Thursday 24 July 2014

Editor's Choice

How to unlock the EU this summer?

By Dan Luca Federica Mogherini. Jonathan Hill. Names and nominees are floated for future Commissioners, but can't Europe do better? The best thing for the UK's relationship with the rest of Europe, for example, is to put forward David Miliband in the field. Yes: his brother leads the Left in Britain. But David is by far the best choice for all stakeholders, including the Conservatives.

 

Latest Posts

Dear Mr Juncker, Europe is ageing fast and action is needed

Posted by Blogactiv Team on 18th July 2014

Guest blogpost by Anne-Sophie Parent, AGE Platform Europe Secretary General. In 2012, we were already 190 million people aged 50 years and over in the EU, i.e. 37% of the population. In 20-30 year time, we – including you and me – are going to be three times more to reach the age of 80 and [...]

27% ≠ 27% ≠ a good idea

Posted by epopress on 17th July 2014

By Adam White, Research Coordinator at WWF European Policy Office’s Climate and Energy Unit

The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.

- Aristotle

When it comes to European targets for greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, and energy efficiency, every percentage point is closely modelled and examined.  The esoteric target of 27% renewable energy is the product of European Commission analysis on contributions to reach the (inadequate) 40% emissions cut by 2030.

A separate review of Energy Efficiency, still in draft form, looked at energy savings of up to 40%, as called for by Parliament and NGOs, and while it did examine 28%, 30 and 35%, found greater benefits to the higher end.

Unfortunately, such dedicated number gazing sometimes clashes with politics, or circumstance, or – as in the case of the 2030 energy efficiency target – both.

The higher energy efficiency numbers are intimidating to a Commission that’s afraid of doing battle with difficult Member States, and contradict its earlier 2030 framework review (the one done prior to the recognition by all concerned that efficiency is crucial to energy security).

Never fear, because some Commissioners have cooked up a solution: simply ‘match’ the efficiency target to the renewables target – 27%/27%. Neat and parallel (and more than an echo of Commissioner Oettinger’s earlier 30/30/30 rhetoric).  Sadly, it is just not as simple as that.  However similar the numbers seem on paper – in reality they mean very different things.

The renewables target applies to the share of final energy use – the proportion of renewable energy we get when we switch on lights.  On the other hand, the efficiency target applies to cuts in primary energy use below a baseline projection – so it reflects the reduction in the amount of fuel used in the EU compared to expectations absent the applicable policy.

These are completely different notions. 27% in no way equals 27%.

The renewable energy target and the efficiency target interact in complex ways.  You can reduce the EU’s consumption of fuel, and therefore help to meet the efficiency target, by increasing renewable energy.  This is because renewable energy technologies convert their energy inputs (sun, wind) more efficiently than traditional power plants convert coal and gas into electricity.  The converse is also true, you can help meet the renewables target by boosting efficiency, since the less total energy you use, the easier it is for a higher proportion of that total to be met by renewables.

These are all considerations that the number crunchers pay close attention to, but which their bosses seem willing to overlook in the interests of symmetry and expediency.  And like a heart bypass candidate who can’t resist another double cheese hamburger, the Commission has decided to ignore the consequences of their bad decision: a 27% energy efficiency target actually represents a slowdown of current efforts, and would put in jeopardy the improved health and billions of euros saved every year that efficiency delivers.

Interesting how a Commission which is almost 70% male, and 100% white is apparently only interested in equality when it comes to plucking numbers out of the air.

 

EU as a Global Actor

Posted by Mose Apelblat on 17th July 2014

By Mose Apelblat Jean-Claude Juncker's enlargement strategy reads as an anti-climax after his other ambitious guidelines. The Luxembourger's approach on enlargement sends a negative message to all candidate countries telling them that, whatever their efforts, they won’t manage to join EU within next five year period.

EU enlargement freeze: Romania unites with Republic of Moldova

Posted by Lulea Marius Dorin on 17th July 2014

Long before the actual elections that lead to a new European Parliament, the leaders of the most powerful states had asserted that the European Union would stop its enlargement.

This direct restriction is interesting given the fact that we have all presumed that enlargement is about standards and not necessarily about economic interests.

Should we imply that until now European Union enlargement has occurred without adherence to standards but because this was the wish, and now it’s not? This type of restriction, just for the sake of not disturbing the Russian Federation seems more like an act of cowardliness rather than of supporting a democracy.

Public declarations in this sense represent a heavy blow for the pro-European parties in Balkans and East Europe where Russia is working hard.

The most eloquent example is the situation in Republic of Moldova where the actual political class, helped by the Romanian brethren over Prut, has managed to implement almost everything it had set out.

The fact that the European Union will stop its expansion fell like lightning in Chișinău, the capital of the second Romanian state. Elections will take place this autumn and the entire electoral programmed focused on the accession to European Union. As the alternative to the actual political class is represented by the communist pro-Russian left that does not want to hear about the European Union but of a New Berlin Wall- this time on the Prut River- the existence of a backup plan is compulsory.

This plan was anticipated by the Romanian president Traian Băsescu, one of the most influential and experimented leaders of the European Union. In the moment Russia had already intervened in Ukraine, when the Association Agreement to EU was being ratified, the Romanian president said: if the Republic of Moldova is banned from joining EU, than the reunification of these two Romanian states is the new national project of Romanian.

We recall that Romania and the Republic of Moldova formed one state until the end of the Second World War when, as was the case of Germany, the disintegration of the country was decided by Stalin.

An aspect that should not be neglected is that more than 50% of Moldova’s citizens support the unification with Romania, while the interest for EU is lower. Over 80% of Moldova’s citizens are Romanian ethnics, a great part of them claiming this right through the restoration of their citizenship. Therefore the elimination of visa for the Romanian in Republic of Moldova had no effect as  the majority of them already had the right to free circulation.

The first European state that ratified the Association Agreement of Republic of Moldova with EU was Romania. When this thing happened, politicians in Parliament of Chișinău and Bucharest delivered rousing discourses affirming that this was a step towards the restoration of the historical truth which is, as in the case of Germany, the unification of Romania with the Republic of Moldova.

EU’s decision of freezing the enlargement opens a new polemic on the Chișinău-Bucharest axe, the alternative of unification prevailing over the European Integration.

As a strong Romania is a threat to Russia’s domination in East Europe it is expected that its agents will also activate within the European parliament or through various political voices.

In the meantime the public declaration of freezing EU enlargement was a great strategic mistake because it opened the way for the Russian Federation to impose regimes favorable to it in East Europe as well as the Balkans.

 

Halte aux idées reçues en matière d’immigration

Posted by EU-Logos on 17th July 2014

Dans un rapport intitulé « Is what we hear about migration really true ? » édité par le sociologue et démographe Philippe Fargues, le Centre d’études des politiques migratoires de l’Institut universitaire européen de Florence revient sur huit stéréotypes faux qu’il importe de démonter préalablement à tout débat éclairé sur la question. Les politiciens qui exploitent ces préjugés à des fins électoralistes ou pour prôner une hypothétique fermeture totale des frontières seraient avisés de s’y référer.

 Huit stéréotypes à démonter pour établir un débat débarrassé de préjugés trompeurs

« Nous n’avons pas besoin des migrants ». Cette assertion est fausse, voire dangereuse, lorsque l’on considère le déclin démographique européen. En 2050, sans immigration supplémentaire, la population européenne aura décrue de 58 millions ! Or, comment avoir voix au chapitre des grandes puissances si la population est en déclin ? La population est également vieillissante, rendant les systèmes de retraite et l’Etat providence insoutenables à brève échéance (2030). L’immigration est donc une solution rapide et incontournable pour le maintien des systèmes sociaux et le développement économique.

« Les migrants volent nos emplois ». C’est une idée partagée par près de la moitié des citoyens de l’UE. Ce faux « bon sens » s’oppose à la rationalité du comportement des migrants : ceux-ci évitent généralement les pays avec un fort taux de chômage pour s’installer. On observe par conséquent une corrélation majoritairement négative entre l’immigration et le chômage après la crise de 2008. Un chômage élevé ne saurait donc être imputé à l’immigration sans tordre la réalité.

« Nous n’avons pas besoin d’immigrants peu qualifiés dans l’UE ». Si les Etats membres ont progressivement orienté leur politique migratoire vers les migrants qualifiés, il n’en demeure pas moins que l’économie européenne a besoin de migrants peu qualifiés, ne serait-ce que pour occuper des emplois peu prisés par les natifs. La réalité des Etats membres est toutefois hétérogène, selon la structure de l’économie et la main d’oeuvre recherchée pour y répondre.

« Les immigrés minent notre système social ». Les migrants sont accusés de profiter des allocations chômages, logement ou familiales. Ces dépenses sont néanmoins faibles pour les Etats, eu égard aux dépenses de santé ou de retraites. Or, les migrants sont souvent jeunes, actifs. Il en résulte que les immigrés sont des contributeurs nets aux comptes sociaux.

« Les immigrés entravent notre capacité d’innovation ». Empiriquement, il apparaît que les pays avec des politiques migratoires ouvertes à destination des immigrés qualifié ont de meilleures performances en matière d’innovation.

« Les côtes Méditerranéennes sont noyées sous le flot de demandeurs d’asile ». Contrairement à l’image médiatique, les réfugiés ne « débarquent » pas massivement sur les plages européennes. La majorité des flux est entre les pays du Sud. L’idée que l’Europe prenne une part aux conséquences des désastres et des guerres du monde est une obligation résultant de la Convention de Genève.

« Ceux qui immigrent pour des raisons économiques essaient de tromper notre système d’asile ». Cette idée est également fausse. Hormis des chiffres plus erratiques ces dernières années (pics en 2011 et 2013, creux prononcés en 2010 et 2012) liés à la conjoncture internationale, aucune arrivée massive n’est relevée. L’augmentation des risques de périr au cours du voyage (évalués à 3%) témoigne que ceux qui fuient leur pays cherchent davantage à fuir des persécutions qu’à gagner l’Europe uniquement pour des raisons économiques. Les migrants érythréens, nigérians, somalis, syriens ou afghans constituent désormais part conséquente des demandes d’asile, ce qui reflète les crises internationales davantage que les problèmes économiques dans ces pays.

« Nos enfants subissent la présence d’immigrés dans leur classe ». Là encore, le faux bon sens ne tient pas face à la réalité : ce n’est pas l’origine qui détermine le niveau scolaire, mais le niveau de ressources disponibles. Les moindres résultats scolaires constatés chez les enfants immigrés s’explique donc davantage par la situation socio-économique de leurs parents que par leur origine culturelle.

 Un document à mettre entre toutes les mains pour lutter contre des mythes de plus en plus diffusés

Si le document n’a pas toute la rigueur et la précision d’une étude scientifique approfondie, il permet de dissiper quelques malentendus par des données empiriques. Pour éviter que le climat délétère de racisme et de xénophobie ne se propage davantage, il est nécessaire d’agir sur notre perception de la réalité. En matière d’immigration particulièrement, il est impératif que chacun face le devoir citoyen de s’informer et de s’ouvrir plutôt que de se fier à un soit disant « bon sens ».

Emmanuel Buttin

Pour en savoir plus :

-       Page de présentation du rapport : [EN]

-       Le rapport : [EN]


Classé dans:IMMIGRATION, Politique d'intégration

BBC is worth saving

Posted by Chris Whitehouse on 17th July 2014

Despite its failings, the UK state broadcaster, the British Broadcasting Corporation, is worth saving, argues Whitehouse Consultancy Chairman, Chris Whitehouse, as he warns that the future of its funding arrangements are in jeopardy.

Read Chris’s full article here.

The Whitehouse Consultancy is one of Europe’s leading public affairs and communications agencies.

Commission drops unfair trading practices in non-food supply from its agenda

Posted by cecimo on 17th July 2014

The Commission Drops Unfair Trading Practices in the Non-Food Supply Chain from Its Agenda

Brussels, 17 July 2014 – The European Commission published on 14 July 2014 a Communication  on unfair trading practices (UTPs) in the business-to-business food supply chain (COM (2014) 472). The Communication has been drafted following a public consultation carried out in the first half of 2013. Although the public consultation revealed the existence of UTPs in some non-food sectors, the Commission Communication focuses only on the food sector. Nevertheless, CECIMO is convinced that the Commission should revisit its decision to exclude the business-to-business non-food supply chain from the Communication.

CECIMO is increasingly concerned about the growing disequilibrium in relationships between small to medium sized machine tool suppliers and large dominant customers in the supply chain of major industrial sectors. “OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) in automotive and aircraft industries have recently been going through restructuring which has led to a greater centralisation in these major customer sectors of the machine tool industry. Moreover, they have reorganized their procurement strategies and have introduced risk-sharing models shifting risks and responsibilities onto suppliers, which are smaller in size and are weaker in terms of bargaining power, revealed a study  on the competitiveness of the European mechanical engineering industry commissioned by the European Commission in 2011.” states Filip Geerts, Director General of CECIMO. Businesses confirm this trend by highlighting that they are increasingly facing unfair contract terms unilaterally imposed by large customers such as unlimited warranties for consequential damages or access to the suppliers’ intellectual property.

This situation has a negative impact on innovation, access to finance and company growth, thus undermining the sustainability of the manufacturing value chain in Europe as well as highly skilled jobs provided by SMEs. Furthermore, divergent legislative frameworks in Member States leads to an uneven protection for small suppliers across the EU against such practices, which is a disincentive for SMEs to do cross-border trade in the Single Market. Although the machine tool industry is for freedom of contract, CECIMO believes that a situation in which small players with a weak bargaining power are imposed liabilities that are unlimited in time and magnitude should be avoided. In the mid-term, these unfair practices pose a serious threat to SMEs.

“A healthy and sustainable European industrial ecosystem is key to building an innovative and competitive manufacturing base, a core objective set by the Commission’s Industrial Policy Strategy. And small to medium-sized enterprises supplying key enabling production equipment and technologies are the backbone of this eco-system.” affirms Filip Geerts.

When the market forces do not ensure balanced and sustainable relationships in the industry supply chain, the European Commission is well-positioned to investigate the underlying reasons and to send the right signals to market players across the EU. For the time being, CECIMO refrains from stating preference for any regulatory or self-regulatory measure without a proper assessment of the situation. However, CECIMO is convinced that the incoming Commission should not turn a blind eye on this important issue and consider putting UTPs in the business-to-business non-food supply chain back on the agenda.

About CECIMO
CECIMO is the European Association of the Machine Tool Industries. We bring together 15 national Associations of machine tool builders, which represent approximately 1500 industrial enterprises in Europe*, over 80% of which are SMEs. CECIMO covers 98% of the total machine tool production in Europe and about one third worldwide. It accounts for almost 150,000 employees and a turnover of nearly €23 billion in 2013. More than 80% of CECIMO production is shipped abroad, whereas two thirds of it is exported outside Europe*. For more information visit www.cecimo.eu
* Europe = EU + EFTA + Turkey

# # #

For further media enquiries:

Contact person:  Filip Geerts, Director General
Tel +32 2 502 70 90 / Fax +32 2 502 60 82
filip.geerts at cecimo.eu

 

Das Europäische Parlament und seine stärkeren Maßnahmen

Posted by Günter K.V. Vetter on 17th July 2014

In einer am Donnerstag verabschiedeten Entschließung hat das Europäische Parlament stärkere Maßnahmen zur Bekämpfung der Jugendarbeitslosigkeit gefordert, einschließlich gemeinsamer Mindeststandards für Ausbildungsstellen und angemessene Löhne. EU-Mittel für beschäftigungsrelevante Programme sollten in Zukunft erhöht werden, so die Abgeordneten in der Entschließung, die mit 502 gegen 112 Stimmen angenommen wurde, bei 22 Enthaltungen.

Das Parlament warnt, dass es kein wesentliches nachhaltiges Wirtschaftswachstum in der EU geben wird, solange die Ungleichheiten nicht verringert werden. Es unterstreicht, dass Jugendarbeitslosenquoten ein bisher nicht gekanntes Niveau von im EU-Durchschnitt 23% erreicht haben, mit Spitzen bis zu 50% in einigen Mitgliedstaaten, und dass insgesamt 5,3 Millionen Menschen unter 25 Jahren arbeitslos sind.

Die Kommission sollte die Umsetzung der im vergangenen Jahr eingeführten Jugendgarantieprogramme wirksam überwachen und Mindeststandards für die Qualität von Ausbildungsstellen, angemessene Löhne und den Zugang zu Arbeitsvermittlungsstellen vorschlagen, so die Abgeordneten, die im Entschließungstext außerdem darauf hinweisen, dass die für die Beschäftigungsinitiative für junge Menschen veranschlagten 6 Mrd. Euro nicht ausreichen, und die Mittel dafür erhöht werden sollten.

In der Resolution fordern die Abgeordneten die Mitgliedstaaten auf, auf nationaler Ebene weitere Maßnahmen zur Bekämpfung der Jugendarbeitslosigkeit zu ergreifen, darunter insbesondere solche, durch die verhindert wird, dass die Schulausbildung vorzeitig abgebrochen wird, oder durch die Bildungs- und Ausbildungssysteme gefördert werden, sowie umfassende Strategien für junge Menschen zu entwickeln, die weder eine Arbeit haben noch eine schulische oder berufliche Ausbildung absolvieren. Die Mitgliedstaaten sollten auch auf EU-Programme wie den Europäischen Sozialfonds und ERASMUS+ zur Beseitigung von Armut und sozialer Ausgrenzung und zur Förderung des Unternehmertums zurückzugreifen, so der Text der Entschließung.

Allgemeine und berufliche Bildung an die Erfordernisse des Arbeitsmarktes anpassen

In dem Text betonen die Abgeordneten, dass es für junge Menschen wichtig ist, auch im Rahmen eines Auslandsstudiums fachübergreifende Kompetenzen wie IKT-Kenntnisse, Führungskompetenzen, kritisches Denken und Sprachkenntnisse zu erwerben. Sie fordern die Mitgliedstaaten auf, sich entsprechend den voraussichtlichen zukünftigen Entwicklungen auf dem Arbeitsmarkt auf Branchen mit einem hohem Potential für Wachstum und die Schaffung von Arbeitsplätzen zu konzentrieren und den Bereichen Naturwissenschaften, Technologie, Ingenieurwissenschaften und Mathematik in ihren Ausbildungsprogrammen Priorität einzuräumen.

Schließlich verlangt das Parlament von den Mitgliedstaaten, dafür zu sorgen, dass junge Menschen Zugang zu hochwertigen Arbeitsplätzen haben, die Stabilität und Sicherheit bieten und Kernarbeitsnormen berücksichtigen. Die nationalen Regierungen sollten des Weiteren mit Blick auf die Bekämpfung der Arbeitslosigkeit unnötigen Verwaltungsaufwand und bürokratische Hürden für Selbständige, Kleinstunternehmen und KMU beseitigen, vorteilhafte steuerpolitische Maßnahmen einführen und günstigere Bedingungen für private Investitionen schaffen.

Juncker au Parlement européen : une déclaration de politique pragmatique pour les droits fondamentaux

Posted by EU-Logos on 16th July 2014

Par EU-Logos Après la constitution d’une « Gross Koalition » qui a permis de désigner un Président de la Commission qui reflète les orientations politiques des européens, la « parlementarisation » —signe de démocratisation— d’un régime européen jusque là difficile à qualifier est en marche. Elle se poursuit avec une déclaration de politique générale, une sorte de 'contrat de coalition'. Quels sont les objectifs sociaux et économiques prioritaires?

EU deploys innovative finance tools to improve energy efficiency

Posted by ManagEnergy on 16th July 2014

Ambitious energy efficiency targets will require significant investment from the private sector. Public authorities are learning fast from innovative financing mechanisms the EU is putting in place to achieve this.

Energy efficiency has traditionally been viewed as a public good financed by public sector grants. But the public purse can only do so much and the pressure is mounting.

Now, with rising energy prices and an increasingly urgent climate agenda, European energy legislation is driving ambitious targets including: renovation of public buildings; energy efficiency obligations for energy suppliers; and overall demand-side reduction.

Growing investment opportunity

Across all sectors, global energy efficiency investments totalled $300 billion in 2011 – a substantial and growing market opportunity for investors.

It is estimated that urban areas are responsible for 70% – 80% of energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions in Europe. For this reason, various EU initiatives are encouraging towns and cities to take the lead in the fight against climate change.

To reach the EU’s 20:20:20 target (20% of EU energy consumption to come from renewable sources by 2020; a 20% improvement in energy efficiency; and a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared with 1990), the required annual investment in the buildings sector alone is estimated at €65-100 billion ($89-136 billion) between 2011 and 2020.

Public authorities are generally called upon to lead investments. Across Europe, over 300 regions and 150,000 municipalities account for two-thirds (€178.9 billion in 2011) of the total public investment expenditure and have major powers in key sectors such as education, the environment, transport and economic development.

Grant support for public authorities in any Member State seeking to launch sustainable energy investments is available under the Intelligent Energy Europe programme (launched in 2003 and now subsumed into the EU’s €80 billion research and innovation programme Horizon 2020).

Ambitious leverage goals

Grants amounting to €148 million are disbursed via the European Local Energy Assistance (ELENA) facility (administered by the European Investment Bank, Germany’s KfW, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Council of Europe Development Bank) and the Mobilising Local Energy Investments (MLEI) facility –administered by the European Commission’s agency for small and medium-sized enterprises (EASME).

This grant support is conditional on projects achieving a minimum leverage (EU grant to total investment) of 1:20 and 1:15, respectively. So far, €81.2 million has been provided to 56 projects.

Achieving this leverage requires local and regional authorities to negotiate a steep learning curve. New kinds of partnerships with financial institutions will be crucial to scaling up sustainable energy investment programmes, and combining public and private funding.

Building renovation is essential

Thorough renovation of buildings involves long payback periods but is essential to achieve the maximum savings potential – and reach the EU objective of reducing buildings’ energy consumption by 80 % by 2050. In support of this goal, the Commission is designing new ‘off the shelf’ financial instruments, including renovation loans, aimed at combining public and private money to finance investment in energy efficiency or renewables.

“It’s going to take a historic level of public-private cooperation to meet the EU’s 2020 targets,” said a recent report from the Energy Efficiency Financial Institutions Group (EEFIG), which includes high level representatives of the European Commission’s DG Energy, UNEP Finance Initiative, financial institutions and investment funds.

In its first report released in April, the group concluded that, in order to attract private capital such as pension funds, insurance or real estate trust funds, the energy efficiency investment market “needs to transform” – to become more predictable, well-understood and standardised.

According to Paul Hodson, head of the energy efficiency unit at DG Energy: “Energy efficiency is today at the crossroads. Either it will become a mainstream investment area, or we risk losing the vast potential to invest into measures that not only contribute to the fight against climate change, but also bring economic benefits.”

The Commission is now undertaking a review of energy efficiency policy, he notes. “We are convinced that this will help to transform the market as needed – and as called for by market participants.”

 

From 2014 to 2020, another pot of EU public money – upwards of €37 billion earmarked for the ‘transition to a low-carbon economy’ – is available through the European Structural and Investment funds. The Commission is pushing Member States to replace grants with revolving loans or guarantee funds (for residential retrofit) and energy performance contracts for public and commercial buildings.

Optimal strategies for developing the energy efficiency investment market are under discussion within EEFIG but, as coordinator Peter Sweatman points out: “We’re working with 51 people representing 30 institutions to deliver a consensus view on financing energy efficiency. We have our work cut out for us.”

Trasparenza, crowdfunding e il Parlamento europeo

Posted by Carlo Peano on 16th July 2014

Sono al Parlamento europeo, seduto con la mia amica G al bar del terzo piano: quello di fronte alla stazione media, con le sedie dalle gambe lunghe e i tavoli slanciati in metallo lucente.

Io e G stiamo parlando dei dossier del Parlamento europeo e di come seguire il lavoro degli eurodeputati, quando mi chiede: «Ma tu conosci ParlTrack?».

Le parole le escono spontanee come un pensiero cui ha dato parola.

«Sì ed è molto utile» e spiego che è un database che raggruppa tutti i dossier, i risultati dei voti, gli eurodeputati e le agende delle commissioni del Parlamento europeo. Poso il gomito sinistro sul tavolo, mi sporgo in avanti e aggiungo «Sai chi l’ha fatto?».

«No, chi?» risponde G, che intanto osserva un eurodeputato inglese passare dietro di me.

«Un informatico ungherese, Stefan Marsiske. L’anno scorso ha fatto una campagna di crowdfunding su Indiegogo, ha raccolto 10.000 euro e ha creato il database», ritorno con la schiena dritta sullo sgabello e chiedo «Sai perché l’ha fatto?»

«Perché?»

«Per dare uno strumento alle persone per lottare per i propri diritti e fare leggi migliori» rispondo, finisco il caffè e aggiungo «Lui è la dimostrazione che chiunque può dare il proprio contributo».

Per chi fosse interessato ParlTrack è all’indirizzo: http://parltrack.euwiki.org/

Juncker and a Revival of the ‘European Social Model’?

Posted by FutureLab Europe on 16th July 2014

By Leticia Díez Sánchez, for FutureLab Europe Juncker’s priorities as the new president of the Commission demonstrate that what matters is not only having more or less Europe, but having it to the benefit of everyone and particularly those who are most in need.

To charge or not to charge: Paid vs. free access to Google’s Shopping box

Posted by Daniela Borlea on 15th July 2014

In order to resolve its dispute with the European Commission (EC) over its abuses in dominant position in search, Google has proposed to use an existing commercial product, the Google Shopping box, as a basis for a settlement with the EC. The intended purpose was to give comparable presentation of rival products; note: comparable, not equal. We are seeking a non-discriminatory settlement based on equality, which will benefit Google, e-commerce businesses, and clients alike. Although we are mainly concerned with the shopping box, this issue also affects other sectors such as publishers, maps, travel, etc.

A fundamental question regarding the box is whether access to it should be paid or not. At the moment, the box is structured as a paid auction mechanism, an additional revenue stream for Google aside from the revenue coming from the normal Google Shopping product. In this mechanism, comparison shopping services, which are Google Shopping’s “rival links,” bid for a spot in the box and if they win, they are situated on the less clicked on right-hand side of the box. At the same time, Google Shopping benefits from free access to the box. As it is the freeloading child of Google, thus its parent does not charge him rent to cohabitate in the box. Think of it like this: Mr. and Mrs. Moneybags own the largest newspaper in your town and their son is opening a new restaurant which he wants to advertise in the family newspaper. As part of a settlement with a competition authority, the parents give him prime real estate on the first page of the paper for free, while other advertisements are placed on the second page or in the back with smaller ad space for which they have to pay. Where is the fairness in this scenario?

Currently, the box is diverting free traffic from the organic, or natural, search to the higher-up paid search. Considering that Google’s original abuse was against free traffic, it is unclear how the box ameliorates the situation. If the box were free for all to access, and the link placement were rotated so as to not guarantee Google the coveted left-hand side of the box, the settlement would be significantly better.

If Google insists that we continue with a paid approach, it would mean higher costs for the e-shops, thus increasing their prices and passing these costs to the consumer. If indeed the auction mechanism will continue to be used and rival companies will have to bid for space, then all actors appearing in the box, including Google Shopping, should have to pay. In this scenario, there would need to be a separation of accounts between Google and Google Shopping, so that the money that the spoiled child pays is not re-circulated into Daddy’s pockets.

We are not asking that the box be done away with. The idea of providing users with direct answers in the form of attractive pictures rather than plain search results is something we agree can be a better consumer experience. Instead of showing people long lists of blue links, it is preferable to display something fun and vivid such as pictures. We want the user to have the best experience possible, and a rich interface such as the box can achieve this goal. The main concern is that access to the box must be granted on equal terms: if rival sites pay for access, so should Google shopping; if Google shopping gets in for free, so should everyone else. It’s time to stop the spoiled child from freeloading, and ensure Google treats everyone equally.

 

Paquet infractions de juillet : quand certains droits prennent eux aussi des vacances

Posted by EU-Logos on 15th July 2014

La Commission européenne ne prend pas de congés quand il s’agit des paquets infractions. Une fois encore, certains Etats membres sont visés pour leur « farniente » quand il s’agit de l’application du droit communautaire. Qu’il s’agisse de l’Espagne, de la Bulgarie, de la Finlande ou de la Slovénie, tous doivent prévoir un retour anticipé à leur législation nationale afin de combler les lacunes constatées.

Premier Etat membre visé dans le domaine de la justice : la Finlande. Cette dernière se voit reprocher le fait de ne pas avoir mis en place d’organismes appropriés pour lutter contre les discriminations raciales dans le domaine de l’emploi. Trois fonctions principales devraient potentiellement être exercées par ces organismes : une aide aux personnes victimes de discrimination et la mise en place d’études sur base desquelles pourraient être émises des recommandations. Il ne s’agit pas ici d’un premier avertissement puisque la Finlande avait déjà reçu une lettre de mise en demeure et un avis motivé de la Commission à ce sujet. C’est donc maintenant à la Cour de Justice qu’il reviendra de trancher face à cette non-application de l’article 13 de la directive « race et origine ethnique » (2000/43/CE).

L’Espagne et la Slovénie, quant à elles, semble avoir décidé à déserter le même champ d’application de la législation communautaire : la mise en oeuvre de la Directive 2010/64/UE qui prévoit le droit à l’interprétation et à la traduction dans les procédures criminelles. Reconnaissance mutuelle des décisions en matière pénale entre Etats membres, amélioration notable des droits des citoyens notamment des droits de la défense ; ce service est absolument crucial dans la perspective des droits fondamentaux. Toute personne accusée de crime doit pouvoir bénéficier de services d’interprétation et de traduction des divers documents, le tout, sans aucun coût pour la personne.

Enfin, la Bulgarie a elle aussi manqué à ses obligations relatives à la mise en oeuvre de la directive sur les droits des consommateurs notamment concernant l’obligation d’une transparence accrue des prix et une sécurité renforcée dans les achats en ligne. Souvenons-nous, Viviane Reding parlait à propos de ce texte de « cadeau de Noël » pour les consommateurs européens. Un cadeau de Noël que la Bulgarie ne semble pas être disposée à offrir à ses consommateurs, ou peut-être pour Noël 2014 ?

En conclusion, certains Etats membres semblent avoir oublié quelques droits communautaires en faisant leur valise législative. Mais la Commission ne leur accordera aucun passe-droit et reste déterminée à les rappeler à l’ordre, autant de fois que nécessaire, quitte à ce que leur seule destination estivale soit…la Cour de Justice !

Louise Ringuet

Pour en savoir plus :

  • Europa – « July infringements package : main decisions » – 10 juillet 2014  (FR)  (EN) 
  • Europa – « Absence d’organisme finlandais chargé de lutter contre les discriminations raciales dans le domaine de l’emploi : la Commission traduit la Finlande devant la Cour de justice », 10 juillet 2014  (FR)  (EN) 
  • Europa – Le droit à l’interprétation et à la traduction dans le cadre des procédures pénales (FR)  (EN)
  • Europa – Le renforcement des droits des consommateurs devient réalité dans toute l’Union européenne – 13 décembre 2013 (FR)  (EN) 

Classé dans:DROITS FONDAMENTAUX, Questions institutionnelles

Nationalmannschaft für Europa

Posted by Günter K.V. Vetter on 15th July 2014

Angela Merkel mag diese Momente. Sie mag Fußball, sie mag es, wenn die Nationalmannschaft gewinnt, und sie weiß, auch sie wird davon profitieren. Der erste Effekt ist kurzfristig. Deutschland ist Weltmeister, die Menschen freuen sich, die Wähler sind glücklich. Wer über Mario Götzes grandioses Tor redet, der regt sich nicht über Hartz IV auf oder über marode Straßen oder über die NSA. Ist doch eigentlich alles prima, dann kann die Regierung auch nicht so schlecht sein.

Der zweite Effekt ist langfristiger, und Angela Merkel nutzt ihn sehr virtuos. Merkel ist Regierungschefin, wir sehen sie im Kanzleramt, wir sehen sie auf dem roten Teppich bei irgendwelchen Gipfeltreffen, und wir wissen, hier ist Macht, hier wird regiert. Das kann leicht abgehoben wirken, deshalb baut Angela Merkel immer wieder Kontrapunkte ein, Situationen, in denen sie ganz normal wirkt, so wie eine von uns.

Abends auf dem Weg vom Kanzleramt nach Hause geht sie oft noch einkaufen,… sie backt ihrem Mann gerne Kuchen,… und beim Fußball freut sie sich, wenn Deutschland gewinnt – so wie wir. Das macht Merkel normal, das erdet sie für viele Menschen, das schafft Vertrauen. Gerhard Schröder hat das ähnlich gemacht…

Und die Bilder, die jubelnde Angela Merkel im Stadion, das Selfie in der Kabine, das macht sie dazu noch zu einem Teil dieses Sieges. Danach mit der Limousine zum Regierungsflieger und zurück nach Berlin. Heute Nachmittag spricht Merkel schon wieder beim Petersberger Klimadialog. Dann sehen wir wieder die andere Angela Merkel.

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