Across the EUniverse – Number Seven
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-friend and maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaven run
That’s how Keats sees the Autumn. Fruitful. For those who work in Brussels it’s a time of many events and mature decisions. It’s not the summer, it’s not Christmas, it’s not Easter. So it’s when a lot of work gets done.
It is possible to anticipate the work that is likely to be done in the Autumn nearly a year before each Autumn comes around. The Commission is the initiator of all law in the EU. The Commission publishes each year a work programme for the following year. Reading this document is essential to know what is likely to happen the following year.
So in this month’s Across the EUniverse we examine the Commission’s work programme for 2016. This is the first work programme entirely under the Juncker Commission and in line with the Juncker mantra to focus on the big issues and to limit the amount of legislation emanating from the EU.
Italians are very familiar with the Made In debate. Italy has made many attempts to require producers of goods to indicate the origin of the goods. Italy believes that if consumers know the origin of goods they are more likely to buy Italian. The Commission in Brussels, as guardian of EU law, considers that Italy is just trying to break up the single market and undermine the principle of the free movement of goods. But what is the situation if a private party, say an NGO or a group of manufacturers were to promote Italian goods. Would it infringe the rules on the free movement of goods? We look at this issue in great detail in our second article this month.
We feature the Starbuck and Fiat cases not because Fiat is Italian but because the move by the Commission to consider certain tax breaks as state aids is the beginning of a big move to harmonise EU taxation.
We have two articles addressing, directly or indirectly, the issue of whether China is, or is not, a market economy. This is one of the hottest debates in Brussels today. Any change risks exposing many Italian industries to dumped imports from China.
Finally we look at net neutrality and the cost of roaming. Removing the extra charges for roaming outside the Member State of origin is as fundamental to many EU citizens as the removal of border checks on passports and the introduction of the single currency. It makes daily life easier and cheaper. Hopefully citizens will recognise it would not have happened without the EU.