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European Commission – Midday Express of 2005-02-17

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

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

17 / 02 / 05

La Commission adopte un nouveau plan d’action drogue pour 2005-2008
La Commission européenne a adopté et transmis au Conseil et au Parlement européen un plan d’action drogue de l’UE pour 2005-2008 dont le principal objectif est de diminuer sensiblement la prévalence de la consommation de drogue parmi la population de l’UE et de réduire les dommages sociaux et pour la santé qu’entraînent la consommation et le commerce de drogues illicites dans nos pays.

Commission secures improvements to gas supply contracts between OMV and Gazprom
In the light of improvements made to the gas supply contracts between Austrian oil and gas company OMV and Russian gas producer Gazprom to remove clauses that infringed EC Treaty rules on restrictive business practices (Article 81), the European Commission has decided to close its investigation. In particular, OMV will no longer be prevented from reselling, outside Austria, the gas it buys from Gazprom, and Gazprom will be free to sell to other customers in Austria without having to first offer the gas to OMV. OMV also agreed to contribute to increasing capacity on the pipeline that transports Russian gas, through Austria, to Italy, a similar outcome to the one reached with the Italian oil and gas company ENI in October 2003 (see IP/03/1345). The case demonstrates the Commission’s resolve to act against market partitioning agreements or any other potentially anti-competitive arrangements that hamper the true liberalisation of the energy sector.

Commission approves acquisition of Smurfit Munksjö by EQT
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Smurfit Munksjö (Munksjö), a Swedish based manufacturer of value-added paper products, by EQT investment group (EQT), controlled by Investor AB. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the EEA or any substantial part of it and has therefore approved the concentration.

La Commission approuve un financement public de €33 millions pour un projet R&D de Philips Semiconductors à Caen
La Commission européenne a autorisé, en application des règles du traité CE sur les aides d’Etat, un financement public de €33 millions pour un projet recherche et développement de Philips Semiconductors sur son site de Caen. Le projet vise le développement d’une nouvelle filière technologique innovante destinée à répondre aux besoins des marchés de communication par ondes à haute fréquence. Etant donné que toutes les conditions établies par l’encadrement communautaire des aides d’Etat à la recherche et au développement sont remplies, la Commission considère que l’aide ne menace pas d’entraver les conditions de concurrence au sein du marché intérieur et que, par conséquent, elle est compatible avec le Traité CE (article 87).

Commission clears acquisition of Bekaert by Gilde
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of Bekaert Fencing NV (Bekaert) of Belgium, by Gilde Buy-Out Fund II, (Gilde) of the Netherlands, belonging to the Dutch Rabobank Group. Gilde is a specialised investment fund which focuses on investing in medium to large sized customers through management buy-outs/buy-ins in continental Europe. The company is part of the Rabobank Group, a Dutch bank and credit institution active in the financial services sector. Bekaert manufactures and sells steel based fencing systems, industrial mesh and cable and wire. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Commission clears acquisition of GIM by INTEK
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of Generale Industrie Metallurgiche S.p.A (GIM) of Italy by INTEK S.p.A of Italy, controlled by Quattroduedue Holding BV of the Netherlands. INTEK is a finance company listed on the Milan stock exchange and active in the acquisition and transfer of shareholdings and profit-sharings in Italian and foreign companies and entities. G.I.M. is a holding company, also listed on the Milan stock exchange, heading a group of companies active in the production and distribution of copper and copper alloy products. The company group operates 18 production plants located in Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and China. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

La Commission développe ses relations avec les parlements nationaux : renforcer la voix des parlements, c’est renforcer la voix des citoyens européens
La Commission européenne veut renforcer ses relations avec les parlements nationaux, et avec eux, faire connaître ses politiques dans les Etats membres. Cet objectif fait partie intégrante d’une culture où les institutions européennes au sens large travaillent ensemble, mais il constitue aussi un outil de communication pour développer un sentiment de propriété partagée du projet européen en améliorant la communication avec les citoyens et leurs représentants élus. Les relations de la Commission avec les parlements nationaux devraient être fondées sur trois objectifs clés : une assistance mutuelle, un dialogue continu et ouvert et une mise en réseau effective. Renforcer la voix des parlements, c’est renforcer la voix des citoyens européens.

Report on the operation of the CMO in bananas
The European Commission today adopted a report to the European Parliament and the Council on the operation of the common market organisation (CMO) in bananas. The factual report provides an overview of the functioning of the banana regime as of 1999. It gives basic information, figures and graphs on the structure and implementation of the CMO in bananas (producers’ organisations, compensatory aid, structural measures and trade with third countries), on the special framework of assistance for traditional ACP banana suppliers and on the market trends in the EU. An in-depth evaluation on the implementation of the CMO as of 1993 is currently under way and is to be competed in the second quarter of 2005. Simultaneously, the Commission has engaged in negotiations under Article XXVIII of the GATT in order to introduce a “tariff only” regime for banana imports as of 1 January 2006. On the basis of the results of the evaluation, the Commission will deepen the debate with its institutional, economic and social partners on possible improvements of the CMO. The full text of the report is available on the internet at:

http://europa.eu.int/comm/agriculture/publi/reports/banana/index_en.htm

La Commission préconise un renforcement de la coopération spatiale
Lors de la conférence intitulée “Winning through cooperation: sharing the benefits of space” (la coopération gagnante : le partage des avantages spatiaux) à Bruxelles aujourd’hui, plus de 40 nations et près de 20 organisations internationales se sont réunies pour discuter de la coopération spatiale internationale. L’espace fait déjà l’objet d’un effort international, comme le démontre une vaste gamme de projets scientifiques. Cette conférence a fourni un lieu de rencontre entre les Etats membres capables de fournir une technologie spatiale – le côté de l’offre – et ceux qui sont disposés à l’utiliser – le côté de la demande. L’industrie spatiale européenne est devenu un acteur clé du marché commercial mondial de la construction de satellites, des services de lancement, et des opérateurs de satellites. Le maintien d’une industrie compétitive (notamment pour les constructeurs, les prestataires de services et les opérateurs) exige de nouvelles recherches et de nouvelles technologies.

The EU’s Space Policy – an overview
Space provides a source of unique and essential tools, enabling governments and international bodies to tackle critical social and political issues. The European space industry is a key actor in the world-wide commercial market of satellite manufacturing, launch services, and satellite operators. Sustaining a competitive industry (including manufacturers, service providers and operators) requires new research and technologies. International cooperation has been of primary importance in reaching this position. Space applications bring important benefits to the citizens (e.g. radio navigation, communication by satellite, earth observation for monitoring in case of natural disasters or humanitarian aid).

Green Line Regulation : Commission welcomes Council adoption of measures that further facilitate trade across the Green Line in Cyprus
The European Commission has welcomed the adoption by the EU’s Council of its proposals to improve the so-called Green Line Regulation which would further facilitate the movement of goods and persons across the Green Line, thus contributing to the integration of the island.

US Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez met Günter Verheugen
US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and European Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for Enterprise and Industry, met on 16 February in Brussels to discuss how to promote economic growth and policies that keep our economies flexible and innovative. They discussed the importance of industry, entrepreneurship and the role of the Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue (“TABD”) in strengthening EU-US relations.

Autre matériel diffusé
La Commission a adopté un nouveau plan d’action drogue de l’UE pour 2005-2008
Speech by Jan Figel’ : “Academia and the Quest for Europe” at Cerimonia di inaugurazione del 783° anno accademico (Università di Padova)
Speech by Benita Ferrero-Waldner : “Afghan Refugees: Working for Durable Regional Solutions” at joint conference of the European Commission and UNHCR (16/02)
Speech by Neelie Kroes : “Regulating for Competition and Growth” at OECD Global Forum on Competition (Paris)

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