Air Transport: EU and US Resume Open Skies Negotiations
The European Commission and the American Department of Transportation will resume negotiations on 17 October 2005 on a so-called “open skies” aviation agreement between the European Union and the United States. The negotiations were stalled for 16 months due to European demands that EU airlines be given equal rights to fly within the US as American airlines would enjoy within the EU. Informal talks have since been held between the two parties who have agreed a stage-based approach for the negotiations. This means that some degree of imbalance regarding access rights would initially remain. On 6 October the EU Council of Transport Ministers welcomed the resumption of the negotiations. EU Commissioner Barrot and US Secretary Mineta have since agreed formal talks which are scheduled to take place on 17-21 October in Brussels and on 14-18 November in Washington.
Customs: EU Bans Import of Live Birds and Certain Poultry Products from Turkey and Romania
Following the confirmed presence of the avian influenza virus in Turkey, the European Commission has adopted an immediate EU ban on all imports of Turkish live birds and untreated feathers. The import of live poultry, eggs and fresh poultry meat from Turkey is already forbidden. Avian influenza or “bird flu” is a highly contagious infection often resulting in death. Since 2003 about 140 million birds have died from this virus in South East Asia. In August 2005 the virus was detected in Russia and Kazakhstan. To prevent the virus from spreading in Europe imports had been banned from Kazakhstan, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam, North Korea, Pakistan, Malaysia and Russia. The virus has also been detected in Romania and on 13 October 2005 the Commission adopted a decision to impose a ban on imports from Romania.
IP: EU-Wide Copyright Licences to Fuel Growth in Online Music Industry
On 12 October 2005, the European Commission adopted a recommendation with the aim of improving the online licensing of musical copyrights. The recommendation proposes the introduction of pan-EU copyright licences, the absence of which has prevented internet based services, for example legitimate on-demand music download sites, from flourishing. A stakeholder consultation in July 2005 revealed that opinion was divided between (i) improving cooperation among collecting societies allowing each society to grant an EU-wide copyright licence and (ii) giving copyright holders the choice to appoint a collective rights manager for the use of their works across the EU. It is hoped that EU-wide copyright licences will be a step towards addressing the significant gap in online music revenue between Western Europe and the US.
Competition: Lift Manufacturers Charged with Running a Price-Fixing Cartel
The world’s four biggest lift manufacturers ─ ThyssenKrupp of Germany, Schindler of Switzerland, Kone Oyj of Finland and Otis, a unit of the US group United Technologies ─ have been charged by the European Commission with running a price-fixing cartel. EU regulators raided the companies in January and March 2004 seeking evidence that they had cooperated in bidding for contracts. The statement of objections sent to the companies on 10 and 11 October 2005 alleges that a cartel took place in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands between 1998 and 2004. The companies have two months to respond to the allegations and may face fines of up to 10 per cent of a group’s global annual turnover. This case comes after EU Competition Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, made the fight on illegal cartels one of the Commission’s top priorities.
Internal Market: Commission Adopts New Forms for Advertising Public Contracts
The European Commission has adopted new forms for the advertising of public procurement contracts. The new forms are intended to facilitate such advertising online. Pursuant to the EU public procurement Directives, contracts above certain thresholds must be advertised EU-wide providing all relevant information for the tender in question. The new forms that are adopted by the Commission can be submitted electronically and published at the TED (the EU Tenders Electronic Daily) within five days of being sent, instead of 12 days. Public authorities will be able to use the old forms until the end of January 2006 if the relevant Member State has not implemented the 2004 public procurement Directives by then. The new forms will be available online shortly at www.simap.eu.int .
Internal Market: Commission Launches Action Plan to Combat Counterfeiting and Piracy
The European Commission has presented a package of measures in 2005 and 2006 to strengthen protection for the EU and its citizens against counterfeiting and piracy. The measures proposed for action in 2005 and 2006 would increase Community level protection through improved anti-counterfeit legislation and operational controls, strengthen the customs/business partnership and reinforce international co-operation in this area. These measures are justified by the growing number of counterfeit seizures at the EU’s external borders. Seizures of counterfeit and pirated articles in 2004 increased by more than 12 per cent compared to 2003 and by almost 1000 per cent compared to 1998. Most counterfeit items are foodstuffs, medicines, toys, games, household items and car parts. One of the reasons for this explosion in trade in counterfeits is that criminals can now produce fake articles of high quality on an industrial scale.
NEXT WEEK’S EVENTS
Monday 17 October – Friday 21 October 2005
Environment Council (17 October 2005)
COURT OF JUSTICE
C-111/03 Commission v Sweden
C-511/03 Ten Kate Holding Musselkanaal and Others
Approximation of laws
C-405/03 Class International
Community own resources
C-247/04 Transport Maatschappij Traffic
C-264/03 Commission v France
C-334/03 Commission v Portugal
C-468/03 Overland Footwear
Environment and consumers
C-6/04 Commission v United Kingdom
Joined Cases C-23/04, C-24/04, C-25/04 Sfakianakis
Freedom of movement for persons
Police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters
C-436/04 van Esbroeck
C-428/04 Commission v Austria
C-88/03 Portugal v Commission
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE
T-415/03 Cofradía de pescadores "San Pedro" de Bermeo and Others v Council
T-60/03 Regione Siciliana v Commission
T-318/00 Freistaat Thüringen v Commission
T-324/00 CDA Datenträger Albrechts v Commission