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Insight Brussels February 2014
 

Insight Brussels February 2014

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In this issue of Insight Brussels, we bring you notable changes related to energy, media, information and communication, consumer policies and trade with reference to the terms of the EU-US trade and ...

In this issue of Insight Brussels, we bring you notable changes related to energy, media, information and communication, consumer policies and trade with reference to the terms of the EU-US trade and investment partnership agreement under negotiation.
For real-time updates, follow the team on Twitter: @MSL_Brussels

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    Insight Brussels February 2014 Insight Brussels February 2014 Document Transcript

    • .INSIGHTS BRUSSELS. .February 2014. INSIGHTS BRUSSELS February 2014
    • 2014: Reshuffling Europe’s Policy Priorities and Leadership ........................................................................................ 4 SECTORAL POLICIES................................................................................................. 5 Agriculture And Fisheries ................................................................................................................. 5 EU agrees financial allocation for 2014-2020 Fisheries Fund ....................................................................................... 5 Energy and Environment ................................................................................................................... 5 European Commission unveils new climate and energy targets for 2030 ..................................................................... 5 ETS: Commission proposes a permanent market stability reserve from 2021 .............................................................. 6 EC recommends minimum principles for shale gas extraction ...................................................................................... 7 Financial Services .............................................................................................................................. 7 EU institutions reach agreement on financial services reform ....................................................................................... 7 Food and Beverage ............................................................................................................................. 8 Parliament calls for stronger sanctions against food fraudsters .................................................................................... 8 Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals ...................................................................................................... 9 EFSA concludes that Bisphenol A is dangerous for human health................................................................................ 9 Information and Communication Technology .................................................................................. 9 European Parliament’s Committee dismantles Telecom Package ................................................................................ 9 Cyber security: no obligation for Internet giants to reveal cyber-attacks ..................................................................... 10 Media and Audiovisual works .......................................................................................................... 11 European Commission starts investigations over pay TV providers ............................................................................ 11 Transport ........................................................................................................................................... 11 MEPs review liberalization of ground-handling services at EU airports ....................................................................... 11 European Parliament supports EU inland waterway programme ................................................................................ 12 Public consultation on real-time traffic information services ........................................................................................ 12 INSIGHTS BRUSSELS February 2014
    • CROSS-SECTORAL POLICIES .................................................................................. 13 Competition ...................................................................................................................................... 13 Google’s proposal on search services deemed acceptable by the Commission ......................................................... 13 Consumers ........................................................................................................................................ 13 EC launches consultation on fragrance allergens ....................................................................................................... 13 European Parliament approves 2014-2020 consumers programme ........................................................................... 14 Intellectual Property Rights ............................................................................................................ 15 EU Parliament adopts Directive on collective management of copyright ..................................................................... 15 International Trade.......................................................................................................................... 16 EC wants to include financial services in EU/US free trade agreement ...................................................................... 16 Research and Development .............................................................................................................. 17 EU funds 67 projects bringing research closer to market ............................................................................................ 17 Taxation ........................................................................................................................................... 17 EC denonces lack of ambitions on Financial Transaction Tax .................................................................................... 17 INSIGHTS BRUSSELS February 2014
    • 2014: Reshuffling Europe’s Policy Priorities and Leadership The next eleven months will represent the most crucial testbed for Europe’s future ambition, direction and leadership. Among the key milestones captured in the calendar-chart below, two events should mark a new decisive start for Europe. They will determine Europe’s capacity to respond to people’s needs and to tackle new global policy challenges. The first event is set for next May, when 300 million citizens from across the 28 European Union Member States will be called to elect their representatives to the European Parliament for a five years mandate. The second event is in November, when a new European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, will take office for a five years term. In both cases, and during the entire legislature, the most compelling challenge to be faced by policy makers is to gain the interest and engagement of the Europeans on a shared vision about the European Union project. The role and responsibility of “Brussels”, of its institutional representatives and multiple centres of interest and influence, to help overcome such challenge by responding to ‘real’ people’s needs is indisputable. Meanwhile, the way citizens’ views, perspectives and needs will be represented on the pan-European policy agenda is a consequence of both individual and collective choices. In the always-on and inter-connected communication age, every individual and organisation can more easily contribute to articulate a new narrative for Europe and compel the candidates for the forthcoming institutions to bring the latter closer and more relevant to all of us. There is still an empty space, a compelling story to be told, in between the opposite paths of “silence” and “noise” characterising the on-going policy debate on the Europe we want. Let’s not miss the opportunity to contribute to writing this story, beyond the noisy frenzy of extremisms and the silent lethargy or snobbism of agnostics. Leonardo Sforza Managing Director MSLGROUP Brussels INSIGHTS BRUSSELS February 2014
    • SECTORAL POLICIES Agriculture And Fisheries EU agrees financial allocation for 2014-2020 Fisheries Fund On 28 January, the European Commission, Parliament and Council reached an agreement on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) due to finance the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) previously adopted in 2013. The debate crashed last December following a dispute between Members of the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers on the funding pot. According to the new agreement, the EMFF will be funded with 6.5 billion euros until 2020. Even if funds available for data gathering, campaigners for sustainable fishing criticised some parts of the agreement, such as the agreed-upon subsidies for the replacement of engines in fishing vessel as these may increase in the long-term the capacity of vessels. Subsidies for the temporary cessation of fishing have also been criticized on the ground that this would only postpone overfishing without ending the problem. The agreement will be formally approved in April by the European Parliament.  Mid February: Approval by Council of Ministers March: Approval by PECH Committee April: Vote in the Parliament during plenary session Energy and Environment European Commission unveils new climate and energy targets for 2030 On 22 January, the European Commission presented its long-awaited 2030 climate and energy package setting new goals for the energy policy beyond the current 2020 target. The proposal sets binding targets for the reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40% below the 1990 level, and binding targets for renewable energies aimed at reaching at least 27% of EU INSIGHTS BRUSSELS February 2014 energy mix by 2030. The new framework, however, does not include new targets for energy efficiency. A new governance framework based on national plans for competitive, secure and sustainable energy is also included in the framework. Based on upcoming guidelines prepared by the Commission, these plans will be prepared by the Member States under a common
    • approach, which are expected to enhance coherence, coordination and surveillance throughout Europe. Within the Council of the European Union, the Commission’s proposal aroused mixed reactions. While the new framework seems to have support from all the EU's Western capitals, including Berlin, Paris, Rome and London, it sparked however rather negative reactions among the Central and Eastern European countries. However, the European Parliament adopted with large majority a tougher resolution that supports three binding energy and climate targets for 2030, including 40% for GHG reductions, 30% for renewables and a 40% increase in energy efficiency. The Parliament’s vote is not binding, but will frame the debate in the negotiations over the Commission’s proposal. The European Council is set to discuss the 2030 energy and climate package during a EU summit in March. The Commission invited the Council and the European Parliament to agree by the end of 2014 on the 40% GHG reduction to gain momentum in advance of the upcoming international conference on a new global climate agreement due to be concluded in Paris at the end of 2015.  20-21 March: European Council examines the package End 2014: possible adoption of 40% reduction target December 2015: Climate change conference in Paris ETS: Commission proposes a permanent market stability reserve from 2021 Along with the proposal for a 2030 climate and energy framework, the Commission has proposed a long-term reform of the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS) and wishes to establish a market stability reserve at the beginning of the next ETS trading period in 2021. The reserve would both address the surplus of emission allowances that has been built up in recent years and improve the system's resilience to major shocks by automatically adjusting the supply of allowances to be auctioned. This would imply the withdrawal of allowances if a surplus builds up (more than 833 million allowances) and their release on the market when there is a deficit (fewer than 400 million allowances). pre-defined rules which would leave no discretion to the Commission or Member States in its implementation. Some fear that this reserve would represent a market intervention from the Commission and called instead to set up a carbon ‘central bank' which would have an independent regulatory board taking decisions. But this system was deemed to be too complex. The creation of such a reserve – which comes after the recently agreed delay in the auctioning of 900 million allowances until 2019-2020 ('backloading') - would operate entirely according to  INSIGHTS BRUSSELS February 2014 EU Heads of State and Government will also discuss this ETS reform during the March EU summit. In any case, the legislation, an amendment to the existing ETS regulation, will need to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. 20-21 March: European Council examines the package 2021: possible new market stability reserve
    • EC recommends minimum principles for shale gas extraction On 22 January, the European Commission adopted a Recommendation aimed at ensuring that Member States which choose to extract shale gas on their territory should apply commonly defined principles and carry out environmental impact assessments. The Commission recommends that EU Member States, before granting operating license, set up monitoring systems to detect possible water contaminations, and control emissions, including those of greenhouse gases, through capturing mechanisms. The Commission also calls on national authorities to ensure that drilling wells are up to best standards and to inform the public about the chemicals used in the process. Member States and industry representatives welcomed the non-binding status of the measure, while NGOs denounced the recommendation for being weak and unable to protect citizens against the risks of fracking. The implementation of these common principles shall be made within the next six months. The Commission will monitor the application of these measures through a publicly accessible scoreboard and will review in 18 months’ time the level of adherence of member states to the recommendation.  Mid 2014: full implementation From December 2014: national yearly reports Mid 2015: Commission’s report Financial Services EU institutions reach agreement on financial services reform On 16 January the delegates from the Council, the Commission and the Parliament reached an agreement on the MiFID II – MiFIR package, composed of a set of updated rules for financial markets instruments. The negotiations have been particularly intricate, opposing the European Parliament and the European Commission to some Member States (particularly the UK). The principal element of the compromise has been to limit speculation on commodity derivatives. This kind of speculation is said to have negative impacts on the price of basic products causing devastating consequences on developing INSIGHTS BRUSSELS January 2014 economies. The European Security and Market Authority (ESMA) will be in charge of calculating these limits while the application of the rules will be undertaken by national authorities. Certain derivatives related to gas and electricity have been exempted, as it was asked by the British delegation. High frequency transactions will also be restricted on the grounds that they can destabilize financial markets.
    • The reform also establishes a new trading platform called Organised Trading Facility (OTS) that will process deals in financial products other than shares. Transparency will also be increased through the publication of information during trading. Last, the package includes measures to boost competition of services for settlement of financial contracts once they are negotiated. Even though Members of the European Parliament and Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier showed high satisfaction, some NGOs fighting poverty criticized the compromise, stating that some powerful sectors such as gas and electricity were exempted in the regulation. The new rules will be gradually implemented through a 30 months transition period which can be renewed for an additional 30 months period. The new regulation is expected to effectively enter into force around mid-2016.  March 2014: Adoption by the EP in plenary session Mid-2016: Entry into force of the regulation Food and Beverage Parliament calls for stronger sanctions against food fraudsters On 6 February, Members of the European Parliament adopted an own initiative report calling for more severe penalties for companies that commit food fraud. This report has been drafted by Esther De Lange (Conservatives, Netherlands) in the wake of the horsemeat scandal which exploded last year. The report mainly calls for the Commission to increase penalties for companies who commit food fraud. The Parliament resolution will lead to penalties “at least doubling the estimated amount of the economic advance sought trough the fraudulent activity”. Higher penalties would apply if there is a danger for public health. The report also calls for a more comprehensive system of labelling. Until last year only fresh beef was labelled. Then the rule has been extended to fresh pork, sheep, goat and poultry. The current INSIGHTS BRUSSELS February 2014 labelling system makes it compulsory to indicate where the animal was reared and slaughtered but not where it was born. Furthermore, the meat contained in processed food is not labelled. The Parliament resolution is to introduce a label for all meat products, especially frozen ones. The aim of the resolution is to allow consumers to be informed about the animal’s place of birth, rearing and slaughtering, but to provide also additional information such as how many times the food has been frozen and where. The report eventually expressed some concerns about the current trade negotiations with the United-States which could introduce changes in the European food safety and food security legislation. The vote on the report has been welcomed by consumers associations while the Commissioner for health, Tonio Borg underlined that the
    • proposed labelling system would not have prevented the horse meat scandal because it was a case of fraud. Following this report, the Parliament rejected the adoption of the measures proposed by the Commission. The Commission will now formulate an amended integrating the Parliament’s requests. proposal  Mid 2014: expected new Proposal from Commission Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals EFSA concludes that Bisphenol A is dangerous for human health The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a draft risk assessment concluding that the exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) can affect human health. BPA is a chemical compound used amongst others in food packages. According to EFSA, the Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) should be divided by ten times (from 50µg/kg body weight per day to5µg/kg body weight per day). The TDI measures the quantity that can be daily consumed during a lifetime without affecting health. EFSA stated that excessive exposure to BPA can have undesirable effects on the liver and kidney but as well on the mammary gland. Despite this fact EFSA concluded that there are no immediate health risks because the current levels of exposure to this chemical component are too low. A public online consultation will run until 13 March in order to collect stakeholders’ comments on BPA. Only then will EFSA give its final conclusions about the toxicity and the possible human health risks of BPA.  13 March: Deadline for the public consultation Mid 2014: EFSA Final conclusions Information and Communication Technology European Parliament’s Committee dismantles Telecom Package On 22 January the Parliament’s Industry Trade and Research Committee (ITRE) examined the compromise amendments on the telecom package. The package had been presented in September 2013 by the European Commission, and has since then faced severe criticism from INSIGHTS BRUSSELS February 2014 Member States and, more recently, in the Parliament. Rapporteurs of both the ITRE Committee, Pilar del Castillo (Conservatives, Spain), and the Committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO), Malcom Harbour (Conservatives, United-Kingdom),
    • dismantled the original text that had always been considered rushed and inaccurate. Within the IMCO Committee, Parliamentarians removed all articles related to contracts (transparency, duration, cost of receiving abroad). Those articles have been converted in amendments to the current Directive 2009/136/EC on universal user´s right. Members of the IMCO Committee also insisted on not removing power from national telecoms regulators. According to them, communication markets are fast-moving and regulators need flexibility and localism. Within the ITRE Committee, Members discussed the issue of roaming. They found the Commission’s Proposal too complicated, while incumbent operators fear to lose a source of revenue which they claim is reinvested in the network. Furthermore operators cannot propose trans-European roaming contracts because international agreements are not allowed. As regards European License, Parliamentarians replace the Commission proposal to grant accessibility to operators on the whole European Market with a trans-European license. BEUC (the European Consumers’ Organization) welcomed the committees’ positions. The final text that will be voted during the April plenary session will differ a lot from the initial Commission proposal.  April: Parliament’s plenary vote on Telecom package April: Expected Council vote on Telecom package Fall 2014: Expected adoption of the Telecom package Cyber security: no obligation for Internet giants to reveal cyber-attacks On 23 January the Committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) adopted a report presented by Andreas Schwab (Conservatives, Germany) on cyber security in Europe. The Commission introduced one year ago a strategy to tackle the issue of cyber security in Europe. One of the Commission’s propositions was to oblige Internet service providers to inform users if an attack occurred. This rule already exists for telecom operators. Nevertheless the text approved by the IMCO Committee confirms the obligation only for providers of infrastructure that is vital for the economy or the general security. This means that online trading platforms, Internet payment gateways, social networks or search engines would be asked to inform the competent authorities only “on a voluntary basis”. INSIGHTS BRUSSELS February 2014 Regarding the second proposition of the European Commission related to coordination between Member States, the IMCO Committee shares the same views as the Council: some of the Commission’s proposed measures to establish a network of national single points of contact in case of cyber-attacks are redundant. The rapporteur has now a mandate to close a deal with the Parliament and the Commission by May.  10 March: Parliament’s plenary vote on Cyber security Directive May: expected adoption of the Directive
    • Media and Audiovisual works European Commission starts investigations over pay TV providers On 13 January the European Commission opened a formal anti-trust proceeding to examine certain provisions in licensing agreements between five American film studios (Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros, Sony Pictures, NBC Universal and Paramount Picture) and five European TV broadcasters (BSkyB, Canal+, Sky Italia, Sky Deutschland and DTS) . The aim of the investigation is to detect if these provisions prevent broadcasters from providing their services across boarders by satellite or Internet. Generally in these agreements, licensed audiovisual content is sold on exclusive and territorial basis in each Member State. According to the Commission, this element “may constitute an infringement of EU anti-trust rules that prohibit anti-competitive agreements”. The Commissioner for Competition, Joaquin Almunia stated that this initiative is not aimed at obliging studios to sell rights on a European basis but only to guarantee consumer rights. The Commissioner wants to examine the limitation that a subscriber may be confronted with when staying temporarily in another country. According to him, a German pay-TV subscriber should be able to watch movies while spending holidays in Italy and any restriction to this fact could represent an infraction to EU competition rules. The European Court of Justice already ruled on this type of agreements in October 2011 in a case opposing the English Premier League and British pubs which used to broadcast matches using Greek TV-decoders, underlining that “a system of licenses for the broadcasting of football matches which grants broadcasters territorial exclusivity on a member state basis and which prohibits television viewers from watching the broadcasts with a decoder card in other member states is contrary to EU law”.  End 2016: expected end of investigations Transport MEPs review liberalization of ground-handling services at EU airports On 30 January, the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport (TRAN) adopted its report on the proposal to liberalize supply of groundhandling services at major EU airports. The European Commission put forward in December INSIGHTS BRUSSELS February 2014 2011 this proposal with a view to further opening up the ground-handling service market such as air traffic controllers, weather information services at EU airports with more than five million passengers a year. It planned to impose a strict structural
    • separation between the various providers of air navigation services in an attempt to boost the entry of new service providers in the market. Members of the TRAN committee rejected this approach by small majority (22 votes against, 20 in favour, two abstentions). Many members feared that the proposal would lead to a deterioration of working conditions and deplored the lack of evidence that this proposed regulation would increase the overall efficiency of ground-handling operations. Members of the TRAN committee agreed that navigation service providers shall be obliged to compare offers made by several enterprises for support services and choose the most beneficial provider both "financially and qualitatively". Members also set a review clause in 2016 for the Commission which will have to assess the impact of opening up the services to competition The TRAN committee forwarded the proposal to the Parliament plenary with a recommendation to reject it. The vote during the plenary session is scheduled for March.  10-13 March: vote in plenary session European Parliament supports EU inland waterway programme On 6 February, Members of the European Parliament adopted by a large majority in plenary session (428 in favour, 46 against and 11 abstentions) a resolution welcoming the Commission’s proposal to renew until 2020 the NAIADES programme for waterway transport. Parliamentarians however regretted the lack of ambition in the financing of the programme and the lack of concrete and innovative measures that account for the fact that the sector is heavily reliant on SMEs. They suggest that the Connecting Europe Facility, the EU's new funding mechanism for infrastructure projects, should support the waterways projects. Therefore, MEPs called on the Commission to draw up a more precise road map and called on Member States to work on national strategies to stimulate waterway transport.  20 February: vote in plenary session Public consultation on real-time traffic information services The European Commission opened a public consultation on 10 January to seek views from stakeholders who have an interest in the issue of provision and usage of real-time traffic information services and other related issues such as the collection, processing and exchange of data required to provide EU-wide real-time traffic information services. The Commission is particularly asking stakeholders about problems with existing systems, improvements that can be INSIGHTS BRUSSELS February 2014 made and the impact any new improvements might have. The results of this consultation will inspire the on-going cost-benefit analysis, and a possible proposal of the Commission on a EUwide real-time traffic information services. The consultation is open until 14 March.  14 March: end of public consultation
    • CROSS-SECTORAL POLICIES Competition Google’s proposal on search services deemed acceptable by the Commission On 5 February, the Commissioner for Competition Joaquin Almunia welcomed the third proposal made by Google to its competitors on fair results in the search services. The Commissioner is now going to forward the proposal to the 18 plaintiffs (including Microsoft and Expedia) explaining its position. Google has been under investigation since November 2010. The Commission claimed that the internet giant was giving an unfair advantage to its own specialised services by giving them prominent space on its general search results page. The Commission also sued Google for copying competitors’ content without their consent, for concluding exclusive advertising agreements and by threatening advertisers from using competitors’ platforms. In the latest arrangement Google proposes now to pay a 3.7 billion Euro fine and reserve space on its general results page for competitors to Google’s specialized services. Google will also provide a tool that allows website owners to exclude content from being indexed and used by Google. Finally, Google will abstain from exclusive agreements with advertisers and from any kind of restrictive clauses. The deal will cover only the European Market (searches using a European IP number) and will be in force for the next five years. The Commission will choose a monitoring authority to verify that all commitments will be respected. Many of the complainants reacted negatively to the Commissioner’s statement and asked for a third market test in order to detect other potential problems.  First trimester: Meeting with 18 complainants First trimester: Commissions’ final decision Consumers EC launches consultation on fragrance allergens It is estimated that between 1-3% of the population in Europe has a skin allergy to INSIGHTS BRUSSELS February 2014 fragrances. The most frequent symptoms include irritation, swelling and rash, but they may develop
    • into a chronic condition (eczema). An allergic reaction to a substance depends on many factors, including the genetic predisposition, age and intensity of exposure to this substance. In the on-going public consultation, Commission’s services propose that: The three substances which were found to be unsafe should be banned from cosmetic products, Some substances present in fragrances may cause a skin or respiratory allergy. The European Commission has just launched an open public consultation on skin allergens. Both synthetic chemicals and substances of natural origin may be skin allergens. The current cosmetics EU Regulation includes a list of substances which are forbidden in cosmetic products and a list of substances which are allowed, but subject to restrictions. The Commission considers that there is a need for a regular review of those lists (the last update on fragrance allergens was done in 2003). The Commission’s services requested the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) to review this issue and in July 2012 the Committee issued its opinion. It was followed by informal consultations with the industry, consumer organisations, healthcare professionals and the Member States of the EU. the Additional allergens should be subject to the obligation of individual labelling on the package of a cosmetic product. In other words, they have to be mentioned in the list of ingredients, in addition to the words ‘parfum’ or ‘aroma’. Because of the widespread use of fragrances it may be very difficult to avoid them all. It is therefore important to avoid those to which a person is already sensitised The results of the consultation will inform and inspire future changes to the Cosmetics Regulation.  14 May: End of public consultation End 2014/ Beginning 2015: Expected entry into force of the new regulation European Parliament approves 2014-2020 consumers programme On 14 January, the European Parliament approved the EU 2014-2020 Consumer Programme with an overwhelming majority (630 in favour, 42 against, 12 abstentions). With a total budget of €189 million for the whole period, the programme focuses on the funding of actions in four key-areas: Consolidation and enforcement of product safety through effective EU-wide market INSIGHTS BRUSSELS February 2014 surveillance (such as RAPEX, the EU rapid alert system for dangerous consumer products); Information and education initiatives to make consumers, particularly young consumers, aware of their rights; Development and reinforcement of consumer rights, particularly through smart regulation and improving access to legal remedies, including alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. This includes the measures set in the Consumer
    • Credit Directive which ensures that consumers across Europe enjoy a common set of core rights; Enforcement of cooperation between national authorities. reference to the development of comparison websites. The proposal will now pass to the Council which will officially approve it in March 2014.  March: Council final approval expected The European Parliament has also amended the Commission’s proposal by introducing a September 2017: mid-term review of the programme Intellectual Property Rights EU Parliament adopts Directive on collective management of copyright On 4 February, the European Parliament as expected approved by an overwhelming majority a directive on collective management of copyright. According to the rapporteur Marielle Gallo (Conservatives, France) this measure will play a decisive role in the digital economy. Collective rights management organizations nevertheless expressed concerns about the proposal; they fear that the new directive may weaken their rights because of the large number of exceptions to copyright. The new draft directive imposes easier channels to access music online through the collective management of copyright and the granting of licenses in more than one Member State, whilst safeguarding rights holders. The aim of the directive is also to see European Music Platforms develop by ensuring that music providers will be INSIGHTS BRUSSELS February 2014 able to obtain multi-country licenses more easily. The directive is expected to be formally adopted by the Council in due course. Another issue is the three months public consultation launched on 5 December by the Commission with the aim of modernizing EU rules on copyright. The debate on this subject is expected to be quite intense as the European Composer & Songwriter Alliance decided to launch a petition against “the dismantling of rights of creators in Europe”  February: end of public consultation Spring: proposal to review EU copyright framework 2016: partial implementation at national level 2018: full implementation at national level 2021: review of the Directive
    • International Trade EC wants to include financial services in EU/US free trade agreement On 27 January the Commission released a discussion document describing the EU position within the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations. The paper mainly presents arguments that highlight why financial services regulation should be included in the talks. Since the beginning of the negotiation process in July, the Commission is facing a strong opposition from the United States on that point. The paper clearly says: “The EU believes that financial regulation is too important to be discussed ad hoc, in informal settings at the very last minute, under market pressure”. This statement sounds like an announcement to the US counterparts that Europe is not going to release pressure on that point. The question is very controversial also because within the EU there are fears that including this issue in the TTIP could weaken the European financial services regulation. On other fronts, the Commission announced on 22 January the opening of a three months public consultation on the topic of investor-to-state INSIGHTS BRUSSELS February 2014 dispute settlement. To increase the transparency of the negotiations the Commission also established a special advisory group composed by 14 advisory experts in EU trade policy that represent a broad range of European interests. The experts will advise the European negotiator in chief, Ignacio Garcia Bercero, during the talks. The agenda is going to be busy during the next months: on 17-18 February the European Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht will meet his American counterpart, Michael Froman. The fourth round of negotiations will take place from 10 to 14 March in Brussels, just before the visit of the US president Obama to Brussels on 26 March. Commissioner De Gucht aspires to leave office with an agreement reached by November.  17-18 February: De Gucht – Froman meeting 10-14 March: Fourth round of negotiations in Brussels 26 March: US president Obama visits EU in Brussels End of April: Deadline of the public consultation October: Expected final agreement
    • Research and Development EU funds 67 projects bringing research closer to market On 6 February, the European Research Council (ERC) announced the final 34 projects of a total of 67 under the programme 'Proof of Concept' to receive up to €150,000 each to bring their pioneering 'blue sky' research closer to the market. This top-up funding can cover activities aimed at commercial and societal applications, such as establishing intellectual property rights, investigating commercial and business opportunities or technical validation. The projects selected this time cover everything from an exploration of the molecular foundations of psychiatric disorders to technological innovations that could help rescue skiers caught in avalanches or measure extreme waves. The 2014 call for proposals under 'Proof of Concept' is currently open (to ERC grant holders) with a first deadline of 1 April 2014.  1st April: Deadline for submission of grant request Taxation EC denonces lack of ambitions on Financial Transaction Tax On 4 February Members of the European Parliament discussed the introduction of a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) in 11 eurozone Member States. According to Taxation Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta, despite initial enthusiasm, the initiative is currently “in danger” by “a lack of political steering within the council”. Key Parliamentarians agreed with the Commissioner on the point that many States had abandoned their commitments. The introduction of an FTT tax has been strongly tackled by the United-Kingdom which initiated legal action at the EU Court of Justice contesting the potential extraterritorial impact of the tax. But even in countries which were formally in favor of the FTT (like France), the fear of “huge risks” and competition distortions stopped the legislative process. Despite these fears, a survey shows that INSIGHTS BRUSSELS February 2014 64% of the European citizens support the financial tax. The Greek Presidency is going to hold a ministerial policy debate on 18 February at the meeting of economics and finance ministers with the hope to reach a “political agreement” during the subsequent ministerial meeting of 6 May. France and Germany are likely to propose on 19 February to remove from the scope of FTT “transactions that are closely related to the real economy or whose aim is to ensure market liquidity”. The Commission wishes to reach a political agreement on the question before the May elections.  19 February: Ecofin Council 6 May: Ecofin Council
    • INSIGHTS BRUSSELS February 2014