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European Union Midday Express

European Union Midday Express

· Commission helps farmers affected by drought

The management committee for cereals has given the green light to a European Commission proposal which will help farmers affected by a severe drought in some EU regions. From today, 4 July, farmers can exceptionally use their set-aside land for animal fodder. This measure applies in some regions in France, Germany, Italy and Austria.

· EU co-financing agreed for eradication of Classical Swine Fever in Germany, Luxembourg and Spain

The European Commission has decided to grant financing towards the eradication of Classical Swine Fever (CSF) relating to outbreaks in Germany, Luxembourg and Spain. Subject to certain conditions, Member States can receive EU co-financing of 50% for expenditures incurred when compensating farmers forced to kill and destroy their animals and for operational expenditures associated with the destruction of contaminated animals and products. The provisional limits of EU reimbursements are set at €440,000 for Germany, €500,000 for Luxembourg and €6,000,000 for Spain. Outbreaks of CSF occurred in Germany in 2001, in Luxembourg in 2002 and in Spain in 2001 and 2002. The decision to grant EU co-financing to Germany, Luxembourg and Spain was taken in agreement with the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health, which represents the EU Member States.

· Commission clears JV between ThyssenKrupp and Salzgitter in the sheet piling & construction equipment sector

The European Commission has approved under the Merger Regulation a proposed joint venture between subsidiaries of German steel companies ThyssenKrupp and Salzgitter for the worldwide marketing of hot rolled piles and sheet piling and construction equipment. This merger does not raise any competition concerns on any of the markets considered.

· Third Euromed Trade Ministerial : stepping stones towards greater regional integration

The launch of the pan-Euro-Mediterranean system of rules of origin, fundamental to develop trade and foster regional integration, will be top of the agenda at the third Euromed Trade Ministerial meeting in Palermo, Italy on 7th July 2003. The meeting, aimed at fostering trade relations between Mediterranean countries and the EU, will bring together Trade Ministers from the EU, Mediterranean countries and, for the first time, countries acceding to the EU. The meeting will also consider blueprints for opening trade in services and streamline customs procedures, discuss the on-going WTO talks under the Doha Development Agenda and examine means to enhance cooperation ahead of the upcoming WTO Ministerial in Cancun in September. Discussion will also focus on the issues surrounding a Wider Europe and its impact on the Mediterranean neighbours. The Euromed Trade Ministerial will be preceded by an informal meeting of EU Trade Ministers on Sunday 6 July.

· EU-Africa Bringing the dialogue forward

The European Commission has adopted a Communication on 'The EU-Africa dialogue'. The Communication is adopted at a crucial time three months after the EU-Africa Summit was postponed and as African leaders are preparing to meet in Maputo, Mozambique for the first meeting of the African Union (AU) since it was launched one year ago in Durban. The Communication assesses the state of the EU-Africa dialogue and suggests ways of bringing it forward.

· Commission grants €11 million to improve living conditions in the Central Valley region of Costa Rica

The European Commission is supporting a €11 million project to improve the urban services and living areas in the Costa Rican Central Valley greater metropolitan area. The objectives of this urban planning project are to raise the effectiveness of the central urban system, which is Costa Rica's leading economic region, by reducing current environmental, social and economic costs that are the result of a disorganized and unsustainable regional model. This 5 years project will improve the population's urban conditions culture and the urban management capabilities of local government and institutions.

· Aflatoxins : Commission imposes special conditions for import of Brazil nuts in shell from Brazil

Following findings of high levels of aflatoxins, the European Commission decided today to impose special conditions for the import of Brazil nuts in shell originating from Brazil. Aflatoxins are carcinogenic substances produced by fungi which contaminate the nuts. Levels of more than 100 times the legal maximum level were found in Brazil nuts in shell from Brazil. In addition, an inspection by the Commission's Food and Veterinary Office in January/February 2003 revealed shortcomings in the production chain and control systems intended to prevent aflatoxin contamination in Brazil nuts intended for export to the EU. The special conditions agreed today include certification of all consignments by the Brazilian competent authorities and an additional control at import by the competent authority of the importing EU Member State. In addition, only designated points of entry may be used to import Brazil nuts and there are strict conditions for sending back non-complying consignments to the country of origin. In addition to reporting risks through the usual Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed, Member States will be required to make quarterly reports of the analytical results of their controls on imported Brazil nuts. The above measures will be reviewed in May 2004. The measures were decided in agreement with the Standing Committee for the Food Chain and Animal Health, consisting of representatives of the EU Member States.

· Commission welcomes outcome of the World Radiocommunication Conference 2003 (WRC-03)

The ITU World Radiocommunication Conference 2003 (WRC-03) ended today after four weeks of negotiations between representatives from countries across the world on updating the allocation of radio spectrum and its usage conditions at global level. From a Community perspective, the major objectives for this conference, presented in a Commission Communication adopted last March and confirmed by Council, were met to a significant extent. The positive outcome of these negotiations will significantly support major policies at Community level which rely on radio spectrum, such as on Transport (Galileo radio navigation system) or Information Society (broadband wireless access platforms, notably 3G and wireless LAN).

· Foreign ownership and corporate income taxation : an empirical evaluation

A new study carried out by economists in the European Commission's Directorate General of Economic and Financial Affairs points that economic integration in Europe has not led to a 'race to the bottom' regarding corporate income taxes. This paper documents trends in the foreign ownership of companies in Europe and it examines whether foreign ownership has exerted a positive influence on corporate income tax levels. Using company-level data, we document that the foreign ownership share in Europe stood at around 21.5 percent in the year 2000. The estimation suggests that a one percentage point increase in foreign ownership increases the average corporate income tax rate between a half and one percent. Further international economic integration is likely to lead to higher foreign ownership shares with a concomitant positive influence on corporate taxation levels. Full document available on :

· eGovernment ministerial Conference of July 7-8 : reinforcing political commitment

More than 1000 people will participate in an eGovernement ministerial Conference and Exhibition, to be held in Como on July 7-8. 31 Ministers from European Union countries as well as from future Member States, EFTA and other countries, have confirmed their participation. Mr Erkki Liikanen, European Commissioner for Information Society and Enterprise, will attend the event together with Mr Lucio Stanca, Italian Minister for Innovation and Technologies. Industry is also very much involved in this top-level meeting on eGovernment policy and practices, with several CEOs attending the Conference as speakers. In the context of the eEurope Action Plan, key European players will discuss how advanced technology can be further used to help provide more inclusive and personalised services and increase the productivity of public administrations. The main themes to be discussed include the impact of eGovernment on European competitiveness, building a more productive and transparent public sector, and how this "citizen-centric", one-stop-shop approach helps not only the people dealing with administrations, but also the efficiency of administrations themselves. The most outstanding examples of best practice in this field will receive the "eEurope Award for Innovation in eGovernment" and a meeting of the Ministers present is expected to lead to a ministerial declaration. Special arrangements apply for press accreditation to this event.

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