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Posts Tagged ‘Commission’

Die Danish EU Presidency is on the scrouge. For the EU Future Internet Assembly they raise fees from lobbyists. Makes me wonder if they fear EU presidency conferences become the new food stamps. I find it unpleasant that even a low walled garden would exclude parts of the Dutch population e.g. students from participation.

Future Internet Assembly May 7 – 11, 2012 – Aalborg Congress & Culture Center – Aalborg-Denmark Welcome to the online registration of the Future Internet Assembly.

Registration fee Future Internet Assembly (FIA) (May 10 – 11, 2012): DKK 1.500 / EUR 200 if you register latest April 23, 2012. After April 23, 2012 the registration fee is DKK 1875 / EUR 250
Future Internet Week: DKK 375 / EUR 50

The registration fee for Future Internet Week includes:
Free access to Future Internet Week and all sessions on May 7 – 9, 2012
Lunches & coffee breaks during the days of the program

The invitation was sent from a Commission address:

The Future Internet Assembly (FIA) of 2012 will be held in Aalborg on May 10-11, under the Presidency of Denmark in the EU Council. The theme for FIA-Aalborg will be “Smart Cities and Internet of Things”, and the programme promises many interesting discussions on how the Future Internet can be used to make our cities smarter and become a basis for more innovation, how the architecture of the Internet of Things relates to the Future Internet and examples of successful business models for IoT applications. There are also other interesting workshops on the impact of HTML5, interoperability of clouds, gaming and future networks.

And they even offer “early bird” discounts. How does it suit the dignity of a public office? I don’t know but at the Commission most staffers do not see any difference.

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Net Neutrality is discussed in the EU: Communication, Speech, Press release

Mind how the consultation gets analysed:

There was broad consensus that operators and ISPs should be allowed to determine their own business models and commercial arrangements, subject to all applicable laws. Some respondents called on National Regulatory Authorities and operators to work together to ensure that transparency to consumers as regards traffic management practices was meaningful and effective.

As stakeholders are no constituency but just represent a diversity of views “consensus” is politically irrelevant. You cannot expect affected market players to embrace rules and principles while responses along the position to “determine [your] own business models and commercial arrangements” are expected public affairs narratives in any regulatory context. Moreover, the Commission argues the consultation was incomplete/inprecise, thus wants to dig deeper into the technical issues:

Moreover, as stated above the data obtained from the public consultation was incomplete or imprecise in many aspects that are essential to understand the current state of play in the European Union. For this reason, the Commission, with BEREC, is currently looking into a number of issues that surfaced in the course of the consultation process, in particular, barriers to switching (for example, after how long, on average, a customer is permitted to break a postpaid contract, and what if any are the penalties), practices of blocking, throttling and commercial practices with equivalent effect, transparency and quality of service as well as the competition issues relating to net neutrality (e.g. discriminatory practices by a dominant player).

As a result of the investigation the Commission announces:

On the basis of the evidence and the implementation of the telecom framework provisions, the Commission will decide, as a matter of priority, on the issue of additional guidance on net neutrality.

If significant and persistent problems are substantiated, and the system as a whole – comprising multiple operators – is not ensuring that consumers are easily able to access and distribute content, services and applications of their choice via a single internet subscription, the Commission will assess the need for more stringent measures to achieve competition and the choice consumers deserve.

Vocal advocates of net neutrality like the French advocacy group Quadrature are embarrassed by the report: “The European Commission Gives Up on Users and Innovators.” However, given the general opposition of telecom providers to net neutrality regulation, the Commissioner Kroes clearly shows that they consider “additional guidance” and “more stringent measures”. For telecommunication providers it is an invitation to enter a more technical debate about traffic management where they have to make concessions.

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The Europe Union institutions copy more elements from the United States than I believe suit the dignity of the European Union. Even the “e pluribus unum“, you may also find that on the US seal, though the current US motto is “In God we trust”, ironically the EU started a competition to come up with a translation of the Latin phrase in its 27 member languages, and even reverse-translated it to Latin, in an odd fashion “In varietate concordia”.

Legislative counterfeiting is quite common. The EU serves as a recycling market for U.S. policy proposals, which results in consultancy driven EU policy initiatives, well tracable by their unusual language e.g. the Small Business Act. I admit, I am guilty, I’ve done the same, cut and paste. Monolingualism certainly helps to further that transatlantic transfer.

Today Commission President Barroso delivered a “State of the Union” speech. State of the Union, we know that from the US. Where the President of the United States, at present Barack Obama, makes a crosspartisan highlevel speech to Parliament and standing ovations are expected. But this is the European Parliament. Barroso is not the US or EU President. Everyone seemed dissatisfied with what he said. And they expressed it. Next time it needs far more thought, he has to address the right style and improve his selection of words. MEPs don’t offer Barroso the great privilege to speak his mind, they want to grill the Commission President and get him to enact their own proposals and demands.

Let’s have a closer examination

Honourable Members,

It is a great privilege to deliver the first State of the Union address before this House.

From now on the State of the Union address will be the occasion when we will chart our work for the next 12 months. Many of the decisions we will take this year will have long-term implications. They will define the kind of Europe we want. They will define a Europe of opportunity where those that aspire are elevated and those in need are not neglected. A Europe that is open to the world and open to its people. A Europe that delivers economic, social and territorial cohesion.

Who is that “we” he speaks about?

We should be under no illusions. Our work is far from finished. There is no room for complacency. Budgetary expansion played its role to counter the decline in economic activity. But it is now time to exit. Without structural reforms, we will not create sustainable growth. We must use the next 12 months to accelerate our reform agenda. Now is the time to modernise our social market economy so that it can compete globally and respond to the challenge of demography. Now is the time to make the right investments for our future.

We, at the Commission?
We, the Commissioners?
We, in this room?
We, the people? Which one?
We, the European citizens?

Members of Parliament did not appreciate an inclusive rhetoric approach. Rather they were interested in the statements of the Commission in current controversial matters of interest. A dull topic of the day, a controversial expulsion of some Roma to (non-EU) Romania by President Sarkozy in France was highlighted by many speaker as an issue worth to address by the European Commission President. Barosso’s lofty speech didn’t convince them and didn’t suit them.

Next month, we will come forward with the Commission’s first ideas for the budget review. It shall launch an open debate without taboos to prepare our legislative proposals that will be presented in the second quarter of next year.

Which taboos?

We need to spend our money where we get most value for it. And we should invest it where it leverages growth and delivers on our European agenda. The quality of spending should be the yardstick for us all. So it is not only important to discuss the quantity, but also the quality of spending and investment.

Taboos like new fundraising methods and EU public debt:

That’s why we should also explore new sources of financing for major European infrastructure projects. For instance, I will propose the establishment of EU project bonds, together with the European Investment Bank. We will also further develop Public Private Partnerships.

Indeed, it was hidden but “we” are able to spot it. What would “we” finance with it, for instance:

Our European Digital Agenda will deliver a single digital market worth 4% of EU GDP by 2020.

Now is the time to make the right investments for our future, I see. Barroso wants to follow the U.S. in public spending and seeks new public debt instruments and tax revenue at the EU level. A return of Keynesianism, this time on the EU level, or did they just copy the phrases?

Oh, later of course Barroso delivered a media statement on the Roma issues. We would listen to gnashing of teeths by French President Sarkozy or would get no reaction at all, solely depending on your awareness of sarcasm.

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The July versions of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement draft included political corruption measures in Article 3.3. to promote adhesion of prospecting nations to the agreement. The latest version of the draft Article 3.3 looks different:

ARTICLE 3.3: TRANSPARENCY/PUBLICATION OF ENFORCEMENT PROCEDURES AND PRACTICES
For the purposes of promoting transparency in the administration of its intellectual property rights enforcement system, each Party shall take appropriate measures, pursuant to its domestic laws and policies, to publish or make available to the public information on:
(a) procedures available regarding the enforcement of intellectual property rights including competent authorities for enforcement of intellectual property rights and contact points for assistance;
(b) relevant laws, regulations, final judicial decisions and administrative rulings of general application pertaining to enforcement of intellectual property rights; and
(c) efforts to ensure effective enforcement and protection system of intellectual property rights.

ARTICLE 4.3 is the new Article 3.3

At first sight the provisions seem gone in the 25 Aug draft. But now consider Article 4.3 where we find the political corruption measures in their diplomatic beauty:

ARTICLE 4.3: CAPACITY BUILDING AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
1. Each Party shall endeavor to provide on request and on mutually agreed terms and conditions, assistance in capacity building and technical assistance in improving enforcement of intellectual property rights for Parties to this Agreement and, where appropriate, for prospective Parties to this Agreement. Such capacity building and technical assistance may cover such areas as:

(a) enhancement of public awareness on intellectual property rights;
(b) development and implementation of national legislation related to enforcement of intellectual property rights;
(c) training of officials on enforcement of intellectual property rights; and
(d) coordinated operations conducted at the regional and multilateral levels.

2. For the purposes of paragraph 1, each Party shall endeavor to work closely with other Parties and, where appropriate, countries or separate customs territories not a Party to this Agreement.
3. Each Party may undertake the activities described in this Article in conjunction with relevant private sector or international organizations. Each Party shall strive to avoid unnecessary duplication of the activities described in this Article with respect to other international efforts

Article 4.3 a) apparently overlaps with 3.4, which demonstrates us the remaining immaturity of the 25 August draft: In Article 3.4 we find provisions for moderate participation in public opinion building, of course a deviation from the principle of normative individualism:

ARTICLE 3.4: PUBLIC AWARENESS
Each Party shall, as appropriate, promote the adoption of measures to enhance public awareness of the importance of respecting intellectual property rights and the detrimental effects of intellectual property rights infringement.

Political Corruption decoded

In a public discourse it is common that angry crowds describe their governments as corrupt, swear on their government policies. That is not what I am talking about here. That would be emotional ranting but not actual political corruption. The case here is different, and  it is a clear case. The language was largely borrowed from the so-called development agenda process at WIPO.

Article 4.3 is a blueprint for political corruption.

  • ‘Technical assistance’ for ‘development and implementation of national legislation related to enforcement of intellectual property rights’ is a diplomatic cover-up term for imposition of laws.
  • ‘Capacity building’ means bribes and
  • enhancement of public awareness on intellectual property rights’ undue interference in the inner affairs of other states by means of propaganda.

Political corruption is subject to international and regional regulations which mostly stem from the United Nations Charter Article 2 fundamental principle, political independence of a state. The Council of Europe Criminal Law Convention on Corruption Article 6 mandates contracting states to establish political corruption as a criminal offence under domestic law when involving any person who is a member of any public assembly exercising legislative or administrative powers in any other State. Precisely, when committed intentionally:

the promising, offering or giving by any person, directly or indirectly, of any undue advantage to any of its public officials, for himself or herself or for anyone else, for him or her to act or refrain from acting in the exercise of his or her functions.

and

the request or receipt by any of its public officials, directly or indirectly, of any undue advantage, for himself or herself or for anyone else, or the acceptance of an offer or a promise of such an advantage, to act or refrain from acting in the exercise of his or her functions.

Exactly that is what “technical assistance” and “capacity building” is about. These legal principles against corruption make sense. It is not upon us to participate in “development and implementation” of national laws by non-domestic legislatures or interfere otherwise in the inner affairs and political deliberations of those nations. I would like to see that fundamental principle preserved.

Commissioner de Gucht raises “public awareness”

Commissioner Karel de Gucht who bears the political responsibility for the ACTA process on behalf of the European Commission currently makes headlines in European mainstream news media with his antisemite remarks. It is likely that his current scandal would overshadow the ACTA deliberations in the European Parliament.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010 Final draft agenda 39k
09:00 – 11:50 Debates
Conclusions of the special ECOFIN Council meeting of 7 September
Protection of animals used for scientific purposes
Elisabeth Jeggle A7-0230/2010
Ongoing negotiations on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)

I sincerely hope de Guchts media scandal won’t distract from the need to pay close attention to the radical and revolutionary policy proposals of the ACTA process driven against the ordinary democratic process in the participating nations. Contrary to popular opinion “ISP liability” is just one small item on the maximalist negotiations table.

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The new service IP Watch features an opinion piece from Lassi Jyrkkiö who digs into the penal sanctions technical problem underlying the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA):

“Yet apparently, as the Commission’s chief negotiator Luc Devigne stated – or let slip – on a hearing on 22 March, their perception is that: “We [the EU] have no acquis” on the matter.”

You can’t argue about facts. “Acquis” means the corpus of harmonized EU legislation. The Commission lacks competence when it is not in the acquis. The question was how penal sanctions can be negotiated when the Commission has no competence. I already asked that to Devigne during the first stakeholder meeting. Ever since the inclusion of criminal matters remains a procedural miracle.

Of course maybe some persons thought a competence could be provided ex post, by adoption of the wrecked IPRED2. Under the French presidency a modus was invented in which some member states participate in the negotiations. We may call it the NIT legislative procedure, for “not in the treaties”, where the governments act as sovereign powers like in the good old days. Of course a slight provocation to the Lisbon-regime EU-Parliament, Strasbourg won’t like it. Article 207 TEU. Let me quickly make up a few technical questions: How can e.g. one member state as a sovereign power be legally represented by a delegate from another member state? Do the French really agree with an English-only regime? etc. Cast light on it and it fades to dust.

One recent suspicion was that they at the Commission don’t fully get what “within the acquis” means. Trade Commissioner De Gucht for instance said in the Plenary they won’t go beyond the acquis and then mentioned related criminal law “which by the way is not yet adopted”. If it is not adopted it can’t be in the acquis.

Furthermore Luc Devigne explained at the stakeholder hearing that they won’t go beyond the acquis of existing legislation, and he was incompetent to speak about penal sanctions which are negotiated by Council. Actually, everything beyond the acquis exceeds their competences. So “we will not go beyond the acquis” means nothing. Then there is the infamous “negotiating mandate” from the Council, it is not available, most likely prepared by the Commission and according to rumours silently adopted without consultation of the competent IPR committee via the Trade committee of the Council, then rubberstamped in the Competetive Council Meeting (12 April 08?? – need to check) without further discussions. Again, according to rumours amateurish aspects of the mandate were then somehow sanitized under the French presidency…

At the 22 March stakeholder hearing Trade negotiator Luc Devigne from the Commission finally confirmed that Penal Sanctions are negotiated by the Council. The Council has not explained yet how the NIT legislative procedure works nor does the Commission. Members of the European Parliament seem to be very curious to find out. Because a NIT legislative procedure precedent would enable the Council to circumvent their Lisbon rights.

Ante Wessels stressed in a recent press release that the idea for a governance body able to amend ACTA would even go beyond the NIT escapism:

“Dedicated organisations tend to become champions of their speciality. Strong external checks and balances are needed to counter that. With ACTA, we rather seem to witness a deliberate attempt to create a captive in-crowd.”

I would argue, as the Commission does not care for technicalities, the technicalities would wreck the agreement as many other better focused, less complicated and more advanced attempts for single market regulation before. All players are now able to play shooting gallery and raise all the technicalities. Some persons may decide to save ACTA but others would be wise to leave the sinking ship.

Others may find the ACTA albatross useful for a consultation by the ECJ or reviving IPRED2, the criminal sanctions directive, and reopening customes regulation (revision underway). It is also fascinating as a subject matter for a student willing to write his or her phd in European and international law.

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A European Commission consultation wants interested parties (“you”?) to contribute:

This consultation seeks to strengthen and deepen the Commission services’ understanding of the way forward to promote uptake of electronic invoicing within the EU. The objective of this consultation is to collect stakeholders’ reactions on the recommendations proposed by the Expert Group on e-Invoicing in the areas of business requirements, legal framework, interoperability and standards, as well as the proposed approach for implementation and communication.

The EU Commission provides the final expert group report and a consultation document. Unfortunately it is only available in the English working language, not in French, not in German.

Deadline for submissions is end of next month, 26 February 2010.

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Between 11 and 19 January, the European Parliament will hold a series of public hearings with the 26 candidate Commissioners put forward by the Council and Commission President José-Manuel Barroso. The “Commissioners-designate” will face three hours of questioning by MEPs sitting on the committees relevant to their proposed portfolios. They will be evaluated on their specific knowledge and competence in their field, including their European commitment, their independence and their communication skills.

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