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EU Small Businesses Celebrate EP Decision to Exempt Micro-Entities from EU Accounting Burdens
The European Small Business Alliance welcomes today’s decision by the European Parliament to adopt the Commission’s proposal to exempt micro entities from certain EU accounting burdens. The exemption is the first real EU effort specifically aimed at micro-businesses and can be seen as the ‘flagship’ of the EUs overall commitment to reduce administrative burdens by 25% by 2010. The measure is estimated to account for savings of EUR 6.3 billion EU-wide, and is a major step towards achieving this 25% goal.

GM crops failing to tackle climate change: report
On the day of the release of annual industry-sponsored figures, a new report from Friends of the Earth International reveals that claims made by the biotech industry that genetically modified (GM) crops can combat climate change are both exaggerated and premature.

How much do the top 50 companies in the EU spend?
Lobbying in Brussels by Europe's 50 largest companies is happening in secret despite attempts to secure transparency, confirms new research released by Friends of the Earth Europe.

Airline Associations Call on European Commission and Member States to Commit to Urgent Relief Measures for Airlines
Three airline associations – ELFAA (European Low Fares Airline Association), ERA (European Regions Airlines Association) and IACA (International Air Carrier Association) - today called on the European Commission and European Member States to give a firm commitment to support airlines affected by the crisis caused by the volcanic ash dispersion.

Parliament’s OK to accounting exemptions 'a step back for the internal market'
UEAPME, the European craft and SME employers’ organisation, criticised today the European Parliament for giving the green light to a deceptive proposal on accounting exemptions, which is unlikely to live up to its claimed cost reduction potential but will decrease transparency and create an uneven playing field between businesses operating in different Member States. Further to MEPs’ vote, Member States could exempt micro-companies with limited liability status from having to draw up and publish annual accounts. According to UEAPME and contrary to some claims, this will not generate a net cost reduction since micro-entities will have to keep filing accounts anyway for national administrations, banks, suppliers and customers. Moreover, red tape will be displaced rather than reduced, as MEPs allowed Member States to add further unspecified obligations to exempted micro-companies. UEAPME therefore recommended simplifying the existing harmonised accounting rules as a more viable alternative and called on the Council to reject the current proposal.

Capital requirements: no regulation before impact assessment, say SMEs
The new capital requirements for the banking sector risk harming SME finance unless their impact on the real economy is assessed beforehand and their scope is fine-tuned to target riskier activities, according to UEAPME, the European craft and SME employers’ organisation.

Business confidence is on the rise but an upswing is not near: SME survey
Small businesses’ confidence is on the rise for the second semester in a row but remains well below its pre-crisis levels, according to an EU-wide survey recently conducted by UEAPME, the European craft and SME employers’ organisation, and its members.

Meat from cloned animals - on the menu in Europe?
Testbiotech report warns market getting out of control

CEA presses for further work on Solvency II implementing measures
The CEA, the European insurance and reinsurance federation, today reiterated its support for the EU’s new Solvency II regulatory regime but called for more work to be done on the Level 2 measures that will put the flesh on the bones of the Framework Directive. It also called for changes to the draft specifications for the fifth Quantitative Impact Study (QIS 5) that will be carried out later this year to test the likely effects of Solvency II on the insurance industry.

CBI response to industrial emissions directive vote
The CBI, the UK’s leading business group, commented on the outcome of today’s vote on the Industrial Emissions Directive in the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety in Brussels.

SMEs poised to profit from RFID technology
A new EU-funded project starting this month and running for two years will help European SMEs in understanding and fully leveraging the potential benefits of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, which allows real time data collection without physical or line of sight contact.

Commission defines framework conditions for deploying 'clean and energy efficient vehicles'
The Communication on Clean and Energy Efficient Vehicles, published today by the European Commission in Brussels, identifies the essential framework conditions for a viable transition to sustainable mobility in the European Union.

Transport working time: SMEs deeply concerned by Parliament Committee’s vote
This morning’s vote in the European Parliament’s Employment Committee on the transport working time directive will harm self-employed workers and restrict their freedom to organise their work according to their needs, according to UEAPME, the European craft and SME employers’ organisation.

Broken EU aid promises push Millennium Development Goals out of reach,says CONCORD as OECD announces aid figures
Figures released today by the OECD show a reduction in EU overseas development aid in 2009. At current levels the European Union will not meet commitments to provide 0.7% of GNI in aid by 2015 to reach the Millennium Development Goals. The news represents yet another broken promise by EU governments and delivers a further blow to the MDGs, which will be reviewed in New York this September.

Power of EU Financial Lobby Must Be Curtailed Following Greek Debacle
The European Commission's new initiatives to regulate financial markets are based on unbalanced advisory groups dominated by financial services lobbyists, new research published by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) today shows. This has delayed and undermined the quality of the Commission’s regulatory responses to the financial crisis.

European Ecolabel products linked to rainforest destruction activities
The EEB is angered by revelations that illegally harvested wood has found its way into paper awarded with the European Ecolabel, according to a report released on 9 April by FERN. The European Ecolabel is meant to award products of environmental excellence but the EEB has long warned that weaknesses in requirements for forest products could lead to such a situation.

A Genuine Open Sky Still Remains a Distant Dream
Responding to yesterday’s preliminary Second Stage Open Skies agreement between the US and the European Union, IACA and its members are frustrated and disappointed by the failure to agree a balanced deal for all airlines.

Protection against long and irregular working hours must continue to be main goal of Working Time Directive
Long and irregular hours, unilaterally imposed on workers, are unhealthy and outmoded forms of work organization. The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) is expecting proposals from the European Commission that stimulate modern, sustainable and negotiated solutions, taking into account the needs of businesses and workers in a balanced way.

Food labelling: another missed opportunity for healthier choices
European consumers and public health in general were dealt a severe blow today when MEPs voted not to proceed with establishing a European wide colour coding system for food labelling.

Our money, our rights! Consumer movement turns the spotlight on financial services
Consumers International (CI) will lead its 220 member organisations from around the world in a call for action on financial services on 15 March, World Consumer Rights Day.

ECJ: AG refers the question of the consistency of the German sports betting monopoly to the national court
Today Advocate General (AG) Mengozzi issued two opinions in the German cases Markus Stoss (C-316/07) and Carmen Media Group (C-46/08). C-316/07 (Stoss) is joined with the cases C-358/07 (Kulpa), C-359/07 (SOBO), C-360/07 (Kunert), C-409/07(Avalon) and C-410/07 (Happel).

5+1 business proposals to make Europe 2020 work
The five targets outlined in the Europe 2020 strategy presented by the European Commission on 3 March represent a sound business plan to enhance the EU’s growth and competitiveness in the years to come.

European ISPs fear that international trade agreement cuts EU citizens' internet protection
EuroISPA, the European Association of European Internet Service Providers (ISPs), fears that negotiators in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) are going too far. The most recent leaks indicate that the measures under discussion would threaten fundamental rights, damage the European internet sector and put the openness of the Internet at risk.

SMEs deeply concerned by Parliament Committee's vote on maternity leave
UEAPME, the European craft and SME employers’ organisation, was left deeply concerned by today’s vote on the revised maternity leave directive at the European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality.

SEPA: Broad range of stakeholders beginning to see huge problems
SEPA (the Single European Payments Area) risks being a massive failure unless key issues are resolved, particularly regarding the security of the Direct Debit scheme and the fact that the representatives of the banks, in the form of the European Payments Council (EPC), do not take into account the needs or wishes of any of the end-users, including consumers or businesses (retailers, services providers, SMEs).