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Issue 6 | November 2011

Responsible Business Package: Country-by-country reporting

25 October. The Commission is encouraging responsible business by proposing to revise two Accounting Directives and the Transparency Directive to introduce a system of Country-by-Country Reporting (CBCR). This concerns EU privately-owned large companies or companies listed in the EU that are active in the oil, gas, mining or logging sectors. The Commission proposes regular financial reporting in respect of all countries where these companies operate instead of producing a single set of information at global level. In this system, the taxes, royalties and bonuses paid by multinational companies to host governments would show a company's financial impact in host countries, encouraging transparency and sustainable business.

"We need to ensure that all companies, not just social businesses, take their impact on the wider society seriously: that's why I also want big multinationals – in particular those in the forest and mining industries - to be more open about what they are paying to governments across the world."

Latest news » « TOP
Video on music copyright

In an era of online commerce and declining music sales, a single European market for music copyright seems essential. Artists, consumers, online retailers and the music industry face obstacles due to market fragmentation, lack of clear-cut rules and illegal downloading. What are their views on the issues at stake?

Watch the video
Responsible Business Package: Social entrepreneurship

25 October. The Commission's Social Business Initiative is part of the recently launched Responsible Business Package. Social businesses are companies that have making social impact as their corporate objective rather than maximising profit. It is a growing sector, currently employing more than 11 million citizens – 6% of the EU's total employment. The Social Business Initiative sets out to improve access to funding including EU funding under the revised European Social Fund and includes plans for a micro credit scheme. It has measures to improve visibility and proposes simpler rules. It also includes a proposal for a European Foundation Statute, a revision of the public procurement rules and state aid measures for social and local services.

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A roadmap for Stability and Growth

12 October. The Commission presented a roadmap to restore confidence in the Euro area and the European Union as a whole. The roadmap is designed to break the vicious circle between doubts over the sustainability of sovereign debt, the stability of the banking system and the European Union's growth prospects. President Barroso said, "This roadmap charts Europe's way out of the economic crisis. Reactive and piecemeal responses to different aspects of the crisis are no longer sufficient. We now need to get ahead of the curve. Confidence can be restored through an immediate deployment of all the elements needed to solve the crisis. Only in this way we will be able to convince our citizens, our global partners and the markets that we have the solutions that measure up to the challenges all economies are facing.

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Council agreement on derivatives

The Council agreed on a general approach for increasing transparency and reducing risk in the over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives market. The draft regulation calls for reporting all derivative contracts to trade repositories (i.e. central data centres) and the clearing of standardised OTC derivative contracts through central counterparties, in order to reduce counterparty risk. The aim is to prevent the default of one market participant causing the collapse of other market players, thereby putting the financial system at risk. Commissioner Barnier: "I congratulate the EU finance ministers in finding a unanimous agreement on this major text that is to bring transparency and regulation to the OTC derivatives market. We will now move to the final stage of adoption with the European Parliament. I hope to see this important milestone to be in force by the end of the year."

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Agreement on Credit Default Swaps - Short selling

The European Parliament and the Council agreed on a Regulation for Credit Default Swaps and Short selling. The agreement represents a significant step towards greater transparency, stability and responsibility in short selling transactions and sovereign Credit Default Swap markets. When the Regulation enters into force, regulators will be able to respond in a more coordinated and effective way when short selling poses a risk to the stability of markets. Commissioner Barnier: "In the current difficult economic circumstances, I particularly welcome the Parliament and Council's endorsement ensuring that regulators have access to the data they need and can act to restrict short selling of sovereign debt and limit sovereign Credit Default Swaps transactions when stability is at risk."

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Recommendations on the future of the outermost regions and the single market

Former European Commissioner Pedro Solbes presented a report to Commissioner Barnier on the subject of integrating the Outermost Regions (ORs), such as the Canary Islands, Martinique, Saint-Barthélemy and the Azores into the single market taking more account of their specificities also in terms of their location. Transporting goods to the ORs can cost up to five times more than in mainland Europe; low-capacity undersea cable connections pose problems and the effects of the economic crisis have been particularly severe in these regions with unemployment rates around the 30% mark. To address this, the Solbes Report contains 22 recommendations on integrating ORs into European networks and promoting them as "gateways to Europe".

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MIFID, new rules for more efficient, resilient and transparent financial markets

20 October. In recent years, financial markets have changed enormously. New trading venues and products have come onto the scene and technological developments such as high frequency trading have altered the landscape. The Commission tabled proposals to revise the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID).

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Getting tough on insider dealing and market manipulation

20 October. Financial markets have become increasingly global, giving rise to new trading platforms and technologies. This unfortunately has also led to new possibilities to manipulate these markets. The European Commission adopted a proposal for a Regulation on insider dealing and market manipulation (i.e. market abuse). Internal Market and Services Commissioner Michel Barnier said: "Market abuse is not a victimless offence. By distorting market prices, insider dealing and market manipulation undermine investor confidence and market integrity. By extending and reinforcing our legislative framework, as well as toughening up the powers and sanctions available to regulators, today's proposals will equip them with the tools to keep markets clean and transparent."

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Non-industry stakeholders participation in DG MARKT's financial services policy making

The Commission is prioritising the voice of citizens and stakeholders in the EU policy-making process as an essential element of 'smart regulation'. Particularly in the current context, non-industry stakeholders including consumers, retail investors, small businesses, academics and employee representatives are encouraged to join DG MARKT expert groups. Since the financial and economic crisis has significantly shaken the confidence of these categories of stakeholders in rules that were meant to protect them, it is essential that their concerns are properly taken into account in future policy proposals. DG MARKT will also launch a pilot project setting up a European financial expertise centre for the direct benefit of European end-users and non-industry stakeholders in the financial services area. An open call for proposals will be launched in 2012. A new webpage has been added to the DG MARKT website providing an overview on the composition and mandate of all active expert groups.

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Visits and Missions » « TOP
Commissioner Barnier visits European Patent Office Munich

6 October. Michel Barnier, accompanied by MEPs Cecilia Wikstrom and Eva Lichtenberger visited the European Patent Office and the collecting society GEMA in Munich. The Director of the European Patent Office, Mr Battistelli and his team presented the board and explained the procedures for patent applications. Giving concrete examples, office employees described the various stages of applications, covering translation, research and decision-making. A separate presentation was given for biotechnological inventions. Michel Barnier reiterated his wish to have "a strong and confident cooperation with the European Patent Office to implement the future single European patent." At GEMA, he stressed "the great potential of collecting societies is to contribute to the effectiveness and legal transactions of copyright in the interest of rights holders and of users of works."

Consultations » « TOP
18.11.2011 Copyright Green Paper on the online distribution of audiovisual works in the European Union: opportunities and challenges towards a digital single market
News from the Parliament » « TOP
Strasbourg plenary week 25 October:

At the plenary question time on the 12 priorities of the Single Market Act, Commissioner Barnier responded, together with Vice-president Kroes and Commissioner Dalli, to questions posed by MEPs. In response to a question by Ms Turunen (Greens/DK) on the timing of delivery, Commissioner Barnier confirmed that proposals on the priorities will be effectively presented by the end of the year. The Commissioner welcomed Louis Grech's (S&D/MT) suggestion to already look beyond this year and to respond to Europeans' "top 20 concerns" by proposing 12 further solutions in 2012. Michel Barnier praised Mr. Grech's overall work to involve the broader public and especially his idea of a "Charter of Single Market rights".

See also:
Website: IMCO (Internal Market Committee)
Website ECON (Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee)

For your diary » Latest publications » Question of the Month »
Brussels, 07 November, 09:00 to 17:00
Conference: Modernisation of the Professional Qualifications Directive

Brussels, 18 November
Conference: Social Economy and Social Business

Brussels, 28 November, 14.45 to 18.00
Conference on: Doing business made easier? Making the most of the "Points of Single Contact".

Single Market through the lens of people: a snapshot of citizens' and businesses' views and concerns

Do you think multi-country and pan-European licensing of music would help to reduce illegal downloading?


Results from the last month:
As an EU citizen, do you feel you are fully aware of your rights in the single market?
YES - 45.5%
NO - 54.5%

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