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Legislative up-date 64 Month - September 1997 

In this issue we cover:
  • The Commission and Parliament call for public hearing on privacy and the press
  • Commissioner Bangemann to set policy framework for next 5 years on convergence
  • Commission backs away from full harmonisation of digital copyright
  • Council starts to make progress on the tobacco advertising ban
  • Economic and Finance Ministers to start looking at VAT rates


  TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. PRESS, NEWSPAPER, MAGAZINE AND BOOK POLICY 

1.1 Commission and EP - Privacy and the media 

1.2 EP - Own-Initiative Report on new technologies and the press 

1.3 Media Concentration 

2. INTERNET (CONTENT) REGULATION 

2.1 Commission - Protection of Minors 

3. INTERNET AND CONVERGENCE 

4. COPYRIGHT 

4.1. EP and Commission - discussion of Barzanti’s Report 

5. VAT 

6. ADVERTISING POLICY 

6.1 Council - Presidency compromise 

6.2 EP - Discussion of Communication on tobacco consumption 

6.3 Commission and EP - EP Resolution adopted on women and advertising 

6.4 Council/EP - adoption of Comparative Advertising Directive 

7. AUDIOVISUAL POLICY 

7.1 UK Presidency Conference 

7.2 Commission - Creation of think tank 

7.3 Commission - Spain concedes to Reasoned Opinion from Commission 

7.4 Commission - Notice on joint venture of British Interactive Broadcasting 

8. ENVIRONMENT 

8.1 Initiative on shared responsibility 

8.2 Commission - recycling initiative 

8.3 Transatlantic Business Dialogue 

9.0 GENERAL 

9.1 Postal Services 

9.2 Commission - Application to UK of social protocol legislation 

9.3 Commission Tender on consumer access to information society 

9.4 Council/EP - Conciliation Committee commences discussion on ISDN 
 
 
 

1. PRESS, NEWSPAPER, MAGAZINE AND BOOK POLICY 

1.1 Commission and EP - Privacy and the media 

Following Princess Diana’s death, the Commission has called for a hearing on privacy laws, which would involve the Commission, the EP and the media. The EP did not, despite pressure from the Culture Committee, hold a debate on the subject of private life and media intrusion in September’s Plenary Session. The issue is to be discussed in the Legal Affairs Committee and Civil Liberties Committee, as well as in the Culture Committee, before any debate is scheduled for Plenary Session. Peter Pex (EPP, NL), Chairman of the Culture Committee is keen that the right to privacy must be maintained, but that the press industry should not be hindered by restrictive pre-publication rules. 1.2 EP - Own-Initiative Report on new technologies and the press  The Culture Committee adopted Katarina Daskalaki’s (UPE, Greece) Report on the impact of new technologies and the press, including mention that the Commission and Member States should examine the possibility of imposing the lowest possible tax rate "if not a 0% rate". An amendment was adopted proposing that the Commission "maintain the protection of the intellectual property rights of journalists and publishers". The Report calls on the Commission urgently to submit a proposal on media ownership. With regard to self-regulation and privacy, Mrs Daskalaki encourages the Commission and Member States to allow for dialogue within the industry. She amended her report to include a statement that self-regulation should be adopted with respect to intrusive coverage of all people, not just public personalities. 1.3 Media Concentration  DG XV continues to work on a text for a draft directive which they aim to get through the Commission by the end of the year. The European Parliament is putting pressure on the Commission to speed up their work amidst rising opposition from industry. A number of Member States have confirmed their opposition to EU legislation. 2. INTERNET (CONTENT) REGULATION 

2.1 Commission - Protection of Minors 

The forthcoming Communication from DG X which will follow up the Commission’s Green Paper on the Protection of Minors is expected to be adopted by end-October. The Communication will look at how co-operation between Member States can deal with the issue but will contain a proposed Recommendation setting out guidelines and a possible structure for co-operation between national self-regulatory frameworks. Meanwhile DG XIII is in the process of drafting an ‘Internet Action Plan’. An Internet based discussion forum on Internet issues has been set up to assist the Commission in preparing the draft of the Communication. Contributions are welcomed on the issues of labelling, rating and filtering systems on the Internet, education of Internet users, promoting quality of content for children on the Internet and the monitoring and evaluation of relevant policies and initiatives. 3. INTERNET AND CONVERGENCE  Commissioner Bangemann has announced that the forthcoming Green Paper on Convergence between the Audiovisual, Telecommunications and Publishing Industry, due to be published in November, will be a platform for defining convergence policy over the next five years. He has stated that an ‘International Charter for Global Communications’ should be set up to establish a global framework for communications. It would ensure that legislation is coherent and apply the principle of mutual recognition internationally. The USA has expressed scepticism as to the feasibility of this. 4. COPYRIGHT 

4.1. EP and Commission - discussion of Barzanti’s Report 

The Commission’s long awaited harmonising directive has been delayed amidst rumours that it will not attempt to go further than a broad framework for digital rights. It seems that the question of exceptions will be left to Member States and there is a fear amongst rights holders that the controversial issue of liability for copyright piracy on the Internet will be bound up on this directive. A joint industry position has been submitted to Commissioner Monti urging him to take a tough line on digital rights. 

Meanwhile, the EP Legal Affairs Committee has adopted Roberto Barzanti’s (PES, Italy) Report on copyright and related rights. During a discussion in the Legal Affairs Committee, Mr Barzanti encouraged the Commission to adopt a single Directive to deal with the issues of the right of reproduction, right of communication to the public and the right of distribution, and separate provisions for legal protection of the integrity of technical protection and identification schemes. The report included the following additional points: 

Distinction must be made between the protection of copyright and related rights and the protection of individual freedoms such as freedom of expression, the right to respect for human dignity and privacy and the public’s right to be informed; a balance should be maintained between safeguarding copyright and consumer interests; a legal framework should allow for intellectual property rights in new information society services and the rights of holders of related rights of the technical protection systems in digital broadcasting and multi-channel broadcasting; a balance between the rights of authors, producers, publishers and performing artists must be guaranteed; a global assessment should be made of the consequences of the ‘approximation’ of traditional means of communicating; where ‘incidental copies’ are necessary for the functioning of the services, e.g., Internet, new services, conditions for authorisation and exception must be defined; standardisation should be encouraged in all sectors of systems to protect works; a future proposed Directive should make it illegal to circumvent the technical identification and protection codes applied to a work; moral rights should become an acquired right across Europe. 

Jorg Reinböthe (DG XV), on behalf of the Commission, said that the Commission did indeed intend to adopt a single Directive by the end of November, but that it would be less ambitious than the EP expected. 

The Opinion of the Culture and Media Committee is due to be adopted at a Committee meeting in October. Peter Pex, the Chairman, supported Barzanti’s Report, advocating that a well enforced, harmonised copyright regime is an important factor in the EU’s cultural activity; the importance of moral rights in the digital environment; that due account should be taken of the public service role of educational and cultural establishments and their use of copyright works; that proper enforcement of copyright rules is essential and that the Commission should act in international negotiations to tackle piracy at an international level.

5. VAT  Economic and Finance Ministers will by the end of the year start considering the controversial issue of the harmonization of the rates of VAT, including the reduced and exempted areas. More news will follow. 6. ADVERTISING POLICY 

6.1 Council - Presidency compromise 

The Luxembourg Presidency is pushing ahead with trying to get a compromise through the Council. Amendments to the original draft directive were proposed to the Council Health Working Group in September which were followed up by further amendments from the UK Government. A fuller compromise text is now before the Council which attempts to deal with the various positions of the member States. Amongst those countries in favour of a ban, there is general support for a ban on all press advertising but a degree of caution surrounds the banning of sponsorship. Discussions will intensify over the next few months in the run up to the Health Council of Ministers in December. 

The European Publishers Council is opposing the proposed ban and has written to the Council Presidency. 

Germany and the Netherlands, supported in part by Italy, oppose the legal base of the proposed Directive. However, the Dutch government is under increasing pressure from the Health Minister to support the directive. The UK supports the directive in principle but does not agree with the definitions of sponsorship and has concerns about cross-border aspects and third countries. Denmark welcomed the proposed inclusion to Article 2 of an exemption to the ban for publications originating outside the EU. Greece is opposed to the Directive. The Presidency has since conducted bi-lateral talks with Germany and Greece. The UK has suggested amendments to the Luxembourg compromise text, allowing for commercial communications within the tobacco trade, allowing for advertising within tobacco sales outlets and allowing advertising on tobacco price lists.

6.2 EP - Discussion of Communication on tobacco consumption  The EP Environment and Health Committee is discussing the report from Jose Valverde Lopez (EPP, Spain) on the Commission’s Communication on measures to reduce tobacco consumption, which supports the proposed tobacco advertising ban. Some MEPs feel the draft EP Report is too cautious and favours instead an outright call for the banning of indirect and direct advertising. 

John Ryan for the Commission stated that technical feasibility studies will be carried out by the Commission on the possibility of reducing nicotine and tar in cigarettes. The Commission has asked Member States to submit information about national legislation on additives in tobacco products. Ryan pointed out that the Commission and the EP share a similar approach to the issue of a public smoking ban. 

The Report is now due for adoption later in October by the Environment Committee.

6.3 Commission and EP - EP Resolution adopted on women and advertising  The EP has adopted a Resolution, based on Marlene Lenz’s MEP (EPP, Germany) Report on the discrimination against women in advertising. Prior to the vote by MEPs, Mrs Lenz stated that an advertising code, created by a media ‘council’, was needed, as mechanisms for control of advertising in Member States were not adequate. Commissioner Flynn was present at the debate, saying there was a need to strike a balance between freedom of expression and undermining human dignity. He emphasised the need for Member States to co-operate and exchange information in this area. Flynn supported the idea of a code of practice for the industry and suggested setting up an advisory committee to examine the issue. A conference will be organised between industry and national supervisory bodies to discuss Mrs Lenz’s report. 6.4 Council/EP - adoption of Comparative Advertising Directive  The Directive to allow the use of comparative advertising agreed by the Conciliation Committee in June has been formally adopted by the Council and EP and is due shortly to be published in the Official Journal. 7. AUDIOVISUAL POLICY 

7.1 UK Presidency Conference 

A major UK conference will be held on 6-8 April 1998 in Birmingham, organised jointly by the British Screen Advisory Council and the UK Government, on financial support for the audiovisual industry, employment issues, regulatory frameworks, IP issues and competition policy. 7.2 Commission - Creation of think tank  Commissioner Oreja is setting up a high level group involving experts on audiovisual matters, with the aim of develop guidelines for future audiovisual policy. 7.3 Commission - Spain concedes to Reasoned Opinion from Commission  The Spanish government has conceded that it will modify its national law which was the subject of the Commission’s warning that the Spanish Government was creating a monopoly by authorising a "multicrypt" box decoder system to develop, and not allowing for the legalisation of the rival "simulcrypt" system. 7.4 Commission - Notice on joint venture of British Interactive Broadcasting  The Commission is investigating restriction of competition or abuse of dominant position on the joint venture to British Interactive Broadcasting (involving BT, BSkyB, Midland Bank and Matsushita Electric European) to supply digital interactive TV services such as home banking and home shopping. 8 ENVIRONMENT 

8.1 Initiative on shared responsibility 

With support from the Commission, the European Paper Manufacturing Industries (CEPI) have launched an initiative on shared (producer) responsibility for recovery of paper and paper products in the paper chain. CEPI is currently consulting several sectors, in particular the graphic side (namely publishers and printers) on the recovery of secondary fibres from the graphic section of the paper chain (printing and publishing). CECI aims to set up a Voluntary Agreement with quantified targets for recovery of paper and paper products in order to ward off un-wanted legislation in this area. DG XI has already published three draft directives as a follow up to the paper re-cycling directive in the field of batteries and electronic products. CEPI has had informal support from DG XI for establishing an appropriate and flexible self-regulatory framework to implement such an agreement. 

CEPI has undertaken to study the feasibility of an arrangement with the co-operation of the publishing sector. Industry associations have undertaken to consult their members and identify similar agreements that have been implemented in their Member States in terms of recycling and recovery targets, arrangements for collecting used/unsold paper and product labelling.

8.2 Commission - recycling initiative  DG III (Industry) is to propose a Communication on the competitiveness of the recycling industry in the EU. CEPI has been commissioned by the Commission to provide relevant material for the Communication which will provide an overview of the industry in Member States and adopt an Action Plan to identify weakness in the structure of the markets and will draft proposals to remedy these. The Commission will reinforce industrial co-operation between parts of the recycling industry and promote investment. 8.3 Transatlantic business dialogue  DG XIII is co-ordinating industry’s views on IPR and electronic commerce, to be discussed in the TABD discussions between the EU and USA, which will commence in Rome in November. The USA is keen to discuss paper tariffs in Rome to speed up European paper tariff reductions agreed in the Uruguay Round. 9. GENERAL 

9.1 Postal Services 

The EP’s Plenary Session in September held a Second Reading of the Report by Brian Simpson of the Transport Committee on the Proposed Directive on Common Rules for the Development of Community Postal Services and the Improvement of Quality of Service. Commissioner Bangemann declared to MEPs that postal operators would have to modernise and that they had been granted until 2003 to do so. A notice on the application of EU competition rules to postal operators is due to be released . A tender has been published for studies on the impact of liberalisation in the postal sector. A copy of the call for tenders is available on request. 9.2 Commission - Application to UK of social protocol legislation  The Commission has proposed two Directives to extend to the UK the two Directives currently in place under the Social Chapter:- The European Works Councils directive (for employee participation) and the Parental Leave Directive (allowing for 3 months unpaid parental leave). 9.3 Commission Tender on consumer access to information society  Commission money is available for projects which deal with improving the access of the consumer to the information society and also for projects designed to promote and protect consumer interests in 1998. 9.4 Council/EP - Conciliation Committee commences discussion on ISDN  The Conciliation Committee in respect of the ISDN data protection proposal met for the first time on 24 September. Agreement was reached excluding business transactions from the provisions on the taping of telephone conversations, although there are problems with the proposed deletion by the EP of an Article which allows Member States to allow operators to require payment from subscribers who want to be excluded from a directory. The Council is expecting Member States to signal their approval by ‘written procedure’. There is a deadline for final compromise to be reached by 5 November. 



 
 
 
 

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