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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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The EU Water Framework Directive - integrated river basin management for Europe 26 November 2014, 16:34 CET
The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), full title "Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework for the Community action in the field of water policy", sets the objectives for water protection in the European Union. The Directive was adopted on 23 October 2000, published in the Official Journal (OJ L 327) on 22 December 2000 and entered into force the same day.

Transparency Register 25 November 2014, 22:43 CET
The Transparency register provides EU citizens with information about who is engaged in activities aiming at influencing the EU decision-making process, which interests are being pursued and what level of resources are invested in these activities. It offers a single code of conduct, binding all organisations and self employed individuals which accept to “play by the rules” in full respect of ethical principles. A complaint and sanctions mechanism ensures the enforcement of the rules and to address suspected breaches of the code. The Transparency register has been set up and is operated by the European Parliament and the European Commission.

Causes of death in the EU28 in 2011 - 1 in 4 deaths caused by cancer in the EU28 - Lung cancer main fatal cancer 25 November 2014, 22:20 CET
In the EU28 in 2011, cancer was the cause of death for 1,281 million persons, responsible for more than a quarter of all deaths (26.3%). Over the past ten years, while the total number of deaths slightly decreased (-0.5%), the number of deaths due to cancer increased by 6.3% (from 1.206 million in 2002 to 1.281 million in 2011), at a slightly higher pace for females (+6.6%) than for males (+6.0%). However, the number of deaths due to cancer remained higher in 2011 among the male population (718,000 deaths due to cancer) than among the female population (563,000). In 2011, cancer represented 37.1% of all causes of death for the EU28 population aged less than 65, while this level was only 23.8% for the older population (those aged 65 years and over).

Horizon 2020 - the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation 25 November 2014, 15:32 CET
Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract. It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market.

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) 18 November 2014, 20:06 CET
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a trade agreement that is currently being negotiated between the European Union and the United States. It aims to remove trade barriers in a wide range of economic sectors to make it easier to buy and sell goods and services between the EU and the US. On top of cutting tariffs across all sectors, the EU and the US want to tackle barriers behind the customs border – such as differences in technical regulations, standards and approval procedures. These often cost unnecessary time and money for companies who want to sell their products on both markets. For example, when a car is approved as safe in the EU, it has to undergo a new approval procedure in the US even though the safety standards are similar. The TTIP negotiations will also look at opening both markets for services, investment, and public procurement. They could also shape global rules on trade.

European residential electricity prices increasing faster than prices in United States 18 November 2014, 18:27 CET
European residential electricity prices have historically exceeded U.S. prices, and the gap has widened in recent years. In 2013, average residential electricity rates in European Union (EU) countries were more than double rates in the United States. Regulatory structures—including taxes and other user fees, investment in renewable energy technologies, and the mix and cost of fuels—all influence electricity prices…In 2013, average EU residential prices were 0.20 euro per kilowatthour (euro/kWh), which translates to about 26.57 cents per kilowatt hour (cents/kWh), a 43% increase from the average 2006 price of 18.80 cents/kWh. In that same time, U.S. prices increased only 17%, from 10.40 cents/kWh to 12.12 cents/kWh - Today in Energy brief - posted 18 November 2014 on U.S. Energy Information Administration website

Autumn forecast 2014: Slow recovery with very low inflation 04 November 2014, 13:28 CET
The European Commission's autumn forecast projects weak economic growth for the rest of this year in both the EU and the euro area. In the course of 2015, a gradual strengthening of economic activity is expected and growth is projected to rise further in 2016. All EU countries are set to register positive growth in 2015 and 2016. This is also when the lagged impact of already implemented reforms should be felt more strongly.

VAT 30 October 2014, 13:25 CET
VAT in Europe - Key documents - How VAT works - Traders - Consumers - Control and Anti-Fraud - Conferences and other events - European Commission website

Smart Regulation 14 October 2014, 18:18 CET
To ensure that EU action is effective, the European Commission assesses the impact of policies, legislation, trade agreements and other measures at every stage - from planning to implementation and review. Before the EU takes action: The Commission publishes roadmaps describing planned initiatives; and Commission impact assessments examine potential economic, social and environmental consequences. After EU action: following implementation, initiatives are evaluated to check their performance; and REFIT (Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme) identifies opportunities to reduce regulatory burdens and simplify existing laws.

High Level Group on Administrative Burdens 14 October 2014, 18:09 CET
The high-level group advises the European Commission on how to reduce administrative burdens linked to its legislation. Examples include recommendations concerning the facilitation of electronic invoicing and the exemption of micro enterprises from EU accounting rules.

European Parliament hearings of the Commissioners-designate 21 October 2014, 17:50 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.