Monday, 27 February 2012

Naughty Member States

Once again European Commission needs to closely monitor Member States in order to enforce proper consumer protection.

Slovakia was called to ensure proper implementation of the Directive 2009/22/EC on injunctions for the protection of consumers' interests. Based on the provisions of this Directive Member States need to enable consumer associations and organizations to ask for an injunction against a commercial operator to immediately cease its activities which go against certain consumer interests (e.g. misleading advertising). In Slovakia, this is not possible in the area of services as well as timeshare contracts, which goes against the provisions of the Directive (Consumers: Commission calls on Slovakia to ensure full protection of consumers' interests).

Luxembourg needs to adjust their laws as far as awarding study grants, financial aid for volunteers and other allowances is concerned. Currently many of these benefits are only accessible to residents of Luxembourg which discriminates against migrant workers and infringes the principle of freedom of movement of workers. (Free movement of workers: Commission asks Luxembourg to end discrimination in access to study grants and allowances)

The production of wine and its strict regulation has previously been mentioned on this blog. Recently, the issue that many wines that we are drinking are not actually made-of-grapes-wines has been raised on the news. In France, for example, the by-products of winemaking are used in the production of wine spirits and wine distillates and these spirits are later on marketed as "eaux-de-vie de vin" or "distillats de vin". The European Commission, correctly in my opinion, aims at banning such marketing as an infringement of provisions of the Regulation No 110/2008 on spirit drinks. The fact that French winemakers were able to use by-products of winemaking (which are cheap) to produce spirit drinks, while in other Member States actual wine needed to be produced, created a competitive disadvantage for winemakers across Europe. Therefore, French law needs to be amended in this regard. (Agriculture: Commission asks France to comply with European rules on marketing wine spirits and wine distillates) One could also consider that these marketing names are potentially confusing and misleading to consumers. The French names refer to wine, after all, although the raw materials used for production of these spirits are actually only by-products of winemaking.

Finally, Austria, Cyprus and Greece were asked to adjust their legislation in order to properly implement the Blue Card Directive, which should have been transposed by 19 June 2011. Pursuant to the provisions of this Directive, highly skilled people from outside Europe are easier enabled to come and work in Europe, filling gaps that cannot be filled by EU nationals. It establishes a fast-track admission procedure for these foreigners and ensures a common set of social and economic rights, such as equal treatment with nationals as regards working conditions and pay, as well as access to goods and services. ('Blue Card': Commission warns Member States over red tape facing highly qualified migrants)

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