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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).

Commissioner Damanaki lifts fisheries department blockage
After months of deadlock, the European Commission has called on the EU to back the suspension of the international trade in bluefin tuna.

The Understanding China training programme 2010 launched!
30 employees of business intermediary organisations from across Europe can become experts on China, thanks to the “Understanding China” training programme

EU stalling on aid promises, binding targets needed, says CONCORD as OECD announces global 2010 aid forecast
Figures released today by the OECD show that the EU will not meet its 2010 aid targets. The 2010 aid forecast notes the EU is well off track and will miss its collective target of 0.56% of GNI, agreed in 2005 as an interim benchmark towards achieving the UN goal of 0.7% of GNI by 2015 to finance the Millennium Development Goals.

Greenpeace welcomes EP support for bluefin tuna trade ban
The European Parliament today confirmed its support for stricter protection of the endangered bluefin tuna. The Parliament urged the European Commission and EU member states to support listing bluefin tuna under appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), effectively calling for a suspension of the fishery.

Instantly online - 17 golden rules to combat online risks and for safer surfing mobile social networks
The EU ‘cyber security’ Agency - ENISA (the European Network and Information Security Agency) today presents a new report on accessing social networks over mobile phones, ‘Online as soon as it happens“. The report points out the risks and threats of mobile social networking services, e.g. identity theft, corporate data leakage and reputation risks of mobile social networks. The report also gives 17 ‘golden rules’ on how to combat these threats.

Changes to international lease accounting standards may impact the cost and availability of finance for Europe’s small businesses
Leaseurope, the European leasing industry's representative body, has today called for businesses and policy makers across Europe to review the latest plans of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) that will lead to a drastic change in existing lease accounting requirements.

Services Directive properly implemented in only one third of member states: EUROCHAMBRES survey
A EUROCHAMBRES survey conducted among Chambers of Commerce throughout the EU shows that only 9 out of the 27 member states complied fully with the Services Directive by the 28 December 2009 deadline. Implementation in the remaining 18 countries is average or unsatisfactory because of problems or delays with legal and/or operational aspects.

EFBS: No force on the SEPA-implementation - Deadline for direct debit transfers totally inapplicable
On the occasion of the hearings at the European Parliament the commissioner designate for the internal market, Michel Barnier, announced the intention of a deadline concerning national direct debit transfers which should be replaced by a European direct debit transfer SEPA- procedure. This proposition does not conform to the European Commission’s commitment to allow stakeholders to introduce the SEPA-procedure voluntarily.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel for small business after all?
Today, the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament voted in favour of a Commission proposal to exempt micro-entities from certain disproportionately burdensome accounting rules. The vote signals an important step forward for the EU’s overall goal to reduce administrative burden by 25% by 2012.

Indecisive Council and European Parliament Threaten Credibility of EU Plan to Reduce Administrative Burdens
In January 2007, the European Commission presented a far-reaching Action Programme for the reduction of administrative burden in the European Union, in which it committed itself to reducing red tape on European businesses by 25% by 2012.

EU 2020 strategy must not turn a blind eye to the public sector, warn SMEs
The EU 2020 strategy must focus more on the quality, implementation and enforcement of public regulations if it is to live up to its role as Europe's long-term policy agenda, according to UEAPME, the European craft and SME employers' organisation. Publishing today its response to the European Commission's consultation on the issue (1), UEAPME stressed the need to incorporate the quality of regulatory systems and their ability to enforce European law in the EU 2020 strategy, including a better integration of the "Think Small First" principles into the text. The organisation also recommended adding a fourth priority, namely improving the effectiveness and accessibility of the public sector. Moreover, it warned that the new strategy will only work if Member States take ownership of the process, which was not always the case in the past, and if stakeholders at all levels are not only involved but fully committed to putting jointly agreed policies into practice.

Doing business in Europe is becoming easier!
Businesses in around two-thirds of the services sector will soon be able to take greater advantage of European markets thanks to the EU Services Directive.

Parliament vote on Microfinance Facility: positive idea diluted by funding confusion
While today’s agreement on the content of the proposed “European Microfinance Facility for Employment and Social Inclusion” is a positive sign for entrepreneurs, it is undermined by the lack of agreement on how it will be funded.

European Buildings- Are they really green enough?
Despite the recent EU agreement to transform the building sector with the adoption of ambitious energy efficiency legislation, practical barriers remain in Europe, according to the latest RICS report "Towards an Energy Efficient European Building Stock".

Business prospects for 2010 lowest in a decade
Businesses in Europe expect to invest and employ less in 2010 than at any time in the last decade. Also turnover and export forecasts are at their lowest level since 2000, while businesses do not anticipate any changes in domestic sales for the coming year.