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 The EPC Members' Newsletter

 

Legislative update 82 Month - October 1999

1. ELECTRONIC COMMERCE
1.1 Council working group discusses changes to country of origin provisions
1.2 Brussels Regulation - over 500 delegates expected at Commission's hearing
1.3 Council legal service submits opinion on draft Directive on e-commerce
1.4 OECD takes stock of e-commerce regulation a year after Ottawa
1.5 European Parliament adopts second reading of electronic signatures Directive
1.6 Domain names - ICANN takes steps to become a more global body
1.8 US adopts new rules on child privacy
1.9 VAT/e-commerce - Commission to propose amendment to the 6th VAT Directive

2. INTERNET (CONTENT) REGULATION
2.1 Safe use of the internet - EU research begins its final phase
2.2 Culture Council to adopt conclusions on audiovisual content rating

3. COPYRIGHT
3.1 Finnish Presidency tables redrafted proposal
3.2 Finnish Presidency hosts conference on copyright
3.3 WIPO publishes its work programme on intellectual property aspects of e-commerce
3.4 Council takes next steps to ratify WIPO Treaties

4. ADVERTISING
4.1 Tobacco advertising - oral proceedings to begin soon
4.2 Consumer Affairs Commissioner announces reform of advertising laws
4.3 Industry close to agreeing the creation of a marketing communications Intergroup

5. AUDIOVISUAL AND GENERAL MEDIA POLICY

5.1 Media ownership - Economic and Social Committee modifies its position
5.2 EU audiovisual industry attacks Commissioner Reding after comments on broadcasting quotas
5.3 Council of Ministers agrees conclusions in preparation for the WTO Millennium Round

6. ENVIRONMENT
6.1 Commission adopts Communication on the competitiveness of forest-based industries
6.2 Recycling Forum - Commission makes preliminary conclusions
6.3 Commission begins revision of the packaging waste Directive
6.4 EU paper industry opposes accelerated tariff reduction
6.5 Commission study aims to assess impact of trade liberalisation on sustainable development
6.5 European paper industry proposes mutual recognition for forest certification systems

7. GENERAL
7.1 Commission to decide soon on new strategy on company law
7.2 Council of Ministers adopts conclusions on mutual recognition
7.3 Commission publishes a new work programme for the single market
7.4 Commission plans telecoms reform
7.5 Commissioner Bolkestein speaks out in support of protection against misrepresentation in photographs


Dates for your diary

November
4th-5th - open consultation on Brussels Regulation, European Commission, Brussels
9th-11th - IBC Advanced EC Competition Law, London
17th-19th - 6th Interactive Publishing Conference, Zurich
28th - WTO Conference, Seattle (to 3rd Dec.).
30th - Advertising industry Self-regulation meeting, Washington DC

December
2nd - WTO "services" day, Seattle
15th - EPC Corporate Affairs Group, Brussels (TBC)

January
19th - 20th EPC Members Meeting, Strasbourg


1 Electronic commerce


1.1 Council working group discusses changes to country of origin provisions
Discussions in the Council working group on the draft Directive on e-commerce have become blocked on the issue of single market principles and country of origin control. A Finnish Presidency proposal to narrow the scope of internal market provisions is supported by a number of Member States and could allow Member States to apply stricter national provisions in some areas. The Commission's Internal Market DG and industry observers are concerned that this move could result in a greater number of exemptions from the Directive, in addition to those which already feature in the annexes. The Presidency has also proposed that the phrase "without prejudice to private international law" be added to the Directive's single market provisions which would allow Member States to apply international laws on jurisdiction and applicable law. Discussions will continue until the Internal Market Council on 7 December but it appears unlikely that a common position will not be reached.

1.2 Brussels Regulation - over 500 delegates expected at Commission's hearing
Over 500 delegates have registered to attend the Commission's public hearing on the draft Regulation on jurisdiction and applicable law scheduled for 4-5 November in Brussels. Proceedings will be broadcast on this website.

1.3 Council legal service submits opinion on draft Directive on e-commerce
The Council's legal service has responded to calls for clarification from the working group on e-commerce by submitting an opinion on certain aspects of the draft Directive. The opinion supports the legal base chosen by the Commission but recommends that the provisions on mutual recognition and harmonisation are clarified. In particular, the legal service considers the draft Directive to be unclear as to whether it allows Member States to adopt stricter national provisions and in what areas. The opinion has been studied by the working group but it is understood that Member States are disappointed that the opinion was not clearer on the question of country of origin. (Full text available on request).

1.4 OECD takes stock of e-commerce regulation a year after Ottawa
The OECD held a forum on e-commerce in Paris on 12-13 October to consider developments in global electronic commerce since the Ministerial Conference in Ottawa a year ago. The Forum's conclusions noted a broader acceptance of self- and co-regulation of on-line operations and undertook to promote close co-operation between members on issues of common interest. Conclusions available shortly at Error! Bookmark not defined. Meanwhile, the OECD's guidelines on consumer protection in electronic commerce are close to adoption. Member State representatives have declined to take a position on country of origin control and the settlement of consumer disputes after member countries failed to agree on a common position. Instead, the text is understood to stress the importance of country of origin and its broader implications and to recommend further examination of the issue.

1.5 European Parliament adopts second reading of electronic signatures Directive
In its October session, the European Parliament adopted its second reading opinion on the draft Directive on legal aspects of electronic signatures. Parliament adopted a small number of amendments to the Council's common position, mainly relating to the importance of voluntary certification, interoperability and limited liability for key holders. The amendments will now be transmitted to the Council for its consideration. A conciliation procedure will be invoked if the Council cannot accept all Parliament's proposals. (Full text available on request).

1.6 Domain names - ICANN takes steps to become a more global body

The international organisation responsible for managing the system of internet domain names, ICANN, has for the first time appointed 3 non-US members to its board. The move is recognition of the pressure to give the organisation a more international profile. However, in what is seen as a retrograde step, ICANN has agreed to allow Network Solutions Inc. (NSI) to retain control of its database of domain name holders for a further 4 years in exchange for lower registration fees and concessions for new, competing registrars. The move has been criticised outside the US because NSI's activities will remain subject to the control of the House Commerce Committee during this period. Critics believe that this is contrary to the global character of ICANN.

1.8 US adopts new rules on child privacy
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published new rules on protecting the privacy of minors as part of the final implementation of the 1998 Children's On-line Privacy Act. Operators will have a period of six months from 21 April 2023 to implement the measures which oblige website operators to seek verifiable parental consent before processing information gathered from children under the age of 13 years and to publish full details of their corporate privacy policies.

1.9 VAT/e-commerce - Commission to propose amendment to the 6th VAT Directive
Following the publication of its second consultation paper on how to levy VAT on electronically traded goods, the Commission plans to propose an amendment to the 6th VAT Directive to bring EU provisions in line with the agreement reached at the OECD Ministerial meeting on e-commerce in Ottawa in 1998. The proposal will seek to amend Article 9 of the EU Directive to introduce the principle of levying VAT on delivery in the country of consumption. This proposal is expected in early 2000. Meanwhile, Commissioner Bolkestein has announced his intention to resume talks with Member States on the current arrangements for VAT and the aim of establishing a common EU system.


2 Internet (content) regulation

2.1 Safe use of the internet - EU research begins its final phase
The EU-sponsored INCORE project investigating the feasibility of developing a European content rating and filtering system has launched a final consultation before it delivers its conclusions end-1999. The consultation takes the form of a questionnaire to interested parties on what categories of content should be filtered in a European system.

2.2 Culture Council to adopt conclusions on audiovisual content rating

The Culture Council is expected to adopt a set of conclusion on the rating of content to protect minors. The proposal has been made by the Finnish Presidency which has made the protection of minors a cornerstone of its culture policy. However, Member States remain sceptical of what the Finnish text could add to the Recommendation on the protection of minors adopted under the UK Presidency in 1998. There are also concerns that it may pre-empt the results of the on-going consultation on parental control devises which followed a Commission-sponsored study earlier this year. The Culture Council meets on 23 November.


3 Copyright

3.1 Finnish Presidency tables redrafted proposal

The Finnish Presidency has submitted its redraft of the Directive on copyright to the Council working group in an attempt to promote agreement between Member States. The new text includes some key elements of the rightsholders' position, in particular on temporary copies. The Finnish text makes explicit the notion of "authorisation" for all copies but includes browsing and caching within the scope of the exemption. It also allows for rightsholders to take injunctive relief against intermediaries for copyright infringements. This new proposal has delayed discussions in working group and a common position is not expected until next year.

3.2 Finnish Presidency hosts conference on copyright

Over 200 representatives of rightsholders from a wide range of interests including publishing, broadcasting, film, music and software industries together with intermediaries such as the telcos, ISPs, consumer electronics gathered to discuss issues such as liability for infringements, technical systems of protecting digital content and the vexed issue of applicable law. The controversy surrounding the issue of whether or not to exempt temporary copies was aired during the conference. The compromise proposal which has emerged from the UK publishers and telcos is gaining support amongst the rightsholder community as a fall back position to full "authorisation" of temporary copies.

3.3 WIPO publishes its work programme on intellectual property aspects of e-commerce
The World Intellectual Property Organisation has published a follow-up programme to its report on domain names. The programme consists of a set of 10 guidelines, including a commitment to implement the agreement reached with ICANN on the resolution of trademark disputes arising from domain name registrations, to reach agreement on the protection of databases and to promote the importance of interoperability of e-commerce technology.

3.4 Council takes next steps to ratify WIPO Treaties
The Council of Ministers has decided to formally request the assent of the European Parliament on the WIPO Treaties on Copyright, and Performances and Phonograms. The Parliament's approval is required before the Commission can deposit the instruments of ratification on behalf of the EU. Member States must also ratify the treaty separately.


4 Advertising

4.1 Tobacco advertising As UK Courts delay implementation of the ban - oral proceedings to begin soon at European Court
The European Court of Justice has closed written proceedings in the case brought by Germany against the EU Directive banning tobacco advertising. A date for the oral hearings to begin is expected to be announced shortly, once all the submission documents have been translated. Oral hearing for the four related cases brought by individual companies (Alma Media, Una Film, Davidoff and Salamander) will begin on 15 November in the Court of First Instance. Meanwhile the UK High Court has ruled that the UK Government may not introduce the tobacco advertising ban in the UK until proceedings have been heard at EU level.

4.2 Consumer Affairs Commissioner announces reform of advertising laws
The new Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, David Byrne, announced to the European Parliament that he plans to bring forward proposals to amend the EU Directive on misleading advertising early next year. The amendments will introduce new provisions to protect consumers from misleading claims on health, nutrition and the environment.

4.3 Industry close to agreeing the creation of a marketing communications Intergroup
In response to the Commission's decision to close its investigation in to the Greek toy advertising ban, industry groups have joined forces to create a so-called "Intergroup" in the European Parliament to act as a discussion forum on future EU policy on commercial communications. The Intergroup would be industry-sponsored and bring together industry representatives and Members of the European Parliament from all parties and Member States. Discussions continue on the creation of a steering committee and programme of events.


5 Audiovisual and general media policy

5.1 Media ownership - Economic and Social Committee modifies its position
The Economic and Social Committee (ECOSOC) has redrafted its own-initiative report on media concentration and pluralism and has adopted a softer position on the need for legislative action. The draft report no longer calls for an EU Directive to regulate media ownership but instead calls for a Recommendation to Member States and concerted action to co-ordinate national policies in this field. However, ECOSOC remains convinced that the development of digital services presents dangers for media pluralism and calls for all new services to be brought within the framework of media ownership rules. The final report is expected to be adopted in December/January. (Full text available on request).

5.2 EU audiovisual industry attacks Commissioner Reding after comments on broadcasting quotas
Culture and Education Commissioner Viviane Reding has been subject to strong criticism following comments which appeared to call in to question the future of EU broadcasting quotas introduced by the television without frontiers Directive. Commissioner Reding has responded by stressing that she would rigorously defend the current system but recognised that quotas may not be feasible to police as an increasing amount of broadcasting goes on-line. To combat this, Reding has recommended more funding for quality European production which would increase demand for European works.

5.3 Council of Ministers agrees conclusions in preparation for the WTO Millennium Round
At the second attempt, the Council of Ministers broke the deadlock over the wording of its conclusions on cultural trade at is meeting on 26 October. The compromise text failed to achieve the primary goal of defining cultural diversity and instead stressed the importance of allowing Member States to define their own national cultural and audiovisual policies "for the purpose of preserving their cultural diversity". These conclusions will form the basis of the EU position at the forthcoming WTO Ministerial meeting in Seattle.


6 Environment

6.1 Commission adopts Communication on the competitiveness of forest-based industries
The European Commission has adopted its long-awaited Communication on the competitiveness of EU forest-based industries. In spite of the long consultation undertaken by the Commission, the publishing industry is given poor coverage relative to its economic importance. As expected, the forestry and paper industries form the focus of the analysis and the development of new technologies and related issues (e.g.: copyright) are given little attention. In its conclusions, the Communication recommends the creation of a Forum of stakeholder groups to take forward the recommendations. This would be made up of industry representatives, as well as consumer, trade union and environmental groups. EU publishing federations have submitted comments to the Industry Council which will consider the Communication on 9 November. Follow-up action will begin with vocational training with a preliminary meeting with industry representatives scheduled for end-November.

6.2 Recycling Forum - Commission makes preliminary conclusions
The European Commission Industry Directorate General has submitted an interim report to the groups involved in the working parties, setting out its preliminary conclusions following the second plenary session in September. The report recommends that the final conclusions (due in December) attempt to groups the sectors in categories - (i) traditional sectors e.g.: steel & glass where manufacturers aim to close the recycling loop, (ii) emerging sectors where recycling businesses are not consolidated & (iii) the role of intermediaries e.g.: manufacturers & municipalities. The paper industry has been classified as a sector where the aim is to close the loop and the Commission perceives that further intervention is required to "help market forces to operate√Čin order to achieve higher recycling quotas". Full text available on request.

6.3 Commission begins revision of the packaging waste Directive

The European Commission's services dealing with environment policy have begun an internal consultation on the planned revision of the Directive on packaging waste. A working document has been circulated to other services and stakeholder groups for comments. The main purpose of the revision is to set new recycling and recovery targets for 2006, however the consultation will assess the need to revise other aspects of the Directive. These include the definitions of packaging and recycling; objectives for reuse and prevention; and the allocation of costs in return, collection and recovery systems. Working document available on request.

6.4 EU paper industry opposes accelerated tariff reduction
The Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) has formally written to EU Trade Commissioner, Pascal Lamy, stating its opposition to the US-sponsored proposal to accelerate the reduction of paper tariffs in the forthcoming WTO Millennium Round of trade liberalisation talks.

The European Commission has declined to take a position on acceleration, and has made it clear that the EU will not support demands from the US and other WTO countries to agree some liberalisation packages at Seattle, before the main negotiations begin. CEPI letter available on request.

6.5 Commission study aims to assess impact of trade liberalisation on sustainable development

The European Commission has sponsored a study aiming to develop a methodology to assess the potential impact of further trade liberalisation on sustainable development.
The study aims to draw up a list of sectors which will be particularly affected by greater liberalisation and develop proposals for measures through which liberalisation might have a positive impact on sustainable development. The final report is due in November.

6.6 European paper industry proposes mutual recognition for forest certification systems

The Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) has proposed a mechanism to promote the mutual recognition of forest certification systems. The proposal aims to achieve objective comparison of current systems by setting out principles which each system should aim to fulfil and by increasing understanding of the respective certificates. Further details available on request.


7 General

7.1 Commission to decide soon on new strategy on company law
The European Commission held a meeting end-September with Member State officials responsible for company law. The main purpose of the meeting was to discuss developments in Member States and recent changes to their respective company law systems. In addition, the Commission is expecting the final report from the task force examining the simplification of EU company law in November. After this, the Commission will reassess its policy and whether a new strategy is necessary.

7.2 Council of Ministers adopts conclusions on mutual recognition

Following the adoption of a Commission Communication on the principle of mutual recognition earlier in the year, the Council of Ministers adopted a set of conclusions at its meeting on 28 October stressing the need to provide a clear framework to economic operators. The conclusions highlight the benefits of the mutual recognition to the functioning of the single market and call upon the Commission and Member States to improve co-ordination and information exchange in order to ensure that the principle is fully respected. The Commission is also called upon to exercise its rights under the Treaty to initiate infringement proceedings against Member States which fail to apply mutual recognition. The Commission will report annually on the application of mutual recognition and the conclusions will be assessed again in 2001. Full text available on request.

7.3 Commission publishes a new work programme for the single market
The European Commission has published a Communication setting out its strategy for the single market. The Communication covers three key areas: improving the citizens' quality of life, enhancing the efficiency of product and capital markets, and exploiting the achievements of the internal market in a changing world. The importance of mutual recognition in e-commerce and the protection of intellectual property are highlighted as crucial for the development of new technologies. The Communication also stresses the need to simplify current EU legislation and secure a satisfactory agreement from the WTO Millennium Round. The consultation included a conference on 29 October and a strategy of legislative and non-legislative measures is expected by end-November. This will be presented to the Helsinki European Council in December.

7.4 Commission plans telecoms reform
The European Commission is planning a wide-ranging revision of EU telecoms regulation following a year-long review of the newly liberalised market. A Communication due in November is expected to phase out or simplify dozens of measures and limit future regulation only to achieving objectives which cannot be achieved by competition policy. The Communication will be discussed by the Telecoms Council on 30 November. Meanwhile, competition Commissioner Mario Monti has launched an investigation in to the pricing of leased lines, local loops and mobile phone charges.

7.5 Commissioner Bolkestein speaks out in support of protection against misrepresentation in photographs
At the opening of the World Press Photo exhibition in Brussels, internal market Commissioner, Fritz Bolkestein, delivered a speech on ethics and the press. He highlighted the potential of new technologies to allow digital manipulation of photographs and the ethical problems this could pose. He suggested that an ethical code of conduct should be considered for photographers, similar to the one which already exists for journalists. Full speech available on request.


Documents available on request to EPC members:

European Commission
- speech by Commissioner Bolkestein on ethics and the press
- working document on the revision of the Packaging Waste Directive
- interim report on the Recycling Forum
- revised proposal for a Directive on legal aspects of electronic commerce
- draft Commission Directive on vertical agreements
- Commission Communication on the EU approach to the Millennium Round
- draft Directive on the processing of personal data by EU institutions
- revised proposal for a Directive on copyright and related rights
- Working paper on indirect taxes & electronic commerce - options for the EU VAT system (June '99)
- Communication on the competitiveness of European enterprises in the face of globalisation
- White Paper on commerce
- Working party on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data - latest opinions on data protection on the internet
- Green paper on Public Sector Information in the Information Society
- Green paper on Piracy and Counterfeiting in the single market
- Draft Communication on competitiveness of e-commerce
- Communication on Convergence
- Interim evaluation report on the INFO 2000 programme
- draft Directive amending Directive 80/723/EEC on the transparency of financial relations between Member States and public undertakings

European Parliament
Draft Directive on electronic commerce (first reading - co-decision)
- first reading resolution (based on Oddy report)

Draft Directive on copyright (first reading - co-decision)
- first reading resolution (based on Barzanti report)

Draft Directive on a European framework for electronic signatures (first reading)
- second reading resolution (based on Lechner report)

Draft Directive on information and consultation of workers (first reading - co-operation procedure)
- first reading resolution (based on Ghilardotti report)

Council
- Council legal service opinion on certain aspects of the draft Directive on e-commerce
- Council conclusions on mutual recognition
- Finnish Presidency text on electronic commerce
- Culture Council conclusions on convergence
- Culture Council conclusions on self-regulation and the media
- Telecoms Council conclusions on convergence
- common position on the Draft Directive on electronic signatures

Economic & Social Committee
- draft report on pluralism and concentration in the media

European Court of Justice
- Advocate General's opinion on the calculation of permitted advertising time
- Court of First Instance ruling on the Commission's failure to act on a complaint from TF1

EPC Documents
- EPC joint press statement on draft Brussels regulation
- Minutes of the EPC meeting held 8-9 June, Berlin
- latest statements from the Ad Hoc Alliance against unfair competition in the broadcasting and new services markets
- EPC final position paper on e-commerce
- Press releases on copyright
- speech by Mr. Francisco Pinto Balsemao - "Control - them or us?", ICC/UNICE conference "Advertising matters", 27 April 2023

Others
German Presidency seminar on self-regulation
- conclusions
Marketing in schools - study by GMV Conseil (Paris)
- carried out for DGXXIV, European Commission
Children's Programme
- comparative study of advertising regulations for children in UK, The Netherlands, Spain & Sweden

Media Group
- final report on the competitiveness of EU publishing industries

OECD
- draft guidelines on consumer protection and electronic commerce

WIPO - draft database Treaty
- Consultation documents

WIPO - audiovisual performers Treaty
- consultation documents

CEPI
- proposal for mutual recognition of forest certification standards
- letter to Pascal Lamy on liberalisation of paper tariffs
- Towards a European Agreement on the Recovery of Paper and Board Products
- draft paper on producer responsibility

Bonn University study on advertising and children
- results of academic survey and statistical data

Council of Europe
- recommendation on measures to promote media pluralism - text formally adopted the Committee of Ministers (Jan. 99)
- draft Convention on the legal protection of services consisting of or based on conditional access

Association of Commercial Television (ACT)
- Position paper on public service broadcasting