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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 11 July 2014

Top News from the European Commission
12 July – 31 August 2014

Background notes from the Spokesperson’s service for journalists
The European Commission reserves the right to make changes

Monday 14 July: 6th Round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) starts

The news:

On 14-18 July 2014, the sixth round of negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US will take place in Brussels. All working groups that have met in previous rounds will come together to pursue the negotiations.

In the week ahead of the 6th round there will be as usual an off-the record technical briefing by EU chief negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero.

  1. Thursday 10 July 2014, 11.15 - Berlaymont press room – Off-the record technical briefing

During the round week, the following media activities will take place:

  1. Monday 14 July 2014, 10.00 - VIP corner : Opening of the 6th round of negotiations: handshake between the EU chief negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero and U.S. chief negotiator Dan Mullaney

  2. Wednesday 16 July 2014, 11.00-14.00 - Management Centre Europe, Rue de l’Aqueduc 118, Brussels - Stakeholder event in which EU and US stakeholders will have the opportunity to explain their views on different aspects of TTIP to negotiators and other stakeholders. Accredited written press have the possibility to attend the stakeholder briefing session on an "on the record” basis, but in a ‘listening mode’ only. To participate as a journalist, please register by Friday 4 July here

  3. Friday 18 July 2014, 15.30 -  Berlaymont press room  - Closing press conference with EU chief negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero and U.S. chief negotiator Dan Mullaney. The press conference can be followed live via EbS (webstream).

Video footage and photo material will be made available on the audiovisual websites of the European Commission for free usage. Press material on the on-going negotiations will be provided on the website of DG Trade. Updates on TTIP can be followed on Twitter under @EU_TTIP_team and on this website:

The background:

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is the trade agreement presently being negotiated between the EU and the US. It aims to cut tariffs in a wide range of economic sectors, and tackle trade barriers such as differences in technical regulations, standards and approval procedures. The TTIP negotiations will also look at opening both markets for services, investment, and public procurement.

The sources:

For more information:

  1. I-080999 EU/US Trade, 2013

The contacts:

John Clancy +32 2 29 53773

Maria Lyra Traversa +32 2 29 56368

Monday 14 July: Commission to adopt Recommendation on online gambling

The news:

On Monday, 14 July, the European Commission will adopt a Recommendation to help Member States deliver a high level of protection to their citizens in the area of online gambling services.

The main features of this Commission Recommendation are:

(i) to ensure that citizens in the EU, especially minors, are aware of the inherent risks associated with gambling; and that operators have a set of common principles to abide by for responsible commercial communication;

(ii) to provide greater clarity and assurance for consumers that the authorised sites they choose to play on have adequate safeguard measures in place, for example effective age verification, registration and identification controls;

(iii) to provide for appropriate measures to prevent the risks associated with gambling, such as addiction or excessive gambling.

The background:

Online gambling services are widely offered, advertised, and used across Europe, with the EU representing around 45% of the global online gambling market. More than 12% of all gambling in the EU is done online, making online gambling services worth in excess of €10 billion (Gross Gambling Revenue) in 2012. They cover a range of games of chance, such as sports betting, poker, casino games and lotteries, with around 6.8 million consumers participating in one or more games. However, there are thousands of unregulated gambling websites, often from outside the EU, to which consumers are exposed and which carry significant risks such as fraud and money laundering.

There is no sector-specific EU legislation regulating gambling services. At the same time, an increasing number of Member States are seeking to address the challenges they face and are reviewing their national regulations and practices. As a result of the wide-ranging public consultation exercise led by the Commission since 2010, there have been requests from the European Parliament, Member States and from stakeholders for EU guidance in relation to the protection of citizens, consumers and vulnerable groups – in particular minors.

The initiative was announced in the Communication 'Towards a comprehensive European framework for online gambling' adopted on 23 October 2012 (IP/12/1135 and MEMO/12/798).

The event:

11:00 Technical briefing off-the-record at the Berlaymont press room in Brussels.

A press release will be issued.

The sources:

The contacts:

Chantal Hughes +32 2 296 44 50

Carmel Dunne +32 2 299 88 94

Tuesday 15 July: Commission addresses unfair practices in the food supply chain

The news:

On Tuesday 15 July the European Commission will adopt a communication encouraging Member States to look for ways to improve protection of small food producers and retailers against the unfair practices of their sometimes much stronger trading partners.

Before a food product reaches the consumer, many different market players (producers, processors, retailers, etc.) are involved in the supply chain and can add to the quality and value of the product. Due to developments such as increased market concentration, there are very different levels of bargaining power in the relations between the players in the supply chain. Whilst differences in bargaining powers are common and legitimate in commercial relationships, these imbalances can in some cases lead to unfair trading practices (UTPs).

Such practices include:

  • avoiding or refusing to put essential commercial terms in writing

  • retroactive unilateral changes in the cost or price of products or services

  • transfer of unjustified or disproportionate risk to a contracting party

  • deliberately disrupting a delivery or reception schedule to obtain unjustified advantages or

  • unilaterally terminating a commercial relationship without notice, or subject to an unreasonably short notice period and without an objectively justified reason.

Many stakeholders have recognised the harmful potential of unfair trading practices and a business-led initiative to tackle this matter was launched in September 2013. The Commission encourages undertakings to join this initiative. As regards legislation, Member States' treatment of the matter varies, which has led to regulatory divergence across the EU. The Commission believes that improvements are only possible if all stakeholders work together. The communication aims to contribute to fair and sustainable commercial relationships and a level playing field for market participants in the food supply chain through helping to reduce the harmful effects and possible cross-border obstacles caused by UTPs, especially for SMEs. The Communication encourages Member States to take appropriate action in this field in light of their current national frameworks and includes a series of concrete actions which can make a difference on the ground.

The background:

The food supply chain is not only crucial for the daily life and well-being of EU consumers but it is also important for the economy as a whole, employing more than 47 million people in the EU, many in SMEs, and representing about 7% of the EU gross value added. The importance of fostering sustainable trading relationships by addressing UTPs was highlighted in the European Retail Action Plan of January 2013 (IP/13/78). The Commission's Green Paper on UTPs in the business-to-business food and non-food supply chain in Europe, published together with the action plan, initiated a broad debate and generated replies from a large variety of stakeholders. The Commission's communication will take that work forward.

The event:

A press release will be issued on the day.

The sources:

Retail services

Forum for a Better Functioning Food Supply Chain

The contacts:

Chantal Hughes +32 2 296 44 50

Carmel Dunne +32 2 299 88 94

Tuesday 15 July: European Commission launches a Green Paper consultation on the protection of geographical indications for non-agricultural products

The news:

On Tuesday 15 July the European Commission will launch a public consultation on the protection of geographical indications for non-agricultural products.

The background:

Consumers look for ways to identify authentic, original quality products. The reputation and/or given quality features associated with products due to their particular origin may be crystallised in what is termed a "geographical indications" characterising the product. It identifies goods as coming from a country, region or locality where a particular quality, reputation or other characteristic of the product is essentially attributable to is geographical origin (e.g. Prosciutto di Parma).

At EU level, unitary geographical indications protection is currently provided for wines, spirits, aromatised wines and for agricultural products and foodstuffs. However, to date there is no harmonisation or unitary protection for non-agricultural products at EU level (e.g. Scottish tartans, Murano glass, or Bohemian crystal). Instead, national legal instruments apply, resulting in different levels of legal protection across Europe. Non-agricultural producers who wish to protect a Geographical Indication throughout the EU need to ensure that they have separate protection in each Member State, which is not in line with the objectives of the EU Single Market.

The Commission identified the issue in its 2011 Communication "A single market for intellectual property rights" (IP/11/630) and proposed a thorough analysis of the existing legal framework for GI protection of non-agricultural products in the Member States, and its implications for the single market.

An external Study on geographical indications protection for non-agricultural products in the Internal Market was commissioned in 2012. Its results, published in March 2013, show that the existing legal instruments available to the producers at national and at European level are insufficient. The Commission also organised a public hearing on 22 April 2013 to discuss the results of the study and to provide a platform for a wide debate on the need for more efficient GI protection of non-agricultural products at EU level.

In light of these results, the Commission is now pursuing its analytical work with this Green Paper.

The event:

Press release and memo will be available on the day.

The sources:

Geographical indications for non-agricultural products

The contacts:

Chantal Hughes +32 2 296 44 50

Carmel Dunne +32 2 299 88 94

Thursday 17 July: Commissioner Hahn in Pompeii to take stock of progress and launch Action Plan

The news:

On Thursday 17 July, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn will be in Pompeii, one of the most important sites of European cultural heritage. There he is expected to sign an "Action Plan" with the Italian authorities to accelerate work on the major project to preserve Pompeii supported by the European Regional Development Fund.

The Action Plan which sets down specific targets and deadlines will be unveiled on July 17 at a joint press conference with the Italian authorities. Some €105 million coming from EU and national contributions combined were invested in the project, 'Preservation, Maintenance and Improvement of the archaeological site of Pompeii'.

The background:

The EU contribution for this project stands at €78million. The overall investment is €105 million.

The Pompeii restoration project is using some of the most sophisticated and up-to-date technology to conserve the ruins of the world renowned UNESCO site which has been badly damaged in recent years.

It aims to:

  1. consolidate the structures of the archaeological site, starting with the areas ranked "high risk" pursuant to the 'Archaeological Risk Map';

  1. build a water canalisation and drainage system in the non-excavated state property area leaning over the ancient buildings;

  1. implement the consolidation, restoration and enhancement works in line with the method of programmed preservation; and

  1. improve the training of staff, working on site for the 'Special Superintendence for the Archaeological Heritage of Naples and Pompeii' (SANP).

The project is also taking a variety of measures to protect itself from the influence of organised crime - the Camorra - which infects many parts of the region. Working closely with the European Commission, the Italian authorities have installed a special "prefetto" from the Italian Ministry of the Interior to oversee security and legal aspects of the project from beginning to end.

The event:

IP will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Website of Commissioner Johannes Hahn

The contacts:

Shirin Wheeler +32 2 296 65 65, mobile: +32 460 766565

Annemarie Huber +32 2 299 33 10, mobile: +32 460 793310

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