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Midday Express: Spam on the offensive

Midday Express

· Spam : Commission goes on the offensive

Erkki Liikanen, European Commissioner for Enterprise and the Information Society, outlined today in Brussels how the European Commission is planning to address the proliferation of unsolicited commercial e-mail, otherwise known as 'spam'. Given the timely adoption last year of a directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications, Member States have to transpose a 'ban on spam' into national legislation by the end of October 2003. As a second step, the Commission expects a Communication on spam to be adopted in the Autumn. Concrete action would focus on effective enforcement, notably through international cooperation, technical measures for countering spam, and consumer awareness. The proposed measures would be first tested with Member States and interested parties through a workshop to be convened in October.

· Commission clears acquisition of Rodenstock by Schroder Ventures

The European Commission has granted clearance under the Merger Regulation to the acquisition of full control of Rodenstock GmbH, a German maker of spectacles and other optical products, by investment fund Permira Europe II, which is ultimately controlled by Schroder Ventures Limited. (The operation, notified on 12 June 2003, was examined under the simplified merger review procedure)

· Genetically Modified Organisms : Commission takes Court action against eleven Member States

The European Commission has decided to refer France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Greece, Spain, Austria and Finland to the European Court of Justice for failing to adopt and notify national legislation implementing an EU law on the deliberate release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into the environment. The eleven Member States cited have failed to meet an agreed deadline of 17 October 2002 for the adoption and notification of national legislation. The EU law strengthens earlier laws and was adopted to help better ensure a safe, step-by-step approach to releasing GMOs into the environment.

· Cyprus ratifies Treaty of Accession

The European Commission congratulated Cyprus on 14 July for the ratification of the Treaty of Accession. It demonstrates the strong will of Cyprus to join the European family of democratic nations as a member of the European Union, with equal rights and obligations. The Commission is confident that Cyprus will play an important role in the development of the European integration process and looks forward to it. Once in the EU, Cyprus will take advantage of all the opportunities of membership. The Commission reiterates its support for the efforts of the UN Secretary General in reaching a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem and calls for an early resumption of the talks on the basis of his proposal.

· Commission adopts Annual Programme for Albania

The European Commission has adopted its Annual Programme for Albania. In 2003, within the Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation (CARDS) Programme, a total of €46.5 million will be spent in assisting Albania in its reform and modernisation efforts. The 2003 programme's main focus is on the fight against crime and economic development. Since 1991, the European Union has been the largest donor of assistance to the Western Balkans.

· Commission to support Border Management and Police Reform in Central Asia

The European Commission has adopted a decision under its Rapid Reaction Mechanism for a maximum of €2.5 million for border management and police reform programmes in Central Asia. The measures to be supported include the kick-start of the border management programme (€1.5 million) as well as a contribution to the OSCE Police programme in Central Asia (€1 million). The overall objective of the measures is to improve border management services and policing in the region through an extensive training programme, the provision of relevant equipment and activities to demarcate borders as well as a campaign to address the use of mines for border control. The decision underscores the EU's commitment to this region, and Europe's determination to tackle organised crime and terrorism. One of the principal objectives of the decision is to strengthen the capacity of the Central Asian States to fight the illicit trafficking of drugs, arms and human beings.

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