• 2004-05-27
As many as 187 Latvian companies are allowed to distribute food products in the European Union, the country's Food and Veterinary Service official Ilze Vilne stated last week. She explained that only those companies that the service has certified are allowed to export their products to member states.

Vilne added that among the certified companies are 27 meatpackers, 17 egg-related companies and 42 dairies. In addition, 58 custom warehouses, 44 food product warehouses and 11 freezing facilities have been certified. Companies that have not been certified can only sell their products in Latvia or non-EU countries.

Russia and Ukraine have decided to permit food imports only from new European Union member states to which no transition periods in food safety have been applied, and which consequently meet all the valid EU requirements. Unlike its neighbors, Estonia failed to seek transition periods for its food processing companies. As a result, this is having a positive effect on trade with Russia and Ukraine right now, officials at the Veterinary and Food Board said. Several other countries that joined the EU this year, including Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, have been granted a transition period for processing meat, fish or milk.

The Estonian Employers Confederation said it supported the Union of Industrial and Employers Confederations of Europe's position concerning the negative effects of tax harmonization. The confederation said that the European countries' heads of government and EU Commissioner Pascal Lamy's proposal to introduce a base corporate tax worried them. "The productivity of Estonian companies is still significantly below the European level, and enterprises are in need of constant investments. It is therefore sensible to keep investments exempt of income tax - this way money will return into the enterprise in a more direct way," said Enn Veskimagi, chairman of the extended board of the confederation. "We can presume that in the conditions of a common market, taxes will become harmonized voluntarily and by themselves in the long term, for competition will force old member countries to lower their taxes, as Finland has done already."

A total of 176 preliminary applications with a combined value of over 800 million litas (232 million euros) have been submitted for financial assistance from EU structural funds worth 213 million litas to be granted for the development of Lithuania's information society. The Information Society Development Committee has examined the applications, 35 of which got a perfect or good assessment, while the rest were satisfactory or poor. Lithuania should absorb assistance for the development of information society by 2007. "The amount of 213 million litas should be divided in more or less equal parts that will be assigned to the projects on provision of digital services via the Web and infrastructure projects, including fast Internet access, IT and telecommunications security. However, the ratio will eventually depend on the quality of projects," Matulis said.