China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in December 2001. Now, 15-years following the Chinese accession in the WTO, the transposition periods – allowing differential treatment of products originating from China – are going to expire.
So far, the transposition period gave the EU the right to impose higher anti-dumping duties on Chinese products compared to products originating from other countries. With the expiration of the transition periods, the European Commission will have to revise the methodology of calculating anti-dumping duties in respect of China.
The revision of anti-dumping duties imposed on products originating from China will have a significant impact on many sectors both for Chinese and European firms. There are currently 19 on-going anti-dumping investigations concerning products imported from China, representing a diverse portfolio of industries. The reduction of anti-dumping duties provides an opportunity for Chinese companies. At the same time, it increases competitive pressure for many European companies.
Following the terrorist attacks in Paris last year, the European Commission embarked on revising the EU directive regulating the ownership of firearms by individuals such as sport shooters, hunters and collectors. The proposal, described as essential and much needed, is set to improve clarity for the whole ‘legal firearms’ system. At the same time, if approved, the new rules may drastically limit access to firearms in Europe.
The proposed amendments to the EU Firearms Directive are currently under the discussion in the European Parliament. Debates have been marked by controversy. Several EU lawmakers claim that the new proposal would have minimal impact on combating terrorism and crimes. Others view the proposal as disproportional and too excessive.
The proposal has entered the most critical phase now. If the Commission’s proposal does not undergo any significant changes, the new rules will stagnate the sustainable growth of the firearms market in EU, negatively influencing firearms producers.
EU-US negotiations over a new trade deal have now reached a crucial moment. EU officials and their American counterparts are currently discussing – and trying to reach a deal – over the most controversial topics.
The last round of the negotiations focused first and foremost, on market access for EU and US firms, regulatory cooperation and trade rules. In particular, regulatory cooperation was, as expected, one of the most controversial topics, amid concerns over maintaining consumer products standard.
But enhancing the regulatory cooperation under the TTIP is vital, as it would open a new era in business relations between the US and the EU. Currently, differences in standards and regulations increase costs of production, sometimes making even impossible to offer the same products on both markets.
The EU first introduced rail passengers’ rights protection back in 2007. Less than a decade later, the rules are under review again. According to the Commission, there are still many areas where the scope of passengers’ rights can be broadened, and new mechanisms for their more effective enforcement could be introduced on national and European levels.
The new proposal will have an enormous impact on industry. Both private and state-owned rail operators. In particular, the coming reform of passengers’ rights system will address the significant incoherence between levels of passengers’ rights protection among various jurisdictions in the EU, as there are still many exemptions applicable in certain Member States, which decrease the overall standard of passengers’ rights protection.
In addition, the EU will focus on ensuring better enforcement of passengers’ rights and their access to information related to their rights. Moreover, anti-discrimination provisions of relevant rail regulations should be improved, as well as prevention of transport disruptions, including those caused by so-called “force majeure”, enhanced.
On 16 February 2016, the European Commission published a new strategy how to lower the amount of energy used to heat and cool buildings, including households, offices, hospitals, schools, industry and food refrigeration throughout the supply chain.
The European Commission estimates that heating and cooling consume half of the energy used in Europe, and even 68% of gas imported to the EU. On the other hand, the share of renewables in the overall energy consumption used for heating and cooling is still below expectations.
The strategy tackles many issues and could bring changes for many industries. For instance, new guidelines and rules for renovation of buildings may be of particular interest to the construction sector. They may impact state-of-the-art technology used in construction industry, as it will have to comply with higher standards in respect of cooling and heating and energy use. Furthermore, the new EU strategy intends to integrate much more effectively local electricity systems with heating and cooling systems and appliances. The EU heating and cooling strategy is a part of the Energy Union, and will be followed by set of implementing legal instruments in the coming months.
On the 3 February 2016, the European Parliament concluded the recommendation addressed to the European Commission in respect of the on-going negotiations of the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) between countries representing almost 70% of global trade in services. TiSA is being negotiated by 23 countries, which are aiming at reducing trade barriers for services.
Reducing trade barriers for service can contribute to the growth of many European companies, as they will receive access to many new markets. On the other hand, it means that they will have to face a new challenge and compete with service providers from other countries who could rely on lower labor cost and standards in countries of their origin.
The European Parliament requested the European Commission, which is responsible for the on-going trade negotiations, to reflect in its position the societal concerns brought to the table by many NGOs and entrepreneurs. First and foremost, the Parliament requested the Commission to base the TiSA deal on the principle of reciprocity. Moreover, the European Parliament highlighted that the TiSA deal should not pose any risk to European standards. In addition, the European Parliament supports the view that TiSA should not cover at all any of public services, such as education, health, social services, social security systems, and audiovisual services.
Alber & Geiger was nominated for the 7th year running as European Legal Team of the Year by the British Legal Awards 2015 and shortlisted as Best EU Consultancy Campaign of the Year by the Public Affairs Awards 2015.
The decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to invalidate Safe Harbor i.e. the facilitated unhampered data transfer between the EU and the U.S. will create massive problems for thousands of companies that now have to rely on alternative data-transfer mechanisms until a new deal is reached.
The EU Commission has stepped up talks with the U.S. Government to ensure the standards laid out by the CJEU are met and in record time – the EU Commission aims to have the new framework agreed by the end of January 2016 to prevent a possible fragmentation of EU policy on data-transfer.
With several considerations that need to be taken into account and varied interest, finding a solution that would satisfy all within such a short period of time would be difficult. Recently, the European Parliament has voiced its dissatisfaction with the EU Commission’s plan, arguing that a new “Safer Harbor” agreement would require more substantial changes.
The EU Commission is finally set to move ahead with the implementation of its Digital Single Market Strategy that will improve access to digital goods and services, and maximize growth potential by creating a level playing field for digital networks and innovative services.
First step is the modernization of EU copyright rules as the Commission looks to regulate cross-border portability and access to copyright-protected services, remove geo-blocking from Community regulation, review VAT for electronic commerce and ensure free flow of data, all in early 2016. Furthermore, it will round up its revision list with its review of the Telecoms Regulatory Framework and the Audiovisual and Media Services Directive.
The complexity and the speed of development and change within the digital sector require a careful and foresighted approach that can only be guaranteed in cooperation with industry stakeholders.
The EU remains committed towards circular economy that would appease economic and environmental concerns and transform Europe into a more competitive and resource-efficient economy.
In that regard, the EU Commission is expected to adopt a new ambitious waste proposal in early 2016, which will review EU recycling and other waste-related targets on a long-term basis. Most notable changes that are to be implemented include 2030 recycling and re-use targets regarding municipal and packaging waste, as well as the pre-2025 phase-out of landfills for recyclable waste. In addition, the Commission will adopt a broad action plan and an effective progress monitoring mechanism to support the reform process.
These measures will greatly impact the industrial and broad-consumer sectors, especially the paper, plastic, wood and metal industry in the EU, as recycling and re-use targets are expected to be set at very ambitious levels.