Tue Jun 20th, 2006 at 10:05:10 AM EST
So I had a peek into the European Commission's website (now at a new domain: europa.eu) and saw among their highlights a just-opened public consultation on maritime policy. I decided to step back a little and look at the whole set of open consultations. It turns out we just missed the deadline for submitting entries to the consultation on a future internal market policy, but we would still be in time to submit entries to the aforementioned Consultation on Maritime Policy (until June 30), and on
With 22 open consultations (some closing as early as today or tomorrow, but others extending for weeks or months) on 12 different broad areas there should be enough topics here to keep us busy for a while. We style ourselves 'a think tank' and are unhappy with the policy debate. We also have complained about the fact that, by the time a piece of legislation is produced by the Commission, it already reflects the effects of lobbying and the highly theatrical codecision procedure between the Council and the Parliament is just the icing on the cake. Well, this is our excuse to elaborate policy proposals (in the style of Energize America
to have our voice heard (assuming we have something to say) and influence the Commission's legislative proposals as they are being elaborated. Are we up to it?
Update [2006-6-18 5:25:7 by Migeru]:
Now with poll! Have your voice heard!
Promoted by Colman
It turns out that the consultation website only highlights a selection of open consultations, and to get the complete list one has to go to the consultation pages relating to 30 different policy areas of the EU (linked on the left side of the "Your Voice" website on open consultations). Here is the complete list:
1. General and Institutional Affairs
1.1. European Transparency Initiative (until 31 August 2006)
On 3 May 2006 the European Commission launched a Green Paper on the European Transparency Initiative.
The Green Paper will underpin a debate on three areas of transparency: lobbying activities, feedback on the Commission's minimum standards for consultation and the publication of beneficiaries of EU funds. An open public consultation on the Green Paper will act as the vehicle for this debate.
The consultation period began with the launch of the Green Paper and will last until 31 August 2006. A dedicated consultation website http://europa.eu.int/comm/eti/index.htm has been set up, where you can download the Green Paper, find out more about the issues involved, read contributions from other participants and submit your own contribution.
1.2. Improve the business environment in the EU: Commission seeks views of stakeholders to launch a new phase of its simplification programme (broken links!)
In the context of its commitment to promote growth and jobs, the European Commission has launched a public on-line consultation to improve the business environment of the European Union and reduce the burdens on business.
In March 2005, the Commission adopted a Communication on "Better Regulation for Growth and Jobs as a contribution to re-launch the Lisbon strategy. One of the actions in the Communication is the launch of a new simplification programme by October 2005. This programme will take a sectoral approach and will be drawn up after extensive stakeholder involvement.
2.1. Reform of the common organisation of the market in fresh and processed fruit and vegetables (until 13 July 2006)
A reform of the European Fruit and Vegetable market will be proposed before the end of 2006.
Taking note of the 2005 debate on simplification and the hearings organised since then, the Commission steering group set up to analyse the impact of the reform has now made known the topics and options it will explore and has launched a call for contributions. The consultation will remain open until 13 July, by which date all contributions should be received. In the meantime, a series of independent evaluations on the functioning of the CMO will become available and will be made public.
The topics and options set out in the Consultation document [pdf] aim to promote more sustainable systems of production and marketing, a better balance within the sector and improved coherence with the overall approach of the reformed CAP. The role of standards in the promotion of quality, ways of preventing and alleviating the effect of short-term crises, and possibilities for encouraging consumption - in the interests of a more balanced diet - all figure among the subjects analysed. Further study of these topics should lead to a better understanding of the consequences and impact of different possibilities for the future of the CMO and so enrich the information base available to European decision-makers.
The contribution of interested parties is requested in order to complete the diagnosis and the proposals, and to guide the analysis of the main impacts, opportunities and difficulties that might be encountered.
Competition cases: invitations to submit comments.
Individual competition cases in the fields of antitrust, merger and State aid are all subject to consultation. Invitations to interested parties to submit comments within certain deadlines are published regularly in the Official Journal of the European Communities, C series. (See: Eur-Lex.) These invitations are reproduced on the Europa Competition site under the headings "Official Journal" in each of the sections "antitrust", "mergers" and "state aid".
Legislative and policy consultations
Usually, when new policy or legislative initiatives are planned, invitations to comment are issued.
3.1. Public consultation on the Interim Report on Payment Cards and Payment Systems (until 21 June 2006)
The European Commission is holding a public consultation on the Interim Report on Payment Cards and Payment Systems. The non-confidential report of the sector enquiry can be found here. The consultation will be open for 10 weeks, starting from the date of publication of the report, the 12th of April 2006, and elapsing on the 21st of June 2006. The Commission invites industry participants, consumers of payment card services and other interested parties to submit their views and comments on a number of questions that are raised in the interim report.
3.2. Draft Commission Regulation on the application of Articles 87 and 88 of the EC Treaty to national regional investment aid
(until 3 July 2006)
On 21 December 2005, the Commission adopted in principle a draft regulation to exempt regional investment aid from the notification requirement in Article 88(3) of the EC Treaty. The objective of the draft Regulation is to simplify administrative procedures for Member States, while reinforcing transparency and legal certainty. A first draft of the Regulation was discussed with the State aid Advisory Committee on 6 April 2006 and the BER was very much welcomed by all Member States. The draft is published in the Official Journal in all languages for comments and, according to the Procedural Regulation, a revised draft will be discussed with Member States in early autumn. The objective is to adopt the regional BER before the end of this year, so that it will enter into force on 1.1.2007 for the new programming period.
4.1. Biofuels Directive Review and Progress Report (until 10 July 2006)
The European Union biofuels directive was adopted in May 2003. It aims to promote the use in transport of fuels made from biomass, as well as other renewable fuels.
The directive asks the European Commission to make a progress report before the end of 2006.
The progress report could be used as the basis for a proposal to amend the directive.
The Commission set out the broad lines for this review of the directive in its biomass action plan and biofuels strategy. Now, in preparing the progress report, the Commission's services would like to know the views of public authorities, businesses, non-governmental organisations and other interested parties on the following questions:
- Is the objective of promoting biofuels still valid?
- The directive sets a reference value of 5.75% for the market share of biofuels in 2010. Will this share be achieved with existing policies and measures? If not, why not?
- Looking towards 2010, does the EU system of targets for biofuels need to be adapted? If so, how?
- Should a certification system be introduced to avoid using "poor performing" biofuels or give more support to "better performing" ones?
- Looking towards 2015 and 2020, should further measures be adopted to promote biofuels?
- A number of more technical issues
4.2. GREEN PAPER on Energy (until 24 September 2006)
The Green Paper on a European Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive and Secure Energy is a consultation document designed to stimulate ideas on what should be done to deal with practical challenges and problems. On the basis of the response to this Green Paper, the Commission would like to develop more concrete ideas on a number of energy issues. This consultation will be open for 6 months. The closing date is 24 September 2006.
5. Enterprise and Industry
5.1. CONSULTATION ON THE REVIEW AND EXTENSION OF THE NEW APPROACH (until 26 July 2006)
The New Approach is a legislative technique used for technical harmonisation and, therefore, facilitates the achievement of the internal market, whilst ensuring a high level of protection of health and safety. For more than 20 years the New Approach directives (accessible here ) have played a major role in ensuring the free movement of goods within the European Union. Today the New Approach is widely recognised as a success story. However, experience has shown that its efficiency and implementation can still be improved in order to strengthen its role as a better regulation tool for the internal market. Filling the gaps and simplifying the implementation of the New Approach will reinforce its capacity to ensure a high level of safety and the free movement of goods within the EU within a flexible and innovation-friendly legal framework. This reinforcement should also encourage enhanced recourse to the techniques of the New Approach in sectors not yet applying its principles.
6.1. Public consultation on the revision of Directive 86/609/EEC on the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes (until 18 August 2006)
The aims of this consultation are two fold:
# To provide the Commission with views of the public on their attitudes on the use of animals in experiments and ways to improve their welfare; and
# To comment on the preliminary findings of the impact assessment for the revision of the existing legislation for the protection of animals used in experiments.
6.2. Public consultation on the review of the EU strategy to reduce CO2 emissions and improve fuel efficiency from cars (until 21 August 2006)
Under the framework of the European Climate Change Programme, the European Commission will present in mid-2006 a Communication to the European Parliament and Council on a revised Community strategy to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles. This review will be based on a thorough impact assessment of the existing Community target of a new car fleet average emission of 120 g CO2/km and of the possible measures that could form part of a revised strategy based on an integrated approach to CO2 emissions reductions.
As part of this review process, the Commission services have decided to set up a stakeholder Working Group "on the integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles". The general objective of this Working Group (see final mandate) is to assist the Commission services in preparing the review of strategy, and specifically provide a stakeholder consultation forum giving assistance in the preparation of the impact assessment of the future strategy, as foreseen in the Commission's guidelines on impact assessments. More information on the working group's progress is available at the following address.
In addition, the general public is being consulted on passenger road transport's contributions to climate change and possible future ways to reduce it, via an online questionnaire. The results of this survey will be published on http://ec.europa.eu/yourvoice/ and be part of the impact assessment which will accompany the above mentionned Communication.
In order to support the development of our strategy concerning CO2 emissions from passenger transports, we have carried out a number of supporting studies.
6.3. Sixth Environment Action Programme - Online stakeholder consultation on the mid-term review (until 14 july 2006)
"Environment policy is one of the success stories of the European Union - thanks to European Union legislation we have made significant improvements such as cleaner air and safer drinking water. But we still face some real problems" explained the then Commissioner for the Environment, Margot Wallström when she presented the Commission's proposal in 2001. The Environment Action Programme takes a broad look at these challenges and provides a strategic framework for the Commission's environmental policy up to 2012.
6.4. Directive 2001/18/EC on the deliberate release in the environment of GMOs - Questionnaire on experiences with the implementation of the Directive (until 30 June 2006)
Article 31.4 of Directive 2001/18/EC states that 'Every three years, Member States shall send to the Commission a report on the measures taken to implement the provisions of the Directive. This report shall include a brief factual report on their experience with GMOS placed on the market in or as products under this Directive'.
Article 31.5 states that 'Every three years, the Commission shall publish a summary based on the reports referred to in [Article 31.4]'.
Furthermore, Article 31.6 states that 'The Commission shall send to the European Parliament and the Council, in 2003 and thereafter every three years, a report on the experience of Member States with GMOs placed on the market under this Directive'.
Article 31.7 then specifies various aspects to be included in the Commission three-yearly reports to the European Parliament and Council.
The first report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council was adopted in August 2004 and is available on Biotechnology on Europa.
The Member States submitted their first three-yearly reports to the Commission as of October 2005. The second report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council is due by the end of 2006.
7. Food safety
7.1. Discussion Paper on the setting of maximum and minimum amounts for vitamins and minerals in foodstuffs (until 30 September 2006)
The Commission's Directorate General for Health and Consumer Protection has launched a discussion paper to identify the issues around the setting of maximum and minimum amounts of vitamins and minerals in food supplements.
The consultation follows the adoption of Directive 2002/46/EC on the regulation of food supplements, such as multi-vitamin pills, iron tablets and vitamin-C capsules. The Directive states that the maximum and minimum amount of vitamins and minerals in these products shall be set via Standing Committee procedure (i.e. with Member States' experts). The Commission would like to invite all interested parties, such as MemberState governments, consumer associations, producers and other interested individuals to also provide their input.
7.2. Directive 90/496/EEC on NutritionLabelling for Foodstuffs: Discussion Paper on the Revision of Technical Issues (until 14 July 2006)
The Commission launched on May 15 a consultation to gather the views of interested parties on certain technical aspects relating to the nutritional labelling of food. The Health and Consumer Protection Directorate General is keen to have responses to questions on the following issues - reference values for vitamins and minerals, the definition of fibre, energy conversion factors, and tolerances for nutrient declarations
7.3. Impact Assessment revision of Regulation 258/97 on novel foods and novel food ingredients (until 1 August 2006)
An online consultation on the revision of Novel Food Regulation (EC) N° 258/97 has been launched by the European Commission today. The aim of the consultation is gather input from the general public, stakeholders and Member States in order to carry out an impact assessment for a future legislative proposal to revise the current Novel Food Regulation. A revision of the Novel Food Regulation is deemed necessary in order to reflect the fact that genetically modified (GM) food no longer falls under its scope, to create a more favourable legislative environment for innovation in the food industry, and to better facilitate both internal and external trade in foodstuffs. The consumer would also benefit from a wider choice of safe novel foods. In order to proceed with the revision of the Regulation, the Commission shall undertake an impact assessment on the changes in the present legislation. In line with this, the Commission is seeking feedback on how to create a more streamlined authorisation procedure (including the decision) which takes into account, for example, particular needs of traditional exotic food from third countries and which is adjusted to applications which cover several food uses. The consultation will run for 8 weeks, until 1 August 2006.
8. Information society
8.1. FP7 Consultation on Collaborative Working Environments supporting Business and Industry (until 7 July 2006)
Collaborative Working Environments will enable productivity and innovation by empowering and motivating people through ubiquitous hardware and software infrastructure. This infrastructure will be composed of resources offering a new blend of activity-oriented, context-aware flexible software services supporting patterns of human interactions, human to machine interaction and collaborative devices, which all interact in a dynamic and pro-active way. All interested parties are invited to contribute to the ongoing consultation process, as part of the 7th Framework Programme's preparation process.
8.2. Call for Input on the White Paper on a European Communication Policy (until 31 July 2006)
On the 1st of February, the European Commission adopted a White Paper on a European Communication Policy.
It proposes that communication would become an EU policy in its own right, placed at the service of the citizens. The adoption of the White Paper also marks the beginning of a 6-months consultation period allowing the other EU institutions, stakeholders and citizens to send their comments and ideas on five areas for which the White Paper proposes joint action to be taken: defining common principles guiding the communication activities on European issues; empowering citizens; working with the media and new technologies; understanding European public opinion; doing the job together.
9. Internal Market
9.1. Copyright levy reform (until 14 July 2006)
Copyright levy reform is included in the Commission Work Program for 2006. In October 2004, the Commission consulted Member States on the scope of the private copying exception and existing systems of remuneration. Replies from Member States were due by March 2005. Where relevant, Member States were asked to update their replies and return them by January 2006. Member States have authorised the publication of these replies. Some Member States are still updating the replies submitted in 2005 and once these are received, these replies will also be published.
10.1. Public Consultation on the Draft research agenda for Theme 8 "Socio-economic Sciences and the Humanities" in the 7th Community RTD Framework Programme (2007-2013) (until end of June, 2006)
This consultation invites the public, and notably the scientific community, to comment on the draft research agenda for the dedicated socio-economic sciences and humanities part of the next Framework Programme for EU research (FP7).
The consultation covers only Theme 8 of the `Cooperation' specific programme, entitled `Socio-economic sciences and the humanities'.
This draft research agenda builds on earlier consultations, the progress of research in previous EU programmes, the current state of research in the fields concerned and takes account of policy needs.
10.2. Public consultation on transnational research cooperation and knowledge transfer between public research organisations and industry (until 19 July 2006)
The aim of this consultation is to identify the main problems public research organisations (such as universities) and industry experience when working together - be they cultural barriers or legal ones - and how the research and industry communities feel that they should be addressed. We therefore welcome the views of all stakeholders concerned, including those of universities, industry, SMEs, and publicly-funded research laboratories and public authorities.
11.1. Revision of the community legislation on the access to the road transport market and on the admission to the occupation of road transport operator" (until 9 August 2006)
The Community rules governing the access to road transport market and the admission to the occupation of road transport operators are laid down in various regulations and directives.
Based on the Commission's commitment to "Better regulation" and to simplify the existing body of laws ("acquis") DG TREN is considering whether and how to improve the current regime in order to enhance the clarity, readability and enforceability of these rules and better regulate certain aspects of the current regime by merging the current regulations and directives as far as possible and reformulating certain provisions (e.g. on community licence, cabotage).
The purpose of the CONSULTATION PAPER is to outline these plans and to seek the opinion of the interested parties. Based on the feedback received in this initial consultation DG TREN will decide whether and how to proceed.
11.2. Revision of Community legislation on the Inland transport of dangerous goods (until 31 July 2006)
The European Commission has included in its Work Programme 2006 a proposal in the area of the transport of dangerous goods. It is recalled that at present the European rules on dangerous goods transport cover road and rail transport modes; the rules can be found in four pieces of Community legislation, namely Directives 94/55/EC (road), 96/49/EC (rail), 96/35/EC and 2000/18/EC (safety advisers) respectively. Substantial elements of the road and rail directives are international rules (so called ADR and RID), which are based on a model developed by the United Nations: "Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods; Model regulations", last amended in 2005. The UN model aims at creating, whenever possible, identical rules for all transport modes.
Road and rail directives have been amended a number of times so as to ensure that they remain in line with international rules. Inevitably developments over time have rendered a number of clauses redundant (like directives on safety advisers) or obsolete. The Commission's intention is to propose to take such clauses off the Community legislation.
Another intention is to propose to merge the current rules on dangerous goods transport by road and rail into one piece of Community legislation. The Commission believes that this would avoid duplication, make application of the rules by operators easier and allow the public to gain of clearer picture of existing rules.
The third element of the Commission's initiative is intended to be an extension of Community legislation to include the international rules on dangerous goods transport by inland waterways (so called ADN), which are also based on the UN model. The Commission believes that such extension would be a logical supplement to Community legislation, in order to create a set of uniformly applied rules for all inland transport modes in the territory of the European Union.
12. Maritime affairs
12.1. Consultation on maritime policy (until 30 June 2007)
The Commission is aware that this Green Paper addresses a very broad range of what has traditionally been regarded as separate activities and policy areas. The idea of conducting an integrated analysis of maritime activities leading to coordinated actions is new.
Update [2006-6-18 3:40:45 by Migeru]:
It would be a mistake to underestimate the time it takes for important new ideas to be fully understood and accepted. In its own work for this Green Paper, the Commission has become aware of how much ground needs to be covered and how much new expertise needs to be developed.
The Commission hopes that this Green Paper will launch a broad public debate both on the principle of the EU adopting an overall approach to maritime policy and on the many ideas for action. It wishes to base its further work in this area on the views of stakeholders and it intends to spend the next year listening to what they have to say.
I went through the list of consultations looking to highlight the closing date more visibly, and as Alex points out in the comments I was careless to include a couple of consultations that closed in the past week. There are also a couple of consultations that did not list a closing date, one still open and one closed. I have moved the closed consultations below.]
7. Food safety
7.4. Labelling: competitiveness, consumer information and better regulation for the EU (until 16 June 2006)
The European Commission's Directorate General for Health and Consumer Protection (DG SANCO) wants to find out how labels and labelling can best meet the needs of the consumer. To do so it launched a process on March 9, to gather stakeholders' opinions on the use of labels and labelling as a way to contribute to Better Regulation in the EU. DG SANCO is keen to hear what stakeholders and individuals think about how labels are currently used, and how they would like to see the EU dealing with labelling issues.
An important market tool
Labelling is important for both consumers and industry. For consumers, labels provide essential information such as use-by dates and safety warnings, as well as other useful data such as nutritional and recycling details.
For industry, labelling allows them to pass on vital information, but also to highlight the benefits of their product in comparison to the competition, such as whether it was produced in an environmentally-friendly or sustainable way.
DG SANCO would like to hear stakeholders' views on the current uses of labelling and how far there is scope to rethink the way the EU deals with labelling issues.
9. Internal Market
9.2. Consultation on future Internal Market policy (until 15 June 2006)
The Directorate General for Internal Market and Services aims to consult on the future of Internal Market policy. The consultation is an essential part of our reflections on how to take Internal Market policy forward and ensure that it contributes fully in making Europe an attractive place to live, work and invest in.
This consultation is addressed to all Internal Market stakeholders, including: citizens, business, representative organisations and public administrations, as well as academia and think-tanks.
13. Economic and Financial Affairs
13.1. The Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (now closed)
The Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP), which is managed by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and receives financial support from the European Commission, was established in October 2002. Its priority is to stimulate private sector development in Mediterranean Partner Countries. To this end, the facility provides a variety of instruments: loans, risk capital, technical assistance and interest subsidies for environmental projects.
At the end of 2003, it was decided to reinforce the FEMIP facility with a Special FEMIP Envelope for loans with a higher risk profile and a donor trust fund for additional technical assistance and risk capital (in addition to European Union budget resources).