Insight Brussels September 2013

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In this issue of Insights Brussels 2013, we bring you updates on - an action plan to boost Europe's defence industry; the approval of a single supervisory mechanism for the banking sector, a new Regulation against financial benchmarks manipulation; new measures for tackling shadow banking; news about ratification of the Nagoya protocol; postponed votes on medical devices and Tobacco Products Directive; the €13.7 million investment to boost cross-border digital public services; "Capital of Innovation"; the PETROBOT project and new developments in EU bilateral trade.
Follow the team on twitter for breaking news updates: @MSL_Brussels

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Insight Brussels September 2013

  1. 1. | Insight Brussels | 0 24 September 2013n°15
  2. 2. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTS | Insight Brussels | 1 N°15 – 24th September 2013 SECTORAL POLICIES 1. Agriculture and Fisheries ................................................................................................................................................2 2. Defence.......................................................................................................................................................................................2 3. Energy and Environment..................................................................................................................................................3 4. Financial Services..................................................................................................................................................................3 5. Food and Beverage...............................................................................................................................................................5 6. Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals...................................................................................................................................5 7. Information and Communication Technology.......................................................................................................6 8. Media ...........................................................................................................................................................................................7 9. Sports and Gambling ...........................................................................................................................................................8 10. Transport................................................................................................................................................................................9 CROSS-SECTORAL POLICIES 11. Competition........................................................................................................................................................................ 11 12. Consumer............................................................................................................................................................................. 11 13. Research and Development ....................................................................................................................................... 12 14. Taxation................................................................................................................................................................................ 12 15. Trade...................................................................................................................................................................................... 13
  3. 3. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTS | Insight Brussels | 2 1. Agriculture and Fisheries Pan-European public consultation on organic farming On 19 September, the European Commission published the report on a public consultation on the future of organic farming, which took place in the first half of 2013, and attracted close to 45 000 responses. The reports highlights the consumers’ trust in organic products, coupled with a demand for stricter rules at EU level. The report highlights that consumers trust organic products (71%), and that the first reason for which consumers choose to buy organic products is their concern about the environment (83%), followed by the integrity of these products with regard to GMOs and non-authorised substances’ residues (81%). The vast majority (78%) also indicated that they were prepared to pay more for organic goods. The report also shows a very strong demand for harmonized rules at EU level, with 74 % of all respondents requesting European organic standard to be strengthened and 86% wishing organic rules to be uniform across the EU. In particular, there is a call for stricter rules on pesticides and additives that should not be allowed at all in organic farming production. Animal welfare and environmental performance are singled out criteria that should also be taken into account in the authorisation process. All answers and contributions will feed the ongoing review of the legal framework for organic agriculture in Europe, with an overall strategy to be put forward in early 2014. 2. Defence Commission releases its Action Plan to boost Europe’s defence industry The Defence Policy will be on the table of the next Summit of Heads of State and Government in December. The debate will be based on the action plan proposed by the Commission aiming to strengthening EU cooperation in defence equipment, increase competitiveness, and foster new links between civil and military research. In its document, the Commission proposes a new strategy that will: - lower the barriers between national defence markets and improve security of supply between Member States; - help the European defence industry become more competitive, with common standards and certification systems; - encourage synergies between civil and military research to ensure the most efficient use of resources; and - explore how other areas, like energy, space, and dual-use technologies can contribute to Europe’s defence capabilities. SECTORAL POLICIES
  4. 4. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTS | Insight Brussels | 3 On the basis of the European Council’s conclusions, the Commission will develop a detailed roadmap with concrete actions and timelines in the course of 2014. The national authorities, the European Defence Agency (EDA) and the External Action Service will be associated through a consultation mechanism. 3. Energy and Environment European leading utilities warn the EU over energy supply risks On 10 September, before a European Parliament hearing organised by the Committee for Industry, research and energy - and in presence of the European Commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger - the heads of the energy giants GDF Suez (France) and ENI (Italy) backed by seven other EU energy producers called for an end to renewable energy subsidies and a review of the EU Energy Policy. During the debate, the Commissioner for Energy Oettinger, in response to the businessmen’s points, stressed instead on the need for the Member States to give permission to start exploitation of shale gas’ resources in the EU as a way of talking energy supply risks. The European Parliament in favour of greater focus on Carbon Capture and Storage technology The European Parliament started in July the preparation of its initiative report to formulate its own position on the development of alternative technology in relation the future of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in Europe. The debates within the European Parliament committees promise to be animated, as the rapporteur of the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) committee, Vicky Ford (UK, conservative) presented on 2 September a draft opinion report blaming the EU’s “counter- productive obsession” for renewable energy. The rapporteur considers that “this burgeoning technology is being stifled partly because of market-distortions created by strict EU renewables targets”. According to her, renewable targets gather effort and investment only in one area, instead of encouraging a broader scope of measures to combat atmospheric carbon dioxide, including support to CCS technologies. Members of the European Parliament will continue discussing on the ENVI committee report in October. The vote in ENVI committee is scheduled for 27 November, before a vote in plenary session planned for 13 January 2014. 4. Financial Services
  5. 5. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTS | Insight Brussels | 4 The European Parliament approves the Single Supervisory Mechanism for the banking sector On 12 September, the European Parliament approved the Commission’s proposal for a Regulation concerning the introduction of the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) to increase the surveillance on the banking sector. This is considered as the first step towards the Euro-zone banking union. The system will bring approximately 150 of the EU's largest banks under the European Central Bank's direct oversight, starting from September 2014. The mechanism will be compulsory for Euro-zone members, and will be open to all other EU countries. The European Commission proposes a new Regulation against financial benchmarks manipulation On 18 September, the European Commission proposed a new Regulation in response to the 2012 manipulation scandals which affected the financial benchmarks such as the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (EURIBOR) and London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). The Regulation addresses the process of developing all financial benchmarks for financial instruments admitted to trading (such as mortgages), which are in turn used as reference prices for financial contracts. Contrary to certain expectations, the supervision of key benchmarks will not be placed in the hands of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA). On the proposal for a new Regulation, the Commissioner on Internal Market Michel Barnier, underlined the critical nature of these benchmarks in order to restore market trust. The measures included in the new Regulation are foreseen to achieve the following goals: - enhance governance and controls in benchmark setting; - limit and manage conflicts of interest at benchmark providers and contributors; - improve the quality of input data and methodologies, including the use of sufficient and accurate data; and - ensure adequate protection for investors and consumers through improved transparency. Although the UK is opposed to this measure, the proposal is likely to be adopted by the Council and the European Parliament by April 2014. The Regulation would then apply from the beginning of 2015. European Commission’s measures for tackling the risks of shadow banking On 4 September 2013, the Commission adopted a Communication on shadow banking and proposed new rules for money market funds. The Communication summarises the work undertaken so far by the Commission and sets out possible future actions in this area. The main areas interested by this Communication are: transparency of the shadow banking sector, liquidity management, provision of a framework for money market funds and for interactions with banks.
  6. 6. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTS | Insight Brussels | 5 The Commission’s Communication is in line with the Financial Stability Board’s recommendations, which has been endorsed by the G20 Leaders in Saint Petersburg on 5-6 September 2013. 5. Food and Beverage Supporting the protection of biodiversity: towards the ratification of the Nagoya protocol On 12 September, the European Parliament voted in favour of a draft Regulation that aims to ensure traceability, ethical conduct and compliance with international legal obligations on the protection of biodiversity. The new rules promoted follows the so called 2010 Nagoya protocol that regulates the protection of biodiversity by setting limits on the amount of a genetic resource, such as plant or animal material, which a company can exploit to produce a certain good. The rules also confer ownership of the resources to the indigenous communities where they are found and 'intellectual property rights' to traditional knowledge associated with them. After the European Parliament’s green light, over the coming months the Regulation will pass on to the European Council of Ministers, whose agreement is needed to enact the protocol into EU law. EU and China strengthen cooperation to fight counterfeited alcoholic beverages On 23 July, the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloș and the Minister of the Chinese General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, Mr Shi Shuping, signed a letter of intent regarding the fight against trade in counterfeit alcoholic beverages. The document focusses on the importance of identification of origin for wines and spirits and on bilateral cooperation in combating counterfeiting in this sector. This enhanced cooperation is included in the EU-China Comprehensive Strategic partnership, with financial resources to be provided through existing bilateral funding programmes. 6. Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals European Parliament’s vote on Tobacco Products Directive postponed The European Parliament’s vote on the Tobacco Products Directive, originally scheduled for 10 September, has been postponed until 8 October. The decision was taken at the Conference of the Party Group Chairs. The reasons advanced relate to the late online availability of the report, as well as to the fact that the report only includes the position of the Committee on the Environment and Public Health, without taking into account the opinions of the other committees consulted. Due to the subsequent delays, concerns arise that the revision of the Tobacco Products Directive would not be agreed by the end of the current Parliament and Commission mandate in 2014.
  7. 7. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTS | Insight Brussels | 6 European Parliament’s vote on medical devices postponed The European Parliament’s vote on proposals for two Regulations – on medical devices and on in vitro diagnostic medical devices –, originally planned for 18 September, has been postponed until 25 September. The EPP political group requested more time in view of ensuring sufficient support for the proposed compromise amendments, amongst which the controversial issue of putting into place a centralised system of marketing authorisation for the riskiest devices. In the wake of different incidents, including the breast implants scandal, the Commission proposed in September 2012 to review EU rules on medical devices. The Regulation covers a whole range of products, ranging from contact lenses to pacemakers. In its proposal, the Commission suggested to strengthen the monitoring procedure for high-risk devices through the setting of more precise definitions, performance and security criteria; to strengthen the powers and responsibilities of notified bodies in charge of assessing conformity; to increase the traceability of products through a unique device identification mechanism; and to give powers to national authorities to conduct unannounced factory inspections. However, the Commission refused to introduce a marketing authorisation for high-risks devices in its original proposal. The compromise that is emerging from the main political groups is that the specialised notified bodies would not need central authorisation, but would be subject to scrutiny by the EU. The vote in the leading Committee will be held on 25 September; and on 23 October in the plenary session of the European Parliament. EC implements Court ruling on market access for Orphacol On 11 September, the competent Member States Committee unanimously approved the draft decision issuing the market authorisation for Orphacol, an orphan medicinal product authorised only in France to treat rare and serious liver disorders. After a long administrative and judicial process, Laboratoires CTRS was finally granted an authorisation to put its medicine on the market. The company is examining the opportunity to undertake a legal action for damage against the European Commission strong of the European Court of Justice ruling that blamed the Commission for wrong doing in the market access process. Laboratoires CTRS applied in 2009 to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for a marketing authorisation for Orphacol. Despite the positive opinion of the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, the Commission refused to grant the marketing authorisation for that product, arguing that it did not qualify as well-established medicinal use as required under the simplified marketing authorisation procedure. CTRS brought an action and by its judgment of 4 July, the General Court ruled in favour of the laboratory and annulled the Commission’s decision. 7. Information and Communication Technology The European Commission presents an ambitious reform for telecom
  8. 8. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTS | Insight Brussels | 7 The European Commission presented on 11 September its ambitious “Connected Continent” legislative package, comprising a Regulation and a Communication, to reform telecoms market. Its objectives are to reduce consumer charges, simplify red tape faced by companies and bring a range of new rights for both users and service providers. Roaming is a long-standing issue that the European Commission is seeking to address in the new package. The proposal bans from 1 July 2014 incoming call charges while travelling in the EU. Companies would have the choice to either offer phone plans that apply everywhere in the European Union ("roam like at home"), the price of which will be driven by domestic competition; or allow their customers to “decouple”, namely opt for a separate roaming provider who offers cheaper rates (without having to buy a new SIM card). The simplification of EU rules for telecoms operators is also included in the “Connected Continent” package. The later proposes a single authorization for operating in all 28 Member States (instead of 28 authorisations) and further harmonising the way operators can rent access to networks owned by other companies in order to provide a competing service. The Commission also proposes to include legal protection for open internet (net neutrality) in its package. Blocking and throttling of internet content would be banned, giving users access to the full and open internet regardless of the cost or speed of their internet subscription. Consumers would have the right to check if they are receiving the internet speeds they pay for, and to walk away from their contract if those commitments are not met. Consumers will also be entitled to plain language contracts with more comparable information, greater rights to switch provider or contract, the right to a 12-month contract if you do not wish a longer contract, the right to walk away from contract if promised internet speeds are not delivered, and the right to have emails forwarded to a new email address after switching internet provider. The package covers also measures for coordinated spectrum assignment with a view to support 4G mobile and WI-FI networks. European Commission invests €13.7 million to boost cross-border digital public services Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, announced a €13.7 million investment to further develop cross-border digital public services in the framework of the new e-SENS project (Electronic Simple European Networked Services). As part of e-SENS, over 100 partners from 20 European countries will develop and implement building blocks based on open standards and specifications in interoperable eIDs, eSignature, eDelivery and eDocuments, which the public and private sectors can use to crease new digital public services. 8. Media European Court of Justice rules out FIFA and UEFA appeals on football broadcasting
  9. 9. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTS | Insight Brussels | 8 On 18 July, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) dismissed the appeal brought by FIFA and UEFA against the judgments of the General Court on television broadcasts of the World Cup and the EURO Cup. The Directive concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities authorises the EU Member States to prohibit the exclusive broadcasting of events which they deem to be of major importance for society, where such broadcasts would deprive a substantial proportion of the public of the possibility to follow those events on television for free. Belgium and the United Kingdom each drew up a list of the events they regarded as being of major importance for society in their respective countries. Those lists contained, inter alia, in the case of Belgium, all the matches in the final stage of the World Cup and, in the case of the UK, all the matches in the final stage of the World Cup and the EURO. Those lists were sent to the Commission, which decided that they were compatible with the EU law. FIFA and UEFA challenged those decisions before the General Court, arguing that not all those matches could constitutes events of major importance for the general public in those States. The General Court dismissed their actions, which led them to lodge appeals before the ECJ. 9. Sports and Gambling European Parliament endorses Commission’s approach on online gambling On 10 September, the members of the European Parliament adopted an own-initiative report by Ashley FOX (ECR, UK) on online gambling, which endorses the approach unveiled by the Commission in its Communication of 23 October 2012. The focus lies more on the societal stakes of this activity – consumer protection, compliance with EU law and fight against money laundering – than on the opening of the market to greater cross-border competition. The report recognises that gambling is not an ordinary economic activity given its potentially negative health and social impacts, which justifies restrictions by Member States to determine own measures for the protection of players. However, even if Member States have the right to determine how the offer of online gambling services is organised, they remain subject to the application of specific single market principles. There are over 200 cases brought to the attention of the Commission over the years challenging national laws and practices that have the effect of discriminating against private operators. The Commission is expected to resume the assessment of these cases in October. On the front of fraud prevention and money laundering, MEPs recommend the adoption of measures such as the drawing up of a blacklist of illegal operators, the blocking of financial transactions, and the traceability of transactions. Concerning the prevention of match fixing, the EP wants broader cooperation between sporting organisations, police forces, judicial bodies and gambling operators, which would be coordinated by the Commission using an information exchange platform.
  10. 10. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTS | Insight Brussels | 9 At last, the report also notes that gambling operators should compensate sporting organisations or the horse racing industry for their copyright on events they organise. Commission launches an initiative to promote physical activity in Europe On 28 August, the Commission published its first proposal for a Council recommendation on sport. This initiative calls on Member States to develop national strategies and action plans across all policy sectors to promote sport and physical activity. The rates of physical inactivity remain high in Europe, with two thirds of Europeans never or seldom practising any sport. The initiative will be financed at EU level by the new Erasmus Plus programme. 10. Transport European Parliament’s Committee supports higher protection of air passengers rights Members of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee called, at their meeting of 16 September, for a reinforcement of air passengers' rights. They consider that airlines have been abusing the application of the "extraordinary circumstances" clause to avoid paying compensation for delays or denied boarding. Moreover, it appears that only 2% of passengers who are entitled to compensation actually claim it. The Committee meeting also addressed a European Commission proposal to recast the rules concerning airway passengers’ rights. In a draft report on the revision of air passenger rights, Rapporteur Georges Bach (EPP, Luxembourg) suggested that passengers should be entitled to €300 compensation after 3 hours' delay, rather than the current 4 hours on intra-European-flights. Mr Bach considered also unfair additional costs added to tickets, whether at the time of reservation or for cabin luggage, and called for a ban on the airlines' "no-show" policy of denying a passenger the right to board a return flight if he has not used the outbound part of his ticket. The transport Committee will vote on Mr Bach’s report next 14 November 2013. The vote in plenary session is scheduled on 14 January. Presentation of Naiades II programme to support European waterways On 10 September, the European Commission launched the Naiades II initiative, which is a set of measures to unleash the unused potential of waterways. The Commission will make funding available from the Connecting Europe Facility and the Trans European Networks Transport funds to upgrade navigation channels and boost inter-modality among different means of transport. The initiative includes specific measures on training, to facilitate access to jobs and to boost mobility of the workforce. Naiades II also proposes to co-fund projects that aim at developing the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by transporters as an alternative fuel. The European Parliament backs the European Commission on alternative fuels station The European Commission presented in January 2013 a draft Directive on the deployment of
  11. 11. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTS | Insight Brussels | 10 alternative fuels infrastructure, in which it proposed to equip the EU with eight million recharging stations for electric vehicles by 2020. Carlo Fidanza (EPP, Italy), rapporteur within the Transport committee (TRAN) of the European Parliament, largely supports the Commission’s ambition to encourage the market uptake of clean fuels in order to reduce the EU energy dependence and the EU carbon emissions. In the Commission’s proposal, all Member States are required to install a minimum number of recharging stations on their territory (1.5 million in Germany, nearly a million in France, 1.2 million in Italy). The rapporteur has not modified the country-by-country figures, as these provisions are giving rise to though talks in the Council. However, he calls for these targets to be binding. He also acknowledges that private funding alone will not be sufficient, and calls the European Investment Bank to provide funding facilities. The deadline for tabling amendments to the Committee’s draft report is 1 October. The vote in the TRAN committee is scheduled on 14 November.
  12. 12. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTS | Insight Brussels | 11 11. Competition The European Commission prepares an enquiry on corporate tax regimes against the Netherlands, Ireland and Luxembourg On 11 September, the Directorate General for Competition of the European Commission issued a formal information request to the national Governments of the Netherlands, Ireland and Luxembourg concerning their corporate tax. The national tax rulings under scrutiny give assurances to companies – sometimes in advance of a decision to relocate – over how their tax affairs will potentially be treated. 12. Consumer Consumer groups dismiss retailers’ voluntary initiative On 16 September, seven European associations jointly launched ‘The Supply Chain Initiative’, the aim of which is to promote a set of Principles of Good Practice in commercial relations along the food supply chain. The initiative is being challenged by an alliance of consumer groups that casts doubts about the real intentions of businesses involved in this initiative. The food and drink manufacturing industry (FoodDrinkEurope), the European brands association (AIM), the retail sector (ERRT and UGAL), EuroCommerce, the community of consumers cooperatives (EuroCoop) and the agricultural traders (CELCAA) agreed in November 2011 on a list of fair trading practices coupled with commitments aimed at integrating those principles into day-to-day company operations. The High Level Forum for a Better Functioning Food Supply Chain of the Commission welcomed the initiative. Subsequently, a text setting a voluntary framework for the implementation of the principles was adopted in January 2013. Mid-September, the initiative was officially launched, and the names of the current 82 signatory companies were revealed. Other stakeholders are free to join. In order to meet the requirements under the framework and in view of respecting the principles, companies need to fulfil some commitments, including self-assessment, appointment of a contact point; organisation of trainings; prevision of dispute resolution options; communication to business partners and participation in the annual survey in each market where they operate. On the opposite front, Consumers International, Traidcraft and Oxfam blasted the initiative, arguing that it was a way to avoid the adoption of new European legislation. For these NGOs, the creation of a European ombudsman for the food supply-chain remains the only credible option to regulate the sector. CROSS-SECTORAL POLICIES
  13. 13. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTS | Insight Brussels | 12 13. Research and Development European Commission seeks "Capital of Innovation" On 3 September, the European Commission has launched a competition to designate the first European Capital of Innovation, or “iCapital”. The prize will reward the city which is building the best “innovation ecosystem”, connecting citizens, public organisations, academia, and business. An independent panel of experts will select the winner in spring 2014, with the chosen city receiving €500 000. The deadline for applications is 3 December 2013. The Commission funds projects for petrochemical containers inspection On 3 September 2013, the European Commission, together with a consortium of ten European companies led by Shell, launched the PETROBOT project, which will develop robots replacing humans in inspections of pressure vessels and storage tanks widely used in the oil, gas and petrochemical industry. The Commission considers that new activities related to this initiative could create new types of jobs and open new markets. As a technology area, it may become a strong export product for the EU, by exporting the robotic hardware solutions or complete robot-inspection services. PETROBOT will involve partners from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and Germany over a 3-year period. The European Commission will co-finance the project with €3.7 million out of an overall cost of €6.2 million. 14. Taxation Council of Ministers’ lawyers challenge the EU Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) Europe’s plan for an expansive financial transaction tax is alleged to be illegal by the European Council top legal adviser to finance ministers of the EU Member States. He considers that it exceeds national jurisdiction, “infringes” EU treaties, and “is discriminatory” to non-participating states. The Commission's proposal, put forward in February, is supposed to apply in the 11 Member States that have signed up to a procedure known as enhanced co-operation –France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia Austria, Belgium, Estonia and Greece. Other EU Member States could join later. On 6 September, the Council has issued an opinion explaining that the tax, which aims to discourage speculative trading, “infringes upon the taxing competences of non-participating Member States” and “exceeds Member States' jurisdiction for taxation under the norms of international customary law as they are understood by the Union.”
  14. 14. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTS | Insight Brussels | 13 The European Commission disagrees with the Council’s opinion; as the European commissioner for taxation, customs, anti-fraud and audit, Algirdas Šemeta said, “the Financial Transaction Tax is legally sound and fully complies with EU Treaties and international tax laws.” Negotiations among Member States on the proposal have been going slowly, with different views of what kind of trades should be taxed. Other Member States, notably the United Kingdom, openly oppose the tax. The UK challenged the proposal at the European Court of Justice in April 2013. Russia-EU dispute over customs on goods’ transport in the Russian territory Following a dispute over Russia’s customs’ revenues, Andrey Belyaninov, the head of Russia’s Federal Customs Service, announced on 13 September that the national tax guarantees will only apply to customs offices "subordinate to the Siberian and Far Eastern regional Customs departments" until 1 December. This means that European haulers will no longer have to pay the extra guarantees beyond TIR and have their goods taken out and re-registered at the Russian border. In early 2013, the Russian Federation decided to impose a tax on foreign goods travelling through its territory. That means to refrain from a UN convention that guarantees a country's tax revenue from goods travelling through its territory, called TIR. Following to this, European officials denied that Russia was owed any unpaid taxes appealing to the TIR convention, leading to Russia’s back down in the dispute. That means that European haulers no longer have to pay the extra guarantees beyond TIR and have their goods taken out and re-registered at the Russian border. Algirdas Šemeta, the European tax and customs Commissioner, said he hopes that the decision to postpone the measure will guarantee the EU enough time to settle the issue with Belyaninov. The Commissioner also remarked that the measure pushed by the Russian authorities goes against the UN’s TIR convention. 15. Trade China accepts the establishment of a WTO panel on steel tube duties On 30 August, China accepted EU’s request for the establishment of a WTO panel to rule in a dispute over Chinese anti-dumping duties on imports of high-performance stainless steel from the EU. Since the case is similar to a Japanese case for which a panel had already been set up in May, a joint panel will rule on the matter in order to speed up the proceedings. In November 2012, China imposed anti-dumping duties on imports of steel tubes form the EU. The duties, of between 9,7% and 11,1%, have significantly hampered the access to the Chinese market, and are considered unlawful by the European Commission.
  15. 15. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTS | Insight Brussels | 14 Negotiated solution in the EU-China solar panels case doesn’t close the case After weeks of intensive talks with the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the Commission accepted the offer submitted by the Chinese counterpart of a price undertaking based on a minimum import price to replace the anti-dumping duties. The Commission is legally obliged to open an investigation when it receives a valid complaint from Union industry which provides evidence that a product exported from one or more countries is being subsidised and causing injury to the Union industry. Therefore, the EU initiated an anti-subsidy investigation on solar panel imports from China in November 2012. On 6 June this year, the EU imposed provisional anti-dumping duties at an average 11,8% rate, due to increase up to an average of 47,6% on 6 August. The European Commission continues its anti-subsidy investigation on solar panels from China. When it will finalise the analyses, the findings will be disclosed to all interested parties for comments. When the comments submitted are fully analysed and considered, the Commission will issue definitive findings. The deadline for the imposition of definitive duties is 5 December 2013. New developments in EU bilateral trade A number of new bilateral agreements are under review. In particular, recent developments include the following. - The European Union and Georgia have wrapped up negotiations over a deep and comprehensive free trade area, as part of the Association Agreement aiming at providing close political and economic cooperation between them. The DCFTA will be signed as soon as internal EU and Georgia procedures are completed. - Two EU trade deals with Colombia on the one hand, and with Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama on the other hand, have become operational since August. - Since 19 July, after Myanmar had proved efforts to improve its political, social and labour environment, the EU has brought the country back under the “Everything but Arms” preferential trade regime.
  16. 16. A MONTHLY ALERT ON KEY EU POLICY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING OUR CLIENTS | Insight Brussels | 15 For further information please contact: Leonardo Sforza (leonardo.sforza@mslgroup.com) Romain Seignovert (romain.seignovert@mslgroup.com) Bertrand Van Maele (bertrand.vanmaele@mslgroup.com) Giovanni Scarascia-Mugnozza (giovanni.scarascia-mugnozza@mslgroup.com) MSLGROUP Brussels, Avenue des Gaulois, 18 – B 1040 Bruxelles Our website: www.mslgroup.com Follow us on twitter for the breaking news updates: @MSL_Brussels

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