Council reaches an agreement on customs enforcement against counterfeited and pirated goods

Ministers meeting at the General Affairs Council reached a political agreement on the draft regulation aimed at strengthen the conditions and procedures for action by customs authorities in the EU in order to protect intellectual property rights. Among other measures, the draft regulation provides for a simplified procedure that will to facilitate the destruction of counterfeited and pirated goods seized by customs authorities.

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The Commission consults on the impacts of plastic waste and define a European strategy to mitigate them

The European Commission published a Green Paper in which invites the stakeholders to contribute with their views on whether, and how, existing legislation should be adapted to deal with plastic waste and promote re-use, recycling and recovery of plastic waste over landfilling.

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SMEs identifies the TOP 10 most burdensome EU laws

The results of a public consultation launched by the European Commission shows that SMEs see the biggest difficulties and costs as a consequence of the rules regarding the REACH chemical legislation, value added tax, product safety, recognition of professional qualifications, data protection, waste legislation, labour market related legislation, recording equipment for road transport, public procurement and the modernised customs code. While recognising the overall necessity of having European-wide rules in these areas, the Commission stressed that it will now thoroughly address these concerns via the new Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT) launched in December 2012.

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The European legislation that provides better protection for bus and coach travellers in the EU, enters into force

The European Commission reported that the Regulation that lays down travellers' basic rights, and imposes a number of obligations on bus and coach companies and terminal managers concerning their responsibility towards the passengers, just entered into force.

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In the field of rail transport, Hungary and Spain have failed to comply with their obligations under EU law

The European Commission welcomed the European Court of Justice (ECJ)'s judgments which confirmed that Hungary and Spain have failed to comply with their obligations under EU law in the field of rail transport. On the other hand, Austrian and German rail transport legislation complies with EU law ruled in favour of the European. Although the Commission respects the Court's interpretation of the current law, it remains convinced that a more effective separation between an infrastructure manager and other rail operations is essential to ensure non-discriminatory access for all operators to the rail tracks, and thus to stimulate growth in the rail sector.

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The proposed takeover of the Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus by Ryanair has been prohibited by the Commission

The European Commission announced the prohibition, on the basis of the EU Merger Regulation, of the proposed takeover of the Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus by the low-cost airline Ryanair. The Commission concluded that the merger would have harmed consumers by creating a monopoly or a dominant position on 46 routes where, currently, Aer Lingus and Ryanair compete vigorously against each other.

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Commission gathers opinions on the new competition rules for the assessment of technology transfer agreements

The European Commission launched a public consultation on its proposal for revised competition regime for technology transfer agreements. The Commission highlights that the proposal aims to update the current regime in order to strengthen incentives for research and innovation, facilitate the diffusion of intellectual property and stimulate competition. Replies to the consultations can be submitted until 17 May 2013.

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Legal Affairs Committee backs an optional Common European Sales Law

The European Commission welcomed the draft report issued by the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) with regard to the optional EU-wide rules for businesses and consumers who are concluding contracts in the Single Market. According to the Commission, an optional EU-wide contract law would promote growth by making it cheaper for businesses to access new markets and offering consumers a greater choice of products at more competitive prices.

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New action plan from the Commission to detect fraud in the marketing of foods

The European Commission is co-financing a plan to start immediately for one month that includes the establishment of the presence of unlabelled horse meat in foods, and the detection of possible residues of phenylbutazone in horse meat. Phenylbutazone is a veterinary medicinal product whose use in food producing animals, including horses, is illegal.

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New rules proposed to improve the safety of consumer products circulating in the Single Market

The European Commission proposed new rules to improve the safety of consumer products circulating in the Single Market and to step-up market surveillance concerning all non-food products, including those imported from third countries. The two legislative proposals are complemented by a multi-annual plan for market surveillance setting out 20 concrete actions to be undertaken from now to 2015 to improve market surveillance.

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Energy consumption was down by 6% between 2008 and 2011 in the EU mostly due to the economic slowdown

Eurostat figures show that the energy consumption in the EU fell by 6% between 2008 and 2011. The largest falls were recorded in Lithuania, Ireland, Greece, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom. The energy dependence rate was 54% in the EU in 2011, nearly stable since 2008.

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The Commission proposes new measure to combat money laundering

The European Commission presented two proposals to reinforce the EU's existing rules on anti-money laundering and fund transfers. The two proposals foresee a reinforcement of the sanctioning powers of the competent authorities by introducing for instance a set of minimum principle-based rules to strengthen administrative sanctions and a requirement for them to coordinate actions when dealing with cross-border cases.

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