Your consultant

In topic Single Market & Competition:

Dr. Matthias Kullas

Head of Division

+49 761 38693-236

kullas(at)cep.eu

Till Brombach

Policy Analyst

+49 761 38693-244

brombach(at)cep.eu

Dr. Anja Hoffmann, LL.M. Eur.

Policy Analyst

+ 49 761 38693-247

hoffmann(at)cep.eu

Bastian Sattelberger

Policy Analyst

+49 761 38693-248

sattelberger(at)cep.eu

Single Market & Competition

The Single Market is the main pillar of the European Union. A large part of EU legislation relates to the four basic freedoms on which the Single Market is based: free movement of goods, services, capital and people. In order for the Single Market to retain a positive influence, uniform competition rules are required. cep continuously monitors EU proposals aimed at completing the Single Market and relating to competition law.

Geo-blocking and other forms of discrimination (Regulation)

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The EU Commission is planning to ban geo-blocking and other discrimination based on nationality, place of residence or establishment in order to improve cross-border online trade in goods and services. In cep's view, the bans will only rarely result in customers buying more across borders.

Cross-border Parcel Delivery Services (Regulation)

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In order to improve cross-border parcel delivery, the EU Commission proposes uniform information obligations for delivery services. In addition, obligations for universal service providers to report tariffs and terminal rates, an "assessment of affordability" of these tariffs by the regulatory authorities and network access obligations applicable to universal service providers vis à vis third parties are proposed.

Cross-border portability of online content (Regulation)

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Subscriptions to films and other online content will also be available for use during temporary stays in another Member State. This is provided for under a EU Commission proposal for a Regulation on the cross-border portability of online content. Until now, this has been prevented inter alia by national copyrights and licences.

ICT Standardisation Priorities for the Digital Single Market (Communication)

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The Commission wants to press ahead with the standardisation of information and communications technology (ICT). It is focussing, in this regard, on the "priorities" of cloud computing, the internet of things, 5G communications, cybersecurity and data technologies. In cep's view, setting priorities is appropriate.

Digital Single Market Strategy – Pillar 3 (Communication)

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EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has declared that the completion of a Digital Single Market is one of the priorities of his period of office. With the Digital Single Market Strategy, the Commission wants to make the EU the leader of the digital economy. A central pillar of this strategy is the building of a "data economy" (Big Data, cloud services, Internet of Things).

Digital Single Market Strategy – Pillar 2 (Communication)

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In its Strategy for a Digital Single Market, the Commission lays down numerous measures to strengthen the European digital economy. This cepPolicyBrief deals with the second pillar of the Strategy (Digital networks and services). It deals, inter alia, with the reform of telecommunications regulations, the examination of the rules on audiovisual media services, online platforms, and with the rules on illegal content on the Internet.

Digital Single Market Strategy – Pillar 1 (Communication)

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The European Commission will harmonise the contractual rights of both parties in online purchasing EU wide. In addition, it will submit legislative proposals to prevent "unjustified geo-blocking". Geo-blocking is a technical measure used by online traders to restrict access to cross-border online purchasing by users in a specific geographical location.

Does TTIP need investment protection provisions?

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The negotiations between the EU and the US on the free trade agreement TTIP are a hot topic at the moment. Investment protection in particular is the subject of heated debate. The cep takes a closer look at what kind of investment protection is really needed.

Unfair trading practices in the food supply chain (Communication)

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The Commission wants to combat unfair trading practices in the food supply chain. It wants to examine the effectiveness of the voluntary Supply Chain Initiative (SCI) and encourage more companies and associations to join. In addition, the exchange of information about national legislation to combat unfair trading practices between the Member States will be improved. The authorities responsible for implementing national legislation will work together "effectively". The Commission wants to assess the progress of national implementation measures.

Exceptions to copyright

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The European Commission has announced a reform of the copyright rules in the EU before the end of this year. It intends to reduce the differences between national copyright rules by way of harmonised exceptions. The cep assesses the benefits and problems of mandatory exceptions to copyright.

Action Plan on the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (Communication)

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The Commission wants to improve the enforcement of intellectual property rights. Intellectual property rights, e.g. patents and trademarks, ensure that companies, inventors and creators are able to obtain a return on their investment, inventions and work. In order to improve the enforcement of these rights, the Commission, together with the "European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights", is planning ten non-legislative measures to prevent commercial scale infringements of intellectual property rights.

Geographical indication protection for non-agricultural products (Green Paper)

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The Commission discusses whether and how geographical indications for non-agricultural products can be protected EU wide. A protected geographical indication consists of a product denomination which contains the geographical origin of a product. A protected geographical indication may be used by all producers provided their products originate from the specified geographical place of origin and the products possess the established product characteristics – e.g. quality features, production methods or "reputation" – attributable to that place of origin. The Commission discusses in particular whether protected geographical indications could be entered into a central register which would be administered e.g. by the Commission. 

Safety of Tourist Accommodation (Green Paper)

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The Commission wants to get an insight into national safety regulations for tourist accommodation. By way of this Green Paper, it wants to present its ideas and thoughts on how the confidence of providers and consumers can be increased, including, where necessary, by way of follow-up measures at EU level. In addition, the Commission wants to collect additional information on the safety of tourist accommodation by holding a public consultation.

Focussing on the Long-term Interests of Shareholders (Directive)

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The Commission wants decisions by stock companies to be based to a greater extent on long-term performance and less on short-term share price fluctuations. It therefore proposes measures aiming to ensure that decisions by stock companies take more account of shareholders' interests.

Societas Unius Personae (SUP) (Directive)

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The Commission wants to facilitate the establishment of a new form of company known as "Societas Unius Personae (SUP)". A SUP is a private limited liability company with one share owned by a single shareholder. The Directive obliges Member States to introduce the SUP into their legal systems.

Parcel Delivery in European Online Retailing (Communication)

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The Commission wants to stimulate cross-border e-commerce in the EU by improving parcel delivery conditions.

Protecting Trade Secrets (Directive)

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The Commission wants to harmonise the protection of trade secrets in the Member States. The proposed Directive contains, in particular, standard definitions of trade secrets and of their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure as well as possibilities for obtaining redress for any infringement.

Consumer Contractual Rights (Directive)

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The EU-Commission proposes to revise the Directve as to doorstep selling, unfair contract terms, distant selling, as well as to the purchase of consumer goods and subsume it under a new directive. The main target of the Directive is the transition from minimum harmonisation of consumer contractual rights to a full harmonisation.

Standard VAT Return for Businesses (Directive)

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In principle, every tax-liable business must submit a VAT return. The Commission wants to introduce an EU-wide mandatory standard VAT return. This consists of a standard form, harmonised tax periods and deadlines for the submission of VAT returns as well as harmonised rules on making corrections to the VAT return.

E-invoicing and end-to-end e-procurement for public contracts (Directive)

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The Commission intends all phases of the public procurement process to take place electronically from end to end and software systems for this to be compatible EU-wide. A binding European standard is to be developed for electronic invoicing, in particular.

Package Travel and Assisted Travel Arrangements (Directive)

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The Commission wants to harmonise consumer protection for travellers. For this purpose, bookings in travel agents and online will be placed on an equal footing.

Collective Redress: Representative and Class Actions (Recommendation)

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The Commission recommends that the Member States introduce collective actions. Collective actions refers to actions brought by two or more affected parties or by an authority or entity on their behalf. Collective actions should facilitate the enforcement of legal rights, particularly where individual actions are too costly for affected parties.

Actions for Damages under Competition Law (Directive)

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EU competition law is enforced by competition authorities who find infringements of competition law and, where applicable, impose fines, and by victims who bring actions for damages before national courts. With this Directive, the Commission is seeking, on the one hand, to ensure that victims of an infringement of competition law throughout the EU are able to enforce their right to full damages. On the other hand, it wants to ensure the coordination of enforcement by way of actions for damages and enforcement by way of the competition authorities.

Port Services (Regulation)

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The European Commission wants to increase competition for seaport services in important EU ports by extending the freedom to provide services to include port services. It also wants to make the financial relations between public authorities and port service providers more transparent and strengthen the autonomy of port management bodies to set their own infrastructure charges in order to improve investment conditions.

Market Surveillance (Regulation)

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The European Commission has proposed a "Product Safety and Market Surveillance Package" containing, in particular, a proposal for a Regulation on consumer product safety and a proposal for a Regulation on the regulatory market surveillance of products. With its proposal for a Regulation on market surveillance, the Commission wants to prevent, by way of effective and EU-wide market surveillance, the distribution of products which represent a risk to any aspect of public interest protection, such as health, safety, consumer protection and the environment.

Product Safety (Regulation)

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The European Commission has proposed a "Product Safety and Market Surveillance Package" containing, in particular, a proposal for a Regulation on consumer product safety and a proposal for a Regulation on the regulatory market surveillance of products. The proposal for a Regulation on product safety aims to simplify the different rules on consumer product safety as well as ensuring that consumer products are safe.

Cross-border insolvencies (Regulation)

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The Commission revises the legal framework for cross-border insolvencies. There should (preferably) be integrated insolvency proceedings by applying just one (national) insolvency regime in each case.

Business Insolvency (Communication)

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The Commission is considering a partial harmonisation of the insolvency law of the Member States. This is intended to facilitate the reorganisation rather than liquidation of businesses and provide entrepreneurs with a "second chance".

Reporting Requirements on „Diversity“ and „Non-financial Risks“ (Directive)

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The Commission wants to expand Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) and at the same time commit companies to greater transparency. Large and medium-sized companies should therefore be required to report on „non-financial risks“ on one hand, and on the other, report on its diversity policies for the appointment to management and supervisory bodies.

Unfair Trading Practices in the B2B Supply Chain (Green Paper)

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The Commission wants to combat unfair trading practices by laying down requirements on the content of contracts between companies in the supply chain. Unfair trading practices result from unequal negotiating power and unequal levels of information on the part of the contracting parties.

Single market for green products (Communication)

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The European Commission intends to promote the dissemination of green products and green commercial practices by ways of transparency and consistency with the labelling of environmental performances of products and practices. Within a three-year test phase, the Commission recommends to apply its developed methods of the “Product Environmental Footprint“ and that of the “Organisation Environmental Footprint“.

Parcel delivery (Green Paper)

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The Commission wants to stimulate cross-border e-commerce and, for this purpose, is considering regulating the parcel delivery market.

State Aid Reform (Communication)

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The Commission wishes to reform State aid law and in particular re-target it as to better promote economic growth in Member States. This serves the purpose of implementing the growth strategy “Europe 2020” and of supporting Member States in consolidating their public budgets through a re-targeted State aid approach.

European Consumer Agenda (Communication)

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The Commission outlines its medium-term strategy for EU consumer policy by 2014 under the European Consumer Agenda.

Commercial Use of Public Procurement (Regulation)

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The Commission wishes to improve the access of European providers to public contracts in third countries and therefore extend the right to exclude providers from third countries from public procurement in the EU.

Data Protection (Regulation)

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The Commission wishes to reform the EU data protection law fundamentally with the General Data Protection Regulation. It is mainly aimed at an EU-wide full harmonisation of the data protection standard while taking account of the latest technical challenges of the internet age. It is to replace the existing Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC).

Key Enabling Technologies (Communication)

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The Commission identifies six key enabling technologies (KET) which are essential for the EU’s economy and presents a strategy on how the EU and Member States could better coordinate KET funding and use it more efficiently. The proposed measures are aimed at the technology development stages following basic research (technological research, product demonstration, competitive manufacturing activities). Thus the gap between basic KET knowledge generation and its commercialisation into goods and services is to be closed.

Procurement by Specific Sectors (Directive)

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The Commission has published a Directive Proposal replacing the existing Sector Directive (2004/17/EC). The aim of the new Directive is to remove legal uncertainty in public procurement between contracting authorities and their cooperation. Moreover, access for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) to the procurement procedure is to be made easier. In future, public procurement is to be used for societal and environmental policy targets.

Re-Registration of Motor Vehicles (Regulation)

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If a motor vehicle is already registered in a Member State, e.g. cross-border workers or car-rental companies are obliged to register it again in the Member State in which the motor vehicle is used. Now, the Commission proposes to determine the Member State in which a motor vehicle must be registered, to shorten the re-registration procedures and to simplify the data exchange between national registration authorities.

Public Procurement (Directive)

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The Commission has published a Directive Proposal which is to replace the existing Procurement Directive (2004/18/EC). The Commission’s proposal aims to eliminate legal uncertainty in the procurement between public entities and their cooperation. Moreover, it is to facilitate access to public procurement for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME). Public procurement will continue to be used in support of societal and environmental goals.

Card, Internet and Mobile Payments (Green Paper)

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The Commission aims to implement a fully integrated payment market in the EU. In its Green Paper, the Commission presents action plans for the market integration.

Audits (Regulation)

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The Commission wishes to boost competition on the audit market by the obligation to change auditors regularly (“rotation rule”). A prohibition of non-audit services (e.g. tax advice) is to strengthen the independence of auditors. 

Action Plan E-Commerce (Communication)

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The Commission wishes to promote the digital single market by setting new framework conditions and removing obstacles. To this end, it presents an action plan.

Aid for the Provision of Services of General Economic Interest (Regulation)

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With its Regulation, the Commission wishes to exempt aid of up to 500,000 Euros for the provision of services of general economic interest (SGEI) from the obligation to obtain approval for the period of three fiscal years. According to the Commission de minimis aid is  unproblematic for they are regarded as measures  which do not distort competition and also do not have a negative effect on trade between Member States.

A Single Market for Intellectual Property Rights (Communication)

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The Commission wishes to create a unitary European protection law for intellectual properties including digital business models. The Commission’s plans mainly focus on the introduction of an EU unitary patent protection including a European patent litigation system, a modernised EU framework for copyrights and an improved fight against counterfeiting and piracy. 

European Standardisation (Regulation)

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The Commission proposes a Regulation in order to reform the legal framework for European standardisation to establish an efficient and technically up-to-date European standardisation system. European standardisation means defining technical and quality-related specifications through recognised European standardisation bodies. The legal framework is to be extended to services.

Tariff Preferences for Developing Countries (Regulation)

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The EU has been granting tariff preferences to developing countries since 1971 to help them improve their performance on the global market and to aid their economic development. The basis for that is the “Scheme of Generalised Tariff Preferences” (GSP). The Commission wishes to revise the existing tariff preference scheme and to suspend a number of countries which until now have been GSP beneficiaries as it deems them competitive at international level. 

European Patent with Unitary Effect (Regulation)

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The Commission proposes two Regulations regarding the introduction of a unitary patent protection in 25 Member States. Italy and Spain will not be participating in this enhanced cooperation. The Patent Regulation provides for the possibility of granting unitary patent protection to the European patent, which consists of a “bundle” of various national patents, in 25 Member States. The Translation Requirements Regulation contains translation requirements for the EU Patent with unitary effect.

Corporate Governance (Green Paper)

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According to the Commission, short-termism and excessive risk-taking endanger sustainable economic growth and the stability of the financial market. To tackle these issues, the Commission proposes to increase shareholders’ participation in corporate decisions and the transparency of asset managers’ and advisors’ activities. Finally the Commission discusses the promotion of women and calls for a women’s quota system.

Public Procurement (Green Paper)

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Citizens, organisations and authorities may comment on the Green Paper and its 114 concrete questions within a consultation procedure. The Commission wishes to reform the tools and methods of public procurement in order to improve teh process and to increase the efficiency of public spending. In future, public procurement is to take into account “policy objectives”, such as the promotion of innovation.

Trade Policy (Communication)

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The Commission presents new trade policy measures in order to achieve the growth and employment targets of the Europe 2020 strategy. The Commission is especially keen on the increased opening of foreign markets for services, investments and public procurement. Moreover, the future EU trade policy is support “green growth” and “climate change objectives” in principle.

Single Market Act (Communication)

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The Commission wishes to revive the single market with the Single Market Act, incorporating it into the economic strategy “Europe 2020” for sustainable growth and increased employment. The Commission has made 50 proposals, both legislative and non-legislative, which are to be adopted by 2012. The idea is that by “completing, deepening and making full use of the single market” an annual potential growth of 4% of the GDP over the next ten years can be achieved.

Innovation Union (Communication)

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According to the Commission, “major societal challenges” (e.g. climate change, energy scarcity and demographic change) can only be overcome through research and innovation. To this end, the Commission intends to improve the framework conditions for research and innovation and to coordinate innovations effectively. In addition to the establishment of a “European Research Area”, it propagates (pre-commercial) public procurement to promote innovations. In order to tackle “grand challenges”, “European Innovation Partnerships” are to be initiated.

Audit Policy (Green Paper)

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The Commission submits a Green Paper in order to discuss the future role and scope of an audit in the “general context of financial market regulatory reform”. Governance rules and an improved supervision are to contribute to more competition and increased stability in the financial system.

EU Patent (Regulation)

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The EU patent is a third option flanking the national and the European patent and providing EU-wide patent protection. At the same time, a European patents court system is to be established. The aim of the EU patent is to provide applicants with an easier and cheaper EU-wide patent protection. With a court for European patents and EU patents, the solving of legal disputes on patent granting and patent infringements is to be more consistent and calculable as it avoids parallel proceedings before national courts.

Horizontal Guidelines (Communication)

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Under horizontal agreements, undertakings co-operate as competitors at the same level in the value-added chain. The Guidelines are intended to make it easier for undertakings to assess themselves whether or not their intended horizontal agreements infringe the ban on cartels of Art. 101(1) TFEU and whether an exemption applies. They contain general and agreement-specific explanations of the assessment of horizontal agreements for goods and services. The revised version contains also contains explanations on “information exchange” between undertakings which are relevant in terms of competition law.

Block Exemption Regulation for Research & Development Agreements (Draft Regulation)

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Research and development agreements can stipulate provisions on the partial outsourcing of R&D activities, R&D co-operations or the common distribution and marketing of jointly developed products. Thus they can increase efficiency, lower costs and intensify the exchange of ideas and experience. The revised version of the Block Exemption Regulation for research & development agreements provides for a new exemption condition, namely that, prior to starting an R&D, all parties must disclose their existing and pending rights in intellectual property. Moreover, the Commission extends the scope of “hardcore restrictions” for both, the passive and active distribution.

Block Exemption Regulation for Specialisation Agreements (Regulation)

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Specialisation agreements are horizontal agreements between undertakings on the specialisation requirements regarding the production of certain goods or the provision of services. With regard to specialisation agreements on intermediary products captively used for the production of downstream products the recast version of the Block Exemption Regulation requires a second market share threshold. Moreover, the Commission specifies the definition of “potential competition“ and clearly states that specialisations can be exempted even if a party chooses to cease production only “partly”.

Guidelines for the Economic Policies of Europe 2020 (Recommendation)

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Within the framework of the Europe 2020 strategy, Member States agreed to improve there coordination of their economic policies. To this end, the Commission recommends to the Member States guidelines to harmonise their economic policies. In shaping their economic and fiscal policies and in developing national reform programmes, Member States should act in line with these guidelines.

European Standardisation Package (Consultation)

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The Commission is reviewing the European standardisation procedures in terms of their efficiency and transparency. The aim is to develop a reform proposal (“standardisation package”) facilitating a more efficient and transparent European standardisation. Moreover, the Commission wishes to simplify the access to standards for SME and to increase the capacity for innovation of European enterprises.

Best Practices on the conduct of cartel and abuse proceedings (Guidelines)

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The Best Practices Guidelines describe the course of action of European cartel and abuse proceedings (abuse of market power). With the proposed Guidelines the Commission wishes to enhance the transparency and predictability of these proceedings and to contribute to their smooth functioning.

Strategy "Europe 2020" (Communication)

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The strategy „Europe 2020“ replaces the failed strategy of Lisbon and is to „turn“ the EU into a „smart, sustainable and inclusive economy“ delivering “high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion”. The Commission is setting five headline targets to be attained by 2020 with the highest priority being smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The European Council has approved three of the five key targets, but strongly mitigated the other two. Moreover, the Commission is putting forward seven flagship initiatives which are to “commit both the EU and the Member States” and to be pursued by the Commission and the Member States. The Commission intends to monitor progress of target achievement by reports to be provided by the Member States.

Block Exemption Regulation in the Motor Vehicle Sector (Regulation/Guidelines)

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Vertical agreements are entered into by companies operating in the production or distribution chain at different levels. Such agreements are generally prohibited, however, the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union provides for exemptions from the general prohibition. The Commission decides whether or not an exemption is given. In its Block Exemption Regulation in the Motor Vehicle Sector (EC) No. 1400/2002 and its Guidelines, the Commission is presenting the conditions according to which an agreement is deemed in line with competition law. Said Regulation will expire on 31 May 2010. At the end of last December the Commission has submitted a follow-up Draft Regulation and Draft Guidelines.

Developing Public Private Partnerships (PPP) (Communication)

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The Commission intends to promote the use of public private partnerships in order to mobilise private funds for public investment projects. To this end, it wishes to remove obstacles to the implementation of PPPs in Member States and the EU and to support PPPs through EU funding.

Food Supply Chain (Communication)

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The food supply chain comprises agricultural enterprises producing commodities, commodity exchange traders, food processing companies, (producers) and food retailers. The Commission criticises the lacking “resilience“ to boosting commodity prices (“shocks in agricultural prices“).It deems a “better functioning food supply chain“ as “urgently“ needed to avoid an “escalation“ in prices as the economic recovery sets in. In its Communication it presents measures to achieve these objectives. Amongst other things, it intends to prepare sets of standard contracts, whose use would be voluntary for the market players.

Block Exemption Regulation (Regulation)

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Vertical agreements are entered into by undertakings which operate in the production or distribution chain at different levels. Such agreements are generally prohibited, however, the EC Treaty provides for exemptions from the general prohibition. The Commission decides whether or not an exemption is given. In its Block Exemption Regulation (EC) No. 2760/1999 and its Guidelines, the Commission is presenting the conditions according to which an agreement is deemed in line with competition law. Said Regulation expires on 31. May 2010. This summer the Commission has submitted a follow-up Regulation and Draft Guidelines for consultation. The drafts serve to take into account the latest developments of e-commerce.

Re-Use of Public Sector Information (PSI) (Communication)

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The public sector possesses extensive information such as satellite images, judicial decisions or statistics ("Public Sector Information" - PSI), all of which can serve as raw material for products and services offered by private providers such as navigation systems, weather forecasts or financial services. The Directive 2003/98/EC (“PSI Directive“) is to remove barriers to the private use (“re-use”) of PSI in the internal market. The aim of the Communication is to review the impact thus far of the PSI Directive and to show new ways to tap the full economic potential in re-using PSI.

Annual Accounts of Micro-Entities (Directive)

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The European Commission wants to reduce the administrative burdens of micro-entities. It is therefore proposing an amending Directive, which would enable Member States to exempt micro-entities from the obligation to draw up annual accounts.

Abusive Exclusionary Conduct by Dominant Undertakings (Communication)

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The Communication continues the "more economic approach" in competition law in a much diluted manner: The Commission wants to pursue only cases in which certain behaviour of a dominant company "forecloses" a market.

The Consumer Markets Scoreboard (Communication)

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The Commission intends to screen the performance of certain product and service markets by way of a "Consumer Markets Scoreboard". The Commission assumes that citizens expect markets to deliver best possible outcomes in the interest of consumers which, at the same time, should be socially acceptable. Where, according to the Consumer Markets Scoreboard, "market malfunctions" are detected regulations or measures in the field of competition law or consumer policy are to be introduced. Alongside its Communication the Commission presented a first Consumer Markets Scoreboard containing the results of various consumer surveys and price research, yet without drawing any concrete conclusions.

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