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Proposed amendments to Single Market Strategy

Counterfeiting is a serious threat to public health and safety and the total value of counterfeit goods trafficking has increased significantly in recent years, exacerbating the devastating impact of counterfeiting on innovation, employment and the branding of European companies.

The summary report of the Commission consultation on geo-blocking reveals strong consumer support for legislative measures against geo-blocking. The Commission has been urged to consider how the new rules concerning place of supply for VAT on digital services can be amended so as to accommodate the specific needs of small and micro-businesses, but it was reminded that VAT initiatives should respect Member States competences; the commission has been also urged (de) to assess the possibility of allowing Member States to reduce rates of VAT for the press, digital, publishing, e-books and on line publications in order to avoid discrimination in the single market.

The urged need to provide consumers with an equivalent level of protection online and offline was recalled; it was also stressed the need for all economic operators operating online and offline in the single market to take all reasonable and appropriate measures to fight against counterfeiting, in order to ensure consumer protection and product safety.

The importance of standardisation that can be achieved both via standard-essential patents (SEPs) and open licensing models has been emphasised. Also were welcomed the Commission’s efforts in the development of a balanced framework for negotiations between right holders and implementers of SEPs in order to ensure fair licensing conditions, as highlighted in the European Parliament resolution of 19 January 2016 on Towards a Digital Single Market Act.

The Commission is warned against the further layer of complexity placed by the unitary patent and the Unified Patent Court on top of the current regime, thus it is urged for appropriate monitoring of the decisions of the European Patent Office to grant patents in accordance with the European Patent Convention. The Commission and the Member States are urged (de) to tighten up the penalties for counterfeiting and to make sure that EU legislation in this area is fully enforced.

Different terms and conditions for consumers and entrepreneurs on the basis of nationality or place of residence, in both online and offline environments, should only occur within the single market if justified on the basis of objective reasons, such as compliance costs, copyright and non-viable business models. Any case groups of justified discrimination must be as concise and as clear as possible and based on legal requirements, rather than on business decisions.