Brussels Letter week beginning May 2
The Luxleaks trial against two ex-employees of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and a journalist began in Luxembourg. The defendants are accused of leaking information about international tax deals in Luxembourg. Many see the accused as whistleblowers and maintain that they should be given special protection from the law.
Eurozone finance ministers were set to meet last week on the Greek bailout issue. However, creditors and the Greek government could not resolve differences in the bailout targets. Prime Minister Tsipras asked for a summit while the European Council President Donald Tusk called for a Eurozone finance ministers meeting instead.
Getty Images filed a competition complaint to the EC against Google. Getty Images’ complaint focuses specifically on changes made in 2013 to Google Images, the image search functionality of Google, which has not only impacted Getty Images’ image licensing business, but also has affected content creators around the world, by creating captivating galleries of high-resolution, copyrighted content. Because image consumption is immediate, once an image is displayed in high-resolution large format, there is little impetus to view the image on the original source site thus allowing Google a monopoly over site traffic.
-Limits on roaming
The EU set new roaming charge limits for calling, texting or surfing online from other EU member states. When travelling in the EU, mobile devices users will only pay a small amount on top of their domestic prices: up to €0.05 per minute of call made, €0.02 per SMS sent, and €0.05 per MB of data. As from mid-June 2017, Europeans will pay the same price whether they use their mobile devices at home or elsewhere in the EU.
The world’s largest trade fair for the seafood industry, Seafood Expo opened in Brussels. The fair featured around 1,700 companies from over 80 countries. Attendees at the event ran into the thousands.
Greenpeace Netherlands released secret documents of the EU-U.S. Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade agreement negotiations. The released documents comprise about half of the draft text as of April 2016, prior to the start of the 13th round of TTIP negotiations between the EU and the U.S. (New York, April 25-29, 2016). The U.S. and the EU have been trying to reach a deal on the world’s largest trade agreement since 2013.
-Visa free travel for Turkish citizens
The European Commission will present its third visa liberalization progress report for Turkey on Wednesday, May 4. If Turkey takes the necessary measures to fulfil the remaining benchmarks, the report will be accompanied by a legislative proposal for transferring Turkey to the visa-free list.
-European economic forecast
Pierre Moscovici, a member of the EC in charge of Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs will present the Spring 2016 European Economic Forecast at a press conference in Brussels.
The EU-Japan summit will take place in Brussels where Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will meet with President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker, and European Council President Donald Tusk to focus on trade ties and foreign policy.