Customs action to tackle fakes – Frequently Asked Questions
Source: European Commission
What measures are in place at EU level to protect IPR?
Customs enforcement: in May 2011 the Commission proposed a new regulation that strengthens the provisions concerning the customs enforcement of IPR. This proposal was part of a comprehensive package of IPR measures aimed at modernising the legal framework in which IPR operate today (see IP 11/630, MEMO 11/327).
Patent protection: the Commission already launched proposals in April for a unitary patent protection under enhanced cooperation (see IP/11/470), so that innovators can protect their inventions at an affordable cost with a single patent covering the entire EU territory with minimum translation costs and without needing to validate that patent at a national level as they currently have to do. Today, obtaining a patent in Europe costs ten times more than one in the US. This situation discourages research, development and innovation, and undermines Europe’s competitiveness. Meanwhile, work continues on the creation of a unified and specialised patent court for the classical European patents and the future European patents with unitary effect. This would considerably reduce litigation costs and the time it takes to resolve patent disputes. It would also increase legal certainty for business. At the European Council, the issue of the seat of the central division of the patent court was finally agreed, but the terms of the informal trialogue agreement with the EP were unfortunately altered. The Commission hopes that a deal can finally be reached early in the autumn.
Trade marks: trade mark registration in the EU has been harmonised in Member States for almost 20 years and the Community trade mark was established 15 years ago. However, there is an increasing demand for more streamlined, effective and consistent registration systems. The Commission intends to present proposals in 2012 to modernise the trade mark system both at EU and national levels and adapt it to the internet era.
IPR violations: the Commission is set to intensify its efforts in this area. Firstly, the Commission has reinforced the European Observatory on Counterfeiting and Piracy, which it launched in 2009, by entrusting its tasks to the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM). This allows the Observatory to benefit from OHIM’s intellectual property expertise and strong record of delivery in trademarks and designs. Secondly, there is an on-going assessment of the IPR Enforcement Directive (see IP/04/540), to help improve the current enforcement system in the EU. The Directive provides for civil law measures allowing right holders to enforce their intellectual property rights.
In addition to these measures, the Commission supports businesses in the protection and enforcement of their IPR: With projects like the Transatlantic IPR Portal or support offered directly to EU SMEs so they know about IPR challenges before they expand their business (China IPR SME Helpdesk, EU IPR Helpdesk).
A European Commission report published today shows that thanks to the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) many food safety risks have been averted or mitigated and safety controls ensure our food is safe. RASFF plays a key role in ensuring safety from “farm to fork”, by triggering a rapid reaction when a food safety risk is detected. All members of the RASFF system1 are swiftly informed of serious risks found in food or feed so that together they can react to food safety threats in a coordinated way to protect the health of EU citizens.John Dalli, Commissioner in charge of Health and Consumer Policy, said: “European consumers enjoy the highest food safety standards in the world. The EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed is a key tool as it allows risks to be identified and removed from the European market. RASFF reinforces the confidence of our consumers in our food and feed safety system. In 2011, we dealt with a number of important crises such as the effects of the Fukushima nuclear incident, the dioxin and the E. coli crisis. The EU managed to tackle them and the lessons we all learnt will no doubt guide us to do even better in the future.”
EU — Antitrust: Commission opens proceedings against Microsoft to investigate possible non-compliance with browser choice commitments
The European Commission has opened proceedings against Microsoft in order to investigate whether the company has failed to comply with its 2009 commitments to offer users a choice screen enabling them to easily choose their preferred web browser.
On the basis of information it has received, the Commission believes that Microsoft may have failed to roll out the choice screen with Windows 7 Service Pack 1, which was released in February 2011. This is despite the fact that, in December 2011, Microsoft indicated in its annual compliance report to the Commission that it was in compliance with its commitments. From February 2011 until today, millions of Windows users in the EU may have not seen the choice screen. Microsoft has recently acknowledged that the choice screen was not displayed during that period.
“We take compliance with our decisions very seriously. And I trusted the company’s reports were accurate. But it seems that was not the case, so we have immediately taken action. If following our investigation, the infringement is confirmed, Microsoft should expect sanctions”, said Joaquín Almunia, Vice President of the Commission in charge of competition policy.
Knowledge, responsibility, engagement: the EU outlines its policy for the Arctic
Source: European Commission
The European Commission and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy have today outlined the way forward for the EU’s constructive engagement in the Arctic. The Arctic region is a vital component of the Earth’s environment. Climate change in the Arctic is advancing dramatically, with change visible on a yearly basis, impacting significantly on its ecosystem and the livelihood of its inhabitants. At the same time, rapidly retreating sea ice alongside technological progress are opening up new economic opportunities in the region such as shipping, mining, energy extraction and fishing. While beneficial for the global economy, these activities also call for a prudent and sustainable approach: further repercussions for the fragile Arctic can be expected if top environmental standards are not met.
Summarised in three words, ”knowledge, responsibility, engagement”, the strategy adopted today contains a set of tangible actions that contribute to research and sustainable development in the region and promote environmentally friendly technologies that could be used for sustainable shipping and mining. It also underlines the EU’s activities in the Arctic since 2008. For example, the EU has made a contribution of 20 million EUR per year in Arctic research over the last decade and has invested more than 1.14 billion EUR in the sustainable development of the region since 2007.
Catherine Ashton, the EU’s High Representative and Vice-President of the Commission stated: “With the actions presented today, we want to show the world that the EU is serious about its commitments towards the Arctic region. Developments in the Arctic add further urgency to our work to combat global climate change, and are of increasing strategic, economic and environmental importance to the European Union. The EU wants to make a positive contribution to the cooperation between the Arctic states and take into account the needs of indigenous and local communities inhabiting Arctic areas”.
Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki said: “The Arctic is rapidly going through important changes, allowing for new economic activity in a fragile part of the world. There are environmental challenges and opportunities that require global attention and the EU can help substantially: in research, funding, combating global warming and developing greener technologies. This is what the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy is all about, to contribute to common solutions for the sustainable management of the seas.”
Renewable energy The contribution of renewable energy up to 12.4% of energy consumption in the EU27 in 2010
In 2010, energy from renewable sources was estimated1 to have contributed 12.4% of gross final energy consumption in the EU27, compared with 11.7% in 2009 and 10.5% in 2008. The 2009 Directive on renewable energy2 set individual targets for all Member States, such that the EU will reach a 20% share of total energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. These targets take into account the Member States’ different starting points, renewable energy potential and economic performance.
These figures are published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union in connection with the EU Sustainable Energy Week3 from 18 to 22 June 2012, which promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Highest share of renewables in Sweden, Latvia, Finland, Austria and Portugal
The highest share of renewable energy in total consumption in 2010 was found in Sweden (47.9% of renewable energy sources in total consumption), Latvia (32.6%), Finland (32.2%), Austria (30.1%) and Portugal (24.6%), and the lowest in Malta (0.4%), Luxembourg (2.8%), the United Kingdom (3.2%) and the Netherlands (3.8%).
Between 2006 and 2010, all Member States increased their share of renewable energy in total consumption. The largest increases were recorded in Estonia (from 16.1% in 2006 to 24.3% in 2010), Romania (from 17.1% to 23.4%), Denmark (from 16.5% to 22.2%), Sweden (from 42.7% to 47.9%) and Spain (from 9.0% to 13.8%).
The HLY (Healthy Life Years) indicates how long people can expect to live without disability. It has been computed annually for each Member State of the European Union since 2005. These figures are released in the framework of the first annual meeting of the European Joint Action on Healthy Life Years (EHLEIS), organized in Paris on April 19, 2012 (ASIEM, 6 rue Albert de Lapparent, from 1:30pm) by the French Ministry of Health. The European Joint Action on Healthy Life Years (EHLEIS) is led by FRANCE, and coordinated by the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM).In 2009 men in the European Union (EU27) could expect 61.3 Healthy Life Years (HLY), representing almost 80% of their life expectancy (LE) at birth of 76.7 years. Women could expect 62 HLY, 75% of their life expectancy (LE) at birth of 82.6 years in 2009.
The first successful non-regenerative organ transplantation took place in 1954 when Dr. Joseph E. Murray transplanted a kidney from Ronald Herrick to Mr. Herrick’s identical twin Richard, who had been diagnosed with end-stage kidney failure. That time the initial ethical dilemma was whether a healthy donor can be operated in order to save the life of the sick brother. That time it was a miracle that without the use of immunosuppressive drugs, Richard survived with his transplanted kidney for more than eight years. Since then transplantation has become a gradually developing technology. The type and number of transplantable organs have increased, especially since the last decade of the 20th century. By the twenty first century in developed countries the number of available organs, infrastructural, and budgetary means could not keep pace with the increased technological capacity for transplantation. National waiting lists have become full and long, and the number of people who died while waiting in the line has also increased. The other important element that created tension between developed and less developed countries is the globalization, Europeanization and mobilization. Patients no longer feel bound to the capacity of one health care sector. It is easier to travel and it is no longer regarded as an exceptional luxury to seek health care beyond the national frontiers. At the EU level, the European Commission has urged of addressing ethical and legal issues concerning organ transplantation. One of the most important legal instruments was adopted in 2010, the Directive 2010/45/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 July 2010 on standards of quality and safety of human organs intended for transplantation. During this short term project in our work package we attempted to map and to analyze laws, practices, cases, problems with regard the violation of organ transplantation laws. From the minor violation of selecting donor for the recipient to major and severe forms of violation of human rights, such as organ trafficking cases were collected and analyzed. In our small group of this half of the work package we also examined selected laws and practices in order to de-velop some recommendation which may serve for legislation, ethics committees and further research. Our principle methods to this study were legal methods of analysis which were ac-companied with policy analysis, field work, interviews and finally recommendations. We presented our ideas in several conferences, at the workshops of the EULOD Project held in Rot-terdam, Sofia, Munich and in Berlin. We are grateful for the comments that helped us to re-fine methods and arguments.This report is written by researchers working under the Coordination Action on ‘Living Organ Donation in Europe’ (EULOD), funded under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) of the European Commission. The first section of this report explores the existing international legal framework to fight against organ trade and trafficking, discussing legal concepts and definitions. The second part analyzes the adopted legislative measures in some selected European countries: Hungary, Moldova, the Netherlands, Romania, and Serbia. The third section presents case studies on illegal organ trade and trafficking. The fourth and final part presents recommendations to improve the effectiveness of efforts to halt organ trade and trafficking.
Assessing the potential impacts of climate change on food- and waterborne diseases in Europe
Source: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
After a structured and systematic review of published literature on food- and waterborne pathogens and how they are influenced by meteorological and climate variables, a team of scientists from the University of Bonn developed a computerised interface to access the findings of this literature review. The resulting knowledge base allows users to quickly explore relationships between environmental variables and food- and waterborne pathogens.
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Treaty Establishing the European Stability Mechanism
Source: European Commission
ESTABLISHING THE EUROPEAN STABILITY MECHANISM
BETWEEN The Kingdom of Belgium, THE Federal Republic of Germany,
THE REPUBLIC OF ESTONIA, Ireland, THE HELLENIC REPUBLIC,
THE Kingdom of Spain, THE French Republic,
THE Italian Republic, THE Republic of Cyprus,
THE Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Malta,
THE Kingdom of the Netherlands, THE Republic of Austria,
THE Portuguese Republic, THe Republic of Slovenia,
THE Slovak Republic, THE Republic of Finland
THE CONTRACTING PARTIES, the Kingdom of Belgium, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Republic of Estonia, Ireland, the Hellenic Republic, the Kingdom of Spain, the French Republic, the Italian Republic, the Republic of Cyprus, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Malta, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Republic of Austria, the Portuguese Republic, the Republic of Slovenia, the Slovak Republic and the Republic of Finland (the “euro area Member States” or “ESM Members”);
COMMITTED TO ensuring the financial stability of the euro area;
EU — Improving Medical Treatment Requires a Risk-based Approach to the Regulation of Clinical Trials
Current EU legislation represents a major hurdle to improving medical treatment due to the straight-jacket of EU legislation that the 2001 Clinical Trials Directive imposes, a group of leading European medical scientists charged today in a position paper1 issued in Brussels and Strasbourg.The paper issued by the European Science Foundation (ESF) and its European Medical Research Councils (EMRC) welcomes the planned revision of the 2001 Clinical Trials Directive expected later this year, but urges the Commission to take the opportunity to introduce a series of improvements to the Directive. These improvements include streamlining procedures, introducing a risk-based approach to authorising clinical trials and crucially ensuring greater harmonisation in the implementation of EU rules at national level so that clinical trials can take place across national borders.“Balancing these aims with the imperative of maintaining a high level of patient safety is the major challenge facing the revision,” said Professor Liselotte Højgaard, Chair of the EMRC.Finding that balance, however, is the key to preserving Europe’s position as an innovative and competitive research area.
Euro coin counterfeiting in 2011
Source: European Commission
he number of counterfeit euro coins removed from circulation has decreased by 15%, down to 157 000 coins compared to 186 000 the year before. The 2-euro denomination remains by far the most counterfeited euro coin, representing almost two thirds of all counterfeit euro coins detected. The low levels of counterfeit euro coins are the result of the combined efforts of the Member States, the Commission/OLAF (the EU’s anti-fraud office) and the other European institutions.
The overall number of counterfeit coins is very small by comparison to the total number of around 16 billion genuine euro coins put into circulation of the three highest denominations (50c, 1€, 2€). This corresponds to 1 counterfeit for every 100 000 genuine coins.
Algirdas Šemeta, EU Commissioner responsible for Anti-Fraud said: “Shopkeepers, small businesses and citizens are particularly at risk of receiving fake coins and notes. Fighting counterfeit money is therefore crucial to protect honest taxpayers. I am very happy that the euro is well protected through the work of OLAF. We will continue our efforts to detect illegal money and root out these illegal activities across Europe.”
Since the first demonstrations in Tunisia in December 2010, a wave of popular discontent has shaken the Arab world, with people calling for dignity, democracy, and social justice. Despite the unexpected magnitude of these uprisings, the EU has been quick to recognise the challenges of the political and economic transition faced by the region as a whole. It has also recognised the need to adopt a new approach to relations with its Southern neighbours.
The EU has engaged politically with a wide range of government, opposition, parliamentary and civil society interlocutors in the region through visits from the President of the Commission, the President of Parliament, the HR/VP and several Commissioners.
The EU’s strategic response to the Arab Spring came as early as 8 March 2011, with the joint communication of the High Representative/Vice President (HR/VP) Catherine Ashton and the Commission proposing “A partnership for democracy and shared prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean”. This communication stresses the need for the EU to support wholeheartedly the demand for political participation, dignity, freedom and employment opportunities, and sets out an approach based on the respect of universal values and shared interests. It also proposes the “more for more” principle, under which increased support in terms of financial assistance, enhanced mobility, and access to the EU Single Market is to be made available, on the basis of mutual accountability, to those partner countries most advanced in the consolidation of reforms. This approach was further elaborated in another joint communication on 25 May which initiated the launch of “a new response to a changing Neighbourhood”.
The EU is committed both in the short and long term to help its partners address in particular two main challenges:
- First, to build “deep democracy”, i.e. not only writing democratic constitutions and conducting free and fair elections, but creating and sustaining an independent judiciary, a thriving free press, a dynamic civil society and all other characteristics of a mature functioning democracy.
- Second, to ensure inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development, without which democracy will not take root. A particular challenge is to ensure strong job creation.
While recognising a number of challenges that are common to all partner countries, the EU will support each country on a differentiated basis, thus ensuring individual needs and priorities are accounted for. EU support focuses on the “3 Ms”: Money, Mobility and Markets.
1 January 2002 marked the introduction of euro notes and coins in the European Union, ushering in an unprecedented alignment of monetary policies and closer cooperation between countries of the euro area. Whilst the euro and Economic and Monetary Union provided a sound basis for economic progress, the banking crisis of 2008 and its consequences have tested the system to the full. The success of the euro has proven to be dependent on sound and sustainable public finances and robust macroeconomic policies. The basis for recovery already exists with the recently strengthened EU rules on economic governance and surveillance. It is being further reinforced through a ‘Fiscal Compact’ agreed by EU leaders in the pursuit of budgetary discipline and reinforced economic policy coordination and governance throughout the eurozone.
In the pre-crisis period, the euro area as a whole benefitted from macroeconomic stability with stable inflation, low interest rates, an exceptionally long period of economic growth and a stronger internal market. The 332 million people who use the euro no longer have to pay extra costs to exchange currencies and there is more transparency in cross-border transactions, enabling consumers to compare prices between one eurozone country and another.
European Commission Vice-President for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro, Olli Rehn, said, “against the backdrop of today’s economic fragility, this is an opportune moment to recall the fundamental principles on which the euro was built and bring about a return to a Europe of strength and opportunity. We have the bricks and mortar; we have the manpower. We now look forward to political will, strong determination and swift action to restore economic growth, and create more jobs and restore confidence in investors and the public.”
“Better Airports” Package Launched
Source: European Union
The European Commission today announced a comprehensive package of measures to help increase the capacity of Europe’s airports, reduce delays and improve the quality of services offered to passengers. The measures address the quality of services passengers and airlines receive on the ground before they take off and after they land (for example, baggage handling, check-in, refuelling), the transparency of decisions on airport noise, as well as the efficiency of the complex network of take-off and landing slots that make up every journey.
Vice President Siim Kallas, European Commissioner responsible for Transport said: ‘Europe’s airports are facing a capacity crunch. If business and the travelling public are to take best advantage of the air network, we have to act now. 70% of all delays to flights are already caused by problems on the ground not in the air. On present trends, nineteen key European airports will be full to bursting by 2030. The resulting congestion could mean delays for half of all flights across the network. The status quo is not an option for airports in Europe. Faced with intense global competition, if we do not change the way we do business, we may not be doing business at all.”
The package consists of a policy summary document and three legislative measures, on slots, ground-handling and noise.
Report shows overall positive impact of mobility of Bulgarian and Romanian workers on EU economy
Source: European Commission
A new report published today by the European Commission highlights the overall positive role that mobile workers from Bulgaria and Romania (EU-2) have played in receiving countries’ economies. These workers have contributed to the skills mix as well as filling vacancies in sectors and jobs with labour shortages such as in construction and the domestic and food services sectors. Estimates also show a positive impact of the free movement of Romanian and Bulgarian workers on the EU’s long-term GDP with an increase by about 0.3% for EU-27 (0.4% for eu-15). Studies show too that there has been no significant impact on unemployment or wages of local workers in receiving countries: in the EU-15 studies show wages are on average only 0.28% lower they would have been without mobility of the EU-2. The report also highlights that there is no evidence of a disproportionate use of benefits by intra-EU mobile EU citizens and that the impact of recent flows on national public finances is negligible or positive.
Speaking to journalists in the margins of a conference in Vienna, László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion underlined the positive impact of mobility saying “Moving between countries offers real opportunities and economic benefits for both the host countries and the EU as a whole. We see that geographical mobility very much depends on the trends of the economy and where the jobs are”. He also expressed his strong desire to see all labour market restrictions lifted adding: “Restricting the free movement of workers in Europe is not the answer to high unemployment. What we need to do is really to focus our efforts on creating new job opportunities”.
Post-enlargement mobility may have had some economic and social costs for the receiving countries as well as for the sending countries that lose productive capacity. However, the Commission believes that while a part of these costs might be temporarily reduced by restricting labour mobility, in the longer term, labour market imbalances need to be addressed through specific policies. Evidence shows that the transitional measures have had a limited effect on the distribution of EU mobility and that flows are influenced more by factors like labour demand or language skills. The experience of the 2004 enlargement has also shown that restricting the free movement of workers can have negative effects, such as a rise in undeclared work.
The main destination for movers form Bulgaria and Romania was to Italy and Spain and data suggest that, at the end of 2010, twice as many Bulgarians and Romanians (2.9 million) were residing in the EU-25 compared to 2006. At the same time, in relative terms, EU-2 nationals resident in an EU-25 Member State only represent 0.6 % of the total EU-25 population. The highest share is in Cyprus (4.1%), Spain (2.2 %) and Italy (1.8 %). In addition, the EU-2 employment rate (63%) is close to that of the EU-25 (65%). However, since the economic downturn, recently arrived EU-2 nationals have found it more difficult to find a job: around 16% were out of work in 2010, compared to 9% in 2007. What is clear is that recent EU-2 movers have played a very minor role in the labour market crisis which is a direct consequence of the financial and economic crisis, as well as structural labour market problems.
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Agriculture and fishery statistics pocketbook: Agricultural diversity in the EU seen through figures
Which Member States are the main producers of cereals? Which Member State produces the most drinking milk and the most cheese and where is the most beef, pork and poultry meat produced?
Answers to these questions can be found in the 2011 edition of the Pocketbook on Agriculture and fishery statistics issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.
The pocketbook presents selected tables and graphs providing a statistical overview of the agricultural sector in the European Union. The most recent data are presented for the 27 Member States as well as the EFTA countries when available. This pocketbook, intended for both generalists and specialists, is divided into seven chapters: milk and milk products, agricultural accounts and prices, main agricultural products, agriculture and the environment, land cover and land use, rural regions and fishery statistics.
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