Insight Brussels March 2013

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A look at some of the key issues shaping EU Policy - by MSLGROUP Brussels

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Insight Brussels March 2013

  1. 1. | Insight Brussels | 0n°11 March 2013
  2. 2. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTSN°11 – 19th March 2013SECTORAL POLICIES1. Agriculture and Fisheries...........................................................................................................................................22. Defence ..............................................................................................................................................................................33. Energy and Environment ...........................................................................................................................................34. Financial Services ..........................................................................................................................................................45. Food and Beverage .......................................................................................................................................................46. Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals ............................................................................................................................57. Information and Communication Technology ..................................................................................................68. Sports and Gambling ....................................................................................................................................................79. Transport ..........................................................................................................................................................................7CROSS-SECTORAL POLICIES10. Competition ..................................................................................................................................................................911. Consumer .......................................................................................................................................................................912. Intellectual Property and Copyright ................................................................................................................ 1113. Taxation ....................................................................................................................................................................... 1114. Trade ............................................................................................................................................................................. 11 | Insight Brussels | 1
  3. 3. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTSSECTORAL POLICIES1. Agriculture and FisheriesVineyards: tough talks on new plantation rights from 2016In March, the Special Committee on Agriculture discussed the conditions for allowing newvineyards to be planted as of January 2016, when the new plantation right system will enter intoforce. The Irish Presidency of the Council suggested that the system should last until the end of2021 and that the cap for new plantations should be set at 1% of the already existing system,with the possibility given to Member States to introduce a lower safeguard level.The European Commission was targeting a 2% safeguard level, but some Member States, such asFrance, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain, argued that the threshold level was too high, andthat they would prefer a 0.5% cap. This option is supported by wine producers, who fear thatliberalisation could deregulate the sector, encourage overproduction and lower prices, and harmthe EU’s reputation on wine quality.Negotiations between the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament on plantation rightsas well as the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are expected to start in April.Fishery reform: agreement on discard banOn 27 February, the Member States’ Ministers for Fisheries agreed on the implementingarrangements for the discard ban, which constitutes the cornerstone of the reform of theCommon Fisheries Policy (CFP). The agreement provides for a gradual implementation and theobligation to land all catches as of between 2014 and 2019, depending on species and zones. Theban will apply from1 January 2014 for pelagic species, from 1 January 2015 in the Baltic Sea andfrom 1 January 2016 in the North Sea, as well as North-Western and South-Western waters, witha three-year transitional period. In the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, as well as in all EU andnon-EU waters, the ban will apply from 1 January 2017, with a two-year transitional period.There will be no exemptions for individual species or zones, but the level of acceptable discards(the de minimis threshold) will also be progressive, starting with 9% of catches per day at sea in2014 and ending with 7% in 2018. This was the price for securing the support of the reluctantSouthern countries, which opposed the total and early application of the ban demanded byNorthern countries, instead preferring a flexible implementation timetable.The discard ban has drawn mixed reactions. The industry notes that, although an important stephas been taken, further clarification is needed, especially on the practical implementation of theban and its impact on fishing communities. The European Parliament, which agreed on itsposition on 6 February and opted for a more sustainable fisheries policy, criticises the Councilfor failing to back a full discard ban. Hence, the inter-institutional three-way talks between theCouncil, the European Commission and the European Parliament to be launched now are set tobe difficult. Nonetheless, the Irish Presidency aims to have a final agreement by the end of June. | Insight Brussels | 2
  4. 4. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTS2. DefenceEuropean cooperation forums strive for a more competitive European military industryThe two cooperation forums Visegrád Group, which comprises Hungary, the Czech Republic,Slovakia and Poland, and the Weimar Triangle, which comprises France, Germany and Poland,were brought together for the first time at a summit held in Warsaw on 6 March. The PolishPrime Minister, Donald Tusk, and the French President, François Hollande, stressed the need forcloser cooperation and a common strategic approach. The joint aim is to improve thecompetitiveness of the European military industry.At the meeting, the six Heads of State and Government adopted a joint declaration, whichintends to provide a positive impetus to European defence capacity. The declaration particularlyemphasises the complementarity of European defence and NATO, as well as the need to avoidunnecessary duplication. The signatories would like to see their defence cooperation contributeto the objectives of the “Toward NATO forces 2020” project. In this context, the declarationhighlights the military industry’s role in this process, thereby attaching high importance to smalland medium-sized enterprises in particular.3. Energy and EnvironmentEnergy infrastructures: new regulatory framework to implement EU priority projectsAt the plenary session of 12 March, the European Parliament definitely adopted the Regulationfor Trans-European energy infrastructures, which aims at accelerating the approval of EUpriority projects of common interest, such as pipelines and power grids, and to make themeligible for funding under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). The Council still has to formallyapprove the Regulation before it will fully enter into force 20 days after its publication in theOfficial Journal of the EU.The Regulation defines 12 EU priority corridors in urgent need of development, on the basis ofwhich projects will be selected and benefit from special regulatory treatment, as well as fasterpermit procedures. Project promoters will have to present their applications to a group ofexperts consisting of European Commission and Member States representatives, as well asenergy transport network managers. After the adoption of regional lists of selected projectsreflecting the EU priorities, the European Commission will publish an EU-wide final list ofprojects. The possible financing under the CEF will be possible from 2014 onwards.Nuclear safety and insurance: European Parliament continues to put pressureAs expected in February, the plenary session of the European Parliament fully supported on 14March the Resolution prepared by its Energy Committee (ITRE) on the safety improvementsrequired in the nuclear sector. MEPs called to urgently carry out – at operators’ and nottaxpayers’ expenses – the recommendations adopted following the stress tests of nuclear powerplants in 2012. They are also in favour of giving the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group(ENSREG) a leading role in monitoring the progresses achieved in the implementation of theserecommendations. In an amendment supported by 315 votes against 282, MEPs eventuallyadded that the tests were “incomplete” and that risks, such as secondary events, materialdeterioration, human errors and specific flaws inside the reactor, were not taken into account. | Insight Brussels | 3
  5. 5. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTSMEPs are now waiting for the forthcoming revision of the Directive on nuclear safety. They alsokeep calling for a clear indication of the timing and content of the upcoming draft bindinglegislation on nuclear insurance and liability.4. Financial ServicesFinal approval on the Capital Requirements Directive IV expected in AprilThe negotiations on the draft Capital Requirements Directive IV legislative package, whichincludes prudential rules requiring banks to own more equity capital, are proceeding. Ruleslimiting bankers’ bonuses to the equivalent of their salary or two times their salary givenapproval from shareholders have been the key issue in the discussions. On 28 February, thenegotiators for the European Council, the European Parliament and the ECOFIN Council(consisting of all EU Ministers for Economics and Finance) reached an agreement including thebonuses cap. The UK has continued to voice reservations in the ECOFIN Council, but its room formanoeuvre is very limited, because the rules do not require unanimity.Apart from a few technical issues that still need to be resolved, the proposal is likely to beapproved by the ECOFIN Council shortly. A final approval by the European Parliament isexpected between 15 and 18 April, so that the legislative package would enter into force on 1January 2014.5. Food and BeverageFood fraud: DNA testing and higher penaltiesThe EU has set up large-scale DNA testing of food products to assess the scale of the scandal ofhorsemeat sold as beef, which has spread across Europe since early January and has involvedoperators in a number of Member States. The initial one-month testing plan, which was agreedupon by European leaders on 4 March and can be extended for another two months, focuses onDNA in meat products and also involves checking horsemeat for potentially harmful drugresidues. First results are expected by 15 April.Moreover, the European Commission will propose in April or May a legislative package onanimal and plant health. On 28 February, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, TonioBorg, outlined to MEPs some of the measures that could be included in the package, amongstothers higher financial penalties for violations of food-chain rules and compulsory monitoring ifa problem is detected in a Member State. After having been presented, the package will beexamined by the Council and the European Parliament. It is not expected to be adopted beforethe end of term of the current European Commission in May 2014.Animal protein for use in fish feed reapprovedAs the European Commission announced on 14 February, the Regulation lifting the ban on usingprocessed animal protein (PAP) derived from non-ruminant farm animals – mainly from pigsand poultry – in fish feed entered into force on 13 February. This will allow farmed fish andother aquaculture animals once again to be fed with non-ruminant PAPs. The reauthorisationwill apply from 1 June. | Insight Brussels | 4
  6. 6. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTSThe European Commission hopes to go further in lifting the ban, planning to reintroduce the useof PAPs for poultry and pigs. However, it does not intend to propose the reauthorisation of PAPsfor feeding ruminant animals, such as cattle or sheep, or non-ruminant farmed animals.The European Commission had banned the use of PAPs in farm feed in 1997 for cattle and in2001 for all animals, after they were linked to the spread of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy(BSE). It has now argued that their reintroduction does not pose health risks and complies withthe latest scientific opinions.6. Healthcare and PharmaceuticalsOn-going discussions on the revision of the Tobacco DirectiveAround three months after the European Commission presented its proposal, debates on therevision of the 2001 Tobacco Products Directive are accelerating. At the beginning of March, thetopic has already been discussed three times in the Council, with the Irish Presidency planninganother ten meetings, and the European Parliament’s report, prepared by rapporteur LindaMcAvan (S&D, UK), is expected later this month.Positions on the proposal vary widely. While it does not go far enough for some, such as IrishHealth Minister James Reilly, others draw attention to the proposal’s potential negative impacton the economy: not only the tobacco industry, but also several Member States and some MEPs,expressed concerns that the new Directive could damage a multibillion Euro industry anddestroy jobs at a time when the EU has to grapple with the economic crisis.The proposal introduces new and strengthened rules on tobacco products. Measures like largepictorial warnings are aimed at making smoking less attractive, especially for younger people.Proponents of the proposal would like to see it adopted before the parliamentary elections in2014, which means that the EU institutions are now racing against time.MEPs disagree on clinical trialsThe European Commission’s proposal for a new Regulation on clinical trials, which waspresented on 17 July and repeals the current Directive 2001/20/EC, is currently being debatedin the European Parliamentary Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee.The current Directive, which was implemented in 2004 with a view to improving researchstandards, protecting patients and notably enhancing the competitiveness of clinical research,has been criticised by researchers for imposing an overly heavily regulatory framework, thusincreasing costs and red tape without bringing any major benefit to patients. Hence, the newRegulation aims at breathing new life into clinical research in Europe by simplifying procedures.The new rules are supposed to make it easier for drug companies and researchers to carry outcross-border clinical trials by introducing a harmonised EU submission system.The discussions in the ENVI Committee, however, have unveiled substantial disagreementsamong MEPs, particular when it comes to the issue of clinical trials being transparent.Rapporteur Glenis Willmott (S&D, UK), backed by the Greens and NGOs, expressed the view thata summary of the results from the sponsors does not go far enough to allow researchers to carryout their evaluations. Philippe Juvin (EPP, France), on the other hand, warned that requiringacademics to publish everything would involve thousands of documents. | Insight Brussels | 5
  7. 7. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTSThe vote on the European Commission’s proposal in the ENVI Committee is scheduled for 24April. In June, it will undergo its first reading in plenary. A plenary vote has not yet beenscheduled.European Commission wants to improve labelling of hazardous productsThe European Commission aims at better protecting workers from the dangers of exposure tochemical substances at their workplace. On 26 February, it presented a legislative proposal for aDirective amending five existing Directives on occupational health and safety to align them withRegulation (EC) 1272/2008 on the classification, labelling and packaging of chemicals.The new Directive would require manufacturers and suppliers of chemical substances toprovide harmonised labelling information on hazard classification. Thus, users would be alertedto the presence of hazardous chemicals, the need to avoid exposure and the associated risks.The proposal has been the subject of two rounds of consultation of employer and trade unionrepresentatives at EU level as well as debates in the Advisory Committee on Safety and Health atWork (ACSHW). It now goes to the Council and the European Parliament for adoption.European Commission provides €144 million funding for rare diseases researchOn Rare Disease Day 2013 (28 February), the European Commission announced €144 million ofnew funding for 26 research projects on rare diseases in order to help improve the lives of someof the 30 million Europeans suffering from them. The selected projects, which cover a broadspectrum of diseases, bring together more than 300 participants from 29 countries in Europeand beyond. The aim is to pool resources and to work beyond borders to get a betterunderstanding or rare diseases and to find adequate treatment.7. Information and Communication TechnologyEuropean Commission invests €50 million in 5G networksThe European Commission is currently pressing for the development of 5G networks. At theMobile World Congress in Barcelona on 26 February, Commissioner for the Digital AgendaNeelie Kroes announced that the European Commission will invest €50 million in research tosupport the development of 5G mobile telecoms networks by 2020.At the same time, she deplored the delay in implementation of the 4G networks. Although theCouncil and the European Parliament adopted a year ago a Decision obliging Member States tofree up their radio spectrum for 4G networks from 1 January 2013, 17 of them still do not havethis technology. Since access to broadband is essential for modern economies to return togrowth, Kroes warned that the European Commission might launch infringement proceedingsagainst those Member States who do not comply with their legal commitments.Grand Coalition for jobs in the digital sectorOn 4 March, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso launched the Grand Coalitionfor Digital Jobs, a two-day conference in Brussels aimed at engaging joint action for trainingadditional professionals in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector. Firmslike Microsoft and Google, as well as several Commissioners, are participating in the initiative. | Insight Brussels | 6
  8. 8. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTSDespite high unemployment in the EU, the number of jobs in the digital sector is growing everyyear. Without additional training efforts, however, there will be 900,000 vacancies due to a lackof qualified personnel by 2015. The conference thus aims at helping young people and theunemployed to find jobs in the digital sector. Although the European Commission has a key roleto play, it is businesses and organisations that have to take action to reverse the current trend.Several businesses such as the Spanish telecoms group Telefónica have already committed toincrease their efforts and those that haven’t done so yet have the opportunity to submit theirpledge until 31 May. All pledges will be presented at the Digital Assembly in June.8. Sports and GamblingEuropean Parliament discusses Draft Report on online gambling in the internal marketThe European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Committee hascompleted its first exchange of views on its initiative response to the European Commission’sCommunication on online gambling presented in October 2012. On 27 February, rapporteurAshley Fox (ECR, UK) unveiled his Draft Report on online gambling in the internal market.The Draft Report calls for an objective and non-discriminatory implementation of the EUprinciples and rules on gambling. In particular, it requests the European Commission to continuecarrying out effective checks on compliance with EU law of national laws and practices. It alsotakes the view that common standards for online gambling should address the rights andobligations of both the service provider and the consumer, including measures to ensure a highlevel of protection for players, particularly minors and other vulnerable persons, and theprevention of misleading advertisements. Eventually, the Draft Report stresses the need toadopt additional safeguards against money laundering and match fixing.The report will be considered in the IMCO Committee on 20/21 March. The deadline for tablingamendments is 4 April and the amendments will be considered on 24/25 April. The vote in theIMCO Committee will take place on 29/30 May and in June/July in plenary.9. TransportFirst ministerial and parliamentary debates on fourth rail packageFollowing the presentation in January of the European Commission’s proposal to review theregulatory framework governing railway activities in Europe, both the Council and the EuropeanParliament started examining the draft provisions.The Member States’ transport ministers decided to begin their debates with the technicalaspects related to the interoperability of the EU rail system. In tackling the least controversialelements, the Irish presidency hoped to avoid blockage at the beginning of the negotiations, butthe Member States nevertheless expressed concerns about the idea of giving the solecompetence for issuing authorisation for placing rail vehicles and equipment to the EuropeanRailway Agency (ERA). The European delegations would prefer that national authorities retaincontrol over the authorisation and certification procedures for vehicles destined only for thedomestic market. They also underlined that transferring competences to ERA is premature,notably because the third railway package has not yet been fully applied. The EuropeanCommission still supports this transfer of competences, because it would be a good way toreduce costs and shorten procedures, which can, in some Member States, last up to two years. | Insight Brussels | 7
  9. 9. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTSIn the European Parliament, MEPs voiced concerns that small and less profitable railway linescould suffer from a liberalisation of domestic railway traffic. Given that it will be obligatory tomake public calls for tenders for public service missions, some MEPs supported the idea ofmaking it necessary to incite operators to take the different lines in charge. Other MEPscriticised the removal from the European Commission’s proposal of the most controversialprovision, which would have made it compulsory to clear the separation between infrastructuremanagers and railway undertakings. Moreover, they feared that the current discussion will endup with the necessity to present a fifth railway package.The negotiations on the fourth rail package are expected to continue the whole year and maylast until after the EU elections in 2014.Air passengers’ rights: Commission has presented new rulesFollowing recent judgments by the European Court of Justice, the European Commissionpresented on 13 March a package of measures to enhance airline passenger rights and to clarifythe current Regulation, dating from 2004. Under the new provisions, the air carrier will have toinform passengers on delayed or cancelled flight as soon as possible and in any event not laterthan 30 minutes after the scheduled departure time. The proposal also defines rights toassistance after two hours of delay and compensation if the delay at arrival is more than fivehours for all intra-EU flights and for short international flights of less than 3,500 km. In case oftarmac delays, the passenger will have the right to renounce to the travel and have the ticketprice reimbursed after five hours. The passenger may also request free of charge the correctionof spelling mistakes in his name and will have new rights with regard to mishandled baggage.The proposal will also reinforce the coordination and exchange of information among theNational Enforcement Bodies with the support of the European Commission. The latter will alsohave the power to request the launch of (joint) investigations by the national authorities. Theproposal has now been passed on to the European Parliament and the Council for furtherelaboration. | Insight Brussels | 8
  10. 10. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTSCROSS-SECTORAL POLICIES10. CompetitionEU fines Microsoft €561 millionOn 6 March, the European Commission imposed a fine of €561 million on Microsoft for havingfailed to let users choose their web browser. It said that the US company had broken a legallybinding commitment made in 2009 to offer users a ballot screen enabling them to choose theirpreferred browser, instead of automatically imposing its Internet Explorer on them, until 2014.As of March 2010, the ballot screen was proposed to European Windows users. In 2012,however, the European Commission received a complaint that the ballot screen had disappearedfrom Windows 7 Service Pack 1 between May 2011 and July 2012, which lead to theinvestigation that now resulted in the fine.The sanction is unprecedented insofar as the European Commission has never before handeddown a fine to a company for failing to comply with a legally binding commitment and will act asa warning to other companies involved in EU antitrust disputes, such as Google.European Commission closes preliminary investigation into E5The European Commission has closed its investigation into whether Europe’s five leadingtelecoms operators were breaking competition laws in their talks on standards for future mobileservices. Concerned that the so-called “E5” might be keeping other operators off the market, ithad requested information in March 2012 from Deutsche Telecom, France Télécom, Telefónica,Vodafone and Telecom Italia on the way standards for future mobile communications servicesare being developed. On 7 March, the European Commission noted that the standardisation talksamong the operators have been transferred to industry associations, thus allowing morestakeholder participation. Considering this a positive step that reduces risk of a breach ofcompetition law, the European Commission decided to close its investigation, but warned that itwill remain watchful of how standardisation processes evolve in this sector.11. ConsumerEuropean Commission seeks input on improving access to justice in cross-borderdisputesOn 19 March, the European Commission launched a public consultation on improving access tojustice for consumers and small businesses in small-scale cross-border disputes. In fact, theEuropean Small Claims Procedure, which first entered into application on 1 January 2009,provides a quick and easy way to resolve cross-border disputes for amounts below €2,000. Itcan be used in cases where consumers need to enforce their rights, for example due to non-delivery of goods ordered from another Member State. Yet, a report last year from the EuropeanConsumer Centres Network found that this procedure is not yet well-known and underused.The European Commission is now seeking for input from consumers, businesses and the generalpublic on how the Small Claims Procedure is currently being used and how it could be improved. | Insight Brussels | 9
  11. 11. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTSThe aim is to increase confidence in cross-border shopping, thus helping consumers and smallbusinesses make full use of the Single Market.The consultation will run until 10 June. Subsequently, the European Commission will assess thecontributions received and then report back before the end of 2013 on how the Small ClaimsProcedure is operating after its first five years. If necessary, the report will be accompanied by aproposal to revise the procedure.Public consultation on plastic wasteOn 7 March, the European Commission published a Green Paper on plastic waste, which aims atgathering facts and opinions to evaluate the impact of plastic waste on the environment and todefine a European strategy to mitigate them. As the particular challenges posed by plastic wasteare currently not specifically addressed in EU waste legislation, stakeholders are invited to voicetheir opinion on whether and how existing legislation should be adapted to deal with plasticwaste, on the effectiveness of recycling targets and on corresponding economic measures. Theconsultation, which includes 26 questions, will take until the beginning of June and its resultswill feed into further policy action in 2014 as part of a broader review of EU waste policy.What is barely mentioned in the Green Paper is the issue of single-use plastic carrier bags. SomeMember States have been waiting for the European Commission to clarify whether national banson plastic bags violate common market rules. The European Commission launched aconsultation on this issue in 2011 and subsequently prepared a legislative proposal that wouldallow Member States to ban plastic carrier bags, but the proposal is being held back by itssecretary-general. For the time being, the question on the legality of a ban therefore remainsunanswered. However, Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potocnik, said in March 2013that the proposal will eventually come out.Cosmetic products: full ban on animal testing enters into forceThe European Commission decided that the final deadline of 11 March for phasing out animaltesting for cosmetic products has to be observed by the cosmetics industry if they wish tomarket their products in the EU.Pursuant to Directive 2003/15/EC, animal testing has been prohibited since 2004 for cosmeticproducts and since 2009 for cosmetic ingredients (testing ban). Since 2009, this prohibition hasalso applied to the marketing of products that have been subject to animal testing (marketingban). However, a derogation existed for tests related to complex human health effects, such asthe toxicity of repeated doses. As of 11 March, the marketing ban is total.In a Communication published on 11 March, the European Commission informed the Counciland the European Parliament of its decision and outlines its policy priorities in this area:ensuring a coherent implementation of the marketing ban and monitoring its impact, continuingthe support for research on alternative testing methods; and making alternative testing methodsan integral part of the EU’s trade agenda and international cooperation. | Insight Brussels | 10
  12. 12. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTS12. Intellectual Property and CopyrightUnified patent court system agreement signedOn 19 February, 24 of the 27 Member States signed the final piece of the legislative package onthe EU’s unitary patent, agreeing to create a unified patent court system to rule in disputes onthis new intellectual property instrument.Under the current system, companies are obliged to initiate proceedings in each country where aEuropean patent is challenged, leading to potentially inconsistent outcomes and increasedlitigation costs. The new system, by contrast, provides for a single set of legal proceedings andjudgements binding on all signatory states, thus increasing consistency and cutting down costs.As a next step, a preparatory committee will be set up to examine implementing arrangements.At least one local court in each signatory state and central courts having jurisdiction throughoutthe EU will be established. While the effective seat of the central court will be in Paris, the officeof the President and of certain judges, as well as the administration, will be in Munich. Casesrelated to chemicals, biotechnology and hygiene will be heard in London, whereas thoseinvolving mechanical engineering will be heard in Munich.The agreement has to be ratified in 13 countries before it can take effect, so that the target datefor implementing the new system is January 2014.13. TaxationPublic consultations on measures to improve tax collection and complianceOn 25 February, the European Commission launched two public consultations on measures toimprove tax collection and to ensure better tax compliance across the EU. The first consultationis on the development of a European Taxpayers Code, which would harmonise the rights andobligations of taxpayers and tax authorities. The second consultation is on a European TaxIdentification Number (EU TIN), a measure to facilitate the proper identification of taxpayers,which has become more difficult due to cross-border economic activity and the increasedmobility of EU citizens.The consultations follow the Action Plan launched in December 2012 by the EuropeanCommission for a more effective EU response to tax evasion and avoidance. Both the TaxpayersCode and the EU TIN were among the measures the European Commission proposed in itsAction Plan to tackle tax fraud and evasion. The consultations will run until 17 May.14. TradeNegotiating mandate for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment PartnershipThe European Commission gave a green light to the draft negotiating mandate for theTransatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership on 12 March in view of presenting a proposal tothe Council before the end of March. The Council is expected to come to a decision on whether to | Insight Brussels | 11
  13. 13. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTSopen negotiations by mid-June. The US has already stated that it envisages an 18-monthstimeframe for an initial deal, before a new European Commission comes to office in 2014.On 13 February, US President, Barack Obama, European Commission President, José ManuelBarroso and European Council President, Herman Van Rompuy, had decided to take theireconomic relationship to a higher level by agreeing to launch negotiations on a comprehensivetrade and investment agreement. When entering into force, the latter will be the biggest bilateraltrade deal ever negotiated and could add 0.5% to the EUs annual economic output.European Commission tables Trade and Investment Barriers Report 2013The European Commission’s efforts to fight protectionism over the last year bore fruit, the EUexecutive announced when releasing the third edition of its “Trade and Investment BarriersReport” on 14 March. However, the overall assessment of the report, which identifies marketaccess barriers in six key trading partners (China, India, Japan, Mercosur, Russia and the US) andevaluates the progress achieved in removing trade barriers, is less positive.In this context, the report notes that not all of the barriers identified by the EuropeanCommission last year could be addressed and that several long-standing obstacles still stand inthe way of European companies looking for markets outside the EU. In particular, barriersremain in India and Russia, and protectionism is even on the rise in Argentina, Brazil and China.The European Commission announced that it will continue to ensure that the EU’s tradingpartners stick to their commitments and keep their markets open.The Trade and Investment Barriers Report was first issued in 2011 in an effort to implement the“EU 2020” Growth Strategy. It is being published at the annual European Spring Councils tomove the dismantling of trade barriers to the top of the EU’s political agenda. | Insight Brussels | 12
  14. 14. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTSFor further information please contact:Leonardo Sforza (leonardo.sforza@mslgroup.com)Romain Seignovert (romain.seignovert@mslgroup.com)Klas Landelius (klas.landelius@jklgroup.com)Andrea Oechsler (andrea.oechsler@mslgroup.com)MSLGROUP Brussels, Avenue des Gaulois, 18 – B 1040 BruxellesOur website: www.mslgroup.comFollow us on twitter for the breaking news updates: @MSL_Brussels | Insight Brussels | 13

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