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Online Commerce: EU Closer to Making Pan-European Music Licensing a Reality
The European Commission has published a report indicating that the Online Commerce Roundtable has made progress towards pan-European music licensing becoming a reality. The report contains the conclusions made during the 2008 meetings of the Roundtable, which discussed the business opportunities created by the Internet and barriers to online retailing in Europe. The most important outcome of these meetings is that SACEM, a French collecting society, has agreed in principle to entrust other collecting societies with the pan-European licensing of its repertoire and to act as non-exclusive rights manager for publishers and other collecting societies.
The sale of digital downloads of music was an important topic of discussion at the Roundtable meetings. Online retailers complain that the national structure of the copyright industries makes it difficult to acquire all the rights necessary to sell digital downloads of music within a given territory. Collecting societies are concerned about protecting and managing the copyrights they hold on behalf of the right holders. The consequence is that the repertoire of downloadable music available for online purchase by a consumer varies according to the Member State in which he or she is located.
Financial Services: Commission proposes stronger financial supervision in Europe
The European Commission has adopted a Communication proposing radical changes to Financial Supervision in Europe. The two key elements of this Communication are: (i) the creation of a new European Systemic Risk Council (ESRC), which should monitor and assess risks to the stability of the financial system as a whole (macro-prudential supervision) and (ii) the European System of Financial Supervisors (ESFS) for the supervision of individual financial institutions (micro-prudential supervision).
The Communication also suggests modifications to the current architecture of financial services committees for supervision of individual financial institutions (micro-financial supervision) at EU level and the creation of a single body in Europe responsible for supervision of systemic risks (macro-financial supervision). Legislation to embody these proposals will follow in the autumn. The Commission invites interested parties to submit comments on the Communication before 15 July 2009.
Competition: Belgian Competition Authority Imposes Biggest Fine Ever
The Belgian Competition Council has fined Belgian mobile telephone provider Proximus EUR 66 million, the biggest fine ever given by the Council. During the years 2004 and 2005, Proximus charged its big corporate clients such low rates for its services that these activities resulted in a negative profit margin for Proximus and were fatally loss-making.
These rates were even inferior to the wholesale rates that Proximus’ competitors had to pay to allow their clients to make calls through the Proximus network, resulting in a price squeeze that prevented competitors from entering this market segment. In 2005, two competitors lodged complaints about these practices with the Belgian Competition Council, which provoked a formal investigation and dawn raids in 2006.
Proximus has announced that it will lodge an appeal with the Belgian Courts against the fine.
State Aid/Technology: Commission Consults on State Aid for Broadband
Contact Philip Bentley
The European Commission has published draft guidelines on public funding of broadband networks under the State aid rules. The first part of the Broadband Guidelines outlines the Commission’s policy regarding traditional broadband networks. The second part of the Guidelines addresses public financing of high speed “next generation” networks that will require significant investment.
The Commission’s proposed approach is to distinguish between “white areas” where there is no broadband network provider, “grey areas” where there is only one broadband network provider and “black areas” where there are two or more providers. In general, State aid to white areas will be viewed positively (due to lack of private investment) while aid to black areas will be treated critically (due to strong presence of private investment). The Commission has launched a consultation on the Broadband Guidelines that will be open until 22 June 2009.
State Aid: Commission Approves Italian Temporary Measures to Boost Economy
The European Commission has approved, under EC Treaty State aid rules, a package of measures notified by Italy under the new Temporary Framework for State aid. The measures authorised by the Commission are aimed at increasing companies’ financing options during the current economic crisis and facilitating access to risk capital for small and medium size enterprises that are in their early stages of development.
The package of measures increases flexibility on the granting of State aid under a number of pre-existing Italian schemes and, in particular, increases the maximum investment aid permitted (from EUR 1.5m to EUR 2.5m) and reduces the minimum private participation required for investment aid to be approved (from 50 per cent to 30 per cent).
NEXT WEEK’S EVENTS
Monday 25 May – Friday 29 May 2009
Agriculture and Fisheries Council (25 – 26 May 2009)
Competitiveness Council (28 – 29 May 2009)
COURT OF JUSTICE
No judgments or opinions scheduled for next week
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE
No judgments scheduled for next week