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ECB policies [What Think Tanks are thinking]

28-04-2017

The European Central Bank is pushing ahead with its monetary stimulus programme, which was launched more than two years ago to counter deflationary pressures in the euro zone economy, and to strengthen then fragile economic growth. Some economists and politicians say the time is becoming ripe for the ECB to taper the scheme, which involves monthly purchases of government and corporate bonds worth some 60 billion euro, as the deflationary threat is disappearing and economic activity picks up. The ...

The European Central Bank is pushing ahead with its monetary stimulus programme, which was launched more than two years ago to counter deflationary pressures in the euro zone economy, and to strengthen then fragile economic growth. Some economists and politicians say the time is becoming ripe for the ECB to taper the scheme, which involves monthly purchases of government and corporate bonds worth some 60 billion euro, as the deflationary threat is disappearing and economic activity picks up. The ECB has assumed greater supervisory responsibilities under euro-area governance reforms aimed at preventing any repeat of the 2008-09 financial crisis. Its role could be reviewed during the expected next wave of reforms that would deepen cooperation among the currency area's members. This note offers a selection of recent studies, reports and commentaries by some of the major international think tanks and research institutes on ECB policy.

Revision of EU financial rules

28-04-2017

In September 2016, the Commission tabled a proposal for a new Financial Regulation which would replace the current one (together with its Rules of Application), as well as amend 14 other sectoral regulations and a decision each also containing financial rules. The Commission justifies its proposal by the need to simplify EU financial rules and make them more flexible. The proposal was submitted within the framework of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) mid-term revision package. However, the ...

In September 2016, the Commission tabled a proposal for a new Financial Regulation which would replace the current one (together with its Rules of Application), as well as amend 14 other sectoral regulations and a decision each also containing financial rules. The Commission justifies its proposal by the need to simplify EU financial rules and make them more flexible. The proposal was submitted within the framework of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) mid-term revision package. However, the Court of Auditors, in its Opinion No 1/2017, identified a number of shortcomings in the Commission proposal, especially with regard to its own financial governance standards.

Reduced VAT rate for e-publications

28-04-2017

The fact that print and digital publications are currently subject to separate value added tax (VAT) rates essentially means that products that are considered to be comparable and substitutable are being treated differently to one another. This situation results from rules which, on the one hand, allow Member States to apply reduced rates to printed publications, but on the other exclude this possibility for digital publications. In addition, the recent evolution in the VAT framework means that VAT ...

The fact that print and digital publications are currently subject to separate value added tax (VAT) rates essentially means that products that are considered to be comparable and substitutable are being treated differently to one another. This situation results from rules which, on the one hand, allow Member States to apply reduced rates to printed publications, but on the other exclude this possibility for digital publications. In addition, the recent evolution in the VAT framework means that VAT on digital services should be levied in the Member State where the consumer is based (thus protecting the single market from application of different rates within a Member State because of the different location of providers). The question of broadening the possibility to apply reduced rates to all publications, be they print or digital, is addressed in the proposal presented as part of the VAT digital single market package, and adopted by the European Commission on 1 December 2016.

Level-2 measures and reports under the Credit Rating Agencies Regulation

28-04-2017

This briefing has been drawn up to support ECON’s work on the scrutiny of delegated acts, in particular as regards the discussion of 3 May 2017 on the implementing measures under Regulation (EC) No 1060/2009 on Credit Rating Agencies (CRAs).

This briefing has been drawn up to support ECON’s work on the scrutiny of delegated acts, in particular as regards the discussion of 3 May 2017 on the implementing measures under Regulation (EC) No 1060/2009 on Credit Rating Agencies (CRAs).

The Audiovisual Media Services Directive

27-04-2017

On 25 April 2017, the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education voted to amend the proposal for an updated EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive, presented by the Commission on 25 May 2016. The overarching goal of the proposal is to bring about a balance between competitiveness and consumer protection. It therefore aims to introduce flexibility when restrictions only applicable to TV are no longer justified, promote European films, protect minors and tackle hate speech more efficiently ...

On 25 April 2017, the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education voted to amend the proposal for an updated EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive, presented by the Commission on 25 May 2016. The overarching goal of the proposal is to bring about a balance between competitiveness and consumer protection. It therefore aims to introduce flexibility when restrictions only applicable to TV are no longer justified, promote European films, protect minors and tackle hate speech more efficiently. The proposal also reflects a new approach to online platforms. Although the directive’s increased protection for vulnerable viewers in VOD platforms has been greeted with satisfaction, the new rules on promotion of European works and commercial communications have received mixed views from stakeholders. Third edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure. Please note this document has been designed for on-line viewing.

EU port cities and port area regeneration

27-04-2017

Ports have always been an important asset to Europe, serving as gateways to the rest of the world and as connection points to rivers across European territory. For centuries, ports and their cities developed hand in hand, the port generating prosperity for the city. This has changed with the industrial revolution, globalisation and the rapid development of containerisation. Most ports moved out of their cities and their mutual relationship began to suffer. Today, this relationship experiences a new ...

Ports have always been an important asset to Europe, serving as gateways to the rest of the world and as connection points to rivers across European territory. For centuries, ports and their cities developed hand in hand, the port generating prosperity for the city. This has changed with the industrial revolution, globalisation and the rapid development of containerisation. Most ports moved out of their cities and their mutual relationship began to suffer. Today, this relationship experiences a new dynamism, driven on both sides by the aspiration to revive ports after the recent crisis, while at the same time making the most of their potential as a stimulus for city life and regeneration. In recent years, a variety of policy options have been identified and their efficiency tested. Port authority organisations were among the first to realise that for ports to flourish in the long term, their cities also need to prosper, and began taking steps towards improving their mutual relations. The progressive development of the EU’s urban policies can pave the way to further joint development of ports and cities and offer new solutions to urban challenges, essential for achieving the smart, sustainable and inclusive society envisaged in the Europe 2020 strategy.

Energy consumers in the EU

27-04-2017

Consumers are considered a key element of EU energy legislation and the efforts to achieve a transition to a carbon-free society. Back in 2009, the third energy package, which sought to establish a liberalised internal energy market, granted energy consumers a number of rights, such as the right to an electricity connection, to switch energy providers and to receive clear offers, contracts and energy bills. However, some of these rights have not yet been put into practice: consumers often do not ...

Consumers are considered a key element of EU energy legislation and the efforts to achieve a transition to a carbon-free society. Back in 2009, the third energy package, which sought to establish a liberalised internal energy market, granted energy consumers a number of rights, such as the right to an electricity connection, to switch energy providers and to receive clear offers, contracts and energy bills. However, some of these rights have not yet been put into practice: consumers often do not understand their bills, are unable to compare different offers, are charged for switching, or a switch takes too long. Besides, they do not always seem to be aware of their rights. The ongoing revision of EU energy legislation aims to improve some of the rules concerning consumers and to introduce new rights, such as the right to self-generate and self-consume electricity, to ask for a smart meter, or to engage an aggregator. The European Parliament has repeatedly voiced concern that the truly competitive, transparent and consumer-friendly internal energy market envisaged by the third energy package has yet to materialise and that consumers are still having trouble understanding their bills, offers and contracts. It has called, among other things, for providing consumers with increased protection and clearer information, and for requiring suppliers to automatically put customers on the best possible tariff for their individual circumstances.

Safety rules and standards for passenger ships

26-04-2017

The European Commission, in line with its regulatory fitness and performance programme (REFIT), has evaluated existing EU legislation on passenger ship safety and presented three proposals for directives, aimed at simplifying rules and cutting administrative costs, while at the same time making sea travel safer. This proposal seeks to clarify the technical requirements introduced by Directive 2009/45/EC, which vessels must respect in areas of construction, stability and fire protection. The Commission ...

The European Commission, in line with its regulatory fitness and performance programme (REFIT), has evaluated existing EU legislation on passenger ship safety and presented three proposals for directives, aimed at simplifying rules and cutting administrative costs, while at the same time making sea travel safer. This proposal seeks to clarify the technical requirements introduced by Directive 2009/45/EC, which vessels must respect in areas of construction, stability and fire protection. The Commission proposes to exclude passenger ships below 24 metres in length from the scope, but include ships built from aluminium, and simplify the definition of sea areas. The newly defined standards should provide for uniform national interpretations and make the rules easier to update, monitor and enforce. Second edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure. Please note this document has been designed for on-line viewing.

Inspections of ro-ro ferries and high-speed passenger craft

26-04-2017

The European Commission, in line with its regulatory fitness and performance programme (REFIT), has evaluated existing EU legislation on passenger ship safety and presented three proposals for directives, aimed at simplifying rules and cutting administrative costs, while at the same time making sea travel safer. This proposal seeks to rationalise inspections conducted by national administrations while ensuring a high level of passenger ship safety and without unnecessarily limiting the ship’s commercial ...

The European Commission, in line with its regulatory fitness and performance programme (REFIT), has evaluated existing EU legislation on passenger ship safety and presented three proposals for directives, aimed at simplifying rules and cutting administrative costs, while at the same time making sea travel safer. This proposal seeks to rationalise inspections conducted by national administrations while ensuring a high level of passenger ship safety and without unnecessarily limiting the ship’s commercial operations, making the inspections system for these ships simpler, more effective and cheaper. This would be achieved by changing focus from initial company-based inspections to ship-based ones and by ensuring that subsequent inspections occur at regular intervals. Second edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure. Please note this document has been designed for on-line viewing.

Cross-border portability of online content services

25-04-2017

In February 2017, negotiators from the European Parliament, the Council and Commission reached a compromise on the proposal for a regulation on cross-border portability of online content services. The EP must now formally approve the new rules, enabling consumers to access their online subscriptions for content services when they travel across the EU and are temporarily outside their Member State of residence. The compromise text amends the Commission’s proposal in various ways. It clarifies that ...

In February 2017, negotiators from the European Parliament, the Council and Commission reached a compromise on the proposal for a regulation on cross-border portability of online content services. The EP must now formally approve the new rules, enabling consumers to access their online subscriptions for content services when they travel across the EU and are temporarily outside their Member State of residence. The compromise text amends the Commission’s proposal in various ways. It clarifies that providers of free-of-charge online content services can also offer portability services to their subscribers. The notion of temporary presence in other Member States has been tightened and refers to a limited period of time. The concept of Member State of residence and its verification mechanism are also more explicitly defined. At the EP’s request, some safeguards have been added to ensure data protection and privacy are respected (especially for IP address checks), and a waiver clause has been introduced which allows content providers to avoid verifying the residence of their customers when all the holders of copyright, related rights, or other rights in the content agree.

Upcoming events

03-05-2017
EU action to combat marine litter
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ENVI
03-05-2017
Workshop on Sectarianism in the Middle East and North Africa
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AFET
03-05-2017
Business and human rights in EU External Policies
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