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New year, new leaders, new laws

Posted by Nick Prag at 09 January 2014, 16:55 CET |

2014 looks like being a big year for the EU, with a number of important laws coming into force, and some key decisions set to affect Europe's future.

Greece took over the EU presidency on 1 January. Not, it was keen to stress, as a country in crisis, but as a country in recovery.

The same can be said of the eurozone, which took on its 18th member as Latvia joined the euro, adding to a feeling of greater stability within the European economy.

Latvia itself enters the euro area stronger, having taken some tough decisions, and this sends an encouraging message to other countries who are also undergoing difficult economic adjustments.

In May, the European elections entrust big decisions to Europe's citizens, with the future of the European Union at stake.

2014 will also see new leaders take over Europe's top jobs, including the Commission and the European Council. The complexion of Europe is sure to change this year.

Also this year many important new laws will affect the daily lives of millions of Europeans. From the start of the year we have a European patent aimed at boosting innovation in smaller businesses in particular.

Later we will see legislation on consumer protection, intellectual property and environmental protection. And new rules to shape the EU's banking union should be agreed, as well as rules on free movement of workers. 

Intellectual property rights will have stronger protection with the extension of the number of possible infringements that customs officials can check for at the border and by introducing new rules on the jurisdiction of courts and the recognition of judgements. These will be implemented in a number of Member States in January.

In February, rules to make tumble driers more energy efficient enter into force.

April will be the end of the line for all old mercury thermometers and other measuring devices. The EU aims to reduce the amount of the highly toxic metal used as it forms a health hazard.

In November we will see legislation to ensure electrical and electronic equipment is recycled better.

Consumers can look forward to better information on their food, including nutrition information on processed foods, origin labelling of unprocessed meat, while allergens such as peanuts and milk will have to be highlighted in the list of ingredients.

In 2014 there will also be new legislation on how to deal with failing banks and investment firms, protect people's savings and make it easier for Europeans to work in another part of the EU.

Finally there will be new rules on tobacco products aimed at discouraging people from taking up smoking, and on data protection to ensure our personal information online is better protected.

Happy New Year

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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.