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ESBA Bulletin of 17 May 2018

17 May 2018
by ESBA -- last modified 17 May 2018



EU/DSM: Commission Unveils Platforms to Business Proposal

On 26 March, the European Commission unveiled a proposal on promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services (platforms). Legal certainty, adequate complaint handling and consumer trust are key elements of the proposal.
At the core of the proposal is the way in which platforms handle complaints. In other words, how to handle customer satisfaction. Putting forward quite heavy demands for complaint-handling mechanisms, the Commission wishes to exempt the smallest companies from having to implement these new rules. Whilst we appreciate the underlying thoughts of wanting to reduce the burden on our smallest companies, we sincerely doubt whether exempting companies from putting in place effective internal complaint-handling mechanisms will have any meaningful effects. Any business will inherently need to deal with its customers' complaints. Failing to apply the same standards as larger players will result in SMEs being put in at a disadvantage as customers will choose an offer with a more effective complaint-handling system. This means that SMEs will not be able to compete with large companies unless they offer the same level of protection. In the case of the former, it will inevitably lead to a loss of customers and can lead to a failed business. ESBA would, therefore, suggest that the end result of the negotiations regarding this file should align with the Commission's Think Small First principle, creating a light touch regime that works for companies of all sizes and ensure a healthy continuation of the development of the European online ecosystem.
For more information on the Digital Single Market, please click here

EU/ Competition: Chinese e-bikes invading the EU, the Commission orders a registration

On 3 May 2018, following a complaint of EU manufacturers the European Commission put a halt to Chinese e-bikes being dumped on the European market. The European Commission ordered the registration of all imports of electric bicycles from China, because there is evidence of material injury to the Union Market caused by dumped import.
However, Chinese e-bikes are still selling in the EU at an alarming rate and low prices. Chinese exporters are anticipating eventual further EU trade regulations and trying to avoid new measures by storing massive volumes of e-bikes in the EU. The European bicycle, e-bike and components industry generates significant amount of green jobs in the EU, but European manufacturers fail to compete with the enormous Chinese capacities of production.
Numerous associations, which represent the voice of 7 million workers, support EBMA actions (the European Bicycle Manufacturers Association) 'Stop China Dumping e-bikes'.
For more information on the registration of e-bike imports from China, please click here.


EU/Digital Single Market: Countdown to GDPR
On 25 may GDRP will enter into force. What do we know so far, almost two years after its introduction? On the users' side: the public is still largely unaware of the regulation, even though the recent social media scandals did help raise awareness. Secondly, the policy will not change much in terms of companies gathering data (e.g. web history, contacts information) in exchange free services. Users will be asked to give their consent more frequently. Finally, it seems that GDPR will not address all fears about the misuse of data. On the governments side, the watchdogs remain largely underfunded and understaffed. For the Industry: In the last two years the multinationals have put all their efforts and investment largely on their workforce to be able comply. On the other side, SMEs are struggling. GDPR is a significant burden for many SMEs from all the sectors which do not have the means to invests same was as multinationals - leaving many companies worried for the future.
For more information on the Digital Single Market, please click here

EU/Media Freedom: MEPs call for increased media freedom
On 3 May 2018, on the World Press Freedom Day, the European Parliament supported with an overwhelming majority a resolution asking the European Commission to play a bigger role in opposing attempts by Member States to limit media freedom and pluralism. Until then, the Commission had had limited prerogatives in terms of monitoring media freedom in Member States. MEPs wanted to counter press freedom's degradation across the EU. The resolution aims to encourage governments to safeguard and promote a pluralist, independent and free media landscape in the service of democratic society but calls upon the Commission to monitor any attempts by national governments to harm media freedom and pluralism.
Finally, MEPs appealed the European Commission to allocate permanent and adequate funding in the EU budget to support the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom.
For more information on the MEPs resolution on media freedom, please click here.

EU/Taxation: EU budget increase, thanks goes to the DigiTax
On 2 May 2018, the European Commission proposed a new Budget plan for the period 2021 to 2027. The European Commission is hoping to get additional revenue from the from the new Corporate tax rules that were proposed in March targeting the digital sector. The package consists of two proposals: a comprehensive one, redefining the concept of Permanent Establishment to include digital presence in the corporate tax system; and an Interim measure, which aims to tax advertising revenues of big digital companies. Under the section "Own resource" of the Budget proposal, the Commission mentions the new "the comprehensive" proposal and the Common Consolidates Corporate Tax Base (under discussion in the Council) which would supposedly increase EU funds. However, the temporary levy on digital revenue is absent from the report. No wonder why, since the big 5's coalition (France, Italy, Spain, Germany, UK) that initially supported the proposal, lost two of its mains supporters namely Germany and the UK in the last weeks - leaving France quite isolated.
For more information on EU taxation, please click here

EU/Single Market: New proposal on simplifying company law rules across the EU released
On 25 April 2018, the Commission released a new proposal on company law. This proposal should simplify and lower the costs of procedures for companies to move, merge or divide within the EU Single Market. A new set of EU common procedures should encourage a growth in the setting up of new businesses, as companies would more easily be able to operate across borders. This new initiative includes clauses that ought to ensure that abuse of taxation can effectively be fought against by National Authorities. In addition, specific measures are included which aim to protect employees'-, creditors'- and minority shareholders' rights.
For more information on the EU Single Market, please click here

EU/Taxation: New VAT package faces critics
On 24 April 2018, the European Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) held a public hearing on the VAT package. During the public hearing session, the implications of two of the Package's proposals were discussed to gain better insight into benefits and problems that might occur in the proposed new framework. Concerns were expressed, stating that the proposal would most likely lead to an increase of inequality of VAT across the Member States' national systems. The second policy under discussion, deals with the definition of certified taxable person. The intention for this proposal is to create a simplified cross-border system, which would further facilitate trade by means of a common system of "reliable taxpayers". Many concerns were raised on the scope of this proposal: if SME's and/or micro-businesses are to be excluded from the proposal, they cannot enjoy the benefits that come along the above-mentioned title. Finally, other experts say that the biggest concern of this Package is that it would not necessarily prevent VAT fraud.
For more information on VAT, please click here

EU/Employment: EU ambassadors agree to harmonise regulation on access to professions
On 20 April 2018, the Council's COREPER approved a Directive which must increase transparency in the Member States' regulations on professions. The agreement, which the Council presidency and the European Parliament established following negotiations, enables the European Union to monitor national regulations on professions more closely. The initiative would harmonize national measures across the Union, where Member States would be obliged to carry out proportionality checks on the justifications of new regulations on this matter. The directive, as part of the Services Package, would ensure that access to professional activities is not unduly restricted.
For more information on EU Employment & Social Affairs, please click here

EU/Circular Economy: EU sets new recycling targets in their effort to create a circular economy.
On 17 April 2018, the European Parliament put forth a new package to increase recycling and waste management. Currently, most products and materials that could be recycled end up in landfills. The package aims to promote the EU circular economy and improve the management of waste and recycling, which is one of the key priorities of Junker's European Commission. This package also includes proposals aiming reducing materials ending up in landfills and set a goal of 55% recycling of municipal waste by 2025 and 60% by 2030.
For more information on circular economy package, please click here


Strengthening the EU's Resilience in the Virtual Domain

This paper analyses the unstoppable phenomenon of globalisation through the lens of cyberspace. It looks at how the threats associated with this domain could evolve into a cyberwar. The paper assesses the EU's stance on cyberspace and elaborates the directions that the EU should develop and pursue in this regard.
To access this publication, please click here

Squaring the MFF circle: How match funding can deliver the EU's new priorities
The informal EU summit has ended without a breakthrough on the size and details of the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the Union's multi-year budget from 2021 onwards. This is hardly surprising. We are only at the beginning of a long negotiation process that has always been contentious; more so this time due to the dual pressure of lower contributions - with the exit of the UK, one of the main net payers - and the need to finance the EU's pressing priorities - migration, internal and external security and possibly new instruments to strengthen the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) as well as the accession process to the common currency.
To access this publication, please click here.


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The European Small Business Alliance (ESBA) is a non-party political group, which cares for small business entrepreneurs and the self-employed and represents them through targeted EU advocacy and profiling activities.

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