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 The EPC Members' Newsletter

 

Legislative update 100 June - 2001

1. ELECTRONIC COMMERCE
1.1 VAT on eCommerce compromise blocked by UK
1.2 ISDN Directive update
1.3 ePing meeting
1.4 Contract Clauses for personal data
1.5 eEurope+ for candidate countries

2. INTERNET (CONTENT) REGULATION
2.1 Safer Internet Communication
2.2 Draft Convention on Cybercrime adopted
2.3 Hague Conference ends divided

3. COPYRIGHT
3.1 Directive finally published in OJ
3.2 Freelancers triumph against NYT
3.3 WIPO and broadcasting discussion

4. ADVERTISING
4.1 Duty to Trade Fairly update
4.2 Tobacco advertising text published
4.3 Commercial Communications Intergroup meeting
4.4 Swedes say advertising to Children is on TWF agenda

5. AUDIOVISUAL AND GENERAL MEDIA POLICY
5.1 Human Rights report adopted
5.2 Legal Aspects of the Cinema Sector
5.3 TWF reports in Parliament
5.4 Culture Council 21st June
5.5 State Aid and Public Service Broadcasting

6. GENERAL
6.1 Publishing in eBusiness Unit
6.2 Information and Consultation of Workers proposal agreed
6.3 Postal Users Group meeting
6.4 Fern report and Paper recovery meeting
6.5 Publishing study released by FBI and publishing nomenclature from DG Taxud
6.6 Telecoms Council Conclusions
6.7 Internal Market Strategy for Services
6.8 Wallstrom on newsprint recycling
6.9 Takeover agreement may be rejected by Parliament
6.10 The Belgian Presidency begins

Dates for your diary

July
5th - Seminar on New Advertising Techniques
6th - Informal Employment and Social Affairs Council
10th - Ecofin Council
16th - General Affairs Council
16th CEPI meeting on Paper Recovery
18th European Services Forum meeting
19th Hearing on Guidelines for State Aid to public broadcasters

September:
7th EPC Corporate Affairs Group meeting, Munich

December:
3/4 EPC Members Meeting, Dublin

Note: See http://www.eu2001.be for all Presidency events

General enquiries: Angela Mills
Telephone: +44 (0)1865 310 732
Facsimile: +44 (0)1865 310 739
Annabella Coldrick
Telephone: +32 2 231 1299
Facsimile: +32 2 230 7658



1 Electronic commerce

1.1 VAT on eCommerce compromise blocked by UK
The United Kingdom refused to sign up to a compromise on VAT and eCommerce agreed by all other Member States. This compromise would mean that services provided by electronic means from third countries to non-taxable persons in the EU should be taxed in the place where the purchaser of services is established by applying the standard rate of VAT. The same service provided from the EU to customers in third countries should not be taxable in the EU. The Ecofin Council Conclusions are available on request.

1.2 ISDN Directive update
The lead Committee has now discussed the ISDN Directive for the first time. The Rapporteur has argued that there should be an-opt-out regime concerning e-mails and that there is not enough evidence to prove that opt-in will stop Spam. The report will be discussed again at the next Committee meeting in early July. The other Committees opinions are now completed and are all anti-opt-out regimes and even introduce restrictions on the use of cookies. Copies of the Committee reports are available on request.

1.3 ePing meeting
The European Parliament Internet Group (E-Ping) met on the 26th June to discuss Internet privacy issues. Amanda Chandler from Double-Click presented how her company uses cookies, Gordan Lennox from the Commission discussed the possibility of anonymous credentials, while Jim Teicher from Yukom wanted to make the web more transparent so we know "who is on the other end." Mr Gus Hosein from Privacy International complained about the loss of privacy on the web and the use of personal data by law enforcement agencies. The debate divided along predictable lines.

1.4 Contract Clauses for personal data
The Commission has adopted a decision which sets out the standard contractual clauses ensuring adequate safeguards for data transferred to countries outside the EU. These clauses arise from the 1995 Data Protection Directive obligations requiring all personal data transferred to countries outside of the EU to benefit from "adequate protection".

1.5 eEurope+ for candidate countries
The Heads of Government of the EU Candidate Countries launched a new eEurope+ action plan at the Gothenburg Summit. This aims to tackle the challenges of the "digital economy" and modernise their economies. eEurope+ will call for the assistance of the private sector, the international financial institutions, the non-for-profit sector and social partners in the implementation of the plan.


2 Internet (content) regulation

2.1 Safer Internet Communication
The Commission has published a number of policy recommendations on how to make the Internet safer for business and citizens. The Communication outlines the main threats to security online such as viruses, hacking, denial of service, interception and natural disasters. The Commission will launch in-depth discussions with Industry, users and authorities responsible for data protection. Communication available on request.

2.2 Draft Convention on Cybercrime adopted
The Council of Europe has now approved the final draft of the convention on Cybercrime. The text must still be adopted by the Committee of ministers and discussed in the parliamentary assembly. Once the Convention is ratified it will be binding on signatory countries which will then have to create a minimum set of law to deal with high-tech crimes such as digital copyright infringement. The Treaty aims to harmonise substantive criminal law on Cybercrime and enable such offences to be prosecuted through international co-operation. The draft is available at http://conventions.coe.int/Traty/EN/cadreprojects.htm

2.3 Hague Conference ends divided
The Hague Conference on Jurisdiction and Foreign Judgements finished in deadlock after a two week drafting session. Critics say that the current draft would force Internet Service Providers to become global copyright police. As it stands the treaty would require courts to enforce the commercial laws of the conventions 52 Member States even if they prohibit actions that are legal under local laws. It could have a similar effect to Rome II in exposing online publishers to liabilities for liable defamation and other speech offences from virtually any country in the world. However supporters claim that it would also allow copyright holders to crack down on infringements in new and more stringent ways and so are supported by the Association of American Publishers.


3 Copyright

3.1 Directive finally published in OJ
The Directive on Copyright and related rights has now been published in the Official Journal and now the Member States have 18 months to implement it. See http://www.europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/dat/2001/l_167/l_16720010622en00100019.pdf

3.2 Freelancers triumph against NYT
Tasini supported by the American National Writers Union won against the New York Times on a case involving reproduction of articles in an electronic database. The Supreme Court ruled that compilation in an electronic database is different from other kinds of archive or library storage of material that once appeared in print. This means that US publishers now need to obtain free-lancers permission before putting their work online. The International Federation of Journalists has now launched a new organisation called the Authors Rights campaign which wishes to "roll back the impact of Anglo American Copyright Law." For more information see their website http://www.authorsrights.org

3.3 WIPO and broadcasting discussion
On May 7-11th The Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights discussed the proposal on the protection of databases and protection of the rights of broadcasting organisations. This concerned the retransmission right and the impact technological progress such as audiovisual content online. Both topics are carried through to the agenda of the next meeting on 26th November. A copy of the report of this meeting is available on request.


4 Advertising

4.1 Duty to Trade Fairly update
The Duty to Trade Fairly proposal from DG Sanco is still stuck in the College of Commissioners. It has been postponed again until the meeting of 16th July but is likely to be pushed back to September if a deal is not struck with DG Markt. The clash between the two DGs concerns the problems with squaring the Communication on Sales Promotion with the "new" form of General Clause for a Duty to Trade Fairly. The Fair Trade Alliance composed of many industry groups in Brussels is preparing a list of key messages to be presented to the Commission and Member State governments. More information available on request.

4.2 Tobacco advertising text published
The Commission has now published the text of the proposed directive on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States relating to the advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products. The proposed text states that "advertising is an important activity which stems from the most fundamental right" and then continues to state "however legislators in Member States have felt the necessity to restrict the exercise of those rights in order to protect the public interest and especially to protect health." Draft Directive available on request.

4.3 Commercial Communications Intergroup meeting
The European Parliament's Commercial Communications Group chaired by Ward Beysen MEP finally met on 27th June. The meeting was a disappointment due to the last minute withdrawal of two speakers from DG Sanco who said that it was not "strategically desirable" for personnel to speak publicly on the project. Instead two Dutch speakers considered the Commercial Communications Policy so far and the current mess which it appears to be in. The meeting was followed by lunch with the Chef de Cabinet of the Belgian Ministry for Small and Medium sized industries. He said he is not in favour of the Duty to Trade fairly proposal as clarity not confusion is needed in this area. He also informed the group that the Swedish Presidency has asked the Belgians to put this item onto the agenda for the Internal Market Council on 26th November.

4.4 Swedes say advertising to Children is on TWF agenda
Marita Ulvskog presented her summary of the Swedish Presidency to the European Parliament's Culture Committee on 26th June. She argued that the Commission must study the effectiveness of advertising self-regulation in protecting minors and that further provisions should be incorporated into the treaty. She claimed that advertising to children would now be on the agenda for the review of the Television Without Frontiers Directive. A copy of this speech is available on request.


5 Audiovisual and general media policy

5.1 Human Rights report adopted
The European Parliament was due to vote the own-initiative report of the Justice and Home Affairs Committee on 4th July. This contained amendments on press freedom and safety for journalists but the report also urges governments to "combat excessive media concentration". The adopted text will be sent to the Commission but there is no duty on them to act on the conclusions. Text adopted in plenary available on request.

5.2 Legal Aspects of the Cinema Sector
A hearing was held on 15th July on certain legal aspects of the Cinema Sector. In the morning Workshop discussed the definition of a European Work, the definition of an Independent Producer and the protection of heritage and exploitation of audio-visual works. In the afternoon the workshop considered the different modes of exploitation of audio-visual content including online rights. They also looked at eCinema and other regulatory measures to improve the circulation of films such as tax issues and ratings. A copy of the working document on legal aspects of the cinema sector and the report of the day's discussions is available on request.

5.3 TWF reports in Parliament
The Culture Committee is leading for the Parliament's comments on the TWF report of January this year. The report by Ruth Hieronymi is very uncontroversial but the opinions by Media Ortega and Phillip Whitehead are more critical. However the Commission has stressed that the MEPs are not commenting on the upcoming review of the Directive but on the report on the Directive's progress. Copies of the lead report and two opinions are available on request. They are likely to be voted on in the Committee week of 10th July. Meanwhile Viviane Reding has also made a speech on TWF review at the RTL Group management conference she spoke about regulatory objective in the audio-visual sector and the effect of technological progress making some restrictions out of date. A copy of her speech is available on request.

5.4 Culture Council 21st June
The Culture Ministers adopted without discussion the conclusions on the protection of minors and human dignity and the resolution on exchange of information. A presentation was given by the Commission on the State Aid and Public Service Broadcasting (see below) and the Legal Aspects of the cinema sector consultations which should lead to a Communication in the autumn. Also discussed was the implementation of Media Plus and the audio-visual implications of the Telecoms package. A copy of the Council's conclusions is available on request.

5.5 State Aid and Public Service Broadcasting
The Commission is planning a consultation on July 19th for funding for public service broadcasting services. At the Culture Council the Ministers took note of four key points of the guidelines which are 1. Member States should prepare a precise definition of the public service mission they assign to broadcasters 2. They should create an independent inspection authority in the mould of the "Audiovisual Council" in France 2. Aid awarded should be proportional which means it should only cover what is necessary to carry out a public service mission 4. The aid should not hamper the development of the audiovisual market (new TV stations). An unofficial copy of the guidelines for discussion is available on request. For more details of the hearing see Conferences section below.


6 General

6.1 Publishing in eBusiness Unit
Liikanen has confirmed by letter to the EPC that publishing has been moved from the Forest Based Industries Unit into the eBusiness section of the Services Unit in DG Enterprise. The letter mentions DG Enterprises awareness of issues relevant to publishing such as copyright, VAT, Freedom of the Press, Commercial Communications and convergence. A Forum will be organised by the publishing organisations with Liikanen as a speaker but probably not until the beginning of next year.

6.2 Information and Consultation of Workers proposal agreed
The Council have now reached a political agreement on a common position on the Directive establishing a general framework in the EU for informing and consulting employees. This will still have to go to legal and linguistic finalisation before being formally adopted. The Directive establishes minimum requirements for information and consultation of employees in undertakings and establishments operating within a single member state employing more than 20 workers or over 50 throughout different workplaces. The exemption for Media Companies was removed from the text by the European Parliament at first reading. The proposal will now go to the European Parliament for a second reading. Other social policy issues which may affect publishers as employers are a draft directive on equal treatment for women and men in employment and policy objectives on anti age discrimination and disability strategy. More information on request.

6.3 Postal Users Group meeting
The Postal Users Group met on the 7th June to discuss the implementation of the 1997 EU Directive and the progress towards the next liberalisation Directive. It was mentioned that price increases in postal charges are coming onto the agenda all across Europe and that the national regulators should be lobbied to prevent such increases. With regard to the new postal directive it is hoped that the Italian election may cause a shift of the Council of Ministers towards liberalisation. The Belgian Presidency are aiming to get a common position for the 22nd October Council. The PUG will write a letter to the Belgian Minister and all permanent representatives with the views of the users. The Group will also write a letter on REIMS II Agreement and its imminent revision calling for further liberalisation. A report of the meeting is available on request.

6.4 Fern report and Paper recovery meeting
The International Forest Campaign Group, Fern has produced a report concerning the benefits of forest certification. It concludes there are large differences between the existing schemes and that the standards vary enormously. To be credible certification must be independent and in three schemes this is not the case. A copy of the report is available on request. Meanwhile EPC have been invited to a meeting at the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) to discuss the recent declaration on paper recovery which was signed by CEPI but not by the publishers. More information available on request.

6.5 Publishing study released by FBI and publishing nomenclature from DG Taxud
Eurostat and the Forest Based Industries Unit of DG Enterprise have produced a study to be used as a reference in the publishing and printing business fields. It complements the "Panorama of European Business, 1999" Topics covered are composition of enterprises, employment, value-added etc. A pdf copy of the study is available on request. Meanwhile a document has been received from DG Taxation DG Taxation and relates to the nomenclature which is applicable from Jan 2002. There is information categories on newsprint and conventional rates of duty. A copy is available on request and the document is open to comment until the 25th June.

6.6 Telecoms Council Conclusions
The Telecoms Ministers reached a decision on the Universal Service Directive on 27th June. The Common Position did not make any substantial changes to the Commission proposal. The debate focused on the "must carry" obligation and the Council's common position authorises Member States to make such obligations on companies supplying electronic communications networks used for broadcasting radio or TV as long as these networks are used as the main vector of TV and radio programs and therefore cannot be imposed on the internet. The payment in exchange for "must carry" also is not binding (as in the Commission's proposal) but must be "proportionate and transparent". The Council also reached agreement on a decision to impose a regulatory framework for radio spectrum. The ministers also reached an agreement on the ISDN Directive but ministers cannot adopt this until the Parliament has voted. Lastly the Industry Committee has adopted the report on the .eu domain and radio spectrum both of which will be voted on in the first July plenary session. Council conclusions and other documents mentioned available on request.

6.7 Internal Market Strategy for Services
The consultation has now closed and the Communication is being discussed in the European Parliament. Whilst the opinion from the Industry Committee by Lisbeth Grondfelt Bergman is very supportive of the strategy the Legal Affairs Committee Rapporteur Maria Berger is thought to oppose the Commission's plans. The German lobby of professional organisations is extremely concerned about the removal of borders and the opening up to competition of their professions.

6.8 Wallstrom on newsprint recycling
Margot Wallström European Commissioner for the Environment spoke on "Future Directions for European Waste Policy" at the European Waste Forum on the 21 June 2001. While discussing better use of resources via recycling she said "We should discuss whether future initiatives should continue to follow product categories or whether it would not be more appropriate to follow the structure of the markets for secondary materials. For example, should we over time merge targets for the recycling of packaging and graphic paper (including newspapers)?" This question will be major subjects in the Thematic Strategy for Recycling - in which the Commission hopes to "base targets first on a clear and transparent analysis that everybody can understand and then discuss with experts and stakeholders before deciding to put them into the work programme of the Community." The Commission hopes to produce a Green Paper first half 2002 and later a white paper. A copy of the full speech is available on request.

6.9 Takeover agreement may be rejected by Parliament
It is possible that the European Parliament will reject the conciliation compromise on the take-over directive in its third reading on 4th July. If this occurs it will be back to square one. The compromise gives Member States 4 years to implement the directive and a transition period of up to five years to phase out existing legislation that allows the use of poison pills to ward off take-over bids. The German government has used extensive lobbying to get its MEPs to reject the compromise. More information available on request.

6.10 The Belgian Presidency begins
The Belgians took over the Presidency of the EU on 1st July 2001. They have presented their key priorities as the introduction of the Euro, Enlargement, development of the European Social Model, establishment of a common policy on asylum and immigration and the creation of a common approach to the issue of sustainable development. For more information see http://www.eu2001.be


Upcoming Conferences of relevance to EPC members:

Future of Broadcast Sponsorship and Brandcasting 19-20th September
Conference in Amsterdam covering the benefits of broadcast sponsorship, using this as an alternative to traditional sport advertising, looking at the interactive future of TV and maximising revenue through Multi-Platform Sponsorship. For more information and to register see http://www.accessconferences.com/TV117

New Media and Regional Identity 13-15th September
Conference in Umea, Sweden to look at the changing role of the media in shaping and expressing European Regional Identity for journalists, broadcasters, web producers and academics. Speakers from CNN, BBC, TV2. See http://www.mirroreurope.com for more info.

WIPO meeting in September
The 2nd WIPO international Conference on Electronic Commerce and Intellectual Property will be held in Geneva on 19-20th September. The Conference will look at the technological and business developments that have helped eCommerce rise to importance. Speakers will also cover the challenges posed for the intellectual property system and the impact of eCommerce on developing countries. The workshops will examine developments in domain names, business method patents, branding films, e publishing, rights management systems, privacy and cultural heritage. For more info see http://www.ecommerce.wipo.int

13th European Television and Film Forum Dublin 8-10th November 2001
The European Television and Film Forum will take place in Dublin this year not Strasbourg as previously. IT will discuss regulation and legal aspects of the audio-visual media, market developments and new communications technologies, Consumer and viewer interests, the film industry in Europe, Content of Television and Current trends in journalism as well as the divide between European methods of regulation and American ones. For more information please see http://www.eim.org

Seminar on the evolution of new advertising techniques 5th July
Third in the series of workshops as part of the revision of the Television without Frontiers Directive. There are four main topics for discussion: New Media Technologies, Analogue and Digital Television, Internet and Mobile Multimedia, Virtual Advertising and Sport. See http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/avpolicy/stat/studi_en.htm

Hearing on Guidelines on State Aid and Public Service Broadcasting
Planned for the 19th July in Brussels to hear the views of private broadcasters on the working document on guidelines to state aid. Please write to request a place and fax as well to confirm. Contact Mr. R. Feltkamp Head of Unit, Office J70 4/57 Competition DG State aid II - Public undertakings and services Rue de la Loi 200 B-1049 Brussels Fax: 02 295 4283