European Private Law Monitoring Report n° 7
Table of contents
EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE
Case-law in private law matters from 1st Julyl 2014 – 30 September 2014
Unfair Contract Terms
Judgments and Opinions
|Judgment of the Court (First Chamber) of 17 July 2014||C-169/14||Juan Carlos Sánchez Morcillo and María del Carmen Abril García v Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA||Article 7(1) of Directive 93/13/EEC, read in conjunction with Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union must be interpreted as precluding a system of enforcement, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which provides that mortgage enforcement proceedings may not be stayed by the court of first instance, which, in its final decision, may at most award compensation in respect of the damage suffered by the consumer, inasmuch as the latter, the debtor against whom mortgage enforcement proceedings are brought, may not appeal against a decision dismissing his objection to that enforcement, whereas the seller or supplier, the creditor seeking enforcement, may bring an appeal against a decision terminating the proceedings or ordering an unfair term to be disapplied.|
|Judgment of the Court (Third Chamber) of 10 September 2014||C-34/13||Monika Kušionová v SMART Capital a.s.||1. Council Directive 93/13/EEC must be interpreted as not precluding national legislation, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which allows the recovery of a debt that is based on potentially unfair contractual terms by the extrajudicial enforcement of a charge on immovable property provided as security by the consumer, in so far as that legislation does not make it excessively difficult or impossible in practice to protect the rights conferred on consumers by that directive, which is a matter for the national court to determine.2. Article 1(2) of Directive 93/13 must be interpreted as meaning that a contractual term included in a contract concluded by a seller or supplier with a consumer falls outside the scope of that directive only if that contractual term reflects the content of a mandatory statutory or regulatory provision, which is a matter for the national court to determine.|
Unfair commercial practices
Judgments and Opinions
|Judgment of the Court (Third Chamber) of 10 July 2014||C‑421/12||European Commission v Kingdom of Belgium||– by excluding members of a profession and dentists and physiotherapists from the scope of the Law of 14 July 1991 on commercial practices, consumer information and consumer protection, as amended by the Law of 5 June 2007, transposing in national law Directive 2005/29/EC,– by maintaining in force Articles 20, 21 and 29 of the Law of 6 April 2010 on market practices and consumer protection, and– by maintaining in force Article 4(3) of the Law of 25 June 1993 on the exercise and organisation of travelling trading and fairground activities, as amended by the Law of 4 July 2005 and Article 5(1) of the Royal Decree of 24 September 2006 concerning the exercise and organisation of travelling trading activities, the Kingdom of Belgium has failed to fulfil its obligations under Articles 2(b) and (d), 3 and 4 of Directive 2005/29.|
|Request for a preliminary ruling from the Verwaltungsgerichtshof (Austria) lodged on 18 July 2014||C-347/14||New Media Online GmbH v Bundeskommunikationssenat||1. Should Article 1(1)(b) of Directive 2010/13/EU be interpreted as meaning that the form and content of a service under examination can be considered to be sufficiently comparable to the form and content of television broadcasting if such services are also offered in television broadcasting which can be regarded as mass media and which are intended for reception by, and could have a clear impact on, a significant proportion of the general public?2.Should Article 1(1)(a)(i) of Directive 2010/13/EU be interpreted as meaning that an assessment of the principal purpose of a service offered in the electronic version of a newspaper can be based on a subsection mainly providing a collection of short videos, which in other sections of the website are used only to supplement text articles in the online newspaper?|
Judgments and Opinions
|Judgement of the Court (Third Chamber) of 10 September 2014||C-34/13||Monika Kušionová v SMART Capital a.s.||1. Council Directive 93/13/EEC of 5 April 1993 on unfair terms in consumer contracts must be interpreted as not precluding national legislation, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which allows the recovery of a debt that is based on potentially unfair contractual terms by the extrajudicial enforcement of a charge on immovable property provided as security by the consumer, in so far as that legislation does not make it excessively difficult or impossible in practice to protect the rights conferred on consumers by that directive, which is a matter for the national court to determine.2. Article 1(2) of Directive 93/13 must be interpreted as meaning that a contractual term included in a contract concluded by a seller or supplier with a consumer falls outside the scope of that directive only if that contractual term reflects the content of a mandatory statutory or regulatory provision, which is a matter for the national court to determine.|
|Judgment of the Court (Second Chamber) of 11 September 2014||C-88/13||Philippe Gruslin v Beobank SA||The obligation laid down in Article 45 of Council Directive 85/611/EEC of 20 December 1985 on the coordination of laws, regulations and administrative provisions relating to undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities (UCITS), as amended by European Parliament and Council Directive 95/26/EC of 29 June 1995, under which an undertaking for collective investment in transferable securities which markets its units within the territory of a Member State other than that in which it is situated is required to make payments to unit-holders in the Member State of marketing, must be interpreted as not including the delivery to unit-holders of certificates providing evidence of title to units which are registered in their name in the register of unit-holders kept by the issuer.|
|Request for a preliminary ruling from the Oberster Gerichtshof (Austria) lodged on 7 July 2014||C-326/14||Verein für Konsumenteninformation v A1 Telekom Austria AG||Is the right, provided for in Article 20(2) of Directive 2009/136/EC, for subscribers to withdraw from their contracts without penalty ‘upon notice of … modifications in the contractual conditions’ also to be provided for in the case where an adjustment to charges derives from contractual conditions which, from the time when the contract is first concluded, provide that future charges are to be adjusted (upwards or downwards) in accordance with changes in an objective consumer price index reflecting movements in the value of money?|
Judgments and Opinions
|Judgment of the Court (Ninth Chamber) of 4 September 2014||C-452/13||Germanwings GmbH v Ronny Henning||Articles 2, 5 and 7 of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 must be interpreted as meaning that the concept of ‘arrival time’, which is used to determine the length of the delay to which passengers on a flight have been subject, refers to the time at which at least one of the doors of the aircraft is opened, the assumption being that, at that moment, the passengers are permitted to leave the aircraft.|
|Judgment of the Court (Fifth Chamber) of 18 September 2014||C-487/12||Vueling Airlines SA v Instituto Galego de Consumo de la Xunta de Galicia||Article 22(1) of Regulation No 1008/2008 must be interpreted as precluding a national law that requires air carriers to carry, in all circumstances, not only the passenger, but also baggage checked in by him, provided that the baggage complies with certain requirements as regards, in particular, its weight, for the price of the plane ticket and without it being possible to charge any price supplement to carry such baggage.|
|Request for a preliminary ruling from the Amtsgericht Rüsselsheim (Germany) lodged on 14 July 2014||C-337/14||Elvira Mandl, Helmut Mandl v Condor Flugdienst GmbH||Is there an obligation on an airline company which wishes to rely on the possibility of exemption in Article 5(3) of Regulation No 261/2004 to set out and prove that it took all reasonable measures to avoid the foreseeable consequences of an extraordinary circumstance in the form of cancellation or considerable delay or that no such reasonable measures were available to it?|
Judgments and Opinions
|Judgment of the Court (Third Chamber) of 3 July 2014||Joined cases C-362/13, C-363/13 and C-407/13||Maurizio Fiamingo (C-362/13), Leonardo Zappalà (C-363/13) and Francesco Rotondo and Others (C-407/13) v Rete Ferroviaria Italiana SpA||1. The Framework Agreement on fixed-term work concluded on 18 March 1999, which is annexed to Council Directive 1999/70/EC of 28 June 1999, concerning the framework agreement on fixed-term work concluded by ETUC, UNICE and CEEP, must be interpreted as meaning that it applies to workers, such as the appellants in the main proceedings, who are employed as seafarers under fixed-term employment contracts on board ferries making sea crossings between two ports situated in the same Member State.2. The provisions of the Framework Agreement on fixed-term work must be interpreted as meaning that they do not preclude national legislation, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which provides that fixed-term employment contracts have to indicate their duration, but not their termination date.3. Clause 5 of the Framework Agreement on fixed-term work must be interpreted as meaning that it does not preclude, in principle, national legislation, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which provides for the conversion of fixed-term employment contracts into employment contracts of indefinite duration only in circumstances where the worker concerned has been employed continuously under such contracts by the same employer for a period longer than one year, the employment relationship being considered to be continuous where the fixed-term employment contracts are separated by time lapses of less than or equal to 60 days. It is, however, for the referring court to satisfy itself that the conditions of application and the effective implementation of that legislation result in a measure that is adequate to prevent and punish the misuse of successive fixed-term employment contracts or relationships.|
|Judgment of the Court (Fourth Chamber) of 17 July 2014||C-173/13||Maurice Leone and Blandine Leone v Garde des Sceaux, ministre de la Justice and Caisse nationale de retraite des agents des collectivités locales||1. Article 141 EC must be interpreted as meaning that a scheme for early retirement with immediate payment of pension such as that at issue in the main proceedings gives rise to indirect discrimination in terms of pay as between female workers and male workers, contrary to that article, unless it can be justified by objective factors unrelated to any discrimination on grounds of sex, such as a legitimate social policy aim, and is appropriate to achieve that aim and necessary in order to do so, which requires that it genuinely reflect a concern to attain that aim and be pursued in a consistent and systematic manner.2. Article 141 EC must be interpreted as meaning that a service credit scheme for pension purposes, such as the one at issue in the main proceedings, gives rise to indirect discrimination in terms of pay as between female workers and male workers, contrary to that article, unless it can be justified by objective factors unrelated to any discrimination on grounds of sex, such as a legitimate social policy aim, and is appropriate to achieve that aim and necessary in order to do so, which requires that it genuinely reflect a concern to attain that aim and be pursued in a consistent and systematic manner.3. Article 141(4) EC must be interpreted as meaning that the measures referred to in that provision do not cover national measures such as those at issue in the main proceedings which merely allow the workers concerned to take early retirement with immediate payment of pension and to grant them a service credit upon their retirement, without providing a remedy for the problems which they may encounter in the course of their professional career.|
|Judgment of the Court (Fourth Chamber) of 11 September 2014||C-328/13||sterreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund v Wirtschaftskammer Österreich – Fachverband Autobus-, Luftfahrt- und Schifffahrtsunternehmungen||Article 3(3) of Council Directive 2001/23/EC of 12 March 2001 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the safeguarding of employees’ rights in the event of transfers of undertakings, businesses or parts of undertakings or businesses must be interpreted as meaning that the terms and conditions laid down in a collective agreement, which, pursuant to the law of a Member State, despite the rescission of that agreement, continue to produce their effects as regards the employment relationship which was governed by them before the agreement was terminated, constitute ‘terms and conditions agreed in any collective agreement’ so long as that employment relationship is not subject to a new collective agreement or a new individual agreement is not concluded with the employees concerned.|
|Request for a preliminary ruling from the Tribunalul Neamț (Romania) lodged on 2 June 2014||C-262/14||Sindicatul cadrelor militare disponibilizate, în rezervă și în retragere (SCMD), Constantin Budiș, Vasile Murariu, Vasile Ursache, Ioan Zăpor and Petrea Simionel v Ministerul Finanțelor Publice — Direcția Generală a Finanțelor Publice a Județului Neamț||1.May Article 2(2) of Directive 2000/78 (1) be interpreted as meaning that the concept of discrimination to which that provision refers also covers the creation of a situation in which there is a difference in treatment depending on whether a person who is, or wishes to be, employed is in receipt of a pension?2.May Article 3(1) of Directive 2000/78 be interpreted as meaning that the concept of ‘person in receipt of a pension’ is among the criteria and conditions relating to the concepts of conditions for access to employment, selection criteria and conditions for dismissal?3.May Article 6 of Directive 2000/78 be interpreted as permitting a Member State which has transposed that provision into national law to determine, in the context of judicial proceedings, whether European directives have been inadequately or incorrectly transposed into national law as regards the assessment of the ‘[objective and reasonable justification]’ for the application of a difference in treatment, and also the ‘legitimate aim’ considered by the legislature when adopting the legislation under which provision is made for a difference in treatment?|
Private International and International Procedural Law
Judgments and Opinions
|Judgment of the Court (First Chamber) of 4 September 2014||C-157/13||Nickel & Goeldner Spedition GmbH v “Kintra” UAB||1. Article 1(1) of Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters must be interpreted as meaning that an action for the payment of a debt based on the provision of carriage services taken by the insolvency administrator of an insolvent undertaking in the course of insolvency proceedings opened in one Member State and taken against a service recipient established in another Member State comes under the concept of ‘civil and commercial matters’ within the meaning of that provision.2. Article 71 of Regulation No 44/2001 must be interpreted as meaning that, in a situation where a dispute falls within the scope of both that regulation and the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road, signed in Geneva on 19 May 1956, as amended by the Protocol signed in Geneva on 5 July 1978, a Member State may, in accordance with Article 71(1) of that regulation, apply the rules concerning jurisdiction laid down in Article 31(1) of that convention.|
|Request for a preliminary ruling from the Landgericht Krefeld (Germany) lodged on 4 July 2014||C-322/14||Jaouad El Majdoub v CarsOnTheWeb.Deutschland GmbH||Does so-called ‘click wrapping’ fulfil the requirements for there to be a communication by electronic means within the meaning of Article 23(2) of Regulation No 44/2001?|
|Request for a preliminary ruling from the Vilniaus miesto apylinkės teismas (Lithuania) lodged on 23 July 2014||C-359/14||ERGO Insurance SE, acting through its Lithuanian branch ERGO Insurance SE v If P&C Insurance AS, acting through its branch If P&C Insurance AS||1.Must Article 4(4) of Regulation (EC) No 593/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 [June] 2008 on the law applicable to contractual obligations (Rome I) (1), which provides that ‘[w]here the law applicable cannot be determined pursuant to paragraphs 1 or 2, the contract shall be governed by the law of the country with which it is most closely connected’, be interpreted as meaning that, in circumstances such as those which have arisen in the present case, German law has to be applied?2. If the answer to the first question is in the negative, must the principle laid down in Article 4 of Regulation (EC) No 864/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 July 2007 on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations (Rome II) (2) be interpreted as meaning that, in circumstances such as those which have arisen in the present case, the law to be applied to the dispute between the insurer of the tractor and the insurer of the trailer must be determined in accordance with the law of the country of the place in which the damage resulting from the road accident occurred?|
The new way the Commission will be set up and the effects on consumer protection
On 10 September, President-elect Juncker unveiled his team and the new shape of the next European Commission. After the European Union has come through one of the most testing periods in its history, one of the biggest challenges will be to convince citizens that things will change. To deliver change, the Commission needs to be open to reform. The new European Commission will be streamlined to focus on tackling the big political challenges Europe is facing: getting people back to work in decent jobs, triggering more investment, making sure banks lend to the real economy again, creating a connected digital market, a credible foreign policy and ensuring Europe stands on its own feet when it comes to energy security.
Important novelties: (…) A strong consumer portfolio has been created. Consumer policy is no longer scattered across different portfolios but has a prominent place in the portfolio of the Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality (Věra Jourová).
Speech by Joaquin Almunia: Some highlights from EU competition enforcement
“I will start with our fight against cartels. I will then give a quick look at how we have dealt with some new challenges in the enforcement of the provisions in article 102 regarding abuse of dominance. Finally, I will recall some of the regulatory initiatives we have taken, including the State aid modernisation strategy and the Directive on private damages in antitruste”.
“The private enforcement of competition law will become more effective in Europe and more equal across its territory, and will better interact with public enforcement. Small companies and individuals will benefit the most and will be able to better rely on the decisions taken by the Commission and the national competition authorities”.
Commission welcomes Court judgment confirming that MasterCard’s payment card interchange fees are anti-competitive
The European Commission welcomes today’s judgement by the European Court of Justice in the MasterCard case (case C-382/12P). The judgment confirms that MasterCard’s inter-bank fees for cross-border payment transactions in the European Economic Area (EEA) restrict competition in the Internal Market, in breach of EU competition rules.
Speech by Joaquim Almunia: Looking back at five years of competition enforcement in the EU
“We have in the EU and in most EU Member States administrative systems whereby public authorities – namely the European Commission and the National Competition authorities – take decisions, sometimes imposing fines or legally binding commitments, which can then be appealed before the relevant Courts”.
“The other development I expect is linked to private enforcement, thanks to new EU legislation on antitrust damages actions. As you know, under my tenure the Commission proposed a Directive on antitrust damages actions to facilitate compensation of victims throughout the EU. The European Parliament and the European Council of Ministers have reached political agreement on the text before the summer and formal adoption is set to take place in the coming weeks. Once the new Damages Directive becomes law in the EU, one can expect more actions brought by customers who seek compensation for the harm they suffered. The new legislation will democratise enforcement and empower the victims of antitrust infringements to receive effective compensation, because damages actions will be more readily available to victims throughout the EU. The directive will also enforce the principle that all victims have the same right to compensation in the EU, which is excellent news especially for SMEs and consumers”.
Antitrust: Commission welcomes Court judgment in Telefónica margin squeeze case
The European Commission welcomes today’s judgment by the EU Court of Justice (case C-295/12 P) confirming in full a Commission decision of 2007 that had fined Telefónica for a margin squeeze in the Spanish broadband market, in breach of EU antitrust rules. This judgment is important because it confirms the Commission’s power to enforce competition law against abuses committed on regulated markets and the Commission’s methodology to establish the existence of a margin squeeze.
Antitrust: Commission calls for strengthening position of national competition authorities to ensure effective enforcement of competition rules throughout the EU
The European Commission has adopted a Communication identifying areas for action to enhance the enforcement of EU antitrust rules by national competition authorities (NCAs). Since 2004, both the Commission and NCAs have the power to fully enforce the EU’s antitrust rules. Based on ten years of experience, the Commission aims to further strengthen the position and tools of the NCAs. The Communication adopted todaysets out priority areas where further progress is necessary. The Commission will then assess which policy initiatives should be taken to best achieve these goals.
Mergers: Commission adopts White Paper on possible reform of EU merger control rules – Frequently Asked Questions
Report: Ten Years of Antitrust Enforcement under Regulation 1/2003
The report reviews the Commission’s and NCAs’ enforcement activities from three different perspectives: Chapter II looks at the Commission’s and NCAs’ enforcement practice by analysing the different types of infringements of the EU competition rules that were addressed in the decisions of these authorities. Chapter III examines the sectors on which the Commission’s and the NCAs’ antitrust enforcement activities have focussed in the past decade and considers in more detail the sectors which were at the centre of the authorities’ actions. The last Chapter IV looks at the Commission’s and the NCAs’ antitrust enforcement activities by type of procedure used (e.g. prohibition decisions vs. commitment decisions).
DG ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL AFFAIRS
Speech by Jyrki Katainen: European Banking Union in the making
August 2014: Flash Consumer Confidence Indicator
The EU takes the lead on nuclear safety with the amendment to the Nuclear Safety Directive
On 8 July, the EU’s new Nuclear Safety Directive was adopted by the Council. It provides more power and independence for national regulatory authorities, a high-level EU-wide safety objective, and a European system of peer reviews. It will also introduce periodic national safety assessments and on-site emergency preparedness and response arrangements. In addition, it increases transparency and improve education and training. The 2014 directive amends the one in force since 2009. It provides a stronger framework for EU nuclear safety, as called for by the EU Heads of State or Government following the 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima.
Questions and answers on the amended Nuclear Safety Directive
DG ENTERPRISE AND INDUSTRY
New safety requirements for toys
While continuously striving to improve the safety of toys and, at the same time, seeking to cut “red tape” where possible the European Commission took three important decisions in the past weeks: (i) TCEP and similar flame retardants strictly limited in toys; (ii) Bisphenol A (BPA) strictly limited in toys; and (iii) Unnecessary nickel tests no longer required for toys.
European Commission to tacke unfair practices in the food supply chain
On 15 July, The European Commission has adopted a communication encouraging Member States to look for ways to improve protection of small food producers and retailers against the unfair practices of their sometimes much stronger trading partners. Before a food product reaches the consumer, many different market players (producers, processors, retailers, etc.) in the supply chain add to its quality and value. Due to developments such as increased market concentration, there are very different levels of bargaining power in the relations between the players in the supply chain. Whilst differences in bargaining powers are common and legitimate in commercial relationships, these imbalances can in some cases lead to unfair trading practices (UTPs).
Free movement of goods: Commission refers Czech Republic to Court over jewellery hallmarking rules
The European Commission has decided to refer the Czech Republic to the EU’s Court of Justice due to its rules on the hallmarking of jewellery. The Czech Assay office requires that certain articles of jewellery imported from another EU country be stamped with an additional national hallmark, despite the fact that the articles in question were already lawfully hallmarked and marketed in the EU. The Commission considers that this requirement is in breach of EU Treaty rules on the free movement of goods within the EU and so has asked the Court to rule on this case.
Modern Insolvency Rules: European Commission kicks off EU-wide interconnection of insolvency registers
On 7 July, the European Commission is launching an EU-wide interconnection of national insolvency registers by linking up databases from seven Member States: the Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, Netherlands, Austria, Romania and Slovenia – with more countries expected to join at a later stage. This first interconnection will serve as a one-stop shop for businesses, creditors and investors looking to invest in Europe. It will help business leaders and entrepreneurs carry out the same checks as they would when investing in their home country and will also support creditors looking to follow up insolvency cases taking place in another EU Member State.
Commission presents actions to better protect and enforce intellectual property rights
On 1st July, The European Commission has adopted two communications – an Action Plan to address infringements of intellectual property rights in the EU and a Strategy for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) in third countries.
“Effective IPR enforcement must be underpinned by close cooperation amongst enforcement authorities, and between those authorities and business stakeholders. This is essential both within the EU and with our international partners,” said Algirdas Šemeta, EU Commissioner for Customs. “Fostering this multi-stakeholder approach is challenging, but it is the only way to ensure proper protection of our intellectual property in the EU and in international trade.”
DG HEALTH AND CONSUMERS
Consumers: Commission improves safety of cosmetics
On 26 September, the Commission further strengthened the protection of consumers, in particular babies and young children. It adopted two measures restricting the use of three preservatives in cosmetic products.
The right to a basic bank account for all European citizens: Commission welcomes European Parliament adoption
On 15 April, The European Parliament has adopted in plenary session the Directive on the transparency and comparability of payment account fees, payment account switching and access to a basic payment account.
The right to a basic bank account for all European citizens:Commission welcomes Council adoption
The European Commission has welcomed the adoption by the EU’s Council of Ministers of the Directive on the transparency and comparability of payment account fees, payment account switching and access to a basic payment account.
Joint action by the European Commission and Member States is leading to better protection for consumers in online games
Following a large number of complaints in EU countries concerning in-app purchases in online games and in particular inadvertent purchases by children, national authorities joined forces with the European Commission to find solutions.
The coordinated enforcement action in the EU on in-app purchases in online and mobile games has made real progress in delivering tangible results. Industry has made a number of engagements which seek to address consumer concerns. The action will increase consumer confidence in the fast-growing “app” sector.
Making use of the consumer protection cooperation mechanism provided by EU rules, Apple, Google and relevant trade associations were asked to provide concrete solutions across the EU to the concerns raised.
Better enforcing consumer rights: Towards a true Single Market for Consumers
Speaking on 7 July in Rome, Commissioner for Consumer Policy Neven Mimica sets out his views as to the need for greater co-operation in enforcing consumer rights across the Single market.
DG INTERNAL MARKET AND SERVICES
Credit rating agencies: Commission adopts Regulatory Technical Standards to implement stricter new rules
On 30 September, the European Commission has today adopted three Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) needed to implement key provisions of the Regulation on Credit Rating Agencies. These RTS set out: (i) the disclosure requirements for issuers, originators and sponsors on structured finance instruments; (ii) reporting requirements to credit rating agencies (CRAs) for the European Rating Platform; and (iii) reporting requirements for CRAs on fees for the purpose of ongoing supervision by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA).
Disclosure of non-financial information: Europe’s largest companies to be more transparent on social and environmental issues
On 29 September, the European Commission welcomes the adoption by the Council of the Directive on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by large companies and groups. Companies concerned will disclose information on policies, risks and outcomes as regards environmental matters, social and employee-related aspects, respect for human rights, anti-corruption and bribery issues, and diversity on boards of directors.
Commission presses car rental companies to stop discriminatory practices against consumers
The European Commission is today making public a letter which was sent recently to the CEOs of six international car rental companies which offer their services to consumers in all Member States of the European Union.
The letter refers to several complaints received from consumers concerning discriminatory practices for renting a car online. It urges the car rental companies to stop their discriminatory practices that prevent consumers in various Member States from getting the best price offered online and therefore from benefiting from the opportunities of the single market.
Reports on the European System of Financial Supervision
On 8 August 2014, the European Commission adopted the review reports on the European System of Financial Supervision (ESFS), consisting of a report on the operation of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) – the European Banking Authority (EBA), the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA), and the European Securities and Market Authority (ESMA) – and a report on the mission and organisation of the European Risk Board (ERSB). These two reports set out the findings of a review of the functioning of the new supervisory architecture, which was put in place in 2011 as part of the comprehensive reforms in response to the financial crisis.
Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) – frequently asked questions
The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) creates a true European Single Market for retail payments in euro where transfers, direct debits and payments between Member States are as easy and fast as the equivalent domestic transactions.
Green Paper on the protection of geographical indications for non-agricultural products – Frequently Asked Questions
Communication on unfair trading practices: frequently asked questions
Many of the commercial relationships between businesses in the food supply chain are imbalanced in that one trading partner has significantly greater bargaining power than its counterparty. While such differences in bargaining power are common and legitimate in commercial relationships, they may sometimes lead to unfair trading practices (UTPs).
Broadly, UTPs can be defined as practices that grossly deviate from good commercial conduct, are contrary to good faith and fair dealing and are unilaterally imposed by one trading partner on its counterparty.
Online gambling: Commission recommends principles to ensure effective protection of consumers
The European Commission has today adopted a Recommendation on online gambling services. It encourages Member States to pursue a high level of protection for consumers, players and minors through the adoption of principles for online gambling services and for responsible advertising and sponsorship of those services. The aims of the principles are to safeguard health and to minimise the eventual economic harm that may result from compulsive or excessive gambling.
Speech by Matine Reichesters: Reviving the European economy: How a common sales law will boost growth and job creation
Speech By Martine Reicherts: The right to be forgotten and the EU data protection reform
ACER (Agency For The Cooperation Of Energy Regulator)
ACER opens a public consultation on transaction reporting under REMIT
On 27 July, the Commission presented a draft of the implementing acts (the ‘draft Implementing Acts’) to be adopted pursuant to Article 8 of Regulation (EU) No 1227/2011 on wholesale Energy Market Integrity and Transparency (‘REMIT‘).
EBA (European Banking Authority)
EBA consults on treatment of liabilities in ball-in
On 1st October, the European Banking Authority (EBA) launched a consultation on draft Guidelines clarifying the interrelationship between the sequence in which liabilities should be written down or converted when the bail-in power introduced by the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD) is used, and the hierarchy of capital instruments in the Capital Requirements Regulation (CRR). This is the first of several EBA regulatory mandates under the BRRD which aim to ensure that bail-in power is an effective way of absorbing losses and recapitalising banks in resolution and that resolution authorities and other stakeholders have a clear understanding of the terms under which it should be applied. The consultation runs until 3 January 2015.
EBA consults on guidelines on payment commitments to deposit guarantee schemes
On 25 September, the EBA launched a consultation on Guidelines on payment commitments to deposit guarantee schemes. These Guidelines are part of the EBA’s work to promote a consistent and coherent approach to deposit guarantee schemes across the European Union (EU). The consultation runs until 2 January 2015.
EBA consults on the implementation of resolution tools
The EBA consults on three sets of Guidelines related to the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD). The documents aim at facilitating the implementation of resolution tools in the EU banking sector, and in particular at regulating the sale of business tool and the asset separation tool, as well as the transfer of an institution or its assets under any of the resolution tools. The consultation runs until 22 December 2014.
The Joint Committee of the ESAs reminds financial institutions of their responsibilities when placing their own financial products with consumers
On 31 July, the Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities (EBA, EIOPA and ESMA) published a reminder to banks and insurance companies across the EU on the consumer protection requirements that apply to certain financial instruments they issue. In addition, ESMA highlighted specific risks posed to investors by contingent convertible instruments (CoCos).
ESMA (European Securities and Market Authority)
ESMA has today published a consultation paper on future guidelines clarifying the definition of derivatives as financial instruments under the current MiFID I.
EBA, ESMA and EIOPA consult on technical standards for financial conglomerates risk concentration and intra-group transactions
On 24 July, the Joint Committee of the three European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs – EBA, ESMA and EIOPA) launched a consultation on draft Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) on risk concentration and intra-group transactions within financial conglomerates. The technical standards aim at enhancing supervisory consistency in the application of the Financial Conglomerates Directive (FICOD). The consultation runs until 24 October 2014.
ESMA has launched a consultation on the new Market Abuse Regulation (MAR) which entered into force on 2 July 2014. It is issuing two consultation papers seeking stakeholders’ views on the draft regulatory and implementing technical standards (RTS/ITS) and Technical Advice (TA), ESMA has to develop for the implementation of the new MAR framework which will become applicable in July 2016.
New transparency rules on social responsibility for big companies
The Council today1 adopted a directive for the disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large companies (PE-CONS 47/14 and 13265/14 ADD 1 REV 1).
New measures will require certain big EU companies to draw up, on a yearly basis, a statement relating to environmental, social and employee-related matters, respect for human rights, anti- corruption and bribery matters. The statement will have to include a description of the policies, outcomes and the risks related to those matters.
Council adopts nuclear safety directive
Digital single market needs to be better integrated, say MEPs
More effort is needed to integrate the EU digital single market, so as to unlock its growth and job-creating potential, stressed MEPs in the debate with EU Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier on 16 September. Measures to bring together the 28 national digital markets should include ending mobile roaming charges, promoting e-commerce, ensuring open access to the Internet for users and neutral treatment of its service providers, and also better data protection, they added.
INTERNAL MARKET AND CONSUMER PROTECTION
Study: Discrimination of consumers in the Digital Single Market
The study collates information on discrimination against consumers on grounds of place of residence or nationality in the Digital Single Market (DSM). Collected evidence indicates such practices as refusals to sell or discriminatory conditions depriving consumers of access to goods and services on DSM or obliging consumers to pay higher prices. The study assesses discrimination from the perspective of different areas of European law including Article 20 (2) of Services Directive, Private International Law, Competition Law and Intellectual Property Law, and provides for policy recommendations.
Study: Consumer Protection Aspects of Financial Service
Inadequate consumer protection, especially in the U.S. mortgage market, not only led to considerable consumer detriment but was a major contributor to the global financial crisis. In the EU, mis-selling of financial products has also resulted in significant consumer harm. Considering the significant potential detriment that financial services can cause to individual consumers and to the Single Market, consumer protection policy needs to properly focus on this area. Improved transparency and better informed transactions resulting from such policy will lead to better solutions for consumers and greater market efficiency. A number of recommendations to strengthen consumer protection in the area of financial services are put forward in this study.
EUROPEAN RESEARCH COUNCIL
New ERC Work Programme and calls
The European Commission adopted on 22 July the ERC Work Programme 2015, as established by the ERC Scientific Council. It includes the budget and timeframes of ERC 2015 competitions for Starting, Consolidator and Advanced Grants. Funding for the top-up scheme Proof of Concept, open only to ERC grant holders, is also announced. (See overview for all these calls on p. 4 in the Work Programme.)
EC publishes energy consumer’s rights brochure
The European Commission’s energy department published a trilingual brochure – “European Energy Consumers’ Rights” – outlining the rights of EU consumers applying to the energy sector.
France: The Autorité de la concurrence receives Commitments from SNCF
Austria: Fines imposed for Vertical Restrictions and Restrictions of Online Sales
Hungary: Direct Consumer Benefits from GVH’s Activities: a lucrative Investment for Tax- Payers