Earth
Click to view previous newsletter.  
 

 
 





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





 


 
 The EPC Members' Newsletter

 

Legislative update 81 Month - September 1999

1. ELECTRONIC COMMERCE
1.1 Commission tables revised proposal on electronic commerce
1.2 Council working group avoids discussion of country of origin
1.3 Brussels regulation - Commission to consult interest groups in November
1.4 Consumers International highlights disadvantages of on-line shopping
1.5 Talks begin on email preference system for on-line shoppers
1.6 Domain names - dispute resolution system agreed
1.7 GBD holds first conference on self-regulation of e-commerce
1.8 OECD - consultation continue on consumer guidelines
1.9 OECD Forum on electronic commerce to assess progress since Ottawa
1.10 Interactive publishing conference to decide on-line publishing awards
1.11 Internet regulation - NSI likely to retain control of key domains

2. CONVERGENCE
2.1 No support for EU regulatory body

3. INTERNET (CONTENT) REGULATION
3.1 European Commission plans event for Frankfurt book fair
3.2 INCORE to conclude its study on content rating and filtering shortly
3.3 European Commission announces next phase of internet action plan
3.4 US industry supports new initiative to protect minors using the internet

4. COPYRIGHT
4.1 Council working group makes slow progress
4.2 Parliament appoints new Rapporteur for second reading
4.3 US formally ratifies WIPO treaties
4.4 Commission study to look at contractual rules applying to copyright
4.5 Commission study on economic impact of copyright to go ahead

5. ADVERTISING
5.1 Commission closes investigation in to Greek toy advertising ban
5.2 Denmark expected to introduce proposal to ban advertising to children
5.3 Commercial communications expert group - Commission issues questionnaire on cross-border disputes
5.4 Distance selling - Commission begins its report on feasibility of cross-border redress
5.5 Alcohol advertising - draft Council Recommendation on health promotion among young people promotes action on marketing
5.6 Commission report on health aspects of tobacco consumption highlights the impact of the EU advertising ban
5.7 Spamming - Commission to investigate impact of direct commercial communications on data protection and privacy
5.8 New Commissioner sates his opposition to bans on alcohol and cars
5.8 New Commissioner sates his opposition to bans on alcohol and car advertising
5.9 Research predicts rise in on-line advertising in Europe
5.10 Fuel economy labelling - Parliament Rapporteur recommends to accept common position

6. AUDIOVISUAL AND GENERAL MEDIA POLICY
6.1 Finnish Presidency conference discusses the future of audiovisual production and trade
6.2 New Commissioner promises support for European content
6.3 Commission plans report on "must carry" rules by end-1999
6.4 Council of Europe hosts conference on privacy and freedom of expression
6.5 Independent study to assess impact of analogue switch-off
6.6 Broadcasters' rights - Commission to assess adequacy of current protection measures

7. GENERAL
7.1 European Parliament approves new Commission
7.2 Associations publish position papers on WTO Millennium Round
7.3 EU/US data protection talks aim to be completed by end-1999
7.4 Commission Communication on the competitiveness of forest-based industries to be adopted soon
7.5 Eurobarometer survey shows growing use of IT in Europe
7.6 Commission continues infringement proceedings against 9 Member States for failure to implement the data protection Directive
7.7 European Commission plans consultation with Member States on company law
7.8 Vertical restraints - European Commission opens consultation on draft legislation

Dates for your diary

October
12th 13th - OECD Forum on electronic commerce, Paris
15th-20th - Frankfurt Book Fair, Frankfurt
28th-29th - Presidency conference on copyright, Helsinki

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.).

December
2nd - WTO "services" day, Seattle.

1 Electronic commerce

1.1 Commission tables revised proposal on electronic commerce
The European Commission adopted its revised text on 1 September, taking on board some of the European Parliament's first reading amendments but leaving the liability provisions unchanged from the original proposal. Changes are largely minor but include providing a role for consumer groups in drawing up codes of conduct and clearer provisions on on-line contracts. The Commission's revised proposal is available at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg15/media/eleccomm/eleccomm.htm Meanwhile, the European Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market has appointed its Chairman, Ana Palacio (Es, EPP) as Rapporteur for the second reading.

1.2 Council working group avoids discussion of country of origin
Talks in the Council's economic questions working group have restarted with the first read through of an annotated text produced by the Finnish Presidency. Discussions, however, have skipped Article 3 which establishes the country of origin principle. It is felt that the Presidency will not return to this issue until after the consultation on the draft Brussels Regulation scheduled for early-November (see below) which will tackle jurisdiction issues. Working groups will take place weekly until December when the Finnish Presidency hopes to reach a common position. However, many feel that this is an ambitious timetable. (Presidency text available on request).

1.3 Brussels regulation - Commission to consult interest groups in November
The Justice and Home Affairs Directorate Task Force has announced that the consultation on the proposed Brussels Regulation on jurisdiction will take place on 4-5 November. Interested parties will be able to register online at the following website:http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/sg/tfjai/events/index.htm and download questions which will guide discussions.

1.4 Consumers International highlights disadvantages of on-line shopping
The world-wide consumer lobby, Consumers International, has published the results of a research project to examine the quality of service provided to on-line shoppers around the world. The report concludes that consumers are provided with inadequate information on traders' policies on privacy, additional charges and the return of goods. The lack of transparency and choice are also criticised. The report's findings have been supported by the EU lobby, BEUC, which has used its recommendations to back up its call for country of residence control. Full report available at: http://www.consumersinternational.org

1.5 Talks begin on email preference system for on-line shoppers
Initial talks have taken place between European direct marketers and internet service providers with a view to agreeing an email preference system for consumers. The electronic commerce Directive (see above) was amended to ensure that opt-out registers are respected. The two sides hope to agree guidelines which will form the basis of self-regulation similar to the mechanism which exists already for postal and telephone marketing.

1.6 Domain names - dispute resolution system agreed
WIPO and ICANN have reached agreement on a dispute resolution procedure for cases arising from misuse of trademarks in internet domain names. ICANN adopted a resolution at its meeting in Santiago, Chile, in August which endorsed the recommendations made in the final WIPO report on this issue. The mechanism will enter in to effect in October. Further details available at: http://www.icann.org

1.7 GBD holds first conference on self-regulation of e-commerce
The Global Business Dialogue (GBD) held its inaugural conference in Paris on 13 September. The 9 issue groups (data protection, taxation & tariffs, authentication & security, consumer confidence, commercial communications & content, infrastructure & market access, IPRs, jurisdiction, liability) reported on their preliminary results but work will continue. Overall, the initiative was welcomed, but US Under-Secretary for Commerce, David Aaron, criticised the GBD for being exclusive and urged its membership to be extended not only to other companies but also to stakeholder groups such as consumer bodies. The chairmanship now passes to the USA. Several EPC members are participating in the working groups and EPC Chairman, Mr. Balsemao is on the Steering Committee. Further information and conference material available on http://www.gbd.org/conference/index.html

1.8 OECD - consultation continue on consumer guidelines
Discussions are to continue in the OECD's Consumer Policy Committee after members failed to agree on guidelines for the protection of consumers in electronic commerce. The latest meeting in early September did not see agreement on the draft text and resulted in a number of Member States requesting additional time to consult with their respective governments. The final version is expected to be adopted by written procedure before the end of the year.

1.9 OECD Forum on electronic commerce to assess progress since Ottawa
The OECD is to hold a forum on electronic commerce on 12-13 October to take stock of progress made since the Ministerial agreement reached in Ottawa in October 1998. The forum will focus on 4 key themes: electronic commerce at the crossroads (changes and progress over the last year), electronic commerce: users and consumers, enhancing the information infrastructure for electronic commerce, establishing ground rules for the digital market place. Further details are available at: http://www.oecd.org/dsti/sti/it/ec/act/paris_ec/paris-ec_prog.htm

1.10 Interactive publishing conference to decide on-line publishing awards
The 1999 Interactive Publishing Conference on 17-19 November will see the presentation of this year's LISA awards for the best European on-line publications. So far, 65 websites from 19 countries have been nominated and nominations will be accepted until 15 October. Further details and conference information available at: http://www.iptop.com or http://www.interactivepublishing.net
1.11 Internet regulation - NSI likely to retain control of key domains The US Commerce secretary, William Daley, is expected to announce shortly that Network Solutions Inc. (NSI) will retain its control on the registration of domain names .com, .org and .net. In return, NSI will be obliged to become accredited to the supervisory body, ICANN, as a registrar and pay all associated fees. NSI will also be forced to reduce the fees it charges to other registrars to using the registries.


2 Converngence

2.1 No support for EU regulatory body
A Commission-sponsored report has concluded that it is not appropriate to create a Europe-wide regulatory body for telecoms. The report noted that sector-specific legislation should be avoided in the light of the on-going convergence debate and that the Commission would be better to use its existing powers of supervision and enforcement in co-operation with national regulatory authorities who know their respective domestic markets in most detail. Meanwhile, Competition Commissioner Mario Monti has announced an in-depth investigation in the pricing of cross-border leased lines, local loop unbundling and agreements between mobile phone operators.


3 Internet (content) regulation

3.1 European Commission plans event for Frankfurt book fair
The European Commission has scheduled an event on electronic publishing at the Frankfurt book fair on 13 October. The event will consist of a seminar on electronic publishing, followed by a presentation of the results of the INFO 2000 programme and proposals for follow-on work. Further details and electronic registration available at: http://www2.echo.lu/frankfurt99/program_en.html Meanwhile, the Commission has published a tender for the final independent evaluation of the INFO 2000 programme. This is expected to begin in early 2000.

3.2 INCORE to conclude its study on content rating and filtering shortly
The INCORE project on on-line content rating and filtering has completed its consultation as part of the Commission's Action Plan to Promote Safe Use of the Internet. The Second Experts' Meeting held in Munich on 10-11 September sought to bring together views before the final steering group meeting takes place in November. Discussions at this meeting featured a proposal from the Bertelsmann Foundation on self-regulation. It is hoped that a report proposing a common rating system for Europe will be published before the end of the year. Further information is available at: http://www.incore.org Meanwhile, the newly launched Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA) is due to re-launch a new version of the successful RASCi filtering and rating system adapted for the global market. ICRA has said it will look closely at the Bertelsmann proposal. Further details available from: http://www.icra.org

3.3 European Commission announces next phase of internet action plan
The European Commission has announced its intention to publish a call for tender for the next phase of projects to implement its Action Plan to Promote Safe Use of the Internet. This next phase will comprise of three projects on technical assistance, dissemination of information about the programme and its funding and assistance to self-regulatory bodies in developing and implementing codes of conduct. The tender is expected to be formally published later in the Autumn.

3.4 US industry supports new initiative to protect minors using the internet
A grouping of US businesses has launched an initiative to provide parents with information to help them regulate their children's internet viewing. GetNetWise is supported by major IT companies (including MCI WorldCom, AT&T;, Microsoft, and AOL) in co-operation with an advisory board of organisations involved in family welfare policy. It offers parents free information via a website, as well as filtering and monitoring tools which can be used to when their children use the internet unsupervised. Further details available from http://www.getnetwise.org Meanwhile a new US-based lobby group to deal with Internet issues has been formed: http://www.NetCoalition.com


4 Copyright

4.1 Council working group makes slow progress
The Finnish Presidency has begun a busy schedule of working group meetings on the copyright Directive with a view to reaching a common position at the Internal Market Council on 7 December. Progress on the question of temporary copies is hampered by a number of Member States who still have no clear position. An increasing number have indicated that they can support deletion of Article 5.1 but a compromise is more likely to arise from an amendment to the Commission's wording. The issues are clearer on technical measures (Article 6) but the issues of 'playability' and supremacy of anti-circumvention measures over exemptions remain problematic.

The Finnish Presidency will hold a conference on copyright issues on 28-29 October in Helsinki. This event will focus on three working sessions on contracts and licences in the digital age, technological protection and rights management, liability and notice/take-down procedures. (Further information available on request). EPC will be represented.

4.2 Parliament appoints new Rapporteur for second reading
The European Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market has appointed the new MEP, Enrico Boselli, as its Rapporteur for the second reading of the EU Directive. Boselli will replace Roberto Barzanti who retired from the Parliament in June. Boselli is a former company Director and leader of the Italian Social Democratic Party since 1994.

4.3 US formally ratifies WIPO treaties
The United States has formally deposited its instruments of ratification in Geneva for the WIPO Treaties on copyright, and performances and phonograms. US Under-Secretary for Commerce, William Daley, presented the ratification at the WIPO conference on intellectual property aspects of e-commerce on 14 September.

4.4 Commission study to look at contractual rules applying to copyright
The European Commission has published a call for tender to study the impact on the single market of different national rules on contractual rules relating to copyright and neighbouring rights. The study will also assess the need for further harmonisation at EU level. (Further details available on request).

4.5 Commission study on economic impact of copyright to go ahead
- After postponing the original tender, the Commission has chosen a contractor to carry out a study examining the economic importance of copyright to the EU. The contractors have begun contacting organisations with economic interests in copyright.


5 Advertising

5.1 Commission closes investigation in to Greek toy advertising ban
The European Commission has shocked industry by adopting a recommendation to close its long-standing investigation in to the Greek ban on toy advertising on television. In its final decision, the Commission deemed the ban to be "proportional" and therefore permissible under single market rules. The decision has outraged the EU toy industry federations since the same claim was used by the Commission as grounds for sending Greece a reasoned opinion. Toy industry representatives are currently looking in to mounting a campaign against the decision, fearing that this could open the door for similar national bans to continue.

5.2 Denmark expected to introduce proposal to ban advertising to children
The Danish government is expected to announce shortly its intention to propose legislation to ban advertising aimed at children along the lines of existing measures in Norway and Sweden. It is understood that an announcement will be made to Parliament in October.

5.3 Commercial communications expert group - Commission issues questionnaire on cross-border disputes
Following the commercial communicationsÕ expert group's first opinion on discounts, the Commission has issued a series of questionnaires to canvas views on current practices across the EU on cross-border disputes. The issue was highlighted by expert group members as an obstacle to mutual recognition of national rules on discounts. The questionnaires are aimed at all stakeholder groups and the results are expected to be presented to the expert group in early 2000. (Further information available on request). Meanwhile, the commercial communications website has been expanded and can be consulted at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg15/comcom/index_en.htm

5.4 Distance selling - Commission begins its report on feasibility of cross-border redress
As required by the 1997 EU Directive on distance selling, the Directorate General for Health and Consumer Protection has begun gathering information on current self-regulatory codes on cross-border redress. The Commission must submit a report on the feasibility of introducing effective cross-border mechanisms for distance sales by the end of the year. The report will be considered by the Parliament and Council of Ministers.

5.5 Alcohol advertising - draft Council Recommendation on health promotion among young people promotes action on marketing
The services of the European Commission responsible for health policy have drafted a Council Recommendation on the health aspects of alcohol consumption among children and adolescents. The latest draft encourages action in Member States to provide young people with information on the dangers of alcohol and promote responsible marketing. It recommends that effective regulatory or self-regulatory codes are introduced, together with appropriate complaints mechanisms and the pre-testing of marketing campaigns to ensure they do not appeal to children. The draft Recommendation has been drawn up in consultation with the ComitŽ de Vins and the Amsterdam Group and has already received provisional approval of Member States. The draft text will now enter inter-service consultation before being submitted to EU Health Ministers for approval. (Draft text available on request).

5.6 Commission report on health aspects of tobacco consumption highlights the impact of the EU advertising ban
A recent report adopted by the Commission points to the tobacco advertising ban as a key instrument to reducing smoking among young people in the EU. This document is the latest progress report on the EU's action plan on tobacco consumption and claims that the benefits of the ban "should not be under-estimated". The full report is available at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/dgo5/phealth/news/tobaccorep_en.htm

5.7 Spamming - Commission to investigate impact of direct commercial communications on data protection and privacy
The European Commission has published a tender to investigate the privacy and data protection issues raised by the development of electronically mailed commercial communications both globally and in the EU. The study will also look in to methods used to process data protection on-line and will assess the need for EU regulation. (Further details available on request).

5.8 New Commissioner sates his opposition to bans on alcohol and car advertising
At his hearing before the European Parliament in early-September, the new Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, David Byrne (Irish), came out against EU bans on alcohol and car advertising. Responding to questions from German MEPs, Byrne did not express a view on tobacco advertising or advertising to children but made clear that in all areas he would only introduce legislation which was proportionate and based on objective criteria. Reports on hearing available at: http://europearl.eu.int/dg3/sdp/newsrep/en/index.htm

5.9 Research predicts rise in on-line advertising in Europe
The latest research from the US suggests that spending on on-line advertising in Europe will rise to 5.1% of the total expenditure by 2004. It is estimated that this will be worth US$ 5.5m, but will remain only two-thirds of US spending. This research was published by Forrester and is available at http://www.forrester.com

5.10 Fuel economy labelling - Parliament Rapporteur recommends to accept common position
The European Parliament's Rapporteur for the draft Directive on fuel economy labelling has recommended to the Environment Committee to accept the Council's common position without amendment. If unopposed, this recommendation means that the Parliament will not be re-tabling its first reading amendment which sought to extend the definition of "promotional literature" to include internet advertising. Although adopted at the first reading, this amendment was rejected by the Council of Ministers. The Parliament is scheduled to approve this recommendation for a second reading at the plenary session in November.


6 Audiovisual and general media policy

6.1 Finnish Presidency conference discusses the future of audiovisual production and trade
The Finnish Presidency hosted a conference on 9-10 September on the future of EU content. Discussions on financial support for European production followed familiar lines, as did those on the future of the EU's WTO exemption for audiovisual services. Heated discussions took place on public service broadcasters and their exploitation of new technologies but little new ground was broken. Conclusions will be drafted for adoption by the Culture Council in November.

6.2 New Commissioner promises support for European content
In her hearing before the European Parliament, Viviane Reding promised MEPs that she would fight for more EU funding for European content production and defend the EU's exemption in the WTO for audiovisual services. MEPs pressed her for her views on media ownership but Reding only promised that she would consult with her fellow Commissioners since the issue also covered competition and internal market matters. Reding counteracted vicious anti-American comments from MEPs by stressing that the EU has much to learn from the US audiovisual industry, especially in the areas of education and training. Mrs Reding has appointed the former head of audiovisual policy at the Commission, Gregory Paulger, as her Chef de Cabinet. Reports on hearing available at http://europearl.eu.int/dg3/sdp/newsrep/en/index.htm

6.3 Commission plans report on "must carry" rules by end-1999
The European Commission's Directorate General for the Internal Market plans to complete its analysis of questionnaires on "must carry " rules by the end of the year and respond to outstanding infringement cases against German public service broadcasters. The report will contribute to the review of current EU rules and form the basis of the Commission's response to the case brought by VPRT against the German government claiming that a dominant broadcaster with "must carry " status constitutes a barrier to competition.

6.4 Council of Europe hosts conference on privacy and freedom of expression
As part of the work of the Council of EuropeÕs mass media committee, a special working group has been established to examine the need for a Recommendation to protect personal privacy against unwarranted intrusions from the media. At a hearing on 23 September panellists argued for and against introducing rules which might impinge on the "greater" right to the freedom of expression. The Chairman concluded that further work was necessary and that the working group would first examine existing rules and self- regulatory codes. It seems most likely however that the Council of Europe will attempt to draft a Recommendation. The EPC was represented at the hearing along with representatives from several media corporations and self-regulatory bodies all of which opposed the notion of harmonised rules.

6.5 Independent study to assess impact of analogue switch-off
The Commission has published a call for tender to carry out a study to examine the market impact of setting a date for the switching-off of analogue signals. The study will also look at the reallocation of the analogue spectrum and related public policy measures... (Further details available on request).

6.6 Broadcasters' rights - Commission to assess adequacy of current protection measures
The European Commission has announced a tender to study the effectiveness of current measures aimed at protecting broadcasters' rights in both the EU and at international level. The study will also look at the need to revise current EU rules.


7 General

7.1 European Parliament approves new Commission
The European Parliament voted by a large majority to approve the new Commission for the full 5 year term, in spite of attempts to put the 20 Commissioners on probation until the New Year. Commission President, Romano Prodi, agreed to a set of conditions laid down by Parliament. These include regular attendance at Parliamentary committee, support for the Parliament's position at the next IGC, taking full account of Parliament's position when amending legislation and giving greater consideration to Parliament's calls for legislative proposals. The Commissioners have now moved into the offices of their respective Directorates General, which have also been renamed in the light of Prodi's reform plan. Further details of the new Commissioners, DGs & Cabinet staff available at http://europa.eu.int/comm/index_en.htm

7.2 Associations publish position papers on WTO Millennium Round
Various European trade associations and chamber of commerce have begun publishing their respective position papers on the forthcoming Millennium Round of WTO trade liberalisation talks. The EPC has been working with a group of companies and umbrella bodies who are all members of the European Services Network. A joint position paper will be finalised shortly. The other papers include those of UNICE, the EU employers' confederation, and AMCHAM, the American Chamber of Commerce. All organisations show their support for continued talks on electronic commerce but urge caution in new areas such as competition. These papers aim to contribute to the debate preceding the WTO Ministerial meeting in Seattle at the end of November. Full texts are available at http://www.eucommittee.be; http://www.esnet.be and http://www.unice.org;

7.3 EU/US data protection talks aim to be completed by end-1999
Talks between the EU and US continue in a bid to find agreement on the protection of EU data exported to the US. Discussions focus on the implementation of the proposed 'safe harbour' principles. The US is calling for a two-year implementation period on the grounds that the Directive has yet to be transposed in the majority of EU Member States. The two sides aim to reach agreement by the end of the year.

7.4 Commission Communication on the competitiveness of forest-based industries to be adopted soon
The long-awaited Communication on the competitiveness of forest-based industries is due shortly to be discussed by the Chefs de Cabinet of the new Commissioners. The text has completed its 10-day inter-service consultation and is expected to be adopted by the Commissioners by mid-October.

7.5 Eurobarometer survey shows growing use of IT in Europe
The latest Eurobarometer public opinion survey has revealed that ownership of PCs in the EU has risen to over 30% of citizens. The survey also reveals that a growing number of people use the internet at work and at home, and is increasing by over 7% a year. The internet is being used to obtain a broad range of services including health information, distance learning and travel. Full survey available at: http://www.ispo.cec.be/polls/

7.6 Commission continues infringement proceedings against 9 Member States for failure to implement the data protection Directive
The Commission has moved to the second stage of infringement proceedings against 9 Member States for failing to notify the Commission regarding transposition of the data protection Directive. Reasoned opinions have been sent to The Netherlands, UK, France, Luxembourg, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Denmark and Austria. These governments have 2 months to respond to the Commission. Full details of implementation are available at: http://europa.eu.int/comm.dg15/en/media/dataprot/law/impl.htm

7.7 European Commission plans consultation with Member States on company law
The European Commission will hold a meeting on 29-30 September with Member State experts to assess recent changes to company law at the national level. The development of EU policy in this are has been delayed by the slow progress of the Commission's study in to the simplification of current legislation. It is now hoped that its report will be completed in November. This report, together with the results of the experts' meeting, will form the basis of further Commission action in this area.

7.8 Vertical restraints - European Commission opens consultation on draft legislation
The European Commission has published its draft legislation on the reform of EU rules on vertical restraints. The draft Regulation will be open for consultation for one months and the draft guidelines on implementation will be open for two months of consultation. Full details and documents available at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg04/entente/other.htm