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TCAs: no need for new EU initiatives in the field, say SMEs - UEAPME replied to a public consultation by the European Commission on the future of transnational company agreements (TCAs), i.e. cross-border agreements covering working and employment conditions and/or relations between employers and workers or their representatives. According to UEAPME, there is no need for further initiatives on this issue at European level.

The fact that the number of transnational company agreements increased in the last years clearly shows that they can develop further without any new specific actions, said UEAPME. The association also does not support the creation of a mechanism aiming at clarifying the legal effects of TCAs and does not see as useful the introduction of an EU-wide framework. On the other hand, the continuation of the searchable database of TCAs put in place by the European Commission is welcome, and the development of guidelines for the promotion of good practices could be helpful, wrote UEAPME.

Competition: Commission launches study on choice and innovation in food sector

The European Commission is launching a study to assess the impact of recent developments in the European retail sector on consumers. Following calls by stakeholders, the Commission will examine, whether increased concentration and the use of own brand (private label) products have hampered choice and innovation in the European food sector. The Commission invites interested expert researchers to submit proposals to its call for tenders by 14 February 2013. The final report of the study is expected by the end of 2013. The Commission will evaluate the results and may put forward proposals to improve the functioning of European food markets.

Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia said: "Many stakeholders argue that European food markets do not work well, but we need more comprehensive data to assess these claims. Therefore, we have decided to carry out a detailed study to find out whether European consumers enjoy sufficient choice and innovative products adapted to their needs when buying food. This will help us determine how to best solve these problems."

The retail sector has become more concentrated over the last years. In parallel, retailers have introduced their own brands, which are increasingly successful.  The European Parliament, consumer organisations, national competition authorities and food producers claim that this limits investment and variety in the food supply chain, ultimately to the detriment of the final consumer. 

Alcohol-Mapping

EU strategy on alcohol: the EAHC/2012/Health/06 contract concerning "Action to prevent and reduce harm from alcohol" was awarded and will be implemented in 2013. The purpose of the contract is to contribute to the protection of children and young people from harmful alcohol consumption by collecting and disseminating good practice. 

Lot 1: Good practice in Member States (by MS authorities) to enhance compliance with minimum age limits for selling or serving alcoholic beverages. Examples of good practices will be collected and the exchange and dissemination of good practices will be facilitated.

Lot 2: State of play in the use of alcoholic beverage labels to inform consumers about health aspects. The objective is to contribute to a comprehensive picture through fieldwork to gather representative samples of alcoholic beverage packages from retail outlets across the Member States to assess the effectiveness of health-related information provided on them.

The contract for lot 2 was awarded to Significant GfK (ttp://www.gfk.be).

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