EU update, including consumer protection; employment; justice and home affairs

Law Society of England and Wales

European Group Annual Conference

The European Group of the Law Society of England and Wales will, for the first time, be holding its annual conference in Edinburgh on 8 & 9 June 2001.

The Conference will provide an overview of recent developments in EU law and practice with insight from EU and UK based practitioners, academics and the Commission and other regulatory officials covering general and specialist topics ranging from merger control to human rights, from telecommunications and the internet to the environment and from sports and other broadcasting rights to social issues.

For full details, including a programme and registration form, contact: Debbie Harris, JG & A Conferences & Events, 41 Britannia Square, Worcester WR1 3DN, Tel: 01905 724734 Fax: 01905 724744 Email: lseg@everyevent.co.uk

Consumer Protection

Better protection for accident victims under the 5th motor insurance Directive

On 11 April the Legal Affairs committee of the European Parliament considered the report by Willi Rothley MEP report on the proposed fifth motor insurance Directive. The focus of the report is an improvement in the legal protection of accident victims and to see the minimum insured sum raised to EUR 2,000,000 throughout the European Union. Mr Rothley also calls for a 3 month time limit within which a car with foreign plates should be registered in another Member State. Other proposals include permitting branch offices of insurance companies in other Member States to settle claims and allowing a 30-day insurance cover specifically to protect a purchaser bringing home a car which they have acquired in another Member State. The Commission, which is preparing a preliminary draft to harmonise the current Directives on motor vehicles, welcomed Mr Rothley’s proposals, although it feels that the proposals on registration periods and payment of taxes on insurance policies go beyond the ambit of the relevant Directive. The report will be voted on at the extraordinary meeting of the Committee in Strasbourg in May.

To consult the report: www.europarl.eu.int/meetdocs/committees/juri/20010410/436247en.doc

Employment Law

No agreement on the rights of temporary workers

The social partners – representatives from both trade unions and industry – are still no closer to an agreement on draft legislation on the rights of temporary workers. The negotiations broke down on account of failure to reach agreement on the rights of agency workers. Whilst the trade unions are insisting that such workers be accorded the same rights as permanent workers, the employers’ federations believe that this is a matter for the Member States to decide upon. Another issue on which both sides fail to see eye to eye is on the establishment of conditions in order to prevent the abuse of using agency workers. If both sides fail to agree a draft text in the coming months, the Commission will publish a text of its own on this issue.

Justice and Home Affairs

Commission favours equality on parental responsibility

In March, the European Commission adopted a working document for a Regulation on parental responsibility applying equally to children of both married and unmarried couples. The Regulation will be based on the Regulation on jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters (the “Brussels II” Regulations). The scope of Brussels II is limited to married couples, and the Commission is proposing an extension to include all decisions on “parental responsibility as well as decisions relating to “matrimonial proceedings”. Foreseeable difficulties include agreeing rules of jurisdiction and the enforcement of decisions, where the child lives mainly in a non-EU country. The EU has not yet acceded to the 1996 Hague Convention on parental responsibility and according to European case law, in areas in which the Community has developed a common policy, the competence to negotiate international agreements passes from Member States to the Community. In essence, the parts of the Hague Convention which affect the Regulation will fall within the competence of the Community and Member States would not be free to accede individually to those parts.

The Commission’s working document, COM(2001)166 can be found at www.europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/com/wdc/2001/com2001_0166en01.pdf

If you would like further information or if you would like to subscribe to any of the services provided by the Brussels Office (Brussels Agenda, EU Documentation or Enquiry Service) or Guidance Notes which are all free of charge, please contact us at: The Law Societies’ Joint Brussels Office, 142-144 Avenue de Tervuren, B-1150 Brussels, Belgium, or DX 1065 BDE Belgium Tel: 00-32-2-743 85 85 Fax: 00-32-2-743 85 86 and by e-mail: brussels@lawsociety.org.uk

Information is also available from the Society in Edinburgh from Sarah Fleming. Tel: 0131 476 8132 Fax: 0131 225 4243 E-mail: sarahfleming@lawscot.org.uk

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