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Guides on the EU policy on Finance.
Solvency II guide
The European Commission on 10 July 2007 proposed a ground-breaking revision of EU insurance law designed to improve consumer protection, modernise supervision, deepen market integration and increase the international competitiveness of European insurers. Under the new system, known as 'Solvency II', insurers would be required to take account of all types of risk to which they are exposed and to manage those risks more effectively. In addition, insurance groups would have a dedicated 'group supervisor' that would enable better monitoring of the group as a whole. The Commission aims to have the new system in operation in 2012. This proposal is part of the Commission's Better Regulation strategy and its firm commitment to simplify the regulatory environment and cut red tape. It will mean replacing 14 existing directives with a single directive. The proposal now passes to the European Parliament and Council for consideration.
EC Communication on VAT reduced rates – Frequently Asked Questions
The European Commission has launched a political debate on how to simplify current EU legislation on reduced VAT rates. In a Communication adopted on 5 July 2007, it considers that there is a real need for a simplification and rationalisation of the current VAT rates structure, in particular the reduced VAT rates. It believes that there is a place for more flexibility which would allow Member States to apply VAT reduced rates to local supplies. On the other hand, it says this flexibility needs to be balanced to ensure the proper functioning of the Internal Market and to avoid disproportionate compliance costs for business. To this extent, possible ways are put forward but no concrete proposal is made for new categories of products or services, given the need for prior political consideration by Member States. At the same time, the Commission proposes to extend, until the end 2010, most of the derogations which are about to come to an end.
Commission anti-trust decision against Telefonica - frequently asked questions
European Commission fine of EUR 151 million against Spanish telecom group Telefonica.
The SWIFT case and the American Terrorist Finance Tracking Program
After the 11th September 2001 terrorist attacks, the United States Department of the Treasury ("U.S. Treasury") developed the "Terrorist Finance Tracking Program" ("TFTP"). The TFTP is based on United States statutory mandates and Executive Orders authorising the U.S. Treasury to use appropriate measures to identify, track and pursue those who provide financial support for terrorist activity.
European Commission prohibition of Ryanair's proposed acquisition of Aer Lingus – frequently asked questions
The European Commission on 27 June 2007 prohibited, on the basis of the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed takeover by Ryanair of Aer Lingus. It says the acquisition would have combined the two leading airlines operating from Ireland which currently compete vigorously against each other. The Commission concluded that the merger would have harmed consumers by removing this competition and creating a monopoly or a dominant position on 35 routes operated by both parties. This would have reduced choice and, most likely, led to higher prices for more than 14 million EU passengers using these routes to and from Ireland each year. The Commission's investigation and market test of remedies offered by Ryanair demonstrated that these remedies were inadequate to remove the competition concerns. In particular the limited number of airport "slots" offered was not likely to lead to competition sufficient to replace the competitive pressure currently exercised by each airline on the other. The Commission therefore concluded that the concentration would significantly impede effective competition within the European Economic Area or a substantial part of it.
European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF)
The EGF aims to help workers made redundant as a result of changing global trade patterns to find another job as quickly as possible. The fund was launched by the European Union in 2007 and will provide up to 500 million euro a year in support.
EU Humanitarian Aid: Frequently asked questions
The European Commission on 13 June 2007 adopted a Communication paving the way for greater efficiency and coherence in delivering humanitarian aid. The Commission is calling for the European Union to work more closely together on a consensus that would boost its collective response to humanitarian crises. This includes advocating full respect for international humanitarian law, so that aid and aid workers can reach people in need.
Stabilisation and Association Agreements : frequently asked questions
As the number of countries running excessive budgetary deficits diminishes, the European Commission believes it is of the utmost importance that national governments in the European Union take advantage of the good economic times to progress rapidly towards the objective of sound and sustainable budgetary positions. Under current policies, only 10 of the 27 EU countries will have reached their medium-term budgetary objective in 2008 despite three consecutive years of above-trend economic growth. To improve the functioning of the 'preventive arm' of the Stability and Growth Pact, therefore, the Commission on 13 June 2007 made a number of proposals which build on the 2005 SGP reform. They deal with the way governments formulate and implement their budgetary strategies over the medium term and the strengthening of surveillance and coordination of economic and budgetary policies at EU level. The aim is to achieve sustainable budgetary policies that contribute to higher growth and employment.
Risk-Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF) – Questions and answers
On 5 June 2007, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) signed a cooperation agreement establishing the new risk-sharing finance facility (RSFF) to support research & innovation in Europe. This new instrument is designed to help to make more financing available for promoters of research & innovation projects, which often face more difficulties than traditional business sectors in accessing finance, due to the relatively high levels of uncertainty & risk inherent to their activity. The RSFF, part of the EU's 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7) & EIB’s programme for Research & Innovation, will partially cover the financial risks assumed by the EIB when financing this type of activity. The contribution of EUR 1 billion each from FP7 & the EIB will therefore unlock billions of additional financing in this area.
2006 customs seizures of counterfeit goods – Frequently Asked Questions
Statistics just published by the European Commission show a significant increase in the amount of counterfeit and pirated articles seized at the EU's external borders in 2006. Customs officials seized more than 250 million of such articles in 2006 compared with 75 million in 2005 and 100 million in 2004. Medicines, cigarettes and other goods that can seriously damage the health of consumers continue to be faked in large quantities. Changes in the routes used by criminals to trade in fake goods, the use of the internet and the transport of small quantities by air or postal traffic make customs job even more challenging. However, customs' reply has never been as high as in 2006 with more than 36.000 seizures, an increase of around 40% compared with 2005.
Payment Services Directive: Frequently Asked Questions
The aim of the PSD is to ensure that payments within the EU – in particular credit transfer, direct debit and card payments – become as easy, efficient, and secure as domestic payments within a Member State, by providing the legal foundation to make the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) possible. The PSD will reinforce the rights and protection of all the users of payment services (consumers, retailers, large and small companies and public authorities).
International customs operation Diabolo
The joint 'Diabolo' customs operation was a maritime operation that focused on containers shipped from Asian ports of loading to EU ports of discharge. The operation focused mainly on counterfeit cigarettes, but the possibility that other counterfeit goods or sensitive goods could be retained or seized by the EU Member States was also incorporated.
EU financial rules 2007-2013
Overview of new financial rules and funding opportunities 2007-2013.
EU excise duties on commercial diesel – Frequently Asked Questions
The new proposal is based on the fact that existing tax differentials on diesel used by trucks ("commercial gas oil") create distortions of competition within the liberalised Internal Market of the haulage sector. In addition, they lead to "fuel tourism", where truck drivers alter their routes in order to benefit from low tax rates applied in certain Member States, thereby having a negative impact on the environment. In consequence, the Commission’s proposal aims at narrowing these differentials while reducing environmental damages.
Meeting the challenge of ageing
The issue of demographic ageing is not confined to older workers and pensioners. Europe's population structure is changing. Demographic ageing affects the whole of society and has repercussions for all generations.
Pensions in the European Union
The proportion of older people in the EU is increasing much faster than the population of younger wage-earning taxpayers, making pensions reform in the EU essential. The fear is that the costs of caring for such a large number of older people will overwhelm the future budgets for pensions and health care.
Regional Policy in the European Union
Although the European Union is one of the richest parts of the world, there remain striking internal disparities of income and opportunity between its regions. The entry in May 2004 of 10 new member countries whose incomes are well below the EU average has widened these gaps. Regional policy transfers resources from affluent to poorer regions. It is both an instrument of financial solidarity and a powerful force for economic integration.
VAT Invoicing Rules in the EU
EU Council Directive 2001/115/EC harmonises, simplifies and modernises invoicing obligations on traders when they sell goods or services that are subject to Value Added Tax (VAT). It also creates an EU legal framework for electronic transmission and storage of invoices.
EU Tenders - Public procurement in the European Union
All public tenders exceeding specific contract values must be published in the Supplement to the Official Journal of the European Union.
Taxation in the EU
Within the EU, governments retain sole responsibility for levels of direct taxation – i.e. tax on personal incomes and company profits. What EU taxation policy does is ensure that tax rules are consistent with the goals of job creation, the EU's competitiveness, the single market and free movement of capital.