The European Commission today presented guidance aimed at supporting consumers, businesses and public authorities to engage confidently in the collaborative economy.
The European Commission today presented guidance aimed at supporting consumers, businesses and public authorities to engage confidently in the collaborative economy. The collaborative economy (sometimes called the sharing economy) refers to a new way for people to offer and use products and services through online platforms, on a profit or non-profit basis. These new business models can make an important contribution to jobs and growth in the European Union, if encouraged and developed in a responsible manner. The Communication, which was announced in the Single Market Strategy, provides guidance on how existing EU law should be applied to this dynamic and fast-evolving sector, clarifying key issues faced by market operators and public authorities alike, namely market access requirements, consumer protection, liability, labour law and tax. Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “A competitive European economy requires innovation, be it in the area of products or services. Europe’s next unicorn could stem from the collaborative economy. Our role is to encourage a regulatory environment that allows new business models to develop while protecting consumers and ensuring fair taxation and employment conditions.” Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, added: “The collaborative economy is an opportunity for consumers, entrepreneurs and businesses – provided we get it right. If we allow our Single Market to be fragmented along national or even local lines, Europe as a whole risks losing out. Today we are providing legal guidance for public authorities and market operators for the balanced and sustainable development of these new business models. We invite Member States to review their regulation in the light of this guidance and stand ready to support them in this process.” A press release, frequently asked questions, a factsheet and a Eurobarometer poll are available online. A press conference can be followed live on Ebs at 12:30.
We are most pleased to invite you to participate in an evening of discussion on what the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) can deliver for the citizens of the EU with our distinguished speakers Mr Hiddo Houben, Deputy Chief Negotiator and Head of Unit, USA and Canada, European Commission, DG Trade, Mr Andrew Hotchkiss, President, Europe and Canada, Eli Lilly & Company, and Mr Yorgos Altintzís, Economic and Social Policy Officer, International Trade Unions Confederation.
The debate will be moderated by Poppy Bullock, Senior Correspondent at MLex
About the debate
The European Union and the United States have the world’s most advanced economic relationship. To further this relationship, negotiations on the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) were launched in July 2013. They are now entering a crucial phase with the ambition on both sides to reach an agreement by the end of 2016. During their recent meeting at Hannover Messe in April, German Chancellor Merkel and US President Obama have called for an acceleration of TTIP talks.
The last TTIP negotiating rounds in Brussels and New York have boosted momentum for a successful completion of a mutually satisfactory trade deal aiming at both promoting jobs and growth and creating new trade standards, while establishing an innovative form of cooperation which could be a reference for the rest of the globe. However, the negotiation process still has some way to go not least because the scope of the agreement is large and the citizens of the EU still need to be engaged, as some public concerns have emerged.
One year after the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) came into force, the Commission looks at what has worked well in the Investment Plan, what can be improved, and how to advance. The Communication published today makes concrete proposals for the future of the EFSI, building on its positive results so far. These proposals include extending the EFSI beyond its initial three year period; scaling up the resources for SME financing, one of the EFSI’s major success stories; making the Advisory Hub services more local; and exploring the possibility to use an EFSI-type model for investments in developing third countries. The European Investment Project Portal goes live today, giving investors a transparent pipeline of projects they can invest in. The Commission also publishes a Communication on the Single Market Agenda today which outlines the many strands of work that have been or will be carried out at EU level to create a business-friendly environment to encourage innovation and invest in people. More details on both Communications can be found in the press release and the accompanying Q&A Memo, both of which will be available in all languages. Factsheets on the results of the EFSI and the Investment Plan so far can be found on our website. You can watch the new video about EFSI projects here.
Today, as part of #EUGreenWeek, Europe’s biggest annual occasion to discuss environment policy, a high-level conference will take place in Brussels with Vice-President Jyrki Katainen and Commissioner Vella on how the European Fund for Strategic Investments can mobilise finance for green projects. “New generations are asking for innovative and more sustainable growth models. It is our responsibility to make it happen“, said the Vice-President. A Eurobarometer survey also published today shows that over the past three years almost three quartersof European SMEs (73 %) undertook some circular economy related activity with the most common being minimising waste by recycling or reusing.Yet, more than a quarter (27%) of SMEs said they had encountered difficulties in accessing financing for their projects. Commissioner Vella added: “It is becoming more and more clear that a sound investment strategy means combining economic opportunity with sustainable environmental practice. Green Week sends a powerful signal to European companies, investors and the financial sector that a change of culture is both possible and profitable.” Green Week will also see commitments by Europe’s retailerson circular economy who will pledge to take more than 100 new actions to transform the retail sector, including steps on sustainable sourcing, increased energy efficiency and food waste. Today’s event will be webstreamed.
It is no secret that emerging economies are facing serious challenges, which have undermined their once-explosive growth and weakened their development prospects. Whether they return to the path of convergence with the advanced economies will largely depend on how they approach an increasingly complex economic environment. Of course, these economies’ development path was never simple or smooth. But for most of the post-World War II period, until as recently as ten years ago, it was relatively clear-cut. Countries needed to open their economies at a sensible pace; leverage global technology and demand; specialize in tradable sectors; pursue a lot of investment (some 30% of GDP); and promote foreign direct investment, with appropriate provisions for knowledge transfer. Throughout this process, the emerging economies recognized the importance of allowing market mechanisms to work, guaranteeing property rights, and safeguarding macroeconomic and financial stability. Perhaps most important, they knew that they had to focus on generating employment,particularly in urban areas and modernizing sectors, and on inclusiveness more broadly. As they pursued this agenda, emerging economies experienced stuttering starts and numerous crises, often associated with excessive debt, currency traps, and high inflation. And, upon reaching middle-income levels, countries confronted the policy and structural pitfalls that accompany the transition to high-income status. Nonetheless, in an increasingly open global environment, characterized by strong growth (and demand) in the advanced economies, the emerging economies managed to make huge and rapid progress. That all changed after the 2008 global financial crisis. To be sure, the core of the development agenda remains the same. But it is vastly more complicated.
Today’s Eurogroup agreement represents a breakthrough in several ways. It opens the way not only for the disbursement of the second tranche of the ESM programme amounting to EUR 10.3 bn but also for measures on debt relief, which will be implemented on a gradual basis. Above all, it will serve to create the conditions for the return of confidence, which is essential for a lasting economic recovery in Greece. Finally, the IMF management confirmed its intention to recommend to the IMF Executive Board to approve a financial arrangement before the end of the year that will support the implementation of the agreed fiscal and structural reforms in Greece. The details of the agreement are set out in a statement. Subject to the full implementation of the outstanding prior actions and to the completion of national procedures, a disbursement of a first instalment will be made in June (EUR 7.5 bn). A supplemental Memorandum of Understanding, which is due to be endorsed by the ESM Board shortly, will complement the framework for the programme implementation. Commissioner Moscovici participated in the press conference concluding the meeting. His opening remarks are available here.
The Commission has today taken further steps to increase transparency in its trade defence procedures and to simplify communication with involved stakeholders. Commenting on these steps that follow up on the “Trade for All” strategy launched in October 2015, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: “I’m committed to making trade policy more transparent across-the-board, including for trade defence. With the on-going steel crisis, we need more engagement between the Commission’s trade defence services and everyone concerned, including small businesses who struggle with unfair imports. With these new tools to improve two-way communication, we hope for more contributions to help us better address the industry’s legitimate concerns.” A summary document will be published to provide background on each request for a Commission investigation or review of existing anti-dumping or anti-subsidy measures and further summaries will be published systematically. The goal is to help spread the information about any starting investigation to the public at large and guarantee that all interested parties can bring their contribution. In addition, the Commission will put in place a new online platform improving communication between stakeholders involved in the ongoing proceedings that will provide relief particularly to smaller companies
There is widespread agreement on two facts about the Chinese economy. First, the slowdown has ended and growth is picking up. Second, not all is well financially. But there is no agreement on what happens next. The good news is that domestic demand continues to grow. Car sales were up nearly 10% in March over the same month in 2015. And retail spending grew at an annual clip of 10% in the first quarter. The most dramatic increase, though, is in investment. Real estate investment is growing again, following its collapse in 2015. Industrial investment, especially by state-owned enterprises, has been rallying strongly. At the root of this turnaround is enormous credit growth, as the authorities, concerned that the earlier slowdown was excessive, encourage China’s banks to lend. Credit growth, known in China as “total social financing,” grew at an annual rate of 13% in the fourth quarter of 2015 and again in the first quarter of this year – that is, double the rate of annual GDP growth. Since the financial crisis erupted in September 2008, China has had the fastest credit growth of any country in the world. Indeed, it is hard to point to another credit boom of this magnitude in recorded history.
The European Central Bank is under heavy attack in Germany, a country that has long prided itself on defending the principle of central-bank independence. Indeed, it was Germany that pushed for this principle’s inclusion among the criteria set out in the Maastricht Treaty, which established the conditions for membership in Europe’s monetary union. For many EMU members, making their central banks independent in order to join the euro meant a change in political regime. For example, in France’s 1992 referendum to ratify the Maastricht Treaty, the prospective autonomy of the French central bank was one of the strongest points in the campaign against adopting the euro. By contrast, in today’s Germany, putting pressure on the central bank has become standard practice. For a couple of months now, even Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has been commenting regularly on the ECB’s monetary policy. Schäuble’s interventions touch the core of central-bank independence. While he is not seeking to redefine the objective of monetary policy (the “price norm,” to use the old Bundesbank lingo), he is making suggestions on which tools the ECB should wield, and how it should wield them, in order to achieve that goal.