ECOFIN Ministers agree in reduced VAT rates for certain sectors

The Council of Economics and Finance Ministers, ECOFIN, met in Brussels between March 9th and 10th 2009. During this meeting, which was focused on discussions over the economic situation and outlook in the euro area, in light of the recent economic and financial developments, the Council reached a political agreement on the use of reduced rates of value-added tax (VAT) in certain sectors. Council also endorsed terms of reference for the EU's participation in the meeting of G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors on March 14th that will prepare the April London G-20 summit.

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EC adopts a Decision with complementary measures on surveillance and eradication programmes and disease-free status of MS

The European Commission has published in the OJEU of March 7th 2009, its Decision of October 31st 2009 (2009/177/EC), implementing Council Directive 2006/88/EC as regards surveillance and eradication programmes and disease-free status of Member States, zones and compartments. This decision lays down certain requirements for the application and information about the control measures for aquatic animal diseases.

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Online shopping increasingly popular among EU consummer, although barriers to cross border trade still remain

A new report on "Barriers to E-commerce", presented by EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva shows that online shopping is increasingly popular in the EU, but warns that barriers to cross border trade are holding back its development. The report published on March 5th 2009, presents a detailed analysis of current trends in e-commerce across the EU; including per country, most purchased items and obstacles for consumers and business online.

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Commission clears up its enforcement priorities regarding abusive exclusionary conduct by dominant undertakings

The Commission has published in the OJEU on February 24th 2009, its Communication 2009/C 45/02, setting out the enforcement priorities that will guide the Commission's action in applying Article 82 to exclusionary conduct by dominant undertakings. Commission's guidelines include the general approach applied to assess exclusionary conducts as well as some specific forms of abuse which could lead to market distortions.

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Parliament supports reduced VAT rates for domestic attendance, restaurants and other services

The European Parliament has adopted the report of the Commission to allow Member States to reduce VAT rates on a new series of goods and services, such as restaurants, children’s prams, audio books and beauty treatments.

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More protection for consumers in respect of certain aspects of timeshare, long-term holiday product, resale and exchange …

The Official Journal of the European Union, OJEU, has published in February 3rd 2009, Directive 2008/122/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of January 14th, 2009, on the protection of consumers in respect of certain aspects of timeshare, long-term holiday product, resale and exchange contracts. This Directive aims to tackle the existing regulatory gaps which create appreciable distortions of competition and may cause problems for EU consummers.

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ESI weakens in EU27 and Euro area while unemployment reaches 7.4% in the EU27

In January, the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) for the EU and the euro area declined again, but less sharply than in the last three months of 2008. Besides, the data released by Eurostat show an increase of unemployment up to 7.4% in the EU27 and 8.0% in the EU15 area in December 2008.

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ECPS calls for higher privacy safeguards in its second Opinion on ePrivacy Directive

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) adopted on January, 9th 2009, an Opinion on the review of the Directive on Privacy and electronic communications, usually referred to as the ePrivacy Directive. The recommendations presented in this Opinion aim at streamlining some of the provisions of the Directive, while at the same time ensuring an adequate level of data protection and privacy.

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The EDPS supports the Community Programme “Safer Internet”

The Official Journal of the European Union has publisehd on January, 7th, 2009, the favourable Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor on the Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a multiannual Community programme on protecting children using the Internet and other communication technologies.

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New EU rules to strengthen the safe toys

The European Commission is satisfied with the adoption by the European Parliament of its proposal to substantially strengthen EU-rules on toy safety. It gives consumers assurance that toys sold in the EU fulfil the highest safety requirements world-wide, especially those relating to the use of chemical substances.

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MEPs call for coordinated action against misleading advertising by business directory companies

The European Parliament, further to 400 complaints from small firms across Europe reporting they had been misled into committing themselves to pay for adverts costing 1,000€ per year, has decided to take action on those behaviours. MEPs also call upon the Commission to introduce a blacklist of such misleading practices, and upon victims to report business scams.

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