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ESBA Bulletin of 7 June 2018

07 June 2018
by ESBA -- last modified 07 June 2018




EU/Employment and Social Affairs: EU neglects self-employed drivers when updating regulation on drivers' working conditions
On 4 June, TRAN Committee approved the Draft Report on drivers' working conditions. The EU felt working conditions for drivers, as well as road safety, should be improved and that the current Regulation on driving time is insufficiently enforced.

Companies will have to provide resting accommodation after every six days of consecutive driving, or in the cab of the truck, provided it is parked in a safe area with sufficient facilities. After three weeks of consecutive driving, drivers should be entitled to one week of rest, at home or in a location of their preference, paid for by the company.

Whilst these rules might have advantages for salaried truck drivers, they do not seem to consider self-employed drivers, that own and operate one truck. Of course, these drivers adhere to the current driving and rest times, to avoid accidents. However, they require more flexibility to arrange their work as their work comprises of much more than just driving and basic admin. Before rushing to drastically change legislation, would it not make more sense to address the enforcement problems of the current Regulation?

For more information on Employment, please click here

EU/Employment and Social Affairs: ESBA disappointed about European Parliament's rush job.
On 29 May, the European Parliament approved the Report on Posting of Workers in Plenary. ESBA welcomes any initiative that intends to ensure the protection of workers and high employment across the European Union. It is important to safeguard the principle of equal treatment and to tackle fraud and illicit practices. However, the possibility to post workers across the EU is very important to small businesses in order to facilitate their participation in the increasingly significant Internal Market.

Therefore, we must ensure that the legislation does not become unjustifiably burdensome for SMEs, as this may reduce their ability to grow and create employment. Especially when an initiative seeks to set stricter rules, it is vital to assess whether this is absolutely necessary. ESBA believes that such an assessment cannot be done properly without having studied the implementation report, which has yet to be published. By rushing the file, we run the risk of creating undue burdens on Europe's smallest companies.

Particularly, in long-term postings exceeding 12 months, these burdens will increase significantly, while small companies will have to deal with local labour law. Having to deal with all these different sets of rules will increase legal uncertainty and administrative difficulties for small businesses that post their workers in a compliant manner.

For more information on Employment, please click here

EU/Employment and Social Affairs: Work-Life Balance
On 28 May, the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) adopted its Opinion Report on the proposal on Work-Life Balance. The objective of the proposal is to achieve a higher level of female employment and more equal opportunities within the labour market.

The late-night vote of the FEMM committee keeps current legislation on maternity leave intact, while introducing paternity leave of 10 days, taken on the occasion of the birth or adoption of the child. In addition, it changes the 2010/18/EU Directive and introduces 4 months of paid parental leave, which will be non-transferable between parents (now 3 months out of the 4 are transferable and there is no obligation on the remuneration).

As this parental leave is paid and can be taken up after the maternity or paternity leave, SMEs might be ending up paying their female employees up to 7,5 months in a row, with them being absent for that period of time. The proposal could thus have the opposite effect of what it wants to achieve.

For more information on Employment, please click here


EU/DSM: Digital Single Market under the Bulgarians
On 28 May, the Telecommunication and Competitiveness Ministers discussed the Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy with Commissioner Andrus Ansip. Ironically, Ansip asked the Ministers to act quickly on the policies of the DSM, a few days after the Council announced in a state of play that it was lowering down its ambitions for the DSM. Few files are staying behind; no compromises were found by the Member States on ePrivacy nor Contact rules for sales for goods proposal, and no middle ground was reached on Contract law for Digital Content, between the European Parliament and the Council. However, COREPER approved (unexpectedly) the last Bulgarian compromises on Copyright and gave mandate to enter the negotiating team.

For more information on Industry, please click here

EU/Internal Market: One step closer towards a harmonised Single Market
On 28 May, the Council of Competition Ministers agreed on a general approach on the proposal for the improvement the mutual recognition of goods in between Member States. The regulation aims to reduce administrative burdens and to improve the application of the mutual recognition principle within the European Single Market. The new rules would introduce a standardized form available for producers to prove that a good is lawfully marketed in a Member State and hence permit them to sell it in another Member State. This form will ease the procedures for the producers, traders, and National Authorities. The European Parliament Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee is scheduled to vote on the file in September.

For more information on Internal market, please click here.

EU/VAT: Frustration against Czech opposition to reduced VAT on e-books
On 25 May, ECOFIN achieved no compromise on VAT rates for digital publications, such as online books and newspapers. Surprisingly, the Czech Minister of Finance raised technical and principle issues. The Swedish Finance Minister backlashed against the Czech objections, openly expressing her frustration as everyone was expecting an agreement to be reached. The Swedish arguments around the preservation of high quality journalism and European democracy were also supported by Germany, France, Finland, and the Netherlands.

For more information on VAT, please click here

EU/Copyright: Glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel for Copyright
On 25 May, almost two years after the introduction of the Copyright in the Digital Single Market proposal, EU ambassadors reached common position on the file. However, the Bulgarian Presidency compromise text did not get unanimity. Despite the fact that the idea of more flexibility in the application of the publishers' rights convinced many Member States, Belgium and Germany worry that it will bring too much legal uncertainty. Few other Members States are not supporting the mandate, such as Italy and Hungary. The Austrian Presidency will take over the files to enter the trilogue negotiations with the European Parliament, which is supposed to vote on MEP Axel Voss compromises amendments this month.

For more information on Copyright, please click here

EU/DSM: Council asked to speed up on e-Privacy Regulation
On 18 May, European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip and Commissioners Mariya Gabriel and Vera Jourová addressed a letter to the TELECOM Ministers asking them to take a stand on the e-Privacy Regulation. The Council officials have been delaying reaching the right compromise. The European Parliament has been waiting since last autumn to enter the trilogue negotiations. The EP Plenary has given the mandate to the negotiating team (not without criticism though) since the end of October 2017. This willingness from the European Commission to move forward is probably motivated by the recent scandals concerning privacy breaches on social media (e.g.: Cambridge Analytica). The Minister of Telecommunications are expected to meet at the 8th of June and discuss the Regulation.

For more information on Industry, please click here

EU/ Industry: MEPs call on Commission to propose extended use of Blockchain model
On 16 May, the European Parliament's Industry committee (ITRE) adopted a non-binding resolution on the Blockchain model. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are convinced that citizens and firms can profit from migrating this model to other areas. For citizens, it would be less difficult to determine which personal data to share, and smaller enterprises could make transactions more easily and without additional costs. Therefore, the resolution calls upon the Commission to propose legislation that enables Blockchain (and other distributed ledger technologies) to be used in various operations (e.g. transport, healthcare, finance, etc.) that allow for innovation and use in various technologies.

For more information on Industry, please click here

EU/Taxation: digital taxation battle.
On 16 May, the high-level working group on Digital Taxation met and discussed the controversial Digital Taxation package. 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. France's positions lead by DigiTax's fervent advocate President Macron do not seem so popular anymore. France seems to be the only one who does not want a sunset clause to be introduced in the Interim measure. The levy is supposedly an "interim measure", while the digital permanent establishment is negotiated. However, many Member States worry that, once introduced, it will stay (remember the interim minimum tax rate? 14 years later, it is still here), and are thus pushing to introduce such a clause.

For more information on EU taxation, please click here


Reconciling private market governance and law: A policy primer for digital platforms
The role and appropriate regulation of platforms have become the cornerstone of digital policy debates. Governments and the European Commission are reviewing the policy, with the OECD report on digital trends for the G20 in January 2017 noting: "Online platforms create new markets and opportunities, but also raise a range of economic and social challenges…" The focus of this paper is the opportunities and anxieties presented by digital platforms; and the challenge of reconciling code and law.
To access this publication, please click here

Mastering the digital transformation
Over recent years there has been a lively debate in the Netherlands about robots and the potential consequences of digitalisation for society. The contentious study by Frey and Osborne (2013), which predicts that in 20 years' time 47% of all jobs in the US could be taken over by computers, was reproduced in the Netherlands by Deloitte (2014), with exactly the same alarming results.
To access this publication, please click here

How transparent are the EU institutions?
Matching the EU institutions' positive rhetoric about democratic ideals with their practical administrative actions is ultimately what the European Ombudsman is about. It is now a year before the European elections, an event that obviously invites reflection about what has happened over the current parliamentary term. This means examining any changes, positive or negative, vis-à-vis the quality of the EU public administration when it comes to acting in an open, ethical and accountable manner.
To access this publication, please click here

Online Talent Platforms, Labour Market Intermediaries and the Changing World of Work
By comparing the online talent platform economy and the temporary agency work sector, this study aims to contribute to a rapidly growing literature on new forms of work and their impact on the labour market. It shows that online talent platforms and temporary work agencies do have features in common, but there are also significant differences between the two, which make it difficult to use temporary agency work as a model for the online talent platform economy; in many cases, it would not be a good fit. That being said, the call by policy-makers, social partners and other stakeholders for a level playing field should not be overlooked. Furthermore, the study also confirms that any comparison of the online talent platform economy and the temporary agency work sector is hampered by a lack of data.
To access this publication, please click here


Public consultation on potential measures for regulating the environmental impact of machine tools and welding equipment
DEADLINE: 10/07/2018
This public consultation is on potential measures to regulate the environmental impact of machine tools and welding equipment.
The aim is to gather further views and opinions from EU countries, other public authorities, industry groups and ngos, and other interested organisations.
This public consultation will ultimately inform the evaluation and impact assessment prepared by the Commission in the preparation of regulations specific to these product groups.
To access this consultation, please click here.

Fitness check on the EU framework for public reporting by companies
DEADLINE: 21/07/2018
The fitness check of the EU framework on public reporting by companies aims to assess whether the EU reporting framework is still fit for purpose. Its first objectives are to assess whether the EU public reporting framework is overall still relevant for meeting the objectives, adds value at the European level, and is effective, internally consistent, coherent with other EU policies, efficient and not unnecessarily burdensome. Secondly it will also review specific aspects of the existing legislation as required by EU law, and thirdly it will assess whether the EU public reporting framework is fit for new challenges (sustainability, digitalisation). Other ongoing developments in EU policies might also have an impact on the public reporting framework (Capital Markets Union, Common Corporate Tax Base, digitalisation of companies' lifecycle, etc.).
To access this consultation, please click here.

Public consultation on the evaluation of the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive
DEADLINE: 23/07/18
This consultation is part of the evaluation of Directive 2001/42/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain public plans and programmes on the environment (SEA Directive). This evaluation is part of the European Commission's Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT) which involves a comprehensive, evidence-based assessment of whether the current regulatory framework is proportionate and fit for purpose and delivering as expected. With this evaluation, the European Commission (Directorate General for Environment) will assess the results achieved by the SEA Directive since its entry into application with regard to its objectives.
The aim is to gather information and the views of stakeholders and the wider public on how the SEA Directive has perceived and performed, including the value of having uniform EU legislation requiring the environmental assessment of certain plans and programmes, and the value of the opportunity the legislation provides for public and stakeholder input to the preparation and adoption of certain plans and programmes.
To access this consultation, please click here.

Public consultation on integration of long-term unemployed into the labour market
DEADLINE: 31/07/18
The aim of this consultation is to gather views on the measures proposed in the Council Recommendation on the integration of the long-term unemployed into the labour market (2016/C 67/01), and on their implementation, as well as to shed light on future possible action to support the long-term unemployed.
Addressing long-term unemployment - unemployment lasting more than 12 months - is a key political priority of the Commission's jobs and growth strategy. On 15 February 2016, the Council adopted the Recommendation.
Two years since its adoption, an evaluation on the actions taken by Member States and the Commission to implement the Recommendation is being undertaken.
The views expressed in this consultation will feed into this evaluation. The Commission will then report to the Council in 2019, based on the evaluation results.
To access this consultation, please click here.

19 June

  • Working Party on Consumer Protection and Information
  • Working Party on Land Transport
  • CULT Committee Meeting
  • ECON Committee Meeting
  • EMPL Committee Meeting
  • IMCO Committee Meeting
  • ITRE Committee Meeting

20 June

  • COREPER (Art. 50)
  • Working Party on Civil Law Matters (JUSTCIV)
  • Working Party on Technical Harmonisation
  • ENVI Committee Meeting
  • FEMM Committee Meeting
  • JURI Committee Meeting
  • LIBE Committee Meeting
  • TRAN Committee Meeting

21 June

  • Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council
  • Working Party on Competitiveness and Growth – Internal Market
  • Working Party on Telecommunications and Information Society
  • ENVI Committee Meeting
  • JURI Committee Meeting
  • LIBE Committee Meeting
  • TRAN Committee Meeting

22 June

  • Economic and Financial Affairs Council
  • Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council
  • Working Party on Competitiveness and Growth – Internal Market

25 June

  • Environment Council
  • Working Party on Competitiveness and Growth – Internal Market
  • Working Party on Social Questions
  • LIBE Committee Meeting

26 June

  • General Affairs Council
  • General Affairs Council (Art. 50)

27 June

  • Working Party on Competitiveness and Growth
  • Working Party on Consumer Protection and Information

28 June

  • European Council meeting
  • EMPL Committee Meeting
  • ENVI Committee Meeting

29 June

  • European Council meeting
  • Commission Public Hearing on Capital Market Union

Other SME-related events

Balkans SME Conference
The slogan of the Balkan SME Conference – sofia 2018 is: "Success = Innovations + Markets + Finance + Digitization". The event is organized by the Association for Assistance of Small and Medium-sized Businesses – United Business Clubs (UBC), with the special support of the Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency (BSMEPA) and the Invest Bulgaria Agency (IBA) at the Ministry of the Economy.
For more information on the event, please click here

SME Financing Workshop
The European banking sector is committed to meeting the financing needs of all companies, including small and medium sized enterprises. SMEs are the backbone of the European economy. For example, within the Euro area, they constitute 98% of all Euro area firms, employing around three-quarters of employees and generating around 60% of value added. While banks already provide a substantive amount of financing for SMEs, they see it as their responsibility to constantly strive to improve the conditions for SME financing and to remove any obstacles.
For more information on the event, please click here

Digital Day 2018 – Opportunities in innovation
19/06/2018, Brussels
Join our Digital Day on 19 June 2018 and learn more about the impact of technology on professional accountants. TechnoEthics, RegTech, SmartSociety: What do they mean for you? What are the latest innovations in tax, accounting and reporting?
For more information on the event, please click here

3rd European Data Protection Law Summer School: Putting the GDPR into Practice & in Context
25/06/2018 – 28/06/2018, Brussels
The Brussels Privacy Hub is proud to announce the 3rd European Data Protection Law Summer School, which will take place between 25 - 29 June 2018. Building on the success of the first two years, and under the title 'Putting the GDPR into Practice & in Context', the 3rd European Data Protection Law Summer School will equip participants to adequately tackle the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and prepare them for the many challenges ahead. This practical dimension will be combined with a more general exploration of the evolving global and European privacy landscape, with a particular emphasis on transatlantic issues, and current policy debates.
For more information on the event, 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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