05/04/2012 Europe and You : Frontex, rights of music performers and producers ...

Every week, gives the highlights of what Europe has been doing for you, for your rights, your health and your daily life. This week, at the plenary session, the European Parliament decided to give more power to Frontex. Also, the Council has voted in favour of extending the rights of performers and producers. The Commission, for its part, wants to maintain its commitment to banning animal testing for cosmetic products by the end of 2013. Finally, the issue of consumption is on the agenda with the opening in London of Europe’s biggest shopping centre.

The European Parliament gives more power to the Frontex agency

On Tuesday September 13th 2011, during the second day of the plenary session, the European Parliament dealt with the issue of border control in the Union by adopting the Commission proposal that aims to increase the powers of Frontex, the European agency for operational coordination of the external borders. Following the Arab revolutions and the migration issues at Lampedusa, the question of whether Europe needs to strengthen its border controls has arisen.

The European Parliament consented to making the agency more independent of Member States, particularly by enabling it to buy or rent its own equipment such as vehicles or helicopters.

The proposal adopted by MEPs also means reinforcing respect for human rights during Frontex missions. To do this, the MEPs wanted to appoint a “fundamental rights officer” as well as create a “consultative forum” whose aim is to help the Agency’s management board. The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, the European Asylum Support Office, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, as well as NGOs specialised in the area will be represented on the forum.

The Commission proposal has to be put to Council for approval.

Council extends the rights of music performers and producers

The Council voted on Monday September 12th 2011 to extend the rights of music performers and producers. The extension means that works will be covered by copyright for 70 years, rather than the 50 years that were covered heretofore. This new legislation is in line with copyright on written works. As stated by Michel Barnier, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, this new measure will enable artists to continue to receive payment for the use of their music even if they are in retirement. The creation of a fund for uncredited artists is also planned for in the new measures.

Through this vote, the Council is moving closer to the system in place in the United States which provides protection of artists’ rights for 95 years. Despite opposition from several Member States (Sweden, Benelux countries, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Slovenia), the measure has been welcomed positively by associations that work to protect artists. Monique Goyens, director general of the European Consumers’ Organisation, believes however that the move is not in the interest of consumers as it will lead to extra costs for them.

Member States will have to transpose this new directive into their own national legislation within two years.

Banning animal testing for cosmetic products by 2013

Since September 2004, the cosmetics directive has made provisions for the gradual elimination of testing cosmetic products on animals. It also includes a gradual ban on selling cosmetic products on the EU market that contain an ingredient that was tested on animals. The European Commission has however stressed that this ban on marketing such products can only be put in place from the time when alternative experimentation methods have been developed.

The Commission also highlighted in a report published on September 13th 2011 that it would honour commitments made in the cosmetics directive. It believes however that it will be impossible to find a means to totally substitute experimentation by the end of 2013. Almost €200 million has already been allocated to research in this area and substitution methods are already being used.

Animal rights associations such as “No Cruel Cosmetics” have already informed the Commission that delaying the planned date (end of 2013) would be unacceptable. The Commission will give its final decision regarding banning the marketing of these products in 2011.

The biggest shopping centre in Europe is British

In London, the biggest shopping centre in Europe opened its doors on September 13th 2011. This complex housing 300 shops, 70 restaurants, 3 hotels and one casino was built in a disadvantaged area of the British capital and has created more than 10,000 jobs.

Besides this employment benefit, the complex was also developed with the 2012 Olympic Games in mind. To this end, an express train will be able to transport about 25,000 people an hour to the Westfield shopping centre in the west of London.

European consumers who shop in Westfield might use discounts or special offers that they get by following the Facebook page of their favourite brand. In fact, according to the 2011 “Smarter Commerce” study by IBM/Ipsos Mori, the impact of social networks on consumers’ purchasing habits is significant: 35% of “fans” of a brand page on a social network use the page to read other consumers’ reviews. Also, 50% of “fans” use the pages to get reductions or free samples.


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