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Brussels, Friday 15 November 2013
Top News from the European Commission
Background notes from the Spokesperson’s service for journalists
Tuesday 19 November: European Commission takes action to improve EU Small Claims Procedure 2
Wednesday 20 November: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package 3
Monday 25 November: Tackling Tax Avoidance: Commission proposes tightening key EU corporate tax legislation 4
Tuesday to Wednesday 26 – 27 November: European Development Days - Building a new vision on development post-2015 6
Wednesday 27 November: Commission to adopt proposals on protection of trade secrets 8
Tuesday 19 November: European Commission takes action to improve EU Small Claims Procedure
The Commission will present a revision of the 2007 Small Claims Procedure, a procedure to resolve small civil and commercial disputes in a hassle-free way.
Having listened to businesses and to consumers, the European Commission is taking action to make the procedure simpler, less costly and more relevant.
The European Small Claims Procedure (Regulation (EC) No 861/2007) aims to improve access to justice by simplifying cross-border small claims litigation in civil and commercial matters and reducing costs. It was especially conceived to help consumers enforce their rights and ensure access to justice in cross-border cases. The mechanism was adopted in 2007 and first entered into application on 1 January 2009.
"Small claims" are cases concerning sums of €2,000 or less, excluding interest, expenses and disbursements (at the time when the claim form is received by the competent court). The judgment is made in the country of residence of the consumer, or in the country of the defending company should the consumer so choose. It protects his/her procedural rights and becomes directly enforceable in the country of the losing party and in any other EU country. The procedure is conducted mostly in writing using pre-defined forms. Representation by a lawyer is not required.
IP and MEMO will be available on the day.
Vice-President Reding's website:
Mina Andreeva +32 2 299-1382 Mina.Andreeva@ec.europa.eu
Natasha Bertaud +32 2 296-7456 Natasha.Bertaud@ec.europa.eu
Wednesday 20 November: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package
On Wednesday 20 November 2013, the European Commission will adopt its monthly infringements package. These decisions cover all Member States and most of EU policies and seek to enforce EU law across Europe in the interest of both citizens and businesses.
Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) gives the Commission the power to take legal action against a Member State that is not respecting its obligations under EU law.
There are three successive stages: Letter of formal notice, reasoned opinion and referral to the Court of Justice.
If, despite the ruling, a Member State still fails to act, the Commission may open a further infringement case under Article 260 of the TFEU. After only one written warning, the Commission may refer a Member State back to the Court and it can propose that the Court imposes financial penalties based on the duration and severity of the infringement and the size of the Member State.
A comprehensive Memo on all referrals and reasoned opinions, specific IPs on each referral and a Memo on the procedure will be available on the day on Rapid:
For more information on infringements:
On the general infringement procedure: MEMO/12/12
Olivier Bailly +32 2 296 87 17 firstname.lastname@example.org
Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07 email@example.com
On specific infringements, please contact the spokesperson in charge.
Monday 25 November: Tackling Tax Avoidance: Commission proposes tightening key EU corporate tax legislation
On 25 November, the European Commission will adopt a proposal to amend the Parent Subsidiary Directive (2011/96/EU) in order to close off opportunities for corporate tax avoidance. The Parent Subsidiary Directive was originally conceived to prevent the double taxation of same-group companies based in different Member States. However, loopholes in the Directive have been exploited by some companies to avoid paying any taxes at all. The proposal aims to close these loopholes. First, it will introduce a common anti-abuse rule into the Directive. This will allow Member States to ignore artificial arrangements used for tax avoidance purposes and to tax on the basis of real economic substance. Second, it will ensure that the Directive is tightened up so that specific tax planning arrangements are no longer eligible for the tax exemptions provided under the Directive.
The issue of corporate tax avoidance is very high in the political agenda of many EU and non-EU countries, and the need for action to combat it has been highlighted at recent G20 and G8 meetings.
One of the key problems to be addressed is that of double non-taxation i.e. where loopholes in national tax systems are exploited by companies to pay no tax at all. Double non-taxation deprives Member States of significant revenues and creates unfair competition between businesses in the Single Market. Tackling this problem requires urgent and coordinated action at EU level.
On 6 December 2012 the Commission presented an Action Plan for a more effective EU response to tax evasion and avoidance. This action set out a comprehensive set of measures, to help Member States protect their tax bases and recapture billions of euros legitimately due (IP/12/1325). The revision of the Parent Subsidiary Directive is one of the measures announced in the action plan.
Algirdas Šemeta, the European Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Anti-Fraud, Statistics and Audit will present the proposal at the midday briefing in the Commission's press room. Press materials will be available on the day.
Information on fight against tax fraud and evasion:
Information on Commissioner Šemeta:
Emer Traynor +32 2 292 15 48 firstname.lastname@example.org
Franck Arrii +32 2 297 22 21 email@example.com
Tuesday to Wednesday 26 – 27 November: European Development Days - Building a new vision on development post-2015
This year's European Development Days (EDD13) will focus on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and on the global framework which will succeed them by 2015. High level speakers, representatives from civil society, private sector and academia from all continents will come together to debate the content of the next agenda which should address global poverty and sustainable development. The topic is very timely as 2015 (the MDGs target date) is fast approaching. Remarkable progress has been achieved in the fight against poverty thanks to the MDGs, but a lot remains to be done. Discussions on the post-2015 development agenda have started and negotiations will take place next year at the United Nations level. EDD13 will provide a unique opportunity to come together to contribute to the EU vision for development until and beyond 2015. During the event, new survey on EU citizens' view on Development aid will also be announced.
The European Development Days, organised by the European Commission, will bring together many of the relevant actors in the field. This year's high-level event will host among others, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf President of Liberia; Joyce Banda, President of Malawi; or Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations. The European Commission will be represented by President Barroso, President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, Vice President Catherine Ashton, Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs as well as other EU Commissioners. Updated list of VIP confirmations available here.
EDD13 will take place in Brussels (Tour & Taxi) on 26 – 27 November
Full programme with many panels, side events and special addresses:
Press conference – 26 November (exact time TBC) – with participation of Commissioner Piebalgs
Registration for journalists only – please send an email with your contact details to
Webstreaming will be available on European Development Days' website
Website of the European Development Days:
During the event, a wide range of facilities and services will be available to journalists. You can find out more at:
Alexandre Polack +32 (0) 2 299 06 77 Alexandre.Polack@ec.europa.eu
Maria Sanchez Aponte+32 (0) 2 298 10 35 Maria.Sanchez-Aponte@ec.europa.eu
Wednesday 27 November: Commission to adopt proposals on protection of trade secrets
On 27 November the European Commission will adopt a proposal for a directive on the protection of trade secrets and confidential business information from misappropriation and misuse by third parties
The aim of the proposal is to harmonise national laws on protecting against misappropriation of trade secrets by establishing a common definition and ensuring that in cases of unlawful acquisition, use or disclosure of a trade secret, a sufficient and comparable level of redress across the EU is provided.
Under the flagship initiative "Innovation Union", one of the pillars of the “EU 2020 strategy”, the Commission undertook to create an innovation-friendly environment. Within this framework, the Commission has adopted a comprehensive strategy to ensure a smooth functioning of the Internal Market for intellectual property, which also reaches areas complementary to intellectual property rights (IPRs) such as trade secrets.
Every company, large or small, in any sector uses confidentiality to gain a competitive advantage, in particular when based on knowledge and innovation. Trade secrets are the source of any first mover advantage. Valuable information that cannot be protected by exclusive rights, such as patents, will only confer its creator with an advantage over competitors if and to the extent that it is not generally known and it is kept confidential. However, companies are increasingly exposed to dishonest practices (such as economic espionage, theft, unauthorised use and disclosure of confidential information), which impact their knowledge capital and competitiveness. Furthermore, there are important differences between the levels of protection offered across the EU for defending trade secrets against unfair practices.
Press details to be announced.
IP and MEMO will be available on the day.
Trade Secrets and Confidential Business Information:
Commissioner Michel Barnier's website:
Chantal Hughes +32 2 296 44 50 Chantal.Hughes@ec.europa.eu
Carmel Dunne +32 2 299 88 94 Carmel.Dunne@ec.europa.eu
Audrey Augier + 32 2 297 16 07 Audrey.Augier@ec.europa.eu