up by 0.3% and EU25 up by 0.4% - +1.1% and +1.3% respectively compared to second quarter of 2004
Euro-zone GDP grew by 0.3% and EU25 GDP by 0.4% in the second quarter of 2005 according to revised estimates from Eurostat. In the first quarter of 2005, growth rates were +0.4% in both zones. In comparison with the same quarter of the previous year, GDP grew by 1.1% in the euro-zone and by 1.3% in the EU25, after +1.3% and +1.5% respectively in the previous quarter. In the second quarter of 2005 and among the Member States for which data are available, Lithuania (+3.3%) recorded the highest growth rate, followed by Latvia (+3.2%) and Estonia (+2.8%). Decreases were recorded in Finland (-1.6%), Greece (-0.3%) and Poland (-0.2%).

Stavros Dimas welcomes conciliation agreement on revised bathing water directive
The European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas welcomed conciliation agreement on 12 October between the European Parliament and Council on the revision of the EU bathing water directive. The new directive will tighten the health standards for bathing water – and simplify them. It will improve the management of bathing sites and the provision of public information about them ; and streamline water quality monitoring programmes.

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of car airbag producer Dalphi Metal España by TRW
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Dalphi’s car airbag and steering wheel business by TRW, the US automotive component manufacturer. The transaction will not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any significant part of it as other large and capable players will continue to compete in the market.

Concentrations: la Commission autorise le projet d’acquisition de CP Ships par TUI, sous réserve du respect de certaines conditions
La Commission européenne a donné son feu vert, en vertu du règlement CE sur les concentrations, au projet d’acquisition de la compagnie maritime canadienne CP Ships par la société allemande TUI, qui possède la compagnie maritime Hapag-Lloyd. Cette autorisation est subordonnée au retrait de Hapag-Lloyd de deux conférences maritimes actives entre l’Europe et l’Amérique du nord. Compte tenu de l’engagement relatif à ce retrait, la Commission est arrivée à la conclusion que l'opération n'entraverait pas de manière significative une concurrence effective dans l'Espace économique européen (EEE) ou une partie substantielle de celui-ci.

Avian Influenza in Romania: presence of virus confirmed
The three EU laboratory experts sent to Romania by the Commission last Monday have confirmed that Avian Influenza virus H5 has been detected in tests on two samples from a chicken and a duck taken in a suspected backyard farm in the Danube delta. This finding has been confirmed by using reagents the EU experts brought with them from the Community reference laboratory. Further tests are necessary to ascertain if the virus in question is the H5N1 strain.

Autre matériel diffusé
Joe Borg visits Sweden and Finland
Infringement proceedings in the field of electronic communications: What are the issues at stake?
Speech by Oli Rehn – Growth and jobs in the EU and Romania
Speech by Charlie McCreevy - The EU Framework for investment funds: a facilitator – not a strait-jacket
Discours de M. Jacques Barrot - Les traversées Alpines

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