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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Patents near, but how near?! Decision expected TODAY!


  1. Parliament to press ahead with EU patent
  2. Brussels lays down plans for permanent bailout mechanism
  3. UK, Netherlands block 2011 EU budget
  4. Commission proposes ban on industrial gas offsets
  5. Lawmakers seal deal on toxic substances in electronic goods
  6. Brussels plans asset freeze for bad payers
Quote of the day:An unexpected confession that the West do have a problem with the East. But we have even bigger problem here, because USA still has visas for countries like Bulgaria and Romania, thus I don't see how the procedures for Europeans can be simplified, if there are no "Europeans".

Parliament to press ahead with EU patent

22 February 2011
Despite doubts over the legality of the proposed linguistic regime, the European Parliament is expected to give its green light tomorrow (15 February) to using the so-called 'enhanced cooperation' procedure to launch a common EU patent system without Spain and Italy on board.
EU ministers are expected to formalise the launch of the so-called "enhanced cooperation" procedure at a 9-10 March meeting of the Competitiveness Council.The European Commission will then formally table legislative proposals, which are expected to reach the European Parliament in May for a first reading.
From a legal point of view, the jurisdictional regime appears to the most fragile. A crucial ruling of the European Court of Justice is expected on 8 March, one day before the Council meeting, at which ministers are expected to confirm the use of the "enhanced cooperation" mechanism.The original proposal foresees the establishment of a European Patent Court (EPC) to deal with possible cross-border disputes and spare plaintiffs from having file separate lawsuits in every member state where a patent is registered, as is the case now.
However, concerns have been raised regarding the status of the new court. In an opinion issued in July, the Advocates General of the European Court of Justice stated that the new tribunal could be out of step with EU legislation and jurisprudence, declaring the proposal "incompatible with the treaties".
The opinion also condemned the draft proposal due to its linguistic regime, which is based on three official languages – English, French and German. This trilingual system "may affect the rights of defence" of companies based in countries that use a different language, the Advocates General wrote.
"Traditionally, the Court replicates the opinion of the Advocates General in 80% of the cases," an official at the Court of Justice told EurActiv.
If the Court were to reject the proposed jurisdictional regime, a completely new scenario could unfold, sending the Commission back to the drawing board and delaying the entire legislative process.In the European Parliament, opposition by MEPs from Spain and Italy could gather momentum and attract members from other countries.
The initial idea of introducing a system based on English only could resurface as concerns about jurisdiction are also based on linguistic grounds. Indeed, the English-only regime – backed by Italy and Spain – would not only be cheaper and simpler, but also fairer, as it would avoid giving French and German companies a competitive advantage.
My comment: I have already commented extensively patents so I'll say pure and simply two things. Common patent system is BADLY needed. And the three-lingual system is WRONG! It's obvious that it gives preference to German and French people and companies, while everyone else should pay translators and advocates so that patents are translated in usable language. Thus I very much hope that the Court will agree with that, but who knows. France and Germany are so powerful. For me, the only right option is to go for English and one other European language. Because all the technical literature is already in English. And the other language is courtesy to Europe and its variety.

Brussels lays down plans for permanent bailout mechanism

02 December 2010
With the future of the euro currency in the balance, the European Commission on Wednesday (1 December) outlined details for a permanent strategy to help countries at risk of defaulting on their debts.
The European Commission presented plans for fundamental treaty changes that will extend the current aid mechanism – the European Financial Stability Facility – beyond its 2013 sunset provision.
Details of the proposal will be debated by European leaders at their next EU summit on 16-17 December.
The changes, which have been rumoured in financial markets for weeks, would increase risk for sovereign investors. Under the proposal, bonds issued after June 2013 would include a provision to allow creditors to renegotiate new terms if the country is on the brink of insolvency.
The new clause would enable creditors to vote by qualified majority to agree changes to the terms of payment. That means some bondholders may be forced to take a loss on their investments.
Investor involvement would be decided on a case-by-case basis in line with practices of the International Monetary Fund, according to the Commission.
The changes, drafted by Council President Herman Van Rompuy, were endorsed on 28 November by the finance ministers of the 16 countries that use the euro currency. The agreement went hand-in-hand with the €85 billion rescue package for Ireland and was designed to help stem the contagion from spreading to other countries, such as Portugal, Spain and Belgium.
 sourceMy comment: See also " Euro ministers to boost rescue fund - Eurozone finance ministers meeting today (6 December) will face pressure to increase the size of a 750 billion euro safety net for crisis-hit members in order to halt contagion in the single currency bloc." My very short and concise opinion is that it's ridiculous that while the EC tries to fix credit interests for SME and people, they do quite the opposite for countries in trouble. And I don't see how it will help the countries who need debt, if the creditors are able to change interests on the whim, just because they don't like the smell of the situation. It just adds to the uncertainty of the already bad situation.

UK, Netherlands block 2011 EU budget 

22 November 2010
European Parliament negotiators failed to overcome opposition from the UK and the Netherlands to the 2011 budget yesterday night (15 November), calling into question funding for ambitious projects such as the EU diplomatic service and the ITER nuclear reactor.
Negotiations between the European Parliament and the EU's 27 finance ministers collapsed at midnight over some countries' insistence on more austerity in the bloc's finances.
If the impasse continues, the 2011 EU budget will be maintained at this year's level and disbursed monthly in 12 equal installments. The last time this happened was in 1988.
Sources close to the negotiations told EurActiv that the impasse was caused by the intransigence of London and The Hague, which insisted on more austerity in the EU budget, in line with spending cuts introduced in most EU countries to fend off the crisis.
A consensus seemed to have emerged on increasing the 2011 budget by 2.91%, a figure supported by London and accepted by eleven other countries at an October EU summit .But problems emerged on the issue of a so-called 'reallocation flexibility' mechanism, which allows reserve funds to be used up to a maximum of 0.03% of Gross National Income (GNI).
The mechanism, which has been in place for many years, allows for up to 0.03% of the bloc's GNI to be tapped into with the approval of EU member states voting by qualified majority.
Nevertheless, some countries insisted that any payments should be agreed by unanimity. Seen from the MEPs' perspective, London wants to make unanimous voting the rule in decisions to reallocate flexible spending.
London asked for the issue to be addressed at an EU summit on 16-17 December, diplomats said.Failure to agree on the reallocation flexibility endangers the financing of programmes such as ITER, an international project to design and build an experimental fusion reactor in France, a source explained.
Another payment which now appears to be in jeopardy is a commitment to pay 190 million euros to banana-producing countries following a decision to discontinue preferential import tariffs. Similarly, 300 million euros of compensation to Bulgaria for having closed down four of its nuclear reactors also hangs in the balance.
The usage of 'unspent' funds from the EU budget, such as the recent five billion euro package for clean energy and broadband Internet, would also be discontinued, according to Parliament sources.
Payments under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) would also be in jeopardy, as major payments are made in January and February for which the usual monthly installments will not suffice, he warned.
The Commission now needs to propose a new draft budget. sourceMy comment: News in brief - some countries really don't want to spend money on anything. Because they kind of named all the EU projects that could be named. I don't know what actually happened with the budget (but you can see it here: EU approves 2011 budget, but battle is not over), but it doesn't matter. The point is that the vase is broken. Member-states are increasingly getting protectionists, not wanting to pay for anything that is not theirs and the solidarity clause goes to hell. And since we're already in a very connected market situation, this does bad to everyone. Yet nobody cares.

Commission proposes ban on industrial gas offsets

10 December 2010
The European Commission yesterday (25 November) presented plans to ban the use of controversial international offset credits from certain industrial gas projects in the EU's cap-and-trade system after 2012.
The proposal would bar HFC-23, a refrigerant gas with a global warming potential 11,700 times that of CO2, from its emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) from 1 January 2013.
The ban would also apply to nitrous oxide credits from adipic acid production, used mainly to manufacture nylon.
Projects that destroy the potent greenhouse gas HFC-23, mainly in China and India, have so far produced the majority of international offset credits surrendered to the EU ETS. They have provided European companies with a cheap way to comply with their emissions reduction obligations.
The Commission said the restrictions would provide an incentive to reform the UN's carbon market mechanisms, which the EU sees as a prerequisite for their continuation. It would also remove obstacles to developing sectoral crediting mechanisms by creating sufficient demand for them, it said.
Eradicating industrial gas credits would also help shift investment under the UN's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) from emerging economies to less well-developed countries, the Commission said.
sourceMy comment: Here I totally agree. It's kind of stupid to pay to growing economies - direct competition to European companies, money that come from Europe and are aimed to lower the cost of European production. Anyone got me? Well, probably no, since there's absolutely no logic in the whole thing. Because the more we pay China, the stronger it gets and the weaker becomes EU economy. And that's not only stupid, it's crazy.

Lawmakers seal deal on toxic substances in electronic goods

25 November 2010
An updated EU law on restricting the use of toxic chemicals in electronic devices leaves little room for exemptions and lists a number of new substances for further scientific scrutiny in view of extending a black list of banned substances.
The European Parliament's environment committee yesterday (24 November) adopted a compromise deal on updating existing legislation on the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) in electronic and electrical equipment.
The first-reading agreement was adopted with 640 votes in favour, three against and 12 abstentions.
The amended directive has a global impact, since it applies also to goods imported from third countries and not just to those produced in the EU.
It will also influence how electronic waste is dealt with abroad, as most of it is currently shipped illegally in developing countries and processed there, often in sub-standard conditions.
The Parliament voted to widen the scope of the directive from a specific list of items to all electrical and electronic appliances – unless specifically excluded. The idea is to achieve greater legal clarity on what is covered by the law.
Phones, fridges, TVs and most other common household items are already covered by existing legislation. But extending the directive's scope will mean some products – such as talking teddy bears and laboratory equipment - will need to conform for the first time.
The open scope will come into force after an eight-year transition period.
Photovoltaic solar panels, fixed industrial machinery and military material are among equipment that will remain outside the rules.
 Lawmakers also ensured that nanomaterials are cited as due for further scientific scrutiny.Specific uses of blacklisted substances may be permitted if this is in the general interest of health and consumer safety and if there are no reliable alternatives. Any such exemptions will, however, be time-limited and subject to a stricter reapplication process.
sourceMy comment: Wee! Nice. Even though it's not particularly restrictive as there is still the possibility of exemptions, but anyway, this is a war against the producers, and we won at least one battle. Because after all, everyone wants to produce cheap and sell a lot and be rich. The point is that if it hurts people or environment, you should find another way to produce it. And I think people got that point. I only wait to see what will happen with nanomaterials , which are the next big battle.

Brussels plans asset freeze for bad payers 

01 March 2011
EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding wants to support small companies that engage in cross-border trade by introducing a European order to freeze the bank accounts of bad payers across borders.
The European Commission estimates that 63% of cross-border debt is not recovered, mainly due to bureaucratic obstacles and legal uncertainty.
Overall, the debt written off by EU business amounts to €55 billion a year, according to an internal paper by the EU executive.
However, procedures to recover domestic debt vary widely from one country to another. Legal certainty is therefore not always guaranteed for cross-border claims, since creditors may face completely different legal systems and rules.
"I want to make the recovery of cross-border debts as easy as recovering debts domestically. Trust is the currency of our single market," Commissioner Reding told EurActiv in an emailed statement.
A European order to freeze bank accounts may serve this purpose. It would introduce a simple common procedure allowing creditors across the EU to block a foreign bank account owned by a long-term debtor.
The measure is seen as an important tool to boost cross-border business activities within the single market. Banks are the main opponents of this plan because they fear they will be forced to bear the cost of monitoring and eventually blocking the accounts of clients hit by a freezing order.
To allay their concerns, the Commission is thinking of making debtors themselves pay for the extra cost. The maximum amount to be frozen "should include the amount of the claim, the legal fees and any interest. To simplify matters, the amount of the claim could be increased by a fixed percentage to cover costs and interest," reads the Commission document. source
My comment: This is also a great idea, but I don't understand how will they know how much to freeze and what interest to charge. With court order or? If it's with court order, it can work. But without it, it will open the door for trans-border fiasco. Also a common interest for the whole EU or the interest in the country of the debtor or of the bank. And which one - at least here, different banks have different interests rates. It's complicated issue, but I wish them luck, because it's a step further on real open Europe and not the lie we're living in now.

EU countries launch North Sea electricity grid - Ten European countries, including Norway, have agreed to develop an offshore electricity grid in the North Sea, in a bold move that promoters say will give Europe the opportunity to tap into an even bigger source of energy than the Middle East's oil capacity. 
Ministers agreed to coordinate their investments for developing offshore connections between Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway and Belgium. Ministers also pledged to tackle barriers to cross-border electricity trade.-That's a great first step to pan-European grid. I wish them luck.

Modest steps in Cancún keep UN climate process alive - Some 190 nations agreed to a compromise text on Friday night which makes progress on a number of issues, including forest protection and the establishment of a Green Fund to deliver climate cash to developing countries.
The agreement largely transcribes the Copenhagen Accord, adopted by some 140 countries after the December 2009 summit in the Danish capital, into a UN document. It officially recognises that the goal should be to halt global climate change to 2°C.
The text lists the emissions reduction pledges made so far and officially recognises them as part of the UN process. - The title should read - no progress at all.

Italy shields companies from CO2 cuts, says NGO - Italian taxpayers are set to pay €1.7 billion for unnecessary international carbon credits to meet the country's obligations under the Kyoto Protocol while Italy's government hands out free allowances to companies, according to climate NGO Sandbag.
At the same time, the government will grant superfluous permits corresponding to 166 million tonnes of carbon for select installations under the EU's emissions trading scheme (EU ETS), the report shows.

EU court rules in favour of 'unisex' insurance - Starting from 2012, insurance companies will no longer be able to charge different premiums for men and women, after the European Court of Justice ruled against using gender-based criteria to set prices. - I agree with that, because just being woman or man doens't make you better or worst driver. And I don't feel any pity for insurance companies who need to adjust their prices. You can't only take, right?

US businesses call for 'IQ alliance' with Europe - The American Chamber of Commerce to the EU is calling for simpler visa procedures to make it easier for scientists and researchers to move between Europe and the United States, in response to competition from emerging economies such as China and India. - An unexpected confession that the West do have a problem with the East. But we have even bigger problem here, because USA still has visas for countries like Bulgaria and Romania, thus I don't see how the procedures for Europeans can be simplified, if there are no "Europeans". And of course, this article assumes that people want to go to work in the USA. Which is kind of old-fashioned...:)

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