Tag Archives: EU

Carmakers call for transitional EU deal

car-manufacturing

 

The government must secure a transitional Brexit deal to protect the future of the UK car industry, a trade group has said.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said Britain was highly unlikely to reach a final agreement with the EU by the March 2019 deadline.

That meant carmakers could face a “cliff edge”, whereby tariff-free trade was sharply pulled away.

It warned the industry would suffer without a back-up plan in place.

The EU is by far the UK’s biggest automotive export market, buying more than half of its finished vehicles – four times as many as the next biggest market.

UK car plants also depend heavily on the free movement of components to and from the continent.

The SMMT said any new relationship with the EU would need to address tariff and non-tariff barriers, regulatory and labour issues, “all of which will take time to negotiate”.

“We accept that we are leaving the European Union,” said chief executive Mike Hawes.

“But our biggest fear is that, in two years’ time, we fall off a cliff edge – no deal, outside the single market and customs union and trading on inferior World Trade Organization terms.

“This would undermine our competitiveness and our ability to attract the investment that is critical to future growth.”

He called on the government to seek an interim arrangement, whereby the UK stayed in the single market and customs union until a new relationship was brokered.

UK car manufacturing generated £77.5bn of turnover last year and accounted for 12% of all goods exports, according to the trade group.

It added that almost a million people were employed across the wider automotive industry.

Source: BBC News

EU Launches WiFi4EU Initiative For Free WiFi Across Europe

wifi-cellular

Digital Single Market: EU negotiators agree on the WiFi4EU initiative

Brussels, 29 May 2017

The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission reached tonight a political agreement on the WiFi4EU initiative and its funding which supports installing free public Wi-Fi hotspots in local communities across the EU: in public squares, piazzas, parks, hospitals and other public spaces.

As stated by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the WiFi4EU initiative will contribute to the vision of having “every European village and every city with free wireless internet ac­cess around the main centres of public life by 2020.”

Vice-President in charge of the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip welcomed tonight’s agreement and said:The Digital Single Market strategy aims to build a fully connected Europe where everyone has access to high-quality digital networks. The WiFi4EU initiative will improve connectivity in particular where access to the internet is limited. WiFi4EU is a welcome first step, but much more needs to be done to achieve high-speed connectivity across the whole EU territory – such as improving Europe-wide coordination of spectrum and stimulating investments in the high-capacity networks that Europe needs.

The political agreement includes a commitment by the three institutions to ensure that an overall amount of €120 million shall be assigned to fund equipment for public free Wi-Fi services in 6,000 to 8,000 municipalities in all Member States. The specific sources of the funding will be finalised in the ongoing legislative discussions on the review of the current Multiannual Financial Framework programme. Local authorities will be able to apply for funding once the system is set up. 

In practice, local public authorities (municipalities or groups of municipalities) wishing to offer Wi-Fi in areas where a similar public or private offer does not yet exist will be able to apply for funding via a simple and non-bureaucratic process. A grant allocated in the form of vouchers will be used to purchase and install state-of-the art equipment, i.e. local wireless access points, while the public authority will cover the running costs of the connection itself. 

Background
Announced by President Juncker in his State of the Union Address in September 2016, the WiFi4EU initiative is part of the ambitious overhaul of EU telecoms rules including new measures to meet Europeans’ growing connectivity needs and boost Europe’s competitiveness.
 
The Commission reviewed recently its Digital Single Market strategy – one of the top priorities of the Juncker Commission – taking stock of the progress made, but also calling on co-legislators to swiftly act on all proposals already presented. The EU has been quick to achieve important agreements on the end of roaming charges on 15 June 2017 for all travellers in the EU, on the portability of content which will allow as of early 2018 Europeans to travel with the films, the music, the video games or the e-books they have subscribed to at home or on the release of the 700 MHz band for the development of 5G and new online services. On remaining proposals, the final outcome is now negotiated in the European Parliament and the Council.
Source: European Commission

SMMT statement in response to the Prime Minister’s speech on Brexit

 SMMT_Master_Brandline_(RGB)


SMMT has released a statement today, Tuesday 17 January 2017, in response to Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech on Brexit.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

The recognition by the Prime Minister of the importance of single market arrangements for the automotive sector is critical. We need government to deliver a deal which includes participation in the customs union to help safeguard EU trade, trade that is tariff-free and avoids the non-tariff and regulatory barriers that would jeopardise investment, growth and consumer choice. Achieving this will not be easy and we must, at all costs, avoid a cliff-edge and reversion to WTO tariffs, which would threaten the viability of the industry.

In December 2016 SMMT hosted a roundtable discussion chaired by David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, on the future for the UK automotive sector following Brexit. The event took place at SMMT’s headquarters in London and was also attended by John Hayes, Minster of State, Department for Transport and Nick Hurd, Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. You can read more about the discussion here.

Read more about the UK automotive sector’s relationship with Europe

Source: SMMT

 

Eu agrees end date for roaming

European_Union

EU agrees end date for roaming, backs net neutrality


The European Union finally reached a deal that will see the end of roaming charges in June 2017, as well as enshrining net neutrality rules.

A compromise was agreed between the European Commission, European Parliament and the Council of the EU, following sometimes fraught negotiation.

The measures will be delivered via an overhaul of EU telecoms rules in 2016, which will also include proposals to more effectively co-ordinate spectrum across the EU.

“Europeans have been calling and waiting for the end of roaming charges as well as for net neutrality rules. They have been heard. We still have a lot of work ahead of us to create a Digital Single Market,” said Andrus Ansip, commission vice-president for the digital single market.

Over past months, Ansip has not always seemed so positive. Back in March, he described a compromise proposal from the Council on roaming as “a joke”. Now the sides have found common ground.

Under the agreement, roaming charges will cease in the EU as of 15 June 2017. Consumers will pay the same price for calls, texts and mobile data wherever they are in the EU.

However, there will be rules to prevent abuses of the new set-up. For example,  if a user buys SIM card in another EU country where domestic prices are lower and then uses it at home. Or if a user permanently stays abroad with a domestic subscription from their home country. These instances are “permanent roaming” and could impact domestic markets negatively, said the commission.

Hence, the compromise includes a fair-usage safeguard against permanent roaming. Once a limit is reached when a user is abroad then operators can charge them a small fee. However, this fee will be much lower than current capped roaming charges. The commission will define what is the fair use limit.

In the meantime, this summer’s retail roaming caps will stay the same as they have been since 1 July 2014. From April 2016, roaming will cost less as operators will only be able to charge a small additional amount to domestic prices of up to €0.05 per minute on calls, €0.02 per SMS, and €0.05 per MB of data (excluding tax). This maximum roaming charge is about 75 per cent cheaper than current roaming caps for calls and data, the commission said.

Net neutrality
The agreement also enshrines net neutrality into EU law for the first time. Users will be free to access the internet, without being unfairly blocked or slowed down, and paid prioritisation is not allowed.

However, there are exceptions. The commission listed four: the blocking of illegal content; preventing the misuse of networks, for instance viruses, malware or denial of service attacks; filtering spam or allowing parental controls; and finally to minimise network congestion that is “temporary or exceptional”.

The latter exception is worded so an operator cannot invoke “if their network is frequently congested due to under-investment and capacity scarcity”.

The GSMA responded to the deal being reached. “The GSMA appreciates the efforts of the Council of the European Union and European Parliament in concluding the Connected Continent legislation”.

“The clarity resulting from the agreement reduces the regulatory uncertainty for telecommunications companies operating in Europe,” said Afke Schaart, VP Europe, GSMA.

“However, we believe the rules agreed today are not sufficient to help Europe address the region’s growth and competitiveness challenges. To realise the vision laid down in the Digital Single Market Strategy, much more needs to be done.”

Source: Richard Handford Mobile World Live

EU to improve trans-european traffic information

motorway

 

The European Commission has adopted new rules which will help provide road users across the EU with more accurate, accessible and up-to-date traffic information related to their journeys (Real-Time Traffic Information).

This can include information about expected delays, estimated travel times, information about accidents, road works and road closures, warnings about weather conditions and any other relevant information. Such information can be delivered to drivers through multiple channels: variable message signs, radio traffic message channels, smartphones, navigation devices, etc. A functioning market already exists for Real-Time Traffic Information services, which is why the objective of the new rules adopted today, is to make existing information services available to more users, facilitate the sharing of digital data, and foster the availability of more and accurate data.

What are Real-Time Traffic Information Services Real-time traffic information services aim to provide road users with accurate and up-to-date information related to their journeys. This can include information about the road network, traffic regulations (such as speed limits and access restrictions), officially recommended alternative routes, expected delays and estimated travel times, information about accidents, road works and road closures, warnings about weather conditions and any other relevant information (e.g. information about road tolls and availability and cost of parking places at the destination). Real-Time Traffic Information can be delivered to drivers through various channels, such as variable message signs, variable speed limits, radio traffic message channels, smartphones, navigation devices, etc.

Objectives of the Commission action A functioning market already exists for the delivery of Real-Time Traffic Information services to end users. Therefore, the objectives of the Commission action (specifications) are to: – Make existing Real-Time Traffic Information services available to more users by increasing EU-wide interoperability and continuity of data and services (in combination with travel information services); – Increase the existence of (digital) data and its sharing, to decrease data fragmentation and make data more accessible and improve data quality; – Facilitate the availability of more and accurate data to enable better management of road infrastructure and traffic flows. Delegated Regulation (specifications) To improve the interoperability of the data, the specifications require that road status and traffic data are made accessible via national access points in a standardised format.

The specifications also establish rules on data updates including timeliness of these updates. The draft specifications have gone through extensive consultations with the experts nominated by the Member States and other public and private stakeholders. The specifications will apply to the comprehensive Trans-European road network and motorways not included in this network as well as to “priority zones” (especially interurban/urban busy roads) when national authorities voluntarily identify such zones.

The specifications do not make the deployment of Real-Time Traffic Information services obligatory. However, when these services are already deployed in a Member State or will be deployed after the date of application of the delegated regulation, the specifications will have to be followed. The key enabler to the provision of accurate, reliable and content rich Real-Time Traffic Information services is to improve accessibility and interoperability of existing and up-to-date data across the EU. Therefore, the specifications foresee that each Member State sets up a national access point (single window) for the exchange of data. Now that the specifications have been adopted, they will be transmitted to the Council and the European Parliament for their right of scrutiny. The Delegated Regulation will apply from 24 months after its entry into force.

Source: European Commission

EU to bug every car in UK with tracker chips

Every new car sold in Britain will have to have a ‘black box’ device fitted to track drivers’ movements from next year, under plans being imposed by the European Union. 

Despite serious concerns about privacy and cost, UK ministers admit they are powerless to stop the Big Brother technology being forced on motorists and car makers. 

The Government believes the gadget, designed to help emergency services find crashed vehicles, will add at least £100 to the cost of vehicles without providing significant safety improvements.article-2625244-1DBA4E5400000578-71_634x468
Officials also fear the scheme, known as eCall, could be used by police or insurance companies to monitor motorists’ every move.   

 The European Commission has ruled that by October next year, all new cars and vans sold across Europe must be fitted with the technology, which contains a mobile phone-like SIM card designed to transmit the vehicle’s location to emergency services in the event of a crash.

But The Mail on Sunday has seen official correspondence from the Department of Transport showing the UK’s opposition to the policy, which could lead to the ‘constant tracking’ of vehicles. 

In a letter to MPs, Transport Minister Robert Goodwill writes: ‘The basis for our opposition is that costs to the UK outweigh the benefits.

‘Unfortunately, there is very little support for the UK position and no possibility of blocking this legislation. We are working with other member states to minimise the potential burdens on manufacturers and the potential cost to consumers. 

‘With regard to the rules on privacy and data protection, other member states have expressed  similar concerns to us, about the potential for constant tracking of vehicles via the eCall system.’

Emma Carr, of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, said last night: ‘Motorists will not be comfortable forcibly having a black box installed which is capable of recording and transmitting their exact location when they are driving.’

Some car manufacturers, including BMW and Volvo, already include eCall devices in their latest models. 

An SOS button near the dashboard, linked to a SIM card, allows drivers to call 999 quickly. And if airbags are deployed it automatically sends a text message to emergency services with the car’s location – as well as its unique vehicle ID number.

Voluntary take-up has been low across the industry so the EU ruled all new car models must include eCall from October 1, 2015. Motorists will be unable to switch it off and it will be tested in MoT checks.

The EU Parliament voted it through last month and a draft of the law is due to be published next week before it is agreed by the EU Commission.  

The UK also hopes the new text will include assurances on the privacy risks of eCall, which were highlighted in a European Parliament legal report earlier this year.

The study said manufacturers will want to include ‘value added services’ for the SOS devices, such as sharing the data with insurers and recovery firms.

A separate study by the EU Data Protection Supervisor warns of the ‘potential intrusiveness’ of eCall given that it operates on the same basis as mobile phones and ‘potentially enables the constant collection of the vehicle’s geolocation’. It urges ‘stricter safeguards’ against ‘unlawful’ use of personal data.

Brussels insists eCall will save 2,500 lives a year by speeding up emergency services response times.

 
Source: Daily Mail

 

Britain fights EU’s ‘Big Brother’ bid to fit every car with speed limiter

Cars would include cameras that ‘read’ the limits  displayed on road signs

  • The  technology would then automatically apply the car’s brakes
  • Transport  Secretary Patrick McLoughlin  is said to have ‘erupted’
  • Has been  asked by the EC for his views, but he has  told his officials to block the  moves

Drivers face having their cars  fitted  with devices that slam on the brakes if they go over the speed limit, under  draconian new road safety measures being drawn up by  officials in  Brussels.

All new cars would have to include camera  systems that ‘read’ the limits displayed on road signs and automatically apply  the brakes.

And vehicles already on the road could even  be sent back to garages to be fitted with the ‘Big Brother’ technology, meaning  that no car in the UK would be allowed to travel faster than 70mph – the speed  limit on motorways.

All new cars would have to include camera systems that ¿read¿ the limits displayed on road signs and automatically apply the brakesAll new cars would have to include camera  systems that  ‘read’ the limits displayed on road signs and  automatically apply the  brakes

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin is  said to have ‘erupted’ when the proposals landed on his desk and has told his  officials to block the moves. 

He has been asked by the European Commission  for his views ahead of the publication of formal proposals this autumn.  

The EC’s Mobility and Transport Department  hopes to roll out the ‘Intelligent Speed Adaptation’ technology (ISA) as part of  a new road safety programme, which aims to slash the death toll from traffic  accidents by a third by 2020.

Every year, more than 30,000  people die  on the roads in EU countries and a shocking 1.5 million are injured, of whom  120,000 are left permanently disabled. 

Mr McLoughlin has stressed to officials that the UK  already has one of the best road safety records in Europe

Experts estimate that 6,000 of those deaths  could be prevented if drivers obeyed speed limits. 

But Mr McLoughlin has stressed to officials  that the UK already has one of the best road safety records in Europe. The  number of people killed on our roads fell last year from 1,901 to 1,754 – the  lowest figure since records began in 1926. By comparison, 3,645 people died in  France and 3,657 in Germany. 

The ISA technology works in one of two ways –  either through satellites, which communicate limits automatically to cars from  databases, or by using cameras to read road signs.

It then deploys one of three controls to slow  drivers: ‘advice’, in which the motorist is simply notified of the speed limit  by an alarm, giving them the opportunity to slow down; ‘driver select’, which  arrests the car’s speed but gives the driver the option of disabling the device;  or ‘mandatory’, which would not let a driver breach the speed limit under any  circumstances.  

Mr McLoughlin was told by his officials that  new vehicles will soon be designed with camera and satellite technology  automatically incorporated, making it ‘cheap and easy’ to add speed-control  systems.

Last night, a Government source said Mr  McLouglin had instructed officials to block the moves because they were a  ‘violation’ of British motorists’ freedom.

The source said: ‘This has Big Brother  written all over it and is exactly the sort of thing that gets people’s backs up  about Brussels. We are about getting a better deal for Britain, not letting EU  bureaucrats encroach further into people’s lives.

‘The Commission wanted his views ahead of  plans to publish the proposals this autumn. He made it very clear what those  views were.’

No car in the UK would be allowed to travel faster than 70mph ¿ the speed limit on motorwaysNo car in the UK would be allowed to travel faster than  70mph – the speed limit on motorways

A spokesman for the AA said at lower speeds  the new technology could actually create dangers. 

He said: ‘If you were overtaking a tractor  and suddenly needed to accelerate to avoid a head-on collision, you would not be  able to.’ But he said he would support a system of audible speed  alerts. 

A spokesman for the EC said: ‘It is part of  the Commission’s job – because it has been mandated to do so by member states,  including the UK – to look at, promote research into and consult stakeholders  about new road-safety technology which might ultimately save lives. This is done  in close co-operation with member states and the UK has generally supported such  efforts.’ 

The spokesman added: ‘There is a currently  consultation focusing on speed-limiting technology already fitted to HGVs and  buses. 

‘Taking account of the results, the  Commission will publish in the autumn a document by its technical experts which  will no doubt refer to ISA among many other things.’

Source: Glen Owen Daily Mail