Amazon, Luxembourg and Ireland hit by EU’s latest turn of the screw over competition

Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, in Brussels - Berlaymont, last week. (Copyright European Union, 2017 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Lukasz Kobus)

Last week, the European Commission has ordered Amazon to pay a 250 million euros ($293 million) bill in back taxes to Luxembourg, as a consequence of “undue tax benefits”. The Commission also announced that it is planning to take the Irish government to European court over its failure to recover €13bn in unpaid taxes from […]

UK’s PM Theresa May asks for a two-year Brexit transition plan as negotiations round kicks off

UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May delivered a much-awaited speech last Friday in Florence, where she set out a plan on how to progress in Brexit negotiations. Ms. May proposed delaying a full Brexit for a two-year period to smooth the impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, as well as to “end the deadlock” […]

EU’s Finance Ministers draft plan to raise tax bills of online giants like Google and Amazon

Digital multinationals such as Amazon, Facebook and Google may face higher tax bills in the European Union as a new plan for harmonised tax treatment of online companies has been discussed by EU Finance Ministers on Saturday. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire led the initiative and claimed on Friday nearly one third of EU […]

Europe’s top court hears Intel and sends € 1.06 bn antitrust fine to review

Last week the European Court of Justice, Europe’s highest court, ruled that US chipmaker Intel’s € 1.06 billion ($1.26 billion) antitrust fine be re-examined by a lower court. The ECJ found that the General Court, which upheld the hefty fine imposed on Intel by the Commission for abuse of a dominant position in the market, […]

Road to Brexit: the UK seeks early agreement on Data Privacy with the EU

British and European flags in front of the Berlaymont building (Copyright European Union, 2016 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service/ Photo: Lieven Creemers). Last Thursday, the Government of the United Kingdom openly said it wants to co-operate with the European Union over data protection, in a bid to ensure the free flow of data across […]

Brexit talks: 2nd round fails to bring the EU and the UK closer on key issues

Michel Barnier, the EU’s Chief Negotiator and David Davis, British Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, hold a joint press conference at the end of the second round of Brexit negotiations. (Copyright European Union / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service) After millions of words that have been said over the matter, last week, […]

EU and Japan agree on free-trade deal and fill the post-TPP void

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EC, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council and Shinzō Abe, Japanese Prime Minister at the EU-Japan Summit (Brussels, July 6, 2017). Copyright: European Union; Source: EC – Audiovisual Service; Photo: Etienne Ansotte Last week, right before the kick-off of the Hamburg G20 Summit, the European Union and Japan announced […]

Japanese banks to move their European HQ from London to Frankfurt after Brexit

One year after the UK has decided to quit the EU, the first effects of the “leave” vote on the financial sector are becoming visible. Japanese brokerage giants Nomura and Daiwa Securities Group have decided to pick Frankfurt as their new base for European operations, and will soon begin relocating staff from London to Germany. […]

EU unveils plan to accelerate Capital Markets Union ahead of London’s departure from the bloc

Skyline of the City of London, Europe’s largest financial centre. (Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Jack Taylor) Last week the European Commission unveiled it is taking further steps to develop the Capital Markets Union, a plan to support growth and investment in the Old Continent. The project, which aims at creating a single […]

The US may be “open” to reviving TTIP, while the EU designs the future of trade with China

After months of silence and no progress since the negotiations were officially put on hold, last week the TTIP reappeared on the main pages of the international press. According to US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership indeed would not be dead as of yet, and the US would be “open” […]

EU Council approves visa-free travel for Ukraine and cement ties with Kiev

Last week the Council of the European Union finally adopted a regulation granting visa-free travel for Ukrainian citizens. Thanks to the formal adoption by the bloc, Ukrainian holders of a biometric passport can travel to an EU country for up to 90 days out of any 180-day period for business, tourism or family purposes. And, […]

EU and Amazon cut deal to end antitrust investigation over e-books deals

Last week the European Commission has communicated its decision to formally accept commitments by US tech giant Amazon to end an EU antitrust investigation over contracts with e-book publishers. The Seattle-based company has proposed to drop some clauses in its contracts that required publishers to inform about terms offered to the company’s competitors and to […]

EU27 leaders unite on Brexit Guidelines ahead of “tough negotiations” with Theresa May

Last Saturday, the leaders of the European Union met for the first time after UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, officially opening the Brexit process, and Britain was not invited. The purpose of the EU27 special summit was indeed to discuss guidelines for divorce negotiations with the UK ahead […]

EU and UK soon to be in a post-Brexit rush over free trade agreement with Australia

Last week, trade was one of the hottest topics on the European economic scene. The European Union and Australia made substantial progress towards the conclusion of a free trade agreement which has been on the table for years. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Australia’s Minister for Trade, Investment and Tourism, Steven Ciobo, announced they […]

EU to give more power to national antitrust authorities in a bid to secure regulatory fines

Last week, the European Commission has proposed a new set of rules to give national antitrust authorities more power and resources against anti-competitive practices. The proposed rules, which followed a public consultation that was launched last year, are intended to make the bloc’s national competition agencies more autonomous but also more reactive against multinational firms […]

Brexit is happening now but the UK hasn’t really assessed the impact of a “no-deal” divorce

The last few days, amid the political storm that the Dutch elections have generated, the Brexit question has seen important events as well. Last week the Queen has given her assent to the Brexit bill, and have formally cleared the way for Prime Minister Theresa May to start talks to leave the European Union. PM […]

EU lawmakers vote to reintroduce visas for Americans over “reciprocity principle”

The European Parliament passed a motion last Thursday calling on the European Parliament to temporarily reintroduce visa requirements for US citizens. The non-binding resolution called on the European Commission to end visa-free travel in response to Washington’s refusal to grant visa-free access to people from five east European countries. Despite being only a temporary solution, […]

EU to present a “hefty” exit bill to the UK moments before Brexit negotiations

There’s just one month left for UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, according to her plans, and the European Union quantifies an exit bill for the first time. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has declared last week that the UK could face a “very hefty” bill for Brexit. […]

EU Parliament approves CETA: the EU-Canada free trade deal sees the light in Trump’s gloomy era

After seven years of talks and remarkable twists, the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) was approved by the European Parliament last week. The EU lawmakers formally backed last Wednesday the landmark free trade deal which aims to eliminate up to 99% of tariffs on exported goods with Canada, by a vote of 408 to […]

Digital Single Market: New EU rules for online subscription services

EU Regulators have found last week an agreement on new rules concerning online content portability, allowing EU citizens to access online subscription services with no restrictions while travelling within the Union. The new rules will practically end the so-called “geo-blocking tactics”, and will enable European consumers to access services such as Netflix, Sky’s Now and Spotify […]

Brussels to tear down the trade wall with Mexico as opposed to Trump’s “walls”

The European Union and Mexico have officially decided last week to accelerate negotiations on a new trade agreement and have set two additional rounds of trade talks in the first half of 2017. The European bloc and the Northern American country have long standing economic relations, but they are facing a very delicate moment, amidst […]

Theresa May’s global Britain against Philip Hammond’s Brexit fog

The 2017 edition of the World Economic Forum will be remembered for long. This year’s event carried indeed a lot of attractiveness, not only because for the first time a head of state from the People’s Republic of China was invited to the alpine city of Davos, or because the world is preparing to welcome […]

EU’s tougher privacy rules: WhatsApp and Facebook set to be soon aligned with telcos

With an official statement, the European Commission last week published its proposal to reform the existing European online privacy rules. Companies such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Google will face tougher rules on the tracking of users under a wider update of the e-privacy directive, which will also impact cookies regulation. The EU says the new […]

Post-Brexit muddled times: the resignation of UK’s top ambassador and Theresa May’s vague plans

Last week,  unexpected news casted more shadows over the already complex Brexit negotiations matter. Sir Ivan Rogers, Britain’s ambassador to the European Union, abruptly resigned and left his cabinet several months before his mandate was due to an end. Officially, Mr. Rogers left his position “to give time” to his successor to take charge of the […]

Trade deals’ pure realism: it may take 10 years for a post-Brexit agreement

It was already a well-known fact that the UK had a bumpy road ahead before a post-Brexit deal with the European Union could ever see the light, but last week’s news are now showing that reality could be even more complex than that. Britain’s ambassador to the European Union, Sir Ivan Rogers, warned British ministers last […]

EU agrees on Ukraine – Georgia visa-free travel amid veto risks and populist fears

Last week was a historic one for the long and delicate debate of the European Union-Ukraine relations. EU officials have indeed come to a deal that could see the citizens of the former Soviet republic travel to the European bloc without a visa. This decision also applies to Georgia. Both the Caucasian country and Kiev have been […]

The EU tells the bare truth to the UK that there is no such thing as easy divorces

Post Brexit vote, the British leaders have rather been adamant in saying that there will be no mixed solutions and in-betweens ahead: “Brexit” will mean nothing else than “Brexit”. Last week, Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told the world that EU leaders are determined not only to follow that line, but also that the ride could […]

Competing with Apple and leading innovation: Google’s world replies to EU on android charges

It was not a surprise or an unexpected twiddle, when last week Google like a fine-tuned clockwork delivered its formal reply to the European Commission, regarding the Android antitrust case. With a blog post on Thursday, the US tech giant has officially dismissed the third set of formal charges by the European Commission, saying that […]

Google strongly rejects EU antitrust charges and now gets ready for the worst to come

Last Thursday Google officially responded to the antitrust charges by the European Union relating to its shopping search and AdSense. Having been given an extra week to formally respond to allegations by the Commission, Google produced the strongest reply of its give-and-take history with European Regulators. The US technology giant this time is hitting back […]

EU accused of being too nice with Gazprom in the infamous antitrust case

Last week came to be a crucial one for the long-standing dispute between the Russian energy giant Gazprom and the European Union. Gazprom will work on a compromise with EU regulators and will finalise a deal to end a five-year antitrust case avoiding fines and any other imposed term, according to official declaration. The news […]