Seldia Newsletter March 2014

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March 2014
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Entrepreneurship Education in the EU

Seldia, the European Direct Selling Association together with the Seldia EU Parliament initiative “the Women Entrepreneurship Platform” (WEP) organised a lunch debate in the European Parliament on the 20th of March 2014. Seldia regularly advocates on the need for more women entrepreneurs – an area in which direct selling excels as 85% of the 4,7 million direct sellers in the European Union are women. The event on 20 March focused on the topic of “Women Entrepreneurship – the importance of Entrepreneurship Education” and was hosted by Austrian Member of the European Parliament Dr. Paul Rübig. The lunch debate was attended by 80 participants coming from the EU institutions, Business representatives from Direct Selling and other sectors, University and business school professors, as well as NGOs and platforms of women entrepreneurs. 

The event was moderated by Maurits Bruggink, Executive Director of Seldia who presented the speakers, among them Simone Baldassarri, responsible for the dossier “education for entrepreneurship” at DG Enterprise and Industry of the European Commission. Mr Baldassarri pointed out that young girls and boys need to learn entrepreneurial skills from a young age and also need to be inspired by role models. He outlined the Commission’s Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan and called for more Women Entrepreneurs networks, such as the WEP.

Further key speakers were Tamuna Gabilaia, Executive Director of the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) and LaVonn Schlegel from the Kelley School of Business of Indiana University. Tamuna Gabilaia explained the challenges of women entrepreneurs with statistical data taken from the US and from around the world. She also presented the projects developed by the WFDSA for the development of female entrepreneurship, among them a training program as well as the partnership on entrepreneurship education put in place with Kelley School of Business. LaVonn Schlegel powerfully articulated on remaining obstacles needed to boost of female entrepreneurship and described good practices for entrepreneurship education and policy development.


The event was also attended by Lithuanian MEP Ms. Justina Vitkauskaite from the liberal ALDE group and Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella from the Social Democrats group. Both MEPs underlined the importance of organizing such events in order to keep the momentum on this important topic. Marc Tarabella also highlighted the need for more men to be involved in the debate – something that Seldia achieved at this particular event.

Photos of the event can be found on Seldia’s Facebook page

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INDUSTRY NEWS

SELDIA presentation before TTIP Negotiators
During the fourth round of Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations that took place in Brussels from 10-14 March 2014, the Directorate General for Trade of the European Commission organized a stakeholder event on 12 March. Several stakeholders, amongst them Seldia, had the opportunity to explain their views on different aspects of the TTIP by delivering presentations to key EU and US negotiators, other interested stakeholders and international press. Seldia Executive Director Maurits Bruggink presented the industry’s interests with a presentation titled: “Asserting Direct Selling as a valuable distribution service within the Services Chapter of TTIP”. 

The Head Negotiator from the Services Unit at DG Trade, with whom Seldia is in regular contact, acknowledged and thanked for the presentation. Thomas Fine, the lead US negotiator for Services was interested to find out more regarding the trade barriers that direct selling faces with certain product categories. Seldia and several Member DSA’s are currently advocating the industry’s TTIP interests towards EU Member State policymakers, who alongside the EU Commission acting as chief negotiating body, are a key joint decision-maker on EU trade matters.   

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New Seldia Corporate Member: PM International 

Seldia is proud to announce the approval by the Seldia Board of Directors of a new corporate member: PM International AG
PM International is a German company selling food supplements and cosmetics. It was founded in 1993 by Rolf Sorg who is the CEO of the company headquartered in Luxembourg and in Speyer (South West of Germany). PM International is a member of 4 DSAs: France, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The company has experienced continuous growth and in 2012 has become ranked among the Top 50 most successful Direct Selling companies world wide
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New Seldia Member
DSA : Kazakh DSA
The DSA of Kazakhstan was founded in 2006 and counts 5 member companies: Avon, Herbalife, Faberlic, Mary Kay and Oriflame and one prospective member (Amway). According to latest figures made available by the DSA, annual sales of the direct selling sector amounted to 238,4 million USD.The Kazakh DSA is currently organizing a comprehensive event on consumer protection and will as of now be represented in Seldia’s Non-EU DSA’s Committee.

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Polish DSA (PSSB) News

PSSB Membership Increases
The Polish DSA was recently joined by two new companies: MonaVie and L&R Health and Beauty Systems. Both have operated in Poland for several years now offering mainly food supplements and energetic drinks, but also cosmetics and jewelry (L&R). The two companies, now on one-year  probation, increased the number of PSSB members to 16. The group of PSSB supplying members has also grown this month to five, when the Association was joined by T-Systems Poland, a company linked to the well-known mobile phone operator T-Mobile.

PSSB Conference 19 March 2014
On 19 March PSSB staged a conference in Warsaw devoted to “Ethics and Good Market Practices in Direct Selling”. The event was prompted by the recent intensification of unfair market practices employed by a number of small Polish companies and addressed especially to elderly people. These companies organize big public meetings disguised as medical consultations, culinary workshops or even cabaret shows, where high ticket products are sold to people who neither need them nor can afford them. The Conference was attended by representatives of the Polish Senate, the  government consumer watchdog UOKiK, the Consumer Federation, the Attorney General Office, the Office for Registration and Licensing of Medical Equipment and local consumer spokespersons. A number of joint projects was initially agreed upon, including the creation of a black list of unfair companies and the writing of a letter addressed to all institutions renting facilities for such meetings to verify in advance  hiring requests with the participants of the Conference.

Polish DSA PSSB Website 

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Lithuanian DSA speaks at European Consumer Day 
On 18 March the Lithuanian Consumer Protection Board together with the Lithuanian European Consumer Centre (ECC-Net) organized on the occasion of the European Consumer Day a conference entitled „Consumer Rights Directive: What‘s New for consumer and business“. 

The conference was attended by representatives from the EU institutions and local consumer and business representatives. An expert panel was made of up a European Commission representative from DG Justice, a representative of BEUC (the EU consumer organisation) and a representative of local consumer rights organizations. Secretary General of the Lithuanian DSA and Member of the Seldia Board of Directors, Gintautas Zaleckas was also invited as a panelist and made a presentation on the importance and the effects of the Consumer Rights Directive on the Direct Selling Industry.

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AVEDISCO Consumer Rights Directive Workshop 
On 11 February 2014 a Workshop on the new directive on consumer rights took place in Milan. In Italy the EU’s Consumer Rights Directive (2011/83/EU) was recently transposed into an Italian law and will be applied from 13 June 2014. The event served to underline the importance of this new directive to the Direct Selling industry and to inform regarding the important changes that it will bring to certain aspects of the business.

The workshop, organized by the Italian Direct Selling Association (AVEDISCO), was moderated by AVEDISCO honorary Chairman Giorgio Giuliani and accompanied by presentations of several direct selling industry expert consultants. The event enjoyed an excellent turnout with over 70 participants attending, they were representing member companies and also Italian direct selling companies that are not yet associated to AVEDISCO.

Website of AVEDISCO

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Rogue traders circumvent Czech Sales events law 
A few weeks ago, Czech Parlamentarians approved an amendment to a Czech law which now makes it mandatory for sales events to be notified 10 working days in advance. Thanks to talks held by Seldia and the Czech DSA with Czech policymakers in Prague, Direct Selling was explicitly exempted from this requirement.There have now been first signs that the new sales events law is not serving its purpose as was anticipated by the Direct Selling industry. According to the Czech DSA, there has been a recent report in a major daily on this issue. The report stated that the inspection authorities already witnessed several cases where the organizers of sales events notify a large number of events so that it is impossible to control all of them. Subsequently most of these events are canceled, allowing the rogue traders to then easily organize only one event where they then take advantage of consumers through so called excursion sales (targeting elderly citizens who are sold overpriced goods).

Similar laws have been put in place in Slovakia and are currently under discussion in Hungary. Seldia will continue to advocate on the need for EU Member States to focus on the proper enforcement of already existing EU law, such as the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive and the Consumer Rights Directive which cover all types of criminal off-premises commercial activities.

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French DSA (FVD) Events
Commerce and Innovation Conference 2&3 April

The French DSA (FVD), the University Paris Est Créteil and the Institute of Management Research organize on 2 and 3 April 2014 the second edition of the European Commerce and Innovation Conference around a general theme : “Commerce in the multi-channel era”. The event is organized in partnership particularly with the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, ADETEM (French association of marketing professionals), the Agency for Employment of Managers (APEC), the French Association Customer Relationship Management (AFRC), the National Foundation for Teaching Business Management (FNEGE), APEC and the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) .
For more information or to register to the event click here

Annual Conference 13 & 14 May 2014

This year the French Direct Selling Association (FVD) is inviting its members and partners to attend their 28th Annual Congress in Disneyland Paris. The event will take place on 13 and 14 May 2014. 

Website of the FVD

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The European Direct Selling Conference 2014 
Seldia is making changes to its Annual Round Table Conference and will in this year’s edition present a new modified programme under a new conference format. The annual conference that will take place on 2 October 2014 will from now on be known as
The European Direct Selling Conference”. 

Changes will affect the conference format and will include further workshops and awards, as well as other entertaining novelties which will be advertised in due time. A conference website will be available shortly. 

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Registration Open – WFDSA World Congress 2014 
The registration page for the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) World Congress in Brazil is now open. It will take place in Rio de Janeiro Brazil from 10-12 November 2014 and the topic of the 14th World Congress is: “Direct Selling: The Original Social Network”.

In the 14th WFDSA World Congress the following topics will be discussed:

  • New Technologies
  • Quality of relationships
  • Entrepreneurs and the new labor
  • Industry’s Advocacy
  • New markets, new opportunities

EU AT A GLANCE

A Bloggers’ skeptical view on EP Elections

Euro-scepticism is an issue which continues to dominate the political landscape in a number of the EU states. Finland is one example, where the anti-EU populist party the Finns (formally known as the True Finns) are the third largest party in the country following their success in previous general elections.

Tapio Raunio, a professor of political science at the University of Tampere, the likely impact of the Finns in the upcoming European elections in May. He argues that European elections in Finland tend to be candidate-focused and the decision of the “charismatic leader” of the Finns, Timo Soini, not to stand, may have a negative effect on the party’s performance. Mr Raunio draws attention to the economic crisis in the Eurozone which shaped the national elections in 2011, affecting national EU policy and leading to a ‘tougher stance’ on EU negotiations.

With regard to the European elections he notes that the electorate is more “concerned about the ability of MEPs to defend national and regional interests in Brussels than about wider issues related to European integration”. From this he predicts the potential winners which include the Finns, National Coalition, and the Centre Party, and losers, which are the Social Democrats.  Next month the Seldia Newsletter will present the views of a Euro-optimist. The table below is an overview on the EU elections from April to October, covering both the Parliament and the Commission.

For more information on Tapio Raunio’s blog please click here

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EU Parliament adopts report on CESL

On 26 February, the European Parliament adopted its report on the proposal for a regulation on a Common European Sales Law (CESL).  The text approved by the MEPs restricts the scope of the regulation to online contracts. The limited scope of the regulation is a good result for direct selling as Seldia has always opposed the proposed law.

CESL creates an optional legal regime for mainly B2C, cross border contracts. The idea of a single legal regime would be in principle attractive. For business it would save much costs of complying with one regime as opposed to the national regimes of 28 Member States. To consumers, it would give similar protection across the EU in case of cross-border purchases. However, CESL is only an optional regime and consumers can always fall back on the national regime, which often provides a higher level of consumer protection. As a result, companies would have to comply with the CESL and the national regime.  This would therefore introduce an administrative burden and increase costs without offering benefits of a single regime for a single market.

The next step is the proposal’s discussion at the EU Council, where the CESL has little chance of being rolled out due to concerted opposition from a large group of Member States.

To access the report please click here

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Commission makes Visa MIF commitment binding 

The Commission has made Visa Europe’s offer to cut interchange fees (MIFs) for handling transactions a legally binding commitment, which will set the Visa MIFs for credit at 0.3%. All MIFs for cross-border credit transactions on consumer cards will be set at a weighted average cap of 0.3% from 26 February 2014. This cap will be extended to 10 member states from 26 Feb 2016 (Belgium, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands and Sweden). In addition, Visa is to change its rules to allow true cross-border acquiring at the cross-border rates from 1 January 2015. The commitments will stay in place for 4 years. This ruling bodes well for the MIF Regulation as it shows that the card scheme accepts the principle of caps and the removal of anti-competitive rules as proposed in the Regulation.
   
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Data Protection Proposal – EU Council progress
The Data Protection working party of the Council of the EU, which brings together representatives of the Union’s 28 Member State governments, is meeting on 31 March and 1 April to continue negotiations on the Data Protection Regulation in light of the outcome of a debate by EU Justice Ministers earlier this month. The working party meeting on 31 March is expected to focus mostly on transfers of personal data to third countries or international organisations. Member States are close to agreement on this chapter: they are expected to finalise a legal text that will prevent most international transfers of data unless the European Commission has established that the data protection rules of the third country in question offer a comparable level of protection to the EU’s legislation.In addition to next week’s working party meeting, several more sessions are expected to take place before EU Justice Ministers meet again in Brussels on 5 and 6 June to discuss the state of play. At this meeting, the Greek Presidency of the Council hopes to adopt a partial “general approach” covering the aspects of the Regulation on which the Member States have broadly reached agreement, including chapter V. This position paper would then serve as the Council’s negotiating position with the European Parliament on the final text of the legislation towards the end of 2014.
   
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EU Parliament backs standard VAT return
The European Parliament has supported the Commission’s proposal for a standard VAT return in a vote at plenary last week. According to the Commission’s estimates, it has the potential to cut costs for European businesses by €15bn per year. A standard VAT return is a step in the right direction towards cutting red-tape for businesses, easing tax compliance and making tax administrations across Europe more efficient. Ideally, the EU should have one single VAT return form. However, with different VAT systems among Member States, this is currently an unrealistic prospect. A common format for the VAT returns, in all EU languages, as stated in the proposal, will already reduce the administrative burden on companies, especially SMEs, resulting in significant cost savings and efficiency of resources. However, as the standard VAT return will become mandatory, EuroCommerce warns of significant indirect costs for companies by having to adapt their IT infrastructure and forms to comply with the new standards.
   
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European Banking Authority Consumer Report 2014
The European Banking Authority (EBA) has published its annual report on consumer trends, giving an overview of the analysis carried out in the area of consumer protection and financial innovation. The report identifies the consumer issues that may arise, or have arisen, from these trends, and describes the approaches the EBA will be taking in 2014 to address them.

To access the report please click hereTo top

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Vacancy trends reveal divide in EU labour market
The latest issue of the European Vacancy Monitor (EVM) reveals a shortage of labour supply in countries such as Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Estonia and Latvia, while competition for jobs is increasing in countries such as Greece, Slovakia and Spain. The report also highlights the strengths and weaknesses in the recruitment markets of four Southern countries, and warns that more measures are needed to help young people find skilled jobs and, therefore, boost labour productivity. Employment opportunities in Southern Europe are concentrated in a few fields, such as health care, sales and administration.

For the latest issue of the European Vacancy Monitor please click here

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EVENTS

DSN Global – The Growth Conference
23-24 April 2014, Grapevine Texas (more information)
FVD European Commerce and Innovation Conference

2-3 April 2014, Paris (more information)
French DSA (FVD) Annual Conference
13-14 May 2014, Disneyland Paris 
UK DSA Annual Conference

15 May 2014, Northamptonshire (more information)

The European Direct Selling Conference

2 October 2014, Brussels (SELDIA)
WfDSA World Congress XIV
10-12 November 2014, Rio de Janeiro To top      

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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