Earth
Click to view previous newsletter.  
 

 
 





Click to view the HOW-TO pages for the EPC web-page.





 


 
 The EPC Members' Newsletter

 

Legislative update 86 Month - March 2000

1. ELECTRONIC COMMERCE
1.1 European Parliament proposes fast track adoption of draft Directive
1.2 Jurisdiction - European Parliament committee rejects draft report
1.3 Lisbon Summit agrees structural reform to support e-economy
1.4 Cybercrime - Commission begins consultation on EU strategy
1.5 Consumer protection - Commission launches initiative on out-of-court settlement of disputes
1.6 Commission publishes interim results of study on on-line settlements
1.7 ICC plans initiative on alternative dispute resolution systems
1.8 Global Business Dialogue
- CEO's meeting to discuss key messages for second conference
1.9 Taxation - US Advisory Commission closes consultations
1.10 Taxation - Commission close to tabling proposal on VAT on-line
1.11 E-Ping - next meeting to focus on e-confidence
1.12 Liability - UK internet service provider loses landmark case
1.13 Information Society Forum - Commission welcomes annual report

2. INTERNET (CONTENT) REGULATION
2.1 US report indicates parents are optimistic about internet
2.2 Parental control - European Parliament supports descriptive rating system

3. COPYRIGHT
3.1 Council postpones preparation of common position
3.2 Presidency conference discusses copyright in the digital age
3.3 Domain names - Trade mark owners raise concern about new domains

4. ADVERTISING
4.1 Tobacco advertising - oral proceedings to begin in European Court of Justice in April
4.2 Alcohol advertising - Commissioner promises to pressure French government on Loi Evin
4.3 Commercial Communications Group to hold next meeting on advertising and the internet
4.4 Commercial Communications without Frontiers - conference on single market issues
4.5 Misleading advertising
- Commission publishes report on cross-border complaints mechanisms
4.6 Advertising claims - Commission expects results of independent study in April
4.7 Advertising to Children - Swedish government denies plans to seek EU-wide ban
4.8 European Consumer Day focuses on advertising to children on the internet
4.9 Commission appeals for responses to its questionnaire on cross-border complaints

5. AUDIOVISUAL AND GENERAL MEDIA POLICY
5.1 Media ownership - Economic and Social Committee adopts report
5.2 Transparency Directive - European Parliament committee opposes draft Directive
5.3 Audiovisual Council meets informally in Lisbon
5.4 Audiovisual strategy - European Parliament begins discussions
5.5 MEDIA Plus - Parliament committee critical of proposed budget
5.6 Media Education - European Parliament committee holds hearing
5.7 Commission pursues Belgium for satellite dish tax
5.8 Microsoft/Telewest - Commission fears further concentration in digital software market

6. ENVIRONMENT
6.1 Forest-based Industries
- EU associations meet with Commission to discuss agenda for next Forum
6.2 Publishing federations opt not to support voluntary agreement on paper recovery and recycling

7. GENERAL
7.1 Data protection - EU and US reach agreement on safe harbors
7.2 Postal services - Commissioner insists on separate accounting and VAT
7.3 Fundamental Rights - French Presidency pushes for early adoption of EU Charter
7.4 WTO - Member States refuse to amend negotiating mandate for new Round
7.5 Loan guarantees - Commission clarifies rules on state aid
7.6 Single market strategy - Commission confirms its 5-year plan
7.7 Competition policy reform - Commission publishes results of consultation


Dates for your diary

April
10th - 11th - Presidency seminar on audiovisual policy, Oporto, Portugal
10th - 11th - Presidency ministerial conference on the information and knowledge society, Lisbon, Portugal
11th - Commercial Communications Group, Advertising and e-commerce, Strasbourg
11th - European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee votes on a recommendation for a second reading of the e-commerce Directive, Strasbourg
12th - Commercial Communications Expert Group meeting, Brussels
13th - Consumer Affairs Council, Brussels
27th - GBDe Business Steering Committee meeting, New York

May
3rd - World Press Day, see http://www.wan-press.org
3rd - meeting of the European Parliamentarians Internet Group, Brussels
4th - 5th - Presidency conference on arbitration in cross-border disputes, Lisbon, Portugal
22nd - UK House of Lord ruling on tobacco advertising ban
24th - European Parliament Culture Committee, hearing on radio broadcasting, Brussels

June
16th Ð 17th Ð EPC Internet Seminar, Bilbao, Spain
26th-28th - OECD Forum 2000, Paris (see www.oecd.org/forum2000)

Note:
See http://www.portugal.ue-2000.pt for all Presidency events


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

Press Enquiries: Heidi Lambert
Telephone: +32 2 732 5546
Facsimile: +32 2 735 3603


1 Electronic commerce

1.1 European Parliament proposes fast track adoption of draft Directive
The European Parliament's Rapporteur on the draft Directive on e-commerce has recommended a 'fast track' adoption of the Parliament's second reading. The Rapporteur, Ana Palacio (Es, EPP), has the support of all political groups , but many committee members have not respected the Rapporteur's request for no amendments. Fears are now growing that the debate on liability may be re-opened. The amendments and Palacio's draft Recommendation will be considered in Committee on 11 April. The plenary vote is scheduled for the session in May. The Portuguese Presidency remains confident that the Council of Ministers will definitively adopt the Directive in June. Amendments available on request. The Committee also held a hearing on e-commerce and out-of-court settlements recently. Full report available on request.

1.2 Jurisdiction - European Parliament committee rejects draft report
The European Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market has rejected the draft opinion of the Rapporteur, Diana Wallis (UK, ELDR) on the revision of the Brussels Convention. In a strategic vote, the Liberal and Socialist groups rejected the draft text after the EPP won key amendments to the draft Regulation opposed by other groups. These amendments sought to delete the concept of "directing" a service and replace it with the concept of distance selling. They also sought to make alternative dispute resolution obligatory before court action could be invoked. The Rapporteur must now draft a new report which can be supported by a majority of the committee. A delay of up to two months is possible. Meanwhile, the Justice and Home Affairs Council urged the working group to adopt the draft Regulation as soon as possible.

1.3 Lisbon Summit agrees structural reform to support e-economy
The extraordinary meeting of the European Council in Lisbon on 24 March reached agreement on clear targets for the implementation of key policy goals aimed at creating a competitive environment for the development of e-commerce. In the final communiquŽ, Member States commit themselves, inter alia, to connect all schools to the internet by end-2001, adopt all outstanding e-commerce legislation by end-2000 and complete the telecoms review by end-2001. Full text available from: http://ue.eu.int/en/info/eurocouncil/index.htm

1.4 Cybercrime - Commission begins consultation on EU strategy
The European Commission has held its first consultative meeting with interested parties to discuss an EU strategy to combat computer-related crime. Discussions focused on a working document which proposes several options for action. These include an EU Convention, defining new categories of illegal content and non-legislative measures such as greater cross-border cooperation and exchange of best practice. Rightholders groups have been encouraged that piracy is recognised as a cybercrime, but remain concerned that only law enforcement authorities will have access to infringing content and that data protection laws could frustrate identification of the primary infringer. A second meeting will be held in April and a Communication is expected in June. Working document available on request.

1.5 Consumer protection
- Commission launches initiative on out-of-court settlement of disputes

The European Commission has published a discussion document setting out its proposal to create EEJ-NET, a self-regulatory network of extra-judicial bodies to settle consumer disputes arising from on-line transactions. The network will be composed of a clearing house in each Member State which will receive complaints against sellers established in that Member State, and send them to the appropriate self-regulatory body for a response. The initiative will be formally launched at the Presidency conference on out-of-court dispute settlement in Lisbon on 5-6 May. The Consumer Affairs Council will endorse this proposal with a Recommendation on 13 April. Discussion document available at:
http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg24/policy/developments/acce_just/index_en.htm
Details of the conference available at:
http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg24/events/event21_en.html

1.6 Commission publishes interim results of study on on-line settlements
The European Commission presented the preliminary results of a study on on-line dispute resolution to a workshop on 21 March. The workshop brought together interested parties to discuss key elements of a dispute settlement. While there was agreement that initiatives should be mainly self-regulatory and build on existing initiatives, underpinned by EU-level guidelines, applicable law remains a key concern to industry. An e-confidence forum has been launched to exchange views and promote cooperation between existing initiatives ahead of the publication of the final study. Full report of workshop available on request. Details of the study available at: http://dsa-isis.jrc.it/ADR/
The US Federal Trade Commission will hold a similar workshop in Washington D.C. on 5-6 June. Further details available at: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/altdisresolution/index.htm

1.7 ICC plans initiative on alternative dispute resolution systems
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has launched a 'fast track' dialogue on its role in the development of ADR systems for consumer disputes arising from e-commerce. The ICC held an informal experts meeting end-March to discuss how it might use its brand image, experience in business-to-business ADR and expertise in self-regulation to promote a business-to-consumer system. This meeting will set the agenda for a larger meeting in April. ICC membership is expected to be consulted in May, with a view to endorsing a plan. Further details available on request.

1.8 Global Business Dialogue
- CEO's meeting to discuss key messages for second conference

The Business Steering Committee of the Global Business Dialogue for e-commerce (GBDe) will meet in New York on 27 April. The meeting will take stock of progress with the programme for 2000 which includes alternative dispute resolution, consumer protection and trade issues. EPC Chairman, Mr Francisco Pinto Balsem‹o, will be attending as a member of the Steering Committee. Further details available at: http://gbde.org

1.9 Taxation - US Advisory Commission closes consultations
Taxation of sales on the internet has become a key issue in the US Presidential campaign as the US Advisory Commission on E-Commerce held it s final meeting end-March. So far, the members of the Commission have only agreed on small initiatives, such as the abolition of the federal tax on internet access, but not key issues such as sales tax. A majority supports the continuation of a congressional moratorium on internet taxes but Congress is under pressure from the State authorities which fear huge losses in tax revenue. The Commission is due to report its finding to Congress in April.

1.10 Taxation - Commission close to tabling proposal on VAT on-line
EU Commissioners have held discussions on proposals being drafted by Commissioner Bolkestein's services on VAT and e-commerce. The proposal to move closer to Commissioner Monti's 1996 plan for a country of origin system will be discussed again at the informal Economic and Financial Council on 7-8 April. A formal proposal to amend the 6th VAT Directive to accommodate on-line sales is expected in April.

1.11 E-Ping - next meeting to focus on e-confidence
The European Parliamentarians Internet Group - E-Ping - will next meet in Brussels on 3 May. The third meeting of the group will focus on consumer confidence and key issues such as secure payments, trustmarks and dispute resolution. Further details available at: http://www.eping.org

1.12 Liability - UK internet service provider loses landmark case
The UK internet service provider (ISP), Demon, has agreed to settle a libel action and damages to an individual after it failed to take down defamatory information from an internet site it hosted. Demon's decision to settle the case has raised fears that ISPs will have no choice but to take down offending material and that this may lead to more censorship of content on the internet and endanger freedom of speech.

1.13 Information Society Forum - Commission welcomes annual report
The European Commission has welcomed the annual report published by the Information Society Forum on the European approach to the information society. Commissioner Erkki Liikanen concurred with the report's recommendation for further liberalisation of telecoms services in order to increase the take-up of IT among EU households. Report available at: http://www.ispo.cec.be/policy/isf/Welcome.html


2 Internet (content) regulation

2.1 US report indicates parents are optimistic about internet
A report published in the US indicates that parents are very optimistic about the internet as a learning tool and are not overly concerned about the dangers of harmful and illegal content on-line. The study, Safe and Smart: Research and Guidelines for Children's Use of the Internet, surveys the views of parents and children in the US and concludes that in spite of negative headlines about violence and pornography on-line, they both believe that the internet is a powerful tool for learning and communicating. The study was commissioned by the National Schools Boards Foundation and sponsored by industry. Study available at: http://www.nsbf.org/safe-smart/index.html

2.2 Parental control - European Parliament supports descriptive rating system
In its discussion of the independent study on parental control devises for television viewing, the European Parliament's Committee on Culture has indicated its support for descriptive rating systems for content, rather than evaluative rating. The Committee believes that this system is better adapted to the cultural differences in the EU. The Rapporteur, Roberta Angellili (I, UEN), has stressed in her working document the importance of a balance between the rights of children and demands of parent groups for the technology to regulate viewing. The Committee is due to hold an exchange of views shortly with the researchers at Oxford University who carried out the study.


3 Copyright

3.1 Council postpones preparation of common position
Further discussion of the compromise text of copyright has been delayed in Council. The latest compromise text was due to be discussed at political level end-March but the meeting has now been rescheduled for 7 April. Rightholders groups remain concerned that the exemption for temporary copies remains too broad and that provisions allowing the circumvention of technical measures for the purpose of exemptions may remove control over access from the rightholder. The list of exemptions has also been lengthened, including a broader exemption for the reproduction of newspaper articles. The Portuguese Presidency hopes that the common position can be adopted at the Internal Market Council on 25 May.

3.2 Presidency conference discusses copyright in the digital age
The main outcome of the conference was the CommissionÕs announcement that they would draft a directive to harmonise collective management, looking at the way in which royalties were levied and collected and the types of organisation which existed. A questionnaire is going to be produced by the Commission in the next few months.

3.3 Domain names - Trade mark owners raise concern about new domains
Trade mark owners have raised concerns about requests lodged with the internet's governing body, ICANN, for new top level domains. Recent requests for .eu and .web domains provoked concern that the risk of cybersquatting will be increased and force trade mark owners to defensively register their marks in the new domain or else initiative proceedings to gain ownership. Representations have been made to ICANN expressing these concerns, and suggesting that the registration system be adapted to protect existing names.


4 Advertising

4.1 Tobacco advertising - oral proceedings to begin in European Court of Justice in April
The European Court of Justice will shortly begin oral proceedings in the case brought by Germany against the Directive introducing an EU-wide tobacco advertising ban. Proceedings will begin on 12 April and the opinion of the Advocate General is scheduled for June or July. This will act as a recommendation for the final judgement which can be expected around October. Meanwhile, the UK's House of Lords will rule on 22 May on whether the UK government has the right to introduce the EU ban earlier than stipulated by the Directive.

4.2 Alcohol advertising - Commissioner promises to pressure French government on Loi Evin
Internal Market Commissioner, Frits Bolkestein, has promised to personally pursue the outstanding infringement case against the French Loi Evin, banning the advertising of alcoholic drinks on TV and in print media. He has undertaken to raise the issue directly with the French government. This move follows a complaint to the Commissioner from Ricard that it was forbidden to advertise at a football match between Athens and Monaco because it was to be broadcast in France.

4.3 Commercial Communications Group to hold next meeting on advertising and the internet
The newly established Commercial Communications Group will hold its second meeting in Strasbourg on 11 April on the subject of e-commerce and advertising. The group will welcome speakers from advertising and broadcasting to discuss the contribution of advertising to the development of e-commerce. The meeting will be Chaired by Edward Beysen MEP and Ana Palacio MEP, Rapporteur for the draft Directive on e-commerce will also speak, as will Margot Fršhlinger of the European Commission. The meeting in June will focus on the single market in commercial communications and September's meeting on advertising to children. The latter will coincide with an exhibition in the European Parliament on TV programming for children.

4.4 Commercial Communications without Frontiers - conference on single market issues
The European Law Centre in Trier hosted a conference on 30-31 March on the single market in commercial communications. The conference examined the inter-relationship between EU fair competition rules and national rules and regulations. It also examined recent case law of the European Court of Justice and current trends relating to the regulation of on-line advertising. Further information available at: http://www.era.int

4.5 Misleading advertising
- Commission publishes report on cross-border complaints mechanisms

The European Commission has published a report on the feasibility of cross-border complaints mechanisms for the Directives on misleading advertising and distance selling. The report was due end-1999 but was delayed by related initiatives on alternative dispute resolution. The Commission takes a favourable view of existing initiatives and welcomes progress made since the 1998 Recommendation on out-of-court disputes. The Commission undertakes to keep the issue under review while the two Directives are still being implemented in Member States. It is expected that action in this field will be coordinated with the proposal for EEJ-NET (see above).

4.6 Advertising claims - Commission expects results of independent study in April
Sources within the European Commission have indicated that the final study on advertising claims is expected in April. The study will examine consumer protection with respect to nutritional and dietary claims, and ethical and social claims. A public consultation will follow to assess the scope of a revision of the Misleading Advertising Directive. A proposal is expected in September. A Recommendation on environmental claims is also expected, in December.

4.7 Advertising to Children - Swedish government denies plans to seek EU-wide ban
A spokesman for the Swedish Ministry of Culture as denied that Sweden intends to use its Presidency in early 2001 to promote an EU-wide ban of advertising to children. In an interview with a French consumer publication, the spokesman stated that Sweden would instead await the revision of the broadcasting Directive in 2002. Observers, however, fear that the Council of Ministers may have to deal with the issue anyway during the Swedish Presidency when it is likely to consider the Commission's response to the study on the impact of TV advertising on children which is due this year.

4.8 European Consumer Day focuses on advertising to children on the internet
A workshop on consumers and the internet at the annual European Consumer Day raised the issue of advertising to children. A discussion document presented by the Director of the European Research Institute on Consumer Affairs highlighted this issue as a weakness of the internet and an area requiring regulation. This event was organised by the Economic and Social Committee. It remains unclear if the Committee intends to take an initiative in this field.

4.9 Commission appeals for responses to its questionnaire on cross-border complaints
DG Internal Market has written to interested parties to appeal for more responses to its questionnaire on existing mechanisms to resolve cross-border complaints from consumers relating to commercial communications activities. The questionnaire was first circulated following the adoption of the expert group's first opinion on discounts, in which many Member States identified the perceived lack of cross border redress as a reason why they could not accept mutual recognition. The Commission urges interested parties to submit information demonstrating the importance and effectiveness of existing mechanisms, with comments on recent proposals on extra-judicial systems. Further copies of the questionnaire are available by email from: markt-comcom@cec.eu.int The expert group meets again on 12 April.


5 Audiovisual and general media policy

5.1 Media ownership - Economic and Social Committee adopts report
The Economic and Social Committee (ECOSOC) adopted its own-initiative report on media concentration and pluralism at its plenary session on 29 March. The draft report was sent back to the committee earlier in the year because of differences of opinion between members of the study group. The final version was less assertive than previous drafts regarding the need for EU level action but the key demands remain. These include a code of conduct for journalists and a Communication setting out guidelines for Member States on how to regulate media mergers. The report also calls for actions which are already under preparation, such as the telecoms review, the revision of the broadcasting Directive and action to prevent the abuse of dominant positions. Full report available on request. It is worth noting that ECOSOC plans a second own-initiative report on digital television.

5.2 Transparency Directive - European Parliament committee opposes draft Directive
The European Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs has begun discussing its draft report on the Directive on the transparency of transfers between governments and pubic companies. The Rapporteur, Christa Randzio-Palth (D, PES), is fiercely opposed to the proposal and has demanded that the Commission justify a need and prove that the revision of the current Directive is proportional to the objective. Representatives of the EBU and CEEP (representing public sector companies) were personally invited to give evidence at the Committee's latest meeting, a move which has frustrated industry. The report will be adopted in April. Draft report available on request.

5.3 Audiovisual Council meets informally in Lisbon
An informal meeting of EU Culture Ministers in Lisbon on 30-31 March focused on cultural diversity and its implications for EU trade policy, enlargement and cultural actions. Ministers also discussed the feasibility of introducing qualified majority voting for the adoption of decisions in the cultural field. No concrete decisions were made. Many of these issues are expected to be raised again at the Culture Council meeting scheduled for 16 May.

5.4 Audiovisual strategy - European Parliament begins discussions
The European Parliament's Committee on Culture has begun discussions of the Communication setting out the Commission's views on the future of audiovisual regulation. The Rapproteur, Valter Veltroni (I, PES), welcomed the Commission's support for the separate regulation of content and infrastructure. He stressed the need to support public interest objectives through the universal service and the safeguard of public service broadcasting. However, he welcomed the Commission's Directive on financial transparency (see above) and asserted that the funding of public broadcasters should be compatible with competition policy. Discussions will continue in June.

5.5 MEDIA Plus - Parliament committee critical of proposed budget
The European Parliament's Committee on Culture has held an initial debate on the Commission's proposal for the next phase of the MEDIA Programme of support for European audiovisual production. The Committee's Rapporteur, Ruth Hieronymi (D, EPP) praised the decision to continue the programme and broaden its scope to include funding for marketing and projects involving new technologies. However, she and her fellow members were critical that the proposed budget is low at _400m over 5 years. The proposal to award production funding for 'packages' of projects was also criticised for discriminating against small Member States and productions in less-widely spoken languages. A draft report is expected shortly.

5.6 Media Education - European Parliament committee holds hearing
The European Parliament's Committee on Culture held a public hearing this month on media education. It brought together academia, media groups and MEPs to discuss how to raise awareness of the media among the public, and children in particular. Suggested elements of a media education included: raising awareness of the vested interests of media companies, the difference between reality and fiction, and how ethical and social issues a portrayed in the media. Schools were identified as the appropriate medium for awareness-raisin among children, but the role of NGOs and media companies was also recognised. Full report available on request.

5.7 Commission pursues Belgium for satellite dish tax
The European Commission has sent a final warning to the Belgian government demanding that local governments repeal a tax levied on satellite dishes. A reasoned opinion was sent to Belgium in May 1999 stating its view that the tax, and the fact that consumers often require prior permission before installing a satellite dish at their home, act as a disincentive to the take-up of satellite broadcasting and related services. The Commission will take the case to the European Court of Justice if Belgium fails to act.

5.8 Microsoft/Telewest - Commission fears further concentration in digital software market
The European Commission's competition services have announced that they are to carry out an in-depth investigation of the proposal of Microsoft and Liberty Media to acquire joint control of Telewest. The Commission is concerned that the venture may reinforce Telewest's already dominant position in the market for digital software used in set-top boxes. A decision is expected in August.


6 Environment

6.1 Forest-based Industries
- EU associations meet with Commission to discuss agenda for next Forum

European publishing federations, including the EPC, and other representatives of the forest-based industries met with the European Commission this month to discuss the agenda for the next Forum on Forest-Based Industries which is due to be held in Strasbourg in September. Publishing federations are pushing to amend the agenda to include a separate section for content, addressing e-commerce, copyright, and electronic publishing. They are also calling for working group sessions on publishing-related themes. A series of preparatory meetings will take place to finalise speakers and topics for discussion. Further details available on request.

6.2 Publishing federations opt not to support voluntary agreement
on paper recovery and recycling

European publishing federations, including the EPC, have rejected a revised proposal from the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) to participate in negotiations for a voluntary agreement on paper recovery and recycling. The proposal was amended after the Commission declined to endorse CEPI's earlier draft which sought a guarantee from the Commission that it would not legislate in this area if the agreement was reached by the industry. Publishers remain concerned that the initiative would close the loop.


7 General

7.1 Data protection - EU and US reach agreement on safe harbors
The European Union and the United States have reached agreement on the proposed safe harbor principles which aim to protect personal data exported from the EU to the US. The two sides reached agreement on the outstanding issues. Namely, monitoring and enforcement which will be carried out by the US Department of Commerce and the Federal Trade Commission respectively and access to information which will be guaranteed if requests from data subjects are "reasonable". The agreement has been endorsed by the Commission and the EU working party is expected to deliver a positive opinion in May. Entry in to force is expected in June/July after the European Parliament has given its opinion and a review is planned for mid-2001. Full text of the safe harbor principles and draft Council Decision available at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/internal_market/en/media/dataprot/news/harbour4.htm

7.2 Postal services - Commissioner insists on separate accounting and VAT
Commissioner Frits Bolkestein has responded to the rising number of complaints from private postal companies for greater transparency of the commercial activities of national monopoly operators. He has insisted that national operators practice separate accounting of commercial and monopoly services in line with the Directive liberalising the postal sector. He will also consider requiring national operators to levy VAT to remove a distortion from the market. Currently, they are exempt from VAT. The Commission is expected to approve a proposal for the next phase of liberalisation shortly.

7.3 Fundamental Rights - French Presidency pushes for early adoption of EU Charter
The French government has indicated that it will push for adoption of the draft EU Charter on fundamental rights as early as the informal European Council Summit in Biarritz in early December. Work on the Charter is making fast progress. Draft articles on the freedom of expression have already been discussed and reflect key elements of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. The first full draft text will be discussed at a plenary session in June. Separately, the European Parliament has voted in favour of making the Charter binding by integrating it in to the text of the Treaty. Further details available on request or at http://db.consilium.eu.int/df/default.asp?lang=en

7.4 WTO - Member States refuse to amend negotiating mandate for new Round
EU Trade Commissioner, Pascal Lamy, has failed in his attempt to persuade Member States to relax the negotiating mandate handed down to the Commission on the new Round of WTO talks. This decision was key to Lamy's proposal to begin a 'mini-round' of discussions prior to the US Presidential elections. Lamy's objective is to regain the support of developing countries and build momentum to complete the unfinished business for Seattle. Although disappointing for the Commissioner, WTO Secretary General Mike Moore remains confident that progress can be made in the medium-term without changes to the EU position.

7.5 Loan guarantees - Commission clarifies rules on state aid
The European Commission has published a Notice clarifying the compatibility of government loan guarantees with EU rules on state aid. The Notice states that guarantees which are not subject to market conditions or normal risk to the borrower constitute sate aid. Conditions under which government guarantees are not state aid are also listed. Notice available on request.

7.6 Single market strategy - Commission confirms its 5-year plan
Following a public consultation on its draft strategy, the European Commission has published its final 5-year strategy for the single market. Actions are proposed to achieve 4 key objectives: improve the quality of life of citizens, improve the efficiency of capital markets, improve the business environment and exploit the achievements of the single market in a changing world. The action points include priority items of the Commission's 2000 work programme. Among them are key media issues such as the revision of the misleading advertising Directive, the broadcasting Directive and the telecoms review. Strategy available at: http://europa.eu.int/internal_market/en/update/strategy/strategy2.htm

7.7 Competition policy reform - Commission publishes results of consultation
The European Commission has published the results of its public consultation on the White Paper on competition reform. The majority of Member States supported the proposals to decentralise decision making but raised concerns about the consistency of judgements and the recognition of judgements in other jurisdictions. Industry and legal practioners hold similar concerns about consistency in the application of merger laws and the danger of parties 'shopping around' the EU for the most favourable decision. Report available at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/04/entente.other.htm#wp-_modernisation