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 The EPC Members' Newsletter

 

Legislative update 92 Month - October 2000

1. ELECTRONIC COMMERCE
1.1 Brussels Regulation Update
1.2 French and Belgian challenge to the E-commerce plan
1.3 eConfidence guidelines completed.
1.4 Council and Parliament discuss VAT on E-Commerce.
1.5 New draft of cybercrime treaty adopted by the Council of Europe
1.6 $100,000 prize for the best book to be published in electronic form
1.7 German court ruling against on-line retailers leads to plans for reform
1.8 Co-regulatory approach to e-commerce pushed by Liikanen
1.9 Progress on the Telecoms' directives
1.10 Unbundling the Local Loop adopted
1.11 "Users guide" for the telecoms regulatory framework
1.12 Call for proposals concerning trans-European Telecomms networks
1.13 IST 2000, Nice 6-8 November
1.14 Networked World Trade Initiative
1.15 "e-Fulfilment in Europe" study shows serious problems with delivery dates
1.16 New online Business Codes launched

2. INTERNET (CONTENT) REGULATION
2.1 eContent - updates on progress
2.2 Data protection report on Safe Harbors
2.3 COPA calls for voluntary actions to protect children
2.4 ICRA announces new system for self-labelling of internet content

3. COPYRIGHT
3.1 Rightholders' Coalition meeting on Copyright Directive
3.2 Voluntary guidelines and practices for the organisation and management of the Internet
3.3 ".eu" - Commission searches for registry
3.4 Follow up to Management and Legitimate Use of Intellectual Property hearing
3.5 Commission study on patentability of computer programs released
3.6 IFPI calls on EU to fight mass Internet piracy
3.7 DVD technology companies to share respective patents

4. ADVERTISING
4.1 Tobacco products directive annulled by ECJ
4.2 WHO and EU begin negotiations on tobacco control
4.3 IMF agrees to ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship at sports events by 2006
4.4 Manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products - Council common position published
4.5 Culture Commissioner speaks at EPC meeting on TV advertising to children.
4.6 Swedish Culture Minister outlines Presidency priorities on advertising to children
4.7 Denmark - agreement on voluntary measures on advertising to children
4.8 Comments invited regarding study on nutritional, health and ethical claims.

5. AUDIOVISUAL AND GENERAL MEDIA POLICY
5.1 Deadlock on the training part of the Media Plus program
5.2 Public Service Broadcasting - Update
5.3 Angelli Report on Parental Control of TV Broadcasting adopted by Parliament
5.4 Merger news AOL/TimeWarner and Vivendi/Seagram
5.5 ACT approve of principle in the Charter of Fundamental Rights
5.6 EBU states that Digital TV divergence is holding up the market
5.7 Netd@ys initiative on 20th and 27th November
5.8 Meeting of European Sports Forum 26-27th October in Lille

6. GENERAL
6.1 European Commission and UN/ECE report on forest condition in Europe
6.2 CEPI releases annual statistics 1999
6.3 European Paper Week 2000: 29 November - 1 December
6.4 Liberalisation of Postal Services - diverging positions in Council
6.5 Commission widens scope of proceedings against Deutsche Post
6.6 Bolkestein outlines tax plans
6.7 ECOFIN Council discusses tax package and rules on simplifying VAT legislation
6.8 European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee discusses takeover bids
6.9 European Parliament opposed to renationalisation of competition policy
and insists on transparency in state aid
6.10 WTO: EU position papers produced
6.11 Enlargement - candidates and Parliament support Blair's call for speedy accession
6.12 French Presidency update - Biarritz European Council
6.13 6.13 Tax breaks for voluntary action to protect the environment
6.14 Forum: Internal Market at the service of citizens and SMEs
6.15 Proposals for greater Industry self-regulation criticized by UNICE


Dates for your diary

November
6-8 November - IST 2000 conference, Nice
13 November - Framework on Tobacco Control meeting, Luxembourg
13-14 November - Commission Hearing on Management and Legitimate Use of Intellectual Property, Brussels.
14 November - European Paper Forum, Brussels.
13-15 November World Internet Forum, London
27 November - ESF International Conference

Note: See http://www.presidence-europe.fr/ 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

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


1 Electronic commerce

1.1 Brussels Regulation update The Justice and Home Affairs Working Group has begun discussion of the Parliament's opinion of the Brussels regulation. They then hope to adopt the Regulation at the 30 November Justice and Home Affairs Council. We understand that COREPER is likely to start by discussing the technical issues and will then move onto Article 15 which deals with websites in November.

1.2 French and Belgian challenge to the e-commerce plan
Belgium, with the backing of France, has put forward a proposal to exempt the marketing of investment funds on-line from the rules of the e-commerce directive, calling for individual countries to be able to impose their own requirements on investment funds. France also has proposed that individual member states would be allowed to impose additional restrictions on the sale of financial services over the telephone, by mail or online. Belgium, Portugal, Greece, Italy and Spain support the proposal, as they conclude it would protect consumers against unscrupulous business practices. However, as with the Belgian proposal companies are worried as they assume that it would thus be harder to achieve the stated goal of the proposed legislation which is to harmonise national laws governing the 'distance selling' of financial services.

1.3 eConfidence guidelines completed.
The Guidelines for codes of conduct to be used in e-commerce were finalised on the 23rd October. DG SANCO hopes to publish the guidelines before 21 November 2000. The new version will be presented on the Internet, with a notification on the "Whats new" section of Health and Consumer Protection Directorate-Generals web site (http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/consumers/whatsnew/index_en.html).

1.4 Council and Parliament discuss VAT on E-Commerce.
During the ECOFIN Council of 17 October, Commissioner Bolkestein argued for a single place of VAT registration for third country operators who supplied services by electronic means to non-taxable Community customers. However, the majority of delegations were opposed to this proposal and supported the Presidency's suggestion that third-country operators should register in each of the Member States where they conducted business. During a discussion on the subject within the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, it was restated that current legislation leaves European business operating at a marked disadvantage and that there is an urgent need to rectify the situation. Rapporteur Garcia Margallo (E, EPP) identified the anomaly whereby small packages such as books bought by mail from outside the EU would not be subject to tax, while if ordered electronically they would be liable to tax as an area which would need to be resolved.

1.5 New draft of Cybercrime treaty adopted by the Council of Europe
The new version, just published on the Internet takes into account, comments received by email. This will be the first ever international treaty to address criminal law and procedural aspects of various types of criminal behaviour directed against computer systems, networks or data and other types of similar misuse. However opponents claim that the Treaty will reduce government accountability in future law enforcement conduct. More specifically, they object to provisions which will require ISPs to retain records regarding the activities of their customers which it claims are at odds with the EU's Data Protection Directive. The Council hopes to complete the treaty in December. See http://conventions.coe.int/treaty/EN/cadreprojets.htm for full CoE text and http://www.gilc.org for the GILC position paper.

1.6 $100,000 prize for the best book to be published in electronic form
Microsoft and Adobe are backing a new literary prize worth $100,000 on October 20th at Frankfurt book fair for the best book to be published in electronic form. This is in order to give publishers an incentive to digitize more of their books to boost the market for reading software and devices such as Rocket eBook and the Softbook Reader. At present the sums spent on the few books available for commercial download are thought to be tiny. Meanwhile Willey Rothley MEP has announced that a group of parliamentarians have prepared a draft directive that would allow Member States to impose a price scheme for books including sales over the internet in order to put an end to the current legal uncertainty. A copy of this report should be available from the 6th November.

1.7 German court ruling against on-line retailers leads to plans for reform
Two German internet companies, Letsbuyit.com and PrimusPowerShopping have fallen foul of the German 1933 Discount Act which limits price cutting and the 1909 law against unfair competition. Both businesses offer discounts by combining the buying power of individual shoppers. However, Werner Mûller the economics minister has pledged to abolish the 1933 Discount Act to prevent German business facing a competitive disadvantage although the Justice Ministry has no plans to change the general provisions in the 1909 law on unfair competition.

1.8 Co-regulatory approach to e-commerce pushed by Liikanen
Speaking on the eEurope initiative, Commissioner Erkki Liikanen advocated a co-regulatory approach to e-commerce, based on active cooperation between government and private sector. The Commissioner stated that the EU is on course to achieve the objective of adopting all the Community legislation on e-commerce by the end of the year. On telecommunications, Liikanen argued that the new regulatory framework will remain "pro-competition" and that as competition increases, any rules that become superfluous will be removed. On security, the Commissioner spoke of the need to strike a balance between security and the need to protect the freedom of Internet users. Action would therefore be needed at both European and International level.

1.9 Progress on the Telecoms' directives
The French Presidency has given a report on the progress of the future regulatory framework for electronic communications. The package, comprises of: a framework Directive, aiming to establish the principles governing the National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs); a Directive on access and interconnection; a Directive on authorisation; a Directive on universal service and users' rights, a Directive on data protection; a proposal for a decision on radio spectrum policy; and a Directive on competition in the markets for electronic communications services. The Council instructed the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) to push forward with work on the issue so that it could be discussed in depth at the December meeting.

1.10 Unbundling the local loop
Following the political agreement reached at the Telecoms Council of 3 October, The report on Unbundling the Local Loop was accepted in full at the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 26th October. This should force the former monopolies to give access to new operators to the local loop and in theory reinforce competition and lower prices for consumers. All 18 amendments proposed by the Industry Committee were accepted. These were designed to ensure that the technical aspects of the proposal are sufficiently detailed for the binding nature of a regulation. This is to guarantee that unbundling will be rapidly and effectively implemented. Parliament has stressed the need for compensation for new market entrants if incumbent "notified operators" fail to meet lead times. Unbundling should be effective from 1st January 2001.

1.11 "Users guide" for the telecoms regulatory framework
The Commission released, on 18 October, a staff working document: "A users' guide to the telecoms regulatory framework". It provides an overview of the main provisions of the existing regulatory framework for Europe's liberalised Telecommunications Market. This document has been prepared to help those providing telecoms services, businesses in general and citizens to find their way around the current telecoms landscape. The Annexes include lists of definitions, NRAs and of national consumer complaint bodies. It is available for downloading at: http://www.ispo.cec.be/infosoc/telecompolicy/en/comm-en.htm#misc

1.12 Call for proposals concerning trans-European Telecomms networks
The European Commission has put out a call for proposals for projects of common interest in the field of trans-European telecommunications networks. (200/C 299/03 OJ). These projects must refer to specific areas linked to telecommunications such as education and training, telecommunications networks for access to Europe's cultural heritage, applications and services for SMEs, transport and mobility, environment and emergency management, city and regional information networks etc. Community financial aid may involve co-financing of the study phase of the projects, subsidies for interest on loans or direct grants in justified cases. The closing date for proposals is the 29th January 2001.

1.13 IST 2000, Nice 6-8 November
The Commission will be holding it's yearly Information Societies Technologies (IST) event in Nice on 6-8 November. This year, the theme of the event is "An Information Society for All" and the main topics under discussion will be: access for all, the evolution of legislation, the impact of growth on competitiveness and the new technology challenges. For further information see http://istevent.cec.eu.int

1.14 Networked World Trade Initiative
This week a US Trade Representative announced plans for an initiative, called "Networked World Trade Initiative", that aims to harmonise international rules for e-commerce, thus ensuring fair competition. The main objective is to ensure that e-businesses enjoys the same guarantees of freedom as the more conventional commerce has, i.e. fair competition; respect for intellectual property rights; and access to markets in addition to protecting consumers. It was added that the Networked World Trade Initiative will be presented at an upcoming meeting of the World Trade Organisation.

1.15 "e-Fulfilment in Europe" study shows serious problems with delivery dates
Andersen Consulting have recently published a study on "e-Fulfilment in Europe". According to the study, purchased products on-line in Europe suffer from "serious problems of delivery". The study was based on 445 commands and carried out on 162 sites in six countries (Germany, Spain, France, Italy, United Kingdom, and Sweden). Only 28% of the sites proposed a delivery date to the customer, and, less than 50% delivered on the date envisaged. Moreover, when no delivery date was announced, 59% of the products were never delivered. The study also announces frequent out-of-stock conditions among the electronic product e-merchants. The study concludes that there is room for significant improvement. Study (ppt.) available on request.

1.16 New online Business Codes launched
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) and BBBOnline unveiled the BBB Code of Online Business Practices, on 24th October. The Code can be downloaded on their website in English, French, German and Spanish. http://www.bbbonline.com/code/code.asp


2 Internet (content) regulation

2.1 eContent proposal - updates on progress
The "eContent" proposal was discussed at the recent Telecoms Council of 03 October. The programme, which seeks to develop the potential for digital content that exists in Europe and close the gap with the United States, was given high priority by Ministers who called on COREPER to work actively on the dossier in order to achieve a political agreement on the subject at the next Telecoms Council of 03 December. At the Frankfurt Book Fair on the 18 October The Commission has presented a number of studies that have been carried out in this area. These are, Access to capital to the content industries in Europe, Commercial exploitation of Europe's public sector information and Export potential and linguistic customisation of digital content products and services. The studies themselves are now available at: http://www.cordis.lu/econtent/studies.htm#public In addition, the Commission will be holding two meetings in Brussels with prominent representatives of private and public-sector stakeholders on 25-26 October and 14-15 November. The aim of the meetings is to set objectives and priority actions that should be included in the eContent work programme. Further information on the programme proposal at http://europa.eu.int/comm/information_society/econtent/com2000323_en.htm

2.2 Data protection report on Safe Harbors
The Commissioner for the Internal Market, Mr Frits Bolkestein, addressed the Committee on the Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs on Wednesday 11 October concerning the follow-up on the Parliament resolution on the Safe Harbour Provision regarding data protection. Commissioner Bolkestein stated that negotiations with the United States are going ahead as planned and that the US was expecting 100 companies to sign up to it in the first month and 1000 in the first year. Moreover, US data protection organisations such as TrustE and EBB online are also adjusting their systems so that membership of the organisation also means compliance with the Safe Harbour agreement. Another issue that needs to be addressed is the one of dispute settlements systems. American industry would like to have the right to waive the American systems in favour of using only the European ones. Details of how to solve this issue are still discussed.

2.3 COPA calls for voluntary actions to protect children
The Child Online Protection Act (COPA) Commission has recently released a report calling for voluntary action on the part of schools, libraries, the technology industry and communities to protect children from so-called harmful content on the Internet. The report did not go as far as mandating net filters (technology that can block access to content deemed inappropriate) but instead suggested that voluntary standards be adopted. Report available at: www.copacommission.org/report

2.4 ICRA announces new system for self-labelling of Internet content
The Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA) is designing a system for self-labelling of Internet content to be launched in November. According to ICRA, the system for content providers will include a set of descriptors that aim to be more neutral than in previous systems. In addition, the new system will include facilities for the inclusion of "yes" and "no" lists for parents and template providers. To this end, ICRA would like to work with institutions that could provide lists of approved or disapproved Internet sites or filtering templates for content based on the new descriptors. Further information available at http://www.icra.org/newicra.html


3 Copyright

3.1 Rightholders' Coalition meeting on Copyright Directive
The Rightholders Coalition met on 20th October to discuss the proposed 2nd reading of the Copyright Directive and to prepare a draft position paper. Neil Kinnock said at this year's Platinum Music Awards in Brussels that the EU must ensure "sensible laws to deter copyright abuse and mass piracy." The meeting of the Legal Affairs Committee, which will discuss Enrico Boselli's draft report, has been scheduled for the 21-23rd November. The Rightholders' Coalition speculates that the vote on the 2nd Reading may not be until the 12th or 13th February. Rightholders' Coalition draft position paper is available on request

3.2 Voluntary guidelines and practices for the organisation and management of the Internet
At the Telecoms Council of 03 October the Council adopted a resolution on the organisation and management of the Internet. In its Resolution, the Council encourages the development, through WIPO, of voluntary guidelines for practices and policies to curb abusive and bad faith registration of protected names and resolve related disputes. Member States, supported by the Commission, are called upon to establish a European position in order to secure genuine globalisation of Internet management, and the Commission is instructed to set up a European network for domain name, address and Internet protocol management. Council resolution available on request.

3.3 ".eu" - Commission searches for registry
The Commission will come forward with a plan in early November to conduct a public search for a company to act as a registry for the .eu names. This registry will lay down the rules which govern how businesses use the new domain for their websites as well as liaising with the European Commission and the international community on Internet address policy issues. As soon as the registry is created the Commission will then seek approval from ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). It was estimated that 6-7 months from the first call for tenders would be needed before the .eu domain would be fully operational. Full report available at http://www.ec-pop.org

3.4 Follow up to Management and Legitimate Use of Intellectual Property hearing
The European Commission will be holding a follow-up hearing to its hearing "Management and Legitimate Use of Intellectual Property" in Brussels on 13-14 November. The aim of the hearing is to assist the Commission in deciding whether there is a need for a community initiative in the field of collective management of rights. It will be addressing questions such as: Does the current situation regarding the distribution of royalties to rightsholders meet their interests? and Is the current practice of the exclusivity rule still necessary in the digital environment? Draft agenda available on request.

3.5 Commission study on patentability of computer programs released
The results of a study carried out for the European Commission on the Economic Impact of Patentability of Computer Programs has recently been released. The study is designed to help the Commission assess if an envisaged Directive on this subject should be confined to merely harmonising the laws of the Member States or whether the scope of the application of the Directive should be extended. The study, concluded that: a) staying with the status quo would mean that SMEs will be less likely to consider computer-related inventions unpatentable b) changing European law to resemble US law in this area would mean fundamentally changing the basic principles of EU patent law and prove highly controversial and c) altering EU law so that patents are not required to be limited to technology would interfere in achieving an understanding of SMEs of the opportunities and risks from the patentability of software related inventions. Full text available at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/internal_market/en/intprop/indprop/studyintro.htm
Further to the study, the Commission has launched a consultation process via the Internet.
Interested parties are invited to comment until 15 December 2000.
See http://europa.eu.int/comm/internal_market/en/intprop/indprop/softpaten.htm for further details.

3.6 IFPI calls on EU to fight mass Internet piracy
On 13th October in Paris the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) notified the Commission that mass internet piracy costs the industry an estimated$5 billion a year and that 25 million illegal music files are now available. In addition pirate CD sales now exceed 500 million units per year. Mr. Jay Berman, IFPI Chairman, has warned that without adequate legal protection artists will be unable to distribute their works on the Internet.

3.7 DVD technology companies to share respective patents
The European Commission has approved an agreement whereby some of the companies that developed the DVD technology will pool their respective patents. The Commission found that the creation of the pool would help promote technical and economic progress by allowing quick and efficient introduction of the DVD technology. The agreement was not found to contain any unnecessary restrictions to competition and should have beneficial effects for the consumer. The parties to the agreement are: Hitachi Ltd, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co Ltd, Mitsubishi Electric Corp, Time Warner Inc and Toshiba Corp.


4 Advertising

4.1 Tobacco products directive annulled by ECJ
The European Court of Justice has ruled to annul the 1998 directive on the approximation of laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States relating to the advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products. The Court decided that the directive had been passed under the wrong legal basis (Internal Market, freedom of establishment and freedom to provide services) and that a total ban on tobacco advertising could not be justified in the name of ensuring the correct functioning of the internal market. However after the decision had been announced Commissioner Byrne (responsible for consumer protection) implied in a statement that a directive under internal market rules could be brought forward banning certain forms of advertising in magazines and periodicals. Whether the Commission would seek to pursue this is unclear for the moment. In response to the ECJ judgement, the French Presidency issued a statement calling on the Commission to propose a new draft Directive making it possible, on the appropriate legal basis, to re-establish Community harmonisation of the legislation governing advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products. France has requested that a Commission Proposal be adopted in time for a Common Position to be reached at the Health Council on 11 December. The EPs Committee on Legal Affairs is due to consider the Councils Common Position on the draft Sales Tobacco Directive at its meeting of 16-17 October.

4.2 WHO and EU begin negotiations on tobacco control
The first meeting on the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control took place on 16 October in Geneva where Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director General of the WTO, urged the immediate implementation of a series of measures identified by WHO, the World Bank and public health experts to have a "measurable and sustained impact on tobacco use". These include bans on tobacco advertising, sponsorship and marketing. A final convention is expected to be open for signature by countries by 2003. A meeting on the outcome of the first formal negotiation round, organised by DG SANCO will take place in Luxembourg on 13 November from 9.30 - 13.00. The meeting will include a presentation by the Council presidency and a presentation from Mr. J Maaten, MEP who was a member of the Commission delegation in the negotiating round. Time will be available for presentations and questions from other interested parties. In order to participate,
contact Thomas.Hofmann@cec.eu.int
For further information see http://europa.eu.int/comm/dgs/health_consumer/events/event33_en.html
See http://www.who.int/wha-1998/Tobacco/INB/anglaisINB.htm for full programme of the negotiations and provisional framework texts.

4.3 IMF agrees to ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship at sports events by 2006
The International Motorsport Federation argued that it aimed to be in conformity with international norms with regard to tobacco advertising. According to Derek Yach, Program Manager for the WHO Tobacco Free Initiative, the IMF's decision was part of a wider trend to end tobacco's links to sports. In this context he mentioned sports such as yachting, tennis and golf, which still accept tobacco sponsorship. EC Commissioner, David Byrne, welcomed the IMF decision and said that it demonstrated a change in attitudes to tobacco sponsorship.

4.4 Manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products - Council common position published
The Council's Common position on the approximation of laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products (adopted 31 July 2023) has been published in the Official Journal of the European Communities (Official Journal C 300/49). The European Parliament is expected to vote on its second reading in Committee during November for adoption during its December plenary.

4.5 Culture Commissioner speaks at EPC meeting on TV advertising to children.
At a recent meeting of the European Publishers' Council, Viviane Reding, EU Culture Commissioner spoke at length on a study concerning the impact of television advertising to children which should be completed by the end of the year. The Swedish are thought to want to revive the debate concerning advertising targeted at children in response to the Television without Frontiers (TWF) appraisal which is due before the end of the year. Mrs. Reading said any action by the Swedes would have to prove that it is compatible with the main aim of the TWF Directive which is promoting the free movement of television programs in the internal market. Any new proposals would also need to prove that they are in proportion to the aim being pursued and that no less restrictive measurers would achieve the same result and that it would not be counter productive (i.e. harming the production of children's programs by removing the advertising revenue). Moreover, the Commissioner commented that the vast majority of Member States and the Commissioner herself are against an outright ban. A further study on the development of new advertising techniques, focusing on interactive and virtual advertising as well as split screens and banner advertising, is expected to be launched before the end of the year. Full text of Commissioner's speech available at: http://europa.eu.int/rapid/start/cgi/guesten.ksh?p_action.gettxt=gt&doc;=SPEECH/00/388|0|RAPID≶=EN

4.6 Swedish Culture Minister outlines Presidency priorities on advertising to children
At a recent meeting of the European Publishers' Council, the Swedish Culture Minister Marita Ulvskog outlined the position of the Sweden on the issue of advertising to children. According to Ms Ulvskog, a ban on advertising to children was justified firstly, to keep children as children for as long as possible and free from commercial exploitation and secondly, because a TV station broadcasting from the UK in Swedish carrying advertising to children would create unfair competition for Swedish private broadcasters. The minister named Italy as another country that supports the Swedish position - citing that it was currently debating editorial influence form advertisers over programming aimed at children. Young people and children in the new media landscape will be a theme of the presidency. In addition, the minister outlined the priorities of the upcoming Swedish Presidency as being Employment, Enlargement and Environment. She commented that several special conferences will be held to which accession countries will be invited, one of which may tackle how media can be used and developed to support democracy. Another focus will be on the possibilities for increasing state aid to European film production, which Sweden supports.

4.7 Denmark - agreement on voluntary measures on advertising to children
Elsebeth Gerner Nielsen, Danish Minister of Culture, has agreed on voluntary measures which she terms as "sufficient" to protect children against "bombardments of advertising. Danish TV 2 appears to have reached a political agreement, valid until the end of 2005, in which it agrees not to transmit advertising "a few minutes before and after, plus during children's programs".

4.8 Comments invited regarding Study on nutritional, health and ethical claims.
To collect further views on a possible proposal to amend the Misleading Advertising Directive the Commission's Directorate General for Health and Consumer Protection has made available a study on nutritional, health and ethical claims, commissioned from the consultants "Hill and Knowlton International Belgium SA/NV". The annexes reproducing the national legislations of the Member States, US and Canada can be consulted in the Directorate General for Health and Consumer Protection's premises (Rue Belliard 232, 7th floor, Brussels, Belgium). A copy will also be sent to the Permanent Representations of each Member State, to be forwarded to the national ministry concerned. For budgetary reasons, the Directorate General for Health and Consumer Protection does not envisage any Hearing to be held on the conclusions of this Study. Nevertheless the Commission welcomes comments from all concerned stakeholders. The deadline for reaction from interested parties to the Study is 15th December 2000, and should be sent by post, to: Ms. Carina Tšrnblom, Head of Unit Directorate General for Health and Consumer Protection, European Commission - Office B 232 7/23, 200, Rue de la Loi/ Wetstraat, B-1049 Brussels - or by e-mail, to:
Carina.Tornblom@cec.eu.int, or Rafael.Cepas@cec.eu.int.

Study available at: http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/consumers/policy/developments/envi_clai/envi_clai02_en.html#1,4888,4889,0,,D


5 Audiovisual and general media policy

5.1 Deadlock on the training part of the Media Plus program
The lack of agreement at Council level over the Media Plus Programmes continues and signals a possibility that agreement will not be reached at the 23 November Audio-visual Council. There is a growing possibility that a conciliation procedure may have to be called to break the deadlock over the training part of the Programmes and that this may take place during the Swedish Presidency. The main opposition from the UK, Germany and the Netherlands continues to be over what they regard as an excessive budget. The French Presidency is involved in on-going bilateral discussions with these countries in an attempt find a compromise deal. The major part of the Media Plus Programmes concerns production and distribution and requires unanimity in the Council. The training part is much smaller but requires a Council decision by Qualified Majority Voting. The difficulties related to making progress on Media Plus have led to the cancellation of the next two sessions of the Audio-visual Council Working Group. The next session is now provisionally due on 25 October.

5.2 Public Service Broadcasting - Update
On 2 October, the French Presidency convened an informal discussion in Paris on the Commissions future plans related to state funding and EU competition policy. Little progress was made and another session will take place again in mid-October (date to be confirmed). Proposals currently being drafted by Competition Commissioner Mario Monti could result in those broadcasters which rely on state funding being allowed to retain only 20% of the revenues they receive from advertising and having their share of the total TV advertising market limited to 15%. France, Italy and Spain are likely to mount strong opposition to these initiatives.

5.3 Angelilli Report on Parental Control of TV Broadcasting adopted by Parliament
On 5 October, the European Parliament, in its plenary session adopted the Report by Roberta Angelilli on Parental Control of TV Broadcasting. The Report includes calls for: television operators in the EU to agree, as a matter of urgency, to a code of self-regulation in respect of protection of minors; a wide-ranging and detailed debate on the ethical and legal aspects of the protection of minors in the media context; the establishment of an Expert Group composed of high-level personalities appointed by the Member States, to contribute to the definition of minimum criteria for the protection of minors in the media context; the teaching of media skills to children, young persons and adults.

5.4 Merger news AOL/TimeWarner and Vivendi/Seagram
On 11 October, the Commission gave conditional approval to AOL/Time Warner merger after AOL offered to bring an end to all structural links with Bertelsmann AG. Days earlier, EMI and Time Warner withdrew their plans for a $20bn music joint venture when it became clear the European Commission would block the deal, due to concerns about the power of the merged company in the market for downloading music digitally. Meanwhile European Union regulators cleared the $30 billion media deal between France's Vivendi and Canada's Seagram after the companies agreed to address competition concerns about Europe's pay-TV market, Vivendi notably agreed to sell its 20 percent stake in British Sky Broadcasting. The deal brings together Vivendi's European cable TV, satellite and Internet distribution systems and Seagram's interests in Hollywood and music, Universal Studios and Universal Music Group, to create a global media conglomerate: Vivendi Universal. Lastly, the Commission has given the go-ahead to Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux, NTL and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Capital Partners to create a French cable-TV joint venture called Noos

5.3 ACT approves of the Charter of Fundamental Rights
The Association of European Commercial Television in Europe (ACT) commends aspects of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Firstly the Charter provides that "freedom and pluralism of the media shall be respected". ACT's President Jan Mojto stated that the "explosion in new broadcast and media services offered by commercial broadcasters means that European citizens have an unprecedented amount of choice and diversity. Secondly ACT approves of the acceptance at the Biarritz summit of a Communication on Services of General Economic Interest as it should help establish a framework to apply Competition and Internal Market rules to the activities of public sector broadcasters. This should thus help resolve the backlog of unfair competition cases in the broadcasting sector.

5.4 EBU states that Digital TV divergence is holding up the market
The European Broadcasting Union argues that due to the variance in digital TV systems the market is being held back. The EBU wants the Commission to ask the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to resolve the issue. However a Commission funded study carried out by the Institut de L'Audiovisuel et des Telecommunications concluded that this did not seem to be a serious problem as the industry places more emphasis on rights for top sporting events for pay-TV subscribers.

5.5 Netd@ys initiative on 20 - 27th November
The European Commission has earmarked Û750,000 for 36 projects for the Netd@ys initiative. This is being funded by Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci, Youth, Culture 2000 and MEDIA programs Netd@ys aims at encouraging the use of the Internet and new media in the areas of education, training and culture. More information on Netd@ys and its activities is available on the website http://www.netdays2000.org

5.6 Meeting of European Sports Forum 26-27 October
Ministers and delegates of the Member States and applicant countries will meet representatives of sports bodies to discuss amongst other things the television rights for sporting events, the impact of the Internet on sport and the use of new technologies by sports organisations. The Forum in the Grand Palais in Lille will be opened by Viviane Reading Commissioner for Education, Culture and Sport and by Marie-Georges Buffet, the French Minister for Youth and Sport.


6 General

6.1 Forest-Based Industries
The European Commission and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE) have published their annual report on the forest condition in Europe. The results confirm a general trend of deterioration of the main tree species and conclude that further reductions of emissions is needed to guarantee the multiple functions of forests in Europe as a basis for sustainable forest management. The report will soon be available at http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg06/fore/index_en.htm

6.2 CEPI study and European Paper Week
The Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) has released its annual statistics for 1999. The report shows continuous growth in paper and board recycling with newsprint totalling 16.7% of recovered paper usage in Europe. According to CEPI, the average apparent collection rate of paper and board in Europe amounted to 51.6% in 1999, an increase of 6.8% from 1998. Further information available on request. CEPI will be holding European Paper Week 2000 in Brussels from 29 November until 01 December at the Hilton Hotel in Brussels. The conference will include a CEPI Research Group Workshop entitled Research and Development strategies and knowledge needs within the paper industry cluster. What Framework for Europe? Preliminary timetable available on request.

6.3 Liberalisation of Postal Services - diverging positions in Council
The further liberalisation of the postal sector came under discussion at the recent Telecoms Council where the diverging views of Member States on the speed of liberalisation became clear. The French, notably, are calling for "controlled, gradual liberalisation", whereas Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland and Sweden either supported the Commission's proposal to increase the share of the postal market open to competition from 3% to 20% by 2003 or did not think that it went far enough. Despite the differences of opinion, the Council hope to reach a political agreement on the issue at the next meeting of 03 December. In the European Parliament, rapporteur Marcus Gerber generally endorsed the Commissions proposals for further liberalisation, despite facing opposition from a strong anti-liberalisation lobby.

6.4 Commission widens scope of proceedings against Deutsche Post
The European Commission has widened the scope of the formal proceedings launched on 8 August against Deutsche Post for abuse of a dominant position, and sent a supplementary statement of objections to the German postal operator. The Commission's investigations have revealed that Deutsche Post's contracts with its major mail order customers contain a combination of fidelity and target rebates. This means that, to have a discount, mail order customers must sent all their parcels through Deutsche Post and have an annual minimum volume. Thus, by granting financial advantages, DP are preventing customers from obtaining their goods and services from competing suppliers.

6.5 No need for harmonisation of tax
In a recent address at the Barcelona's Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Frits Bolkestein, Commissioner for Taxation, hinted at his future taxation plans for the EU. In regard to income tax, Bolkestein commented that he saw no need for harmonisation unless such taxes entailed discrimination, double taxation or unintended non-taxation in cross-border situations. He added that the Commission will be considering changes to company taxation after the results of a Commission study on the subject are released early next year. The Commission will be making plans to modernise, simplify, strengthen and more uniformly apply the VAT system in order to encourage legitimate transactions and to prevent fraud. As far as the taxation "package" as concerned, Bolkestein reiterated the Commission's wishes to have Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) for taxation measures such as provisions aimed at combating fraud and preventing cases of double non-taxation in cross-border situations. Bolkestein further commented that in many fields of taxation, Codes of Conduct, Recommendations, guidelines, multilateral agreements and interpretative notices might be a better option than binding legislation.

6.6 ECOFIN Council discusses tax package and rules on simplifying VAT legislation
At the EcoFin Council on Tuesday 17th October, it was reported that further work needs to be carried out regarding the treatment of bodies such as partnerships and trusts. Matters considered particularly important include the treatment of statutory investment funds and the reciprocal nature or otherwise of exchanges of information. In addition, the Council adopted a directive aimed at simplifying the Community legislation on VAT. Under the new Directive, to be enforced by 1 January 2002, companies will no longer need a tax representative in the countries where they are established. The new Directive fixes the rule that the only person who should pay tax is the person liable whether or not established in the Member State where the operation is carried out.

6.7 European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee discusses takeover bids
The European Parliament's Committee for Legal Affairs recently discussed the Proposal for a 13th Council Directive on Takeover Bids. Rapporteur, Klaus-Heiner Lehne (D, EPP) disagreed with the requirement in the Council's common position for companies subject to takeover bids to remain neutral. Instead he would prefer companies to have the right to take defensive action, as is the case in the US. This would avoid any future imbalances. Other concerns voiced by the Committee included the increasing number of cross-border takeovers and the lack of clarity as to which national law would apply. Deadline for amendments, 31 October 2000.

6.8 European Parliament opposed to renationalisation of
competition policy and insists on transparency in state aid

At the recent plenary session in Strasbourg the Parliament approved the report by Ms Riis-Joergensen (D, ELDR) on the Commission's report on competition policy in 1999. This called for Parliament/Council co-decision on competition policy and affirmed that competition policy should not be "renationalised". The report by Johnahan Evans (UK, Conservative) on the Commission's 8th report on State aid was also approved and Mario Monti the Competition Commissioner stated he was setting up a scoreboard and register to monitor the implementation of rules on State Aid. A source in the Commission however commented that so far he had not been notified of any implementation of the Transparency Directive by the Member States and he would be surprised if Member States would comply with its provisions by the deadline of 31 July 2001.

6.9 WTO: EU position papers produced
The EU has released two position papers which were presented to the WTO General Council on October 12. In its first paper, the EU reaffirms its case for a comprehensive approach arguing that a new round must cover further liberalisation, new rule making, development and issues of broader concern to the public. As far as GATS is concerned, the paper calls for preparatory work for future market access negotiations to be carried out and for progress to be made on the rules aspect of GATS. A separate paper puts forward ideas for improving the functioning of the WTO system to foster a better participation by all members. The paper suggests measures to: improve decision-making; foster the flow of informal consultations; and improve ministerial meetings and the General Council. Further details available at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/trade/whats_new/index_en.htm

6.10 Enlargement - candidates and Parliament support Blair's call for speedy accession
Negotiations with the 'first wave' Luxembourg Group of six candidate countries (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and Cyprus) continued at deputy level in Brussels on 5 October. Following Tony Blair's statement of desire for the first wave to accede in 2004, several candidates (notably the Czech Republic) showed impatience with the EU's demands. Hungary and Estonia both closed two chapters of the negotiations. The European Parliament agreed with Tony Blair's timeline for a first wave of accession, stating that the EU should be ready to permit accession from the end of 2003 - a more realistic date, it believes, than that set by the Council of 1 January 2003. On the individual candidate countries, the Parliament adopted all of the draft reports put forward, identifying the possibilities and problems it envisages for each of the candidate countries. Further information available on request.

6.11 French Presidency update - Biarritz European Council
The French Presidency of the EU held an informal European Council in Biarritz on 13 and 14 October. Although dominated by recent events in the Middle East and Serbia, areas such as Institutional Reform and the Charter of Fundamental Rights also came under discussion. In regards to institutional reform, there are still stark differences of opinion on the issue of Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) - particularly concerning sensitive areas such as tax and asylum and immigration policy. Despite these differences, the French are still hoping for a conclusion of the IGC at the Nice summit in December. Unanimous agreement was reached on the text of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, however, Member States were split on the suggestion to incorporate the text of the Charter into the Treaty and thus make it legally binding.

6.13 Tax breaks for voluntary action to protect the environment
Competition Commissioner Mario Monti aims to limit state aid granted for environmental purposes in the long run while ensuring a competitive market by harmonising the rules governing tax breaks across the EU. He has revised his original proposals following fierce attacks from government concerning his original plans to exempt energy-intensive industries such as the chemicals sector from energy -intensive or environmental taxes for no more than 5 years. Under the new plan companies would be able to claim tax breaks for up to 5 years if they agree to take voluntary action to protect the environment during this period such as promising to reduce energy consumption or greenhouse gas emissions. The EU's existing guidelines are due to expire at the end of this year although the Commission may have to extend them owing to remaining questions concerning the impact of the new proposals on the clean energy sector.

6.14 Forum: Internal Market at the service of citizens and SMEs
DG MARKT will be holding a series of round-tables and workshops on the subject of the Internal Market at the Service of Citizens and SMEs. The Forum will include Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection David Byrne, Anna Palacio MEP, Chair of the Legal Affairs and Internal Market Committee, and John Mogg, Director General of DG MARKT. The forum will tackle questions such as "How do we organise e-confidence? Can we learn from the initiatives taken at national level? and should there be harmonisation? Further information and full program available at http://europa.eu.int/comm/internal_market/en/update/imforum/programen.htm

6.15 Proposals for greater Industry self-regulation criticized by UNICE
The new proposals for a shift away from EU legislation towards Industry self-regulation and non-binding recommendations has been criticized by UNICE and AMCHAM as they may be abused and could lead to new requirements being foisted on firms before they have been subjected to a formal review process. However the basis principles of achieving policy goals such as privacy or consumer protection through voluntary schemes devised by the industry as applauded although they point out that companies have been working hand-in-hand with governments for years.