Internal Market: Next Step in the Debate over the “Bolkestein” Services Directive
The discussions about the proposal for a Directive on services, a sector that accounts for 70 per cent of the European Union (EU) economy, became highly politicised at the European Council of 22-23 March 2005. Now, the Rapporteur Evelyne Gebhart will present amendments to this proposal on 19 April 2005 to the European Parliament. She proposes to replace the controversial “country of origin” principle by a soft type of harmonisation via the tried and tested internal market mechanism of “mutual recognition”. Indeed, one of the main stumbling blocks was the “country of origin” principle, according to which a service provider is subject only to the law of the country in which he is established and Member States may not, subject to certain derogations, restrict services from a provider established in another Member State.
Competition: Microsoft Complies with Un-Tying Remedy
On 28 March 2005, Microsoft announced measures to implement the obligation imposed upon it by the European Commission to offer a version of its Windows operating system without its Media Player. This obligation is just one of two imposed upon it on 24 March 2004 by the European Commission, along with a fine, in respect of breaches of EU competition law rules. Compliance was delayed due to disagreement between Microsoft and the Commission on the naming of the un-tied version of Windows. Rejecting all nine possible names proposed by Microsoft, the Commission chose “Windows XP Home Edition N”, with the ‘N’ standing for “Not with Media Player” as its preferred name, which Microsoft has accepted with some reluctance. No agreement has yet been reached on the implementation of the remaining remedy which seeks to force Microsoft to disclose interface documentation to allow non-Microsoft work group servers to achieve full interoperability with Windows PCs and servers.
Trade: EU/US Negotiations on Airbus/Boeing Subsidies at a Standstill
The negotiations between the EU and the United States (US) regarding subsidies to Airbus and Boeing, seem to have come to a standstill. On 11 January 2005, the two sides gave themselves 90 days to negotiate a phasing out of subsidies to develop commercial aircraft and avoid a legal battle before the World Trade Organisation (WTO). In October 2004, the US had lodged a complaint with the WTO about EU subsidies to Toulouse-based Airbus. The EU brought a counteraction alleging indirect US government aid for Boeing through defence and research contracts. After the 11 April deadline, either party could proceed with its WTO action against the other although it is hoped that negotiations will continue, possibly with a new deadline.
Trade: EU-Turkey Customs Union to be Enlarged
Turkey has stated that it is prepared to sign a protocol enlarging the customs union existing between itself and the 15 EU Member States to the ten new EU Member States. Enlargement of the customs union in this way will result in the abolition of tariff and non-tariff barriers to the free movement of goods between Turkey and the new EU Member States, and in particular, between Turkey and the Republic of Cyprus. Although signature of the protocol does not involve formal recognition of the government of the Republic of Cyprus, it does require recognition of the fact that this country is now an EU Member State. Such signature is also a necessary pre-condition for the commencement of accession negotiations between the EU and Turkey.
Justice and Home Affairs: Report on Biometrics’ Impact on Society
The European Commission has asked the US Congress to postpone the deadline for issuing biometric passports for travellers to the US from October 2005 to August 2006. In the meantime, the Commission has released a report on how biometrics will impact on society. The report highlights the fact that the introduction of biometric passports could lead to a wider use of biometrics for commercial and civil applications, provided that such applications are accepted by citizens. This acceptance can be attained only by clearly defining the purpose and limitations of each biometric application and enhancing the protection of privacy. According to the report, the kick-starting by governments - in their role as launch customers, not as regulators - and the creation of a demand market will enable the creation of a “vibrant European biometrics industry”.
Defence: Proposal for more Competition in the Defence Industry
EU defence ministers are examining a proposed voluntary code to increase cross-border competition in military equipment. Currently, goods and services that are specifically for military use are exempted from the normal EU competition rules on the grounds of national security. However, commentators argue that a lack of competition means that Member States pay too much for military equipment supplied by their national producers, leaving them with fewer resources for research into new technologies. Liberalisation would be introduced gradually with a pilot project in one area of "land systems", for example in the armoured vehicles sector. This sector is very fragmented and costs are comparatively high. An agreement on the code is expected in November this year after further consultations amongst the Member States.
Internal Market: .EU Domain Name Registration Starts This Year
European companies and individuals will have the opportunity to register for the use of the .eu extension later this year. The Board of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has recently approved the delegation of the .eu domain name. ICANN will subsequently enter into an agreement with EURid, the organisation selected by the European Commission to operate the .eu registry. Prior to the start of the registrations there is going to be a ‘sunrise period’. During this period, holders of certain IP rights (to be defined in rules issued by the European Commission) will be able to apply for registration of the corresponding domain name. After the sunrise period, general registrations will begin on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.
NEXT WEEK’S EVENTS
Monday 4 April – Friday 8 April 2005
No meetings scheduled for next week
COURT OF JUSTICE
C-453/03 ABNA and Others
Joined Cases C-11/04, C-12/04 Fratelli Martini and Cargill
C-194/04 Nederlandse Vereniging Diervoederindustrie Nevedi
Approximation of laws
Joined Cases C-154/04, C-155/04 Alliance for Natural Health and Others
Environment and consumers
C-135/04 Commission v Spain
Freedom to provide services
Joined Cases C-544/03, C-545/03 Mobistar
Judgments Convention/Enforcement of judgments
C-73/04 Klein and Klein
C-255/02 Halifax and Others
C-419/02 BUPA Hospitals and Goldsborough Developments
C-223/03 University of Huddersfield Higher Education Corporation
C-446/03 Marks & Spencer
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE
Staff Regulation of Officials
T-376/03 Hendrickx v Council
T-336/02 Christensen v Commission