EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

DCMS: The Government recently revealed how changes to the EU regulations covering electronic communications will be implemented. The updated directives must be implemented by 25 May 2011 and the Government has published its final plans following a consultation, which was launched in December 2010.
 
The Government will adopt the amended Framework exactly as set out and will not ‘gold-plate’ the regulations by adding any additional measures, to ensure British firms can compete equally with the rest of Europe. 

One of the most significant changes will be to the use of cookies, which are text files that websites put on a user’s computer to store information such as the user’s preferences.  Organisations running websites will need the user’s permission before a cookie can be used.  The Information Commissioner’s Office will publish further guidance on the use of cookies.
Press release & links
 
EU News: A European Commission report presented recently demonstrates the current limitations in assessing the socio-economic implications of cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops in the EU.  Specifically, the report to the European Parliament and the Council, which is based on information principally provided by Member States, reveals that the existing information is often statistically limited and that it is frequently based on already preconceived ideas about GMO cultivation.
 
This report is the starting point for the Member States, the Commission, the European Parliament and all interested parties to deepen their reflection on this sensitive topic.  However, in order to move forward in a sensible way, the Commission considers that discussions should shift from the polarised perceptions documented in the report to a more tangible and objective basis.
Press release & links
 
EU News: The European Court of Auditors (ECA) has made its 2010 Annual Activity Report (AAR) available to the public.  The AAR provides an overview of the key results & achievements of the ECA during 2010 and the resources used.
Press release & links
 
EU News: On Tuesday 19 April 2011, 25 years after the tragic Chernobyl accident, EU Commissioner Andris Piebalgs announced the EC's pledge of around €110m at a high-level conference in Kiev to ensure that the Chernobyl site is made stable and environmentally safe.

The Commission has so far committed a lion's share - some €470m - to Chernobyl-related projects, mainly for nuclear safety, but also on programmes to help the local population and provide affected families with access to quality healthcare.  Yet a further €740m are needed from the international community in order to complete the major projects on the site by 2015.
Press release & links ~ Related DECC press release
 
EU News: Technical rules on how the 900 and 1800 MHz radio frequency bands should be opened up to advanced 4th generation (4G) communication devices have just been adopted by the European Commission.  The rules, which are important to avoid interference problems with existing GSM & 3G devices, are an important step to bringing wireless broadband access to more EU citizens and businesses.
Press release & links
 
EU News: 77% of 13-16 year olds and 38% of 9-12 year olds in the EU have a profile on a social networking site, according to a pan-European survey carried out for the European Commission.  Yet, a quarter of children who use social networking sites like Facebook, Hyves, Tuenti, Nasza-Klasa SchuelerVZ, Hi5, Iwiw or Myvip say their profile is set to ‘public’ meaning that everyone can see it, and many of these display their address and/or phone number.
Press release & links
 
EU News: The European Commission has adopted an evaluation report of the Data Retention Directive outlining the lessons learned since its adoption in 2006.  The Directive established data retention as a response to urgent security challenges, following major terrorist attacks in Madrid in 2004 and in London in 2005.
 
The EC will now review the current data retention rules, in consultation with the police & the judiciary, industry, data protection authorities & civil society with a view to proposing an improved legal framework.
Press release & links ~ Evaluation report on the Data Retention Directive (Directive 2006/24/EC) ~ Frequently asked Q&As
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