News | 2017

I. Alber & Geiger Among Best Lawyers in Benelux

Alber & Geiger is proud to announce that the firm was recognized again in 2017 by The Lawyer European Awards for its excellence across the European legal market. Alber & Geiger was shortlisted as Law Firm of the Year in the Benelux. This follows on an earlier recognition by the prestigious European Public Affairs Awards (EuroPAwards). Alber & Geiger was nominated in four different categories and Andreas Geiger was handed the Best Lobbyists award for 2016.

II. Changes Coming to Firearm Regulations

Next to the proposal to amend the Firearms Directive, which focuses on possession, acquisition and transfer within the European Union, the European Commission is also set to embark on a revision of the Firearms Regulation.

The revision will affect firearms, their parts and components, as well as ammunition intended for civilian use. Moreover, the review is expected to address trade aspects and the transfer from or to a third country, including export procedures. The European Commission will also evaluate the performance of the Regulation, such as the current implementation levels. In addition, it will consider stepping up information sharing between responsible bodies.

Against this backdrop, all firearm producers and dealers, as well as importers and exporters of firearms should join the process now to shape the new rules.

III. Are Food Products Sold in Eastern Europe of Poor Quality?

There is now increasing pressure on the EU to tackle the highly contentious issue of big companies and supermarkets selling supposedly subpar versions of brand name foods in Eastern Europe. Previous reports and studies have pointed at the double standards and found that higher prices were being charged for products with lower quality ingredients. The food industry has denied the dual-quality claim and explained food differences as serving to consumer flavor and taste.

The European Commission has already picked up on the matter, which it labelled as an unfair trade practice. A body of national authorities responsible for consumer rights in Europe will convene to map out reported cases of double standards. A European Council meeting in June will review the progress of the issue.

New measures, as well as existing tools, are being considered to tackle the problem. For big food companies, it’s now more important than before to stay duly informed and have its own voice heard within those meetings.

IV. EU Funding for Third Countries

Via the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the European Union lays down the maximum annual amounts, which the European Union dedicates to a particular field over a certain period of time. The current projection covers the period 2014-2020. The MFF includes, among other things, all the external action of the European Union, which provides support to third countries abroad.

A review of the European Union’s foreign assistance will be presented to the Council of Minister and the European Parliament by the end of 2017. Until then, the European Commission will carry out numerous independent evaluations, which it will consider in future financial planning and sectorial support in third countries.

Third countries, NGOs and private sector organization, including developments banks should take part in the evaluation to shape future financial instruments.

V. Reconsidering Technology’s Role in Consumer Product Liability

The European Union is assessing whether the existing directive dealing with producer liability for defective products is still fit-for-purpose. The current directive guarantees the liability of the producer in the event of damage caused by malfunctioning products. In addition, it sets common rules for liability and offers consumers an opportunity to claim financial compensation.

The European Commission is considering an amendment to address new technological developments. Moreover, they European Commission will assess whether the existing directive meets the objective of guaranteeing liability at EU level. Last, the European Commission will collect stakeholder views to find out if the directive meets their expectations.

Considering the above, producers and insurers as well as business representatives should join the ongoing discussions.

VI. Alcohol Industry Asked to List Ingredients & Nutrition Information

The European Commission recently presented its proposal on mandatory labeling of the list of the ingredients and the nutrition declaration of alcohol beverages. Currently, the alcohol industry was not required to provide ingredients and nutrition information. This was in stark contrast to other foods, which had to provide labelling information.

The European Commission has now given the alcohol industry 1-year for a self-regulatory proposal to fill the information gap. The European Commission will consider regulation, should the industry fail to come up with the voluntary initiative. Similarly, the European Commission will launch an impact assessment should it not find suitable the industry proposal and consider both regulatory and non-regulatory options.

The spirits industry has thus 1-year to find an agreement that meets the expectation of the EU institutions. Otherwise, it could face further regulation.