PROPOSALS TO STRENGTHEN EU CONSUMER RIGHTS AND ENFORCEMENT
The Commission proposed a ‘New Deal for Consumers’ to help ensure that all European consumers fully benefit from their rights under Union law. Recent cases like the Dieselgate have shown that citizens’ rights are harder to enforce fully in practice – the New Deal for Consumers aims to empower qualified entities to launch representative actions on behalf of consumers, and introduce stronger sanctioning powers for Member States’ consumer authorities. It will also extend consumers’ protection when they are online, and establish guidelines that prevent dual quality practices from misleading consumers.
COMMISSION ACTS ON FOOD SAFETY AND SUPPLY CHAIN
The Commission responded to the European Citizens’ Initiative with a proposal to improve the transparency of scientific studies on food safety. The legislative update will boost national scientists’ role in approval procedures, provide an opportunity for the Commission to request further studies, and improve citizens’ access to information. Furthermore, in order to protect small and medium-sized farmers, the Commission proposes bans on unfair practices in food supply chains. These include late payments for perishable food products, last minute order cancellations, unilateral or retroactive changes to contracts, and forcing suppliers to pay for wasted products. The draft directive will now go to the European Parliament and the Council.
EU REMAINS THE WORLD’S LEADING DONOR OF DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE
The EU and its Member States continue to be the world’s leading provider of development assistance, with an overall amount of €75.7 billion in 2017. This amount represents 0.50% of EU Gross National Income (GNI), which is significantly above the 0.21% average of the non-EU members of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), despite a small decrease compared to the previous year. In light of this relative decrease, the Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica has called for Member States to redouble their efforts to provide sustainable development assistance, noting that the European Council has set a target of 0.7% of GNI by 2030.
ROAD SAFETY HAS IMPROVED BUT RENEWED EFFORTS NEEDED
The Commission’s data for 2017 shows a 2% decrease in the number of fatalities on EU roads for the second year in a row. The safest roads in the EU are currently in Sweden, the UK, the Netherlands and Denmark. The Commission is currently working on a new road safety framework for 2020-2030 and a series of other measures contributing to road safety, including a revision of the European rules on vehicle safety, on infrastructure safety management, and an initiative for the safe transition to cooperative, connected and autonomous mobility. The measures will be presented in spring 2018.
EU MEMBER STATES GRANT CITIZENSHIP TO ALMOST 1 MILLION PEOPLE IN 2016
Eurostat reports that in 2016 around 995,000 people have acquired citizenship of an EU Member State, up from 841,000 in 2015 and 889,000 in 2014. Of the total number of persons obtaining the citizenship of one of the EU Member States in 2016, 12% were former citizens of another EU Member State, while the majority were non-EU citizens or stateless, with the highest number of external recipients being of Moroccan, Albanian, or Indian origin.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK
• 16-19 April: European Parliament Plenary Session. On the agenda: waste, EU-Australia Framework Agreement, Energy performance of buildings.
• 16 April: Agriculture and Fisheries Council. On the agenda: food waste, unfair trading practices, fisheries in the Western Waters.
• 16 April: Foreign Affairs Council. On the agenda: Syria, Russia, Iran, Western Balkans, external action financing instruments.
• 17 April: General Affairs Council. On the agenda: electoral law, rule of law in Poland, enlargement.
• 17-18 April: Informal meeting of employment, social policy and health ministers on social policy. On the agenda: the European Pillar of Social Rights, employment opportunities for older people, the EU Youth Guarantee.
• 19 April: Informal meeting of energy ministers. On the agenda: Clean Energy for All Europeans, Regulation on the ACER, energy infrastructure.
Karl Isaksson, Managing Partner Brussels, Kreab