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close this bookThe Courier N° 127 May - June 1991- Dossier 'New' ACP Export Products - Country Reports Cape Verde - Namibia (EC Courier, 1991, 104 p.)
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View the documentWALLONIA - ‘A new political entity and a new partner in co-operation’, says Minister Albert Liénard in the ‘Courier’.

General information


50th anniversary of the end of the Italian occupation

The 50th anniversary of Italian withdrawal after the five-year occupation (1935-40) by the Mussolini rme was celebrated on 6 April. Wolde Amanuel Hailu, the Ethiopian ambassador to Brussels, made this the opportunity for a press conference and handed out a note on the exploits of Haile Selassie’s small force against the 300 000 strong Italian army.

The point of the festivities was the symbolic aspect of a victory typifying Ethiopia’s spirit of independence. According to the note, Ethiopia considers that the seeing off of one of the most powerful armies of Europe 50 years ago was a matter for great national satisfaction, since it was also the failure of the first and only attempt to colonise the country.

Ethiopia has many internal economic and political problems to handle in 1991. Under-development, linked to natural factors and the choice of aims, together with the question of where the eastern regions should stand in the national unit, are a cause of major concern to the government. What the government wanted, the ambassador made clear, was to achieve peace in Eritrea.

He recalled what had been done to facilitate the structural adjustment negotiations with the Bretton Woods institutions and stressed the importance of cooperating with the European Community, which had recently sent out a high level mission to sign an agreement on a LomV five-year economic development programme with the Ethiopian government.

According to the Ambassador, both the delegation of high level officials from the Commission and the members of the European Parliament’s Development Committee who joined the official visit to Ethiopia were positively impressed by the real effort and the vast amount of progress which the country had made in various areas of national life to overcome poverty and get long-term development off the ground.


Declaration on Ethiopia

The Community and the Member States welcome the opening of the port of Massawa and the initial success in dispatching aid down the northern assistance corridor. They have congratulated the people involved for their positive response to the call to put the needs of the drought-ridden peoples of Eritrea before any political considerations and appealed to both sides to ensure that the operation goes on being a success. They hope that the reopening of the assistance corridor will boost confidence in the peace process.


EEC-Morocco Joint Committee meets

The Joint Committee set up by the EEC-Morocco fisheries agreement (initialled for a period of five years on 25 February 1988) held its annual meeting in Brussels in March.

The Moroccan delegation was led by Saad Tazi, head of sea fishing and fish farming, and Manuel Arnal, director at the Directorate-General for Fisheries, led the Commission delegation.

The delegations began talks with a view to preparing the renegotiation of the EEC-Morocco fishing agreement which expires on 25 February 1992. Discussions centred on the initial estimates of the Committee, which is due to produce a report on the situation of the fish stocks.

Both parties were satisfied at the working of the agreement during the third year of operation. They exchanged information on utilisation for each category of fishing, welcoming the fact that the most had been made of nearly all the possibilities. The only exceptions were the seasonal seine fishing and pelagic trawling and the failure to fish for sponges.

The parties agreed that the fishing possibilities in effect during the third year of the protocol should be carried over to year four.

In accordance with Article 7, they agreed that there would be a biological rest from trawling (northern zone) throughout the month of February 1992.

The lobster fishing protocol was extended for another 11 months from I April.

The delegations were interested in improving stock evaluation and exploitation.


Airline overbooking regulation now in effect

Summer is nearly with us, with flights on the increase and overbooking the risk it always is in times of heavy traffic. A passenger with a firm reservation may well be prevented from boarding the aircraft because the agent has accepted too many bookings and it is already full.

Henceforth, if this happens, the passenger’s rights are clearly laid down in the regulation on overbooking which came into effect in the Community on 8 April. Karel Van Miert, the European transport commissioner, welcomes the Transport Council’s adoption of this new regulation, as it protects the consumer from abuse and clearly states what his basic rights are.

Airlines fix and publish their own rules on passenger embarkation in cases of overbooking of flights leaving from airports in the Community. Not only must the overbooked passenger be rescheduled. He must also be given a minimum amount of compensation, in cash or travel vouchers, calculated according to the distance and the delay involved in catching a different flight.

The passenger is also entitled to communications facilities and to food and lodging to suit the length of the delay.

Mr Van Miert believes that the new regulation will improve passengers’ confidence in the airlines and simplify relations between traveller and carrier when things go wrong. Flying will be developing enormously in the Community in the coming years, after all.

Delay in arriving at destinations

Flights of less than 3 500 km

Flights of more than 3 500 km

Less than 2 hours

ECU 75

More than 2 hours

ECU 150

Less than 4 hours

ECU 150

More than 4 hours

ECU 300


How long should it last - 50 years or 70 years?

Consultation of people interested in harmonising the period of copyright and similar rights is to be organised by the Commission in Brussels on 13-14 June.

As announced in its work programme, the Commission intends proposing a directive on the harmonisation of the duration of copyright etc during the course of the year and it is ensuring the best possible preparation for this by going in for broad consultation of the milieux concerned and inviting them to say what they think.

The first stage involved the Commission circulating among the main people concerned a questionnaire on the problems which such harmonisation might raise and inviting them to submit their ideas in writing by I May.

In stage two, the Commission will organise a hearing of associations which have replied to the questionnaire. This should be an opportunity to clarify the positions expressed in writing and discuss any controversial issues.


Commission boosts internal coordination

The Commission, which is well aware of the importance of biotechnology to the future of Europe, must clearly tell interested parties what its intentions are in this field.

Biotechnology is of increasing importance in many sectors of Community activity and, given the multidisciplinary nature of it, cooperation between the various organisations involved has to be improved. The chemicals industry, the pharmaceuticals industry and the food industry are prime areas of biotechnological application - which also have effects on the environment, ethical matters and health and safety, as well as on the protection of consumers’ interests.

This is why the Commission has set up a new, high-level inter-departmental unit to devise a balanced Community biotechnology policy. The biotechnology coordination committee is chaired by David F.Williamson, Secretary-General of the Commission.

This committee, which covers every sector of Commission biotechnological activity, with the involvement of all the departments concerned, has three main tasks - to look at new initiatives by Commission departments and prepare the Commission’s final decisions, to set up round tables, where necessary, to be attended by Commission, firms and other interested parties and to evaluate the Community’s present biotechnology policy.



The Council held an exchange of views on the exploratory discussions being held on this subject by the responsible Council working party in cooperation with the Commission.

It emphasised the need to observe the fundamental principles of the international debt strategy in the course of discussions on the subject, namely the case-by-case approach and application of the appropriate economic conditionality.

It was agreed that the matter would be re-examined at a future meeting which will probably take place in June, in the light of the conclusions reached by the working party.

The ACPs continue to seek the cancellation of all their debts vis-is the European Community under all the Conventions prior to LomV. (Ed. note).


The findings, the challenges, the proposals for action

The new technology deal, in which markets are world-wide and products short-lived, forces the electronics and computer industries of the Twelve to look to structural adjustment.

They provide three major categories of product and service - the components, which are the basis of all electronic systems and equipment, computer hardware, software and applications and finally mass electronics, i.e. TV sets, video recorders, camcorders and so on.

The electronics-computer industry, together with telecommunications, represent something like ECU 175 billion in the Community today - about 5% of the combined GDP of the Twelve - and it will be up to almost 10% by the year 2000. The importance of the industries is also linked to the disseminating nature of their technologies, which permeate the major part of our economic and social fabric and play a vital part in the competitivity of industry and the quality of services. Their effect on employment is considerable too, as 60-65% of the working population is concerned, directly or indirectly, by these technologies and their applications.

The European industry is in what might seem an enviable position in some of these sectors (software, advanced production equipment and telecommunications) but there is cause for concern in essential areas such as microchips, computer hardware and household electronic equipment. European production is all too often present in ‘very mature’ technology but not present enough in the commercial exploitation of new products. The reasons for this are known, of course, and are primarily to do with the fragmentation of the Community market, something which hampers economies of scale.

The market is now a global one and it is therefore particularly important to make sure that the conditions of competition and access to all the markets in the different industrial zones really are equal.

This is, in outline, the frank analysis recently finalised by the Commission.

True to the concept of a European industrial policy adopted in November 1990, which received the political backing of the Twelve’s Ministers of Industry, the Commission does not intend to go for a sectoral move in the electronics and computer industry. It will foster discussion, especially with the Member States, but basically it proposes to continue with a fruitful dialogue with all the parties concerned (producers, users and investors) to decide how the conditions might be improved in the long term with due respect for the roles of the various partners.

Firms will have to shoulder their responsibilities and make specific commitments that are clear and precise. The Commission is proposing five courses of action to the Twelve to improve the general situation in which firms find themselves. These schemes deal with boosting demand, technology, training, relations with the main trading partners and the company environment.

Why these industries? Four reasons.

1. They do not constitute a sector like the others. They are a family of closely interdependent technologies with a large market (ECU 700 billion, 5% of GDP, in the world in 1990, including telecommunications). And it is growing. But above all, they develop fast-evolving, disseminating technologies which permeate the major part of the economic and social fabric and are essential to the competitivity of industry and the quality of services.

2. They call for large investments in R + D and production and force firms to expand to exploit the economies of scale and learning. Their rapid development is a decisive advantage for the first arrivals on the market.

3. Their globalisation demands that there be international rules of the game to ensure fair competition and access to the markets.

4. Some of the biggest European firms are in difficulty and having to go in for costly and arduous adjustment.