(Adobe Acrobat Reader required, available for free download here)
Competition: Commission Unveils White Paper on Damages
The European Commission has released its White Paper on Damages, outlining a new approach to civil litigation designed to encourage private antitrust claims in the European Union. The White Paper broadly welcomes the concept of class actions, including by indirect purchasers. Significantly, however, the White Paper recommends limiting damages to the “real value of loss” (actual damages plus lost profit and interest), eschewing the “treble damages” model in the United States. Other significant aspects include safeguards to prevent discovery abuse, certain protection for leniency applicants, as well as presumptions in favour of claimants in follow-on actions. While the White Paper offers a number of broad policy suggestions, it is silent on key areas such as jurisdiction, or on concrete proposals. Interested parties are invited to submit comments to the Commission by 15 July 2008.
Air Transport: Commission Paves Way for In-Flight Mobile Phone Use Across Europe
On 7 April 2008 the European Commission introduced rules to harmonise conditions for the introduction of pan-European mobile communication services on aircraft. These services will allow both business and leisure travellers to use their own mobile phones while flying all over Europe. The measures taken by the Commission will harmonise the technical and licensing requirements for the use of mobile phones on board aircraft. Each airline is granted a national licence by the Member State in which it is registered, and the Commission’s rules on harmonisation will allow recognition of this licence throughout the European Union. Thus, for example, an aircraft registered in France or Spain will be able to offer mobile communication services on aircraft to passengers when flying over Germany or Hungary without any additional licensing procedures.
Internal Market: New EU Rules to Improve Traceability of Explosives
Contact Philip Bentley
As one of a series of measures designed to combat terrorism, the European Commission has adopted a Directive which strengthens the control of explosives for civilian use in the European Union. The measures are designed to prevent theft and ensure that any losses or thefts are quickly detected. National labelling systems are to be replaced by a unique EU-wide labelling system which will identify the manufacturer, the place of production and/or the country of import. Companies that use explosives will have to keep records of their explosives for up to ten years so that the explosives can be traced from production to final use. Member States must enact the provisions of the Directive by 9 April 2009.
Road Transport: EU Council Reaches Compromise on Cabotage
The EU Council has reached a compromise on the proposal for a regulation on access to the international road haulage market. This proposal consolidates two existing regulations and further harmonises the rules on access to the road transport market. The main compromise was reached on cabotage, which is the national carriage for hire or reward carried out on a temporary basis in a host Member State. If the compromise is approved by the European Parliament, EU hauliers would be able to perform up to three transport operations within seven days in the host Member State following an international transport operation from another Member State or a country outside of the European Union. The European Commission was asked to analyse whether the current status of harmonisation of EU enforcement and taxation rules allow the further opening of domestic transport markets.
Justice and Home Affairs: Europe Encourages Mediation for Cross-Border Legal Disputes
The European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs has approved, at second reading, a proposed directive to encourage the use of mediation as an alternative to resolving disputes in cross-border civil and commercial matters. Mediation can provide a fast and cost-efficient extra-judicial method of settling disputes. The Committee members and the Council agreed that mediation must always be voluntary, meaning that EU citizens choosing this procedure may not be precluded from recourse to a judicial court. Further, in order to ensure that the mediation agreement reached is enforceable, the mediation provisions will apply in all EU Member States.
Environment: MEPs Want Tougher Waste Recycling Targets
On 8 April 2008 during the second reading in the European Parliament of the revised EU Waste Framework Directive, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted to increase recycling targets and subject waste incinerators to efficiency criteria. According to the Parliament's Environment Committee, recycling targets amounting to 50 per cent of the European Union's household waste and 70 per cent of construction waste should be met by 2020. Whilst some MEPs argued that incinerators should only be classed as recovery operations if their principal purpose was energy production, a narrow majority agreed a compromise suggested by the European Commission, that incinerators could be classed as recovery operations if they respect specified energy efficiency criteria.
Data Protection: EU Regulators Question Online Advertisement
EU national privacy regulators have touched upon the issue of the use of personal data by search engines for the purposes of online advertising. Many search engines, such as Google or Yahoo, collect and store personal data for years for the purpose of offering personalised advertisement to users. According to EU legislation, data processors must give legitimate reasons to use private information. The EU national privacy regulators concluded that it is difficult to find legitimate grounds for personalised advertisements deriving from using such information and that in any case this data can be processed only if the subject has given its consent and the data is held for a shorter period of time.
Internal Market: ECJ Upholds Different Tax Treatment of Beer and Wine in Sweden
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has rejected the European Commission’s claim that internal Swedish taxes imposed on beer (mainly produced in Sweden) and wine (mainly imported) were such as to afford indirect protection to mainly Swedish products to the detriment of imports from other Member States. The European Court of Justice agreed that wine which is in competition with strong beer was subject to a higher taxation. It then considered whether this higher taxation had the effect of reducing potential consumption of imported products to the advantage of competing domestic products. Its conclusion was that the price difference between a litre of wine and a litre of beer before taxation was virtually the same as after taxation. Thus, the Commission failed to demonstrate that the difference in internal taxes was likely to influence consumer behaviour to the detriment of imports.
State Aid: France Requested to Recover Aid from Arbel Fauvet Rail
The European Commission has ordered the French authorities to recover incompatible State aid granted to Arbel Fauvet Rail, a company based in Northern France which manufactures railway wagons for industrial use. The aid took the form of lower interest charged on two loans together worth EUR 2 million granted by the French local authorities. The Commission's investigation found that the loans were granted at an interest rate lower than the rate the company would have been able to obtain on the market, in particular due to the economic difficulties faced by Arbel Fauvet Rail at the time the loans were granted. The unfair advantage granted to Arbel Fauvet Rail therefore equals the difference between the interest due at the reduced rate and the interest that the company would have been required to pay at market rates. The precise figure to be recovered will be calculated by the French authorities.
NEXT WEEK’S EVENTS
Monday 14 April – Friday 18 April 2008
Agriculture and Fisheries Council (14 April 2008)
Justice and Home Affairs Council (17 – 18 April 2008)
COURT OF JUSTICE
Environment and consumers
Joined Cases C-373/06 P, C-379/06 P, C-382/06 P Flaherty v Commission
Freedom of movement for persons
C-197/06 Van Leuken
Free movement of goods
C-456/06 Peek & Cloppenburg
C-108/07 P Ferrero Deutschland v Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market and Cornu
C-390/06 Nuova Agricast
Joined Cases C-101/07 P, C-110/07 P Coop de France Bétail and Viande v Commission
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE
T-260/04 Cestas v Commission
T-181/05 Citigroup and Citibank v OHMI - Citi (CITI)
T-389/03 Dainichiseika Colour & Chemicals Mfg. v OHMI - Pelikan
T-294/06 Nordmilch v OHMI (Vitality)
T-348/04 SIDE v Commission