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Competition: CFI Judgment in Carbonless Paper Cartel Case
In the carbonless paper cartel case, the Court of First Instance (CFI) has confirmed the existence and duration of the cartel and the fines imposed on seven of the nine companies. The fine imposed on Arjo Wiggins Appleton PLC was reduced from EUR 184.27 million to EUR 141.75 million. This was on the basis that the evidence provided by Arjo was of a similar quality to that provided by another member of the cartel, Papeteries Mougeot SA. Accordingly, the Commission should have granted Arjo the same reduction as Mougeot on account of its co-operation, namely 50 per cent, instead of the 35 per cent granted to Arjo. The CFI also reduced the fine imposed on Papelera Guipuzcoana de Zicuñaga SA from EUR 1.54 million to EUR 1.3 million on the basis that the Commission had not established that the company participated in market-sharing practices, a factor which should have been taken into account when considering the gravity of the infringement. As a result, the total fines imposed on the cartel are reduced from EUR 313.7 million to EUR 270.9 million.
Police and Judicial Co-operation: ECJ Upholds Validity of European Arrest Warrant
Contact Philip Bentley
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has confirmed that the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) and surrender procedures are valid. In Case C-303/05, Advocaten voor de Wereld, the ECJ examined claims that the removal of verification of double criminality by the EAW (ie, the procedure to check whether the offence in the Member State issuing the EAW is also an offence in the Member State where the person is arrested) was a breach of fundamental rights. The ECJ rejected this claim, noting that while the EAW dispenses with double criminality for certain categories of offences, the definition of those offences must be in line with fundamental rights in the Member State issuing the EAW. The ECJ also rejected claims that the EAW ought to have been implemented by means of a convention rather than under EU law. The judgment reinforces the construction of an EU system of police and judicial co-operation in criminal matters.
Internal Market: Green Paper on Retail Financial Services
The European Commission has published a Green Paper on Retail Financial Services, namely financial products commonly used by EU citizens in their everyday life. The Green Paper launches public consultations to find the best solution for the creation of a single market for retail financial services in the EU, as retail service integration has not yet reached its full potential and competition is currently insufficient in certain areas. In order to open up national markets in retail financial services, the Commission aims to strengthen competition among providers and enhance consumer confidence by ensuring better protection and clear information. Stakeholders are invited to submit comments by 16 July 2007. A public hearing is scheduled for 19 September 2007, after which the conclusions of the consultations will be incorporated in the Single Market Review to be published in Autumn 2007.
Data Protection: EDPS Advises Against Framework Decision on Data Protection
On 30 April 2007 the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) issued its third opinion on the proposal for a framework decision on the protection of personal data processed within the framework of police and judicial co-operation. According to the EDPS, the latest text has a number of shortcomings. The application of uniform data protection principles to domestic processing of personal data is within the discretion of EU Member States. The proposal also fails to address appropriate limitations on the permitted purposes of storage. Equally, it does not establish specific guarantees for the transfer of personal data. Moreover, it does not allow for any distinction to be made based on the degree of accuracy of data. These issues remain contentious despite the efforts of the German Presidency to achieve a consensus among Member States about an issue that requires unanimous support to be adopted.
External Relations: EU and US to Sign up to Transatlantic Economic Integration Plan
The annual EU-US Summit on 30 April 2007 marked the birth of a new Framework aimed at the creation of a genuine transatlantic market (see Brussels Brief of 27 April 2007). The Framework allows the parties to demolish unnecessary barriers, which are caused by divergent regulatory systems. Regulatory co-operation will initially focus upon key sectors, for example the automotive and pharmaceutical industries, in addition to areas such as investment and the enforcement of intellectual property rights. European Commission President Barroso called for the mutual recognition of accounting standards by 2009. In order to demonstrate the parties’ commitment to the Framework, the EU-US first stage Aviation Agreement was signed. This Agreement is predicted to generate economic benefits of up to EUR 12 billion and 80,000 new jobs over a five year period. It comes into force on 30 March 2008.
Environment: EU Directive on Environmental Liability to be Implemented
EU Directive 2004/35 on environmental liability with regard to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage should have been implemented by the Member States as of 30 April 2007. However, as yet only Italy, Latvia and Lithuania have done so. The purpose of the Directive is to establish a framework for environmental liability based on the “polluter pays” principle. The Directive refers to damage caused by a company to protected species, natural habitats, water resources and land. It imposes two types of obligations upon operators: preventive and remedial. The Directive also provides that the Member States must ensure that responsible operators undertake or finance the necessary measures themselves.
The European Commission has adopted a report with respect to a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB). This report draws the attention of other EU institutions to the work that has to be done at expert level. The experts must identify current tax problems and the possible options for resolving them, before making a formal proposal in 2008. The CCCTB would enable companies to use the same tax base calculation rules for all their European activities, rather than applying 27 different tax rules. The CCCTB will therefore simplify international restructuring procedures, improve efficiency, reduce compliance costs and eliminate many of the existing intra-community transfer price difficulties. In accordance with an agreed fair sharing mechanism which forms part of the proposal, the CCCTB would be distributed between Member States. Further, the Commission confirmed that it would not propose any harmonisation of tax rates. Member States will continue to set their own national tax rates and will thus retain full sovereignty over their tax revenues.
NEXT WEEK’S EVENTS
Monday 7 May – Friday 11 May 2007
Agriculture and Fisheries Council (7 – 8 May 2007)
ECOFIN (8 May 2007)
COURT OF JUSTICE
Approximation of laws
C-328/05 P SGL Carbon v Commission
Environment and consumers
C-252/05 Thames Water Utilities
C-508/04 Commission v Austria
C-407/06 Commission v Belgium
Common foreign and security policy
C-117/06 Möllendorf and Others
Freedom to provide services
C-162/06 International Mail Spain
C-427/05 Porto Antico di Genova
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE
T-47/06 Antartica v OHMI - Nasdaq Stock Market (nasdaq)
T-99/05 Spain v Commission