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EXME 12 / 27.11
Midday Express of 2012-11-27
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
Today, the European Commission outlined a series of actions to tackle marketing scams, such as those of misleading directory companies. The aim is to better protect businesses, professionals and NGOs across Europe from dishonest traders who do not play by the rules and use misleading marketing practices, such as sending out forms asking businesses to update details in their directories, seemingly for free, and then charging them annual fees. Small companies are particularly vulnerable to fraudsters, who are frequently operating from another jurisdiction within the EU. This makes enforcement difficult. The Commission therefore announced that it plans to beef up the existing legislation (the Misleading and Comparative Advertising Directive 2006/114/EC) to explicitly ban practices such as concealing the commercial intent of a communication, while at the same time stepping up enforcement of the rules in cross-border cases.
The first ever Annual Report on the Commission's and European Parliament's (EP) Joint Transparency Register of interest representatives shows the platform is working, with all the objectives for its first year of operations met. Reflecting the two institutions' determination to build on this strong start, it then sets out objectives for the next year, and proposes key issues to look at when the platform comes under review in 2013.
Over recent years, social protection expenditure in the EU27 rose from a low of 26.1% of GDP in 2007 to reach 29.6% in 2009 and 29.4% in 2010, according to data from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. This increase in the ratio is in large part a result of the economic crisis, as in nominal terms total social protection expenditure in the EU27 grew by around 10% between 2007 and 2010, while GDP remained nearly stable. While expenditure on main categories of benefits (pensions, health care, family) all rose by about 10%, expenditure on unemployment increased by a third. In 2010, the two main sources of funding of social protection at EU27 level were general government contributions from taxes, making up 40% of total receipts, and social contributions at 56%. The EU27 average continued to mask major disparities between Member States. Social protection expenditure as a percentage of GDP was above 30% in 2010 in France (33.8%), Denmark (33.3%), the Netherlands (32.1%), Germany (30.7%), Finland (30.6%), Austria and Sweden (both 30.4%), and below 20% in Romania (17.6%), Latvia (17.8%), Bulgaria and Estonia (both 18.1%), Slovakia (18.6%), Poland (18.9%), Lithuania (19.1%) and Malta (19.8%). These disparities reflect differences in living standards, but are also indicative of the diversity of national social protection systems and of the demographic, economic, social and institutional structures specific to each Member State.
Vice-President Siim Kallas: Does Transport Matter?
"Transport drives growth, creates employment and is vital for completing the European single market", said European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas at the first European transport business summit "Connect to Compete". It is the engine of the supply chain, it generates trade and therefore prosperity, Kallas said. But transport is also one of Europe’s few sectors which still has legal obstacles to market entry, and numerous administrative and regulatory barriers. The European Commission often faces huge opposition to its ideas for creating single transport areas for aviation, rail and maritime, which aim to add competition into closed and protected markets to raise efficiency and performance. This means there is always more to be done to allow the market to work openly and fairly. “Time and time again, Member States and vested industry interests together adopt a purely national, short-term perspective. This weakens what we are trying to do to build a genuinely efficient and smooth transport network in Europe,” Kallas said. “When industry believes that its own interests are threatened, it can be quick to lobby against change and modernisation. There are huge barriers within business, which lead to a risk of protectionism,” he said. “The result is that today, the “business voice” that promotes fair and free market competition has become very weak. Business attitudes risk being short-sighted and not seeing the longer-term consequences.” See SPEECH/12/864
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