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EU Midday Express

EU Midday Express

European Structural Funds contribute to higher growth, new jobs and sustainable development in the least developed regions

With the help of the Structural Funds, the poorest parts of the Union have been able to create 800,000 jobs during the 1994-99 period, while adding to their GDP levels, according to a new evaluation study. The study highlights the many ways in which European programmes have had an impact on the quality of life of the poorest ("Objective 1") regions. In these regions the EU contributed €114 billion from the Structural Funds to programmes mobilising some €210 billion, including national public and private contributions.

May 2003 compared to April 2003 : Industrial production down by 0.9% in euro-zone ; EU15 down by 1.1%

Seasonally adjusted industrial production decreased by 0.9% in the euro-zone in May 2003 compared to April 2003, Eurostat estimates today. Production increased by 0.4% in April 2003 after a fall of 0.8% in March 2003. Output in the EU15 decreased by 1.1% in May 2003, after a gain of 0.7% in April and a fall of 0.9% in March. In May 2003 compared to May 2002, industrial production decreased by 1.3% in the euro-zone and by 1.8% in the EU15.

Public procurement : Commission acts against six Member States

The European Commission has decided to act in eight cases to enforce EU law on public procurement, which aims to ensure that all European companies have a fair chance to bid for public contracts. The open and transparent tendering processes required under EU law mean more competition, stronger safeguards against corruption and better service and value for money for taxpayers. The Commission has decided to refer Ireland, Italy and Germany to the Court of Justice concerning respectively the extension without competition of a contract with the Irish national post office for providing social welfare payments, the purchase without competition of helicopters by the Italian forestry authority and failure to apply EU rules to a waste disposal contract in the German district of Friesland. The Commission has also sent formal requests to change their practices to Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden because various public procurement contracts have been awarded in ways that do not comply with the EU Treaty and/or with the Public Procurement Directives. These formal requests take the form of so-called 'reasoned opinions', the second stage of infringement procedures under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. In the absence of a satisfactory response to these 'reasoned opinions', the Commission may refer the Member States in question to the European Court of Justice. The Commission has also closed a case against Belgium, as the Walloon region has rescinded its former requirement that stone used in works contracts should be of Belgian origin. Commission takes action with €100 million to improve conditions in Gaza and the West Bank, and accelerate relaunch of the Palestinian economy

Following the recent positive developments in the Palestinian Territories and the withdrawal of IDF forces from parts of the Gaza Strip and Bethlehem, the European Commission is urgently delivering a €100 million package of financial assistance to support the implementation of the Road Map for Peace. A €30 million emergency programme to rebuild essential services will have an immediate effect on the daily lives of the Palestinian population. €40 million from the new Reform Support Instrument will boost the economy by paying Palestinian Authority arrears to Small and Medium sized Enterprises. A total of €30 million in loans for SMEs will help relaunch this sector and create employment. Total assistance from the EU budget for supporting the reform process and providing humanitarian aid to the Palestinians stands at €570 million for 2002-2003.

Commission approves €25 million package of technical assistance to support Moldova's transition to a market economy

The European Commission has adopted the national Tacis Action Programme for Moldova. The priorities of the programme have been developed in close cooperation with the Moldovan Government and there is a strong emphasis on rule of law and human rights (in close collaboration with the Council of Europe), economic and social development and health issues. With a total budget of €25 million, this programme makes the Commission one of the largest single donors in Moldova with a total contribution from 1991 to 2003 of €238 million. The Tacis Action Programme is part of a total of €50 million earmarked for Moldova in 2003, including : €25 million for the National Tacis Programme, €10 million for macroeconomic financial assistance, €10 million under the food security programme and €5 million from Tacis regional programmes.

Commission and FAO sign agreement to strengthen partnership

The European Commission and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) today signed an agreement designed to create a closer strategic partnership between the two institutions in the fields of development and humanitarian aid.

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