Seldia Newsletter February 2013

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February 2013
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EU-US Trade Talks & Direct Selling

At his State of the Union address to the US Congress on 12 February, US President Barack Obama gave the all clear for comprehensive trade talks between the EU and the US, which paves the way for what could become the largest single free trade zone in the world. It possibly generates 2 per cent of GDP, adding to the pre-existing trade relationship the US and EU enjoy worth $2.7 billion per day in goods and services.

Since tariff barriers between the two trade blocks are already very low (4% average) this trade deal will focus foremost on harmonising regulatory and technical standards for products. For this reason, many analysts are skeptical that a trade deal is possible, at least within the two-year deadline that negotiators aim at.  Some well-known controversial issues that negotiators will have to deal with: the US use of GMO food, which EU strongly rejects; the zealous EU chemicals legislation, considered as a barrier to trade by the US; etc. etc. The list of controversial issues is very long.

The prospects for Direct Selling are limited.  Several EU politicians have already said that consumer rights cannot be affected by a trade deal, a view that has blocked much harmonization already within the EU.  An example of this is the legislation on direct selling, which is still not fully harmonized.  A trade agreement will, however, lead to more cooperation between authorities, which will facilitate the fight against illegal practices. A trade deal will obviously also have a positive effect on trade flows of products by easing tariffs, mutual recognizing product testing, customs harmonisations, etc.

The European Union has recently signed a free trade agreement with Singapore, is imminently expected to complete a deal of the same nature with Canada while negotiations with Japan are also expected to be launched in Tokyo in April.

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Industry News

Commissioner’s Reding and Barnier to open Seldia Exhibition

Vice President of the European Commission, Ms. Viviane Reding together with Mr. Michel Barnier, Commissioner responsible for internal markets and services will open the Women Entrepreneurship Exhibition organised by Seldia in the European Parliament. The exhibition will take place from 19 to 21 February 2013 and will be held in partnership with over 28 organisations including two universities, the Irish EU Council Presidency, the EU Parliament’s SME Intergroup, WFDSA amongst others and has over 500 registrations to date.  A lunch debate will take place on the 20th February and will bear witness to the intervention of over 14 MEPs.

The aim of the exhibition is to promote women business start-ups and the need to tackle remaining barriers. Seldia will exhibit best practices in the direct selling sector, which employs 4.5 million direct sellers in the EU, 85% of whom are women.

For more information, visit the event’s website at www.women-entrepreneurs2013.eu

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MEPs Vow support for the Women Entrepreneurs Event in Strasbourg

Another successful Seldia trip to the Strasbourg European Parliament plenary session on 5-7 February ensured the presence of more than 14 Members of European Parliament at the Women Entrepreneurs Exhibition and support of many more. The Seldia delegation was able to fit in many meetings with MEPs during which both the event and Seldia’s role as direct selling association in Europe and direct selling as a flourishing business sector were highlighted.

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Seldia Committee Meetings
Seldia held a very successful day of meetings on the 31st January in Brussels. The Legal Affairs Committee discussed several issues of immediate impact on the direct selling sector, like for example the new directive on self-regulation (ADR), which obliges inter alia that code administrators have to have their own website in each country. New cosmetics regulations will affect many of our members, as they will soon be faced with further guidelines for harmonisation of products and the ban on animal testing.   

The Companies’ Committee meeting saw updates on the situation in Greece, Slovenia, Albania and Austria and talks of a newly created DSA in Morocco meant that moods were running high towards the end of the day.
 
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EU AT A GLANCE

Consultations on Unfair Commercial Practices

The European Commission released a Green Paper on trading practices in conjunction with the Retail Action Plan on the 31 January 2013. In publishing this Green Paper, the Commission has opened a 3 month consultation period to define business-to-business unfair trading practices in the food and non-food supply chain, asses their impact and identify means to address them.

The Green Paper runs the risk of triggering uncalled for regulation in the sector, stiffening trade, entrepreneurship and competition and possibly creating a stigma on retail. Regulation has not been very effective in the past in dealing with trading relationships and the chances of it stifling job creation and innovation instead of addressing the issue intended run high.

In the meantime, the European Commission is stalling its report on the transposition of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD), which was due in summer 2012 but is now expected in March 2013.  The draft report suggests not amending the directive.  Seldia has called for not changing the UCPD because it has proven to be an efficient piece of legislation to fight pyramid schemes.

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IMCO Committee Approves of Report on Better EU Governance

During the Plenary session in February 2013, IMCO members discussed and voted on better governance of the single market, finally adopting a legislative own-initiative report.  This report, drafted by Andreas Schwab MEP (DE, EPP) who believes that the key to exiting the current economic crisis is through a better implementation of Single Market guidelines, is a response to the Commission’s Communication published last year. The report calls for a stricter level of implementation and transposition of EU legislation, in particular single market laws and urges the Commission to present a legislative proposal for this.

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European Skills Council for Commerce Launches Website

The website for the European Skills Council for Commerce has been officially launched (http://www.europeancommerce.eu).  Listing relevant news, events and tips, this website aims at contributing to a Commerce Sector Council on Employment and Skills.

The EU Skills Panorama, officially launched by the European Commission on the 7 December 2012, goes hand in hand with the European Skills Council for Commerce website. Being an online tool, it presents quantitative and qualitative information on short and medium term skills needed.

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EU Commission published Product Safety Package

The European Commission published the Product Safety Package made up mainly of four components. A communication outlining the various elements of the package is followed by a proposal for a new Regulation on Consumer Product Safety, a proposal for a Regulation on Market Surveillance of Products and a multi-annual action plan for market surveillance.

Though the final version of the Regulation on Consumer Product Safety is largely welcomed, the Commission’s intention to introduce compulsory origin labeling (CPSR Art. 7) is a matter of concern and is something Seldia will follow and monitor closely.

 

EVENTS

Female Entrepreneurship EU Exhibition (Seldia)
19-21 February, European Parliament, Brussels, www.women-entrepreneurs2013.eu 

ECR Europe-EuroCommerce Conference and Marketplace
14-15 May 2013 in Brussels, http://www.ecreuropeforum.net/
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Troy Dooly is recognized internationally as an influencer in the areas of personal branding, leadership development, marketing campaigns, organizational expansion, and corporate launch strategies. Dooly is a speaker, results coach, and radio host. He is a founding member, show host (Beachside CEO) and News Director of the Home Business Radio Network. He is a founding member, and currently serves on the Board of the Association of Network Marketing Professionals