PLC EU weekly e-mail to 8 July 2011

PLC EU
Contents

Consumer Affairs

Air transport: European Consumer Centres Network organises Air Passenger Rights Day

The European Consumer Centres Network declared 7 July 2011 Air Passenger Rights Day and staged events at 27 airports across 23 countries. The events aimed to inform and advise travellers of their air passenger rights.

According to John Dalli, European Commissioner for Health and Consumers "this work is a clear example of EU added value, since no single national organisation can – on its own – effectively help consumers to resolve cross-border disputes with traders in a quick and inexpensive way".

Vice-president Siim Kallas, Commissioner for Transport, stated "ensuring a widespread users' awareness is a precondition for a better enforcement of their rights in case of problem."

Background: The European Consumer Centres offer citizens free advice about their rights when travelling and shopping across borders. They can help consumers obtain refunds and compensation. For example, the Centres can contact the airline on behalf of the consumer, or, if necessary, file a complaint with the relevant National Enforcement Bodies. The Centres can also advise consumers on taking their case to an out-of-court dispute resolution scheme.

Source:European Commission Press Release, Consumers: European Consumer Centres' Air Passenger Rights Day 2011, (IP/11/845), 7 July 2011.

Energy labelling of air conditioners: European Commission delegated Regulation published in Official Journal

On 6 July 2011, European Commission (Commission) delegated Regulation (EU) 626/2011 of 4 May 2011, supplementing Directive 2010/30/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council, with regard to energy labelling of air conditioners, was published in the Official Journal.

This Regulation establishes requirements for the labelling and provision of supplementary product information for electric mains-operated air conditioners with a rated capacity of up to 12 kilowatts for cooling, or heating, if the product has no cooling function. It will not apply to appliances that use non-electric energy sources or air conditioners of which the condenser or evaporator side, or both, do not use air as a heat transfer medium.

This Regulation will enter into force on 27 July 2011 and applies from 1 January 2013.

Background: The Commission is of the opinion that increased market take-up of energy-efficient air conditioners, through the introduction of new energy efficiency classes and possible eco-design requirements, will contribute to achieving the 20% energy savings potential anticipated by 2020 in its Energy Efficiency Action Plan. Furthermore, the Commission thinks that implementation of Directive 2010/30/EU contributes to the EU’s objective to attain a reduction in greenhouse gases emissions of at least 20% by 2020. On 28 June 2011, the Agriculture and Fisheries Council did not oppose the draft Regulation (see Legal update, Energy labelling of air conditioners: European Commission draft Regulation (www.practicallaw.com/7-506-7138)).

Source: OJ 2011 L 178/1.

Enforcement of consumer protection laws: European Parliament adopts resolution

A resolution on a European Commission proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) 2006/2004 has been adopted at the European Parliament plenary session at first reading. The European Commission amending proposal aims to update Regulation (EC) 2006/2004 to better reflect the recent legislative developments for consumer protection.

Read more. (www.practicallaw.com/5-506-8191)

Fairer retail services: European Parliament adopts resolution

On 5 July 2011, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on a more effective and fairer retail market.

Read more. (www.practicallaw.com/1-506-8206)

Food information to consumers: European Parliament adopts resolution

On 6 July 2011, the European Parliament adopted a resolution at second reading on food information to consumers. The new rules will ensure that consumers are not misled by the appearance, description or pictorial presentation of food packaging. The European Commission adopted its proposal for a Regulation on food information to consumers on 30 January 2008.

Read more. (www.practicallaw.com/8-506-8222)

 

Economic and Financial Affairs

EC Regulation on Insolvency Proceedings: Annexes amended

On 9 June 2011, the European Council adopted Regulation (EU) 583/2011 amending the annexes of Regulation (EC) 1346/2000 on insolvency proceedings (Insolvency Regulation). The annexes are as follows:

  • Insolvency proceedings (Annex A).

  • Winding-up proceedings (Annex B).

  • Liquidators (Annex C).

The regulation comes into force on 8 July 2011.

The Insolvency Regulation annexes will include amendments to the domestic insolvency laws of Austria and Latvia. The annexes were last amended by the European Council on 25 February 2010, following a change in Belgian insolvency law.

In its proposal of 4 April 2011, the European Commission stated that the amendments to the Insolvency Regulation may have a positive effect on the re-organisation of businesses and are likely to have a positive or neutral impact on employment, see Legal update, Insolvency Regulation: European Commission proposes updates to Annexes.

The Insolvency Regulation is directly applicable in all member states except Denmark. For more information on the international aspects of insolvency, including the Insolvency Regulation (see Practice note, Cross-border insolvencies).

Source:Official Journal of the European Union (18 June 2011): Regulation (EU) 583/2011.

This update was originally published by PLC Restructuring and Insolvency

ECB opinion on proposed directive on credit agreements relating to residential property

The European Central Bank (ECB) has published an opinion, dated 5 July 2011, on the European Commission's proposed directive on credit agreements relating to residential property, which was originally published in March 2011 (see Legal update, European Commission legislative proposal to regulate residential mortgages (www.practicallaw.com/4-505-5212)).

Generally, the ECB welcomes the proposed directive. From a financial stability perspective, it supports the measures aimed at ensuring responsible borrowing and lending, and restoring consumer confidence. It also supports the proposals relating to the regulatory and supervisory framework that apply to non-credit institutions providing credit agreements falling within the scope of the proposed directive, and to credit intermediaries. The ECB comments specifically on:

  • Foreign currency lending. It has previously commented on the potential systemic risks associated with the prevalence of foreign currency lending in some member states and has highlighted the need to monitor and address this issue. As a result, the ECB considers that the adoption of regulatory and supervisory policy measures can play an important role in mitigating risks stemming from foreign currency lending. It strongly encourages policy-makers to create an overall operating environment for economic agents, which encourages prudent and well-informed decision-making by lenders and borrowers. It explains that this involves the pursuit of sound stability-oriented macro-economic policies and policies to strengthen financial literacy, as well as appropriate financial regulation and supervision. The ECB notes that the proposed directive specifies the information to be provided to consumers where a loan is to be granted in a currency that is different from the borrower's national currency. It considers that the information provided should also include an explanation of the potential risks for consumers where the credit is denominated in a foreign currency.

  • Access to databases and public credit registers. It supports the co-operation, exchange of information and harmonisation of definitions and concepts among central credit registers (CCRs) at the cross-border level. The ECB explains that the financial crisis has underlined the importance of CCRs in helping credit institutions monitor and manage credit risk efficiently by granting them access to information on the indebtedness of borrowers. It also supports the proposed approach to confer delegated powers to the Commission to define uniform credit registration criteria and data processing conditions to be applied to the databases with a view to fostering harmonisation of the rules in this area. The criteria and conditions should identify a core set of attributes, common identifiers and a common definition of the underlying concepts and data content. In addition, confidentiality and data protection issues should be considered, as well as the inter-operability of national databases. The ECB considers that the criteria should be understood as minimum standards, allowing private credit bureaux or credit reference agencies and public credit registers to collect additional information, where appropriate.

  • Other technical observations. The ECB notes that the proposed directive does not address a harmonised right of withdrawal for EU consumers. Given the significance of consumer financial commitments under credit agreements relating to residential property (and to contribute to financial stability and responsible lending and borrowing), the ECB recommends that consideration should be given to including a right of withdrawal in the proposed directive.

The ECB's specific drafting proposals, together with explanatory text, are set out in an Annex to the opinion.

For more information on the Commission's proposed directive, see Practice note, Hot topics: Review of the EU mortgage markets (www.practicallaw.com/9-381-7607).

This update was originally published by PLC Financial Services

Economic crisis: European Parliament makes recommendations

On 6 July 2011, the European Parliament (EP) voted a non-legislative Resolution recommending initiatives to be taken to combat the financial, economic and social crisis. The resolution analyses the reasons for the current economic and financial crises, suggests ways to avoid economic crises in the future and presents a long term vision for Europe.

It is based on a report by the EP's Special Committee on the Financial, Economic and Social Crisis. The EP received contributions from over 25 national assemblies.

The EP calls for:

  • "A transparent audit of public debt to be carried out in order to determine its origin and to ascertain the identity of the main holders of debt securities and the amounts involved".

  • The Commission to carry out an investigation into a future system of Eurobonds.

  • Better regulation of credit default swaps.

  • Prompt adoption by the G20 countries of "global and coordinated policy measures to contribute to strong, stable and balanced global sustainable growth".

  • Reform of as well as more financial resources for the International Monetary Fund.

  • Greater compatibility and complementarity between national budgets and the EU budget.

  • Reform of members states' criminal laws to clamp down on corruption.

  • A deeper democratic political Union in which the EU institutions are given a stronger role.

Taking the floor before the EP on 6 July 2011, the European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs committed to giving the report the appropriate follow-up. Regarding the EP's call for the European Commission (Commission) to present a report on Eurobonds, he indicated that in the context of the economic governance package, the Commission has agreed to table such a report on the feasibility of Eurosecurities towards the end of 2011.

Background: The Special Committee was set up in 2009 to analyse the reasons for the current crises and propose measures to ensure long-term sustainable growth. Now that its resolution has been passed, it will be dissolved.

Sources:

EIOPA publishes results of second EU-wide insurance sector stress test

On 4 July 2011, the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) published a press release announcing the findings of its second EU-wide stress test exercise for the insurance sector.

EIOPA launched the stress test in March 2011 (see Legal update, EIOPA launches second EU-wide insurance sector stress test (www.practicallaw.com/5-505-3986)). Its aim was to test insurers' ability to meet the future minimum capital requirements (MCR) under the Solvency II Directive (2009/138/EC) in a number of scenarios, including an adverse scenario, reflecting a severe market deterioration and an inflation scenario, assuming a rapid increase in interest rates caused by inflation. 58 European insurance groups and 71 individual undertakings took part in the exercise, representing approximately 60% of the European insurance sector.

EIOPA has concluded from the results of the stress test that the European insurance market is robust. However, approximately 10% of the participating insurers did not meet the MCR in the adverse scenario and 8% did not meet the MCR in the inflation scenario.

An EIOPA presentation about the stress test stated that the main vulnerabilities identified were adverse developments in yield curves and sovereign debt markets and a higher than expected rate of severe natural catastrophes, combined with limited recourse to reinsurance facilities.

National supervisory authorities will discuss the results of the stress test with individual insurers. EIOPA expects firms to embed the results of the stress test in individual plans and strategies for implementing Solvency II.

For an overview of the Solvency II regime, see Practice note, An introduction to Solvency II (www.practicallaw.com/4-503-8166) and for the key Solvency II source materials, together with related PLC Financial Services coverage, see Practice note, Solvency II resources (www.practicallaw.com/3-242-0026).

This update was originally published by PLC Financial Services

ESMA Chair speech on ESMA's work to protect retail investors

On 6 July 2011, Steven Maijoor, Chair of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), gave a speech about ESMA's work to protect retail investors.

The speech considered ESMA's approach to its powers under Article 9 of the ESMA Regulation (EU) (1095/2010) (that is, the regulation that established ESMA). Under Article 9, ESMA has the power to:

  • Issue investor alerts or consumer warnings relating to specific products or selling practices or activities.

  • Temporarily ban certain products or activities that threaten market integrity or financial stability.

ESMA is likely to use either or both of these powers as a solution to industry failures where competent authorities do not take appropriate measures, or any measures, to address the problem. Mr Maijoor commented that, as well as improving disclosures and selling practices for consumers, the finance industry should shift from seeing investors as potential sources of profit to focusing on matching investments' risk profiles to customers' needs.

Mr Maijoor noted that, as part of its review of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (2004/39/EC) (MiFID), the European Commission is proposing to introduce powers to ban specific activities products or practices in the context of stricter regulatory scrutiny of complex products. For more information about the Commission's MiFID review, see Practice note, Hot topics: European Commission's MiFID review (www.practicallaw.com/6-503-3276).

Mr Maijoor also stated that ESMA will publish later in July 2011 a consultation on its policy options concerning exchange traded funds (ETFs) and certain other types of UCITS. This follows his announcement in May 2011 concerning ESMA's work in this area (see Legal update, ESMA Chair speech on regulatory objectives (www.practicallaw.com/0-506-2709)).

For more information on the establishment of ESMA and its powers, see Practice note, Reform of European financial supervisory framework: key developments tracker (www.practicallaw.com/6-501-1731).

This update was originally published by PLC Financial Services

European Commission guidelines on PSD and 2EMD passport notifications

The European Commission published, in June 2011, revised guidelines on passport notifications under the Payment Services Directive (2007/64/EC) (PSD) and new guidelines on passport notifications under the second Electronic Money Directive (2009/110/EC) (2EMD).

The PSD passport notification guidelines were originally published in November 2009 (see Legal update, European Commission publishes guidelines on PSD passport notifications (www.practicallaw.com/4-500-5806)). The guidelines, which are voluntary, are intended to provide a framework to enable competent authorities across the EU to co-operate and exchange information relating to the implementation of the passport notification provisions of the PSD. They have been revised to reflect the content of the 2EMD passport notification guidelines, insofar as they apply to payment services activities.

The 2EMD passport notification guidelines provide a framework to enable competent authorities in the EU to co-operate and exchange information to ensure an efficient passport notification process for electronic money (e-money) institutions. These guidelines are also voluntary, although competent authorities in all member states are encouraged to use them for 2EMD passport notification purposes. The format of the 2EMD guidelines follows that of the revised PSD guidelines. Part I outlines the general considerations to be taken into account by competent authorities concerning passport notifications by e-money institutions. Part II of the guidelines details the notifications to be made concerning the services and activities of e-money institutions. Annexes to the 2EMD guidelines include standard notification forms, a list of competent authorities for notification purposes, a list of national public registers for e-money institutions, a list of out-of-court complaint bodies, and a list of competent authorities for handling complaints.

For an overview of UK implementation of the PSD, see Practice note, UK implementation of the Payment Services Directive (www.practicallaw.com/5-381-9528). For more information on the regulatory regime introduced by the 2EMD, see Legal update, FSA publishes webpages and revised approach document on 2EMD (www.practicallaw.com/3-505-4294).

This update was originally published by PLC Financial Services

European Commission initiatives for 2011: update on adoption of financial services measures

The European Commission has published an updated document (www.practicallaw.com/4-506-1944) setting out its agenda and timetable for legislative proposals and non-legislative acts that it expects to adopt between 1 June and 31 December 2011.

Changes have been made to the expected adoption dates of a number of legislative and non-legislative initiatives which will have an impact on the financial services sector since the Commission published the previous version of the document, on 17 May 2011. These include:

  • CRD 4 (that is, amendments to the Capital Requirements Directive (2006/48/EC and 2006/49/EC) (CRD)): now expected to be adopted on 20 July 2011 (rather than July 2011).

  • Recasting of the Market Abuse Directive (2003/6/EC) (MAD): now expected to be adopted in October 2011 (rather than 5 July 2011).

  • Revisions to the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (2004/39/EC) (MiFID): now expected to be adopted in October 2011 (rather than 5 July 2011).

  • Regulation amending the CRA Regulation (1060/2009/EC): now expected to be adopted in the fourth quarter of 2011 (rather than September 2011).

  • Regulation on central securities depositaries: now expected to be adopted in October 2011 (rather than June 2011).

  • Recommendation of the European Parliament and Council of the EU on access to a basic bank account: now expected to be adopted on 13 July 2011 (rather than June 2011). The May 2011 version of the document indicated this would be a regulation.

  • Legislative instrument creating a framework for standardising pre-contractual information on packaged retail investment products (PRIPs): now expected to be adopted in the fourth quarter of 2011 (rather than 13 July 2011).

  • Communication on financial sector taxation: now expected to be adopted in the third quarter of 2011 (rather than 13 July 2011).

  • New legal framework for data protection: now expected to be adopted on 9 November 2011 (rather than November 2011).

The document also states that the Commission expects to adopt a communication on its 2012 work programme in November 2011.

As with the May 2011 version of the document, no mention is made in the updated document of the Level 2 measures for the Solvency II Directive (2009/138/EC). The April 2011 version of the document indicated that these were expected to be adopted in the fourth quarter of 2011.

For more information about the May 2011 version of the document, see Legal update, European Commission initiatives for 2011: update on adoption of financial services measures (www.practicallaw.com/5-506-1335).

This update was originally published by PLC Financial Services

European Commission Q&As on Payment Services Directive

The European Commission has published a new answer (ID 1034) as part of its questions and answers (Q&As) on the Payment Services Directive (2007/64/EC) (PSD).

The answer responds to a question on the scope of the definition of "payment services" in Article 4(3) of the PSD; specifically whether the PSD applies to the electronic remittance of VAT refunds to bank accounts and credit cards of non-EU nationals and nationals of third countries). The answer confirms that although the PSD was not intended to apply to VAT refunding services or equivalent, Article 3 of the PSD (which defines the "negative scope" of the Directive) does not exclude such business specifically from its application. Although the response does not directly answer the question, it sets out the factors to take into account in determining whether the PSD applies:

  • The nature of the actual business activity.

  • The provider of the payment service.

  • Whether the recipient's payment service provider is located in the EU (with the exception of Article 73, which applies in all cases).

  • Whether the member state in question opted to apply the Directive to remittances to a third country.

For details of the last published answer, see Legal update, European Commission Q&As on Payment Services Directive (www.practicallaw.com/9-506-6232). For information on the PSD and its UK implementation, see Practice note, UK implementation of the Payment Services Directive (www.practicallaw.com/5-381-9528).

This update was originally published by PLC Financial Services

European Commission summary of responses to credit rating agencies consultation

On 4 July 2011, the European Commission published a summary of the responses received to its November 2010 consultation on initiatives intended to strengthen the EU regulatory framework for credit rating agencies (CRAs) (see Legal update, European Commission consultation on credit rating agencies (www.practicallaw.com/6-503-8349)).

Key points of interest drawn out by the Commission include:

  • Some respondents urged the Commission to wait for the full effect of the CRA Regulation (1060/2009/EC) and the regulation amending the CRA Regulation (513/2011/EU) (CRA II), as well as the work of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) on ratings and securitisation, to become known before proceeding with these proposals. For more information on the BCBS' work, see Practice note, Basel Committee on Banking Supervision: ongoing initiatives: Credit ratings and securitisations (www.practicallaw.com/2-505-2441).

  • Respondents generally agreed with the Commission's concerns at the overreliance on credit ratings in legislation. However, most respondents preferred a gradual reduction in references to ratings and there was uncertainty about what would replace them. There was general opposition to having a multiple ratings requirement.

  • There was widespread support for requiring firms to conduct their own due diligence, rather than relying solely on ratings, although there was concern about smaller firms' ability to perform such analyses.

  • Apart from the CRAs themselves, most respondents supported the introduction of a civil liability regime for CRAs.

  • Although there was general agreement that the "issuer-pays" model contains conflicts of interest, there appears to be no consensus on whether those conflicts could be managed or on the merits of the Commission's alternative models.

In January 2011, the Commission published the text of all the non-confidential consultation responses received, including a joint response from the FSA, HM Treasury and the Bank of England (BoE) (see Legal update, Joint FSA, HMT and BoE response to Commission's CRA consultation (www.practicallaw.com/7-504-6631)).

For more information on EU regulatory developments concerning CRAs, see Practice note, Hot topics: Regulation of credit rating agencies (www.practicallaw.com/0-383-6832).

This update was originally published by PLC Financial Services

European Parliament votes on EMIR, short selling and investor compensation proposals

On 5 July 2011, the European Parliament published a press release about the votes it has taken on financial services proposals in its plenary session. The votes related to the following proposed measures:

Details of the votes taken are available on the Parliament's website.

The Parliament closed its first reading procedure on the ICD amendments, but postponed final votes on legislative resolutions on EMIR and the short selling regulation to allow more time for negotiations with the European Council. An article on ft.com on the delay to EMIR stated that Mr Langen indicated that "representatives of the European Parliament’s largest groups ... would like a final vote on the issue postponed to September".

This update was originally published by PLC Financial Services

Polish Presidency compromise proposal on proposed residential mortgages directive

The Polish Presidency of the Council of the EU has published a compromise proposal on its proposed directive on credit agreements relating to residential property. The compromise proposal is dated 1 July 2011.

The cover note for the Presidency compromise text indicates that it was produced for a meeting of the working party on financial services, which is due to take place on 7 July 2011.

The European Commission published its proposals for this directive in March 2011 (see Legal update, European Commission legislative proposal to regulate residential mortgages (www.practicallaw.com/4-505-5212)). In May 2011, the European Parliament announced a revised indicative date of 16 January 2012 for its plenary session on the proposal.

For more information on the background to, and development of, the proposal, see Practice note, Hot topics: Review of the EU mortgage markets (www.practicallaw.com/9-381-7607).

This update was originally published by PLC Financial Services

Polish Presidency of the Council work programme to 31 December 2011

The Polish Presidency of the Council of the EU has published its work programme for the six-month period until 31 December 2011.

In recognition of the importance of improving the stability of the financial sector in the EU, the Polish Presidency:

  • Intends to support and promote the early adoption of proposals aimed at improving financial market regulation and oversight, and at developing crisis management rules. This will help to safeguard the sector against the negative effects of crises and help maintain financial market stability.

  • Will place special emphasis on the implementation of measures to increase the integrity and transparency of the financial sector, reducing systemic risks and excess risk-taking.

  • Will continue work on financial sector taxation, including the introduction of a global financial transaction tax.

In addition, the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) will monitor the operation of the new macro- and micro-prudential oversight framework, in close collaboration with the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) and the newly established supervisory agencies.

This update was originally published by PLC Financial Services

Polish Presidency Omnibus II compromise proposal dated 4 July 2011

On 5 July 2011, the Polish Presidency of the Council of the EU published a compromise proposal, dated 4 July 2011, relating to the proposed Omnibus II Directive.

The cover note for the Presidency compromise text indicates that the proposal will be discussed at a meeting on 5 July 2011.

The proposed Omnibus II Directive was published by the European Commission on 19 January 2011. It is designed to make targeted changes to the Solvency II Directive (2009/138/EC) and parts of the Prospectus Directive (2003/71/EC) to ensure that the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) and the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) can work effectively.

This compromise proposal follows other proposals published by the Hungarian Presidency (see Legal update, Hungarian Presidency Omnibus II compromise proposal dated 24 June 2011 (www.practicallaw.com/0-506-6571)). In a report of the Council of the EU, dated 27 June 2011, the Hungarian Presidency said that it believed there was now broad agreement, and recommended that the incoming Polish Presidency resume discussions as soon as possible on the basis of the revised draft at that date (see Legal update, Hungarian Presidency progress report on Omnibus II Directive (www.practicallaw.com/3-506-6800)).

For more information on the changes that the Omnibus II Directive will make to Solvency II, see Practice note, An introduction to Solvency II: How will the Omnibus II Directive amend the Solvency II regime? (www.practicallaw.com/4-503-8166).

This update was originally published by PLC Financial Services

Trade associations warn of harmful effects of extra-territoriality in EU and US regulation of derivatives

On 6 July 2011, the Futures and Options Association (FOA) published a letter (dated 5 July 2011) that it has sent jointly with seven other global and regional trade associations (including the Investment Management Association (IMA) and the European Banking Federation (EBF)) to Michel Barnier, European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services and Timothy Geithner, US Treasury Department Secretary, warning of the harmful effects of extra-territoriality in the EU and US regulation of derivatives.

In the letter, the joint associations explain that they are concerned that regulation in different G20 jurisdictions may be creating conditions that will lead to harmful outcomes (including market fragmentation, protectionism and regulatory arbitrage) and, ultimately, to a decrease in the ability of global regulators to effectively regulate an increasingly global capital marketplace. The letter outlines examples of extra-territorial concerns that have arisen due partly to insufficient co-ordination.

They advise that the extra-territorial application of one nation's laws to another nation's markets and firms is a fundamental concern in derivatives business, where it is common for counterparties based in different jurisdictions to transact with each other. Specifically, the joint associations believe that both the proposed US rules and the rules currently being debated in the EU leave the global derivatives market with ambiguity and problematic extra-territorial challenges, as well as issues of legal uncertainty and misunderstanding that may give rise to material risk. The joint associations are also concerned that recent public commentary by EU and US decision-makers on issues arising from extra-territorial aspects of financial legislation may give a misleading impression as to the proven commitment of decision-makers in these and other jurisdictions to problem-solving, and avoiding conflicts and unnecessary burdens.

The joint associations call on the regulators to intensify co-operation to prevent, alleviate or limit the harmful effects of overlap, inconsistency and ambiguity resulting from extra-territoriality in regulatory efforts to implement the G20 commitments. They urge policymakers to either consult with each other when formulating legislation or to resolve differences in the course of implementing legislation. In addition, they call on regulators to "redouble their efforts" to ensure that reform of the international financial regulatory system is based on consistency of approach and mutual recognition.

For information on the proposed EU reforms to over-the-counter (OTC) derivative transactions, central counterparties (CCPS) and trade repositories (also known as the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR)), see Practice note, Hot topics: European Market Infrastructure Regulation (www.practicallaw.com/5-503-4525). For information on the US reforms, see PLC US' Practice note, Road Map to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (www.practicallaw.com/3-502-8479).

This update was originally published by PLC Financial Services

UCITS IV Directive: UK implementation

On 4 July 2011, the Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities Regulations 2011 (SI 2011/1613) (UCITS Regulations) were published on the legislation.gov.uk website, accompanied by an explanatory memorandum and final impact assessment. The UCITS Regulations came into force on 1 July 2011 and implement parts of the UCITS IV Directive (2009/65/EC) (UCITS IV) in the UK.

The FSA has also published a number of materials relating to the UK implementation of UCITS IV, including the UCITS IV Directive Instrument 2011 (FSA 2011/39), Handbook forms and an updated CIS authorisations team webpage.

For more information about UCITS IV and its legislative progress, see Practice note, Hot topics: The UCITS IV Directive (www.practicallaw.com/2-381-9515).

Read more. (www.practicallaw.com/6-506-7600)

This update was originally published by PLC Financial Services

 

Employment

Advocate General opinion on holidays and sickness absence

On 7 July 2011, the Advocate General delivered her opinion in KHS AG v Schulte C-214/10, a German case concerning the relationship between holiday rights under the Working Time Directive (2003/88/EC) and long-term sick leave. According to an ECJ press release (the opinion is not yet available in English), the Advocate General concluded that:

  • EU law does not require that workers on long-term sick leave accumulate, without any time limitation, the right to paid annual leave or to payments in lieu of such entitlement. Allowing a worker to take accrued leave several years after the leave year to which it related would not achieve the Directive's purpose of enabling the worker to recuperate from the effort and stresses of that year.

  • A national law under which annual leave entitlement extinguishes 18 months after the end of the relevant leave year (effectively giving workers up to two and a half years to use a year's leave entitlement) does not offend against the Directive. An 18-month minimum period is a guideline which member states should follow as far as possible for the purposes of implementing the Directive: a carry-over period of only six months is insufficient.

The ECJ is not obliged to follow the Advocate General's opinion. Nevertheless, the opinion is interesting given the uncertainty caused by the ECJ's decisions in Stringer and others v HM Revenue & Customs [2009] IRLR 214 and Pereda v Madrid Movilidad SA [2009] IRLR 95 (for which, see Practice note, Statutory holidays and sickness absence (www.practicallaw.com/5-500-7664)).

Sources: ECJ press release no 68/11, 7 July 2011 and Advocate General Opinion, KHS AG v Schulte C-214/10, 7 July 2011 (not yet available in English).

This update was originally published by PLC Employment

Women and business leadership: European Parliament adopts resolution

On 6 July 2011, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on women and business leadership in which MEPs encourage the European Commission to propose legislation by 2012 that includes quotas for increasing female representation in corporate management bodies to 30% by 2015 and to 40% by 2020 if voluntary measures do not manage to increase the proportion of women in senior positions. However, the resolution states that because the number of women in corporate boards is increasing by only half a percent each year, it will take another fifty years before boardrooms are made up of at least 40% women.

Read more. (www.practicallaw.com/4-506-8120)

Workers' rights and EU freedoms: future EU legislation to clarify their relationship

The European Commission will propose legislation before the end of 2011 clarifying the relationship between workers' rights and the economic freedoms. This could recognise the role played by trade unions in defending workers' rights, enshrine a proportionality test between workers' rights and economic freedoms to be applied by national courts, and encourage alternative dispute resolution. A further piece of legislation, also foreseen for before the end of 2011, would ensure enforcement of the Posted Workers Directive and could improve access to information and administrative cooperation, reinforce the effectiveness of the Posted Workers Directive and introduce new provisions in relation to existing problems as well as abuses.

Read more. (www.practicallaw.com/7-506-8086)

 

Energy

Energy labelling of air conditioners: European Commission delegated Regulation published in Official Journal

On 6 July 2011, European Commission (Commission) delegated Regulation (EU) 626/2011 of 4 May 2011, supplementing Directive 2010/30/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council, with regard to energy labelling of air conditioners, was published in the Official Journal.

This Regulation establishes requirements for the labelling and provision of supplementary product information for electric mains-operated air conditioners with a rated capacity of up to 12 kilowatts for cooling, or heating, if the product has no cooling function. It will not apply to appliances that use non-electric energy sources or air conditioners of which the condenser or evaporator side, or both, do not use air as a heat transfer medium.

This Regulation will enter into force on 27 July 2011 and applies from 1 January 2013.

Background: The Commission is of the opinion that increased market take-up of energy-efficient air conditioners, through the introduction of new energy efficiency classes and possible eco-design requirements, will contribute to achieving the 20% energy savings potential anticipated by 2020 in its Energy Efficiency Action Plan. Furthermore, the Commission thinks that implementation of Directive 2010/30/EU contributes to the EU’s objective to attain a reduction in greenhouse gases emissions of at least 20% by 2020. On 28 June 2011, the Agriculture and Fisheries Council did not oppose the draft Regulation (see Legal update, Energy labelling of air conditioners: European Commission draft Regulation (www.practicallaw.com/7-506-7138)).

Source: OJ 2011 L 178/1.

Strategies for Danube and Baltic Sea regions: European Commissioner welcomes progress

On 24 June 2011, the European Commissioner for Regional Policy presented a progress report on the implementation of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and welcomed the endorsement by the European Council of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region.

Both strategies are based on a “macro-regional” approach that brings countries together to co-operate on setting goals, aligning funding, and working together on shared challenges such as sea or river pollution, the need for better transport links, or more secure energy provisions.

The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region was launched in 2009 and is up for review under the Polish Presidency.

The EU Strategy for the Danube Region was first presented by the European Commission (Commission) in December 2010 (see Legal update, European Commission adopts Communication and action plan on a European Union strategy for Danube region (www.practicallaw.com/4-504-1833)). Following its endorsement by the European Council its implementation can now begin. The strategy focuses on four main pillars:

  • Connecting the Danube Region: improving mobility, encouraging sustainable energy and promoting culture and tourism.

  • Protecting the environment in the Danube Region: restoring water quality, managing environmental risks and preserving biodiversity.

  • Building prosperity in the Danube Region (developing research capacity, education and information technologies, supporting the competitiveness of enterprises and investing in people's skills.

  • Strengthening the Danube Region (stepping up institutional capacity and improving co-operation to tackle organised crime).

The Commission will also monitor the implementation progress of this strategy, as with that of the Baltic Sea Region, and will publish a first report at the end of 2012.

In its conclusions, the European Council of 23-24 June 2011 also invited member states to continue work in co-operation with the Commission on possible future macro-regional strategies, in particular as regards the Adriatic and Ionian region.

Sources:

 

Enterprise and Industry

Raw materials: WTO DS report in complaint against China

On 5 July 2011 the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued a panel report in the dispute settlement proceedings brought by the EU, the US and Mexico against alleged Chinese export restrictions on raw materials.

The panel report "found that China's export duties were inconsistent with the commitments that China had agreed to in its Protocol of Accession […] [and] that export quotas imposed by China on some of the raw materials were inconsistent with WTO rules," according to a summary of key findings provided by the WTO.

According to the European Commission (Commission), the panel found that the Chinese arguments relating to environmental protection "cannot justify measures that shield domestic producers from foreign competition in the name of conservation."

The Commission also stated that the "panel's findings constitute a significant recognition of the interdependence of all WTO Members – whether developed or developing – when it comes to raw material supplies as a fundamental principle underlying the global trading system."

Background: On 2 February 2011, the Commission published a Communication on commodity markets and raw materials (see Legal update, European Commission publishes Communication on commodity markets and raw materials (www.practicallaw.com/2-504-7001)). In recent years, certain countries have introduced restrictions on the export of certain vital raw materials. According to the Commission China, for instance, applies export restrictions on key raw materials, such as bauxite, coke, fluorspar, magnesium, manganese, silicon metal, silicon carbide, yellow phosphorous and zinc. Some of these resources cannot be found outside China. The export restrictions are mainly quotas, export duties , a minimum export price system, as well as additional requirements and procedures for exporters. These have caused concerns for European industry such as the chemical, steel and non-ferrous metal industries, as well as their downstream clients, ranging from producers of beverage cans, CDs, electronics, automotives, ceramics, refrigerators, batteries and medicines. On 10 March 2011, the Competitiveness Council adopted conclusions after reviewing the Commission’s Communication (see Legal update, Council adopts conclusions on raw materials and commodity markets (www.practicallaw.com/8-505-0651)). The Commission has also launched a public consultation on a possible innovation partnership on raw materials (see Legal update, Innovation Partnership on raw materials: European Commission launches public consultation (www.practicallaw.com/1-505-9141)).

Sources:

 

Environment and Climate Change

EU ETS: Decisions allocating aviation sector allowances and EEA-EFTA country aviation emissions

On 30 June 2011, the European Commission adopted a Decision on the number of EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) allowances to be:

  • Allocated to aircraft operators, subject to the EU ETS, free of charge.

  • Auctioned.

  • Placed in the EU ETS special reserve (for later distribution for new entrants).

The Decision covers two EU ETS trading periods, 2012 and 2013-20 (Decision of 30 June 2011 on the Union-wide quantity of allowances referred to in Article 3e(3)(a) to (d) of Directive 2003/87/EC establishing a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowances trading within the Community).

On 1 July 2011, the European Economic Area (EEA) Joint Committee announced the level of total aviation emissions in the EEA (Decision of the EEA Joint Committee No 87/2011 of 1 July 2011 amending Annex XX (Environment) to the EEA Agreement). This adds the aviation emissions of aircraft operators in Iceland and Norway to those from the 27 EU member states.

Read more. (www.practicallaw.com/9-506-7585)

This update was originally published by PLC Environment

European Commission launches consultation on improving EU air quality policy

On 30 June 2011, the European Commission launched a public consultation on its current policy on air quality, which will inform a comprehensive review of EU air quality policy due no later than 2013. The consultation closes on 30 September 2011.

Read more. (www.practicallaw.com/6-506-7884)

This update was originally published by PLC Environment

GMO crops: European Parliament amends European Commission draft regulation

The European Commission's draft Regulation on Genetically Modified Organism crop cultivation has been amended by the European Parliament on its first reading in the ordinary legislative procedure. Whereas the European Commission had foreseen that member states could only restrict or ban on grounds other than health and environment considerations, which are already addressed during the EU authorisation process for GMOs, the European Parliament voted to allow member states to invoke environmental considerations. These amendments will now be debated by the Council.

Read more. (www.practicallaw.com/7-506-8208)

Regulations to enforce EU Regulation on ozone-depleting substances come into force

The Environmental Protection (Controls on Ozone-Depleting Substances) Regulations 2011 (SI 2011/1543) (ODS Regulations 2011) were made on 20 June 2011 and come into force on 20 July 2011. An explanatory memorandum has also been published.

The ODS Regulations 2011:

  • Introduce offences and penalties for breaches of Regulation (EC) 1005/2009 on substances that deplete the ozone layer.

  • Extend to offshore oil and gas installations that use equipment containing ozone-depleting substances (ODS).

  • Revoke and replace the previous legislation dealing with ODS (Environmental Protection (Controls on Ozone-Depleting Substances) Regulations 2002 (SI 2002/528) and Environmental Protection (Controls on Ozone-Depleting Substances) Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/91)).

ODS are widely found, including, in particular, in refrigeration, air-conditioning, solvents and fire protection systems.

Read more. (www.practicallaw.com/5-506-7040)

This update was originally published by PLC Environment

Revised RoHS Directive published in the Official Journal

On 1 July 2011, RoHS Directive 2011 (Directive 2011/65/EU on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (recast)) was published in the Official Journal of the European Union and comes into force on 21 July 2011. Member states have until 2 January 2013 to transpose the Directive into national law.

The RoHS Directive 2011 is a revised (recast) version of the RoHS Directive 2002 (Directive 2002/95/EC on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment), which prohibits producers of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) from marketing new EEE in the EU that contains more than the prescribed levels of six hazardous substances.

The RoHS Directive 2011 extends the ban on the use of certain hazardous substances to all EEE (subject to limited exemptions).

The UK RoHS enforcement authority, the National Measurement Office, has indicated that new regulations to implement the RoHS Directive 2011 in the UK will:

  • Be published in October-November 2012.

  • Enter into force on 2 January 2013, in line with the member state transposition requirements under the RoHS Directive 2011.

Read more. (www.practicallaw.com/7-506-7398)

This update was originally published by PLC Environment

Strategies for Danube and Baltic Sea regions: European Commissioner welcomes progress

On 24 June 2011, the European Commissioner for Regional Policy presented a progress report on the implementation of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and welcomed the endorsement by the European Council of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region.

Both strategies are based on a “macro-regional” approach that brings countries together to co-operate on setting goals, aligning funding, and working together on shared challenges such as sea or river pollution, the need for better transport links, or more secure energy provisions.

The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region was launched in 2009 and is up for review under the Polish Presidency.

The EU Strategy for the Danube Region was first presented by the European Commission (Commission) in December 2010 (see Legal update, European Commission adopts Communication and action plan on a European Union strategy for Danube region (www.practicallaw.com/4-504-1833)). Following its endorsement by the European Council its implementation can now begin. The strategy focuses on four main pillars:

  • Connecting the Danube Region: improving mobility, encouraging sustainable energy and promoting culture and tourism.

  • Protecting the environment in the Danube Region: restoring water quality, managing environmental risks and preserving biodiversity.

  • Building prosperity in the Danube Region (developing research capacity, education and information technologies, supporting the competitiveness of enterprises and investing in people's skills.

  • Strengthening the Danube Region (stepping up institutional capacity and improving co-operation to tackle organised crime).

The Commission will also monitor the implementation progress of this strategy, as with that of the Baltic Sea Region, and will publish a first report at the end of 2012.

In its conclusions, the European Council of 23-24 June 2011 also invited member states to continue work in co-operation with the Commission on possible future macro-regional strategies, in particular as regards the Adriatic and Ionian region.

Sources:

 

Healthcare and life sciences

Biocidal products: European Commission Decision and Directives on placing of biocidal products on the market published in the Official Journal

On 2 July 2011, a European Commission (Commission) Decision of 1 July 2011 concerning the non-inclusion of certain substances in Annex I, IA or IB to Directive 98/8/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of biocidal products on the market was published in the Official Journal, together with three Commission Directives amending Directive 98/8/EC to include active substances in its Annex I.

The Commission Decision lists a number of active substances whose assessment under Commission Regulation (EC) 1451/2007 was not completed and should therefore not be included in Annex I, IA or IB to Directive 98/8/EC, which contains the active substances agreed at Community level for inclusion in biocidal products.

As a consequence, the biocidal products containing active substances for the product-types excluded from these Annexes may no longer be placed on the market after 1 July 2012.

The Commission Directives amend Directive 98/8/EC to include active substances in its Annex I as of 1 July 2013.

Background: Biocidal products are defined under Directive 98/8/EC, concerning the placing of biocidal products on the market as active substances and preparations containing active substances that are intended to, amongst other things, destroy or exert a controlling effect on any harmful organism by chemical or biological means.

In June 2009, the Commission published a proposal to replace Directive 98/8/EC by a regulation so as to harmonise its implementation. On 21 June 2011, the Environment Council adopted its position at first reading on the draft Regulation (see Legal update, Biocidal products: Council adopts position at first reading on draft Regulation (www.practicallaw.com/9-506-6029)).

Sources:

Legislation on spongiform encephalopathies: European Parliament adopts resolution

On 6 July 2011, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution on the implementation and outlook for EU legislation on Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE) and on related feed and food controls.

The resolution states that despite the fall in bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) cases, also known as mad cow disease, in the EU, surveillance must remain vigilant and any change to BSE safety rules must maintain high animal and public health standards. However, the ban on feeding animal protein to non-ruminants, such as pigs, could gradually be lifted if more safeguards are implemented. The resolution indicates that the European Commission (Commission) is shortly expected to review changes to current EU laws, which could include new rules on removing specific risk materials from animal feed, a gradual relaxation of the animal protein feed ban, changes to cohort culling policy and a higher age limit for BSE testing.

Furthermore, MEPs reject a Commission proposal to reduce EU funding on research into TSEs, including BSE.

Background: TSEs cause degeneration of brain tissue leading to death in humans and animals. They include Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and Kuru in humans, BSE in cattle and scrapie in sheep and goats.

Sources:

 

Information Society and Media

112 emergency number: European Parliament calls for increased accuracy and reliability of caller information

On 5 July 2011, the European Parliament adopted an own-initiative resolution concerning the universal service and the 112 emergency number.

Read more. (www.practicallaw.com/8-506-7755)

BEREC calls for contributions on legal and administrative barriers to the provision of communications services for the business segment

On 4 July 2011, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) issued a call for contributions on possible existing legal and administrative barriers in relation to the provision of electronic communications services for the business segment. BEREC (and previously the European Regulators Group) has previously analysed the inefficiencies experienced by business communications service providers due to inconsistencies in regulatory approaches across Europe. This potentially hinders the competitive dynamics and the completion of the internal market. To complement its previous work, BEREC has decided to look further into any administrative barriers to the cross-border provision of business communications services. It intends to carry out a survey and analysis of any existing restrictions concerning the provision of business services, with a view to delivering a report.

BEREC is first seeking evidence from stakeholders on any inefficiency in the provision of business communication services arising from different approaches to national administrative regimes. In particular, it is seeking views on experiences of practical implementation of the current authorisation regime and of any inconsistencies or operational constraints encountered. It also asks for views on national best practices, differences in national administrative procedures and on whether the provision of cross-border business services could be subject to a specific administrative regime (and if so on what basis and what should be the features of such regime). Responses are invited by 5 August 2011.

This update was originally published by PLC Competition

BEREC publishes report on infrastructure and spectrum sharing in mobile/wireless networks

On 5 July 2011, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) and the Radio Spectrum Policy Group (RSPG) published a report on infrastructure and spectrum sharing in mobile/wireless networks. The report provides a survey of existing sharing agreements in Europe and their scope, and illustrates their financial implications. The report also highlights some key competition issues and analyses existing regulation and the potential impact of sharing arrangements on competition.

Read more. (www.practicallaw.com/5-506-7653)

This update was originally published by PLC IPIT & Communications

European Commission proposes further major revision of Roaming Regulation

On 6 July 2011, the European Commission announced a proposal to revise the existing Roaming Regulation. The Commission is proposing to introduce structural measures that would allow customers, from 1 July 2014, to sign up for a mobile roaming contract that is separate from their contracts for national mobile services. Mobile operators would be given the right to use other operators' networks in other member states at regulated wholesale prices. The current retail price caps for voice calls and SMS would be progressively reduced, but would stay in place until 30 June 2016, until the structural measures have become fully effective. In addition, the Commission wishes to introduce a new retail price cap for mobile data services. Wholesale price caps would remain, but would decrease annually until 2014. They would then remain stable until the expiry of the Regulation in 2022 (subject to the possibility of earlier removal if competition were found to have developed sufficiently).

Read more. (www.practicallaw.com/1-506-7928)

This update was originally published by PLC Competition

European broadband: European Parliament adopts resolution

On 7 July 2011, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on European broadband which, amongst other things:

  • Considers that an EU objective is to establish EU global leadership in ICT infrastructure, meaning that 100% of basic broadband coverage must be delivered to all Europeans by 2013, giving at least 2Mbps service to all users in rural areas and higher speeds to users in other areas.

  • Reiterates that to achieve the EU2020 broadband targets, the Digital Agenda needs to establish benchmarks, at EU and national level, for the intermediate years 2013, 2015, and 2018 (see Legal update, Commission launches Digital Agenda (www.practicallaw.com/9-502-3167)).

  • Asks the European Commission (Commission) to present a proposal for a strategic plan containing a single framework for all aspects of EU cyber security, to ensure full protection and resilience of network and critical information infrastructures, including minimum safety standards and certifications, a common terminology, cyber incident management and a roadmap on cyber security.

  • Invites member states to set national broadband plans and adopt operational plans with concrete measures to implement the 2013 and 2020 targets set in the Digital Agenda.

  • Encourages the Commission, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) and the service providers to work to find a common approach by 2013 to strengthening the single market for business and communications across the EU.

  • Asks the Commission to present an annual report to the EP on broadband offerings and choice effectively available to users in the EU, as well as on progress towards implementing the framework for electronic communications.

  • Encourages member states to further address e-skills shortages at all educational levels and through lifelong education for all citizens, with a special focus on those with poor IT skills, indicating that investment in broadband in the EU can only be successful if the technical investment goes hand in hand with investment in citizens' IT skills.

Source: European Parliament resolution on European Broadband: investing in digitally driven growth, 6 July 2011.

 

Institutional Affairs

Amendments to Practice Directions to Parties of the General Court published in Official Journal

On 8 July 2011, amendments to the Practice Directions to Parties of the General Court, which enter into force on 9 July 2011, were published in Official Journal. The amendments delete point 108 and delete certain wording from point 106 of the Practice Directions.

The Practice Directions reflect, explain and complement provisions in the General Court's Rules of Procedure and are designed to enable lawyers and agents to allow for the constraints under which the Court operates, and particularly those attributable to translation requirements and the electronic processing of procedural documentation.

Source: OJ 2011 L 180/52.

European Commission Work Programme 2012: European Parliament adopts resolution

On 6 July 2011, the European Parliament (EP) plenary session adopted a Resolution on the European Commission (Commission) Work Programme for 2012.

Among other things, the Resolution:

  • Recalls that the EU budget needs to reflect the EU's policy priorities.

  • Reiterates the need to introduce new own resources and to increase investment at EU level to help achieve the objectives of the EU2020 Strategy.

  • Calls on the Commission to put forward a proposal for a Directive on markets in financial instruments (MIFID), which would establish a regulatory framework for securities trading, trading venues and the conduct of business by investment firms, and a proposal on crisis management for banks and credit institutions, once the banking stress tests currently under way have been concluded.

  • Calls on the Commission to present to the EP in 2012 further proposals to integrate retail banking and a proposal for a crisis-resolution mechanism for insurance companies.

  • Notes the need to address in the 2012 Work Programme a number of areas responding to new technology developments, while enhancing the Digital Single Market. The EP resolution states that the areas to address should include ‘cloud computing’, the ‘Internet of Things’, e-signatures and cyber security.

  • Expects the Commission to ensure that the measures to cut data roaming charges will become fully effective in 2012.

  • Calls on the Commission to bring forward a legislative proposal to prohibit the placing on the market of foods derived from cloned animals and their offspring, and requests the Commission to submit a new legislative proposal on novel foods.

  • Expresses strong regret at the delay in the TEN-T guidelines and the airport package proposals.

  • Insists on the need for a European Charter for passenger rights in all modes of transport to be introduced by the Commission in 2012.

  • Insists on the need for full implementation of the Single European Sky, including the establishing of the Functional Airspace Blocks and SESAR to meet future airspace capacity and safety needs.

  • Expresses regret at the lack of a proposal and initiatives in the public health field and calls on the Commission to bring forward a legislative proposal on advanced therapy medicinal products.

  • Welcomes the Commission's intention to amend, in 2012, Directive 2004/37 on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work.

  • Welcomes the Commission's proposals in its 2012 Work Programme to review consumer policy and legislative strategy, integrating initiatives across all the Commission's relevant services.

  • Calls on the Commission to come up with an ambitious reform of the Professional Qualifications Directive to promote true mobility of workers in the EU by simplifying procedures for automatic recognition whilst respecting patient safety.

  • Believes strongly that the forthcoming proposals on a review of Directive 95/46/EC and of the Data Retention Directive should be ambitious, going beyond the insufficient protection offered by the Framework Decision on data protection in the former third pillar.

Source: European Parliament Resolution on the Commission Work Programme 2012, 6 July 2012.

Poland takes over Presidency of the Council of the European Union

On 1 July 2011, Poland took over, from Hungary, the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union. This is the first time Poland assumes the Presidency since it joined the EU in 2004.

As is usual on such an occasion, Poland has presented the "Programme of the Polish Presidency of the Council of the European Union", which lays out the areas that it will strive to advance work during the six months at the realm of the Council.

Also on this occasion, the Council has published indicative provisional agendas for Council meetings, drawn up by the Polish Presidency, for the period from 1 July 2011 up to 31 December 2011.

One of the major tasks of the Polish Presidency will be to launch the debate on the new multi annual financial framework for the years 2014 - 2020 (see Legal update, EU budget: European Commission adopts proposal for next Multiannual Financial Framework (www.practicallaw.com/0-506-7410)). The up-coming negotiations on the European budget within the Council and with the European Parliament are expected to be intensive and complex.

The Polish presidency will also have to finalise the legislative package on economic governance reform (see Legal update, Economic governance: state of play of legislative package (www.practicallaw.com/7-506-5988)).

Poland will pass the Presidency on to Denmark on 1 January 2012. The three Presidencies covering the next one and a half years have prepared an 18 month Work Programme (see Legal update, Council takes note of Presidencies' Work Programme for July 2011 to December 2012 (www.practicallaw.com/8-506-5916)).

Background: The EU's 27 member states take it in turns to chair the Council for a period of six months each, in accordance with a pre-established rota. The order in which the office of President of the Council shall be held is laid down in Council Decision 2007/5/EC.

The Presidency of the Council plays a very important part in the organisation of the work of the Institution, notably as the driving force in the legislative and political decision-making process. It has to organise and chair all meetings and work out compromises capable of resolving difficulties. Only the Foreign Affairs Council is not chaired by the six-monthly presidency but instead is chaired by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Sources:

 

Intellectual Property

ECJ ruling on interpretation of national law in CTM invalidity proceedings

The ECJ has dismissed an appeal by Edwin Co Ltd to set aside the General Court’s decision in a case concerning invalidity proceedings against it based on earlier national rights under Article 52(2)(a) of the CTM Regulation (40/94/EEC, now replaced by 207/2009/EC). Due to the ECJ's permissive interpretation of the provision, Elio Fiorucci was able to rely on Italian national law to protect his naming rights, despite having sold his business and trade marks to Edwin Co. The ECJ’s ruling, which is consistent with the Advocate General’s opinion, discusses the proper approach to the interpretation of national legal provisions in Article 52(2)(a), by the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market, and the role of the appellate courts, which will be helpful in future similar cases. It also shows how important it is for the person relying on national law to invalidate a mark to present full details from the outset of how this right arises under national law. (Edwin Co Ltd v Elio Fiorucci, Case C-263/09, 5 July 2011.)

If you don’t yet subscribe to PLC, you can request a free trial by completing this form or contacting the PLC Helpline (www.practicallaw.com/7-102-1343).

Read more. (www.practicallaw.com/3-506-8026)

This update was originally published by PLC IPIT & Communications

European Commission publishes second report on monitoring patent settlements

On 6 July 2011, the European Commission published a report on its second monitoring exercise into patent settlements in the pharmaceuticals sector. This follows the Commission’s findings in the pharmaceuticals sector inquiry report about the potentially anti-competitive effect of certain patent settlement agreements. The monitoring exercise covers the period January to December 2010. The Commission found that 89 patent settlement agreements were reached between originator and generic companies in 2010 (compared with 207 such agreements in the 8.5 years covered by the sector inquiry). However, the number of settlements that are potentially problematic from a competition perspective has decreased significantly. The Commission considers that this reflects increased awareness of possible competition issues. The continued increased use of patent settlements indicates, however, that companies have been able to find solutions to disputes that do not generally raise competition problems.

Read more. (www.practicallaw.com/6-506-7921)

This update was originally published by PLC Competition

EU General Court upholds rejection of word mark TDI as descriptive of vehicles

The EU General Court has upheld a decision of the OHIM Board of Appeal, rejecting an application by Audi/VW to register the word mark TDI as a Community trade mark (CTM) on the grounds that it was descriptive under Article 7(1)(c) of the CTM Regulation (207/2009/EC), and that Audi/VW had failed to prove that the mark had acquired distinctive character through use throughout the EU under Article 7(3) of the CTM Regulation. The court agreed with the appeal board that the word TDI, being an initialism for turbo-diesel or turbo-direct injection, was descriptive of vehicles and parts in class 12 and it was irrelevant that similar marks such as CDI or HDI had been registered by other manufacturers. Further, as the mark TDI was inherently descriptive throughout the EU, the acquisition of distinctive character had to be proved in respect of each member state, which Audi/VW had failed to do.

Case: Audi AG and another v OHIM, Case T-318/09, 6 July 2011.

This update was originally published by PLC IPIT & Communications

 

Internal Market

ECJ rules monopoly in horseracing betting may be justified

The ECJ has held that French national legislation conferring a monopoly on a single operator to provide services for betting on horseracing may be justified if it meets the French government's objectives to combat criminal and fraudulent activities and protect society from the negative aspects of games of chance in a consistent and systematic way. In addition, it has held that there is no separate market for online betting on horse racing and that the internet is only a channel through which games of chance may be offered. National courts must consider all marketing channels for that betting, including the internet. A Maltese betting company brought proceedings seeking a repeal of the French legislation conferring the monopoly. The ECJ made it clear that the market in horserace betting should be considered in its entirety, independently of whether the bets are offered at physical locations or by the internet.

Case: Zeturf Ltd v Premier ministre, Case C-212/08, 30 June 2011.

This update was originally published by PLC Commercial

 

International Trade and Customs

Raw materials: WTO DS report in complaint against China

On 5 July 2011 the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued a panel report in the dispute settlement proceedings brought by the EU, the US and Mexico against alleged Chinese export restrictions on raw materials.

The panel report "found that China's export duties were inconsistent with the commitments that China had agreed to in its Protocol of Accession […] [and] that export quotas imposed by China on some of the raw materials were inconsistent with WTO rules," according to a summary of key findings provided by the WTO.

According to the European Commission (Commission), the panel found that the Chinese arguments relating to environmental protection "cannot justify measures that shield domestic producers from foreign competition in the name of conservation."

The Commission also stated that the "panel's findings constitute a significant recognition of the interdependence of all WTO Members – whether developed or developing – when it comes to raw material supplies as a fundamental principle underlying the global trading system."

Background: On 2 February 2011, the Commission published a Communication on commodity markets and raw materials (see Legal update, European Commission publishes Communication on commodity markets and raw materials (www.practicallaw.com/2-504-7001)). In recent years, certain countries have introduced restrictions on the export of certain vital raw materials. According to the Commission China, for instance, applies export restrictions on key raw materials, such as bauxite, coke, fluorspar, magnesium, manganese, silicon metal, silicon carbide, yellow phosphorous and zinc. Some of these resources cannot be found outside China. The export restrictions are mainly quotas, export duties , a minimum export price system, as well as additional requirements and procedures for exporters. These have caused concerns for European industry such as the chemical, steel and non-ferrous metal industries, as well as their downstream clients, ranging from producers of beverage cans, CDs, electronics, automotives, ceramics, refrigerators, batteries and medicines. On 10 March 2011, the Competitiveness Council adopted conclusions after reviewing the Commission’s Communication (see Legal update, Council adopts conclusions on raw materials and commodity markets (www.practicallaw.com/8-505-0651)). The Commission has also launched a public consultation on a possible innovation partnership on raw materials (see Legal update, Innovation Partnership on raw materials: European Commission launches public consultation (www.practicallaw.com/1-505-9141)).

Sources:

 

Justice and Home Affairs

Brussels Regulation reforms: European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs' draft report on proposal to amend Brussels Regulation

Following the publication by the European Commission of its draft legislative proposal for reform of the Brussels Regulation (www.practicallaw.com/2-205-5103) in December 2010, the rapporteur of the European Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs, Tadeusz Zwiefka, has published his draft report on the text (see European Parliament: Draft report on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (recast)). For details of the Commission's proposed amendments to the Regulation, see Legal update, Brussels Regulation reforms: Commission publishes amendments (www.practicallaw.com/3-504-2512).

The key points in the rapporteur's draft report are as follows:

  • Abolition of exequatur. The Commission has proposed the abolition of exequatur (the intermediate procedure for the recognition and enforcement of judgments) for all judgments covered by the Regulation, except judgments in defamation and compensatory collective redress cases, subject to certain safeguards. The Commission proposes to abolish the current right to challenge enforcement on the ground of public policy, but the rapporteur considers that a public policy exception is still necessary, as its exclusion is incompatible with member states' international obligations and is also inconsistent with the fact that both the Rome I (www.practicallaw.com/3-501-0375) and Rome II (www.practicallaw.com/1-501-0376) Regulations contain public policy exceptions. The rapporteur also considers that defamation and collective redress cases should not be exempt, for reasons of legal certainty.

  • Jurisdiction over non-EU defendants. The Commission proposes that the Regulation's jurisdictional rules be applied with mandatory effect to non-EU defendants, replacing member states' existing rules. The rapporteur reiterates the position taken in the European Parliament's resolution on the Commission's Green Paper, namely that whether the rules of the Regulation should be extended in this way requires wide-ranging consultation and political debate (see Legal update, Brussels Regulation reforms: European Parliament adopts resolution (www.practicallaw.com/9-503-2807)).

  • Choice of court agreements. The Commission's proposal includes an amendment aimed at improving the effectiveness of choice of court agreements. The court designated by the parties in their jurisdiction agreement should have priority to decide on its jurisdiction, regardless of whether it is first or second seised (Article 32(2)). The rapporteur acknowledges that the proposal seems to be a viable solution.

  • Arbitration. The Commission proposes to retain the arbitration exception, but to clarify it with a rule requiring a court seised of a dispute to stay proceedings if its jurisdiction is contested on the basis of an arbitration agreement and an arbitral tribunal has been seised of the case, or court proceedings relating to the arbitration agreement have been commenced in the member state of the seat of the arbitration. The rapporteur maintains the position taken by the European Parliament in its resolution on the Green Paper, namely that arbitration should remain excluded from the Regulation, as arbitration is satisfactorily dealt with by the New York Convention and the Geneva Convention, to which all member states are parties.

  • Other matters. The rapporteur also expressed the following views:

    • improvements seemed to have been made to the proposals regarding preliminary measures, which provide for the free circulation of provisional measures which have been granted by a court which has jurisdiction over the substance of the dispute, including measures which have been granted ex parte (subject to certain conditions).

    • the proposed new rule of special jurisdiction favouring the courts of the place where property is situated, as regards in rem or possession in moveable property, seemed sensible.

    • he supported the proposal to enable member state courts to stay proceedings in a lis pendens (dispute pending elsewhere) situation where the court of a non-member state was first seised of an action involving the same parties and the same cause of action.

The rapporteur has suggested certain amendments to the Commission's proposal. He states that the draft represents his "first thoughts", which will be refined in light of a workshop to be held in September. As previously reported, the rapporteur's report is scheduled for adoption by the Committee on 11 October 2011. It will then be considered by the European Parliament at its plenary session on 12 December 2011 (see Article, Looking ahead to the second half of 2011: dispute resolution: EU and cross-border developments (www.practicallaw.com/5-506-0703)).

Source: European Parliament.

This update was originally published by PLC Dispute Resolution

EU migration policy: European Parliament adopts resolution opposing reintroduction of border controls

On 7 July 2011, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution opposing the reintroduction of border controls within the Schengen area, stating that this would "jeopardise the very spirit of the Schengen acquis".

The Schengen system has recently come under pressure, with certain member states considering the reintroduction of national border controls following the sudden influx of migrants from North Africa. On 24 June 2011, the European Council asked the European Commission (Commission) to present a proposal in September 2011 on a safeguard mechanism to deal with these exceptional circumstances.

Despite the fact that Regulation (EC) 562/2006 establishing a Community Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (the current Schengen Borders Code) provides for the possibility of reintroducing internal border controls "where there is a serious threat to public policy or internal security", the resolution strongly opposes the moves by various member states to reintroduce border controls. MEPs believe that the recent problems with the Schengen area are a consequence of the reluctance to implement a common European asylum and migration system and call for progress to be made in these areas. The deadline for establishing a common European asylum system has been set for 2012.

Under the current system, any decision to reintroduce border controls is taken unilaterally by member states. However, MEPs want the new Schengen evaluation mechanism, which is currently being discussed with the EP, to be made into an EU system which is based on a European approach with the involvement of the EU institutions. The new Schengen evaluation system will also make it possible to request and obtain support for member states in the event of exceptional pressure on the EU's external borders.

Next steps: The Commission is asked to present an initiative aimed at defining the "strict application" of the current rules by member states.

Sources:

Traffic offences: European Parliament votes through Directive facilitating cross-border information exchange

The European Parliament has approved in second reading a Directive facilitating cross-border exchange of information on traffic offences. This will require member states to exchange information about drivers registered in one member state having committed offences in another member state, allowing members states to sanction drivers committing certain driving offences on their territories. The European Parliament introduced amendments previously agreed with the Council, mainly relating to the protection of personal data.

Read more. (www.practicallaw.com/7-506-8265)

 

Public Procurement

Hungarian Post Office requests exclusion from Utilities Directive for financial services

On 8 July 2011, the European Commission published a notice in the Official Journal (OJ 2011 C200/15) announcing that it has received a request from Magyar Posta under Article 30 of Directive 2004/17 on procurement by utility companies (the Utilities Directive). Under Article 30, member states can seek to exclude the application of the Directive to certain activities where, in that member state, the activity in question is directly exposed to competition on markets to which access is not limited. A contracting authority can itself make such a request where this is provided for in the national implementing legislation (see Legal update, Rules on application for exclusion from new Utilities Directive published (www.practicallaw.com/8-200-0985)). Maygar Posta's request relates to certain financial services related to postal services. The Commission has a basic three month period in which to reach a decision (which may be extended) which ends on 27 September 2011.

This update was originally published by PLC Competition

Ombudsman finds no maladministration by ECJ in tender for translation services

The European Ombudsman has found that there has been no maladministration by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in relation to a tender for translation services. The Ombudsman concluded that the ECJ was entitled, in the context of a negotiated procedure, to ask tenderers to revise their prices and to take the view that its negotiations with a particular tenderer has failed if that tenderer continued to offer bids which the ECJ considered to be excessive. In addition, the ECJ was entitled to refuse to provide the unsuccessful tenderer with information about the prices offered in the winning bids.

Read more. (www.practicallaw.com/9-506-7627)

This update was originally published by PLC Competition

Opinions of Committee of Regions and Court of Auditors on Green Paper on modernisation of the public procurement rules

The Opinions of the Committee of the Regions and the Court of Auditors on the European Commission's Green Paper on the modernisation of EU public procurement policy have been published in the Official Journal. The Committee of the Regions welcomes the proposed reforms to simplify and clarify the existing rules. It, in particular, encourages the Commission to take action to remove obstacles faced by SMEs. It also places great importance on the possibility of using public procurement to realise objectives relating to innovation, social inclusion, innovation and the environment. The Court of Auditors notes that the objectives of the proposed reform must be clear and points out the risk of seeking to achieve numerous, and potentially conflicting, objectives. It considers that some improvements could be made to the rules to reduce administrative burdens, but only when this does not jeopardise the key principles of equal access, fair competition and efficient use of public funds.

Read more. (www.practicallaw.com/8-506-7524)

This update was originally published by PLC Competition

 

Taxation

Excise duties on manufactured tobacco: Council Directive published in the Official Journal

On 5 July 2011, Council Directive 2011/64/EU of 21 June 2011 on the structure and rates of excise duties applied to manufactured tobacco was published in the Official Journal.

The Directive was adopted by the Council on 21 June 2011 (see Legal update, Excise duties on tobacco: Council adopts codifying Directive (www.practicallaw.com/5-506-6093)).

It lays down general principles for the harmonisation of the structure and rates of the excise duties to which the member states subject manufactured tobacco.

It codifies and assembles in one single act the following Directives:

Source: OJ 2011 L 176/24.

For supply of staff, place of supply does not depend on employment status

The place of supply for the supply of staff is not affected by whether the individuals concerned are employees of the company making the supply or whether they are self-employed. This is the opinion of the Advocate General (AG) to the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) in the unfortunate case of a German company forced into liquidation because of the disagreement of two German tax authorities, concerning the correct interpretation of Article 9.2(e) of the Sixth Directive.

HMRC guidance, in the VAT: place of supply - services manual, on what falls within the scope of a "supply of staff" is very specific about the fact that the term refers to employees. Under the current "place of supply" rules, which came into effect on 1 January 2010 (see Practice note, Cross-border transactions and VAT: place of supply of services, refunds and EC sales lists (www.practicallaw.com/9-386-0714)) it is likely that the recipient's place of business would, in either case, be treated as the place of supply. However, it is possible that UK companies may have incorrectly charged VAT on supplies of self-employed individuals before that date and may be entitled to claim a refund, if the judgment of the ECJ follows the opinion of the AG.

Case: ADV Allround (Taxation) [2011] EUECJ C-218/10 (28 June 2011) (www.practicallaw.com/7-506-6959).

This update was originally published by PLC Taxation

Input tax repayment rules may be incompatible with EU law

The ECJ has ruled that Bulgarian rules providing for default interest on repayment of input tax after a period of 45 days is incompatible with EU law to the extent that the 45-day period is extended by the length of any investigation by the tax authorities.

The equivalent UK rules provide for a repayment supplement rather than interest. If the supplement is payable, it depends on the amount of tax rather than the length of the delay in payment, so the position is not exactly the same as that considered by the ECJ. However, under the UK provisions, the effect of an HMRC inquiry may be that a repayment supplement is not payable once the duration of the inquiry is discounted when it would otherwise have been payable. It therefore seems arguable that the reasoning of the ECJ is equally applicable to the UK provisions. This would mean that suspension of the UK's 30-day repayment period during HMRC inquiries is contrary to EU law. It remains to be seen how HMRC will react to this and whether any challenge to the UK rules will be launched, either through the UK courts (although this seems unlikely, given the amounts at stake in any given case) or at an EU level. (Enel Maritsa Iztok 3 AD v Direktor "Obzhalvane i upravlenie na izpalnenieto" NAP (Case C-107/10).

Read more. (www.practicallaw.com/0-506-7641)

This update was originally published by PLC Taxation

Taxation trends in the European Union: European Commission publishes 2011 edition

The European Commission (Commission) has published its 2011 edition of "Taxation trends in the European Union". It contains a detailed statistical and economic analysis of the tax systems of the member states of the EU, plus Iceland and Norway, who are members of the European Economic Area.

Country chapters give an overview of the tax system, the revenue trends and the main recent policy changes in each of the 29 countries covered.

Detailed tables allow comparison between the individual countries and European averages.

Data covering the 1995-2009 period is presented both as a percentage of GDP and as a percentage of total taxation.

This year's edition of the report, for the first time, includes data on average effective tax ratios for non-financial corporations.

Finally, the report contains a detailed new analysis of the impact of the economic and financial crisis on the tax systems of all EU member states.

The Commission has also published the VAT rates applied in the member states of the EU as of 1 July 2011.

Sources:

 

Transport

Air transport: European Consumer Centres Network organises Air Passenger Rights Day

The European Consumer Centres Network declared 7 July 2011 Air Passenger Rights Day and staged events at 27 airports across 23 countries. The events aimed to inform and advise travellers of their air passenger rights.

According to John Dalli, European Commissioner for Health and Consumers "this work is a clear example of EU added value, since no single national organisation can – on its own – effectively help consumers to resolve cross-border disputes with traders in a quick and inexpensive way".

Vice-president Siim Kallas, Commissioner for Transport, stated "ensuring a widespread users' awareness is a precondition for a better enforcement of their rights in case of problem."

Background: The European Consumer Centres offer citizens free advice about their rights when travelling and shopping across borders. They can help consumers obtain refunds and compensation. For example, the Centres can contact the airline on behalf of the consumer, or, if necessary, file a complaint with the relevant National Enforcement Bodies. The Centres can also advise consumers on taking their case to an out-of-court dispute resolution scheme.

Source:European Commission Press Release, Consumers: European Consumer Centres' Air Passenger Rights Day 2011, (IP/11/845), 7 July 2011.

Airport security scanners: European Parliament adopt resolution

On 6 July 2011, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on airport security, particularly concerning security scanners. The European Parliament clarifies that an integrated approach to aviation security is necessary, leading to a one-stop security system so that passengers, luggage and cargo arriving at an EU airport from another EU airport do not need to be screened twice.

Read more. (www.practicallaw.com/1-506-8094)

EU ETS: Decisions allocating aviation sector allowances and EEA-EFTA country aviation emissions

On 30 June 2011, the European Commission adopted a Decision on the number of EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) allowances to be:

  • Allocated to aircraft operators, subject to the EU ETS, free of charge.

  • Auctioned.

  • Placed in the EU ETS special reserve (for later distribution for new entrants).

The Decision covers two EU ETS trading periods, 2012 and 2013-20 (Decision of 30 June 2011 on the Union-wide quantity of allowances referred to in Article 3e(3)(a) to (d) of Directive 2003/87/EC establishing a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowances trading within the Community).

On 1 July 2011, the European Economic Area (EEA) Joint Committee announced the level of total aviation emissions in the EEA (Decision of the EEA Joint Committee No 87/2011 of 1 July 2011 amending Annex XX (Environment) to the EEA Agreement). This adds the aviation emissions of aircraft operators in Iceland and Norway to those from the 27 EU member states.

Read more. (www.practicallaw.com/9-506-7585)

Maritime transport: Rules of procedure of co-operation framework for investigation of accidents published in Official Journal

On 6 July 2011, European Commission (Commission) Implementing Regulation (EU) 651/2011 of 5 July 2011 adopting the rules of procedure of the permanent co-operation framework established by member states in co-operation with the Commission pursuant to Article 10 of Directive 2009/18/EC establishing the fundamental principles governing the investigation of accidents in the maritime transport sector and amending Council Directive 1999/35/EC and Directive 2002/59/EC, was published in the Official Journal. It will enter into force on 27 July 2011.

The objective of Directive 2009/18/EC is to improve maritime safety in the Community and reduce the risk of future marine casualties. It requires the establishment, by member states, in close co-operation with the Commission, of a permanent co-operation framework enabling their respective investigative bodies to co-operate amongst themselves to the extent necessary to attain the objective of the Directive. The European Maritime Safety Agency has accepted to provide the secretariat for the permanent co-operation framework.

Source: OJ 2011 L 177/18.

Strategies for Danube and Baltic Sea regions: European Commissioner welcomes progress

On 24 June 2011, the European Commissioner for Regional Policy presented a progress report on the implementation of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and welcomed the endorsement by the European Council of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region.

Both strategies are based on a “macro-regional” approach that brings countries together to co-operate on setting goals, aligning funding, and working together on shared challenges such as sea or river pollution, the need for better transport links, or more secure energy provisions.

The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region was launched in 2009 and is up for review under the Polish Presidency.

The EU Strategy for the Danube Region was first presented by the European Commission (Commission) in December 2010 (see Legal update, European Commission adopts Communication and action plan on a European Union strategy for Danube region (www.practicallaw.com/4-504-1833)). Following its endorsement by the European Council its implementation can now begin. The strategy focuses on four main pillars:

  • Connecting the Danube Region: improving mobility, encouraging sustainable energy and promoting culture and tourism.

  • Protecting the environment in the Danube Region: restoring water quality, managing environmental risks and preserving biodiversity.

  • Building prosperity in the Danube Region (developing research capacity, education and information technologies, supporting the competitiveness of enterprises and investing in people's skills.

  • Strengthening the Danube Region (stepping up institutional capacity and improving co-operation to tackle organised crime).

The Commission will also monitor the implementation progress of this strategy, as with that of the Baltic Sea Region, and will publish a first report at the end of 2012.

In its conclusions, the European Council of 23-24 June 2011 also invited member states to continue work in co-operation with the Commission on possible future macro-regional strategies, in particular as regards the Adriatic and Ionian region.

Sources:

 

Movers & Shakers

European Commission: updated organisation chart for DG Energy

The European Commission's Directorate-General for Energy has published an updated organisation chart (organigramme).

Source: Organisation chart of Directorate-General Energy, dated 1 July 2011.

European Parliament elects two new Vice-Presidents

On 5 July 2011, the European Parliament (EP) elected Anni Podimata and Giles Chichester as Vice-Presidents of the EP to replace Stavros Lambrinidis, who has become foreign minister of Greece, and Silvana Koch-Mehrin, who resigned as Vice-President.

The EP has 14 Vice-Presidents, which form part of the Bureau together with the President and the five Quaestors. The Bureau is the body that lays down rules for Parliament. It draws up Parliament’s preliminary draft budget and decides all administrative, staff and organisational matters.

Source: European Parliament Press Release, Parliament elects Anni Podimata and Giles Chichester as Vice-Presidents, 5 July 2011.

 
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