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European Union Midday Express


European Union Midday Express

· EU fundamentally reforms its farm policy to accomplish sustainable farming in Europe

Today, EU farm ministers adopted a fundamental reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The reform will completely change the way the EU supports its farm sector. The new CAP will be geared towards consumers and taxpayers, while giving EU farmers the freedom to produce what the market wants. In future, the vast majority of subsidies will be paid independently from the volume of production. To avoid abandonment of production, Member States may choose to maintain a limited link between subsidy and production under well defined conditions and within clear limits. These new "single farm payments" will be linked to the respect of environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards. Severing the link between subsidies and production will make EU farmers more competitive and market orientated, while providing the necessary income stability. More money will be available to farmers for environmental, quality or animal welfare programmes by reducing direct payments for bigger farms. The Council further decided to revise the milk, rice, cereals, durum wheat, dried fodder and nut sectors. In order to respect the tight budgetary ceiling for the EU-25 until 2013, ministers agreed to introduce a financial discipline mechanism. This reform will also strengthen the EU's negotiating hand in the ongoing WTO trade talks. The different elements of the reform will enter into force in 2004 and 2005. The single farm payment will enter into force in 2005. If a Member State needs a transitional period due to its specific agricultural conditions, it may apply the single farm payment from 2007 at the latest.

· EU fundamentally reforms its farm policy to accomplish sustainable farming in Europe

Today, EU farm ministers adopted a fundamental reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The reform will completely change the way the EU supports its farm sector. The new CAP will be geared towards consumers and taxpayers, while giving EU farmers the freedom to produce what the market wants. In future, the vast majority of subsidies will be paid independently from the volume of production. To avoid abandonment of production, Member States may choose to maintain a limited link between subsidy and production under well defined conditions and within clear limits. These new "single farm payments" will be linked to the respect of environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards. Severing the link between subsidies and production will make EU farmers more competitive and market orientated, while providing the necessary income stability. More money will be available to farmers for environmental, quality or animal welfare programmes by reducing direct payments for bigger farms. The Council further decided to revise the milk, rice, cereals, durum wheat, dried fodder and nut sectors. In order to respect the tight budgetary ceiling for the EU-25 until 2013, ministers agreed to introduce a financial discipline mechanism. This reform will also strengthen the EU's negotiating hand in the ongoing WTO trade talks. The different elements of the reform will enter into force in 2004 and 2005. The single farm payment will enter into force in 2005. If a Member State needs a transitional period due to its specific agricultural conditions, it may apply the single farm payment from 2007 at the latest.

· Commission clears joint acquisition of Bertelsmann OnLine B.V

The European Commission has granted clearance under the Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of the dutch undertaking Bertelsmann OnLine B.V., currently a subsidiary of the German Bertelsmann group, by the undertakings Holtzbrinck networXs AG, Verlagsgruppe Weltbild GmbH, and T-Online Venture Gmbh & Co KG. (The operation, notified on 21 May 2003, was examined under the simplified merger review procedure)

· EU Cohesion Policy in Poland : negotiations on the 2004-2006 programmes will start on 27 June in Warsaw

The European Commission today announced the launch of the first round of negotiations with an accession country on future regional development programmes. Negotiations will start on 27 June in Warsaw with Poland. They will be dedicated to the Community Support Framework (CSF) and related Operational Programmes (OP) for the period 2004-2006. In a letter of 18 June, addressed to Jerzy Hausner, Polish Minister of Economy, Michel Barnier, Commissioner responsible for regional policy, set out the Commission's position on how Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund should be used in Poland.

· EU and USA agree on opening negotiations on open-skies

On 25 June, the European Union and the United States of America agreed on the opening of negotiations for an overall agreement on air transport liberalization. The conclusions adopted note that the leaders of the USA and the EU "are pleased to announce their agreement to begin comprehensive air service negotiations in early Autumn following the early June decision of the EU Council to approve a negotiating mandate for the Commission. This is an historic opportunity to build upon the framework of existing agreements with the goal of maximizing benefits for consumers, airlines, and communities on both sides of the Atlantic. The US and the EU will work together in a spirit of cooperation to develop a mutually beneficial approach to this crucial economic sector in a globalised economy." "An aviation agreement between the EU and US would set the model for the rest of the world - these negotiations provide an opportunity to achieve fundamental reform of this sector that we should not waste", said European Commission Vice-President Loyola de Palacio.

· New Transatlantic Business Dialogue : Erkki Liikanen and Don Evans reaffirm commitment to transatlantic partnership

On 25 June, European Commissioner Erkki Liikanen and his United States counterpart, Commerce Secretary Don Evans, reaffirmed the importance of the transatlantic economic and commercial partnership at a meeting last night in Washington, D.C. The leaders both expressed their belief that the transatlantic partnership is critical for future security and prosperity in Europe, the United States, and around the world.

· Customs : EU/China cooperation talks

Frits Bolkestein, European Commissioner responsible for Taxation and Customs, has held talks in Brussels with Mu Xinsheng, Commissioner of the General Administration of Customs of the People's Republic of China. The two sides briefed each other on the latest developments in their own respective Customs policy and activities, took stock of the bilateral cooperation exchanges in recent years and, in particular, held productive discussions about the latest development of negotiations on an Agreement between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the European Community on Cooperation and Mutual Assistance concerning Customs matters.

· Towards partnership agreements : changes to EU/Greenland fisheries protocol

The European Commission on behalf of the EU, Denmark and Greenland have initialled a fisheries protocol modifying the current one in line with the new approach set out in the Commission Communication issued last December setting out the need to move from fisheries agreements to partnership agreements. The progressive move towards partnership agreements will be mutually beneficial for all parties by encouraging measures to achieve sustainable fisheries in the waters of the partner concerned. The current protocol covers the period 1 January 2001 to 31 December 2006. These changes include the elimination of 'paper fish', an increase in fishing possibilities for Greenland halibut, Atlantic halibut and shrimps, and the inclusion of a snow crab quota on the basis of scientific advice. Experimental fisheries by EU vessels will be authorised for trial periods on deepsea species, cephalopods, clams and capelin in Greenland waters. If these prove positive, EU vessels will be granted 50% of the fishing opportunities on the new species until the end of this protocol. Licence fees for EU vessel owners fishing under this protocol will be introduced on 1 January 2004. The amount of compensation for fishing possibilities has been agreed at €31,760,679 while €11,059,321 will be allocated for a budgetary programme to support Greenland implement a structural reform of its fisheries sector. Particular emphasis will be put on improving scientific advice. The changes will take effect from 1 January 2004 except for experimental fisheries which can start from 1 July 2003. EU vessels currently operating in Greenland waters come from Germany, Denmark, the UK, Sweden, Spain and Portugal.

· EU and Ivory Coast extend Fisheries Agreement by a year

The EU and the Ivory Coast have agreed to extend the current Protocol to their Fisheries Agreement for a year from 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2004. The conditions and the financial compensation will remain exactly the same as they are at present. This Protocol provides fishing possibilities for tuna to 39 tuna seiners, 20 surface longliners and 12 pole and line vessels. The reference tonnage level is 8,500 tonnes per year. It also allows for demersal fishery possibilities up to a level of 600 GRT (gross registered tonnes) per month on an annual average for demersal vessels. The EU financial contribution amounts to €957,500 per year. A substantial percentage of this money (71.3%) goes to targeted measures aimed at promoting scientific and technical programmes, monitoring and control of fishing activities, and supporting the development of fisheries and aquaculture in the Ivory Coast. EU vessels fishing under this agreement come from France, Portugal and Spain.

· Poul Nielson meets Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Addisu Legesse

The European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Poul Nielson, will meet the Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Mr Addisu Legesse, on 27 June 2003 from 10h00 to 11h00. A VIP corner will be held in the Commission (rue Geneve 12) immediately after the meeting.

· World competition authorities call for enhanced merger review, advocacy and capacity building at ICN conference

At the end of their second annual conference held in Merida, Mexico, members of the International Competition Network (ICN) adopted a series of recommended practices and presented reports aimed at improving merger review, competition advocacy, and capacity building throughout the world. As a consensus-based organisation, the 80-strong ICN has already contributed significantly to an effective dissemination of sound competition principles, with the ultimate purpose of promoting consumer welfare and job creation. At the same time the ICN is working to reduce costs and burdens on industry, in particular those associated with having to seek merger clearance in a multiplicity of jurisdictions.

· Commission clears joint acquisition of Bertelsmann OnLine B.V

The European Commission has granted clearance under the Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of the dutch undertaking Bertelsmann OnLine B.V., currently a subsidiary of the German Bertelsmann group, by the undertakings Holtzbrinck networXs AG, Verlagsgruppe Weltbild GmbH, and T-Online Venture Gmbh & Co KG. (The operation, notified on 21 May 2003, was examined under the simplified merger review procedure)

· EU Cohesion Policy in Poland : negotiations on the 2004-2006 programmes will start on 27 June in Warsaw

The European Commission today announced the launch of the first round of negotiations with an accession country on future regional development programmes. Negotiations will start on 27 June in Warsaw with Poland. They will be dedicated to the Community Support Framework (CSF) and related Operational Programmes (OP) for the period 2004-2006. In a letter of 18 June, addressed to Jerzy Hausner, Polish Minister of Economy, Michel Barnier, Commissioner responsible for regional policy, set out the Commission's position on how Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund should be used in Poland.

· EU and USA agree on opening negotiations on open-skies

On 25 June, the European Union and the United States of America agreed on the opening of negotiations for an overall agreement on air transport liberalization. The conclusions adopted note that the leaders of the USA and the EU "are pleased to announce their agreement to begin comprehensive air service negotiations in early Autumn following the early June decision of the EU Council to approve a negotiating mandate for the Commission. This is an historic opportunity to build upon the framework of existing agreements with the goal of maximizing benefits for consumers, airlines, and communities on both sides of the Atlantic. The US and the EU will work together in a spirit of cooperation to develop a mutually beneficial approach to this crucial economic sector in a globalised economy." "An aviation agreement between the EU and US would set the model for the rest of the world - these negotiations provide an opportunity to achieve fundamental reform of this sector that we should not waste", said European Commission Vice-President Loyola de Palacio.

· New Transatlantic Business Dialogue : Erkki Liikanen and Don Evans reaffirm commitment to transatlantic partnership

On 25 June, European Commissioner Erkki Liikanen and his United States counterpart, Commerce Secretary Don Evans, reaffirmed the importance of the transatlantic economic and commercial partnership at a meeting last night in Washington, D.C. The leaders both expressed their belief that the transatlantic partnership is critical for future security and prosperity in Europe, the United States, and around the world.

· Customs : EU/China cooperation talks

Frits Bolkestein, European Commissioner responsible for Taxation and Customs, has held talks in Brussels with Mu Xinsheng, Commissioner of the General Administration of Customs of the People's Republic of China. The two sides briefed each other on the latest developments in their own respective Customs policy and activities, took stock of the bilateral cooperation exchanges in recent years and, in particular, held productive discussions about the latest development of negotiations on an Agreement between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the European Community on Cooperation and Mutual Assistance concerning Customs matters.

· Towards partnership agreements : changes to EU/Greenland fisheries protocol

The European Commission on behalf of the EU, Denmark and Greenland have initialled a fisheries protocol modifying the current one in line with the new approach set out in the Commission Communication issued last December setting out the need to move from fisheries agreements to partnership agreements. The progressive move towards partnership agreements will be mutually beneficial for all parties by encouraging measures to achieve sustainable fisheries in the waters of the partner concerned. The current protocol covers the period 1 January 2001 to 31 December 2006. These changes include the elimination of 'paper fish', an increase in fishing possibilities for Greenland halibut, Atlantic halibut and shrimps, and the inclusion of a snow crab quota on the basis of scientific advice. Experimental fisheries by EU vessels will be authorised for trial periods on deepsea species, cephalopods, clams and capelin in Greenland waters. If these prove positive, EU vessels will be granted 50% of the fishing opportunities on the new species until the end of this protocol. Licence fees for EU vessel owners fishing under this protocol will be introduced on 1 January 2004. The amount of compensation for fishing possibilities has been agreed at €31,760,679 while €11,059,321 will be allocated for a budgetary programme to support Greenland implement a structural reform of its fisheries sector. Particular emphasis will be put on improving scientific advice. The changes will take effect from 1 January 2004 except for experimental fisheries which can start from 1 July 2003. EU vessels currently operating in Greenland waters come from Germany, Denmark, the UK, Sweden, Spain and Portugal.

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