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A collection of links to web sites of the European Union institutions and other European business web sites.

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European Parliament hearings of the Commissioners-designate 29 September 2014, 18:50 CET
The 27 candidates hoping to be part of the European Commission led by Jean-Claude Juncker start appearing at hearings at the European Parliament on 29 September. During the three-hour hearings EP committees will test the candidate commissioners' expertise and competences ahead of the EP voting on whether to approve the new Commission on 22 October. The hearings will be shown live on our website and can also be followed on various other platforms.

Youth Employment Initiative 17 September 2014, 23:30 CET
The Youth Employment Initiative (2013) reinforces and accelerates measures outlined in the Youth Employment Package. It aims to support particularly young people not in education, employment or training in regions with a youth unemployment rate above 25 per cent.

Member States' Competitiveness Report 2014: Reindustrialising Europe 11 September 2014, 23:04 CET
Progress has been made by Member States to improve the competitiveness of their economies, but many challenges still remain. An updated Industrial performance scoreboard assesses Member States' industrial performance in five key areas, namely innovation and sustainability; business environment, services and infrastructure; public administration; finance and investment; and skills.

Cohesion Policy Data platform 23 July 2014, 22:38 CET
Through Cohesion Policy funding, the EU invests approximately €50 billion each year in economic development at the national and regional level (around 34% of the total EU budget). These investments are designed to help EU Member States and regions reach the Europe 2020 goals of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. In order to increase transparency and to promote debate on the performance of EU funding, this open data platform provides information about the investments made and the results obtained (as well as contextual data on the socio-economic situation in each EU country). The figures concerning the outputs of EU Cohesion Policy Operational Programmes are based on reports provided to the Commission by Member States. The data can be reused free of charge, provided that you acknowledge the source (see legal notice). Comments on the data presented here and suggestions of additional datasets are welcome.

Gambling in the EU Single Market 14 July 2014, 17:12 CET
In 2011 annual revenues of the overall EU gambling market were estimated to be around €84.9 billion, with annual growth rates of around 3%. Online gambling is the fastest growing service activity in this sector in the EU, with annual growth rates of almost 15%. Annual revenues in 2015 are expected to be €13 billion, compared to €9.3 billion in 2011. There is a wide offer and take-up of online gambling services in the EU, with 6.8 million consumers currently participating in online gambling. Online technology continues to develop, including through diverse channels like the internet, mobile phone technology or digital TV. The different forms of gambling services can operate across borders and can also operate outside the control of Member States’ competent authorities. Consumers in Europe search beyond national borders for online gambling services that can be more competitive and they can be exposed to prevailing risks such as fraud.

Interconnected insolvency registers search 07 July 2014, 17:51 CET
The EU Insolvency Registers interconnection search is a functionality of the European e-Justice Portal which allows you to search for insolvent entities, either natural or legal persons, within the EU. This service is provided by the European Commission in cooperation with the participating Member States: Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, Netherlands, Austria, Romania, Slovenia. Please note that participating registers may have specific national rules on the search criteria necessary, how long data is retained, etc. Please take a few moments to read more on this on our general information page.

Moving towards a circular economy 02 July 2014, 14:16 CET
The European Commission adopted the Communication "Towards a circular economy: a zero waste programme for Europe" to establish a common and coherent EU framework to promote the circular economy.

European Patent Office 26 June 2014, 13:14 CET
The European Patent Office (EPO) offers inventors a uniform application procedure which enables them to seek patent protection in up to 40 European countries. The EPO is one of the leading international organisations in Europe, with some 7,000 staff from over 30 different countries at five locations in four countries. Under the European Patent Convention inventors can obtain patent protection in up to 40 countries by filing a single application.

VAT number validation (VIES) 17 June 2014, 13:13 CET
This web page allows you to verify the validity of a VAT identification number issued by an EU Member State by specifying the VAT number you wish to validate, and then selecting the Member State which allocated the number to be validated from the drop-down menu provided. The verification is done against the national VAT database corresponding to the selected Member State. Note there is no VAT database at Community level. For the purpose of the verification, your request is sent to the national database via a secure Intranet service connecting national Customs and Taxation administrations and the reply is sent back in a few seconds.

Developments in collectively agreed pay 2013 - Eurofound 12 June 2014, 23:04 CET
The available national data reveal that average nominal collectively agreed pay increases in 2013 were roughly the same as or lower than those in 2012 in all the countries examined. However, because of lower inflation rates, employees in a number of countries saw the purchasing power of their wages increase again. This is a change from the post-crisis trend that had been observed since 2011 in many EU Member States. The increases in collectively agreed nominal wages for the chemical sector were lower in 2013 than in 2012. The development in the retail sector was less straightforward, with 10 countries reporting a lower wage increase in 2013 than in 2012 and another 10 countries reporting a higher or equal wage increase. From the sectors examined (civil service, retail and chemical sectors), civil service pay trends were the most negative, with the majority of countries surveyed reporting pay freezes or pay cuts in the sector. The study was compiled on the basis of individual national reports submitted by the EIRO correspondents. The text of each of these national reports is available below. The reports have not been edited or approved by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The national reports were drawn up in response to a questionnaire and should be read in conjunction with it.

Communication on the work of the EU Joint Transfer Pricing Forum in the period July 2012 to January 2014 04 June 2014, 18:24 CET
The EU Joint Transfer Pricing Forum (JTPF) assists and advises the European Commission on transfer pricing tax matters.

Convergence Report 2014 04 June 2014, 13:33 CET
Convergence Reports examine whether Member States satisfy the conditions for adopting the single currency. Convergence reports are issued by the European Commission and the European Central Bank every two years, or more often if a country intending to join the euro requests it. These reports form the basis for the decision on whether a Member State may join the euro area. The 2014 Convergence Report, released on 4 June 2014, is a regular biennial report and examines progress with convergence in eight Member States with a derogation - Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Sweden. It contains the Report from the Commission and the accompanying Staff Working Document with a more detailed analysis of the fulfilment of the criteria by all countries assessed. The report concludes that Lithuania fulfils all conditions for adopting the euro.

Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs 16 July 2014, 23:57 CET
In March 2013 the European Commission launched the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs: a multi-stakeholder partnership that endeavours to facilitate collaboration among business and education providers, public and private actors to take action attracting young people into ICT education, and to retrain unemployed people. Our goal is to start to increase the supply of ICT practitioners by 2015, so as to ensure a sufficient number of them in Europe in the near future.

New VAT rules on telecoms, broadcasting & electronic services 28 May 2014, 19:31 CET
Taxation rules for telecommunications, broadcasting & electronic services will change on 1 January 2015. Current rules - New rules from 2015 - The Explanatory Notes for 2015 - One Stop Shop guidelines for 2015(available in 27 languages) - Events related to the new rules - Legislation now and after 2015

Practical guidelines for businesses on new VAT rules 28 May 2014, 19:27 CET
The European Commission published on 23 October 2013 practical guidelines to prepare businesses for new VAT rules for telecoms and e-services, which enter into force in 2015. The aim is to help businesses to be fully prepared on time for the change-over, whereby VAT will be charged where the customer is based, rather than where the seller is. A One Stop Shop will enable telecoms, broadcasting and e-services businesses comply with all of their VAT obligations in all Member States from their country of registration. This is consistent with the Commission's goal of reducing tax obstacles and administrative burdens for cross-border companies in the Single Market. Today's guidelines focus on the information that will be requested to register and account for VAT, the formats in which it will be requested, the submission deadlines, and all practical details on the payments. With this information, businesses will able to properly prepare their processes and configure their IT tools to collect the information that they will have to submit from February 2015. Additional guidelines will be published next year on the new place of supply rules.

Regulated professions database 08 May 2014, 18:44 CET
A regulated profession is said to be regulated when access and exercise is subject to the possession of a specific professional qualification. This database contains lists of regulated professions in the EU member states, EEA countries and Switzerland covered by the Directive 2005/36/EC.

Legislation against euro-counterfeiting 06 May 2014, 17:46 CET
To protect the euro in the eurozone and beyond, EU laws aim to ensure proper coordination of anti-counterfeiting measures between national authorities and adequate penalties for counterfeiters under national criminal law.

Tax reforms database 30 April 2014, 12:03 CET
The "Tax reforms" database (TAXREF) is entailed by the update of the TEDB. It collects information on tax reforms in the member states in a structured way. It covers reforms in eight important tax categories: VAT, PIT, CIT, Social Security contributions paid by employees, Social Security contributions paid by employers and the three EU harmonised Excise duties on Alcoholic beverages, Energy products and Tobacco products. TAXREF is an innovative tool to analyse trends in taxation in the member states in a timely way. It identifies how European tax systems are evolving over time.

'Taxes in Europe database 30 April 2014, 12:01 CET
The "Taxes in Europe" database (TEDB) is the European Union's online information tool covering the main taxes in force in the EU Member States. The system contains information on around 600 taxes, as provided to the European Commission by the national authorities.

''Taxes in Europe - Tax reforms'' database 30 April 2014, 11:59 CET
The "Taxes in Europe" database (TEDB) is the European Commission's on-line information tool covering the main taxes in force in the EU Member States. The system contains information on around 600 taxes, as provided to the European Commission by the national authorities. The new "Tax reforms" database (TAXREF) is entailed by the update of the TEDB. It collects information on tax reforms in the member states in a structured way. It covers reforms in eight important tax categories: VAT, PIT, CIT, Social Security contributions paid by employees, Social Security contributions paid by employers and the three EU harmonised Excise duties on Alcoholic beverages, Energy products and Tobacco products. TAXREF is an innovative tool to analyse trends in taxation in the member states in a timely way. It identifies how European tax systems are evolving over time.

Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) 30 April 2014, 11:40 CET
EU Member States and their citizens want to ensure that the financial sector makes a fair and substantial contribution to public finances. Moreover, the European Commission believes that the sector should pay back at least part of what European tax payers have pre-financed in the context of the bank rescue operations. Some Member States have looked at new ways to tax the financial sector, notably by introducing bank levies and national financial transaction taxes. But the Commission says these initiatives risk leading to a fragmentation of the Single Market for financial services and to frequent occurrences of double taxation and double non-taxation. The Commission's proposal for a Financial Transaction Tax aims at harmonising the key features of those initiatives that aim at taxing financial transactions so as to minimise these risks.

Eastern Partnership 24 April 2014, 11:34 CET
As the EU has expanded, the countries in Eastern Europe and the southern Caucasus have become closer neighbours, and their security, stability and prosperity increasingly affect the EU’s. Closer cooperation between the EU and its eastern European partners – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine – is seen as very important for the EU's external relations. Launched in 2009, the Eastern Partnership is a joint initiative between the EU, EU countries and the eastern European partner countries. It enables partner countries interested in moving towards the EU and increasing political, economic and cultural links to do so. It is underpinned by a shared commitment to international law and fundamental values - democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms - and to the market economy, sustainable development and good governance. The EU has put forward concrete ideas for each partner country. The aim is to improve relations with individual countries. A new generation of Association Agreements is being negotiated with some countries on an individual basis. These will replace the Partnership and Cooperation Agreements concluded with partner countries (apart from Belarus) in the late 1990s. The latest Association Agreements/DCTFAs to have been initialed were the ones for Georgia and the Republic of Moldova.

European unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) 08 April 2014, 19:15 CET
The development of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) has opened a promising new chapter in the history of aerospace. However, while military exploitation of UAS has grown exponentially in recent years, this trend has so far not been followed by the civil sector. Unmanned Aircrafts can offer a wide range of possibilities for the benefit of European society, ranging from environmental control, security, as well as a fascinating variety of commercial services. UAS can perform air operations that manned aviation can hardly do, with evident economic savings and environmental benefits while reducing the risk to human life. However, the absence of a clear EU regulatory framework limits the possibility to fly UAS in non segregated airspace. It is a severe limitation for the development of UAS market which requires careful consideration. The emergence of this new market needs to be further assessed, and political will power to ensure that appropriate actions are taken on the European level to help development and provide within a reasonable timeframe the necessary framework to ensure federation of efforts and quick benefits for this sector.

Organic farming - European Commission website 26 March 2014, 00:06 CET
EU legislation ensures that ‘organic’ means the same for consumers and producers all over the EU. Legislation concerning organic produce is developed with the participation of Member States and the assistance of advisory and technical committees and expert bodies. Download logo & promotional material - The EU organic logo & guidelines Download photos Download videos Download infographics More promotional material What is organic farming? Producing organic International trade in organics Organic certification Studies Frequently asked questions EU Policy Legislation Policy development EU rules on production EU rules on trade European Action Plan Data and statistics Expert advice Food quality policy How to become an organic producer in the EU?

Macro-Financial Assistance to non-EU countries 19 March 2014, 15:54 CET
Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA) is a form of financial aid extended by the EU to partner countries experiencing a balance of payments crisis. It takes the form of medium/long-term loans or grants, or a combination of these, and is only available to countries benefiting from a disbursing International Monetary Fund programme. MFA is designed for countries geographically, economically and politically close to the EU. These include candidate and potential candidate countries, countries bordering the EU covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and, in certain circumstances, other third countries.