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EU Political Update

Talking Tech Highlights: 05-09 December 2016

27 April 2017

A weekly review of tech related political developments in the European Union

Week in Review 

Digital Single Market and Taxation: European Commission proposes new VAT rules in relation to e-commerce

On 1 December 2016, the European Commission announced a series of proposals aimed at supporting e-commerce businesses in the EU.

The proposals include an EU-wide portal for online Value Added Tax ('VAT') payments (the 'One Stop Shop'). Companies will be able to file one quarterly return for VAT due across the whole of the EU. It is estimated that this measure will lead to an overall saving of EUR 2.3 billion for EU businesses and will ensure that VAT is paid in the Member State of the final consumer.

Additionally, VAT on annual cross-border sales under EUR 10,000 will be handled domestically and SMEs will benefit from simplified procedures for identifying where customers are located for annual cross-border sales of up to EUR 100,000. The thresholds are expected to be applied at the earliest from 2018 for online services and from 2021 for online goods.

Finally, the Commission has proposed measures that will enable Member States to apply the same reduced rates of VAT to e-publications (e.g. e-books and online newspapers) as for printed publications as well as measures for the withdrawal of the VAT exemption for imports from outside of the EU of small consignments worth less than EUR 22.

The legislative proposals will now be considered by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.

Digital Single Market: Council of the EU agrees on draft geo-blocking Regulation

On 28 November 2016, the Council of the EU agreed on the draft Regulation addressing geo-blocking and other forms of discrimination based on customers' nationality, place of residence or place of establishment within the Single Market.

Under the draft Regulation, traders will be prevented from discriminating between customers with regard to general terms and conditions on the sale of goods and services where: (i) the goods are delivered to a Member State where the trader offers delivery; (ii) the services are received in a country where the trader operates; or (iii) the trader provides electronically supplied services, excluding the selling of copyright protected works in intangible format.

Additionally, traders will be prohibited from applying different payment conditions for customers and from blocking or limiting customers' access to their online interface, for reasons of nationality, place of residence or place of establishment.

Once the European Parliament has agreed its position, the Council of the EU will use the draft Regulation as a base for its negotiations with the European Parliament and the Commission.

Digital Single Market: MEPs agree on cap for wholesale roaming charges within the EU

On 29 November 2016, MEPs agreed to cap the amount that telecoms operators may charge each other for providing roaming services.

Industry committee MEPs agreed on caps to the wholesale prices of voice calls, SMS messages and the use of data. Data charges will be gradually decreased with the maximum charge starting from €0.01/MB in mid-2017 and dropping to €0.005/MB in mid-2021. For phone calls, the maximum surcharge will be €0.0353/minute, and for text messages, €0.01 per message. It is hoped that these measures will help the Commission achieve its aim to end roaming charges for consumers in 2017 while reducing the impact on mobile operators.

The Council of the EU and Parliament aim to finalise negotiations on the agreement to end roaming charges by 2017.

This week in the Institutions 
European Commission 

07 December

  • Commissioner Günther Oettinger will participate in the European Summit on Digital Innovation for Active and Healthy Ageing, in Brussels 
  • Commissioner Vestager will receive Mr Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission of the United States

08 December 

  • Commissioner Oettinger will deliver a keynote speech at the 4th Annual Transatlantic Digital Economy Conference "Building a European Data-Driven Economy: A Transatlantic Perspective" organised by the American Chamber of Commerce to the EU (AmCham EU), in Brussels 
  • Commissioner Julian King and Commissioner Jourová will participate in the EU Internet Forum, in Brussels 
European Parliament 


05 December 

Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE). On the agenda

  • Presentation in the presence of the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz and Prof. Heinz Bude on " The Charter of Digital Fundamental Rights in the EU"

08 December 

Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE). On the agenda

  • European Cloud Initiative: adoption of draft opinion 
  • Hearing on the fundamental rights implications of Big Data: privacy, data protection, non-discrimination, security and law-enforcement 
EU Political Update

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