07 May 2018


Brussels, Brussels Daily


Commission publishes evaluation reports on EU rules on machinery safety and product liability


Technology is developing rapidly and Europe needs to seize the opportunities ahead. In addition to supporting industry modernisation with initiatives such as measures on artificial intelligence and an upcoming strategy on connected and automated driving, the Commission wants to ensure that EU legislation is apt for emerging digital technologies and innovative products. As part of this exercise, the Commission has evaluated the Product Liability Directive (Directive 85/374/EEC) and the Machinery Directive (Directive 2006/42/EC). The results published today show that both Directives are fit for purpose and conducive to innovation. Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: “European industry is competitive, not only because we have great innovative minds, but also because we have a conducive framework. We are happy to see that our existing legislation is fit for purpose in a changing world. It makes our EU products both safe and competitive. Technology changes fast, so we will continue to monitor the situation and are ready to act if the need arises.” The Machinery Directive sets general health and safety requirements for products, such as robots or 3D printers. Which technical solutions should be deployed to meet the high safety level is then left to manufacturers. For this reason, the Directive functions like an umbrella framework leaving leeway for products to be innovated. The Commission will launch a study to further look into certain aspects of emerging technologies, such as issues arising from human-machine collaboration, which are not explicitly addressed by the Directive. The Product Liability Directive foresees that if a product causes damage to a person or their private property, the producer is liable to pay compensation. The evaluation shows that the Directive continues to strike a good balance between consumer protection and encouraging innovation in the EU. The Commission will publish interpretative guidance in mid-2019 to facilitate a common understanding between Member States and to further clarify to what extent it applies to emerging technologies. Find the evaluation of Product Liability Directive here and the Machinery Directive here. 




Snapchat joins the EU Code of Conduct to fight illegal hate speech online


Snap.Inc announced today that it is joining the EU’s Code of Conduct on countering illegal online hate speech. It is the seventh major IT platform committing to combat this phenomenon, and the next additional participant after Instagram and Google+ announced their participation in January 2018.  Vĕra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, said, “I welcome Snapchat’s commitment to tackle illegal online content. The growing number of participants proves that the EU Code of Conduct is an efficient way to make the Internet a safer place. This is particularly important as it will help protect the younger generations that use Snapchat.” To respond to the proliferation of racist and xenophobic hate speech online, the European Commission and four major IT companies (Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube) presented a “Code of conduct on countering illegal hate speech online” in May 2016. Since then, the Commission with the help of NGOs has carefully monitored how the Code is implemented by the companies. The latest monitoring exercise in January 2018 showed that the Code is delivering important progress in the response to hate speech notices: 70% of the content is removed and in more than 81% of the cases this happens within 24 hours (press release).The Commission has also recently adopted a Recommendation to more generally reinforce the EU response to illegal content online (press release from 1 March) and will decide whether additional steps are necessary in the coming months.


Mergers: Commission clears ArcelorMittal’s acquisition of Ilva, subject to conditions


The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Ilva by ArcelorMittal. The decision is conditional on the divestiture of an extensive remedy package to preserve effective competition on European steel markets to the benefit of consumers and businesses. In particular, it is subject to the divestiture of several steel plants, which would be sold to one or more buyers that will continue to operate and develop them, so they can compete effectively with ArcelorMittal. Today’s decision follows an in-depth review of the deal, which combines ArcelorMittal, the largest producer of flat carbon steel in Europe and worldwide, with the main assets of Ilva, notably its steel plant in Taranto, Italy, which is Europe’s largest single-site integrated flat carbon steel plant. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “Steel is a critical input for many European industries and products we use every day. Today’s decision makes sure that ArcelorMittal’s acquisition of Ilva, creating the by far largest steelmaker in Europe, does not result in higher steel prices – at the expense of European industries, the millions of people they employ and consumers. ArcelorMittal has proposed to sell a number of steel plants throughout Europe to one or more buyers, who will run them to compete with ArcelorMittal on a lasting basis. This will preserve effective competition on European steel markets. It goes hand in hand with decisive EU action to protect our steel industry from unfair trade distortions from third countries. Finally, the sale of Ilva’s assets to ArcelorMittal should also help accelerate the urgent environmental clean-up works in the Taranto Region. This essential de-pollution work should continue without delay to protect the health of Taranto’s inhabitants.The full press release is available online in EN.

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Rockwell Collins by UTC, subject to conditions

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Rockwell Collins by United Technologies Corporation (UTC) in the aerospace sector. The decision is conditional on divestment of businesses in actuators, pilot controls, ice protection and oxygen systems.On the basis of its preliminary investigation, the Commission was concerned that the transaction, as originally notified, would have reduced competition in the markets for trimmable horizontal stabiliser actuators (THSA), certain pilot controls, pneumatic wing ice protection and oxygen systems. To address the Commission’s preliminary concerns, UTC offered to divest the following activities: i) Rockwell Collins’ entire global THSA and pilot control businesses, located at several sites mainly in the US and Mexico; ii) Rockwell Collins’ entire global business in ice protection, located in a single facility in the US; iii) UTC’s two research projects in oxygen systems. The Commission found that the proposed commitments fully remove the overlaps between UTC and Rockwell Collins in the markets where competition concerns had been identified. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy said: “When we take a trip on a plane, we usually don’t think about all the different components that go into building the aircraft. UTC and Rockwell Collins are two of the biggest suppliers of these components to aircraft makers worldwide. We need to ensure that competition is preserved for all of them. We can allow this merger to go ahead because in all the markets where we raised concerns, UTC has committed to divest activities covering the entire overlap between the two companies.” A full press release is available in EN.


Commissioner Stylianides visits Greece, holds Citizens Dialogue


Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides is in Greece this week to participate in a series of events to celebrate Europe Day. Today he will hold a Citizens’ Dialogue in Kavala, Greece, to discuss the future of Europe and the Commission’s new proposal rescEU to upgrade the European system of civil protection. He will also meet with officials from the local authorities, and the Rector and the academic community of the Eastern Macedonia and Thrace Institute of Technology. On Europe Day, May 9, the Commissioner will speak at a High Level Breakfast on “Europe in front of Strategic Dilemmas”, organised by DIKTIO-Network for Reform in Greece and Europe, and he will visit the premises of the organisation “Smile of the Child”. On May 10, he will meet with Greece Migration Minister Dimitris Vitsas and Deputy Minister of Economy and Development Stergios Pitsiorlas.

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