Articles taggés avec ‘UK’

EU Funding: Budget report 2007 confirms better management but warns time is running out for unspent funds

Vendredi 27 juin 2008

The latest data on EU spending shows, once again, the growing trend for higher investment in long-term economic progress and employment

The Financial Report 2007 also reveals how the first budget of the new programming period 2007-2013 and of an enlarged EU-27 saw the share of funds for new members increase, while the biggest overall recipients remained the same as 2006. High spending (almost the entire 2007 budget left EU coffers) confirms active budget management is bearing fruit. However lessons for future spending must be drawn from the unspent funds on which Member States lost out last year. Ensuring the continuous, effective absorption of all funds is vital.

Out of the €114 bn spent in 2007, a massive €44 bn (38.4%) went on growth and employment – a 3.7% rise on 2006 and higher than funds for farming, where market expenditure and direct payments enjoyed almost a €43 bn share (37.4%). 2007 also saw 10.5% (€12 bn) of EU cash go on rural development, fisheries and environment and over 5% (€7.3 bn) was spent on EU actions abroad.

Most of the 2007 funds - over 92%, or €105 bn – were spent on the ground in the EU’s 27 Member States with the four biggest recipients taking almost half of the total budget. France held on to its position of overall top recipient, with €13.9 bn, followed by Spain (€12.8 bn), Germany (€12.5 bn) and Italy (€11.3 bn). The EU-12 made steady ground with their share of spending growing from 12.9% in 2006 to 17% in 2007 –five and a half billion more. Poland benefited most, receiving €7.8 bn (7.4%).

The division of payments for agriculture and cohesion show a similar picture to 2006. For farming and rural development, France stayed in first place, taking more than €10 bn - nearly 20% of agricultural spending. Spain followed with €7 bn (12.9%) then Germany with €7 bn (12.8%). Italy and the UK were next in line with €6 bn (11%) and 4.2 bn (7.9%) respectively. Of the EU-12, Poland received the biggest share, €3.1 bn (5.8%). As in 2006, the top cohesion policy beneficiary was Spain, taking €5.4 bn or 14.7%. Greece moved up to second place with €4.6 bn (12.4%), followed by Italy and Germany. Poland also moved up the cohesion policy ladder, ahead of Portugal, France and the UK.

However, 2007 also saw €227m lost in unspent funds from the previous programming period (2000-2006). Under the n+2 rule, Member States lose committed money that is not claimed as a payment within two years. The highest 2007 loss was €66m for Germany, but the largest share lost was in Luxembourg: €3.5m - nearly a quarter of their funding - and the Netherlands which lost €19.9m, over 4% of its total funding. The only EU-12 losers were Slovenia (€0.2m) and Slovakia (€1.4m). From the EU-15 only Ireland and Finland avoided any losses.

Speaking to the media, Commissioner Grybauskaitė stressed how the loss of funds in 2007 serves as a harsh warning for next year.

Although the budget 2007 grew by €8 bn (+6.9% on 2006), it remained stable in terms of EU wealth, staying at 0.93% of EU GNI like the previous year. The nominal increase was mainly due to the arrival of Romania and Bulgaria.

 
  Source:
Press Room - European Commission

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EU Funding: Lower charges, greater consistency, more competition: Commission consults on bringing down mobile phone tariffs in Europe

Jeudi 26 juin 2008

Aiming to spur competition among operators and lower phone charges for European consumers, the Commission today starts a public consultation on the future regulation of “voice call termination rates” in the EU based on a draft Commission Recommendation on termination rates

Voice call termination rates are the wholesale tariffs charged by the operator of a customer receiving a phone call to the operator of the caller’s network. Included in everyone’s phone bill, and therefore eventually paid by the consumer, these tariffs are determined by the intervention of national telecoms regulators. At the moment the decisions of the national telecoms regulators result in very divergent rates across the EU. Mobile termination rates range from €0.02/min (in Cyprus) to over €0.18/min (in Bulgaria) and are 9 times higher than fixed line termination rates (on average €0.0057/min for local call termination). This distorts competition between operators from different countries and between fixed line and mobile phone operators. The public consultation on this proposal will be open until 3 September 2008.

The Commission, after assessing over 770 regulatory proposals by national regulators over the past 5 years, warned today that price regulation of termination markets across Europe lacks consistency. It said that gaps between fixed and mobile termination rates and between mobile termination rates imposed by national regulators cannot be altogether justified by differences in the underlying costs, networks or national characteristics. This could have the following negative effects:

* Legal uncertainty and increased regulatory burden for operators providing cross-border services.
* National regulators bringing down mobile termination rates in their country risk punishing their own mobile industry if a neighbouring regulator still allows higher rates.
* Investment in new networks and services hampered if operators face different regulation in every country.

At present, fixed operators and their customers are indirectly subsidising mobile operators by paying higher termination rates for calls made from fixed lines to mobiles. This cross-subsidisation is estimated at €10 billion in Germany for 1998-2006 (WIK Consult) and €19 billion in the UK, Germany and France for 1998-2002 (CERNA-Warwick-WIK).

The Commission today presented a draft Recommendation for convergence of termination rates in Europe, including clear principles on which cost elements should be taken into account when national telecoms regulators determine termination rates, an efficient costing methodology, and symmetric regulation (where the same price caps apply, within a country, to mobile and fixed operators, respectively). This will help foster an effective regulatory environment and avoid distortions such as cross-subsidies from fixed to mobile consumers. The advice of the European Regulators Group (ERG), which has made several attempts towards more consistent regulation of termination rates since 2006, was taken into account by the Commission in the draft Recommendation.

Background

The Commission will issue the final text of the Recommendation on the regulatory treatment of fixed and mobile termination rates in October under article 19 of the Framework Directive of the EU Telecom rules, which allows the Commission to further harmonise the application of EU Telecoms rules in the single market to promote competition and consumer benefits. Member States have to ensure that national regulators take “the utmost account” of Commission Recommendations.

 
  Source:
Press room - European Commission

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EU funding: Commission launches debate on relations with Overseas Countries and Territories

Mercredi 25 juin 2008

The Commission today tabled a Green Paper on the future relation with Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT), aimed at launching a broad debate on the EU–OCT relations.

Following the public consultation, the Commission will propose a new partnership that takes better account of the special characteristics and present economic situation in the 21 islands .

Because of their special relations with Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the UK, OCTs are closely associated with the EU. For historic reasons, the current relationship was very much modelled on the relationship with the African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries (ACP) Such an agreement does not correspond to the specific social, economic and environmental challenges faced by OCTs today.

The Green paper is intended to launch a broad discussion on the opportunity of replacing the current agreement with an innovative partnership for the OCTs. Any future partnership should be tailored to their specific status, needs, challenges and potential whilst also recognising the close link, mutual interest and solidarity between the OCTs and the EU. Any future partnership should fully or partly replace the current one when the present Overseas Association Decision expires on 31 December 2013.

The Commission will hold a online consultation covering these issues from 1 July to the 17 October 2008.

 
  Source:
Press Room - European Commission

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