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Consumer credit agreements

Consumer credit agreements

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Consumer credit agreements

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Single market for capital

Consumer credit agreements

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2008/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2008 on credit agreements for consumers and repealing Council Directive 87/102/EEC.

Summary

This Directive aims to harmonise the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States covering credit for consumers, in order to facilitate cross-border services. It shall increase the transparency of contractual conditions and improve the level of consumer protection.

However the Directive is not applicable to credit agreements that are:

  • secured by a mortgage;
  • concluded for the purchase of land or immovable property;
  • whose total amount is less than 200 euros or more than 75 000 euros;
  • relating to lease or hire where there is no obligation to purchase;
  • granted free of interest, without other charges or in the form of an overdraft facility;
  • concluded with an investment company;
  • the result of a judicial ruling;
  • linked to the payment or to the surety of a debt;
  • linked to loans granted to a limited group of the public.

Member States may also apply a less restrictive regime to organisations with social aims and activities that only profit their members, where they offer an annual percentage rate of charge which is lower than the current market rate.

During the pre-contractual phase,the creditor * or their intermediaries * must supply clear information on the main features of the credit offered in due course. In particular, this concerns:

  • the duration of the credit agreement;
  • the total amount of credit;
  • the borrowing rate and rates relating thereto;
  • the annual percentage rate of charge * and the total amount owed by the consumer *;
  • the amount, number and frequency of instalments;
  • the cash price for goods or services supplied against specific payment terms or a linked credit agreement;
  • costs linked to or resulting from the agreement;
  • contractual obligations;
  • consumer rights;
  • the consequences of late payments and defaults;
  • sureties.

Consumers shall receive this information in a standard form as stipulated in Annexe II of the Directive.

Apart from an obligation to supply comprehensive pre-contractual information, creditors must supply consumers with adequate explanations so that the latter may choose a contract which corresponds to their needs and to their financial situation. In addition creditors must evaluate the solvency of their clients before concluding an agreement, whilst also respecting the right of consumers to be informed when their request for credit is rejected.

The contract must restate the main information relating to the credit offer chosen. If the borrowing rate is modified *, the consumer must be informed of the new amount, the number and frequency of instalments.

Consumers may exercise their right to withdraw by notifying the creditor of their intention, without having to justify their decision. This must take place within fourteen days from the conclusion of the agreement.

Consumers also have the right to make early repayment of their debt. They can exercise this right at any time, as long as the creditor receives fair compensation which is objectively justified.

Member States shall ensure that creditors and credit intermediaries fulfil their obligations. They shall ensure that audits are carried out by an independent authority.

Context

This Directive repeals Directive 87/102/EEC in order to strengthen consumer protection. It must be implemented in Member States before 2 May 2010.

Key terms of the Act
  • Creditor: any natural or legal person who grants or promises to grant credit in the course of their trade, business or profession.
  • Credit intermediary: a natural or legal person who does not act as a creditor and who, in the course of their trade, business or profession:
    1. presents or offers credit agreements to consumers;
    2. assists consumers by carrying out preparatory work for agreements;
    3. concludes credit agreements with consumers on behalf of the creditor.
  • Total amount payable by the consumer: the sum of the total amount of the credit and the total cost of the credit to the consumer.
  • Annual percentage rate of charge: the total cost of the credit to the consumer, expressed as an annual percentage of the total amount of credit.
  • Borrowing rate: the interest rate expressed as a fixed or variable percentage applied on an annual basis to the amount of credit drawn down.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition into the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2008/48/EC

11.6.2008

12.5.2010

L 133/66 of 22.5.2008

Resources

Further Reading

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  • WEIN, TH., Eine ökonomische Analyse der neuen Verbrauchsgüterkaufrichtlinie zum Gewährleistungsrecht, Universität Lüneburg, Fachbereich Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Arbeitsberitch Nr. 228.
  • WEISNER, “Die EG-Kaufrechtsgewährleistungsrichtlinie”, JuS, 2001, pp. 759 y ss.
  • WELSER, R., “Der Vorschlag einer EU-Richtlinie über den Verbrauchsgüterkauf ”, Festschrift Hempe, 1997, pp. 323 y ss.
  • WELSER, R., “Die Verbrauchergüterkauf-Richtlinie und ihre Umsetzung in Österreich und Deutschland”, en P. SCHLECHTRIEM, Wandlungen des Schuldrechts, Baden Baden, 2002, pp. 83 y ss.
  • WELSER, R., “Reform des österreichischen Leistungsstörungsrechts”, en C. FISCHER-CZERMAK (Coord.), Das ABGB auf dem Weg in das 3. Jahrtausend, Wien, Manz, 2003, pp. 63 y ss.
  • WELSER, R./JUD, B., Reform der Gewährleistungsrechts, Verhandlungen des 14. Österreichischen Juristentages, Band II/1, 2000.
  • WELSER, R./JUD, B., Die neue Gewährleistung, 2001.
  • WERTENBRUCH, “Gefahrtragung beim Versendungskauf nach neuem Schuldrecht”, JuS, 2003, pp. 625 y ss.
  • WESTERMANN, H.-P., “Das neue Kaufrecht einschließlich des Verbrauchsgüterkaufs”, JZ, 2001, pp. 530 y ss.
  • WESTERMANN, H.-P., “Kaufrecht im Wandel”, in SCHULZE/SCHULTE-NÖLKE, Die Schuldrechtsreform vor dem Hintergrund des Gemeinschaftsrechts, 2001, pp. 109 y ss.
  • WESTERMANN, H.-P., “Sondertagung Schuldrechtsmodernisierung – Das neue Kaufrecht einschließlich des Verbrauchsgüterkaufs”, JZ, 2001, pp. 530 y ss.
  • WESTERMANN, H.-P.,“Das neue Kaufrecht”, NJW, 2002, pp. 241 y ss.
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  • WOLF, “Reform des Kaufrechts durch EG-Richtlinie – ein Vorteil für die Wirtschaft? – Die möglichen Auswirkungen einer Richtlinie über den Verbrauchsgüterkauf und -garantien auf das deutsche Kaufrecht und die Wirtschaft”, RIW, 1997, pp. 899 y ss.
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  • ZACCARIA, A., “Reflessioni circa l’attuazione della Direttiva n. 1999/44/CE su taluni aspetti della vendita e delle garanzie dei beni di consumo”, Studium Iuris, 2000, pp. 230 y ss.
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  • Report on the system of own resources

    Report on the system of own resources

    Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Report on the system of own resources

    Topics

    These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

    Budget

    Report on the system of own resources

    Document or Iniciative

    Commission report of 14 July 2004, “The financing of the European Union – Report on the operation of the own resources system” [COM(2004) 505 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

    Summary

    In response to the call in the current own resources decision of 2000 for a general review of the own resources system before 1 January 2006, the Commission committed itself to presenting a report before the end of January 2004. This follow-up document sets out the two key issues, namely the need to reform the existing mechanism for correcting negative budgetary imbalances and the insufficient transparency of the system for citizens, combined with limited financial autonomy for the EU in relation to national treasuries.

    The current own resources system

    At present, the system is divided into three main categories of own resources:

    • traditional own resources (TOR), mainly customs duties;
    • the VAT-based resource, which is levied on the statistical, “notional” and harmonised bases of Member States;
    • the GNI-based resource, which is the residual resource used to balance the budget of each Member States and currently constitutes the system’s main resource.

    The total amount of all own resources may not exceed 1.24% of the European Union’s GNI.

    Before proposing its reforms, the Commission assesses the current own resources system. It considers that, although the system satisfies the sufficiency and stability criteria, it fails the visibility and simplicity test and does not contribute to more efficient allocation of economic resources. Moreover, financial autonomy is becoming more and more limited.

    The correction of budgetary imbalances

    Following the observation that some countries contributed more to the Community budget than they received, the Fontainebleau European Council in 1984 introduced a correction mechanism in favour of the United Kingdom, which is reimbursed to the extent of some two thirds of its net contributions.

    Over time, enlargement and changes in the structure of the budget have modified the unique position of the United Kingdom and so the existing mechanism should be transformed into a generalised correction mechanism. For the Commission, this reflects the twin goals of:

    • preventing excessive negative budgetary deficits and reducing the differences between net contributors;
    • ensuring that the financing costs of the mechanism are kept at a reasonable level.

    At present, the net British position has improved significantly. If the current mechanism remains in force, the correction will increase by more than 50% after enlargement, accentuating the existing differences between net contributors. Further consequences of enlargement are the deterioration of the net balances of all the old Member States and the increased cost of the correction mechanism.

    The generalised correction mechanism proposed by the Commission involves:

    • setting a threshold level, expressed as a percentage of gross national income (GNI), above which a Member State would be entitled to reimbursement of part of its contribution;
    • capping the total volume of corrections;
    • simplifying the financing of the corrections, with all Member States participating in proportion to their GNI.

    By comparison with the current system, the proposed mechanism would reduce the differences between net contributors and lighten the financing burden of those Member States that do not benefit from it.

    The modification of own resources

    Before proposing the reform of the own resources system, the Commission reviewed three possible alternatives for the financing of the EU budget, while safeguarding traditional own resources. The alternatives are:

    • maintaining the present financing system unchanged. The Commission rejects this option because, in its present form, the system lacks a direct link to citizens, who tend to judge EU policies and initiatives exclusively in terms of their national allocation;
    • adopting a purely GNI-based financing system: The EU would depend entirely on contributions from Member States. This would be simple and easy to understand but does not reflect the status of the EU, which is more than an international organisation. It would imply an idea of the Union in which citizens would be only indirectly represented by their Member State, something which is unacceptable to the Commission;
    • adopting a financing system based on fiscal own resources: This system could increase the financial autonomy of the EU and introduce a direct link to citizens. The participation of citizens and economic operators in the EU budget would go hand in hand with a reduction in the level of contributions by Member States and ensure higher visibility and increased political accountability for expenditure decisions. However, a fully tax-based system does not appear appropriate to the Commission because of the threat to balanced budgets. Therefore, the retention of a limited GNI resource together with an increase in the share of taxed-based resources seems preferable.

    The Commission proposes the introduction of a new taxed-based own resource accounting for up to half of the budget. This resource requires sufficient prior harmonisation of the tax base. The increase of tax-based own resources does not call for any new taxes because the EU share could be levied as part of the national rate paid by taxpayers. The Commission proposes three options, which all maintain the current GNI-based resource and traditional own resources but replace the statistical VAT-based resource with a new fiscal resource. The three options are:

    • fiscal resources related to energy consumption: Under the new directive on energy taxation, most energy products are subject to Community taxation. However, the Commission proposes limiting the Community levy to the tax base related to motor fuel used for road transport, which is already harmonised at a Community level. It could be supplemented with a levy on aviation fuel or the related emissions. This option could be implemented within a short period of time (around 3 to 6 years);
    • a fiscal VAT resource: In place of the present statistical VAT resource, the EU rate would be levied as part of the national VAT rate paid by taxpayers, together with the national rate on the same taxable base. Citizens would not have to bear an additional tax burden as the EU rate would be offset by an equivalent decrease in the national VAT rate. The main stumbling block to this measure is the incomplete harmonisation of Member States’ VAT systems. Technically, the introduction of this option would be possible within a period of up to 6 years;
    • a resource based on corporate income. This option would require a prior definition of a common consolidated tax base, thereby boosting cross-border economic activity, which is hampered by 25 national tax systems and a myriad of laws. This option would imply setting a minimum tax rate for the harmonised tax base and would be the longest to implement.

    Conclusions

    The Commission invites the Council to examine the proposed options in order to achieve a genuinely tax-based own resource by 2014. It recommends the introduction of a generalised correction mechanism to correct excessive budgetary imbalances as a short-term solution.

    Related Acts

    Report from the Commission to the European Parliament AND to the Council Sixth Report from the Commission on the operation of the inspection arrangements for traditional own resources (2006-2009) (Article 18(5) of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1150/2000 of 22 May 2000) [COM(2010) 219 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

    Report from the Commission – Fifth Report from the Commission on the operation of the inspection arrangements for traditional own resources (2003-2005) (Article 18(5) of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1150/2000 of 22 May 2000) [COM(2006) 874 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

    Report from the Commission – Fourth Report from the Commission on the operation of the inspection arrangements for traditional own resources (2000 2002) (Article 18(5) of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1150/2000 of 22 May 2000) [COM(2003) 345 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

    Report from the Commission – Third Report from the Commission on the operation of the inspection arrangements for traditional own resources (1997-1999) – (Article 18(5) of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1150/00 of 22 May 2000) [COM(2001) 32 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

    Report from the Commission – Second report from the Commission on the operation of the inspection arrangements for traditional own resources (for the period 1993-96) – (Article 18(5) of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1150/00 of 22 May 2000) [COM(97) 673 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

    REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION on the functioning of the inspection arrangements for traditional own resources (Article 18(5) of Council Regulation (EEC, Euratom) N° 1552/89) [COM(93) 691 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

    A new partnership with South-East Asia

    A new partnership with South-East Asia

    Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about A new partnership with South-East Asia

    Topics

    These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

    External relations > Relations with third countries > Asia

    A new partnership with South-East Asia

    Document or Iniciative

    Commission Communication on a new partnership with South-East Asia [COM(2003) 399 final – Not published in the Official Journal]

    Summary

    The Communication proposes that EU/South-East Asia relations should be further developed in line with the guidelines contained in the 2001 Communication on ‘ Europe and Asia, a Strategic Framework for Enhanced Partnerships ‘.

    South-East Asia is defined as covering the association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) as a regional grouping consisting of 10 individual countries: Brunei Darussalam, Burma/Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and East Timor, which is not yet a member of ASEAN.

    The Communication identifies six strategic priorities:

    • supporting regional stability and the fight against terrorism;
    • promoting human rights, democratic principles and good governance;
    • mainstreaming justice and home affairs issues;
    • injecting a new dynamism into regional trade and investment relations;
    • continuing to support the development of less prosperous countries;
    • intensifying dialogue and cooperation in specific strategic sectors.

    Reasons for enhancing relations

    The EU and South-East Asia share stronger economic, political and security interests than ever before. The future will see a shift in the centre of gravity of the world economy to the Asia Pacific region, with ASEAN emerging as a key partner for trade and investment. ASEAN is also making efforts towards creating a regional economic space that will help attract foreign direct investment, e.g. the creation of the free-trade area in January 2003.

    The two regions find themselves more dependent on one another in addressing global challenges and the EU therefore wishes to broaden its programme of cooperation with South-East Asia. The priorities remain poverty reduction and improving basic health and education services. The European Community has adopted a holistic approach that acknowledges the inter-relationship of different issues so as to address them in the best possible way.

    The two regions also share common features and values, such as a preference for diversity, regional integration and a peaceful and rule-based multi-polar world with strong multilateral organisations.

    Priorities

    ASEAN was originally created as a mechanism for preventing crises and one of the EU’s priorities is also to contribute to supporting regional stability and the fight against terrorism. Through dialogue and other action, its role is to prevent conflict and foster peace and stability. In matters of political dialogue, the Commission believes that ASEM is the most appropriate framework to deal with global issues, while region-specific issues should be dealt with in the ASEAN context. In its opinion, the EU should also play a more active role in the ARF, the ASEAN Regional Forum. Although it actively supports the ASEAN integration process, it recognises that only the ASEAN countries can determine the rhythm of the process.

    Support for regional cooperation is also designed to combat terrorism. In the opinion of the EU, action against terrorism not only involves security and public order measures but also political, social, economic and financial governance. It therefore encourages ASEAN to implement a comprehensive strategy, taking care to respect human rights and peaceful political opposition. The EU is also prepared to consider support to any country that requires its assistance for the implementation of UNSC resolution 1373 (on cooperation in the fight against terrorism) and other relevant UN conventions.

    With a view to promoting human rights, democratic principles and good governance, the Commission believes that new agreements should all contain the ‘essential element’ clause. This clause stipulates that respect for fundamental human rights and democratic principles, as laid down in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, underpins the internal and external policies of the parties and constitutes an essential element of the agreement. The parties may also decide to launch human rights-specific bilateral dialogues. Specific cooperation measures should be undertaken to support democratic structures, build the capacity of institutions, improve the rule of law and governance and strengthen civil society. Strengthening institutional and regulatory frameworks and fighting corruption are priorities in the area of good governance.

    Another priority is to mainstream justice and home affairs issues in the EU’s external relations. Issues of migration, combating organised crime, trafficking in human beings, money laundering, illicit drugs, piracy and counterfeiting should be incorporated systematically into dialogues.

    With a view to injecting a new dynamism into regional trade and investment relations, the Commission proposes a trade action plan, the Trans-Regional EU-ASEAN Trade Initiative (TREATI), which is set out in Annex II. This initiative paves the way for a possible free-trade agreement that should only come after the conclusion of the Doha Development Round and be subject to sufficient progress on regulatory convergence.

    TREATI proposes that EU-ASEAN cooperation on trade issues should take place on a region-to-region basis and in a context of flexible cooperation. Bilateral dialogues on economic issues should be further supplemented by a dialogue mechanism involving at least two ASEAN countries. Close coordination on technical assistance and capacity-building would be required and each country would have to develop its own road-map setting out the stages and schedule for its participation in the various activities.

    Continuing to support the development of less prosperous countries is another priority with poverty reduction as its main goal. The priority issues here are assisting poor countries in their integration in the world economy, governance and human rights, environment and forestry, justice and home affairs issues, the fight against terrorism, trade-related technical assistance, supporting the TREATI process and ASEAN’s integration process.

    Assistance should be concentrated in a limited number of key areas, based on a sectoral approach, and involve actors from outside the public sector. The Commission will promote trilateral cooperation and twinning arrangements.

    The Commission offers a list of sectors in which dialogue and cooperation need to be intensified. Both parties can choose sectors of genuine mutual interest and then opt for a regional or bilateral approach. These sectors and the present situation, specific issues identified and suggested lines of action for each one are described in Annex III. They are as follows:

    • economic and trade issues;
    • justice and home affairs issues;
    • science, technology, research and development;
    • higher education and culture;
    • energy;
    • transport;
    • the information society;
    • statistics.

    Institutional framework and resources

    The Commission proposes to revitalise ties with South-East Asia through the strengthening of bilateral relations since the renegotiation of the only existing regional agreement – dating from 1980 – is impossible owing to the EU common position on Burma/Myanmar, one of the members of ASEAN. The legal basis for cooperation is the 1992 Regulation on financial and technical assistance to, and economic cooperation with, the developing countries in Latin America and Asia.

    For optimum use of the institutional framework (bilateral agreements, ARF, ASEM, etc.) and available resources, the Commission proposes an evaluation based on political and institutional feasibility, the achievement of maximum impact, demand from the region or the country and the best possible use of available resources. It puts forward options for optimising the institutional framework:

    • EU-ASEAN ministerial meetings for regional political dialogue;
    • ASEM summits, ministerial meetings and ARF ministerial meetings on global and security issues;
    • consultations between ASEAN and EC economic affairs ministers;
    • an official bilateral institutional framework for implementation of agreements.

    Alternative options are proposed for the optimisation of resources:

    • taking advantage of the network of Commission delegations;
    • improving the quality and delivery of EC external assistance through better strategic programming;
    • looking for greater synergies between EIB and Commission operations.

    A new visibility strategy

    To counter the lack of mutual awareness, the Commission proposes a coordinated visibility campaign. Efforts should be intensified in the area of academic, scientific and cultural exchanges.

    Related Acts

    Council Conclusions of 26 January 2004

    Animal by-products

    Animal by-products

    Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Animal by-products

    Topics

    These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

    Food safety > Animal nutrition

    Animal by-products

    Document or Iniciative

    Regulation (EC) No 1069/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 laying down health rules as regards animal by-products and derived products not intended for human consumption and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1774/2002.

    Summary

    This Regulation facilitates the efficient management of animal by-products whilst maintaining the high level of protection that is currently in place against risks to public and animal health and to the environment.

    Products concerned

    This Regulation shall apply to:

    • animal by-products * and derived products * which are not intended for human consumption;
    • products intended for purposes other than human consumption:
      • products of animal origin which may be destined for human consumption;
      • raw materials for the production of products of animal origin.

    End point in the manufacturing chain

    This Regulation introduces the notion of an “end point” in the manufacturing of animal by-products, beyond which they are no longer subject to the rules governing this type of product, since potential risks have been eliminated. Instead, the general rules on product safety are to apply. As an example, where animal fat produced by an incinerating factory is processed and the product of that transformation is used to produce plastics, the probability that the final product might transmit a significant biological risk is very slight.

    Essential guarantees for public and animal health

    Products of animal origin may be used outside the food chain for various purposes: skins for leather production, powdered milk to feed animals, and blood products in diagnostic medical devices. Such by-products may be a vector of diseases affecting human beings or animals when they are used in animal feedingstuffs or to produce technical products.

    This Regulation preserves the basic guarantees introduced in 2003 against such risks. In particular, it maintains:

    • a risk-based categorisation of animal by-products which determines whether they may be used as animal feedingstuffs, for the manufacture of technical products or for other purposes, or whether they must be destroyed;
    • an obligation for Member States and operators to ensure that animal by-products are collected and disposed of as soon as possible;
    • the exclusion of products that are unfit for hum an consumption from the feed chain for farmed animals; and lastly
    • a ban on feeding animals of one species with material derived from the same species (“intra-species recycling ban”).

    A more coherent legal framework

    Animal by-products are used to produce cosmetics, medicines and diagnostic medical devices. When they are used for the manufacture of such products, they are subject to other provisions of European law. Slaughterhouses, milk factories and other food establishments manufacturing animal by-products are already bound by European legislation on human food or animal feedingstuffs, and are the subject of inspections in this regard.

    This Regulation aims at improving coherency between other provisions of European law and the health rules applying to animal by-products. The potential risks are tackled with respect to the appropriate legislation, which avoids operators being exposed to unnecessary constraints.

    Being based on experience gained, this Regulation clarifies under which circumstances and in what way environmental legislation shall apply to operations involving animal by-products. This legislation applies for example where the spreading of manure as a fertiliser has effects on soil and the groundwater table.

    Comitology

    The current categorisation of animal by-products may now be amended by the Commission under the comitology procedure. Prior to any change, a scientific organisation such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) or the Scientific Committee for Consumer Products (SCCP) must assess the possible risks of a specific animal by-product for public and animal health.

    Repeal

    Regulation (EC) No 1774/2002 shall be repealed with effect from 4 March 2011.

    Key terms of the Act
    • Animal by-products: entire bodies or parts of animals, products of animal origin or other products obtained from animals, which are not intended for human consumption, including oocytes, embryos and semen.
    • Derived products: products obtained from one or more treatments, transformations or steps of processing of animal by-products.
    Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

    Regulation (EC) No 41/2009

    10.2.2009

    OJ L 16 of 21.1.2009

    Common commercial policy

    Common commercial policy

    Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Common commercial policy

    Topics

    These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

    Institutional affairs > Building europe through the treaties > The Amsterdam treaty: a comprehensive guide

    Common commercial policy

    As part of the European Community, the Member States have established a customs union with common arrangements for imports from other countries. The Community’s common commercial policy is therefore based on a common external tariff uniformly applied to all Member States.

    When the EEC Treaty was signed, the Community’s economy and external trade were geared mainly to production and trade in industrial products. This no longer applies, because the services sector is now the main source of jobs within the European Union and accounts for a substantial proportion of its international trade. This change is due partly to very stiff competition from newly industrialised countries in traditional sectors and partly to the economic changes brought about by the new information and communication technologies.

    Following the Uruguay Round negotiations under the GATT, the setting-up of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) clearly reflected this trend. In order to cope with the changing nature of trade, the WTO embraces within the same structure trade negotiations on products (GATT), services (GATS) and intellectual property (TRIPS).

    In the face of the new pattern of international trade, the European Union must be able to develop its trade mechanisms rapidly if it wishes to maintain its leading role in world trade relations. The scope of Article 113 (renumbered Article 133) is still rather vague and until it takes account of the globalisation of trade negotiations, the EU will continue to create difficulties for itself vis-à-vis its trading partners.

    The Amsterdam Treaty is intended to clarify the situation by providing the Union with the means of extending the common commercial policy, where applicable, to services and intellectual property rights.

    BACKGROUND

    The objective of the EEC Treaty was to establish a common market between the Member States of the Community in which goods, people, services and capital could move freely. In order to achieve this, a twelve-year transitional period up to 31 December 1969 was introduced. For the sake of cohesion, liberalisation at internal level had to be in tune with that at external level and the Community therefore has had sole competence for common commercial policy since the transitional period ended.

    Up to 1970, it was for Member States to coordinate their trade relations with non-Community countries. This did not, however, prevent the Community from concluding bilateral agreements (e.g. with Israel in 1964) or from taking part, in its own right, in the Kennedy Round of negotiations between 1963 and 1967.

    Gradually, the expansion of international trade made common commercial policy into one of the Community’s most important policies. At the same time, the successive enlargements of the Community and the consolidation of the common market strengthened the Community’s position as a pole of attraction and influence for trade negotiations, conducted bilaterally with other countries and multilaterally in the GATT. The EU therefore gradually developed a close network of trade relations worldwide, and as a result the EU is now at the top of the international trade league, ahead of the United States and Japan.

    Since 1 January 1970, decisions under common commercial policy have been taken by qualified majoritywithin the Council. The scope of Article 113 has been given a wide interpretation by the Court of Justice, which in 1978 stated that the list in the Article 113(1) was not restrictive (it refers to changes in tariff rates, the conclusion of tariff and trade agreements, the achievement of uniformity in measures of liberalisation, export policy and measures to protect trade). The Court also felt that commercial policy would gradually lose its importance if it was not allowed to go beyond the traditional machinery of external trade. The Court added to its interpretation in 1994, however, by stating that trade negotiations on services and intellectual property could not be based on Article 113 and so did not come under the Community’s sole powers. The Court nevertheless stressed the need for close cooperation between the Commission and the Member States and recommended that a code of conduct be adopted.

    THE NEW ARTICLE 133 OF THE EC TREATY

    A new paragraph has been added to Article 133 (ex Article 113). It allows the Council, after consulting Parliament, to extend the scope of Article 133 to international negotiations and agreements on services and intellectual property rights where they are not already covered by common commercial policy.

    The addition of this paragraph means that it will not be necessary to amend the Treaty (which would require an intergovernmental conference and ratification by all the Member States) if it is decided to extend the scope of the traditional trade negotiation procedure.

    In concrete terms, a decision to extend the Community’s powers in trade matters can now be taken by the members of the Council acting unanimously.

    EU-Africa partnership

    EU-Africa partnership

    Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about EU-Africa partnership

    Topics

    These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

    Development > African Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP)

    EU-Africa partnership

    Relations between the European Union (EU) and Africa have traditionally been conducted through two regional groupings: the African countries that are part of the ACP group and the African countries of the Mediterranean. However, at the beginning of the new millennium, the EU launched a new dialogue with Africa to build a strategic partnership with the entire continent which would strengthen existing measures. The first summit between the EU and Africa was held in Cairo in April 2000.

    Plan of Action

    A Plan of Action was adopted at the summit, highlighting six main general areas:

    • economic issues (particularly regional economic cooperation and integration in Africa);
    • integrating Africa into the world economy,
    • deepening the link between trade and development at international level in order to ensure that trade liberalisation contributes to poverty reduction is one of the objectives of the partnership;
    • respect for, and protection of, human rights, democratic principles and institutions, the rule of law and good governance;
    • peace-building and conflict prevention, management and resolution in Africa;
    • development measures to combat poverty (in the areas of education, health and food security, for example).

    However, these areas are extremely broad and initially eight more specific areas of action were chosen:

    • conflict prevention and resolution (including the problem of anti-personnel landmines);
    • regional cooperation and integration, integrating Africa into the world economy and trade;
    • the environment, including the fight against drought and desertification;
    • HIV/AIDS and communicable diseases;
    • food security;
    • human rights and democracy;
    • the return of cultural items that have been stolen or exported illegally;
    • Africa’s external debt (the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative affects African countries in particular).

    Both parties meet regularly at various levels to ensure that the Plan of Action is being followed up. The three main mechanisms are: summits of the heads of state or government, ministerial meetings, which take place between summits, and meetings of bi-regional groups.

    First ministerial meeting
    5.The first ministerial meeting between the African and EU representatives was held on 11 October 2001 in Brussels. Some progress has been made since the Cairo Summit, in particular in the areas of regional integration, HIV/AIDS, food security, human rights, democracy and good governance.

    New topics included on the agenda

    6. Since the adoption of the Plan of Action, other important topics have been added to the agenda, including the creation of the African Union (AU), the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the situation in the Great Lakes region and the fight against terrorism.

    The AU and the NEPAD are two important initiatives launched by African states in 2001 which have the full backing of the EU. The AU was created by African states in March 2001 to replace the Organisation of African Unity. This political organisation provides a framework for, and strengthens, political and economic regional cooperation and integration between African countries and important institutions will be set up to achieve this. The NEPAD was developed by African states and represents a commitment on the part of the African heads of state to work to eradicate poverty and to promote sustainable development and growth, whilst playing a full role in global political and economic life.

    The conflicts in the Great Lakes region have given rise to considerable concern among both parties. The EU contributes to the prevention and resolution of these conflicts in the region in several ways, for instance by granting aid within the framework of development cooperation (particularly the European Development Fund and aid from resources under the common foreign and security policy (CFSP). One example of this is the EU’s support for the inter-Congolese dialogue and participation in initiatives to reintegrate child soldiers into society.

    Following the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States, a declaration on the fight against terrorism was published at the end of the ministerial meeting to express the will of the African states and the EU to work together to put an end to this scourge.

    Development of the dialogue

    The EU-Africa dialogue was the subject of a Commission communication in July 2003. The communication explored various ideas for relaunching the dialogue and proposed that institutional links be reinforced to help Africa deal with the political problems and development-related issues it faces.

    On 12 July 2003, the African Heads of State or Government met in Maputo, Mozambique for the first meeting of the AU since it was created in Durban in July 2002. The European Commission was represented as an expression of the EU’s support for the AU and in order to discuss the EU-Africa dialogue. A great deal of progress has already been made with regard to human rights and democracy thanks to the formulation of common values and the introduction of penalties when these values are not respected.

    Following this meeting, in December 2003, the EU Council approved a decision on the financing of a peace facility for Africa from the European Development Fund. This move was in response to a request made at the AU summit and is intended to support African institutions and peacekeeping measures. It will require cooperation between the AU, regional organisations in Africa, the EU and the United Nations.

    In recent years, EU-AU dialogue has been stepped up and achieved results on a number of fronts. In 2005 the EU undertook to increase public development aid by EUR 20 billion per year by 2010, of which over half will be earmarked for Africa. A new Africa strategy was also adopted in October 2005 to support the continent’s efforts to achieve the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, (MDGs).

    This strategy proposes forging a strategic security and development partnership between the EU and Africa. The strategy focuses on key requirements for sustainable development such as peace and security, good and effective governance, trade, interconnectivity, social cohesion and environmental sustainability. New initiatives have been launched, most notably a governance initiative and a Euro-African Partnership for Infrastructure, which was launched in July 2006.

    Under the Governance Initiative, the EU will, for instance, provide support for reforms triggered by the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), a unique tool for peer review and peer learning in good democratic governance by and for Africans. And in the context of the Partnership for Infrastructure, the EU will support programmes that facilitate interconnectivity at continental level to promote regional trade, integration, stability and development.

    Health and well-being of young people

    Health and well-being of young people

    Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Health and well-being of young people

    Topics

    These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

    Education training youth sport > Youth

    Health and well-being of young people

    Document or Iniciative

    Resolution of the Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council of 20 November on the health and well-being of young people [Official Journal C 319 of 13.12.2008].

    Summary

    Even though the health of Europe’s young people is considered to be in general rather satisfactory, concerns remain regarding nutrition, physical activity, alcohol abuse, as well as sexual and mental health. In this context, it is essential to promote a healthy lifestyle, to adopt preventive measures and to take gender issues into consideration.

    Several aspects related to living conditions pose a risk to young people’s health and well-being. To ensure the healthy development of young people, their physical and social environments should be wholesome. This aim is best achieved by giving further support to parents.

    The extent of social inclusion and level of education of young people is closely related to their health and well-being. Hence, it is important that young people are kept well informed of the advantages of a healthy lifestyle and that they are encouraged to become more responsible and autonomous with regard to their own health.

    In order to ensure that youth health policy is efficient, the state of play should be assessed to provide better tailored strategies that take into consideration the needs of and differences among young people. The strategies should be based on a comprehensive and cross-sectoral approach. Youth health policy should involve the local, regional, national and European levels and be developed in close partnership with a wide range of stakeholders.

    Consequently, the Council is inviting Member States to:

    • mainstream the “youth” dimension into all initiatives that are related to health issues and implement appropriate measures for youth health policy;
    • allow all relevant stakeholders, including young people themselves, to participate in developing and implementing the initiatives related to health issues;
    • support young people’s access to both cultural and physical leisure-time activities;
    • consider youth health issues in information and the media programmes and policies;
    • promote youth workers’ and organisations’ training on health issues and prevention measures.

    The Commission is also invited to ensure the mainstreaming of the “youth” dimension in all initiatives related to health issues, as well as to include all stakeholders and the young people themselves at all stages of development of the initiatives on youth health policy.

    Finally, the Council is inviting Member States and the Commission to collaborate, in order to:

    • expand knowledge of youth health issues by increasing research into and regular reporting on the topic;
    • include data on youth health and well-being into the Commission’s triennial report on young people’s situation in Europe;
    • inform the public about issues that affect the health of young people;
    • promote exchanges at the local, regional, national and European levels on best practice related to youth health;
    • promote the use of existing European Union (EU) instruments in the development of youth health-related projects;
    • encourage stronger collaboration on youth health issues among young people, youth organisations and other relevant stakeholders as well as civil society.

    Background

    The White Paper on youth of 21 November 2001 recognised the importance of health in empowering young people, fostering their social inclusion and developing their active citizenship. The European Youth Pact, adopted in March 2005, further emphasised the need to mainstream the “youth” dimension, in particular issues related youth health, to other relevant European policies.

    Waterborne transport

    Waterborne transport

    Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Waterborne transport

    Topics

    These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

    Transport > Waterborne transport

    Waterborne transport

    Waterborne transport covers maritime transport and inland navigation. The European Union encourages growth in maritime transport through a number of actions such as the modernisation of infrastructures or the harmonisation of equipment and procedures. Improving maritime safety and protecting the marine environment are also priorities.
    The considerable potential of river transport has largely yet to be tapped. It offers the advantage of reducing the amount of traffic on roads. The EU is committed to breathing new life into the sector, particularly through the Naïades Action Programme.

    OBJECTIVES AND BODIES

    • European maritime transport policy until 2018
    • Action plan for an integrated maritime policy
    • Programme for the promotion of short sea shipping
    • Maritime safety: European Maritime Safety Agency
    • Towards a European maritime transport space without barriers
    • Rights of passengers travelling by sea and inland waterway

    INTERNAL MARKET

    • Freedom to supply services, competition, unfair pricing practices and free access to ocean trade
    • Freedom to provide maritime transport services
    • The insurance of shipowners for maritime claims
    • Freedom to provide services within the Member States (ocean trade)
    • Reporting formalities for ships
    • State aid to shipbuilding (I)
    • Maritime safety: registration of persons on board passenger ships
    • Transfer of cargo and passenger ships between registers within the EU
    • Statistical returns for carriage of goods and passengers by sea

    PORT INFRASTRUCTURE

    • Port infrastructure: Green Paper
    • Port infrastructure: quality services in sea ports
    • Port facilities for ship-generated waste and cargo residues
    • LeaderSHIP 2015

    EMPLOYMENT AND WORKING CONDITIONS

    • Strengthening of maritime labour standards
    • Organisation of seafarers’ working time
    • Organisation of hours of work on board ships using Community ports
    • Inland waterways: access to the occupation of carrier of goods by waterway and mutual recognition of diplomas
    • Seafarer training and recruitment
    • Maritime safety: Minimum level of training of seafarers

    MARITIME SAFETY

    • Maritime safety: port State control
    • Maritime safety: Loading and unloading of bulk carriers
    • Maritime safety: Committee on Safe Seas
    • Maritime safety: International Safety Management (ISM) Code
    • Maritime safety: Erika I package
    • Maritime safety: accelerated phasing-in of double-hull oil tankers
    • Maritime safety: organisations responsible for monitoring and inspecting vessels (recast)
    • Ship inspection and survey organisations: legal framework
    • Maritime safety: Erika II
    • Compliance with flag State requirements
    • Maritime safety: Community monitoring, control and information system for maritime traffic
    • Maritime safety: tonnage measurement of ballast spaces in segregated ballast oil tankers
    • Safety rules and standards for passenger ships
    • Maritime safety: system of mandatory surveys for regular ro-ro ferry and high-speed passenger craft services
    • Liability of carriers of passengers by sea in the event of accidents
    • Maritime safety: marine equipment
    • Satellite-based Vessel Monitoring System (VMS)

    MARITIME TRANSPORT AND THE ENVIRONMENT

    • A strategy for better ship dismantling practices
    • Strategy to reduce atmospheric emissions from seagoing ships
    • Maritime safety: prohibition of organotin compounds on ships
    • Maritime safety: prevention of pollution from ships
    • Ship-source pollution and criminal penalties
    • Maritime safety: Bunkers Convention
    • Maritime safety: compensation fund for oil pollution damage

    NAVIGATION OF INLAND WATERWAYS

    • Promotion of inland waterway transport “NAIADES”
    • Inland navigation: structural improvements
    • Inland navigation: Community-fleet capacity policy
    • Inland navigation: reciprocal recognition of national boatmasters’ certificates for inland waterway navigation
    • Inland navigation: non-resident carriers
    • Inland navigation: harmonisation of conditions for obtaining national boatmasters’ certificates
    • Inland navigation: transport of goods or passengers by inland waterway between Member States
    • Inland navigation: conditions attached to chartering and pricing
    • Inland waterways: River information services
    • Technical requirements for inland waterway vessels
    • Inland transport of dangerous goods

    MARITIME SECURITY

    • Maritime security: Ship and port facility security
    • Port infrastructure: enhancing port security

    PETRA I

    PETRA I

    Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about PETRA I

    Topics

    These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

    Education training youth sport > Vocational training

    PETRA I

    1) Objective

    PETRA is the Community action programme for the vocational training of young people and their preparation for adult and working life. It aims to supplement the internal policies of Member States with Community measures to ensure that all young people who so wish have the opportunity of one year’s or, if possible, two years’ or more vocational training in addition to their full-time compulsory education.

    2) Community Action

    Council Decision 87/569/EEC of 1 December 1987 concerning an action programme for the vocational training of young people and their preparation for adult and working life.

    3) Contents

    The programme was adopted initially for a period of five years from 1 January 1988.

    The programme is intended to promote improvement and diversification of the vocational training available, encourage greater adaptability of such training to economic, technological and social change, and give a Community dimension to vocational qualifications.

    The Community measures are intended to complement Member States’ activities in the following main areas:

    • strengthening links between vocational education, training and guidance systems and all sectors of the economy, including young people’s organizations;
    • improving awareness of labour market trends and changes in working conditions, particularly those affecting health and safety;
    • promoting equal opportunities for girls and young women;
    • special help for the young people most at risk (handicapped, disadvantaged, those with few or no qualifications);
    • encouraging creativity, initiative and enterprise among young people.

    The Community measures are:

    • a new European network of training initiatives;
    • assistance for information projects on the transition from school to vocational training and working life and for projects encouraging the development of entrepreneurial skills, creativity and responsibility among young people;
    • exchanges of specialists;
    • technical assistance;
    • comparative research on vocational education and training issues;
    • review of developments in vocational qualifications;
    • monitoring of implementation of the programme by policy makers and the social partners.

    The Commission shall draw upon the assistance of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training.

    4) Deadline For Implementation Of Legislation By The Member States

    Not applicable.

    5) Date Of Entry Into Force (If Different From The Above)

    01.01.1988

    6) References

    Official Journal L 346, 10.12.1987

    7) Follow-Up Work

    Decision 91/387/EEC of 22 July 1991 amending Decision 87/569/EEC (summary 10.4.2b), incorporating the Young Workers’ Exchange Programme.

    8) Commission Implementing Measures

    Report from the Commission on the implementation of the PETRA programme (198891) [COM(93) 48 final].

    Financial support from the Community amounted to ECU 40 million over the period 1988-91. During this period, approximately 75 000 young people benefited directly from the programme, along with more than 10 000 teachers and trainers. Support has been provided for 70 research institutes investigating the effectiveness of initial vocational training systems. Considerable progress has been made in facilitating young people’s access to initial vocational training and in offering a year’s training at the end of their schooling. The number of young people undergoing such training has increased by an average annual rate of between 0.5 % and 4.3 %. PETRA has played a part in developing transnational cooperation and exchanges, and has helped to create a unified, consistent framework for Community action in the field of young people’s initial vocational training and their preparation for working life.

     

    Connecting the infrastructure network

    Connecting the infrastructure network

    Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Connecting the infrastructure network

    Topics

    These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

    Regional policy > Management of regional policy > Trans-european networks

    Connecting the infrastructure network

    To promote a pan-European transport networks partnership for co-ordinated transport planning, studying regulatory measures and facilitating financial arrangements.

    2) Document or Iniciative

    Communication from the Commission on connecting the Union´s transport infrastructure network to its neighbours: Towards a co-operative pan-European transport network policy [COM (97) 172 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

    3) Summary

    The Commission advocates a comprehensive approach to the pan-European network. It envisages a partnership on a European scale, the goal being the creation of a multimodal transport network across the European continent as a whole. Such a partnership should be based on the instruments available, and considered from three viewpoints:

    • the required investment volumes and their financing;
    • the regulatory and institutional framework;
    • an action plan to launch such a partnership.

    As regards the required investment volumes and their financing, the Commission emphasises the outlay that will have to be provided in the candidate countries for accession, who are going to see an increase in the volume of trade and tourism.

    Similarly, the new Member States, showing some readiness to open part of their infrastructure for pan-European transport corridors and areas, will be confronted with traffic growth which will create bottlenecks. Financial support for investments will therefore be necessary to cope with this.

    Infrastructure investments are funded by national budgets and a variety of Community programmes. However, the rules in the INTERREG, TEN, PHARE, TACIS and MEDA budget lines are all different. It would therefore be a major step forward if a co-ordinated approach could be envisaged which could cover all pan-European transport corridors and areas. Such an approach would fit within a broader framework of co-ordination with the international financial institutions (IFIs).

    In relation to the regulatory and institutional framework, the Commission would like to make coherent use of existing agreements and protocols (the Europe Agreements with the CECs, the Euro-Mediterranean Agreements and bilateral transport agreements with several States). It also intends to build on bodies already active, such as the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) and the G24 Transport Working Group.

    The communication presents an action plan for a pan-European transport networks partnership. It comprises five themes relating to co-ordinated transport planning:

    • pan-European transport corridors and areas are a long-term planning tool and a priority for investment;
    • the Trans-European Network approach must be extended to new Union members;
    • a common approach to the use of transport technology must be developed;
    • the following priorities were set by the Commission to promote the intelligent use of transport networks:
      – in the framework of G24, to launch the necessary work on GNSS with a view to extending its coverage to all neighbouring countries;
      – to promote the idea of an interoperable Control Command system on the pan-European rail transport corridors and areas;
      – to implement a coherent vessel surveillance system in all European waters;
      – to promote the standardisation of road traffic management systems beyond the Union´s borders;
      – to improve Air Traffic Management throughout the European Continent.
    • pan-European co-operation in R&D must be emphasised.

    On finance, the Commission will initiate the necessary measures to ensure horizontal co-ordination and compatibility amongst the various budget instruments for transport networks investment. The Commission strongly recommends that support from national funds and programmes, and from the IFIs, should principally be given to infrastructure and network projects which contribute to implementing the pan-European transport corridors and areas.