European Union updates – What our neighbor(s) did over the summer

Whether it comes to fierce debates on budgets, abundant possibilities of tourist hot spots or innovative regulations on vegetable sizes, fact is that the EU never sleeps. It did not so over the summer, either and here are the highlights that came out of the activities.

EU-US trade talks formally commence

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (in short ‘TTIP’) initiative has been officially launched by the first round of talks in Washington, D.C. between 8 and 12 July 2013. The talks tie to the Joint Statement on Supply Chain Security signed earlier this summer defining the agenda for enhanced bilateral cooperation in the fields of customs, aviation security, maritime security, research and development.

On top of cutting tariffs, the main focus in the TTIP negotiations will be to tackle non-tariff barriers such as differences in technical regulations, standards and certification. Eliminating technical barriers to trade could result in reducing expenses and removing duplications industry players welcome. Sanitary and phytosanitary measures are also on the agenda aiming at eliminating barriers to trade with food and agricultural products. The negotiating parties also aim to devote efforts to regulating cross-border trade of raw materials and energy.

Being the EU’s largest ever bilateral trade negotiation, a novelty of the procedure is to make available the EU position papers to the public to enhance consciousness and support. The talks are set to continue with the second round in October 2013 in Brussels.

You can read more on the topic under: http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/in-focus/ttip/

Union Customs Code – Working towards a concise solution

On 18 June 2013, the Official Journal published Regulation (EU) No 528/2013 changing the effective date of the Union Customs Code to 1 November 2013 to provide additional time for the legislative procedure for the implementing provisions. The reason to do so lies in the technical and IT challenges that need to be tackled in order to operate a concise electronic environment for customs and trade in the 28 Member States. Furthermore, consultation with Member States and trade representatives revealed a number of areas where adjustments would be required to achieve coherence with the current customs environment.

The EU and its trading partners are anxiously waiting for the final set of rules as well as their implementation which will elevate customs administration to a new level.

IP rights protection

The protection of IPR is a cornerstone of the EU economy and it is essential for health and safety. EU Customs play a crucial role in stopping products which are suspected of violating intellectual property rights from entering the EU.

As a response to the results of the statistics on the type, provenance and transport method of counterfeit products detained at the EU’s external borders, a new Regulation on IPR enforcement at customs was adopted in June 2013. This reinforces the rules for customs authorities to enforce intellectual property rights.

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