European Private Law Monitoring Report n° 5
Table of contents
EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE
Case-law in private law matters from 20 December 2013 – 25 March 2014
Unfair terms in consumer contracts (Directive 93/13/EEC)
|16/1/2012||C‑226/12||Constructora Principado SA v. José Ignacio Menéndez Álvarez||t stake was a contractual term which passes on to the consumer payment of an amount which by law is payable by the seller or supplier. The referring Court asked a clarification of meaning of the “significant imbalance” referred to in Article 3(1) of the Directive 1993/13/EEC. The Court of Justice held that the existence of a ‘significant imbalance’ does not necessarily require that the costs charged to the consumer by a contractual term have, as regards that consumer, a significant economic impact having regard to the value of the transaction in question, but can result solely from a sufficiently serious impairment of the legal situation in which that consumer is placed by reason of the relevant national provisions, whether this be in the form of a restriction of the rights which, in accordance with those provisions, he enjoys under that contract, or a constraint on the exercise of those rights, or the imposition on him of an additional obligation not envisaged by the national rules. In assessing whether there is a significant imbalance, it is for the referring court to take into account the nature of the goods or services for which the contract was concluded by referring to all the circumstances attending the conclusion of that contract, as well as all the other terms of contract.|
|27/02/2014||C-470/12||Pohotovosť s. r. o. v. Miroslav Vašuta||At stake was the admissibility of the intervention of a Consumer Association in a individual enforcement proceeding. The Court, following the opinion of the AG Nils Wahl, held that art. 6, 7, 8 of the Directive 93/13 read in conjunction with Articles 38 and 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights have to be interpreted as precluding national slovakian legislation which does not allow a consumer protection association to intervene in enforcement proceedings.|
|Opinion of the AG Nils Wahl; 12/2/ 2014||C‑26/13||Árpád Kásler,Hajnalka Káslerné Rábai v. OTP Jelzálogbank Zrt||At stake was the interpretation of art. 4 (2) of the Directive 1993/13/EEC with regard to a contractual clause concerning the rate of exchange of the currency in a consumer credit contract. The National Court, first, asked whether such clause may form part of the ‘definition of the main subject matter of the contract’. Second, it asked whether, following the judgment of the Court of Justice in Case C-618/10 Banco Español de Crédito, the National Court is entitled to eliminate the unfair clause even if, without such a clause, the contract cannot be performed on the basis of the remaining contractual clauses.According to the Advocate General, this clause is to be regarded as part of the subject-matter of the contract. He further held that a clause is drafted in a clear and intelligible manner not only if it is clear and intelligible to the consumer from the grammatical point of view but also if the economic reasons for using the contractual clause and its relationship with the other contractual clauses are clear and intelligible.Finally, the Advocate General proposed that although the National judge cannot eliminate, for the benefit of the consumer, the ineffectiveness of an unfair clause, as the Court stated in the case C-618/10 Banco Español de Crédito, the judge is entitled to substitute the unfair clause with a provision of national law, provided that the contract can be performed.|
|Request for a preliminary ruling from the Juzgado de Primera Instancia No 2 de Santander (Spain) lodged on 25 November||C-602/13||Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A. v Fernando Quintano Ujeta and María Isabel Sánchez García||Interpretation of art. 6(1) and 7(1) of the Directive 93/13/EEC; National legislation requiring the court to reduce the amount of interest provided for by an unfair term concerning default interest in a contract for a property loan secured by a charge on the property; Whether or not the national court is obliged to declare such a clause null and void and set it aside.|
Unfair commercial practices (Directive 2005/29/EC)
|19/12/2013||C-281/12||Trento Sviluppo srl, Centrale Adriatica Soc. coop. Arl v. Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato,||A commercial practice must be classified as ‘misleading’ for the purposes of Article 6(1) of Directive 2005/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2005 concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market and amending Council Directive 84/450/EEC, Directives 97/7/EC, 98/27/EC and 2002/65/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council (‘Unfair Commercial Practices Directive’) where that practice contains false information, or is likely to deceive the average consumer, and is likely to cause the consumer to take a transactional decision that he would not have taken otherwise. Article 2(k) of the directive must be interpreted as meaning that any decision directly related to the decision whether or not to purchase a product is covered by the concept of ‘transactional decision’.|
|AG Sharpston;19/12/2013||C-515/12||UAB „4finance“ v. Valstybinė vartotojų teisių apsaugos tarnyba and Valstybinė mokesčių inspekcija prie Lietuvos Respublikos finansų ministerijos||At stake was the interpretation of the point 14 of Annex I to Directive 2005/29/EC. Accordingly, the promotion of a pyramid promotional scheme where a consumer gives consideration for the opportunity to receive compensation that is derived primarily from the introduction of other consumers into the scheme rather than from the sale or consumption of products is to be regarded as unfair in all circumstances. The National Court asked clarifications as to the criteria to be taken into account to evaluate the unfairness of such commercial practice. The Advocate General concluded that that in ascertaining whether the elements laid down in point 14 of Annex I exist in any particular case it must be established that the scheme at issue has a pyramid structure in so far as it consists of different levels with the operator at the apex and there is a cumulative recruitment of new members increasing exponentially. In making that determination it is necessary to demonstrate that the compensation paid to existing scheme members is derived primarily from the consideration given by new recruits. In additio to this, any sum, however small, constitutes consideration for the purposes of the Directive.|
Legal protection (Regulation EC 44/2001)
|19/12/2013||C-452/12||Nipponkoa Insurance Co. (Europe) Ltd v. Inter-Zuid Transport BV, DTC Surhuisterveen BV||At stake was the interpretation of art. 71 of the Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 in relation to the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road (‘CMR’), signed in Geneva on 19 May 1956. The Court of Justice, first, held that the Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 precludes an international convention from being interpreted in a manner which fails to ensure, under conditions at least as favourable as those provided for by that regulation, that the underlying objectives and principles of that regulation are observed. With respect to art. 71 of Regulation No 44/2001, it held that it must be interpreted as meaning that it precludes an interpretation of Article 31(2) of the CMR according to which an action for a negative declaration or a negative declaratory judgment in one Member State does not have the same cause of action as an action for indemnity between the same parties in another Member State.|
|19/12/2013||C-9/12||Corman-Collins SA v. La Maison du Whisky SA||At stake was the interpretation art. 2 and 5 of the Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 in relation to the Belgian law on Unilateral Termination of Exclusive Distribution Agreements of Indefinite Duration. The latter provides a rule of jurisdiction according to which ‘if a distributor has suffered damage further to the termination of a distribution agreement covering all or part of Belgian territory, he may in any event bring legal proceedings against the supplier before the Belgian courts or before the courts for the place where supplier is domiciled or has its registered office’ (art. 4).The Court of Justice held that this provision is in contrast with art. 2 of the Regulation (EC) No 44/2001, where the defendant is domiciled in a Member State other than that in which the court seised is situated. It further held that art. 5(1)(b) of Regulation No 44/2001 must be interpreted as meaning that the rule of jurisdiction laid down in the second indent of that provision for disputes relating to contracts for the supply of services is applicable in the case of a legal action by which a plaintiff established in one Member State claims, against a defendant established in another Member State, rights arising from an exclusive distribution agreement, which requires the contract binding the parties to contain specific terms concerning the distribution by the distributor of goods sold by the grantor. It is for the national court to ascertain whether that is the case in the proceedings before it.|
|16/1/2014||C-45/13||Andreas Kainz v. Pantherwerke AG||At stake was the interpretation of art. 5(3) of Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 in relation to product liability. According to this provision ‘A person domiciled in a Member State may, in another Member State, be sued in matters relating to tort, delict or quasi-delict, in the courts for the place where the harmful event occurred or may occur’. The Court of Justice held that in the case where a manufacturer faces a claim of liability for a defective product, the place of the event giving rise to the damage is the place where the product in question was manufactured.|
|27/2/2014||C-1/13||Cartier parfums, lunettes SAS, Axa Corporate Solutions assurances SA v. Ziegler France SA, Montgomery Transports SARL, Inko Trade s.r.o., Jaroslav Matĕja,Groupama Transport||At stake was the interpretation of the art. 27(2) of Regulation No 44/2001 according to which the “where the jurisdiction of the court first seised is established, any court other than the court first seised shall decline jurisdiction in favour of that court.’” The referring Court asked whether the jurisdiction, pursuant to this provision is established, if neither party has claimed that it lacks jurisdiction or if the court has accepted its jurisdiction by a decision which is irrevocable. The Court held that art. 27(2) of Regulation No 44/2001 must be interpreted as meaning that, except in the situation where the court second seised has exclusive jurisdiction by virtue of that regulation, the jurisdiction of the court first seised must be regarded as being established, within the meaning of that provision, if that court has not declined jurisdiction of its own motion and none of the parties has contested its jurisdiction prior to or up to the time at which a position is adopted which is regarded in national procedural law as being the first defence on the substance submitted before that court.|
Copyright and related right in the information society (Directive 2001/29/EC)
|27/2/2014||C-351/12||SA – Ochranný svaz autorský pro práva k dílům hudebním o.s. v. Léčebné lázně Mariánské Lázně a.s.||At stake was the compatibility of the National legislation on copyright and related rights with several provisions of EU law. The Court of Justice, first, held that the exception, laid down by national law from the payment of copyright fees for health care establishments when providing health care is not compatible with the art. 3 (1) of the Directive 2001/29/EC. It further held that this provision cannot be relied on by a copyright collecting society in a dispute between individuals for the purpose of setting aside national legislation contrary to that provision. However, the national court hearing such a case is required to interpret that legislation, so far as possible, in the light of the wording and purpose of the directive in order to achieve an outcome consistent with the objective pursued by the directive.Finally, the Court stated that art. 16 of Directive 2006/123/EC and art. 56 TFEU and 102 TFEU must be interpreted as not precluding a national legislation, which reserves the exercise of collective management of copyright in respect of certain protected works in the territory of the Member State concerned to a single copyright collecting society and thereby prevents users of such works, such as the spa establishment in the main proceedings, from benefiting from the services provided by another collecting society established in another Member State. However, Art. 102 TFEU must be interpreted as meaning that the imposition by that copyright collecting society of fees for its services which are appreciably higher than those charged in other Member States (a comparison of the fee levels having been made on a consistent basis) or the imposition of a price which is excessive in relation to the economic value of the service provided are indicative of an abuse of a dominant position.|
Competition Law (Art. 101 TFEU)
|Opinion of the AG Kokott; 30/1/2014||C-557/12||KONE AG and Others||At stake was an action for damages brought by an undertaking against the members of the cartel for the loss caused by the inflated prices paid by the plaintiff as a direct and indirect customer of them. The National Court asked in essence whether art. 101 TFEU (Article 81 EC, Article 85 of the EC Treaty) is to be interpreted as meaning that any person may claim from members of a cartel damages also for the loss which he has been caused by a person not party to the cartel who raises his own prices for his products more than he would have done without the cartel (umbrella pricing). The Advocate General concluded in the affirmative by saying that EU law precludes the interpretation and application of domestic legislation enacted by a Member State which categorically excludes, for legal reasons, any civil liability of undertakings belonging to a cartel for loss resulting from the fact that an undertaking not party to the cartel, benefiting from the protection of the cartel’s practices, set its prices higher than would otherwise have been expected under competitive conditions.|
EUROPEAN RESEARCH COUNCIL
New members appointed for the ERC Scientific Council
ERC Consolidator Grants: Nearly €575 million to 312 mid-career top researchers
New ERC President at AAAS 2014: Creating a close relationship of mutual trust with the scientific community
DG CLIMATE ACTION
2030 climate and energy goals for a competitive, secure and low-carbon EU economy
Commission adopts revised competition regime for technology transfer agreements
The European Commission has adopted new rules for the assessment of technology transfer agreements under EU antitrust rules. The purpose of such agreements is to enable companies to license the use of patents, know-how or software held by another company for the production of goods and services. The revised rules facilitate such sharing of intellectual property, including through patent pools, and provide clearer guidance on licensing agreements that stimulate competition. At the same time they aim to strengthen incentives for research and innovation.
Commission welcomes General Court judgments in cement cartel case confirming its investigatory powers
Commission fines two power exchanges € 5.9 million in cartel settlement
The European Commission has imposed fines totalling € 5 979 000 on the two leading European spot power exchanges, EPEX Spot (“EPEX”) and Nord Pool Spot (NPS) for having agreed not to compete with one another for their spot electricity trading services in the European Economic Area (EEA).
Commission fines Romanian Power Exchange OPCOM for discriminating against EU electricity traders
The European Commission has imposed a fine of just over € 1 million on S.C. OPCOM S.A. for abusing its dominant position in the Romanian market for facilitating electricity spot trading, in breach of EU antitrust rules (…).Between 2008 and 2013, OPCOM required members of the spot electricity markets to have a Romanian VAT registration, refusing to accept traders that were already registered for VAT in other EU Member States. As a result, EU traders could only enter the Romanian wholesale electricity market by setting up a fixed establishment in Romania, which entailed additional costs and organisational disadvantages for EU traders compared to Romanian traders. Discrimination on grounds of nationality or place of establishment is against the basic principles of the Single Market.
Statement by Vice-President Joaquín Almunia on antitrust decisions on power exchanges
Commission makes Visa Europe’s commitments to cut inter-bank fees and to facilitate cross-border competition legally binding
The European Commission has rendered legally binding the commitments offered by Visa Europe to significantly cut its multilateral interchange fees (MIFs) for credit card payments to a level of 0.3% of the value of the transaction (a reduction of about 40 to 60%) and to reform its rules in order to facilitate cross-border competition.
Competition Policy enforcement as a driver for growth
Opening a Path for Recovery: Competition in Financial Markets
Commission obtains from Google comparable display of specialised search rivals
Commission investigates restrictions affecting cross border provision of pay TV services
The European Commission has opened formal antitrust proceedings to examine certain provisions in licensing agreements between several major US film studios (Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures) and the largest European pay-TV broadcasters such as BSkyB of the UK, Canal Plus of France, Sky Italia of Italy, Sky Deutschland of Germany and DTS of Spain. The Commission will in particular investigate whether these provisions prevent broadcasters from providing their services across borders, for example by refusing potential subscribers from other Member States or blocking cross-border access to their services.
Commission accepts legally binding commitments from Deutsche Bahn concerning pricing of traction current in Germany
The European Commission has accepted the commitments offered by the German railway incumbent Deutsche Bahn (DB) regarding its pricing system for traction current in Germany and made them legally binding. Traction current is the electricity used to power locomotives. The Commission had concerns that DB’s pricing system, in particular discounts that only railway companies belonging to DB could obtain, may have hampered competition in the German markets for rail freight and long-distance passenger transport in breach of EU antitrust rules. To address these concerns, DB offered to introduce a new pricing system for traction current that would apply uniformly to all railway companies and should enable electricity providers not belonging to the DB group to directly supply traction current to railway companies. After DB amended its initial commitments proposal in light of the results of a market test, the Commission is satisfied that the final commitments remedy its competition concerns.
DG ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL AFFAIRS
Flash Consumer Confidence Indicator
The 2030 energy targets: What challenges for innovation?
Questions and answers on 2030 framework on climate and energy
Questions and answers on the price report
Rising energy prices are a major concern for European governments, citizens and businesses and they affect Europe’s global competitiveness. (…) This study will help policy makers understand the context of recent price rises and their impact on energy consumers. It will ensure that policy decisions rely on thorough evidence-based economic analyses. Moreover, it provides an insight in price developments in an international context.
DG ENTERPRISE AND INDUSTRY
Member States endorse Commission proposal to fill legal gaps for unitary patent protection
Ministers in the Council have today endorsed the compromise agreement on the European Commission’s proposal to complete the legal framework for Europe-wide patent protection, updating existing EU rules on the jurisdiction of courts and recognition of judgments (…).The proposal will prepare the way for a specialised European patent court – the Unified Patent Court – to enter into force once ratified, making it easier for companies and inventors to protect their patents. The court will have specialised jurisdiction in patent disputes, avoiding multiple litigation cases in up to 28 different national courts. This will cut costs and lead to swift decisions on the validity or infringement of patents, boosting innovation in Europe.
New Turism Quality Principles: good for turists, good for small enterprises
DG HEALTH AND CONSUMERS
Empowering Consumers: A record year for the European Consumer Centres
The Network of European Consumer Centres across the EU handled more than 80,000 enquiries from citizens across the EU in 2013. This represents an increase of 11% compared to 2012.
DG INTERNAL MARKET AND SERVICES
European Parliament and Council back Commission’s proposal for a Single Resolution Mechanism: a major step towards completing the banking union
The European Parliament and the Council have reached a provisional agreement on the proposed Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM) for the Banking Union. The mechanism complements the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) which, once fully operational in late 2014, will see the European Central Bank (ECB) directly supervise banks in the euro area and in other Member States which decide to join the Banking Union. The Single Resolution Mechanism would ensure that – not withstanding stronger supervision – if a bank faced serious difficulties, its resolution could be managed efficiently with minimal costs to taxpayers and the real economy.
European Parliament and Council back Commission proposal on right of citizens to a basic bank account
The European Parliament and the Council have today reached political agreement on the Commission proposal to make bank accounts accessible to all, transparent and easier to switch. The formal adoption is expected in the coming weeks.
Commission adopts nine Regulatory Technical Standards to implement the single rule book in banking
The European Commission has adopted a package of Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) needed to implement important provisions of the Capital Requirements Regulation and Directive (CRR/CRD). The nine RTS define the ways in which competent authorities and market participants must, inter alia, handle disclosures linked to securitisation instruments, measure potential losses from derivative positions and counterparty failure, as well as specifying the types of instruments that can be used for paying bonuses.
Omnibus II vote: A big step towards a safer and more competitive insurance industry
The so-called Omnibus II Directive will complement the Solvency II Directive, creating a modern risk-based regulatory and supervisory framework for the insurance sector (Directive 2009/138/EC). The draft Directive is called Omnibus II because an earlier Directive, known as “Omnibus I” enacted technical amendments to 11 Directives incorporating into banking and securities directives references to the European Supervisory Authorities (the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA)), thus operationalizing their powers as granted in their founding directives. Omnibus II does the same for the insurance sector, operationalizing the powers of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) via changes to the Solvency II Directive. However, it was decided in the course of the legislative process to also include in Omnibus II elements changing some substantive aspects of the Solvency II regime.
European Parliament and Council back Commission proposal for strengthened European rules on UCITS
The European Parliament and the Council today backed the European Commission’s proposal to strengthen the rules for Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (UCITS). These new rules will significantly increase the level of protection enjoyed by UCITS investors. They are a key step towards restoring investor confidence in the wake of the financial crisis. (…)With these new rules, if the depositary becomes insolvent, UCITS assets will be protected through clear segregation rules and safeguards provided by the insolvency law of the Member States. Depositaries in the EU will be liable for any loss of UCITS assets held in custody.
The mortage credit Directive on Credit Agreements for consumer relating to residential immovable property has been adopted
The Mortgage Credit Directive 2014/17/EU on credit agreements for consumers relating to residential immovable property was adopted on 4 February 2014. This Directive aims to create a Union-wide mortgage credit market with a high level of consumer protection. It applies to both secured credit and home loans. Member States will have to transpose its provisions into their national law by March 2016.
Structural reform of the EU banking sector
Today, the European Commission has proposed new rules to stop the biggest and most complex banks from engaging in the risky activity of proprietary trading. The new rules would also give supervisors the power to require those banks to separate certain potentially risky trading activities from their deposit-taking business if the pursuit of such activities compromises financial stability. Alongside this proposal, the Commission has adopted accompanying measures aimed at increasing transparency of certain transactions in the shadow banking sector. These measures complement the overarching reforms already undertaken to strengthen the EU financial sector.
Markets in Financial Instruments (MiFID): Commissioner Michel Barnier welcomes agreement in trilogue on revised European rules
The MiFID II reform means that organised trading of financial instruments must shift to multilateral and well-regulated trading platforms. Strict transparency rules will ensure that dark trading of shares and other equity instruments which undermine efficient and fair price formation will no longer be allowed. Although I regret that the Commission’s proposed ambitious transparency regime for non-equity instruments, such as bonds and derivatives, has not been fully achieved, MiFID II represents an important step in the right direction towards greater transparency in this area.
European Consumer Day: Commission kicks off consumer awareness campaign
With household budgets under pressure, EU consumer policy is there to ensure not only that consumers are treated fairly – but that they can get the best deal possible. The European Union’s efforts over the last year to strengthen consumer rights are having a positive impact on consumer confidence: a vital element in Europe’s economic recovery.
Stress-free holidays for 120 million consumers – European Parliament backs new rules on package travel
Under the new rules, the Package Travel Directive will enter the digital age and better protect 120 million consumers who buy customised travel arrangements – especially online – and are not covered under today’s EU rules. The reform will bolster protection for consumers by increasing transparency about the kind of travel product they are buying and by strengthening their rights in case something goes wrong.
European Commission presents a framework to safeguard the rule of law in the European Union
The European Commission adopted a new framework for addressing systemic threats to the rule of law in any of the EU’s 28 Member States. (…) The new framework establishes an early warning tool allowing the Commission to enter into a dialogue with the Member State concerned to prevent the escalation of systemic threats to the rule of law. If no solution is found within the new EU rule of law framework, Article 7 will always remain the last resort to resolve a crisis and ensure compliance with European Union values.
Insurance Contract Law: Expert report pinpoints obstacles to cross-border trade
An expert group set up by the European Commission to examine barriers to cross-border trade in insurance law across Member States delivered its comprehensive report today. The report finds that differences in contract laws impede the cross-border supply of insurance products by increasing costs, creating legal uncertainty and making it hard for consumers and businesses to take out insurance in other EU Member States. (…) The European Commission will now follow up on the report consulting consumers, businesses and the insurance sector on possible solutions.
Optional European Sales Law receives strong backing by the European Parliament
The proposal for an optional European Sales Law for consumers and businesses was backed by a majority (416 votes for, 159 against and 65 abstentions) in the European Parliament. An optional EU wide contract law will promote the Digital Single Market by providing a coherent set of rules for the marketing of digital products and related services – if traders and consumers decided to opt for the European Sales Law instead of having to deal with 28 national rules.
DG MOBILITY AND TRANSPORT
Innovation and Networks Executive Agency celebrated its official inauguration
INEA will manage parts of the new Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and Horizon2020 programme. The CEF is a key EU financial instrument to promote growth, jobs and competitiveness through targeted infrastructure investment at European level. It is divided into three main areas:
• CEF Transport
• CEF Energy
• CEF Digital
ACER (Agency For The Cooperation Of Energy Regulator)
ACER finds contractual congestion still significant in Europe, but data are insufficient
Contractual congestion in Europe, a situation where capacity demand exceeds the technical capacity, occurs on at least one third of the relevant Interconnection points (IPs) for gas transport between Member States, according to the first ACER Annual Report on Contractual Congestion at interconnection points published 28th February.
BEREC (Body Of European Regulators For Eletronic Communication)
BEREC Opinion on Phase II : Case LV/2014/1538 Wholesale voice call termination on individual fixed networks (market 3) in Latvia
On 2 January 2014, the Commission registered a notification by the Latvian Regulatory Authority, Sabiedrisko Pakalpojumu Regulēšanas Komisija (SPRK), concerning remedies in the markets for fixed call termination in Latvia (market 3) under case number LV/2014/1538. (…)On 3 February 2014, pursuant to Article 7a of the Framework Directive (Directive 2002/21/EC), the Commission informed SPRK and the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) of its reasons for considering that the draft measure would create a barrier to the internal market and communicated its serious doubts as to compatibility of the proposed measure with EU law.
BEREC launched a public consultation on the draft BEREC Report on Monitoring quality of Internet access services in the context of net neutrality
Invitation to open tender The Value of Network Neutrality to European Consumers
EBA (European Banking Authority)
EBA consults on draft technical standards on data waiver
The European Banking Authority (EBA) launches consultation on draft Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) on the conditions according to which competent authorities (CAs) may grant institutions permission to use relevant data covering shorter time series (data waiver permission), when estimating risk parameters. These RTS will be part of the Single Rulebook aimed at enhancing regulatory harmonisation in the banking sector in the European Union. The consultation runs until 7 June 2014.
EBA consults on draft technical standards on the margin periods for risk used for the treatment of clearing members’ exposures to clients
The European Banking Authority (EBA) launches a consultation on draft Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) aimed at specifying the minimum margin periods of risk (MPOR) that institutions acting as clearing members may use for the calculation of their capital requirements for exposures to clients. These RTS will be part of the Single Rulebook aimed at enhancing regulatory harmonisation in the banking sector in the European Union. The consultation runs until 9 May 2014.
EBA publishes consumer trends report
The European Banking Authority (EBA) published its annual report on consumer trends, giving an overview of the analysis carried out in the area of consumer protection and financial innovation. The report identifies the consumer issues that may arise, or have arisen, from these trends, and describes the approaches the EBA will be taking in 2014 to address them.
Board of Appeal of the European Supervisory Authorities dismisses appeal made by a refused CRA-applicant against ESMA
On 10 January 2014, the Board of Appeal of the European Supervisory Authorities handed down its decision on an appeal by the appellant, Global Private Rating Company “Standard Rating” Ltd, against the refusal by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) to register it as a credit rating agency. This is the first appeal against a decision by ESMA refusing an applicant registration as a credit rating agency.
ESMA (European Securities and Market Authority)
ESMA asks Commission to clarify derivative definition under MiFID/EMIR
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has today sent a letter to the European Commission asking them to clarify the definition of a derivative or derivative contracts under the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR).
ESMA’s letter says that currently this definition is not harmonised across the EU which could have a detrimental effect on the consistent application of EMIR. The EMIR definition of derivatives cross-refers to the list of financial instruments mentioned in the current Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID). The different transpositions of MiFID across Member States mean that there is no single, commonly adopted definition of derivative or derivative contract in the European Union, thus preventing the convergent application of EMIR.
European Court of Justice rejects UK challenges to short-selling regulation
A decisive step towards the banking union
On 20 March the Council, represented by the Greek Presidency, has reached a provisional agreement with the European Parliament on the single resolution mechanism regulation.
Council updates its position on the single resolution mechanism
At the Ecofin Council on 11 March, the EU finance ministers updated the mandate for the Greek presidency to negotiate with the European Parliament the outstanding issues on the single resolution mechanism. (…) The single resolution mechanism, once adopted, will be a key element of Europe’s future banking union. According to the draft proposal, it will consist of the single resolution board (SRB) and a single resolution fund (SRF). The purpose of the mechanism is to ensure orderly resolution of failing banks while minimising impact on taxpayers and the real economy.
Council debates rising energy prices and costs in Europe
Meeting on 4 March, energy ministers discussed the impact of rising energy costs and prices on European consumers and on the EU’s industrial competitiveness. Energy ministers meeting in the Council held a detailed policy debate on the Commission’s recent communication on energy prices and costs in Europe. Their discussions focused on three areas: (i) how to more closely align wholesale and retail prices, (ii) the high variation across member states in the different elements that make up prices, (iii) actions proposed by the Commission to reduce energy costs.
Parliament counts on increased competition to improve passenger rail services
Competition to provide better rail passenger services should warm up under draft rules voted in the European Parliament on 26th February. National authorities that today give rail service contracts to a single operator would have to put them out to tender or justify not doing so. New and/or small operators would have to be given better access to rail infrastructure, and complex authorisation procedures for putting trains on tracks would be simplified.
Insurance: better information, advice and protection for clients
Buying insurance should be made easier and safer by amendments, voted 26th February, to a draft update of EU rules on the information and advice offered by insurance salesmen.
Winding up banks: EP reconfirms mandate and criticises Council for timewasting
Parliament’s negotiators on the proposed single resolution mechanism for ailing banks won its support on 6th February for the line they have taken in talks with EU member states on the last block of legislation needed to establish an EU banking union. Their original negotiating mandate was confirmed by 441 votes to 141, with 17 abstentions. Group leaders in the debate before the vote criticised Council’s stance, which, they said, was leading to a waste of precious time.
MEPs want binding 2030 goals for CO2 emissions, renewables and energy efficiency
MEPs called on 5th February for a 40% cut in CO2 emissions, a 30% target for renewable energy and a 40% target for energy efficiency by 2030, under the EU’s new long-term climate-change policy. These targets should be binding, they say. MEPs also criticise the European Commission’s recent proposals as short-sighted and unambitious.
Parliament pushes for enforceable air passenger rights
Delayed or stranded air passengers would be likelier to win compensation, and airlines would get clear rules on how to deal with passenger complaints, under a draft law voted by Parliament at the first reading on Wednesday.
Copyright: cross-border licences for online music services
New rules on music copyright approved by Parliament on Tuesday aim to make it easier for online providers to get licences to stream music in more than one EU country. The law, already informally agreed with Council, should stimulate the development of EU-wide online music services for consumers and ensure that artists’ rights are better protected and that they receive adequate royalties promptly
New EU-procurement rules to ensure better quality and value for money
New EU rules on public procurement and concession contracts approved by Parliament on 14th January will ensure better quality and value for money when public authorities buy or lease works, goods or services. They will also make it easier for small and medium-sized firms to bid and include tougher provisions on subcontracting.
Public procurement: ensuring best value for money
Public authorities purchase billions of euros worth of goods and services every year, but the challenge remains how to ensure best use of tax payers’ money. Up until now the focus has been on getting the lowest price, but this week MEPs will vote on reports arguing in favour of a new approach allowing other criteria such as quality and durability to also be taken into consideration. We talked to the report authors about why the rules for public procurement need to be updated.
COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC AND MONETARY AFFAIR
Parliament and Council agree on basic bank accounts for all
Anyone legally residing in the EU should have the right to open a basic payment account, and this right should not be denied on grounds of nationality or place of residence, Parliament’s negotiators and the Council representatives agreed on Thursday. Fees and rules for all payment accounts should be transparent and comparable and it should be easy to switch to another payment account that offers better terms, under the agreed new rules.
Parliament negotiators rescue seriously damaged bank resolution system
European Parliament negotiators on 20th March reached a deal with their member state counterparts on the single resolution mechanism to deal with failing banks. Many elements fell into place early in the morning after 16 hours of talks. The elements agreed will help to ensure that the system cannot become a hostage to political power games and can deliver swift and credible decisions.
Barnier and Nouy talk banking union and bank bonuses with MEPs
Work on setting up the EU’s bank supervisor and undertaking the planned asset quality review is “well on track”, ECB bank supervisor chair Daniele Nouy told the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee on 18th March. Legislators on all sides now need to show willingness to compromise in order to agree on a mechanism for winding down banks that can deliver rapid and reliable decisions and mobilise credible and readily accessible funding, she added.
Bank resolution mechanism: MEPs welcome progress, signal crucial work remains
MEPs lay out final offer on bank single resolution mechanism
The lead MEPs in charge for the second pillar of banking union, the single resolution mechanism, have begun preparing texts for Parliament’s April plenary vote. These texts will take on board concerns of some member states in a spirit of compromise, while at the same time maintaining a credible and fair system, able to reach the fundamental goals. The MEPs restate that they will not sign up to a system with serious and evident flaws.
Eurozone has come far, but strong banking union still needed, Draghi tells MEPs
Failing banks still need a “strong and swift” EU decision-making system, and the European Central Bank Supervisor alone should decide when they are in danger of becoming unviable, ECB President Mario Draghi told the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee on 3RD March. The EU economy is now a “half full glass”, but it is “still too early to claim ‘mission accomplished’”, he added.
Economic Affairs Committee backs plan to update online payment rules
Rules governing online payments by electronic transfer need an EU-wide update to improve security, reduce processing fees and widen consumer choice, said Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee MEPs endorsing draft legislation to this end on Thursday. The new rules would also encourage competition to provide payment services and innovative payment methods.
MEPs back cap on card payment fees
The fees that banks charge retailers for processing shoppers’ payments should be capped, Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee MEPs decided in a vote on 20th February. The cap would apply to both cross-border and domestic payments.
Deal to regulate financial markets and products and curb high-frequency trading
Comprehensive rules to govern financial markets were agreed informally by negotiators for Parliament and the Council of Ministers on 14th January. These rules are designed to close the loopholes in the existing legislation, ensuring that financial markets are safer as well as more efficient, investors are better protected, speculative commodity trading is curbed and high-frequency trading is regulated.
MEPs’ statement on the work on the single resolution mechanism for banks
On 9th January morning, lead MEPs negotiating the single resolution mechanism for banks (SRM) will participate in an intergovernmental meeting dealing with the details of the single resolution fund. MEPs will highlight the dangers of the Member States’ position and explain their alternative model. A statement from the MEPs follows.
REPORT: on the proposal for a directive on payment services in the internal market and amending Directives 2002/65/EC, 2013/36/EU and 2009/110/EC and repealing Directive 2007/64/EC
REPORT: on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on interchange fees for card-based payment transactions
REPORT: with recommendations to the Commission on the European System of Financial Supervision (ESFS) Review
REPORT: on the proposal for a directive on the insurance mediation (recast)
COMMITTEE ON INDUSTRY, RESEARCH AND ENERGY
Net neutrality: Industry MEPs want stricter rules against blocking rival services
Internet providers should no longer be able to block or slow down internet services provided by their competitors, says the Industry Committee which on Tuesday approved rules to protect net neutrality. Under the latest draft EU “telecoms” package legislation, MEPs also voted against “roaming charges”, extra costs for using a mobile phone in another EU country. These charges should be banned from 15 December 2015, MEPs say.
COMMITTEE ON INTERNAL MARKET AND CONSUMER PROTECTION
Package travel: MEPs vote to beef up consumer rights
Travellers should be guaranteed help getting home if their travel agency goes bust while they are on holiday in another country and travellers in difficulty should be able to get assistance, under new rules approved by internal market MEPs on 11th February. MEPs also stress that organisers should not be able to change flight times or prices significantly after a sale is concluded.
REPORT: On consumer protection – protection of consumers in utilities services
REPORT: on the proposal for a directive on package travel and assisted travel arrangements, amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004, Directive 2011/83/EU and repealing Council Directive 90/314/EEC
COMMITTEE ON LEGAL SERVICE
Reforming EU audit services to restore investors’ confidence
A draft agreement between Parliament and Council on legislation to open up the EU audit services market beyond the dominant “Big Four” firms and remedy auditing weaknesses revealed by the financial crisis was endorsed by the Legal Affairs Committee on 21th January. The draft also aims to improve audit quality and transparency and prevent conflicts of interest.
Travel packages: better protection for consumers in the digital age
The internet has revolutionised the way we travel. Many people now prefer to book online through individual travel service providers rather than opt for ready-made packages. On 12 March the Parliament votes on new rules to ensure travellers know their rights and are aware of who is responsible for the services provided. We discussed it with Hans-Peter Mayer, a German member of the EPP group who is responsible for steering the legislation through the EP.
SEPA: why it pays to allow more time for new payment standards
Banks and businesses in eurozone countries will have an extra six months to comply with new standards for two of the most common ways of sending euros to another account in Europe, under plans approved by the European Parliament on 4 February. The original deadline of 1 February will be changed to 1 August. MEPs approved extending the transitional period to ensure there are no disruptions to payments as a result of delays in implementing the new Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) standards.
Licence to thrill: MEPs to vote on easier licensing rules for online music providers
More than 500 licensed digital music services operate worldwide, but only one of them is available in all EU member states. The multitude of licences and collecting societies makes it hard for service providers to offer their services across the whole of Europe. A new proposal intends to overcome this by setting licensing rules that will apply across the EU. MEPs will debate and vote on the plans on Tuesday 4 February.
Conference of Presidents discussion on Single Resolution Mechanism
The Conference of Presidents (CoP), the leaders of the political groups, President Schulz and the EP negotiating team on the Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM) held an intensive discussion today in Strasbourg on the state of play of the negotiations.
EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE
Making consumers real players in the energy market
The completion of the internal electricity market – due in 2014 – is absolutely vital. Bottlenecks have to be eliminated by speeding up investments in transmission infrastructure, strengthening electricity interconnection and minimising incompatible national policies. Public intervention is also critical, not least in order to protect vulnerable consumers. However public measures have to be more coordinated at national and local levels across Europe. The public service obligations that have already been agreed must also be put in place.
Consumer protection and social inclusion… mission impossible in times of crisis?
On 14 March 2014, the European Consumer Day made it clear: The crisis cannot be an excuse to dump consumer rights and flout the law. Organised by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Greek Consumer Protection Centre (KEPKA) in Thessaloniki, the conference brought together policy-makers and consumers from EU Member States to discuss how the current crisis jeopardises consumer rights.
BEUC calls for EU inquiry after Italy punishes pharma cartel
Following fines in Italy for multinational pharmaceuticals Roche and Novartis for keeping a cheap medicine off the market, BEUC this week iterated its call for the European Commission to investigate whether consumers in other Member States have been affected by these anti-competitive practices.
EU’s insurance selling practices updated
Rules for intermediaries selling insurance, and information on pricing and commissions have been at stake in a European Parliament vote on 26 February.
Repacking travel laws
The Package Travel Directive review was voted on by the Internal Market and Consumer Protection committee of the European Parliament on February 11.
New Enforcement position paper
BEUC has finalised and submitted our response to the Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) Regulation public consultation. We suggest strengthening enforcement cooperation in the EU, especially with regard to EU-level infringements, where the same trader targets consumers in many Member States with the same practice. We suggest improvements to CPC cooperation mechanism to make it more efficient and call for a better dialogue with consumer organisations. We also underline the need for strengthening redress possibilities and the more active role public enforcers should take in securing compensation to consumers.
Google antitrust enquiry
On February 5, Commissioner Almunia publicly outlined on behalf of DG Competition the framework of possible settlement with Google on the investigation into a potential breach of European competition law.
Repacking travel laws
The Package Travel Directive review is proceeding speedily through the European Parliament. The two committees involved (IMCO and Transport) have published their respective draft texts and amendments of which BEUC is welcoming a large number. Although we will now be concentrating on reinserting “click-through contracts” in the scope of “packages”. The vote in the Transport Committee is scheduled for January 21 and the IMCO vote for February 11.
An optional European contract law an unwise pursuit
The European Parliament plenary vote on CESL scheduled for January 2014 has been postponed to the first plenary session in February. BEUC is calling on MEPs to reject the proposal as it is an inappropriate instrument for consumer contracts and will have a detrimental impact on European consumers and policy.
New position paper: Consumer rights in electricity and gas markets
Energy markets generally fail to satisfy consumer expectations. The EU’s 3 energy packages and other horizontal consumer laws have defined a number of important rights on, for instance, when consumers want to switch their provider or what kind of information consumers should be given. However, exercising these rights is often quite laborious.
Our new position paper on consumer rights in electricity and gas markets takes stock of the current situation of retail energy markets and it identifies gaps which the legislators need to address. We ask, for example, for offers on energy deals to be made easily accessible, understandable and comparable with other offers on the market. Also, only in a very limited number of cases should companies be able to change the terms and conditions of a contract.
European legislators are currently overhauling telecoms legislation which will significantly modify the rights of European consumers.
Denmark: Commitments from Denmark’s biggest Broadband Provider in alleged Abuse Case
Poland: PGNiG offers Commitments in Abuse of Dominance Case
Sweden: ne bis in idem Principle does not prevent Competition Authority from Imposing Fines after Decision to terminate Infringement has been issued