Review of current national rules and practices relating to risk preparedness in the area of security of supply

Spark Legal Network, together with VVA Europe have now completed the final report for our study on the ‘Review of current national rules and practices relating to risk preparedness in the area of security of electricity supply’, launched by DG ENER. The study was carried out with the assistance of Spark’s excellent network of national legal experts. The project helps to lay the ground for new EU legislation relating to security of electricity supply in Europe to be proposed by the European Commission in the near future, as part of a broader set of initiatives to reform the EU framework governing electricity markets.

The study provided the European Commission with a complete overview of the various provisions and practices and of the gaps and inconsistencies between the national strategies in relation to risk assessment, risk preparedness and emergency situations in the area of electricity of supply. The conclusions to this study show a relatively fragmented landscape among Member States. Security of electricity supply may, in a number of Member States, still be considered a national issue, although it can be seen that (bilateral and regional) cooperation is starting to develop at the policy level (while this is much more established at a technical level (TSOs, DSOs)).

For further information regarding the legal framework of security of electricity supply, this specific project or other EU law queries, contact us on info@sparklegalnetwork.eu

Legal review on industrial design protection in Europe

The European Commission has published the Legal Review of Industrial Design Protection in Europe, which was conducted by Spark Legal Network, Queen Mary University of London, Time.lex and Indiville.

The report concludes, in respect of several aspects of the design system, that the desired level of harmonization has been achieved, and the functioning of the internal market with regard to goods embodying designs has been facilitated. However, it also identifies those areas of difficulty, which have the potential to negatively influence the accessibility and smooth running of the system.

In general, the report appreciates the need for EU design law to develop organically via judicial interpretation, whether through the EUIPO or the EU courts. In some of these cases, national offices and courts have made considerable effort to align their case-law with EU decisions. Conversely, the report cautions against overestimating the ability of EU institutions to synergise the disparate experiences and practices of 28 Member States.

The study team noted difficulties with regard to the subject matter of protection, which in turn lead to dissatisfaction relating to disparate areas of inquiry, including the definition of design, the concept of functionality, the notion of disclosure, the scope of protection, and the adjacent administrative implementation of legal policies and rules. In these instances, the study team hesitantly champions the ability of the national offices or the EU institutions to change direction, in order to align it across the EU. In light of this, revisions to the Design Directive have been recommended where changes to language, or clarity in approaches are required.

A secondary set of conclusions, which this enquiry elicited concern the future of design law in light of new technologies and market environments, specifically in two areas: spare parts and 3D printing. Regarding spare parts, the stand-still clauses in the Design Directive, and the “must match” clause in the Design Regulation had led to a split in the approaches of the various Member States under scrutiny. The multi-faceted approach that is clearly seen among the Member States calls for some institutional intervention, and recommendations have been made as to how this might be achieved. Conversely, in relation to 3D printing, the conclusion from surveys, interviews and desk research is that this is a fresh area of technology, and as such, conclusions should not be drawn without further empirical, academic and judicial substantiation.

For questions about the study – or more generally about EU design law – please get in touch

Study on compliance-check of national regulatory practise with Article 13 of Regulation (EU) 347/2013

Spark is excited to announce that we have kicked off a new study on compliance-check of national regulatory practises with Article 13 of Regulation (EU) 347/2013 for DG Energy. Together with our partner VVA Europe and with our network of experts, we will assess the 28 Member States’ revised methodologies and criteria, evaluating whether the risks of the Projects of Common Interest (PCI) are higher than comparable projects and deserve appropriate incentives.

For questions about the study or any other energy law related issue, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Spark starts DG ENER study with VVA

We are excited to announce that we have just kicked off our new study on risk preparedness in electricity security of supply for DG Energy. Together with our partner VVA Europe and our excellent team of legal experts, we will identify and map the current legal framework and practices in the 28 Member States with regard to security of electricity supply in the short term. The study will focus on how the EU countries identify, prevent, prepare and respond to security of supply risks and emergency situations and how the cross-border dimension of electricity outages and disconnections is taken into account.

For questions about the study or any other energy law related issue, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Final report published on Spark’s cloud computing SLAs study

The final report for our study on standards terms and performance criteria in service level agreements for cloud computing services (SMART 2013/0039), conducted by Spark Legal Network and Time.lex, has been published. It can be found here on the Digital Agenda website, or alternatively downloaded here from the EU bookstore.

The study was conducted with the participation of our excellent team of legal experts and the final report contains an overview of the legal landscape, rules and policies with respect to Service Level Agreements (SLAs) in each of the EU/EFTA countries. In addition, we provide a model that can be used to create new SLAs for cloud computing, a checklist to assess the adequacy of SLAs, and explanatory comments that clarify which choices were made in the drafting, why, and when a user may wish to choose certain options over others. The checklist and the model SLA provisions along with the explanatory comments can raise awareness among cloud users about the legal specificities of a cloud offer and help them to understand and assess these offers. For further information about the legal framework of cloud computing, the study, or other EU law queries, contact us on info@sparklegalnetwork.eu

 

DG CNECT study on cloud computing SLAs – stakeholder workshop yesterday

The second and final workshop of the DG CNECT project Study on Standards terms and performance criteria in service level agreements for cloud computing services was held yesterday, Monday 11th May, in Brussels.

The study has three objectives, namely: to collect data on the rules currently applicable to SLAs in the EU,  EEA, and EFTA countries, to propose a model SLA fit for use across sectors and platforms, and recommend a roll-out strategy. Spark and our excellent network of experts were instrumental in completing the first task and providing information on the national legislation, policies, guidelines and other rules which affect SLAs. The first study workshop was held in November 2014 to gauge the views of cloud users; their suggestions fed into the model. Yesterday’s workshop involved a wide range of stakeholders, whose views on the model proposed will enable us to better understand, and respond to, the needs of providers.

The discussion included:

– the target audience of the model SLA

– the system of service credits, and its effectiveness

– change management

– the inclusion of quality assurance as well as service level objectives in the SLA

– the objectives of the European projects on SLAs as part of the Digital Agenda. Further information on the Digital Agenda (part of the Europe 2020 strategy) can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/

 

The Study on Standards terms and performance criteria in service level agreements for cloud computing services is due to end this summer – we look forward to finalising an excellent project with DG CNECT.

For questions about the study – or more generally about EU/national law on cloud computing – please get in touch.

 

Single framework contract on DATA PROTECTION awarded to Spark consortium

As part of a consortium including Civic Consulting, Time.lex, TNO, and Tilburg University, Spark has been selected for a single framework contract on data protection with DG JUST. Visit http://goo.gl/aZRfmE for details.

The contract is for “research services in relation to issues pertaining to the protection of personal data”. The purpose of the framework contract is to do legal and technical research and analysis:

1. monitoring the current acquis (transposition, implementation, and application)

2. examining the transition to the new framework and adoption in the Member States

3. responding to new challenges and developing solutions utilising technological solutions

4. covering the issue of transferring data from the EU to third countries.

As always we are looking forward to coordinating our network in this field, which features academics and lawyers across the EU28 who will leverage their expertise and practical knowledge to add value to our work.

For further information on data protection issues at the EU or Member State level, or to enquire about the contract, please get in touch via email.

 

 

Spark consortium awarded study on the Energy Efficiency Directive

We are excited to start work on our latest study for the European Commission DG ENER. Together with Ecorys Netherlands we have been selected to review the effectiveness of implementation of the Energy Efficiency Directive Article 6. This requires EU Member States to ensure that central governments purchase only products, services and buildings with a high energy-efficiency performance.

The reasoning behind Article 6 of the Energy Efficiency Directive is to foster procurement of energy efficient solutions – in this way central governments leverage their “market power”, providing a leading buyer for these materials and services, and encouraging innovation in this area. This in turn contributes to the EU energy efficiency targets under the the ten-year ‘Europe 2020’ strategy for smart, sustainable, inclusive growth.

This study provides an interesting opportunity to utilise our expertise in both public procurement and energy law, and we will cooperate with an outstanding network of experts. We look forward to the kick-off!

Spark and Ecorys win DG SANTE study

As Spark celebrates its 4th birthday this month, we are pleased to confirm our participation in a new project with our frequent partners at Ecorys. Together we have been chosen to perform the following study for the European Commission DG on Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) and the Consumers, Health, Agriculture, and Food Executive Agency (CHAFEA): “Study on cross-border health services: potential obstacles for healthcare providers”.

This study will examine the requirements placed on health professionals who offer their services within the EU, but outside their home Member States. We will map the requirements based on specific situations (involving GPs, physiotherapists, hospitals, and medical laboratories) to find out whether any of these constitute potential obstacles to the provision of healthcare services within the EU28. In this way we will be examining issues surrounding the core of EU law and policy – free movement.

Spark is responsible for collecting information on the requirements in the ten Member States concerned, and will liaise with an excellent team of experts in these areas. We look forward to starting the research, and our 5th year of legal networking!

Spark and Time.lex ePrivacy study completed

Spark and Time.lex have now finalised our study on the ePrivacy Directive for DG Connect. The study “ePrivacy Directive: assessment of transposition, effectiveness and compatibility with proposed Data Protection Regulation” began in May 2014 and included the collection and analysis of data relating to the implementation and operation of the ePrivacy Directive in the EU28, as well as recommendations for future actions in this field.

The study highlighted that national provisions on topics such as cookies, traffic and location data or unsolicited communications, adopted pursuant the ePrivacy Directive, frequently have a different scope of application than the one defined by article 3 of the ePrivacy Directive, which is limited only to providers of publicly available electronic communication services (i.e. traditional telecoms companies). The limitation of the scope of the Directive only to providers of electronic communications services is ambiguous and may give rise to unequal treatment if information society service providers using the internet to provide communication services are generally excluded from its scope. To remedy this situation, we recommend to extend the scope of the ePrivacy Directive in general to also the latter type of services.

The study also considers that the rules on cookies and similar techniques may not have entirely achieved their objectives, given that users receive too many warning messages which they do not properly consider. Therefore, our report recommends maintaining the current opt-in approach to cookies, but limiting it only to situations where there is an interference with users’ privacy. This result may be achieved, for example, by broadening the exceptions to the cookie consent rule (which allows the placing of cookies in the users’ terminal equipment or equivalent web-tracking techniques only with the users’ prior and informed consent).

The study findings will feed into the forthcoming review of the ePrivacy Directive, not before the adoption of the General Data Protection Regulation. See here for further information: http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/news/eprivacy-directive-assessment-transposition-effectiveness-and-compatibility-proposed-data