EU food labelling rules

The European Commission adopted a proposal, on the 30 January 2008, to make food labels clearer and more relevant to the needs of EU consumers. The aim of the draft Regulation is to modernise and improve EU food labelling rules, so that consumers have, in a legible and understandable manner, the essential information they need to make informed purchasing choices.

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Strict safety rules for toys

On the 25th January 2007, the European Commission came forward with new measures to improve toy safety in Europe. The Commission wants to strengthen EU-rules, especially those relating to the use of chemical substances in toys. The proposal tabled on the 25th January 2007 aims at enhancing the safety of toys replacing and modernizing the 20 years old Toys Directive 88/378/EEC of 3rd May 1988. The revision has a threefold objective: first and foremost there will be new and higher safety requirements to cope with recently identified hazards, secondly it will strengthen manufacturers’ and importers' responsibility for the marketing of toys and finally it enhances the market surveillance obligations of Member States.

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EC Roaming Regulations

The first benchmark report on international roaming was published on the 17 January 2008 by the European Regulators’ Group. This report confirms that implementation of the roaming regulation has generally gone smoothly with a high level of compliance in all EU Member States. The European Commission welcomes the findings of this report and urges national regulators to continue monitoring developments so that all European consumers benefit fully from lower roaming charges when making or receiving calls from abroad.

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European Parliament back new rules on consumer loans

Consumers across Europe look set to be able to make better informed choices when they take out consumer credit loans - paying for holidays, weddings or a new car - following a decision in the European Parliament on Wednesday 16 January 2008. The proposed EU Directive on Consumer Credit Loans aims to break open the €800 billion EU consumer loans market which remains largely fragmented into national markets denying consumers choice and more competitive prices. The new rules will make the market more transparent for consumers and business competitors. The main effect will be to provide standard, comparable information to customers across the EU taking out a credit loan. Under the new rules, consumers will be assured access to key facts and figures in advertisements. For credit offers, the information given to consumers (e.g interest rates, amount, number and frequency of payments, the obligation to take out an insurance or the charges for defaulting) must be set out in a new comparable EU-wide European Credit Information Form. And there will be a new single EU-wide method for calculating the Annual Percentage Rate of Charge (APR) so consumers can see the real cost of credit. The proposed directive also sets common standards on a right of withdrawal so consumers can change their mind. This Consumer Credit Directive is part of a bigger drive to boost the cross border market in retail financial services as set out in the recently published Green Paper on Retail Financial Services.

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EC proposes safe novel foods in the EU

The European Commission has on the 14th January 2008, adopted a proposal to revise the Novel Foods Regulation with a view to improving the access of new and innovative foods to the EU market, while still maintaining a high level of consumer protection. Under the draft Regulation, novel foods would be subject to a simpler and more efficient authorisation procedure, which should enable safe, innovative foods to reach the EU market faster. Moreover, special provisions are made for foods which have not been traditionally sold in the EU but which have a safe history of use in third countries, in order to create a more proportionate system and positive environment for trade. The proposal also sets out certain data protection rules, which aim to protect newly developed foodstuffs once authorised, and encourage companies to invest in developing new types of foods and food production techniques.

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White Paper on the Integration of EU Mortgage Markets

The European Commission has published a White Paper on the Integration of EU Mortgage Markets. The White Paper summarises the conclusions of a comprehensive review of European residential mortgage markets and presents a balanced 'package' of measures to improve the efficiency and the competitiveness of these markets, to the benefit of consumers, mortgage lenders and investors alike. This is to be achieved in particular through improvement in the areas of cross-border supply, product diversity, consumer empowerment and customer mobility.

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