EU Public & Regulatory Affairs

Weekly EU news: Monday 29 September - Friday 3 October 2014


Monday 29  September

Conclusions of the General Affairs Council.

The Council officially adopted the agreement reached with the European Parliament on the EC proposal to amend the Accounting Directive on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by large companies and groups. Companies concerned will need to disclose information on policies, risks and results as regards environmental matters, social and employee-related aspects, human rights, anti-corruption and bribery. A company that does not apply a specific policy in one or more of these areas would be required to explain why this is the case. Disclosures could be provided at a group level rather than the individual company level. Large listed companies also have to disclose their diversity policy in their corporate governance statement. The Directive is expected to be published in the EU Official Journal shortly. Press release.

The Council adopted new rules  to ensure the build-up of alternative refuelling points across Europe with common standards for their design and use, including a common plug for recharging electric vehicles. Member States must set and make public their targets and present their national policy frameworks by end-2016. Details

Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Commissioner László Andro gave a speech in Vilnius: Basic European unemployment insurance: Countering divergences within the Economic and Monetary Union.

 

Tuesday 30 September

The European Commission adopted three Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) needed to implement key provisions of the Regulation on Credit Rating Agencies. These RTS set out: the disclosure requirements for issuers, originators and sponsors on structured finance instruments; reporting requirements to credit rating agencies (CRAs) for the European Rating Platform; and reporting requirements for CRAs on fees for the purpose of ongoing supervision by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA). Details.

The European Commission has published non-confidential versions of two decisions taken on 11 June 2014 to open in-depth investigations into transfer pricing arrangements on corporate taxation of Apple in Ireland and Fiat Finance and Trade in Luxembourg. The decision concerning Apple (in English) is available under the case number SA.38378 and the decision concerning Fiat Finance and Trade (in French) is available under the case number SA.38375 on the competition website.

 

Wednesday 1 October

The European Commission has extended the scope of an ongoing in-depth investigation opened in October 2013 to verify whether the new Gibraltar corporate tax regime selectively favours certain categories of companies, in breach of EU state aid rules. The Commission will now also examine the Gibraltar tax rulings practice. Press release.

Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes gave a speech in Brussels: Adapt or die: What I would do if I ran a telecom company.

According to the 31st Annual Report on monitoring the application of EU law, there has been a marked decrease in the number of on-going infringement cases in recent years whilst the number of cases resolved through in problem solving mechanisms such as EU Pilot has increased. Press release.

 

Thursday 2 October

DG Economic and Financial Affairs published:

  • Economic Briefs n° 37:  Implementing economic reforms – are EU Member States responding to European Semester recommendations?
  • Economic Paper n° 534: Electricity Tariff Deficit: Temporary or Permanent Problem in the EU?
  • Occasional Paper n°201: Identifying fiscal sustainability challenges in the areas of pension, health care and long-term care policies.

The European Commission published the results of a study about the evolution of choice and innovation in food products in Europe during the last decade. The results show that the entry of new competitors always increases choice and innovation. In many Member States, retail markets are not overly concentrated, and the retailers' bargaining power does not seem to have a negative impact on choice and innovation. Press release.

  

Friday 3 October

Statistics

  • In August 2014, compared with July 2014, industrial producer prices fell by 0.1% in both the euro area (EA18) and the EU28. Details.
  • In 2012, EU28 inland freight transport amounted to 2 186 billion tonne-kilometers, down by 11.7% compared with its level in 2007. Details
  • In August 2014 compared with July 2014, the seasonally adjusted volume of retail trade rose by 1.2% in the euro area (EA18) and by 1.4% in the EU28. Details

Agenda of the European Commission.

In 2013, economic conditions remained challenging for SMEs in most Member States. Economic results suggest there is a recovery, but it is uneven and not yet following a robust trajectory. These are the conclusions of the annual SMEs Performance Review and country-specific SBA factsheets. Press release and memo.

The European Commission has closed an investigation into practices by European telecoms operators in the internet connectivity markets. The Commission has come to the provisional view that the observed practices do not appear to breach EU antitrust law. Nevertheless, it is important that users are aware of the interconnection policies pursued by their internet access providers and the impact that this may have on the quality of service obtained from certain content providers, whose content requires a high bandwidth (e.g. video streaming). The Commission will therefore continue to monitor the sector closely. Details.