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Trade: CFI Rules in Favour of Huvis in Anti-Dumping Appeal
The Court of First Instance (CFI) has partially annulled a Council Regulation increasing anti-dumping duties on imports of polyester staple fibres produced by the Korean based Huvis Corporation. After the Commission had conducted an interim review of the definitive anti-dumping duties imposed by Council Regulation (EC) No 2852/2000, the Council, in line with Regulation (EC) No 428/2005, set the new duty rate 0.9 percentage points higher. Huvis applied to have the requisite parts of the 2005 Regulation that increased the rate annulled, on the basis that the Commission had used a different method for comparing the export price and the normal value in the interim review from that used in the initial review. The CFI, in finding for the applicants, stated that the institutions concerned had infringed the basic anti-dumping regulation by not applying the same method in the review as that applied in the initial investigation. The CFI did indicate that if the method used in the initial investigation was no longer appropriate, a different method could be used. However, it was for the institutions to establish that the circumstances had so changed, which they had not done in the present case.
Competition: CFI Grants Reduction of Fine in Plasterboard Cartel
The European Court of First Instance (CFI) has upheld the fines imposed by the European Commission in 2002 on three out of four plasterboard producers for cartel activities. The CFI reduced the fine of the fourth producer, BPB, from EUR 138.6 million to 118.8 million by granting an additional 10 per cent reduction on top of the 30 per cent already granted to take account of the extent of cooperation provided by BPB during the investigation. The total fine imposed on all cartel participants was therefore reduced from EUR 478.32 million to EUR 458.52 million. The cartel related to a secret information exchange system set up to monitor market trends and avoid over-aggressive competition on the plasterboard market between 1992 and 1998.
Environment: Commission Welcomes Vote on EU Emissions Trading System
The European Commission has welcomed the European Parliament's second reading vote in favour of including aviation in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). The vote confirms the agreement reached between the Parliament and the Council. Under the new Directive, greenhouse gas emissions from flights to, from and within the European Union will be included in the EU ETS from 2012. All airlines will be covered, regardless of nationality. Like the industrial companies already covered by the EU ETS, airlines will be able to sell surplus allowances if they reduce their emissions and will need to buy additional allowances if their emissions increase. Once the Decision is formally adopted, Member States will have 12 months to transpose it into their national legislation.
Internal Market: Emergency Aid for European Fishing Fleet
The European Commission has adopted a package of emergency measures designed to provide short term aid to segments of the European fishing fleet most impacted by soaring fuel costs, sustainability and overcapacity problems, and stagnating fish prices. The Commission plans to provide emergency aid through the European Fisheries Fund, together with an additional EUR 600 million pledged by the Commission to help the fishing industry deal with high fuel prices. In addition, the Commission’s package includes longer-term restructuring measures for the industry. This aid package follows the Commission’s announcement of a new block exemption that will apply to the fisheries sector (see Brussels Brief, 4 July 2008).
Competition: Appeal by Consultants Fined in Organic Peroxide Cartel Fails
AC Treuhand AG, a Swiss consultancy firm fined for its involvement in the organic peroxides cartel, has lost its appeal to the Court of First Instance (CFI). AC Treuhand’s main argument was that it was not active in the market for organic peroxides, it had merely provided services to the organic peroxide producers and, as a result, it was not itself a participant in the cartel. The CFI rejected this claim. Although AC Treuhand did not itself act in this market, the CFI held that it had contributed “actively and intentionally” to the cartel between the producers who were active in that market (through the organisation and holding of cartel meetings) and could therefore have reasonably foreseen its own liability for the infringement.
VAT: Commission Proposes Reduced VAT for Specific Services
The European Commission has made a proposal to change the VAT Directive 2006/112/EC providing Member States with the flexibility to apply to some services reduced VAT rates on a permanent basis of not less than 5 per cent. As evidence has proven that reduced rates do not create problems for the proper functioning of the Internal Market, the Commission proposes reducing VAT rates for the housing sector, the so-called “labour-intensive” services, and for restaurants and catering services. At the same time, the Commission suggests widening the VAT definition of printed books, so that audio books can also be subject to reduced rates. However, the Commission's proposal will not alter the principle that the application of reduced VAT rates is optional for Member States.
Mergers: Rio Tinto Acquisition by BHP Billiton Enters into Second Phase
The European Commission has opened a detailed second phase investigation into the acquisition of Rio Tinto by BHP Billiton. Both companies are active in the mining and marketing of a wide range of metals and minerals. The Commission’s initial investigation has indicated that the transaction raises competition concerns, due to the overlapping activities of the two companies in a number of markets, particularly iron ore and metallurgical coal. According to the Commission, this might lead to higher prices and reduced choice for the merged entity’s customers. The provisional deadline for the Commission to reach a final decision is 11 November 2008.
Energy: Commission's Draft Regulation on Standby Electric Power Consumption
The European Commission has proposed a draft regulation to implement measures to reduce electric power consumption deriving from standby functions (such as remote control activation of a television set) and off-mode losses (occurring when a product cannot be switched off completely when providing no service or function). The draft regulation is one of the main priorities of the Commission’s Action Plan on Energy Efficiency. Technical solutions are frequently not applied, mostly due to possible additional costs for the manufacturer. Nonetheless, a slightly higher purchasing price ultimately benefits the user because the overall life cycle cost, namely the purchasing cost plus the costs involved in operating the product, is reduced.
Health: Commission Proposes School Fruit Scheme
Contact Philip Bentley
The European Commission has launched a proposal to set up an EU-wide scheme to provide school children with free fruit. The Commission is making EUR 90 million per annum available to fund the scheme. Member States wishing to participate in the scheme will have to provide at least 50 per cent of the funding but this may be reduced to only a 25 per cent contribution in low income areas. The Commission is launching this scheme as part of its drive to tackle childhood obesity. The programme is scheduled to begin at the start of the 2009 to 2010 school year.
NEXT WEEK’S EVENTS
Monday 14 July – Friday 18 July 2008
Agriculture and Fisheries Council (15 July 2008)
Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) (17 July 2008)
COURT OF JUSTICE
C-207/06 Schwaninger Martin
C-389/05 Commission v France
C-51/05 P Commission v Cantina sociale di Dolianova and Others
Approximation of laws
Joined Cases C-152/07, C-153/07, C-154/07 Arcor
C-510/07 Commission v Belgium
C-311/07 Commission v Austria
C-371/05 Commission v Italy
C-206/06 Essent Netwerk Noord and Others
Freedom of establishment
C-347/06 ASM Brescia
C-207/07 Commission v Spain
Freedom of movement for persons
Freedom to provide services
C-500/06 Corporación Dermoestética
C-488/06 P L & D v Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market and Sämann
Police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters
C-521/06 P Athinaïki Techniki v Commission
C-132/06 Commission v Italy
C-226/07 Flughafen Köln v Bonn
Common Customs Tariff
Joined Cases C-362/07, C-363/07 Kip Europe and Others
C-380/06 Commission v Spain
Environment and consumers
C-405/07 P Netherlands v Commission
Free movement of goods
C-205/07 Gysbrechts and Santurel Inter
C-487/06 P British Aggregates v Commission
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE
No cases next week.