Thursday, May 24, 2012
Credit Card Fees viz. Charges in Europe: EU General Court Upholds European Commission Ruling Against MasterCard While Competition Commissioner Readies Charges Against Visa Europe
For the text of the ruling, see European Court of Justice judgment T-111/08 MasterCard and Others v Commission (Competition).
The European Commission ruling had a significant effect on credit card charges at the time, as MasterCard halved its charges in 2009 to avoid penalties.
Visa Europe reduced debit card charges in 2010, but EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia has said that fees on card transactions are too high and that formal charges against Visa Europe are being readied.
Crossposted at LawPundit.
Friday, May 18, 2012
EU Internet Cookie Law One-Year Grace Period Ends May 26, 2012 and Confronts Websites and Blogs with Compliance Problems
On May 26, 2012,
one of the more prominent legal and Internet headaches
in European Union lawmaking will dawn,
namely the question of how to abide by
the "new" EU Internet Cookie Law,
formally the "EU Privacy and Communication Directive",
which already went into effect a year ago,
but for which an extra grace period of one year was granted
to permit a standardization of website compliance -- a necessary standardization which has not happened in the interim.
Worse, the implementation of the Directive by the various EU Member States is not uniform -- creating an unnecessarily complicated situation given the cross-border nature of the Internet. See Paul McCormack at Tech Republic in Cookies and compliance: Has your website taken these six steps? where he refers to the DLA Piper report on How The EU Has Implemented The New Law on Cookies (updated December 5, 2011, showing various implementations).
Rory MccGwire, Chief Executive, BHP Information Solutions, writes as follows on May 10, 2012 at the Law Society Gazette in How the new EU cookie law affects law firms:
"It’s now 10 May, we've less than three weeks to go. I know of many websites that will switch over to a compliant version a week before 26 May. But has anyone seen examples of full compliance already being put into practice on a commercial website? I would be interested to know."We focused on this problem last year at
Privacy Law and the EU Internet Cookie Law Opt-Out Option Deadline: European Union Companies Given One Year by EU Commission to Standardize Cookie Tracking Consent Mechanism
Many websites and blogs use third-party services without themselves knowing exactly what cookies they place.
Furthermore, many serious sites, such as online banking, social media, email programs, and yes, even search engine settings, rely on cookies for operation. How else could you post easily to Facebook or Twitter from a third-party page if there were no cookies?
Such "necessary" cookies are permitted by the EU directive as exceptions and no express opt-in is required for them since the "opt-in" is presumed from the use of the service.
The solution we adopted for our own blogs, which rely on Google Analytics, is Silktide, as described in the previous LawPundit posting.
Please be aware that we are not recommending the use or installation of this or any other solution and expressly disclaim any liability for any solution that any website, blog or other Internet presence takes regarding this EU law. When in doubt, consult your attorney.
European Union Cookie Law Compliance Solution: A Free Open Source Plugin at Silktide together with a Definitive Guide to the Cookie Law
See Silktide - Become compliant
And see also Silktide - Definitive guide to the Cookie Law
The advantage of this open source solution is that it is "opt-in" and should be compliant with the various non-uniform implementations of the various European Union Member States, some of which require prior "opt-in" consent.
Please be advised that we are not recommending the use or installation of this particular plugin solution and expressly disclaim any liability for any solution that any website, blog or other Internet presence takes regarding this EU law based upon our installations or opinions.
When in doubt, consult your attorney.
Crossposted at LawPundit.
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
"The European Commission is planning to beef up the Data Protection Directive, strengthening the enforcement of the EU law and including introducing new demands that technologies and processes include 'privacy by design'.
advert: Pinsent Masons Data Protection and Freedom of Information Advice Lines
The Directive is implemented in the UK by the Data Protection Act and governs the use that can be made of people's personal data."
Changes to EUR-Lex, Official Journal of the European Union (EU), Legislative Acts, New Numbering in Treaties : EUR-Lex Newsletter 8/1/2010
"The EUR-Lex website has been harmonized with the other websites of the Publications Office....For more details, see the Newsletter.
From first January 2010 the structure of the Official Journal is adapted in order to take account of the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon....
In particular a distinction between 'Legislative acts' (L I) and 'Non-legislative acts' (L II) has been introduced in conformity with the Treaty of Lisbon....
Articles, sections, chapters, titles and parts of the 'Treaty on European Union' and of the 'Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union' are renumbered (Treaty of Lisbon article 5 and Annex)."
EUR-Lex : Free Access to European Union EU Law : Official Journal, Treaties, Legislation, Case Law, Legislative Proposals
"EUR-Lex provides direct free access to European Union law. Here you can consult the Official Journal of the European Union as well as the treaties, legislation, case-law and legislative proposals. You can also use the extensive search facilities available on EUR-Lex."Read more here.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Update of the Paul, Weiss Reference Guide to U.S., European (EU) & Global Legislative and Regulatory Measures to Deal with the Financial Credit Crisis
"In view of the multifaceted and evolving nature of the U.S. government’s response to the financial crisis, we have developed this reference guide to the principal regulatory programs and initiatives that have been announced to date. The guide summarizes the U.S. Treasury programs implemented under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, the administration’s Financial Stability Plan and other key programs implemented by the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The guide also summarizes the principal actions taken by European governments and the G-20 in response to the global credit crisis. This guide should be read in conjunction with the update alerts and other materials posted on our web site portal dedicated to the financial crisis."
View the full text of the PWFCRG.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
France Defies European Union and Passes Controversial Anti-Piracy Three Strikes and You're Out Creation and Internet Law Against Illegal File-Sharing
As written at ZeroPaid.com:
"Today the French National Assembly formally passed the controversial “Creation and Internet” law by a narrow 296 to 233 margin.
The legislation, backed by President Nicolas Sarkozy, and surprisingly defeated in the same body last month, calls for the creation of the Haute Autorité pour la Diffusion des Oeuvres et la Protection des droits sur Internet (HADOPI), a new govt agency whose task it would be to sanction those accused of illegal file-sharing."
The law is controversial in the European Union because it directly defies efforts of the EU Parliament in recent weeks to make the Three Strikes Law illegal through telecom law amendments which make internet access a fundamental right of EU citizens. As reported by La Quadrature du Net:
" "A formidable campaign from the citizens put the issues of freedoms on the Internet at the center of the debates of the Telecoms Package. This is a victory by itself. It started with the declaration of commissioner Viviane Reding considering access to Internet as a fundamental right. The massive re-adoption of amendment 138/462 rather than the softer compromise negotiated by rapporteur Trautmann with the Council is an even stronger statement. These two elements alone confirm that the French ‘three strikes’ scheme, HADOPI, is dead already." explains Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net."
It thus has all the makings of an upcoming confrontation between the French Parliament and the Parliament of the European Union.
The passage by the French Assembly had an immediate reaction in the United Kingdom, as reported by Nigel Kendall, Technology Editor at the Times Online, who writes that the UK is the latest country in Europe to formulate a strategy to combat illegal online file-sharing:
"A group representing the UK's creative industries today called for the UK government to intervene to prevent the spread of illegal file-sharing of copyrighted content such as music and film.
The group, a loose coalition that includes The British Phonographic Industry and the Film Distributors' Association, as well as trades unions such as the National Union of Journalists and the Musicians' Union, issued a joint statement following a meeting in London on May 12."
There is in the long term of course no question that the days of illegal fire-sharing are numbered, since large parts of the world economy are built on intellectual property rights which have to be defended. The French law is taking the logical approach by providing for the tracing of illegal file-sharers and a three-strikes and you are out policy toward them, leading to the cutting of their Internet connections. As written at the Hollywood Reporter:
"The "Creation and Internet" law, nicknamed the "Hadopi" because it involves the the creation of a Hadopi (High Authority for the Broadcast of Content and the Protection of Rights on the Internet) committee, authorizes the tracing of illegal downloaders through their IP addresses."
Once illegal downloaders are faced with the consequence that their Internet connections will be cut off, illegal file-sharing will drop quickly since the average citizen will not want to take that risk and will thus no longer engage in what he or she knows to be illegal file-sharing, but which currently has little risk of detection or penalties.
We presume that a compromise political and legal solution will be the recognition of Internet access as a fundamental right of EU citizens, provided that they do not engage in illegal activities via that very same Internet. We see no direct confrontation to be necessary here.
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Monday, May 11, 2009
Brandz Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands : Consumers are Angry with Governments, Institutions, and Economic Sectors but not Brands
"BRANDZ™ TOP 100 MOST VALUABLE GLOBAL BRANDS NOW WORTH $2 TRILLION
Google is the world’s first $100 billion brand, number one for the third year running
New York, New York, 29th April 2009 — the fourth annual BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands ranking published today by Millward Brown Optimor reveals that brands sustain their value, despite the tough economic environment.
The BrandZ Top 100 ranking identifies the dollar value of brands. It does this by combining financial data with research on consumers and business-to-business users from BrandZ, the world’s largest brand equity study.
The value of the top 100 brands has held its value at $1.95 tn (a marginal increase of 1.7 percent). Google is number one with a value of $100 bn, Microsoft is number two at $76.2 bn, and Coca-Cola enters the top three for the first time at $67.6 bn....
There are 15 new brands entering the ranking this year. Pampers is the highest entrant at no. 31, followed by Nintendo (no.32) and VISA (no.36). Trends identified from this year’s rankings are:
Value — Brands that represent good value for money have done well, this is about quality as much as price, for example Wal-Mart (+19 percent), ALDI (+49 percent) and Auchan (+48 percent). H&M (+8 percent) is now the number one apparel brand.
Vice — People still reward themselves with little treats when money is tight. Brands such as McDonald’s (+34 percent), Marlboro (+33 percent) and Budweiser (+23 percent) have all done well.
At Home — Brands that can be experienced at home have shown strong growth. This includes home shopping: Amazon (+85 percent) and eBay (+16 percent); Coffee that can be prepared at home: Nespresso (+27 percent) and Nescafe (+23 percent); and gaming — Nintendo jumped into the ranking for the first time at no. 32.
Wireless — The increased popularity of using the internet on the move through devices such as the iPhone and BlackBerry has led to huge increases for the mobile operators category as a whole, driven by demand for data services. Vodafone enters the top 10 for the first time this year (+45 percent)....
About Millward Brown
Millward Brown (www.millwardbrown.com) is one of the world's leading research agencies and is expert in effective advertising, marketing communications, media and brand equity research. Through the use of an integrated suite of validated research solutions — both qualitative and quantitative — Millward Brown helps clients build strong brands and services. Millward Brown has more than 75 offices in 48 countries. Millward Brown Optimor focuses on helping clients maximize the returns on their brand and marketing investments. Millward Brown is part of Kantar, WPP's insight, information and consultancy group.
Outside of North America:
+44 1926 826179
U.S. and Canada:
See the full report, where there are also lists of the Top 15 by Brand Contribution (Emotion), Top 10 by Brand Momentum (short-term growth prospects), top 20 Risers (greatest year-to-year value increase) and Newcomers to the Top 100 list.
There are top 10 lists by region:
Asia, Europe (including the UK), United Kingdom, and North America.
Featured Top 10 lists are also found for the following economic sectors:
Apparel, Beer, Bottled Water, Cars, Coffee, Fast Food, Financial Institutions, Gaming Consoles, Insurance, Luxury, Mobile Operators, Motor Fuel, Personal Care, Retail, Soft Drinks, Spirits, and Technology.
But perhaps the most interesting and significant list of all is the last one in the report, 10 Key Take Outs, of which we quote Number Four:
"4 Stay Positive
Consumers are angry – with government, at large institutions, with entire sectors. But they are not angry at your brand. Brand strength is stable over time. It is disrupted only when something new enters the market or when the brand upsets the relationship with consumers. It takes a lot to make that happen. A recent Millward Brown study of the financial sector revealed that consumers are likely to aim their current displeasure at the sector or at certain high-profile individuals. The displeasure consumers feel, however, does not seem to dramatically alter their
experience with their individual brand."
Montblanc Trademark for Stationery Goods Not Protected against Mont Blanc Tobacco Products in Latvia : Latvian Supreme Court Senate Decision : EU
See also MONT BLANC TOBACCO CO FRANCE LIMITED
Jānis Rozenfelds at Rozenfelds & Partners in his January 21, 2008 article at Mondaq titled Latvia: Court System In Latvia explains the current Latvian judicial system for those who are interested.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
See more of MayWood.
Friday, May 08, 2009
OECD Snapshot Country Statistical Profiles for 2009 are NOW Available for its 30 Member Countries plus Six Large Non-Member Economies
In this vein, one should now look at the Country Statistical Profiles for 2009 which have just become available from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). As written at the OECD:
- "The Country Statistical Profiles provide, for each of the 30 member countries, and, to the extent possible, for the 6 big non-member economies (Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Russian Federation and South Africa) and the accession countries Chile, Estonia, Israel and Slovenia, a broad selection of indicators, illustrating the demographic, social, economic and environmental developments. The user can easily compare each indicator for a country with those of other OECD countries."
The OECD informs us that these statistics are a STAT EXTRACT for each country since:
- "[t]his statistical profile, updated yearly, is a snapshot of data selected from more than 40 statistical databases available on SourceOECD, our online library. The red i's in the second column provide links to the sources of the data, where more up-to-date data and longer time series can be found."
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Travel to Latvia : An Exceptional Video Visiting Card from the Latvian Institute : Via the Baltic Online Media Store (BOMS)
Latvijas vizītkarte - Sounds Like LATVIA (2009) - Latvijas Institūts
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Full Text of April 23, 2009 Press Release of the European Commission regarding Germany's Dodging of its CAP Disclosure Duty
See the original EU links - IP/09/632 Date: 23/04/2009
Commission insists that all Member States publish recipients of CAP payments by 30th April, as set out in EU law
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Brussels, 23 April 2009
Commission insists that all Member States publish recipients of CAP payments by 30th April, as set out in EU law
The European Commission today expressed its surprise and disappointment with suggestions that Germany may not publish the list of beneficiaries of Common Agricultural Policy payments by 30th April 2009, as required by EU law. "We are very surprised. Germany voted in favour of this proposal and the legal situation is clear. Germany is obliged to implement this legislation. If they do suspend publication, we will react accordingly," said Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. "This could mean starting infringement proceedings against Germany. This is taxpayers' money, so it is very important that people know where it is being spent. Transparency should also improve the management of these funds, by reinforcing public control of how the money is used. Only in this way can we guarantee an informed debate about the future of the Common Agricultural Policy."
The new Financial Regulation, adopted in 2006, sets out the principle that Member States have to ensure the publication of a list of all recipients of all forms of EU agricultural and rural development funds for each financial year. A Commission Regulation sets out the details of how this publication will be carried out.
It provides that each Member State shall publish the information on a website which allows people to search for the beneficiaries by name, municipality, amounts received (and the currency concerned) or a combination of these three criteria and to extract the information as a single set of data. It requires Member States to inform the beneficiaries that their data will be made public and that they enjoy the rights accorded to them by EU data protection rules, thus ensuring that the system complies with the requirements of data protection. Recipients of money from the Rural Development fund have already been required to be published since September 2008. Germany has also published this data.
German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner has suggested "a temporary suspension" of the publication of this information, citing data protection concerns.
After careful examination, the Commission cannot agree to this suspension. Questions related to data protection were taken into consideration during the development of the legislation, which was backed by the Council. Germany itself voted in favour. EU regulations are directly applicable in all Member States, and the transparency rules are therefore binding in their entirety.
Neither the Member States nor the Commission may suspend the enforcement and application of these rules as long as they have not been declared invalid. Only the Court of Justice is empowered to declare an EU regulation to be invalid.
In this case, since an action is pending before the Court for a preliminary ruling on the validity of the EU transparency rules, the Commission must refrain from taking any action that could be perceived as prejudging the Court's future ruling.
As Guardian of the Treaties, the Commission will treat all Member States in the same way and ensure that transparency rules are fully enforced in the whole EU from 30 April 2009.
Bruxelles, le 23 avril 2009
La Commission insiste pour que les États membres publient la liste des bénéficiaires des paiements de la PAC pour le 30 avril, comme le prévoit la législation communautaire
La Commission a exprimé aujourd’hui sa surprise et sa déception à l’annonce que l’Allemagne pourrait ne pas publier la liste des bénéficiaires des paiements de la politique agricole commune pour le 30 avril 2009, comme l’exige la législation communautaire. «Nous sommes très surpris», a déclaré Madame Mariann Fischer Boel, membre de la Commission chargé de l’agriculture et du développement rural; l’Allemagne a voté en faveur de cette proposition et, sur le plan juridique, la situation est claire: elle a l’obligation d’appliquer la législation correspondante. Si elle suspend effectivement la publication de la liste, nous prendrons les mesures qui s’imposent. Cela pourrait signifier le lancement d’une procédure d’infraction contre l’Allemagne. Il s’agit de l’argent du contribuable et il est donc particulièrement important que les gens sachent ce qu’on en fait. La transparence devrait aussi améliorer la gestion de ces fonds, grâce à un contrôle public renforcé de leur utilisation. C’est la seule manière de garantir un débat éclairé sur l’avenir de la politique agricole commune.»
Le nouveau règlement financier, adopté en 2006, établit que les États membres doivent garantir la publication pour chaque exercice financier d’une liste de tous les bénéficiaires de toutes les formes d’aides dans les domaines de l’agriculture et du développement rural octroyées par l’UE. Les modalités de cette publication sont fixées dans un règlement de la Commission.
Celui-ci prévoit que chaque État membre publie les informations sur un site web permettant au public de rechercher les bénéficiaires par nom, commune, montants reçus (et devise correspondante) ou en combinant ces trois critères et d’extraire les renseignements correspondants sous la forme d’un ensemble de données unique. Le règlement impose aux États membres d’informer les bénéficiaires que leurs données seront publiées et qu’ils bénéficient des droits qui leur sont accordés par la réglementation communautaire en matière de protection des données; cette disposition garantit la conformité du système aux exigences de protection des données. Depuis septembre 2008, il est obligatoire de publier la liste des bénéficiaires de subventions du Fonds pour le développement rural. Ces données ont aussi été publiées par l’Allemagne, mais son ministre de l’agriculture, Madame Ilse Aigner, a proposé une «suspension temporaire» de la publication en raison de considérations relatives à la protection des données.
Après mûre réflexion, la Commission a conclu qu’elle ne pouvait pas donner son accord. Les questions de protection des données ont été prises en considération lors de l’élaboration de la législation, qui a reçu l’appui du Conseil. L’Allemagne elle-même a marqué son approbation. Les règlements de l’Union européenne sont directement applicables dans tous les États membres et les règles en matière de transparence sont donc contraignantes dans leur intégralité.
Tant que la validité de ces règles n’a pas été annulée, ni les États membres, ni la Commission ne sauraient donc en suspendre l’application ou la mise en œuvre, et seule la Cour de justice est habilitée à invalider un règlement de l’Union européenne.
Étant donné qu’en l’espèce, une action a été engagée devant la Cour, qui est appelée à rendre un arrêt préjudiciel sur la validité de la réglementation communautaire en matière de transparence, la Commission doit s’abstenir de toute action susceptible d’être perçue comme préjugeant de la future décision de la Cour.
Gardienne des traités, la Commission entend agir de manière identique vis-à-vis de tous les États membres et veiller à ce que, dans toute l’Union européenne, la réglementation en matière de transparence soit intégralement mise en œuvre à la date du 30 avril 2009."
Brüssel, den 23. April 2009
GAP-Zahlungen: Kommission besteht auf Veröffentlichung der Empfängerdaten durch alle Mitgliedstaaten bis 30. April 2009
Die Europäische Kommission zeigte sich heute überrascht und enttäuscht über Hinweise, dass Deutschland die Liste der Empfänger von GAP-Zahlungen möglicherweise nicht wie im EU-Recht vorgesehen bis 30. April 2009 veröffentlichen will. „Wir sind wirklich überrascht. Deutschland hat für diesen Vorschlag gestimmt, und die Rechtslage ist klar. Deutschland ist verpflichtet, die Vorschriften umzusetzen. Sollte es die Veröffentlichung dieser Daten tatsächlich aussetzen, werden wir entsprechend reagieren“, kommentierte Kommissarin Fischer Boel, zuständig für Landwirtschaft und ländliche Entwicklung. „Dies könnte bedeuten, dass ein Verstoßverfahren gegen Deutschland eingeleitet wird. Hier geht es um das Geld der Steuerzahler, und deswegen müssen die Bürger wissen, wohin dieses Geld fließt. Mehr Transparenz dürfte auch die Verwaltung der Mittel verbessern, weil die öffentliche Kontrolle der Mittelverwendung gestärkt wird. Nur so kann es eine sachlich fundierte Diskussion über die Zukunft der Gemeinsamen Agrarpolitik geben."
Nach der neuen Haushaltsordnung von 2006 müssen die Mitgliedstaaten jedes Jahr eine angemessene nachträgliche Veröffentlichung der Informationen über die Empfänger von Haushaltsmitteln sicherstellen. Die Einzelheiten dieser Veröffentlichung sind in einer Durchführungsverordnung der Kommission geregelt.
Nach dieser Verordnung müssen die Informationen von den Mitgliedstaaten auf einer speziellen Website veröffentlicht werden und für die Nutzer über eine Suchfunktion zugänglich sein, mit der Name, Gemeinde und erhaltene Beträge (in der betreffenden Währung) oder eine Kombination dieser drei Kriterien abgefragt und die Informationen als ein Datensatz entnommen werden können. Außerdem müssen die Mitgliedstaaten die Empfänger im vorhinein über die Veröffentlichung ihrer Daten informieren und sie auf ihre Rechte im Rahmen der EU-Datenschutzbestimmungen hinweisen, womit sichergestellt ist, dass das System den Datenschutzerfordernissen entspricht. Die Daten über die Empfänger von Mitteln aus dem Europäischen Landwirtschaftsfonds für die Entwicklung des ländlichen Raums wurden erstmals bereits im September 2008 und auch von Deutschland veröffentlicht.
Die deutsche Landwirtschaftsministerin Ilse Aigner hat nun unter Hinweis auf datenschutzrechtliche Bedenken darum gebeten, die Verpflichtung zur Veröffentlichung dieser Daten „auszusetzen“.
Nach sorgfältiger Prüfung kam die Kommission jedoch zu dem Schluss, dass sie einer Aussetzung nicht zustimmen kann. Die Datenschutzproblematik wurde während des Legislativverfahrens berücksichtigt, der Rat hat die Vorschriften genehmigt, Deutschland hat für die Vorschriften gestimmt. Die Gemeinschaftsverordnungen gelten unmittelbar in allen Mitgliedstaaten, und die Transparenzvorschriften sind in allen ihren Teilen verbindlich.
Weder die Mitgliedstaaten noch die Kommission können die Durchsetzung und Anwendung dieser Vorschriften aussetzen, solange diese nicht für ungültig erklärt worden sind. Und nur der Gerichtshof ist befugt, eine Gemeinschaftsvorschrift für ungültig zu erklären.
Da beim Gerichtshof ein Vorabentscheidungsersuchen zur Gültigkeit der Transparenzvorschriften anhängig ist, muss die Kommission außerdem jede Handlung unterlassen, die als Vorgriff auf die Entscheidung des Gerichtshofs gewertet werden könnte.
Als Hüterin der Verträge wird die Kommission alle Mitgliedstaaten gleich behandeln und sicherstellen, dass die Transparenzvorschriften ab dem 30. April 2009 in allen Mitgliedstaaten in vollem Umfang durchgesetzt werden."
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
European Union EU Common Agricultural Policy CAP Susbsidies also include Egregious Non-Farm Aid to Multinational Corporations
MDC Datum explains how export refunds work (see also CAOBISCO on this topic). In the first instance, prices, e.g. for sugar, are kept artificially higher in the European Union than what world prices would warrant, by implementing various means of "intervention" (this used to be called "price fixing"), thus already greatly benefitting the relevant companies in the first instance.
Then, when these same companies sell their (increasingly?) surplus production not to the EU, but on the world market, the EU by a system of so-called "export refunds" makes up the difference in price between the "world market price" and the fixed artifically-created "intervention price" which prevails in the European Union for the given commodity. This difference is paid to the exporting company! Now there is a game to be involved in. The European Union system of export refunds thus can be regarded as one of the greatest scams ever invented for the beneficiaries of this "sure thing" system.
As written by Felicity Lawrence at the The Guardian on December 8, 2005 in Multinationals, not farmers, reap biggest rewards in Britain's share of CAP payouts:
"[C]ampaign groups such as Oxfam argue that the CAP has given a handful of monopoly multinational companies fixed prices and guaranteed markets while encouraging excess production. Just six sugar traders, for example, control most of the EU sugar market and between them have been able to claim EU export subsidies amounting to between €1.2bn and €1.4bn annually. Surpluses can be dumped on international markets at subsidised rates and thus keep world prices artificially low, further benefiting the multinational companies. "Stripped to its essential, the sugar regime is a system of corporate welfare...[it] sanctions what is effectively a [legal] cartel", according to Oxfam." [link and emphasis added by LawPundit]
Read in this regard Oxfam's Briefing Paper 34 Milking the CAP: How Europe’s dairy regime is devastating livelihoods in the developing world, which observed in commenting on the year 2001 that :
"European citizens are supporting the dairy industry to the tune of €16 billion a year. This is equivalent to more than $2 per cow per day – half the world’s people live on less than this amount. EU surpluses of milk and milk products are dumped on world markets using costly export subsidies, which destroy people’s livelihoods in some of the world’s poorest countries. Dairy processing and trading companies are the direct beneficiaries of these subsidies. Meanwhile, many small-scale European dairy farmers are struggling to make ends meet. Oxfam is calling for an immediate end to EU dairy export dumping and for agricultural support to target small-scale farmers."
Although export refunds for dairy products were discontinued by the European Commission in 2007 in part because of the understandable swell of protest against these clear monopoly scams, it is now reported a mere two years later that export refunds for dairy products are again to be reinstituted, as we read in the European Parliament on March 12, 2009 in Strasbourg in the ANNEX (Written answers) - QUESTIONS TO THE COMMISSION:
"Question n° 56 de Alain Hutchinson (H-0122/09 )
Objet: Subventions à l'exportation
En 2001, l'UE s'était engagée à diminuer progressivement les subventions à l'exportation de ses produits agricoles, pour les supprimer d'ici à 2013. Cependant pour 2006-2007, l'UE a encore dépensé 2,5 milliards d'euros en subventions à l'exportation. Si ce montant représente une diminution, il demeure encore beaucoup trop élevé. Dans un contexte international marqué par la crise alimentaire et la flambée des prix agricoles, il serait pourtant nécessaire d'avancer beaucoup plus rapidement vers la suppression de telles subventions qui constituent un dumping intenable pour des millions de petits producteurs des pays en développement.
La Commission peut-elle préciser, chiffres et calendrier à l'appui, quelles sont ses intentions en la matière?
The re-introduction of EC export refunds for dairy products is a response to a dramatic 60% decrease in world market prices over recent months, a result from shrinking demand. And contrary to the current situation in the EU, dairy production increases in certain competing exporting third countries such as New Zealand, Brazil and the United States.
These export refunds have therefore to be considered as a safety-net and certainly not as a setback of the course set out in the 2003 Common Agricultural Policy reform and the subsequent Health Check.
The EU has always respected its international commitments on export refunds and will continue to do so.
The Ministerial Declaration adopted at the Hong Kong World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference on 13-18 December 2005 lays down that: "We agree to ensure the parallel elimination of all forms of export subsidies and disciplines on all export measures with equivalent effect to be completed by the end of 2013." The EC as WTO member will respect its political commitments in the declaration, including on the deadline for the elimination of all forms of export subsidies. This commitment however is conditioned on the successful completion of the Doha Round.
The EC remains committed to concluding the Doha Round and hope that an agreement can be achieved during 2009. Following an agreement the EC will specify in its schedule the details on the elimination of export refunds by 2013."
In 2006/2007 the EC notified to the WTO the spending of €1.4 billion in export refunds and not € 2.5 billion. This is less than one fifth of the agreed WTO ceiling for export subsidies."
According to the Farmers Guardian, the following non-farm CAP payments were e.g. made in 2004/2005 (the very fact that these numbers are not up to date anywhere online indicates that people are trying to hide what is at heart a tremendous scam system, benefitting only large vested interests):
"1. Tate & Lyle Europe £88,703,757.25
2. C Czarnikow Sugar £39,396,794.72
3. Tate & Lyle Europe £20,104,840.01
4. Fayrefield Foods Ireland £18,361,816.61
5. Tate & Lyle Citric Acid £15,243,922.59
6. Philpot Dairy Products £13,229,777.84
7. Meadow Foods £12,471,426.15
8. Milk Supplies £9,775,832.61
9. Dale Farm £8,616,911.24
10. Nestle UK £5,116,853.67
11. Meadow Foods £4,909,609.00
12. G's Growers £4,593,443.86
13. T M C dairies £3,100,963.74
14. Lakeland Dairies £2,938,066.39
15. KG Growers £2,380,753.40
16. Express Dairies Milk £2,270,698.41
17. Eilers & Wheeler Sales £2,149,003.87
18. Fruition APO £1,664,004.76
19. Humber Growers £1,644,222.60
20. Cargill plc Agricultural Division £1,478,833.50"
It is no wonder that the WTO has put pressure on the European Union to abandon these export refunds which are not only skewing world prices, but are also wrongfully filling the coffers of various EU multinational companies and their wealthy shareholders at EU taxpayer expense, taxpayers who not only are being forced to pay higher than world prices for the commodities that they themselves consume, but who in addition are also forced to pay to subsidize EU companies who are selling surplus commodities to the 3rd world nations at subsidized prices, thus undercutting 3rd world economies. It is a new "colonial-type" racket of immense scope.
What is particularly disturbing about CAP subsidies is that they are going straight out of the pockets of ordinary citizens into the pockets of large companies and landholders. This is nothing more than a modern form of feudalism as far as the paying EU taxpayer is concerned.
Both the UK and Germany, for example, pay more into the CAP pot than they get back, so that their ordinary citizens have every right to demand that this money go at least to deserving farmers either at home or in some of the other developing EU Member States. It is most surely not the intent of the EU populace to see their hard-earned monies being continuously plundered by wealthy institutions and individuals who already have more than enough.
There is also no excuse (according to 2006 stats at FarmSubsidy.Org) for large countries such as France WINNING €22 more per citizen per year in CAP subsidies than they put into the pot, whereas each citizen in the United Kingdom LOSES €22 in the deal, and in Germany each citizen even loses €42 in the deal. In 2007, according to FarmSubsidy.Org, the top three CAP recipients in France were BANKS! Why should citizens in the UK and Germany be subsidizing French banks, agribusiness and large multinational corporations?
Once again, we point a strong finger of guilt at all of those knowingly involved in this unprecedented and often clandestine scheme for the redistribution of money within the European Union. The very fact that information about CAP subsidy payments is extremely hard to obtain indicates clearly that those in the know also know that they are in the middle of operations which should best not see the light of day.
Jack Thurston at FarmSubsidy.Org refers to a Financial Times article on CAP by Alan Beattie, who tellingly wrote:
"People pushing for reform of the CAP say more pressure from inside the EU is needed. But the first problem is finding detailed information. For much of its history, the CAP has largely operated in the dark. Figures on how much each farmer receives have had to be painfully extracted from EU member governments by sustained campaigning and repeated requests under various national freedom of information acts."
We see this again clearly in Germany's reluctance this week to abide by EU law and to disclose the names of CAP recipients in the year 2009.
WHERE IS there evidence of the PROGRESS FORWARD so badly needed by the EU?
European Union Farm Subsidies of $55 Billion are 43% of EU Budget : Germany Refuses to Name Aid Recipients on Data Protection Grounds
The really big money in the European Union financial scheme of things changes hands feudally between the lowly taxpayers and vested agricultural interests, mostly big agribusiness and large landowners. Just as in the United States, where the wealthiest factions of the country have been milking the economy for all it is worth, a similar process is at work in the European Union in transferring more and more money into the hands of those who already have it.
As reported by Valentina Pop at EUObserver, European Union farm subsidies currently total $55 billion per year, which accounts for 43% of the entire EU budget. Since EU budget funds come from the EU Member States in the form of a flat tax of ca. 1% of GDP, it is in fact the little guys who are once again paying the bill.
This can be seen from Richard Baldwin's analysis of agricultural aid to the UK in Who finances the Queen’s CAP payments? The CAP as a dooH niboR scheme [i.e. taking from the poor and giving to the rich in a reverse of Robin Hood, which is dooH niboR backwards - see Paul Krugman on Dooh Nibor Economics].
Baldwin may be writing in the year 2005 in The royalty of CAP madness, but nothing has changed in the intervening years. As written February 9, 2008 by Colin Brown, Deputy Political Editor at the Independent in 'Fat cats' benefit from EU farming subsidies:
"The Queen and one of the richest men in London, the Duke of Westminster, are among the biggest winners from this year's payment of farm subsidies.
The Duke, who owns most of Mayfair and also Grosvenor Farms Limited, was paid £562,786, while the Duke of Marlborough, a member of the Churchill family, was paid £452,944 in subsidy for the Blenheim Farm Partnership based in Woodstock, Oxfordshire.
One of the largest payments went to the Mormon Church, which has become one of the biggest foreign landowners in English farming following a payment of £1.59m from the reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The Queen's Sandringham Farms were paid £408,970 in subsidies. Half of the land is let to tenants and the rest is turned over to two studs for her racehorses, forestry and fruit farms which produce apples and juice for the Windsor farm shop."
The UK Parliament has also provided interesting figures. The House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 27 Jan 2009 (pt 0010) show the following top 10 recipients in the UK of EU farm aid:
"Jane Kennedy [holding answer 5 February 2009]: The following table lists the 10 individuals and/or organisations that received the highest subsidies available under all schemes under the common agricultural policy for the European financial year 2008, which runs from 16 October 2007 to 15 October 2008.
We found the following information about these organizations online:
- K G Growers has an annual turnover of £115 million.
- G's Growers, according to Hoover's, had sales of $34.5 million in 2008.
- Farmcare Limited is part of the Co-Operative Group (CWS) Limited, a co-op headquartered in Manchester, UK, with ca. 65000 employees and revenues of over £7000 million annually. This is the largest commercial farmer in Britain.
- The Berryworld Producer Organisation are suppliers of berries to the major UK supermarkets (Tesco, Sainsbury's, etc.)
- Strutt and Parker Farms cover more than 18,200 acres in Essex and Suffolk and are divided into six farms
- The National Trust - in our opinion, they should get more
- Sir Richard Suttons Settled Estate is 6500 acres and belongs to one of the UK's wealthiest persons
- Lilburn Estates Farming Partnership covers nearly 28000 acres - in the year 2005 "5,450 acres of combinable crop, 5,285 acres of lowland grass, 155 acres of forage crops, 14,600 acres of hill and heather grouse moor and 2,300 acres of woodland. As well as a breeding and finishing sheep enterprise totalling 28,380 head, the unit's 3,068 cattle includes 1,134 suckler cows, 1,536 finishing cattle, 370 Stabiliser bred replacements, six continental stock bulls and 18 Stabiliser stock bulls."
- Blankley Estates Ltd provides little information online but it even has its own proprietary 18-hole golf course (as a golfer, I am happy, but as an EU taxpayer, this is to my mind not a suffering farmer worthy of a CAP subsidy)
- Fruition Producer Organisation Limited - Fruition PO Ltd is part of World Wide Fruit "one of the UK's largest fruit marketing companies"
As Valentina Pop now writes at Germany dodges disclosure of EU farm funds, to keep these kinds of payments to the rich out of the public eye, Germany has now ignored an EU law requiring full agricultural subsidy disclosure and has refused to name the German aid recipients on the grounds of "data protection", which is of course absolutely absurd from every possible legal viewpoint. As EUObserver writes:
"Claiming data protection issues, German agriculture minister Ilse Aigner on Wednesday recommended: "temporarily suspending the publication of further information on the beneficiaries of agricultural funding." Germany is the only country to have done so."
Aigner is by profession a trained radio and TV technician who appears to us intellectually and by educational background to be totally out of her league in her ministerial post. What does Aigner know about law? One of the tragedies of our media age is that "pretty faces" such as Aigner are elevated into top political positions where they wreak havoc due to their lack of qualifications.
In fact, as we already know from a November 2007 Stern article Agrarsubventionen: Volle Töpfe für die Großen, the lion's share of EU agricultural CAP subsidies to Germany is going into the pockets of the large agribusiness concerns and the old landholding gentry, just as in the UK.
The idea that the names of those who are plundering the European Union economy should be kept secret is a travesty, as pointed out by Jack Thuston in the EUObserver article by Pop:
"This is a disgrace. The handful of politicians and judges in Germany who are opposing transparency are acting as the puppets of big agri-business and wealthy landowners, who's only interest is to keep the German people in the dark about the reality of farm subsidies," Jack Thuston, co-founder of www.farmsubsidy.org, the journalist-launched initiative behind the EU requirement, said in a statement.
He also pointed to the fact that the commission can release the names of the beneficiaries if a member state dodged this requirement, because the EU executive does have this data on file.
"Farmsubsidy.org originally proposed that the commission publish the information in one single dataset, partly because it would be simpler, less bureaucratic and less fragmented, and partly in anticipation that some member states would backslide from their obligations, as Germany is now doing. Unfortunately the commission chose to pass the responsibility down to member states," he added.
Also on Friday, a court in Munster ruled that the publication of names, addresses and amounts of EU funding received by farmers complies with German legislation. The ruling cannot be challenged further."
It is quite clear in this quarter that the names must be revealed. It will now be interesting to see who does the revealing and what consequences it will have. With Ministers like Aigner, Merkel does not need enemies - they are in her own cabinet.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Portugal Leads the Way to Legal Reform & Drug Decriminalization by Setting a Successful Drug Law Example for the EU and the USA in Particular
"We certainly need to imprison dangerous offenders - to protect us and to punish them. But we need to get a lot smarter about why we imprison and who we imprison. Remarkably, in the last thirty years, the largest increase in imprisonment has been due to prohibition drug policy.
Even though drug enforcement leaders have warned for more than twenty years that "we can't arrest our way out of the drug problem," every year we arrest more people for drug offenses than the year before. Last year we arrested over 1.8 million Americans, more than three times the number arrested for all violent crimes combined. Now about one-quarter of those in prison are serving drug sentences. As the centerpiece of our anti-drug strategy, arrests and imprisonment have failed: high school seniors report that drugs are easier for them to get now than in the 1970s and 1980s."
"Consider this disturbing fact: the United States now has the world's highest incarceration rate outside of North Korea. Out of 1,000 people, more Americans are behind bars than anywhere in the world except in Kim Jong-Il's Neo-Stalinist state. The US has a higher incarceration rate than China, Russia, Iran, Zimbabwe and Burma - countries American politicians often berate for their human rights violations.
Well over two million Americans are behind bars. Let us agree that violent criminals and sex offenders should be in jail, but most Americans are not aware that over one million people spend year after year in prison for non-violent and petty offenses: small-time drug dealing, street hustling, prostitution, bouncing checks and even writing graffiti. Texas, with its boot-in-your-butt criminal justice system, is now attempting to incarcerate people who get drunk at bars - even if they are not disturbing the peace and intend to take a taxi home...
Arguably, continuously lowering the bar for what it takes to be jailed threatens the liberty of all Americans. And having one million non-violent offenders in prison (often for absurdly long periods) makes it that much easier, in the near future, for the return of debtors' prisons and dissident detention centers. This approach to locking up everyone possible undermines both the liberal emphasis on personal liberty and the conservative emphasis on small government."
Who out there in the American criminal justice system understands the basic wisdom found in Herbert Packer's Limits of the Criminal Sanction? What lawmaker, government official, judge, prosecutor, or prison official in the United States has ever read Packer's book - much less applied the inexorable legal policy conclusions demanded by it? (see Google Books, this PPT and Packer's Two Models of the Criminal Process)
Not every undesirable human action or activity in society is or should be subject to criminal punishments. There are other - more modern - means available to deal with socially undesirable behavior.
Indeed, the primitive idea of jails or prisons as legal solutions for societal problems has been around for millennia. But such jails and prisons, except as a deserved punishment of and/or an effective deterrent of violent and dangerous criminals, are by their very nature as outdated in modern law as the now discredited blood-letting is in modern medicine, which was an accepted medical practice worldwide from the earliest times of humanity down to the late 19th century, a flawed medical practice which surely cost America's first President, George Washington, his life (we quote from the Wikipedia):
"Bloodletting was also popular in the young United States of America.... George Washington asked to be bled heavily after he developed a throat infection from weather exposure. Almost 4 pounds (1.7 litres) of blood was withdrawn ... contributing to his death in 1799."
We were reminded of the similar backward state of contemporary American law by the April 26, 2009 TIME article of Maia Szalavitz on Drugs in Portugal: Did Decriminalization Work? (referring to an article by Glenn Greenwald at the Cato Institute), where the answer to that question in the title is a clear, resounding, "YES, drug decriminalization has worked in Portugal".
Szalavitz quotes Glenn Greenwald, writing at the Cato Institute:
"Judging by every metric, decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success," says Glenn Greenwald, an attorney, author and fluent Portuguese speaker, who conducted the research. "It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country does."
What sensible legal policy did Portugal adopt?
Going to the original article at the Cato Institute, Glenn Greenwald writes in Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies :
"On July 1, 2001, a nationwide law in Portugal took effect that decriminalized all drugs, including cocaine and heroin. Under the new legal framework, all drugs were "decriminalized," not "legalized." Thus, drug possession for personal use and drug usage itself are still legally prohibited, but violations of those prohibitions are deemed to be exclusively administrative violations and are removed completely from the criminal realm. Drug trafficking continues to be prosecuted as a criminal offense....
The data show that, judged by virtually every metric, the Portuguese decriminalization framework has been a resounding success. Within this success lie self-evident lessons that should guide drug policy debates around the world." [emphasis added]
We are particularly gratified to read this result, because the Portuguese solution is the solution advocated 40 years ago by our mentor at Stanford Law School, the late Professor John Kaplan - famed for his legal brilliance from his days at Harvard, a former prosecutor who was a conservative at heart - who in the late 1960's was selected as a member of a top-notch advisory committee of law professors to advise the California state legislature on a revision of the California criminal (penal) code.
Kaplan's drug research at that time led the professorial advisory committee to recommend the decriminalization of marijuana in California to the California legislature - with the result, if memory serves correctly, that some if not all of the entire advisory committee was released from its duties by the legislature and replaced by other law professors whose political views were more in line with what the California legislature wanted to hear. I know of this only be hearsay and can not vouch for the exact details.
In any case, Kaplan responded to this experience with his book, Marijuana: The New Prohibition, which I had the honor and pleasure to edit while still a student, and in which Kaplan was of the opinion that drugs such as marijuana should be "decriminalized" - it was his major recommendation in this field of law. Drug abuse, as Herbert Packer - for whom I was also a student assistant at Stanford Law School - would have predicted by the principles in his book on the limits of the criminal sanction, simply does not lend itself well to control by criminal punishments.
Eric E. Sterling, J.D., President of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation in his Drug Policy Bibliography and Websites lists Kaplan's book as follows:
"John Kaplan, Marijuana – The New Prohibition, Pocket Books, New York, 1971, 402 pp. A
classic. Stanford law professor John Kaplan demolished the factual foundation for marijuana
prohibition when originally published in 1970. Throughly documented."
Talcott Bates M.D. wrote in his book review of Marijuana: The New Prohibition:
"Professor Kaplan was appointed in 1966 by the California Senate to a committee to revise the California Penal Code, last completely revised in 1872. By chance he was assigned the drug laws, about which he felt he had no knowledge or experience except that which he had acquired as a one-time prosecutor as Assistant United States Attorney. It became apparent at once that the key drug problem in California was the treatment of marijuana. Not until the treatment of marijuana was intelligently handled would progress in the broader area of drug abuse be possible.
Marijuana: The New Prohibition reviews the history of marijuana, how in 1937, four years after Prohibition ended, Congress outlawed the sale, possession, and use of marijuana. Professor Kaplan points out that the measure of the wisdom of any law is the measure of its total social
and financial costs and the benefits that derive from this outlay. This book is an attempt to measure the costs of the criminalization of marijuana and concludes that the costs far outweigh the benefits."
It is not without reason, as written at ProhibitionCosts.Org, that in the year 2005, three Nobel laureates in economics and more than 500 distinguished economists advocated "replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of taxation and regulation similar to that used for alcoholic beverages [which] would produce combined savings and tax revenues of between $10 billion and $14 billion per year...."
In terms of drug possession and abuse, as I wrote previously elsewhere about John Kaplan's book:
Marijuana -- The New Prohibition
John's book on the drug laws resulted from his membership on a professorial advisory committee to the California state legislature. John was quite conservative in his views and had in fact served as a public prosecutor of crimes, but his committee recommended a liberal stance toward marijuana - regarding its criminalization to be a legislative mistake.
John's view was that the legislature should concentrate more on workable laws regarding hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine, which were the major dangers. Too much emphasis was going toward marijuana - where young people were easily being caught in the act of smoking - and too little effort was being placed on going after hard drug makers and dealers, where arrests were much harder for the authorities to obtain.
As the result of the objective committee report, however, the committee was fired by the California legislature and a new committee was formed, ostensibly with members whose views were more in line with what the legislature subjectively wanted to hear, whether it fit the facts or not. In his book, John predicted that the criminalization of marijuana would not work - it did not work - and that, on the contrary, the marijuana laws would strengthen the hard drug dealers as suppliers - which in fact happened, leading many people to take stronger drugs. The drug abuse mess that exists today throughout much of America is partially the result of this very erroneous drug law policy, having concentrated on marijuana and not enough on the truly dangerous substances.
See: Marijuana -- The New Prohibition
by John Kaplan
Publisher: Ty Crowell Co; 1st Edition (June 1970)"
The State of California and the other states of the United States ignored Kaplan's recommendations and the results are now in, 40 years later. They do not speak well for the wisdom of past or current legislation on drug laws or their enforcement. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) :
"In 2006, 25 million Americans age 12 and older had abused marijuana at least once in the year prior to being surveyed. Source: National Survey on Drug Use and Health; http://www.samhsa.gov/. The NIDA-funded 2007 Monitoring the Future Study showed that 10.3% of 8th graders, 24.6% of 10th graders, and 31.7% of 12th graders had abused marijuana at least once in the year prior to being surveyed. Source: Monitoring the Future http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/. "
The case for decriminalization and for a more intelligent approach to drug possession and abuse is clearly apparent.
Generally, in terms of all petty and needlessly "criminalized" legal infractions, there are great legislative and judicial opportunities out there to adopt sensible criminal laws, to get people out of jails and prisons who should not be there, and to help to integrate people into normal life rather than tossing them stupidly into jails and prisons, where little progress in development is possible for most. Quite the contrary, people are thrown together with hardened criminals, to their detriment. In most non-violent crimes, especially petty infractions, jail and/or prison should be the LAST option, not the first.
But how likely is it that an entrenched unmoving American legal system will now take the intelligent path forward to reform its vastly outdated drug laws and to free its jail and prison populations of people who should not be there?
Not very likely - unless the people in Congress and state legislatures suddenly get to be a lot smarter than we judge them to be.
For more resources on this topic, see the Cato Institute's Criminal Justice Reading List.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Hat tip to GrahnLaw.
The Odd Couple : President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany : A Partnership for European Unity ? The G20 Summit
Erlanger and Kulish write about the French and German government heads:
"[A]n extremely odd couple — he is short and hyperactive, she is dour and shy. He believes in the power of the state and big interventions; she believes in a softer role for the state, guiding and prodding the market. Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel don’t even get along very well, aides to both leaders say. He has made fun of her accent in private meetings, the aides say, and she says he is self-centered and impetuous.
But the French president and the German chancellor find themselves in a forced marriage in these days of economic crisis. Responsible for the two largest economies among nations that use the euro, known as the euro zone, they are trying to shape European unity in the days before the Group of 20 economic summit meeting this week." Read the rest here for current German and French economic policies.
That London G20 summit started today. G20 stands for the Group of Twenty at whose home page we find the following information:
"The Group of Twenty (G-20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors was established in 1999 to bring together systemically important industrialized and developing economies to discuss key issues in the global economy. The inaugural meeting of the G-20 took place in Berlin, on December 15-16, 1999, hosted by German and Canadian finance ministers....
The G-20 was created as a response both to the financial crises of the late 1990s and to a growing recognition that key emerging-market countries were not adequately included in the core of global economic discussion and governance....
The G-20 is made up of the finance ministers and central bank governors of 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and also the European Union who is represented by the rotating Council presidency and the European Central Bank. To ensure global economic fora and institutions work together, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the President of the World Bank, plus the chairs of the International Monetary and Financial Committee and Development Committee of the IMF and World Bank, also participate in G-20 meetings on an ex-officio basis. The G-20 thus brings together important industrial and emerging-market countries from all regions of the world. Together, member countries represent around 90 per cent of global gross national product, 80 per cent of world trade (including EU intra-trade) as well as two-thirds of the world's population. The G-20's economic weight and broad membership gives it a high degree of legitimacy and influence over the management of the global economy and financial system."
Well, we shall see what the G20 brings. Right now they really have their work cut out for them in the face of a recession that can easily devolve into a full-scale world depression if the right counteracting measures are not taken immediately worldwide by these governments and institutions in particular.
Hat tip to CaryGEE.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Fourth European Forum for In-House Counsel : 23-24 April 2009 Brussels : Academy of European Law : European Company Lawyers Association (ECLA/AEJE)
"For the fourth consecutive year, ERA and ECLA are organising the European Forum for In-House Counsel, combining the pragmatism of an in-house lawyer association with the expertise of a first-class European training institute.
The European Forum for In-House Counsel provides a forum for the exchange of practical experience, knowledge and views between all in-house counsel and other lawyers involved in business affairs.
The aim is to provide in-house counsel, through expert input, with a comprehensive overview of and a practical insight into issues of European Community law with which in-house counsel are confronted. The latest developments and the recent relevant case law of the Community courts in areas such as European competition law, European company law, European private law will be analysed during the forum.
Interaction among participants will be encouraged through periods of discussion and case studies.
Early registration discounts
10% before 31 March 2009"
This is a heavyweight European legal outfit, as one can tell from their board members, which provide a bit of the flavor of the leading edge of the European law community. Significantly, there are no representatives from Latvia, so that, of course, I am available:
"President: Dr Jacques Santer
Former Prime Minister of Luxembourg, former President of the European Commission, former Member of the European Parliament, Representing Luxembourg
Vice-President: Joachim Mertes
President of the Parliament of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate, Representing Rhineland-Palatinate
Elish Angiolini QC, The Lord Advocate, Representing Scotland
Patricia Barbadillo (tbc), Director of the Centre for Legal Studies at the Ministry of Justice, Representing Spain
Emmanuel Barbe, Head of the European and International Department, Ministry of Justice, Representing France
Tomás Bocek, Deputy Minister for International Relations, Representing the Czech Republic
Dr Tonio Borg, Minister for Justice and Home Affairs, Representing Malta
Petros Clerides, Attorney General of the Republic of Cyprus, Representing Cyprus
Professor Ingolf Deubel, Minister of Finance of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate, Special representative of the host State
Dr Tibor Draskovics, Minister of Justice, Representing Hungary
Paul Jenkins, The Treasury Solicitor, Representing the United Kingdom
Klaus Jensen, Mayor of the City of Trier, Representing the City of Trier
Professor Ioannis Karakostas, University of Athens, Representing Greece
Kari Kiesiläinen, Director General, Ministry of Justice, Representing Finland
Professor Janez Kranjc, University of Ljubljana, Representing Slovenia
Horst Langes, Former State Secretary, Honorary Member of the European Parliament, Representing the Association for the Promotion of the Academy of European Law
Dr Georg Lienbacher, Head, Constitutional Department, Federal Chancellery, Representing Austria
Roswitha Müller-Piepenkötter, Minister of Justice of the State of North-Rhine-Westphalia, Representing the German Federal States
Deirbhle Murphy, Parliamentary Counsel, Office of the Attorney General, Representing Ireland
Arkadiusz Plucinski, Director, European Law Department, Office of the Committee for European Integration, Representing Poland
Catalin Predoiu, Minister of Justice, Representing Romania
Professor Anabela Miranda Rodrigues, Director of the Centre for Judicial Studies, Representing Portugal
Professor Vassilios Skouris, President of the Court of Justice of the European Communities, Representing the Court of Justice
Erik van den Emster, President, Raad voor de Rechtspraak, Representing the Netherlands
Anna Vitteková, State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, Representing the Slovak Republic
Diana Wallis, Vice-President, European Parliament, Representing the European Parliament
Tora Wigstrand, Director, Division for European Union Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Representing Sweden
Brigitte Zypries, Federal Minister of Justice, Representing Germany
Co-opted: Peter Schmidhuber, former Member of the European Commission"
"Chairperson: Klaus-Heiner Lehne, Member of the European Parliament
Dr. Heinz Georg Bamberger, Minister of Justice of the State of Rhineland Palatinate
Giuseppe Gargani, Member of the European Parliament and Chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee"
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
"The Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees advises the Executive Board and Management Board particularly with regard to the planning of the programme of events. It is composed of individuals who are closely involved with European law in the institutions of the European Union and within legal and economic circles, particularly in the Member States.
Chairman: Judge John Toulmin CMG QC, High Court of Justice, the Technology and Construction Court, London
Deputy chairman: Dr Josef Azizi, Member of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities
Persons from the Institutions of the European Union
Representatives from the Member States
Persons from the legal professions, social partners and academia
a/ Legal professions
b/ Business and Society
Persons from the institutions of the European Union and other European and international institutions
Ivan Bizjak, Director General of Justice and Home Affairs at the Council of the European Union
Professor Klaus Dieter Borchardt, Deputy Head of Cabinet to the Commissioner for Agriculture, European Commission
Vítor Manuel da Silva Caldeira, President of the Court of Auditors of the European Communities
Marc Jaeger, President of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities
Sarah Jund, Legal Secretary, Court of Justice of the European Communities
Professor Koenraad Lenaerts, member of the Court of Justice of the European Communities
José Luís Lopes da Mota, President of Eurojust
Paul Maier, President of the Boards of Appeal, Office of Harmonization for the Internal Market
Christian Pennera, Jurisconsult of the European Parliament
Jean-Claude Piris, Director General of the Legal Service, Council of the European Union
Sir Konrad Schiemann, member of the Court of Justice of the European Communities
Wolfgang Schomburg, Judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
Representatives from the Member States
Austria: Dr Josef Azizi, Member of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities
Cyprus: Dr Constantinos Lycourgos, Head of the EU Section for the Attorney General of the Republic, Nicosia
Czech Republic: JUDr Jana Wurstová, former Head of the International Department, Czech Bar Association, Prague
Finland: The Hon. Mr Justice Niilo Jääskinen, Supreme Administrative Court, Helsinki
Germany: Lutz Diwell, State Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Berlin
Hungary: Dr Judit Lévayné Fazekas, Deputy State Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Budapest
Ireland: Justice Nial Fennelly, Supreme Court of Ireland, Dublin
Italy: Professor Remo Caponi, University of Florence
The Netherlands: Derk Roemers, Raad van State, The Hague
Poland: Dr Maciej Szpunar, University of Silesia
Portugal: Professor Fausto de Quadros, Law Faculty, University of Lisbon
Romania: Tudor Chiuariu, State Counsellor, Adviser to the Prime Minister, Bucharest
Slovakia: JUDr Petr Hulla, Director of the Judicial Academy, Pezinok
Slovenia: Dr Janez Cebulj, former President of the Constitutional Court, Ljubljana
Sweden: Kristina Holmgren, Director, Division for European Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Stockholm
United Kingdom: Lord Jonathan Mance, The House of Lords, London
Persons from the legal professions, social partners and academia
a/ Legal professions:
Professor Massimo Benedettelli, Partner, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Milan; University of Bari
Jean-Marie Burguburu, former Bâtonnier of the Paris Bar; Partner, Gide Loyrette Nouel, Paris
Paul de Jonge, Secretary General of the European Company Lawyers Association (ECLA), Brussels
Victor Hall, Secretary General, European Judicial Training Network, Brussels
Dr Hans-Jürgen Hellwig, Attorney at law, former President of CCBE, Partner, Hengeler Müller, Frankfurt am Main
Pauliine Koskelo, President of the Supreme Court, Helsinki
Péter Köves, President of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), Brussels
Vincent Lamanda, First President of the Court of Cassation, Paris
Vito Monetti, President of the association Magistrats Européens pour la Démocratie et les Libertés (MEDEL), Rome
Professor Philippe-Emmanuel Partsch, Partner, Arendt & Medernach, Luxembourg
Jean-François Thony, Director of the French Ecole Nationale de la Magistrature, Bordeaux
Virgilijus Valancius, President of the European Judges Association, Vilnius
Denis Waelbroeck, Partner, Ashurst, Brussels
Tomasz Wardynski, President, Wardynski & Partners, Warsaw
Dr Heinrich Zens, President of the Association of European Administrative Judges, Vienna
b/ Business and Society
Philippe de Buck, Secretary General, Business Europe, Brussels
Sir Thomas Macpherson, former President of Eurochambres, London
John Monks, Secretary General of the European Trade Union Confederation, Brussels
Jettie Van Caenegem, Director General, Foundation against Cancer, Brussels
Professor Peter Axer, Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Trier
Professor Wladyslaw Czaplinski, University of Warsaw
Professor Paul Demaret, Rector of the College of Europe, Bruges
Professor Catherine Kessedjian, University of Paris-II Panthéon Assas
Professor Ludwig Krämer, University of Bremen
Professor Yves Mény, President of the European University Institute, Florence
Professor Peter-Christian Müller-Graff, Director of the Institute for German and European Social and Economic Law, Heidelberg
Professor Torsten Stein, Director of the Europa Institute of the University of the Saarland, Saarbrücken
Professor Walter van Gerven, Universities of Louvain and Maastricht, former Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Communities
Francesco de Angelis, former Director at the European Commission
Professor Sir David A. O. Edward, former member of the Court of Justice of the European Communities, Edinburgh, See external website "The Judge David Edward Oral History"
Dr. Charles Elsen, former Director General of Justice and Home Affairs at the Council of the European Union, Luxembourg
Professor Gregorio Garzón Clariana, former Jurisconsulte of the European Parliament
Willi Rothley, former Member of the European Parliament, Rockenhausen"