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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 07-11-14

Midday Express: News from the EU Commission Spokesman's Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: EUROPA, the European Commission Server at <http://europa.eu.int>


CONTENTS / CONTENU

  • [01] Commission acts to reduce telecoms regulation by 50% to focus on broadband competition
  • [02] Free movement of capital: Commission scrutinises amendments in Hungarian company law
  • [03] Insurance: Commission requests Ireland to abolish exemption of Irish Voluntary Health Insurance Board from EU rules
  • [04] Commission selects and support projects to tackle challenge of irregular migration.
  • [05] European Commission proposes additional autonomous trade preferences (ATPs) for Moldova
  • [06] Historical first visit of the Energy Commissioner to Turkmenistan to enhance energy co-operation
  • [07] Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into Google's proposed take over of DoubleClick
  • [08] Euro area GDP up by 0.7% and EU27 up by 0.8%
  • [09] State aid: Commission opens formal investigation into French plan to grant tax aid to insurers
  • [10] Commissioner Kuneva takes stock of review of EU consumer law
  • [11] Consumers: Commissioner Kuneva visits Hamburg Port to inspect product safety controls
  • [12] Commissioner Andris Piebalgs welcomes the launch of the Single Electricity Market Belfast
  • [13] Farm payments: Commission asks Romania to make further improvements to control system
  • [14] Employment increase of 3 million in one year, despite moderate slowdown in economic growth
  • [15] Consumers: EU crackdown on misleading airline ticket websites
  • [16] Autre matériel diffusé
  • [17] A disposition au secrétariat de Jonathan Todd (BERL 03/315): Midday Express of 2007-11-14 Reference: MEX/07/1114 Date: 14/11/2007 EXME07 / 14.11

    MIDDAY EXPRESS

    News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

    Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communicationb

    14/11/07

    Commission proposes a single European Telecoms Market for 500 million consumers Today, the Commission adopted proposals for a reform of the EU telecoms rules. With the reform, the Commission wants to enable citizens, wherever they live and wherever they travel in the EU, to benefit from better and cheaper communication services, whether they use mobile phones, fast broadband internet connections or cable TV. To achieve this, the Commission proposes strengthening consumer rights; giving consumers more choice by reinforcing competition between telecoms operators; promoting investment into new communication infrastructures, in particular by freeing radio spectrum for wireless broadband services; and making communication networks more reliable and more secure, especially in case of viruses and other cyber-attacks. A new European Telecom Market Authority will support the Commission and national telecoms regulators in ensuring that market rules and consumer regulation are applied consistently, independently and without protectionism in all 27 EU Member States. To become law, the Commission proposals will now need to be approved by the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers.

  • [01] Commission acts to reduce telecoms regulation by 50% to focus on broadband competition

    As part of its package of telecom reform proposals presented today (see IP/07/1677), the European Commission has adopted a new Recommendation on the markets where telecom-specific regulation should take place. The original 2003 version of this Recommendation listed 18 retail and wholesale markets where the Commission considers that specific ex ante regulation is required by national telecoms regulators to deal with competition problems. To reflect the progress made in the past years in most EU Member States in terms of competition and consumer choice, the Commission concluded that in principle there is no need for regulators to intervene in half of these markets. At the same time, this move will allow regulation to better focus on the main bottlenecks in the telecoms sector.

    [02] Free movement of capital: Commission scrutinises amendments in Hungarian company law

    The European Commission has decided to send Hungary a letter of formal notice concerning its Act CXVI of 2007 "amending certain acts relating to companies of particular importance for the security of public supply", which is considered incompatible with EC law. The Commission is concerned that the law may contain unjustified restrictions on the free movement of capital and right of establishment, by (i) introducing onerous requirements for public takeover bids and (ii) allowing public authorities to appoint a member on the boards of energy companies with the right to participate in the management and the control of the companies concerned.

    [03] Insurance: Commission requests Ireland to abolish exemption of Irish Voluntary Health Insurance Board from EU rules

    The European Commission has decided to formally request Ireland to abolish the exemption of the Irish Voluntary Health Insurance Board (VHI) from certain EU rules on non-life insurance. This follows a complaint to the Commission alleging that the VHI is unlawfully pursuing insurance activities without being subject to the First Non-Life Insurance Directive. The Commission's request takes the form of a "reasoned opinion", the second stage of the infringement procedure under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If there is no satisfactory reply within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.

    [04] Commission selects and support projects to tackle challenge of irregular migration.

    The Commission helps Malta, Italy, Greece, Sweden and Spain in coping with reception challenges of irregular maritime immigration and the influxes of Iraqi asylum-seekers. Projects have now been selected for funding under the Call for Proposals "Assistance to Reception Challenges".

    [05] European Commission proposes additional autonomous trade preferences (ATPs) for Moldova

    The European Commission has today adopted a proposal for a Regulation which will give Moldova additional autonomous trade preferences for imports into the EU. The proposal provides for duty and quota free access to the EU markets for almost all products originating in Moldova

    [06] Historical first visit of the Energy Commissioner to Turkmenistan to enhance energy co-operation

    On 15 November 2007, Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs will make an official visit to Turkmenistan. This will be the first ever visit of an EU Energy Commissioner in Turkmenistan. During the visit, Commissioner Piebalgs intends to follow-up and expand discussions launched during the visit of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov on 5 - 6 November in Brussels about strengthening of cooperation in the energy sector.

    [07] Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into Google's proposed take over of DoubleClick

    The European Commission has decided to open an in-depth investigation under the EU Merger Regulation into the proposed acquisition by US company Google of the online advertising technology company DoubleClick, also of the US. The Commission’s initial market investigation indicated that the proposed merger would raise competition concerns in the markets for intermediation and ad serving in online advertising. The Commission has 90 working days (until 2 April 2008) to take a final decision on whether the proposed transaction would significantly impede effective competition within the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it. The decision to open an in-depth inquiry does not prejudge the final result of the investigation.

    [08] Euro area GDP up by 0.7% and EU27 up by 0.8%

    GDP grew by 0.7% in the euro area (EA13) and by 0.8% in the EU271 during the third quarter of 2007, compared with the previous quarter, according to flash estimates published by Eurostat. In the second quarter of 2007, growth rates were +0.3% in the euro area and +0.5% in the EU27. Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, seasonally adjusted GDP grew by 2.6% in the euro area and by 2.9% in the EU27 in the third quarter of 2007, after +2.5% and +2.8% respectively in the previous quarter. During the third quarter of 2007, US GDP increased by 1.0% compared with the previous quarter, after +0.9% in the second quarter. In Japan, GDP grew by 0.6% in the third quarter of 2007, after -0.4% in the second quarter. Compared with the third quarter of 2006, GDP grew by 2.6% in the US and by 2.2% in Japan, after +1.9% and +1.5% respectively in the previous quarter.

    [09] State aid: Commission opens formal investigation into French plan to grant tax aid to insurers

    The European Commission has opened a formal investigation to examine whether France's plan to grant tax aid to insurers for managing certain insurance policies ("contrats solidaires" and "contrats responsables") is compatible with the rules on state aid in the EC Treaty. France sees the aid as a social measure which is purely of benefit to the final consumer, involves no discrimination between insurance providers and is hence compatible with the common market. Without calling into question the general social objective of the measures, the Commission wonders whether they are indeed non discriminatory and how much consumers would really benefit from the advantages granted to insurers. The opening of a formal investigation gives interested third parties the opportunity to submit their comments. It in no way prejudges the outcome of the procedure.

    [10] Commissioner Kuneva takes stock of review of EU consumer law

    Today at a conference in Brussels European Consumer Protection Commissioner Meglena Kuneva discussed progress in the review of the European body of legislation or "acquis". The review was launched with a broad consultation in the form of a Green Paper on 8 February 2007. The first results of the consultation were published on 9 October 2007. Today's conference is the next step in the consultation process, and aims at collecting stakeholders' practical experiences and views, to identify regulatory problems, and improve the functioning of the EU retail market. Participants included companies involved in cross-border sales; academics, representatives of European Consumer Centres (ECCs) and business and consumer organisations. Panellists addressed issues such as the regulatory fragmentation of the laws on consumer protection and how a reform based on full harmonisation of some key aspects of consumer contractual rights could help reduce internal market barriers, examples of problems businesses and consumers face when shopping cross-border, delivery and passing of risk, and information requirements applicable to consumer contracts. Most stakeholders agree that there is a need for a cross-sector framework directive on consumer contractual rights, applicable both to domestic and cross-border transactions. This would be based on full harmonization targeting the issues that may raise potential barriers to trade for business and/or deterring consumers from buying cross-border. In addition, this could be complemented with a sector-by-sector revision of the existing legislation. "There is strong support towards revamping the EU consumer "acquis" so as to make it more consistent and simple," said Commissioner Kuneva. "This would entail for example common definitions of consumers/professionals and delivery, rules on withdrawal rights, the creation at EU level of a "black list" of unfair contractual terms and the introduction of a common core of information requirements. Sector-specific revisions may also need to be proposed, for example on issues which are specific to doorstep and distance selling. The proposal for a framework directive on consumer contractual rights will aim at turning Europe into a better place for both businesses and consumers. The proposal should be put forward by the Commission in the second half of 2008".

    For further information please visit:

    <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/rights/cons_acquis_en.htm">http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/rights/cons_acquis_en.htm

    [11] Consumers: Commissioner Kuneva visits Hamburg Port to inspect product safety controls

    On the eve of the presentation of the results of the Commission's 2 month stocktaking review, using the case of the Mattel recalls over the summer, to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the current product safety mechanisms in place, EU Consumer Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva will tour facilities at the port of Hamburg on Wednesday 21 November and meet with customs authorities. Co-operation between customs and market surveillance authorities is key to stopping dangerous goods entering the EU market and Hamburg port is an example of best practice in the Baltic Sea Region with a joint surveillance project between the German, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Polish customs and market surveillance authorities, sponsored by the European Commission. The Commission's final stocktaking report, including recommendations to strengthen information exchange between the Commission's RAPEX (Rapid Alert System) and customs surveillance, will be presented by Commissioner Kuneva in a press conference on Thursday 22nd November in Brussels. The report will also include the results of the third EU China RAPEX Report on enforcement actions taken by the Chinese Authorities.

    The visit is open to journalists

    [12] Commissioner Andris Piebalgs welcomes the launch of the Single Electricity Market Belfast

    Commissioner Piebalgs launched the Single Electricity Market (SEM) in Belfast yesterday, together with Minister Nigel Dodds, Northern Irish Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, and Minister Eamon Ryan, Irish Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

    [13] Farm payments: Commission asks Romania to make further improvements to control system

    The European Commission today welcomed progress made in Romania in putting in place the necessary controls over agricultural spending, but asked Romania to make further improvements to its IT systems to avoid a provisional 25 percent cut in EU farm payments. Romania has announced that it will not make large-scale payments before the necessary controls are carried out. It has also put into place the software module for introducing the results of on-the-spot controls, and this has been verified by an independent auditor. However, the auditor has found major deficiencies in the software module designed to ensure that payments are made correctly. For this reason, it has been decided to continue the procedure for applying the 'safeguard mechanism', which would be introduced by a Commission decision foreseen for 20 December. However, on 15 December, the Romanian authorities have to provide final accreditation to the agricultural paying agency PIAA. This accreditation exercise should cover the same issues. If the Romanian authorities, based on a report of the independent expert body, can prove by December 16th that the major deficiencies identified have been remedied, the procedure leading to the adoption of the safeguard mechanism will be stopped.

    [14] Employment increase of 3 million in one year, despite moderate slowdown in economic growth

    An analysis of recent Eurostat figures shows ongoing positive developments in the European labour market. The continuing strong employment growth in Spain and the recent labour market recovery in Germany and Poland have been the main drivers behind the good overall EU performance.

    [15] Consumers: EU crackdown on misleading airline ticket websites

    EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva today announced the results of an EU wide investigation - involving 15 EU national authorities as well as Norway – against misleading advertising and unfair practices on airline ticket selling websites. The clampdown covers Europe's leading airlines, low cost carriers as well as other websites selling airline tickets. The results of the inquiry show that over 50% of all websites showed irregularities, in particular relating to price indications, contract terms and clarity of proposed conditions. In the week of 24-28 September, in the first ever EU joint enforcement action on consumer rights (co-ordinated by the European Commission), national enforcement authorities in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and also Norway scrutinised over 400 web sites to check their compliance with EU consumer law. This sweep check is followed by an enforcement phase when companies are contacted by authorities and asked to correct websites or clarify their position. Commissioner Kuneva warned today that she is giving companies four months to respond. As well as facing possible legal action, she will not hesitate to name and shame companies who fail to take action to bring sites in line with EU law once that deadline expires.

    [16] Autre matériel diffusé

    Memo on EU Telecoms: the Article 7 procedure, the role of the Commission and the impact of the EU Telecoms Reform - Frequently Asked Questions

    The EU Telecoms Reform proposes a Single Market for 500 million consumers – Frequently Asked Questions

    Speech of Commissioner Kallas on the European Court of Auditors' Report on the 2006 financial year in Strasbourg

    Speech of President Barroso on The European Interest: succeeding in the age of globalisation - Introductory remarks

    Memo: Can you trust air ticket selling websites? The EU checks for you. questions and answers

    [17] A disposition au secrétariat de Jonathan Todd (BERL 03/315):

    Notification préalable d'une opération de concentration :

    Uberior/L&R/Versailles Holdco From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at http://europa.eu.int/


    Midday Express: News from the EU Commission Spokesman's Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
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