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European Union Midday Express

Midday Express

· No hiding place for rogue traders: Commission proposes EU-wide network of national watchdogs

Unscrupulous traders will no longer be able to evade consumer protection authorities by targeting consumers living in other EU countries. The Commission has adopted a proposal for a regulation which will link up national enforcement authorities and enable them to take co-ordinated action against rogue traders who abuse the freedom of the EU's Internal Market in order to deceive consumers. The regulation will remove existing barriers to information exchange and cooperation and empowers enforcement authorities to seek and obtain action from their counterparts in other Member States. Following the recently adopted proposal for a Directive on Unfair Commercial Practices (see IP/03/857), today's proposal forms part of the Commission's drive to improve enforcement in the Internal Market (see IP/03/645), as set out in the Internal Market Strategy 2003-2006. The proposal will now be forwarded to the European Parliament and the Council as well as to the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. It will be adopted through co-decision and could enter into force in 2005.

· Contrefaçon : la Commission salue l'adoption du nouveau règlement pour renforcer l'intervention des douanes

La Commission européenne a salué l'adoption par le Conseil des ministres de l'UE d'un règlement contribuant à la lutte contre la contrefaçon et la piraterie. Ce règlement, qui entrera en application le 1er juillet 2004 et remplacera le règlement existant (3295/94/CE), détermine les conditions et les modalités d'intervention des autorités douanières à l'égard de marchandises soupçonnées de porter atteinte à certains droits de propriété intellectuelle. Le nouveau règlement apporte plus de clarté juridique, étend l'application aux nouveaux droits de propriété intellectuelle, facilite l'accès à la réglementation pour les titulaires de droits et constitue donc un outil législatif performant permettant de mieux appréhender ces phénomènes de fraude.

· Libre circulation des biens: la Commission poursuit des procédures d'infraction contre l'Autriche, la Belgique, les Pays-Bas et l'Espagne

La Commission européenne a décidé de saisir la Cour à l'encontre de l'Autriche en ce qui concerne l'interdiction de la vente par correspondance de compléments alimentaires, ainsi que d'autres obstacles à la commercialisation de ces produits. Elle traduira également la Belgique devant la Cour en ce qui concerne l'interdiction dans ce pays du commerce des oiseaux nés et élevés en captivité. La Commission a aussi demandé formellement à la Belgique, aux Pays Bas, et à l'Espagne de mettre fin à des entraves injustifiées concernant les systèmes d'alarme (Belgique et Pays-Bas) et les porte-vélos pour les voitures (Espagne). Les demandes de la Commission prennent la forme d'avis motivés, deuxième étape de la procédure d'infraction en vertu de l'article 226 du traité CE. Si les autorités nationales ne répondent pas de façon satisfaisante dans les deux mois suivant la réception de l'avis motivé, la Commission peut décider de saisir la Cour de justice. La Commission estime que toutes ces entraves constituent des violations des règles du Traité sur la libre circulation de marchandises dans le marché intérieur (Articles 28 à 30).

· WTO negotiations - EU and Japan determined to cut the costs of anti-dumping investigations for companies

In the on-going WTO negotiations under the "Doha Development Agenda" the EU and Japan have jointly submitted a proposal aimed at reducing the costs of participating in anti-dumping investigations. The paper targets practices such as excessive information requirements, inadequate procedural rules, unclear substantive rules and rules granting too much discretion to the investigating authorities. When confronted with these shortcomings, parties often refrain from defending their rights which in turn makes the adoption of anti-dumping measures easier. EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said: "Ensuring fair trade should go hand in hand with clear, transparent and predictable rules. This is the way we prevent abuses of the system. If our proposals are adopted, companies who are subject to anti-dumping investigations will have a real possibility to defend their rights. Cutting down costs of anti-dumping investigations is essential for exporters in developing countries, in particular, who often have scarce resources."

· Pascal Lamy meets Asian Trade Ministers to strengthen EU-Asia Trade Relations

EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy will attend the 5th Asia Europe Meeting of Economic and Trade Ministers (ASEM EMM5) which brings together ministers from ten Asian countries, the EU-15 and the European Commission in Dalian (China) from 23 to 24 July 2002. Closer co-ordination on the on-going WTO negotiations under the Doha Development Agenda, initiatives to enhance trade and investment links between Europe and Asia as well as the EU's upcoming enlargement will feature high on the agenda. Before leaving for Dalian, Pascal Lamy said: "Less than two months ahead of the WTO meeting in Cancun in September, EU and Asia have in Dalian an opportunity to send a clear message in support of the on-going negotiations under the Doha Development Agenda. We need to make sure that opening markets and creating new trading rules will be to the benefit of all and in particular developing countries."

· Commission clears Heineken purchase of Austrian brewer BBAG

The European Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of Austrian brewer BBAG by Heineken of the Netherlands. The combination of BBAG and Heineken does not give rise to any competition concerns given that they have only minor overlapping businesses in the European beer market.

· Eurobarometer surveys show convergence of views on major issues in current and future Member States

The European Commission today unveils for the first time a comparative study of public attitudes in both the current and future Member States of the European Union. Surveys reveal largely similar attitudes across the continent on both the major political and social issues of the day and on attitudes towards the EU. Material released today includes the full results of the spring Eurobarometer survey, the full results of the spring Eurobarometer survey in the 10 future Member States and 3 candidate countries, as well as a comparative study of the two.

· La Commission adopte une proposition de règlement sur la loi applicable aux obligations non-contractuelles ("Rome II")

La Commission européenne a adopté aujourd'hui une proposition de règlement qui vise à harmoniser les règles concernant la loi applicable aux obligations non-contractuelles (« Rome II »). Cette mesure s'inscrit dans le cadre des travaux en cours au sein de l'Union européenne en vue de créer un véritable espace européen de liberté et de justice. Il s'agit d'assurer que les tribunaux de tous les États membres appliquent la même loi en cas de litige transfrontière portant sur une obligation non contractuelle, facilitant ainsi la reconnaissance mutuelle des décisions de justice dans l'Union européenne. Les règles proposées par la Commission permettent de réaliser un juste équilibre entre les intérêts des différentes parties impliquées dans un litige transfrontière et de désigner une loi qui présente des liens étroits avec la situation.

· Chris Patten to Attend ASEM Meeting, Bali 23/24 July

The European Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten will attend the forthcoming ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Bali on 23rd and 24th July, where he will present the European Commission's new Communication "A new Partnership with South East Asia". The meeting is an opportunity to discuss ways to revitalise the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) process, shared challenges such as terrorism and non proliferation, as well as the situations in Burma/Myanmar and North Korea. The Commissioner will participate in a number of bilateral and troika-format meetings in Bali, with China, South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand. On the eve of the meeting, Commissioner Patten said: "Asia is always high on my personal agenda, and our new Communication shows how much importance the European Commission attaches to our relationship with the region. Europe and Asia are not only major trading partners, but partners too in the fight against terrorism and organised crime, and environmental degradation. Europe is a major donor of development assistance to help tackle poverty in the region. There are many areas where we could collaborate more: security, human rights, regional integration and new technologies. I am looking forward to discussing with Asian friends how to make sure our relationship reaches its full potential".

· La Commission autorise l'acquisition du contrôle exclusif de la société minière brésilienne Caemi par le producteur de minerai de fer CVRD , sous réserve du respect de certaines conditions

La Commission européenne a autorisé le projet d'acquisition, par CVRD, du contrôle exclusif de Caemi, actuellement contrôlée conjointement par le négociant japonais en minerai de fer Mitsui et CVRD. Ce contrôle conjoint avait été pris à la suite d'une opération autorisée par la Commission enoctobre 2001, assortie de conditions. La Commission est parvenue à la conclusion que le passage du contrôle conjoint au contrôle exclusif qui résultera de la présente opération ne posera pas de nouveaux problèmes de concurrence. C'est CVRD qui sera responsable du respect des conditions en question.

· Commission tells all 15 Member States to secure compliance with EU laws on air pollution

The European Commission has taken legal action to ensure compliance with EU legislation aimed at improving air quality in Europe. It is pursuing 42 infringement proceedings against the 15 Member States. The 42 proceedings relate to 8 separate EU laws on air quality, each of which is aimed at preventing or reducing the harmful effects of air pollution on public health and the environment. Primarily, the proceedings relate to the failure of Member States to adopt, by the agreed deadlines, national measures implementing these EU laws (31 infringement cases). The legislation that has not been implemented in time concerns the incineration of waste, air quality limit values for benzene and carbon monoxide, national emission ceilings for sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and ammonia and large combustion plants. The Commission has also taken legal action to ensure compliance with the reporting requirements imposed by EU air pollution legislation. 10 of the proceedings relate to this type of case. In a separate case against Spain, the Commission has sent a first written warning to request Spain to comply with a Court ruling from 1998 concerning pollution from a municipal incinerator in the Canary Islands.

· Environmental Impact Assessment Directive: Commission pursues legal action against eight Member States

The European Commission is pursuing infringement procedures against the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg to ensure better compliance with an EU law which requires that prior environmental impact assessments be carried out for certain projects. The Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive aims to safeguard the environment by requiring that the environmental effects of projects be studied before they are approved, and by requiring that prior public consultation take place. By taking this action, the Commission is demonstrating its determination to ensure that the environmental safeguards the Directive offers are fully realised.

· Council and Parliament prohibit antibiotics as growth promoters: Commissioner Byrne welcomes adoption of Regulation on feed additives

David Byrne, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, has welcomed the final adoption, at the Agriculture Council today, of an EU Regulation controlling the use of additives in animal feed. The new Regulation will strengthen the control of all types of additives in animal feed, but in particular it completes the EU´s drive to phase out antibiotics as growth promoters. Strengthening rules on the safety of animal feed is one of the cornerstones of the EU's food safety strategy. Banning the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in feed is also vital to efforts to combat anti-microbial resistance. The Regulation will come into force later this year, once it has been published in the EU's Official Journal.

· La Commission récupère 115,25 millions d'euros indûment dépensés par les États membres au titre de la politique agricole

En vertu d'une décision prise par la Commission européenne, un montant total de 115,25 millions d'euros, correspondant à des dépenses irrégulières de certains États membres au titre de la PAC, sera récupéré. Le recouvrement de cette somme est motivé par des procédures de contrôle inadéquates ou par le non-respect des règles communautaires sur les dépenses agricoles. Les États membres sont chargés du versement et de la vérification de la quasi-totalité des dépenses effectuées au titre de la politique agricole commune (PAC). La tâche de la Commission consiste à s'assurer que les États membres ont correctement utilisé les ressources.

· Commission clears acquisition of Chubb by United Technologies

The European Commission has granted clearance under the Merger Regulation to the acquisition of full control of the British undertaking Chubb plc, active in the fire protection and security products and services, by the US industrial equipment company United Technologies Corporation . (The operation, notified on 20 June 2003, was examined under the simplified merger review procedure)

· Accession of Saudi Arabia to the WTO - substantial progress on bilateral negotiations with the EU

A session of bilateral negotiations for the accession of Saudi Arabia to the WTO took place in Brussels from 16 to 18 July. The session started with a meeting between the Saudi Minister for Commerce and Industry, Dr. Hashim Abdullah Yamani, and EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy and it was followed by a two-day meeting at technical level. The meetings, which took place in a positive and constructive atmosphere, allowed for important progress, and open up the perspective of concluding the bilateral negotiations for Saudi Arabia's accession to the WTO in the near future. EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy noted: "Saudi Arabia has made important efforts to overcome past difficulties in these talks and the result is real progress on many fronts. While a good amount of work is still ahead of us, above all in terms of verification of legislation and drafting of commitments, and clarification of some outstanding bilateral issues, I am very pleased at the work done by Minister Yamani and his team. We now intend to build on the momentum created by these meetings and hold further negotiations in the forthcoming weeks. After many years, the way ahead seems clear for Saudi Arabia's early accession to the WTO."

· Trade and Labour: European Commission welcomes Council conclusions on promoting core labour standards

The Council adopted today a set of conclusions supporting the Commission's stance on mainstream core labour standards in the EU's trade policy. The text also suggests focusing future action on a number of priorities, including promoting a better dialogue between the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said : «Today's move clearly shows the EU's commitment to better integration of labour standards in our trade policy at all levels: in our bilateral trade relations, our autonomous policies and on the multilateral level". In today's world, we cannot neglect the social dimension». EU Commissioner for Social Affairs Anna Diamantopoulou added:"This initiative will kick-start the EU's efforts to find a 'new diplomacy' based on increasing trade and promoting core labour standards with all our partner countries. A key vector of this policy must be an empowered International Labour Organisation."

· EU-WTO: Pascal Lamy welcomes Council conclusions on the Road to Cancun

EU Member States have adopted a set of conclusions setting out the EU's views on the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancun in September 2003, a half-way point in the negotiations under the Doha Development Agenda. EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy welcomed this move: «With today's conclusions and the resolution recently adopted by the European Parliament, it's now full speed ahead for Cancun. The challenge ahead is clear and shared by all current and ten new Member States: make sure that more trade opening and rules work to the benefit of all, and in particular developing countries."

· European Commission lifts systematic control of Indonesian shrimp imports

A Commission Decision (2001/705/EC) providing for the 100% testing of certain Indonesian fishery and aquaculture imports was repealed today. The decision to introduce systematic testing was taken in 2001, following findings of the banned substance Chloramphenicol in Indonesian shrimps. Corrective measures have since been put in place by the Indonesian authorities. These measures have succeeded in addressing the problem. This has been confirmed by the tests in place in the Member States, which have proven consistently negative for several months. Accordingly, it was considered that 100% testing is no longer necessary and the authorities can instead concentrate resources on other more important priorities. To ensure high standards, regular testing of Indonesian fishery products will continue to be carried out according to the methods normally applied to all imports into the EU. Safeguard measures to require 100% testing are only implemented when a serious problem has been identified. The Commission repealed Decision 2001/705 in agreement with the Standing Committee for the Food Chain and Animal Health, made up of Member State representatives. The decision to end the systematic testing of Indonesian shrimp shall apply from the third day after its publication in the Official Journal.

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