L’impresa multistakeholder secondo la disciplina della società benefit

 Il modello della società benefit

La disciplina della società benefit, introdotta con la legge di stabilità 2016, e dedicata all’impresa so...

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Rinnovato il contratto collettivo dei dirigenti delle Agenzie Marittime 

In data 13 febbraio 2017 è stato siglato l’accordo di rinnovo tra Manageritalia e Federagenti per il contratto collettivo dei dirigenti delle agenzie marittime. Le parti sociali all’interno dell...

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I vantaggi del nuovo “rent to buy” rispetto alla tradizionale locazione con opzione

Questo memorandum esamina sommariamente le figure negoziali del “rent to buy” e della locazione con opzione di vendita, al fine di mettere in evidenza i vantaggi che presenta la nuova tipologia contrattuale rispetto a quella tradizionale[1].

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19/04/2017
IFN - Islamic Finance News

Islamic finance has always elaborated innovative solutions to be inserted in a context created for conventional finance, proposing contracts and structures that have an alternative remuneration of capital with respect to the use of interest.

Encompassed among those solutions are the participating instruments, which are characterized by the fact that the invested capital assumes the form of joint participation to profits and losses (PLS instruments), which derive from the entrepreneurial or financial activity underlying the financing transaction.

In the light of the aforementioned aspect, Nctm, with the aim of spreading Shariah compliant debt instruments for the first time on a large scale in the Italian market, started cooperating in 2016 with Shariah Review Bureau in order to structure Italian Islamic minibonds based on so-called Italian law profit participating minibonds, which are characterized by remuneration related also to the profits generated by the issuer.

Contrary to what was initially believed, the profit-participating minibonds have not been considered per se compliant with Islamic finance principles due to the mandatory presence of an interest rate, even though low, and the fact that the  return, even though on a participating basis, derives from a financial instrument giving certainty of the reimbursement of the capital.

Therefore, one has to work on other instruments provided by the Italian legal framework that could replicate the structure of the profit-participating minibonds, or a debt instrument with a participating return compliant with Shariah principles.

Such a result, and the related certification, has been achieved by using a scheme that links an association in participation agreement with a zero coupon bond. In particular, assuming a total investment of a given size in the instrument, a large part of it would be used to subscribe at par a bond that has as such no return, and the remaining residual amount would be contributed into the issuer’s business on the basis of an association in participation agreement, with the determination of a percentage of participation to the profits that is related to the whole invested amount.

From the perspective of the bondholder, therefore, there is no repayment risk of the principal in the bond (except in the case of a default), while there is a risk that the amount invested in the association in participation agreement could be eroded by the losses of the issuer and not repaid. However, such a risk would be remunerated with a return related to the overall investment. From the perspective of the issuer, the advantage is represented by the fact that the instrument is at a variable cost which has to be paid only in case of, and in proportion to, profits.

To conclude, this is a product that

  • is the first Italian product certified Shariah compliant,
  • is shaped in line with the profit-participating minibonds, but represents an evolution of them in the sense of a full ‘participation’ to the profits, with a limited participation to the losses and
  • is targeted at professional investors (such as debt funds) or that could be used to finance a specific project.

Stefano Padovani 

Articolo tratto da IFN Islamic Finance News

11/04/2017
finanzaediritto.it

La pratica della corsa ha ricadute positive sull’attività professionale.

E’ con questa convinzione che nasce Nctm Corporate Run, progetto che prende vita per iniziativa di Nctm, uno dei più grandi studi legali italiani, con l’obiettivo di coinvolgere professionisti e manager al fine di valutare gli impatti positivi dell’attività sportiva, in questo caso la corsa, sul proprio lavoro.

L’iniziativa si sviluppa in collaborazione con Cassa Forense, Rotary e CSAIn (Centri sportivi aziendali e industriali, affiliati a Federturismo-Confindustria) nella convinzione che il tempo dedicato allo sport non è tempo perso, ma anzi produce risultati sulle performance lavorative e ha effetti benefici sull’ambiente di lavoro.

Nctm Corporate Run ha individuato una dozzina di professionisti, tra avvocati, manager, giornalisti e liberi professionisti, da sottoporre a un programma di allenamento messo a punto da Indaflow, Studio AttivAzione e Gamma Studio in funzione della partecipazione alla gara Salomon Running Milano in programma il 17 settembre sulle tre distanza di 9,9, 15 e 25 km. Tra i professionisti coinvolti nel programma di training: Roberta Guaineri, avvocato e Assessore al Turismo, Sport e Qualità della Vita del Comune di Milano, gli avvocati Nunzio Luciano Presidente Cassa Forense, Claudio Acampora delegato dell’Ordine degli Avvocati di Milano alla Cassa Forense, e Guido Bartalini, partner Nctm, Andrea Pernice, Governatore Distretto 2041 Rotary per l’anno 2017-2018, la giornalista Laura Morelli di Financecommunity e come rappresentante del mondo dello spettacolo, Gigi Sammarchi del famoso duo Gigi e Andrea.

Nel corso dell’allenamento verrà condotto anche lo studio finalizzato a valutare, tramite l’analisi dei parametri psicometrici e altri indicatori scientifici, i risvolti benefici dell’attività sportiva sulle prestazioni lavorative. Indaflow mette a disposizione per questo progetto il suo Flow Performance Center, con un team composto da metodologi dell’allenamento, esperti di biomeccanica, medici, psicologi e ingegneri che lavorano insieme per aiutare gli atleti a raggiungere i propri traguardi e le aziende a misurare il livello di benessere e a trasformarlo in prestazioni di eccellenza sul luogo di lavoro.

Il sistema di allenamento è fondato sulle evidenze scientifiche ed è supportato dalle tecnologie più avanzate per la valutazione funzionale e l’analisi biomeccanica a garanzia non solo delle performance ma anche dell’integrità fisica degli sportivi. Gamma Studio, società leader nell’ambito IT fitness, effettuerà l’analisi statistica tra i dati biometrici degli utenti e i dati provenienti da specifici test sullo stato di forma e benessere degli atleti durante il loro percorso di allenamento. Inoltre, Nctm Corporate Run, con modalità innovative per l’Italia, avrà la finalità di fare risultare i settori professionali o di impresa dei partecipanti alla Salomon Running attraverso delle modalità di iscrizione che renderanno obbligatoria la compilazione di un campo relativo al rispettivo ambito lavorativo, nonché la conseguente predisposizione delle classifiche anche per settori, con relative premiazioni.

Sulla base della filosofia che correre fa bene anche al lavoro, Nctm Corporate Run auspica di coinvolgere nel progetto quante più aziende e organizzazioni professionali possibile.

Altra importante finalità della Salomon Running e Nctm Corporate Run sarà anche quella di supportare il progetto benefico internazionale End Polio Now (endpolionow.org) della Fondazione Rotary. Questo sarà realizzato anche attraverso la cooperazione con varie realtà che si occupano del welfare aziendale, che devolveranno alla Fondazione Rotary una parte del ricavato dei loro programmi acquistati dalle aziende con la finalità della partecipazione alla Salomon Running e Nctm Corporate Run, caratterizzati dal codice RTEPN (Run To End Polio Now).

“Nctm Corporate Run – spiega Guido Bartalini, avvocato di Nctm – prende spunto da una delle più importanti gare che si svolge nella città di Londra, la Standard Chartered Great City Race, che nel 2016 ha raggiunto il record di 26.626 atleti, radunando 860 aziende partecipanti. Salomon Running Milano, che da anni promuove la filosofia del correre/camminare quale stile di vita sano per tutti ad ogni età, appoggia e incoraggia la partecipazione di tutti gli atleti con professioni diverse tra loro, uniti dalla passione per la corsa, credendo fermamente nei benefici che l’esercizio fisico comporta indipendentemente dai risultati sportivi. In fondo – continua Bartalini – le qualità per ottenere buoni risultati professionali sono le stesse che servono per le prestazioni sportive: preparazione, dedizione, costanza, rispetto e lealtà e soprattutto passione”.

31/03/2017
Il Sole24ore

Lo scorso 16 febbraio il Parlamento europeo ha inoltrato alla Commissione alcune raccomandazioni (A8-0005/2017) concernenti norme di diritto civile sulla robotica. Il Parlamento ha inteso sensibilizzare la Commissione sulla necessità di verificare l’idoneità delle attuali norme di diritto civile a disciplinare le situazioni che necessariamente sempre di più prenderanno vita per effetto dell’attività svolta dalle macchine aventi un’intelligenza artificiale, in generale, e dai robot, in particolare.

Siamo, infatti, certamente alle porte di una nuova rivoluzione industriale e, pertanto, gli ordinamenti giuridici, a maggior ragione quello europeo, devono aggiornarsi per tempo al fine di non farsi trovare inadeguati. La Commissione è libera di seguire i suggerimenti del Parlamento, ma, qualora non li seguisse – evento che, peraltro, accade poco frequentemente – deve motivarne il motivo. È ben possibile, quindi, già in questa fase iniziale dell’iter legislativo comunitario, commentare il contenuto del documento parlamentare, avendo una ragionevole aspettativa di un provvedimento finale in linea con quanto suggerito.

Una simulazione dell’intelletto umano L’intelligenza artificiale (IA) può essere, in buona sostanza, definita come una simulazione dell’intelletto umano da parte di un computer o altre macchine, come, tra le altre, i robot. L’evoluzione tecnologica sta portando alla creazione di macchine autonome ed intelligenti sicuramente pronte a prendere decisioni in modo indipendente dagli umani creatori o utilizzatori tanto da potere un giorno – si pensa – persino superare le nostre capacità intellettive. Alcuni Stati (Giappone, Corea del Sud, Cina) hanno già iniziato ad elaborare una disciplina normativa diretta a regolare questo sviluppo economico. Nel Regno Unito, la questione di un’opera creata da un computer veniva già disciplinata nel Copyright Act del 1988. Deve conseguentemente considerarsi corretta la preoccupazione del Parlamento europeo di sollecitare i lavori per far nascere una medesima disciplina anche in Europa. Il documento del Parlamento si occupa, in realtà, di diversi aspetti del diritto e in particolare dell’impatto sull’attività lavorativa delle macchine dotate di IA, del fondamentale tema dell’attribuzione della responsabilità derivante dagli atti compiuti da tali macchine e, infine, di un argomento apparentemente di minor importanza, ma di fatto estremamente attuale e cioè l’applicabilità delle norme di diritto d’autore al mondo della IA.

Il nodo del diritto d’autore In altre parole, il Parlamento pone il problema se un robot possa essere considerato autore di un’opera dell’ingegno, divenendone titolare dei relativi diritti di utilizzazione economica e, inoltre, se possa essere ritenuto direttamente responsabile nel caso in cui tali opere risultino, poi, plagio di opere create da terzi.

La questione, lungi dall’essere solo teorica, si pone concretamente poiché è attesa per la fine dell’anno la pubblicazione del primo album di musica pop interamente creato da un robot.

Nel prossimo futuro, vedremo, quindi, libri, film ed opere dell’arte figurativa create da macchine con IA. In relazione al primo degli anzidetti argomenti, il Parlamento invita la Commissione ad elaborare criteri per definire una «creazione intellettuale propria» da parte della macchina, suggerendo – sembra – sostanzialmente la creazione di un nuovo genus di soggetto giuridico titolare di proprietà intellettuale: il soggetto elettronico. Tale impostazione appare peraltro, quantomeno apparentemente, in contrasto con la nostra normativa (articoli 6 e seguenti della legge 633/1941), secondo cui l’autore può solo essere un umano, poiché l’opera è un’espressione del lavoro intellettuale, lavoro che, però, forse, in una nuova interpretazione innovativa potrebbe anche esser stato eseguito da un robot.

La soluzione prospettata, se in linea astratta condivisibile sul piano del diritto morale d’autore (articoli 20 e seguenti della legge.633/1941), lascia diversi dubbi sul piano di quello patrimoniale (articoli 12 e seguenti della legge633/1941) non essendo possibile che il “soggetto elettronico” riceva i ricavi derivanti dallo sfruttamento dell’opera. La responsabilità a chi sfrutta la creazione Con riferimento, invece, alla questione della responsabilità per plagio, non potendo davvero immaginare un giudizio in cui viene chiamata a rispondere una macchina, nel silenzio del Parlamento sul punto dedicato alla proprietà intellettuale, si può immaginare che la stessa venga attribuita a chi sfrutta commercialmente la creazione, il quale dovrà premurarsi di verificare che quest’ultima non leda diritti di terzi. Un’altra soluzione – meno convincente – può essere quella di attribuire diritti e responsabilità al soggetto che ha predisposto le funzioni della macchina.

da Il Sole 24 ore di venerdì 31 marzo

22/03/2017
IFN - Islamic Finance News

The first question which comes to mind when speaking about a possible Italian sovereign Sukuk issuance is: why? Why should Italy consider such a venture? The obvious first answer is: because it needs alternative financing instruments and cross-border investments to finance its growth, and in particular infrastructure and investment projects. This is quite clear if, on the one hand, one considers that to adhere to the strict rules of the EU fiscal policy, Italy cannot increase its level of indebtedness which is in the range of 130% of GDP (on the contrary it should heavily reduce it), and, on the other hand, one compares the average GDP growth in EU countries during the period 2005-15. From this comparison, it is clear that while there has been an average growth of 0.9% across the EU, Italy recorded minus 0.5%, which is the worst performance among the 28 member states after Greece.

In fact, Italy has remained trapped between the abundant liquidity which has flooded the financial markets through the quantitative easing monetary policy of the ECB, which, in keeping with the interest rate law, has indeed supported the borrowings of the country and the value of its bonds, on the one hand, and the rigidity of the EU fiscal policy on the other hand which has limited the ability of the Italian state to support the recovery of the economy by sustaining internal demand with public spending.

Looking for funds abroad, Italy should consider in particular the Islamic economies to attract capital where there is almost a perfect match between market sectors where Italy can claim absolute excellence and those where the expenditure of the Muslim population is concentrated and is growing: food and beverage, fashion, tourism, real estate, media, recreational and cultural activities, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, etc.

It goes without saying that in order to achieve that goal, Italy would be better off developing an Islamic finance- friendly environment. In doing this, however, it does not need to start from scratch as the Italian legal framework already includes a few instruments which could be used to develop an Islamic finance industry in this country. These are particular instruments which are between debt and equity, like profit-participating bonds, based on a profit and loss-sharing mechanism; and financial participative instruments (‘strumenti finanziari partecipativi’) in particular those having an equity nature.

Another contract which comes to mind is the association in a participation agreement (‘associazione in partecipazione’) which is very similar in nature to the old Arabic Qirad contract (or Mudarabah), where the ‘associate’ is financing the business of the ‘associating party’ in exchange for a participation in the profits (and the losses).

Furthermore, there are pure equity instruments, which can be issued according to the principle of Article 2348, second paragraph, of the Italian Civil Code (“the company, within the limits set forth by the law, can freely determine the content of the various categories of shares”) such as tracking shares (azioni correlate), shares without or with limited voting rights (according to Article 2351, second paragraph of the Italian Civil Code) or a different profit- loss participation mechanism, such as preferred ranking in respect of ordinary shares should the company bear losses, which could be used to accommodate Islamic investors in the capital of companies without interfering with the management of the same and the desire of business owners to retain their full control.

Moving to real estate investments, which is the preferred choice of Islamic investors, consideration could be given to real estate funds which, depending on the nature of the activities carried out in the underlying assets and on other factors, could be certified as Shariah compliant and similarly to SIIQs (Italian REITs) and other asset management vehicles like SICAF, an alternative investment fund set up in the form of a joint stock company and raises funds through the issuance of shares or financial participative instruments.

Having said that, the question remains: why is Islamic finance not taking off in Italy? The first answer might be that there is still no level-playing field. In particular, no intervention has been made to adapt the Italian tax framework to avoid double taxation and other tax leakages for Islamic finance transactions as opposed to conventional ones.

But taxation is only one of the factors to be considered when developing an ecosystem required to build confidence in the relevant players. Indeed, Italy is not perceived as the first stop when it comes to Shariah compliant investment in Europe.

In order to change this perception a few things could be done. A first intervention would involve tax legislation, aimed at implementing the aforementioned level-playing field, removing, by way of example, double taxation otherwise applicable to contractual structures typical of Islamic finance that are based on the purchase and subsequent resale by the lender of specific assets, such as a real property, as well as uncertainty regarding the taxation of income from securities in respect to that applied to periodical income deriving from conventional bonds.

A second action could be to promote the establishment of an Islamic bank, which could fund itself among Islamic investors from Muslim countries, providing Shariah compliant financing products to Italian corporates and, probably at a later stage, to the general public. But the real intervention that would represent for Italy a sign of opening toward the capital markets of Islamic countries – in particular Gulf countries – and would significantly favor the development of Islamic finance in Italy, would be a benchmark issuance of Sukuk by the country.

Indeed, after the UK Sukuk and the Luxembourg issues which came to market in 2014, it has recently been announced that another European country, Germany, could tap the Sukuk market with a sovereign issuance of US$1 billion and a five-year maturity, although this has not yet been confirmed.

Italy could easily follow this path with a sovereign issuance with the objective of raising alternative sources of funding for its infrastructure projects and to set a precedent that demonstrates to the corporate sector that a proven platform, as well as infrastructure, is in place so that Sukuk can be issued comparably to conventional bonds, thereby paving the way for Sukuk to become an instrument of choice for Italian SMEs raising corporate finance.

The next question is whether the Italian legal and tax system is sufficiently equipped for the issuance of Sukuk without the need for further intervention. According to the well-known n.17 AAOIFI definition, Sukuk are “certificates of equal value, representing undivided shares in the ownership of tangible assets, usufructs and services or (in the ownership of) the assets of particular projects or special investment activity”. As we have seen previously, Italy has a set of instruments which in principle could be used to accommodate Shariah compliant contracts and techniques. However, none of these appears to match, at first sight, with this definition. In any case, it would appear prudent, Italy being a civil law country, to provide for an ad hoc legislative framework, as Luxembourg did with its sovereign issue in 2014.

We have therefore tried to formulate in the following, at the level of principles and not in detail, a law proposal based on what has been done in the past with regards to the securitization of public real estate:

  1. The Ministry of Economy and Finance is empowered to set up, even by a unilateral act, a joint stock company with corporate capital of EUR1 million (US$1.07 million), having as its exclusive object the securitization of the profits derived from the divestiture of real estate belonging to the state and other non- local public bodies currently used by the public administration, which will be identified by the State Property Office by its own directorial decrees, and having a value equal to EUR1 billion (US$1.07 billion).
  2. The Ministry of Economy and Finance, upon incorporation, shall adopt the by-laws, appoint the first members of the managing and controlling bodies and determine their remuneration.
  3. The company, incorporated pursuant to paragraph 2, shall implement the securitization through the issue of securities of equal value in the form of Sukuk, representing undivided shares in the ownership of the purchased real estate, entering them in the liabilities side of its balance sheet, for a value equal to EUR1billion.
  4. Securities so issued may benefit, in whole or in part, from the guarantee of the state.
  5. Real estate identified pursuant to paragraph 1 will be transferred to the company for valuable consideration by means of public deed or private deed certified by a notary, and leased to the transferees at market conditions.
  6. Real estate transferred to the company represents, for all purposes, assets segregated from the company’s assets and cannot be subject to actions other than by the holders of the securities issued to finance the purchase of such real estate.
  7. Liability for obligations to security holders will be borne exclusively by the segregated assets.
  8. After five years from the issue of the securities, the company shall transfer the ownership of the real estate purchased to the transferor’s public administration at the price of EUR1 billion and use the selling price to repay the securities issued.
  9. The Ministry of Economy and Finance, by one or more non- regulatory decrees and to be published in the Official Gazette, will establish the terms and conditionsof the securities issued by the securitization company, the market conditions on which the real estate being transferred will be leased by the securitization company to the public administration transferring the same, as well as the terms and conditions of the guarantee of the state under paragraph 4.The Ministry of Economy and Finance will report to the parliament on the implementation of the securitization transaction within three months from the date of incorporation of the company under paragraph 1.
  10. Income from securities will be subject to the same tax treatment applied to periodical income normally derived from conventional bonds.
  11. Costs periodically incurred to pay income from securities will be tax- deductible for the issuing company.
  12. Taxes on the transfers of real estate to and from the securitization company will be halved in order to take into account the synallagmatic nature of the purchase and resale of the same.
10/01/2017
Il Sole 24 Ore

La finanza islamica, rappresenta un modo di intendere l’economia e gli investimenti che in futuro avrà più rilevanza.

22/12/2016
La Repubblica

Blueprint ed Erzelli in missione a Milano SARÀ uno sbarco pacifico e, vista la presenza del sindaco Marco Doria a capo della delegazione, non potrebbe essere altrimenti. Ma la missione genovese a Milano, il calendario mercoledì 30 novembre, punterà dichiaratamente a coinvolgere più investitori possibili nei due progetti-chiave per il rilancio della città: Blueprint ed Erzelli. Solo un nuovo disegno del waterfront portuale, che recuperi contenuti e filosofia del progetto dell’Expo ’92, e il decollo della collina hi tech con l’imminente sì dell’università, possono garantire a Genova quella scossa invocata anche ieri dal presidente dei costruttori dell’Ance Filippo Delle Piane nell’intervista a Repubblica. «Condivido totalmente le parole di Delle Piane – spiega Stefano Franciolini, presidente della Spim, la società incaricata di promuovere e valorizzare gli immobili del Comune – La città è addormentata e dev’essere svegliata e puntare su Milano è la scelta esatta. Per questo noi il 30 saremo lì con i due progetti più importanti, Blueprint ed Erzelli, cercando di trovare soggetti che possano e vogliano condividere lo sforzo della nostra amministrazione e investire su Genova». “Investire a Genova, le opportunità e i grandi progetti: dal polo Erzelli al Blueprint” è il titolo del convegno organizzato dallo studio legale Nctm e ospitato nella sala conferenze dello stesso dalle 9,30. Dopo l’introduzione di Doria, ne discuteranno il presidente dell’ordine degli architetti di Milano Valeria Bottelli, il presidente di Spim Stefano Franciolini, il responsabile del procedimento Blueprint Competition Luca Patrone e il responsabile sviluppo del parco degli Erzelli Maria Silva. «Presentare le migliori opportunità di sviluppo, non solo immobiliare, di Genova a Milano è una scelta mirata – continua Franciolini – È questa infatti la città che offre gli stimoli urbanistici più significativi, come sottolinea giustamente il presidente dei costruttori. Noi guardiamo proprio in questa direzione, vicina non solo fisicamente, ma anche come opportunità di crescita e di investimento». Se in effetti è una ripartenza quella di cui ha bisogno Genova forse la scelta del capoluogo lombardo, che vive una sorta di “Rinascimento”, può essere azzeccata. Certo, Genova non si muove all’unisono sulla strada della crescita attraverso i suoi progetti-chiave. Detrattori, corvi e professionisti della decrescita non mancano. Ma è indubbio che solo una scossa può spingere nuovamente la città verso l’alto. «Noi dobbiamo guardare avanti, provare a stimolare interesse e investimenti sul nostro territorio – chiude Franciolini – Proprio il Blueprint ce lo conferma. Le iscrizioni alla piattaforma on line per manifestare il proprio interesse hanno già raccolto trecento adesioni, da tutto il mondo. Il 20 dicembre ci sarà l’apertura delle buste, nella prima riunione pubblica in cui si conosceranno i membri della giuria internazionale e il numero dei progetti depositati. E allora potrà finalmente partire la fase operativa che punta a realizzare il nuovo waterfront di levante».

 

22/12/2016
Internazionale

Che paese è l’Iran, inteso come economia? Qualche indizio è venuto da un’esposizione delle attività produttive dell’Iran alla Fiera di Roma. Un “Iran Expo”: evento inusuale, perché fino a meno di un anno fa il paese mediorientale era sotto pesanti sanzioni internazionali. Di fatto, un paese isolato dall’economia globale. Le sanzioni sono cadute solo nel gennaio di quest’anno, quando è formalmente entrato in vigore l’accordo che ha messo fine al contenzioso sul programma nucleare iraniano. E solo allora le relazioni economiche e commerciali hanno cominciato a normalizzarsi. L’esposizione di Roma ha offerto uno spaccato di una discreta capacità industriale e di un’economia dinamica, e anche molto diversificata. L’Iran è uno dei grandi produttori di petrolio e gas naturale, che fanno circa l’80 per cento delle esportazioni e sono la prima fonte delle entrate dello stato (circa il 40 per cento). Rilanciare la produzione di idrocarburi resta una delle priorità del governo iraniano. Petrolio e gas però costituiscono circa un quarto del prodotto interno lordo: cioè, i tre quarti dell’economia poggiano su altro. Tra i padiglioni della Fiera di Roma c’erano l’industria “pesante” e “leggera”, grandi conglomerati di stato e piccole imprese indipendenti. Imprese meccaniche, chimiche, di ingegneria, produttori di parti per macchinari industriali e per automobili e camion. Poi agroalimentare, farmaceutica, marmi, produttori di pelli, scarpe, abbigliamento. Con un contorno di banche (italiane), studi legali, e aziende di intermediazione commerciale. L’interesse delle imprese europee per l’Iran è chiaro. È un paese di 80 milioni di abitanti, per lo più giovani (due terzi hanno meno di 35 anni) e molto istruiti. Conta una ventina di città sopra al milione di abitanti, la capitale Teheran supera i 12 milioni. Paese dinamico, con un’ampia classe media urbanizzata e buone aspettative di crescita, un mercato che si apre. Si capisce che nell’ultimo anno delegazioni commerciali di tutta Europa si siano precipitate a Teheran, compresa una missione di quasi 400 imprenditori italiani: per imprese alla disperata ricerca di nuovi mercati, l’Iran è una miniera d’oro. Se perdiamo quest’occasione le aziende iraniane andranno a cercare soci altrove, magari in Germania L’Italia oggi è il secondo partner europeo dell’Iran dopo la Germania; importiamo soprattutto petrolio, ed esportiamo soprattutto macchinari. Nel 2011 l’intercambio (la somma di importazioni ed esportazioni) aveva toccato il massimo storico, sette miliardi di euro. Crollato in seguito alle sanzioni (l’embargo sul petrolio e l’industria degli idrocarburi, e sulle transazioni bancarie), nel 2013 ha segnato il minimo, cioè 1,2 miliardi. Poi ha cominciato a risalire: nel 2015 ha raggiunto 1,6 miliardi, secondo la camera di commercio italoiraniana. Questa volta sono le imprese iraniane che vengono a mettersi in mostra. “Dopo l’accordo sul nucleare e la fine delle sanzioni, le imprese iraniane cercano capitali, investimenti e tecnologie”, spiega un manager dell’ente di stato per lo sviluppo dell’industria mineraria (Imidro), in un grande stand che espone foto di raffinerie, operai in posa accanto a montagne di polvere di bauxite (estratta in Guinea, in joint venture con un’impresa mineraria locale), impianti per la produzione di alluminio. L’industria iraniana parte da un buon livello tecnologico, osserva: “Ma per troppi anni siamo stati isolati a causa delle sanzioni, le imprese iraniane hanno bisogno di innovazione, di acquisire nuove tecnologie”. “Cerchiamo partner per lavorare in joint venture sia in Iran, sia altrove in Medio Oriente e in Africa”, aggiunge Ahmadi Motlagh, direttore del marketing internazionale di Mahab Ghodss, impresa ingegneristica che progetta grandi opere, in particolare dighe e impianti idrici (l’impresa ha duemila dipendenti e quattro uffici sparsi tra la Turchia e l’India). “Se perdiamo quest’occasione le aziende iraniane andranno a cercare altrove, magari in Germania”, dice Davood Foroutan, responsabile del marketing di Irasco, impresa di intermediazione registrata in Italia (con soci iraniani e tedeschi). In vent’anni di attività, spiega, la sua ditta ha lanciato progetti industriali per oltre 1,7 miliardi di dollari, soprattutto nei settori della metallurgia, del petrolio, e della siderurgia. Ora “puntiamo su piccoli progetti, da 10 o 15 milioni, nella speranza di rimettere in moto il mercato e tornare a progetti più importanti”. Un paese un po’ speciale La realtà è che sì, le sanzioni sono finite e molti guardano all’Iran come a un’opportunità, ma la partenza è lenta. L’Iran continua a essere visto come un paese un po’ speciale. “Dal punto di vista legale non ci sono impedimenti”, spiega Emad Tabatabaeì, giovane avvocato che lavora a Milano con un grande studio legale, Nctm, per fare consulenza alle imprese italiane che investono in Iran, e viceversa a quelle iraniane che lavorano in Italia (di recente lo studio milanese ha aperto una filiale a Teheran, in joint venture con un partner iraniano, ed è solo uno dei numerosi studi legali internazionali in feroce competizione per affermarsi in Iran). Gli ostacoli alle transazioni finanziarie sono venuti meno, continua l’avvocato, le banche iraniane sono rientrate nel sistema swift, il sistema telematico che permette i trasferimenti di denaro in tempo reale tra banche. “Le grandi banche asiatiche sono tornate a lavorare con l’Iran. Quelle europee invece sono riluttanti, vogliono vedere cosa faranno gli Stati Uniti”, spiega. Washington infatti mantiene sanzioni unilaterali, e molti temono che allacciare rapporti con l’Iran possa esporre a ritorsioni da parte statunitense. Per le banche piccole e medie è un’ottima occasione. In Italia, per esempio, le transazioni con l’Iran passano attraverso alcune banche popolari. “Quando è passato l’accordo sul nucleare molti vecchi partner iraniani hanno cominciato a riprendere contatti: così, quando in gennaio è scattata la fine delle sanzioni, eravamo pronti a ripartire”, dice Giovanni Forcati, responsabile estero commerciale della Banca popolare di Vicenza. Oggi l’istituto vicentino ha ristabilito rapporti e “scambiato le chiavi” (cioè i codici swift) con otto banche iraniane, cosa che implica tra l’altro armonizzare sistemi di sicurezza e controlli antiriciclaggio. Finito il sistema di autorizzazioni che vigeva negli anni dell’embargo, ora sta alle banche e alle imprese verificare che la transazione non riguardi prodotti o persone sulla “lista nera” (una lista di beni, tecnologie, enti e persone fisiche strettamente collegati all’industria bellica e al nucleare con potenziale uso militare, su cui resta l’embargo). L’importante è rimettere in moto gli affari, ripetono invariabilmente consulenti legali, dirigenti di banca, intermediatori commerciali durante la Fiera dell’Iran a Roma. La ripresa è trainata da settori “pesanti”, idrocarburi, infrastrutture, e trasporti (il governo iraniano intende investire 15 miliardi di euro nei prossimi anni in aeroporti, porti e ferrovie): dunque grandi aziende, per lo più del settore pubblico. E riguarda la Sace, l’ente italiano che offre garanzia al credito. Il primo accordo di rilievo è quello firmato in febbraio da Italfer (gruppo Ferrovie dello stato) con il ministero iraniano dei trasporti, per progettare linee di alta velocità tra Teheran, Qom e Isfahan: un’impresa da cinque miliardi di euro, incluso l’export di materiale rotante (vagoni, locomotive). Il governo iraniano spera che anche l’Eni torni a investire nel paese: “Per noi è importante non solo per sviluppare la produzione petrolchimica ma anche per ridare slancio alle infrastrutture”, diceva il ministro dell’industria Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, durante l’Iran Expo a Roma. Per il resto, l’Iran è un paese di piccole e medie imprese, proprio come l’Italia, e la fiera è stata una nuova occasione “business to business”, per scambiarsi progetti e stringere accordi. Italiani in cerca di mercati, iraniani in cerca di partner, tecnologie, design. E tutti in cerca di capitali e finanziamenti. Forse la cosa che più colpiva, tra i padiglioni dell’Iran Expo, era sentire tanti operatori iraniani parlare un ottimo italiano: persone bilingue, con un piede in Italia e uno in Iran, decise a tenere aperte le porte tra i due paesi.

L’amicizia commerciale tra l’Iran e l’Italia va a gonfie vele, Marina Forti

11/04/2017

Nctm Studio Legale ha assistito il Raggruppamento Temporaneo di Impresa (di seguito “RTI”) costituito da Sinergest, Moby, Ltm e Marinvest (Msc) nell’acquisizione del 66% delle quote di Porto 2000, la società che gestisce il servizio di stazione marittima per l’accoglienza ai passeggeri e ai crocieristi del porto di Livorno.

L’offerta del RTI, ha prevalso, con un investimento di circa 100 milioni di euro, sulle altre due cordate costituite da Creuers del Port de Barcelona (Global Port Holding) con il tour operator Aloschi e CFG Cruise & Ferry Group con le due imprese ausiliarie Grimaldi Euromed Spa e Costa Crociere.

Si tratta di un’aggiudicazione provvisoria in attesa dei consueti passaggi istruttori prima dell’aggiudicazione definitiva.

Per gli aspetti legali dell’operazione il Raggruppamento Temporaneo di Impresa è stato assistito da Nctm Studio Legale con un team guidato da Alberto Torrazza e dallo Studio Cimmino Carnevale De Filippis con l’Avv. Beniamino Carnevale.

10/04/2017

Nctm Studio Legale ha assistito ALS Global Ltd (di seguito “ALS”), multinazionale australiana leader nella certificazione di prodotti e servizi, nell’acquisizione dell’intero capitale sociale di Leochimica S.r.l. (di seguito “Leochimica”), azienda italiana attiva nell’area della sicurezza alimentare e ambientale.

Con questa operazione ALS cresce nel settore Life Science, sviluppando la propria offerta nel campo della certificazione alimentare e ambientale.

ALS Global Ltd è stata assistita da Nctm Studio Legale con un team guidato da Alice Bucolo e dallo Studio Havel, Holásek & Partners s.r.o. con un team guidato da Jan Koval e Silvie Király.

Lo Studio Bigattin Stefanuto e Associati ha assistito Leochimica S.r.l. con un team guidato da Tiziano Bigattin.

 

29/03/2017

Nctm Studio Legale ha assistito Triboo Digitale S.r.l., società controllata da Triboo S.p.A., quotata sull’AIM – Mercato Alternativo del Capitale, nell’acquisizione di una partecipazione pari al 51% del capitale sociale di E-Photo S.r.l., attiva nella produzione fotografica per l’e-commerce, per un valore di 990 mila euro, oltre a una parte variabile in funzione dei risultati 2017 e 2018.

Nctm Studio Legale ha assistito Triboo Digitale S.r.l. con un team guidato da Lukas Plattner, coadiuvato da Eleonora Sofia Parrocchetti.

29/03/2017

Nctm Studio Legale è stato scelto dall’Agenzia del Demanio, Direzione Strategie Immobiliari e Innovazione, come advisor Legale specializzato per assistere il Comune di Castel San Pietro Terme, in qualità di Comune Capofila di altri sette Enti locali, per l’intera procedura di selezione e individuazione del soggetto incaricato della costituzione e futura gestione di un fondo immobiliare da istituire attraverso una SGR.

La Società di Gestione del Risparmio (SGR) si occuperà di costituire e gestire un fondo immobiliare, finanziato, in parte, da un contributo del MIUR. Il progetto comprende sia il recupero e la realizzazione di plessi scolastici rispondenti a necessità emerse da un’analisi di sviluppo futuro dell’utenza, sia la contestuale dismissione di immobili non strumentali, appartenenti al patrimonio dei diversi Comuni, che verranno apportati al Fondo stesso.

Nctm assisterà l’Agenzia del Demanio ed il Comune capofila con un team guidato da Marco Monaco.

 

22/03/2017
Energica Motor Company S.p.A.

Nctm Studio Legale ha assistito Energica Motor Company S.p.A., prima azienda italiana produttrice di moto elettriche sportive, quotata all’AIM – Mercato Alternativo del Capitale – di Borsa Italiana, nella procedura di accelerated bookbuilding. 

L’operazione, per un controvalore complessivo di 2,27 milioni di euro, ha avuto come controparti investitori qualificati in Italia e istituzionali all’estero.

Energica Motor Company S.p.A., è stata assistita per gli aspetti di carattere legale da Nctm Studio Legale con un team guidato da Lukas Plattner.

 

13/03/2017
Crescita S.p.A.

Crescita S.p.A., la Spac promossa da Massimo Armanini, Cristian D’Ippolito, Marco Drago, Carlo Moser, Antonio Tazartes e Alberto Toffoletto attraverso Crescita Holding S.r.l. e DeA Capital S.p.A., ha ottenuto da Borsa Italiana  l’ammissione alle negoziazioni su  AIM Italia, Mercato Alternativo del Capitale di Borsa Italiana.

Il collocamento privato di azioni ordinarie con abbinati warrant si è concluso con successo per un controvalore di 130 milioni di euro.

Banca IMI ha agito in qualità di Global CoordinatorBookrunner, nonché di Nomad e Specialist. KPMG S.p.A. è la società di revisione.

L’inizio delle negoziazioni è prevista per il 15 marzo 2017.

Crescita S.p.A., è stata assistita da Nctm Studio Legale quale advisor legale con un team guidato da Lukas Plattner coadiuvato da Hana Softic. Banca IMI in qualità di Global Coordinator si è avvalso di Grimaldi Studio Legale con un team composto da Paolo Daviddi e Donatella de Lieto Vollaro, soci responsabili, e dall’associate Monica Ronzitti.

8/03/2017

Nctm Studio Legale ha assistito con successo D’Agostino Costruzioni Generali S.r.l., azienda italiana operante nel settore dei lavori pubblici, davanti al TAR della Regione Basilicata ed al Consiglio di Stato, per il contenzioso relativo all’aggiudicazione definitiva dell’appalto integrato riguardante il “Completamento dello schema idrico Basento – Bradano – Attrezzamento Settore G”, per un valore complessivo di 85 milioni di euro.

Il contratto è stato sottoscritto a fine febbraio.

L’opera rientra tra gli interventi promossi dalla “Legge Obiettivo” e dal decreto Sblocca Italia e consentirà di irrigare circa 7.000 ettari di terreni agricoli.

Nctm Studio Legale ha assistito D’Agostino Costruzioni Generali S.r.l., con un team guidato da Giuliano Berruti e Marco Monaco.

7/03/2017
Lazio Innova S.p.A.

Nctm Studio Legale si è aggiudicato la gara per la consulenza giuridica a Lazio Innova S.p.A., società partecipata in via maggioritaria da Regione Lazio e incaricata delle attività di assistenza tecnica all’Autorità di Gestione del Programma Operativo Regionale (POR) 2014–2020, cofinanziato dal Fondo Europeo di Sviluppo Regionale, con oltre 913.065.194 di euro.

L’incarico ha ad oggetto la consulenza in favore di Lazio Innova S.p.A., finalizzata all’esame di problematiche legali e procedurali relative all’erogazione di contributi comunitari, ad appalti di lavori pubblici, forniture e servizi finanziati con fondi comunitari, nonché l’assistenza legale nelle attività di venture capital finalizzata alla concessione di contributi ad imprese, enti ed organismi pubblici e privati.

Nctm Studio Legale assisterà Lazio Innova S.p.A. con un team guidato da Giuliano Berruti, Marco Monaco e Giammarco Navarra.

 

27/02/2017
UniEuro S.p.A.

Nctm Studio Legale ha assistito UniEuro S.p.A., nell’acquisizione di Monclick S.r.l., con un team guidato da Simone De Carli, coadiuvato da Mario Bonferroni.

Il closing della transazione, del valore di 10 milioni di Euro, è subordinato, all’approvazione delle autorità competenti e sarà perfezionata prevedibilmente entro il primo semestre del 2017.

22/02/2017

Nctm Studio Legale è stato scelto come advisor legale per il progetto di realizzazione della nuova flagship factory dell’acqua minerale S.Pellegrino appartenente al gruppo Sanpellegrino, azienda di riferimento in Italia nel campo del beverage non alcolico.
Si tratta di un’operazione che prevede il completo rifacimento dello stabilimento sito a San Pellegrino Terme, senza interferire con la produzione, con un’architettura iconica e rappresentativa del marchio, per un costo investimento stimato di 90 milioni di euro.

Il team di Nctm seguirà l’azienda in tutte le fasi del progetto, dalla fase preliminare di ideazione, all’iter per le autorizzazioni amministrative, alla realizzazione della nuova struttura.

Nctm Studio Legale assiste Sanpellegrino con un team composto da Luigi Croce, Ada Lucia De Cesaris e Christian Mocellin coadiuvati da Alessandro Vespa.

 

19/04/2017

 Il modello della società benefit

La disciplina della società benefit, introdotta con la legge di stabilità 2016, e dedicata all’impresa societaria che include tra i propri obiettivi il perseguimento di risultati di beneficio comune, s’inserisce in un panorama multiforme di iniziative imprenditoriali variamente ispirate alla cura e alla protezione di interessi di rilevanza sociale. In tale scenario, accanto alle attività economiche strettamente non profit, connotate da esclusiva finalità sociale o culturale e dalla conseguente assenza dello scopo di lucro, il mondo delle imprese lucrative, da alcuni anni a questa parte, mostra crescente interesse per i temi di business ethics e per il tentativo di coniugare la finalità di profitto con impegni di responsabilità sociale, talora consacrando e formalizzando questo impegno in documenti a ciò dedicati (codici di condotta o codici etici) e comunicati al pubblico.

 

Gli impegni di responsabilità sociale dell’impresa

La motivazione dell’assunzione di simili impegni sta nella convinzione che l’impresa possa farsi autonomamente carico dell’impatto che la sua attività è in grado di produrre sugli interessi di soggetti terzi o della comunità in cui opera e che pertanto possa, in modo proattivo, affiancare al suo naturale orientamento al profitto la protezione di interessi di natura sociale, anche al di là di ciò che la legge prescrive, o possa comunque comunque rafforzare, attraverso iniziative positive, il risultato che la legge vuole assicurare a protezione del bene comune.

Il vincolo di responsabilità sociale così concepito e assunto da numerose imprese profit, senz’altro apprezzabile sul piano etico, ha tuttavia sollevato non pochi problemi di carattere squisitamente giuridico laddove ha posto il problema di verificare la reale effettività di simili impegni, la loro azionabilità e le conseguenze giuridiche del loro inadempimento.

 

Il bilanciamento di interessi nella prospettiva multistakeholder

In primo luogo, stante l’ibridazione dello scopo dell’impresa che l’assunzione di impegni di responsabilità sociale procura, si pone il problema delle modalità e dei termini con cui effettuare il bilanciamento tra interessi eterogenei e molto spesso tra loro contrastanti.  Questa operazione pare richiedere, da un lato, un criterio di misurazione dotato di un minimo di certezza e verificabilità, dall’altro, quando l’impresa è costituita in forma societaria, l’accertamento dell’ammissibilità di una volontaria alterazione di quella causa lucrativa che è elemento caratterizzante i tipi societari conosciuti dalla legge. In tale contesto, connotato da numerose incertezze, il modello della società benefit pare voler risolvere parte di questi problemi, offrendo un modello ad hoc specificamente regolato, cui possono attingere quelle imprese lucrative che vogliano coltivare anche finalità di bene comune.

 

Le nuove disposizioni sulla società benefit

Le nuove disposizioni sono contenute nei commi 376-384 dell’art. 1 della legge 208/2015 dedicate a quelle società che “oltre allo scopo di dividere gli utili, perseguono una o più finalità di beneficio comune e operano in modo responsabile, sostenibile e trasparente nei confronti di persone, comunità, territori e ambiente, beni ed attività culturali e sociali, enti e associazioni e altri portatori di interesse”. La legge chiede che le finalità sopra elencate siano indicate specificatamente nell’oggetto sociale della società e siano perseguite mediante una gestione capace di bilanciare l’interesse di soci con l’interesse di “coloro sui quali l’attività sociale possa avere un impatto”, precisando che il “beneficio comune” è integrato sia dal perseguimento di effetti positivi, sia dalla riduzione di effetti negativi su una o più delle categorie sopra menzionate. La legge si pone inoltre il problema del controllo sull’autenticità di simili impegni e sul loro effettivo rispetto non tanto in relazione all’attribuzione di speciali vantaggi che, nel caso di specie, sono del tutto assenti, quanto a tutela dell’affidamento dei terzi sull’impegno sociale assunto dall’impresa, assoggettando la società benefit che non persegua finalità di beneficio comune alle disposizioni di cui al d. lgs. 145/2007 in materia di pubblicità ingannevole e alle disposizioni del Codice del consumo, affidando i relativi controlli all’Autorità garante della concorrenza e del mercato (comma 384).

 

Il bilanciamento di interessi e la valutazione d’impatto

I pilastri della disciplina paiono risiedere anzitutto nella legittimazione della costituzione di una società benefit secondo uno dei tipi sociali di cui ai titoli V e VI del libro V del codice civile, con la connessa possibilità di bilanciare lo scopo di lucro con obiettivi di beneficio comune secondo regole e modalità definite nello statuto sociale (v. comma 380). A ciò si aggiunge la necessità di una valutazione d’impatto, attestante l’effetto delle azioni intraprese dalla società nel perseguire le finalità di beneficio comune (nei confronti di persone territori e ambiente, beni ed attività culturali e sociali, enti e associazioni e altri portatori di interesse) redatta in base a uno standard sviluppato da un ente indipendente, secondo procedure trasparenti e verificabili.

 

La certificazione dell’impatto sociale dell’attività d’impresa

Questa formula ricalca le soluzioni adottate nell’ordinamento nordamericano, dove un’analoga disciplina in tema di benefit corporation è stata introdotta nel 2010 in numerosi Stati e dove da tempo esiste un sistema di certificazione dell’impatto sociale delle attività d’impresa ad opera di un ente non profit specializzato (BLab). Se, tuttavia, la certificazione come BCorp presso certificatori accreditati non comporta di per sé l’assunzione della qualifica di società benefit, né in Italia, né negli ordinamenti in cui vige una omologa disciplina, ciò non di meno la normativa varata in Italia riconosce il ruolo di simili organismi certificatori almeno nella validazione degli strumenti di assessment dell’impatto sociale dell’attività di impresa, sul presupposto, verosimilmente, che tali criteri possano essere elaborati in modo appropriato solo da chi abbia acquisito un’esperienza consolidata in materia. La disciplina italiana, pertanto, pur essendo la prima in Europa ad aver introdotto un simile modello, potrà giovarsi della pregressa esperienza maturata nell’universo delle benefit corporation d’oltre oceano, almeno per quei profili che attengono alla selezione dei beni comuni rilevanti e alla valutazione/rendicontazione della loro effettiva protezione nello svolgimento dell’attività d’impresa.

 

Disciplina comune e disciplina speciale della società benefit

L’introduzione del nuovo modello nel contesto dei tipi societari di diritto comune dovrà adattarsi, ed essere in parte adattato, alle regole vigenti che troveranno applicazione nelle parti non regolate dalla disciplina speciale. La questione non è di poco conto. Anzitutto pare da escludere che la legge abbia voluto dare vita ad un nuovo tipo sociale. La società benefit è infatti concepita come una modalità o un “modello” di esercizio dell’impresa nell’ambito dei tipi sociali lucrativi e mutualistici previsti dal codice civile e di cui può assumere le forme. Tuttavia non si può non notare come la specialità dello scopo che connota il modello spurio o ibrido della società benefit e che lo distingue dai tipi lucrativi o mutualistici già noti, attenga specificatamente al profilo causale del contratto sociale, ciò che rende la società benefit una realtà profondamente “altra” rispetto ai tipi di cui al codice civile, con tutte le conseguenze che ne potranno derivare nell’attività di integrazione della disciplina speciale con le norme comuni del tipo sociale adottato (si pensi alla disciplina del conflitto d’interessi del socio o dell’amministratore, ai controlli sulla corretta gestione, alla disciplina della trasformazione).

 

La governance della società benefit

L’assunzione del modello della società benefit, inoltre, comporta effetti importanti sulla governance della società. Il comma 380 prevede infatti che la società benefit, fermo quanto disposto dalla disciplina del tipo sociale adottato, individui il soggetto responsabile dello svolgimento delle funzioni e dei compiti volti al perseguimento delle finalità di beneficio comune nelle sue possibili declinazioni. Prevede inoltre una specifica attività di rendicontazione annuale mediante la redazione di una relazione da allegare al bilancio che includa: 1) la descrizione degli obiettivi assunti, delle modalità e delle azioni attuate; 2) la valutazione di impatto secondo lo standard di valutazione esterno; 3) la descrizione dei nuovi obiettivi che la società intende perseguire. Richiede pertanto indubbiamente un’articolazione degli assetti organizzativi, amministrativi e contabili coerente con l’assunzione di tale specifica missione, la cui realizzazione, purtuttavia, resta nella piena competenza degli amministratori, cui si estende il regime della responsabilità prevista dal codice civile nella disciplina di ciascun tipo. E non potrebbe essere diversamente, dal momento che l’amministrazione della società benefit deve essere condotta, per legge, all’insegna del predetto bilanciamento di interessi, secondo quanto disposto dalla prima parte del comma 380. Non è tuttavia del tutto chiaro se tali criteri debbano essere indicati dai soci o se siano gli stessi amministratori a poterli individuare nell’esercizio dei poteri discrezionali mediante i quali agiscono nel perseguimento dell’interesse sociale.  Pare però che questa operazione sia essenziale, anche per individuare il dosaggio delle rispettive componenti (lucro e bene comune) compresenti nell’interesse sociale, pena l’assoluta incertezza sulla valutazione dei risultati della gestione e sulla verifica del corretto adempimento dei doveri degli amministratori.

 

La responsabilità degli amministratori nella società benefit

Non pochi problemi potrebbe inoltre sollevare l’applicazione della disciplina comune in tema di responsabilità degli amministratori. Con riguardo alla legittimazione attiva al suo esercizio, ad esempio, la commistione di obiettivi profit e non profit nello scopo sociale e negli obblighi di gestione degli amministratori potrebbe rendere inadeguata o insufficiente la disciplina codicistica delle azioni di responsabilità contro gli amministratori di società di capitali (si potrebbe, ad esempio, porre il problema della legittimazione alla predetta azione dei titolari di quegli interessi terzi che l’impresa ha assunto come rilevanti: potrebbe a tal fine essere invocata l’azione ex art. 2395 c.c.?). Altrettanti problemi potrebbe sollevare la determinazione di un danno risarcibile non più solo identificabile nel decremento (o nel mancato incremento) del patrimonio sociale, ma altresì nella lesione di quegli interessi terzi pregiudicati dal mancato o scorretto bilanciamento dell’interesse al bene comune con l’interesse al profitto.

 

Le società “diverse” dalla società benefit e gli impegni di responsabilità sociale

Una qualche ulteriore ambiguità potrebbe essere riservata dal comma 379, in cui il legislatore distingue la società benefit dalle società “diverse” che pur vogliano perseguire anche finalità di beneficio comune, per le quali fissa l’obbligo di modificare in modo coerente l’atto costitutivo e lo statuto, nel rispetto delle norme che regolano il tipo sociale adottato. Non è chiaro se il legislatore abbia in tale sede semplicemente voluto regolare l’assunzione della qualifica di società benefit da parte di una preesistente società di diritto comune. Se così fosse, il senso della norma sarebbe verosimilmente quello di imporre solo il rispetto delle regole in tema di modifiche statutarie, escludendo l’applicazione della disciplina della trasformazione. In alternativa si dovrebbe ipotizzare che legislatore abbia invece voluto soltanto autorizzare le società di diritto comune che non intenda assumere le forme della società benefit, a derogare all’esclusività dello scopo di lucro di cui all’art. 2247 c.c., fissando in capo ai soci la competenza a decidere in tal senso mediante una modifica dell’atto costitutivo o dello statuto e obbligando alla relativa pubblicità. Se così fosse, questa precisazione sarebbe senz’altro benemerita, dato che molti impegni di responsabilità sociale finora assunti da società lucrative hanno trovato sede in documenti non vincolanti (codici di condotta o codici etici, ad esempio) peraltro redatti dall’organo amministrativo che mai potrebbe determinare in autonomia i propri obiettivi derogando all’obbligo di perseguire la creazione di valore per i soci, imposto come obbligo esclusivo dalla disciplina dei tipi sociali di diritto comune. Vi è da osservare, tuttavia, che, anche ove l’inclusione di impegni in senso lato sociali sia rimessa ai soci e consacrata nello statuto, la società non potrà non dotarsi di regole ulteriori, atte a misurare i risultati della gestione così configurati e il dosaggio delle rispettive componenti sugli obiettivi di performance degli amministratori.

 

Scenari applicativi e interpretativi delle nuove disposizioni in relazione ai temi della CSR

In ogni caso, indipendentemente dall’interpretazione della norma che si voglia accogliere, pare che la disciplina della società benefit possa comunque aprire più scenari interpretativi, stante la possibile persistenza di realtà societarie che vogliano assumere impegni di responsabilità sociale senza adottare il modello della società benefit. Se quindi un ambito di riflessione importante sarà quello dedicato al modello oggetto della specifica disciplina che verosimilmente sarà adottato soprattutto da società c.d. low profit, e cioè da imprese lucrative (o mutualistiche) che sono altresì specificamente e primariamente impegnate nel perseguimento di finalità sociali, culturali o umanitarie, per altro verso si porrà il problema di come la disciplina speciale possa influenzare la selezione delle regole applicabili alle società di diritto comune che vogliano includere un impegno sociale nel loro statuto senza necessariamente assumere le forme della società benefit.

 

7/04/2017

It’s easy and also the same time it’s very important to look at the Map of Europe. It allows you to imagine the priories for the European Integration Process: free movements of goods, capital, services and people, but also transport and energy networks, a common environmental law, a common European Agriculture policy and food safety rules. All this represents the connective tissue of a European integrated economy and society, completed by a competition policy and state aid legislation which is a check and balance system for a right development of the Single Market.

 

What did Europe do?

A first-time foreign tourist to Europe would soon realize that something called the European Europe (EU) exists but might not understand exactly what it is. Signs at the airport in a EU Member State (by far the majority of European States and with the exemption of some states, like France, which has implemented some specific anti-terrorisms rules) would direct the visitors into the “NON-EU” line for inspections by national immigration officers (there are no EU immigration officers). Once finished with border formalities, the visitors would need to change money.

 

In twelve of the EU’s currently twenty-height Member States the visitors would receive euro notes and coins but in other Member States would receive national currency. Travelling around the Country, the visitors would see the distinctive EU flag prominently displayed. In the EU’s poorer regions, the visitors would notice signs adorned with the EU flag proudly proclaiming that various infrastructural projects were being found in part by EU Commission. Staying within the territory of EU, the visitor would be able to travel unimpeded across some, but not all, national borders.

 

A curious and discerning visitor would discover that national political systems are alive and well in the EU, but there is a complementary political system centered on Brussels, meaning in this case not the politics of Belgium, but the locus of EU policy making. National Governments, Parliaments, Courts and other bodies participate in the EU system, as do separate EU institutions such as the European Commission and the European Parliament, located in Brussels and Strasbourg, the Court of Justice located in Luxembourg and the Social and Economic Committee, as far as the Regions Committee (these last bodies are only advisory bodies). Further enquiry would reveal that a complex system of EU governance produces rules and regulations harmonizing the national legislations of the Member States, sometimes substituting them, sometimes only “point the way” to the national legislators.

 

All these Institutions, with the Council representing the Member States “as a whole”, created for the Europeans a unique space for live and work together.

 

The “European Big Market”: a way to live equally

For citizens and enterprises, the Single Market refers to the EU as one territory without any internal borders or other regulatory obstacles to the free movement of goods and services. A functioning Single Market stimulates competition and trade, improves efficiency, raises quality and helps cut prices. The European Single Market is one of the EU’s greatest achievements. It has fueled economic growth and made the everyday life of European Businesses and consumers easier.

 

The Single Market Strategy is the European Commission plan to unlock the full potential of the Single Market. The Single Market is the Heart of the European Project, but its benefits do not always materialize because Single Market rules are not known or full implemented, or they are undermined by other barriers. So that the Commission has decided to give the Single Market a boost by improving mobility for services provided, ensuring that innovative business models can flourish, making it easier for retailers to do business across borders and enhancing access to goods and services throughout in the EU.

 

The EU Single Market accounts for 500 million consumers and 21 million small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs). The Commission’s main goal is to ensure the free-movement of goods within the market, and to set high safety standards for consumers and the protection of the environment.

 

Services are crucial to the Single Market. They account for over 70% of all economy activity in the EU and a similar proportion of its employment. EU companies have the freedom to establish themselves in other EU countries and the freedom to provide services in countries other than the one in which they are established.

 

A fully functional Digital Single Market would bring many benefits to European businesses and consumers. It would promote innovation and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. The Commission has adopted an ambitious strategy to complete the Digital Single Market that targets ICT standards and interoperability and e-commerce.

 

Standards are voluntary technical specification that apply to various products, materials, services and processes. They can help reduce costs, improve safety, enhance competition and facilitate the acceptance of innovation.

 

The Commission works to remove barriers to intra-EU trade and prevent to the creation of new ones so enterprises can trade freely in the EU and beyond.  It applies Treaty rules prohibiting quantitative restrictions on imports and exports.

 

The Commission introduced the CE mark to indicate that a product meets high safety, health and environment protection requirements and can be sold throughout the European Economic Area.

 

Public Procurement is the acquisition of goods and services by public authorities such as national, regional or municipal governments. The EU works to ensure that public procurement is fair, competitive and conducive to the Single Market.

 

All these issues constitute the New Commission Strategy on Single Market.

It will be difficult for UK withdraw from this legal framework. Negotiations will be very intensive for all the parties, but it is clear that the cost of replicating some or all of these features in the UK will be costly both in economic and human terms.

 

Across the EUniverse does not wish to see the UK leave but at the same time wishes to see that the EU grows and grows in a way that will make it attractive to others as a cultural, social and economic center that will be the envy of all.

 

 

7/04/2017

As it is known, the EC put forward an initial circular economy package in July 2014, but withdrew the legislative proposal on waste included in the package in February 2015, in order to make way for a new proposal. On 2 December 2015, the same Institution presented its new circular economy package containing a Communication and four legislative proposals on EU waste policy[1]. This package included also an Action Plan to support the circular economy in each step of the value chain, from production to consumption, repair and manufacturing, waste management and secondary raw materials that are fed back into the economy. The Commission committed to undertake the detailed list of actions within its current mandate.

The aim of the Commission Report is “[…] to present a complete overview of the action already delivered in the implementation of the EU Action Plan since its adoption in December 2015, and to introduce key deliverables for 2017”. From a procedural point of view, the European Parliament position can be described as follows.

In its Report adopted on 24 January 2017, the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) proposes to raise the ambition of the targets; to introduce separate targets for reuse, food waste, marine litter and waste oils; to introduce a single circular method; and to make derogation for individual MS subject to stricter conditions. The Report also reinforce the implementation of the waste hierarchy, make extended producer responsibility mandatory for specific waste streams, and strengthen requirements related to separate waste collection. The Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) adopted its opinion on 13 October 2016. Votes on Proposals are take place during the last Plenary Session on 14 March 2017. The amendments adopted are relating to the proposal for a Directive amending Directives 2000/53/EC on end-of-life vehicles, 2006/66/EC on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators, and 2012/19/EU on waste electrical and electronic equipment.[2]

The Council is said to be close to reaching a common understanding on the Proposals, which are among the Maltese Presidency’s priorities and thus can be expected before the end of June 2017.

2017 is also a crucial year to develop a policy dialogue with stakeholders. In the occasion of the Inter-Institutional Stakeholders Conference on Circular Economy held in Brussels on 9-10 March, the Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee will launch a circular economy stakeholders platform.

During 2016 the European Commission has put in place a number of key initiatives to support the circular economy. These initiatives cover the full value chain, from production to consumption, waste management and use secondary raw materials. They are presented below in chronological order of their completion. The proposals presented are concerning: Online sales of goods (December 2015); Fertilisers (March 2016); Ecodesign (November 2016); Food waste (December 2016); Waste-to-Energy (January 2017) and the Proposal to amend the Directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (January 2017).

Two issues are approached by the Commission in a special way: the Platform to support the financing of circular economy (January 2017), and the Green Public Procurement.

Relating to the first issue, together with the Report on the Implementation the Commission launched a platform with the European Investment Bank (EIB), financial market participants and business to increase awareness of the circular economy business logic and improve the uptake of circular economy projects by investors. While the business case for the circular economy is clear, this message still has to reach s good part of businesses in the EU and of the financial and banking sector.

New Green Public Procurement criteria was published by the Commission in 2016 for office buildings, for roads and for computers and monitors. These can be used by public authorities on a voluntary basis, and include requirements relevant to the circular economy. For examples, computers and monitors have to be designed so that they can be repaired with commonly available tools and that batteries can be easily replaces, and the possibility to upgrade them is rewarded. The used of recycled materials for the construction of roads and buildings is encouraged. As public procurements accounts for a large proportion of European consumption the inclusion of requirements related top circularity in public authorities purchasing will play a key role in the transition towards a circular economy.

The European Commission adopted some other new texts in five sectors[3].

The first one is a “stepping up enforcement “of the revised Waste Shipment Regulation. On July 2016, the Commission adopted an implementing act setting out a preliminary correlation table between customs and waste codes. This new tool will help customs officials identify waste crossing EU borders illegally, for instance labelled as second-hand goods. It will strengthen the enforcement of the Waste Shipment Regulation and will help to prevent the leakage of valuable raw materials out of the EU.

Separate waste collection across EU Member States is a good practice that Commission has identify throughout 2016 reviewing the state of implementation of separate collection, including an assessment of the legal framework and the practical implementation of separate collection systems. Based on this assessment, the review led to a set of recommendations addressing different levels of decision-making. The recommendations have been discussed with stakeholders and EU Member States in a conference held on 29 January 2016. In addition, Horizon 2020 is supporting this work stream by financing a number of concrete projects in this area[4].

Relating to the water reuse, in June 2016, guidelines were issued under the Common Implementation Strategy from the Water framework Directive[5] with the aim to better integrate water reuse in water planning and management. “As water scarcity has worsened in some parts of the EU, the reuse of treated wastewater in safe and cost-effective conditions is valuable but under-used means of increasing water supply and alleviating pressure on resources. Facilitating water reuse in agriculture will also contribute to recycling of nutrients by substitutions of solid fertilisers”[6].

On November 2016, the Commission proposed an industry-wide voluntary protocol on the management of construction and demolition waste. The aim of the protocols is to improve the identification, source separation and collection of waste, as well as logistics, processing, and quality management. The protocol will this thus increase trust in the quality of recycled materials and encourage their use in the construction sector.

Based on volume, construction and demolition waste is the largest waste stream in the EU. The Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC establishes a target of 70% of construction and demolition waste to be recovered by 2020. However the potential for reuse and recycling of this waste stream is not being fully exploited. One obstacle is the lack of confidence in the quality of construction and demolition recycled materials. Horizon 2020 is also supporting several innovation projects in this area.

The recast of the Renewable Energy Directive[7] as part of the package on Clean Energy package was the occasion for the European Commission for adopting sustainability criteria for all bioenergy uses. In order to limit pressure on limited biomass resources, the Commission proposed that only efficient convention of biomass to electricity should receive support. This will facilitate synergies with the circular economy in the uses of biomass and particularly wood, which can be used for a range of products as well as for energy.

The 2017 Commission Work Programme confirms the full commitment to ensure the timely implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan. During this year, the Commission will propose a Plastic Strategy to improve the economics, quality and uptake of plastic recycling reuse, to reduce plastic leakage in the environment and to decouple plastics production form fossil fuels.

The Commission will also put forward a detailed analysis of the legal, technical or practical problems at the interface of chemical, product and waste legislation that may hinder the transition of recycled material into the productive economy. In particular, the Commission will consider options to improve information but substances of concern in products and waste, and options to facilitate the management of substances of concern found in recycled materials. The objective is not only to promote non-toxic material cycles, but also enhance the uptake of secondary raw materials.

The Commission will also come forward with a legislative proposal on minimum quality requirements to promote the safe reuse of treated waste water, while ensuring the health and environmental safety of water reuse practices and free trade of food products in the EU.

The monitoring framework assessing the progress of the circular economy in the EU and its Member States will also presented in 2017 [8].

Circular Economy is a reality with benefits for all Europeans. The consistent delivery of the Action Plan and a swift adoption of the legislative proposals on waste and fertilisers will help to bring clear directions to investors and support the transition.

 

 

 

[1] See Across The EUniverse, number eleven, April 2016  “Circular Economy – More Flexible Law: The 2015 Legislative Package”.

[2] COM(2015)0593 – C8-0383/2015-2015/0272(COD). Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading.

[3] A sixth sector is the object of a revised text relating to the Updated Guidance on Unfair Commercial Practices Directive ( Directive 2005/29/EC, in OJEU L 149 – 11.5.2005 ).  On May 2016 the Commission adopted a revised version of its guidance which includes specific elements to make green claims more trustworthy and transparent.

[4] Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation program ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract. It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market.

[5] OJEU L 327, 22.10 2000.

[6] “ Using historical data, expert judgment and multivariate analysis according to the Water Framework Directive”, in marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. 55.issue 1-6, 2007, p.28.

[7] Directive 2009/28/EC, in OJEU L 140, 5.6.2009

[8] In 2017 the implementation of the Ecodesign working plan will have an increased focus on circular economy and resources efficiency beyond energy efficiency. The Commission will also publish the Fitness Check on EU Ecolabel and EMAS .

7/04/2017

The Trial Implementation Plan (the “Plan”) was adopted by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs of the PRC on 27 September 2016. It reforms the regime for work permits for foreigners and merges the two previously separate systems of the “Work Permit for Foreign Experts in China” (applying to certain categories of specialised foreign workers) and the “Foreigners Employment Permit” (applying to “common” employees) into one system. The outcome is the “Work Permit for Foreigners in China” (the “Work Permit”).

The Plan is restricted to the municipalities of Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai and in the provinces of Hebei, Anhui, Shandong, Guangdong, Sichuan, Yunnan and Ningxia Hui from October, and is on trial from 2016 until March, 2017. The aim is to adopt the new system nationwide starting from April, 2017, after which working permits issued under the “old regime” will remain valid and will be converted into “new regime” permits on a voluntary basis.

The Plan splits the procedure to obtain a work permit into two main parts. Before entering China, the applicant must submit application documents through an online system for preliminary examination (the employer will need to register into the system by means of a specific procedure). Then, generally, the documents will be sent in printed format to the competent authorities in China, leading to the issuance of a “Notification Letter for Work Permit” (“Notification Letter”).

The “Notification Letter” will then be presented to the PRC embassy or consulate of the applicant’s residence in order to obtain a visa; within 15 days of entry into China, the “Notification Letter”, along with the application documents in printed format, must be submitted to apply for a Work Permit. Finally, the Work Permit will be submitted to the local Public Security Bureau (police station) to obtain a residence permit.

The new system divides applicants into three categories.

Category A (“outstanding foreign talents”) brings together, among others, persons having outstanding achievements in the fields of medicine, economics, technology, scientific research, architecture, industrial design, literature, sports, etc.; high-level personalities at certain international academic institutions, international financial institutions and international accounting firms; holders of high leadership posts in foreign government administrations, international organisations and NGOs; high level managers in foreign-invested enterprises in China belonging to the encouraged sectors of economy that fulfil certain standards in terms of revenue, employees, etc.; persons fulfilling certain remuneration standards and paying taxes for a certain amount (to be defined from time to time by the authorities); persons having invested in enterprises by means of own inventions, patents, etc..

Category B (“foreign professional talents”) mainly includes foreign professionals holding a bachelor’s degree or higher study qualification and having working experience of two years or more in the relevant field, as long as they “meet the requirements of the Guidance Catalogue for Foreigners Coming to Work in China” (a list-type document yet to be issued; it is interesting to notice that Guangdong province has had a similar document in place for some time) and are “talents needed for the social and economic development” of the country. The interpretation of these two requirements doubtlessly creates a margin of uncertainty and is possibly meant to allow “leeway” for policy changes by the Chinese government.

Category C (“ordinary personnel”) groups foreigners hired based on a permit by the Chinese government or based on agreements between the Chinese government and a foreign government, trainees under intergovernmental agreements, etc.

In addition, the Plan provides for a (provisional) table that attributes a score to individuals according to parameters such as remuneration, study and professional qualification, working experience, age, etc.. Individuals meeting a certain threshold are admitted into category A or B, according to the number of points, even though they do not belong to the groups listed in the Plan a belonging to such categories.

No restriction on the number of permits is stipulated for category A, nor are there age or working experience requirements. A so-called “green channel” treatment applies, meaning that category A individuals benefit from an accelerated procedure for issuance of a Notification Letter and of a Work Permit. Moreover, individuals falling into category A do not need to submit application documents in printed format until after they have entered into China.

Category B individuals are granted work permits “based on market demand” and will need to fulfil the requirements of the above-mentioned Guidance Catalogue; they will generally need to be 60 or younger, to hold at least a bachelor’s degree and to have at least two years’ experience in the relevant working field.

Lastly, a so-called “quota administration” applies to category C workers, meaning that permits will be granted in the maximum number stipulated by the Chinese government from time to time. No privileged application channels apply to either category B individuals or category C individuals.

On one hand, the Plan brings unification, by merging the two previously existing regimes into one system for all foreigners working in China. This entails the obvious advantages of straightening out procedures and rationalising the use of administrative resources.

The new system differentiates applicants based on the degree to which they meet the needs of Chinese economic policies. Notably, the introductory part of the Notice uses the expression “gather and put to use the talented of the world”: indeed, the Plan provides a privileged path for applicants whose skills and qualifications are especially valued.

China must become more and more competitive in attracting foreign qualified personnel – not only in comparison with other developing economies, but also in comparison with the economies of “first world” countries. The reform is aimed at “better serve overseas talent coming to work in China”, said Zhang Jianguo, the leader of the PRC State Administration of Foreign Experts; “encourage the top, control the middle and limit the bottom”, goes a slogan circulated in connection with the Plan.

 

7/04/2017

On 13 March the Commission has adopted a report (hereinafter, the “Report”) on the mandatory labelling of the list of ingredients and the nutrition declaration for alcoholic beverages. The Commissioner for Health and Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, said: “This report supports the right of people in the European Union to be fully informed about what they drink. Moreover, it does not identify any objective grounds justifying the absence of the list of ingredients and nutrition information on alcoholic beverages. The expansion of voluntary initiatives from the sector has already been ongoing and is brought to the fore in the report”.

This Report responds to the obligation set for the Commission by Article 16(4) of Regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers. The Regulation establishes the basis for a high level of consumer protection in relation to food information, ensuring that consumers are not misled by food labels and can make informed choices.

Under the current rules, unlike for other foods, the indication of the list of ingredients and the nutrition declaration is not mandatory for alcoholic beverages. With the nutrition declaration having become mandatory for the vast majority of pre-packed food as of 13 December 2016, the particular situation of alcoholic beverages is now even more salient. European consumers have therefore reduced access to the nutrition declaration and to the list of ingredients with the exception of ingredients which may have an allergenic effect.

Therefore, consumers are informed only when a substance or a product, amongst those listed in the Regulation as the most common allergens, is present in alcoholic beverages, like sulphites that are often added to wine.

However, other food ingredients which were not considered for the listing of substances that could trigger allergic reactions in certain groups of consumers are not in the Regulation and would therefore not be present on the label of alcoholic beverages due to the absence of a list of ingredients.

This approach does not seem to be entirely suitable given the recognition of the importance of information and the rights of citizens to be adequately informed of what they consume.

Regarding nutritional labelling, recital 42 of the Regulation encourages food business operators to provide on a voluntary basis the information contained in the nutrition declaration for foods such as alcoholic beverages for which the possibility should be given to declare only limited elements of the nutrition declaration.

Another EU provision on the labelling of alcoholic beverages is set out in Regulation (EU) No. 1308/2013 which provides on exhaustive set of technical standards which fully cover all oenological practices, manufacturing methods and means of presentation and labelling of wines.

In view of the lack of legal action in this area, some Member States have adopted national rules requesting partial indication of ingredients for certain alcoholic drinks. Even if the provisions for the nutrition declaration are fully harmonised, some Member States are also notifying national measures addressing the nutrition declaration for alcoholic beverages. Such behaviour contributes to an increased risk of market fragmentation.

The Report shows that the sector is more and more prepared to provide responses to consumers’ expectation to know what they are drinking. This is demonstrated by the expansion of concerted or independent voluntary initiatives developed and implemented by the sector to provide consumers with information on the list of ingredients, the energy value and/or the full nutrition declaration on or off label. It has to be particularly noted that a rising number of alcoholic beverages present on the EU market already bear the full nutrition declaration.

On the basis the Report, the EU alcoholic drinks industry should propose, within a year, a harmonised approach aiming to provide consumers with information about the ingredients present in alcoholic beverages and the nutritional value of alcoholic beverages. This proposal will be assessed by the Commission. Should the Commission consider the self-regulatory approached proposed by the industry as unsatisfactory, it would then launch an impact assessment to review further available options in line with Better Regulation principles.

In line with the need of transparency on foodstuffs, the European Parliament adopted on 15 March its position on the new Regulation on Official Controls (hereinafter, the “OC Regulation”), proposed by the European Commission to increase Member States’ ability to prevent, eliminate or reduce health risks to humans, animals and plants. The OC Regulation provides a package of measures that will strengthen the enforcement of health and safety standards as an international reference for integrated rules covering the whole agri-food chain.

The new rules aim at modernising and simplifying the European control system to ensure that food in the European Union is safe along the entire agri-food chain. They overhaul the current system and will provide a single framework for all official controls.

From one hand, EU citizens will benefit from safer products and more effective and more transparency on how controls are carried out to ensure food safety and high standards for plant health, animal health and welfare and to prevent the fraud. From another hand, businesses and authorities will benefit from reduced administrative burdens and more efficient processes.

Official controls, undertaken by competent authorities in each Member State, serve to check whether these rules are correctly implemented. It consists in checks performed by Member States in order to verify that businesses comply with agri-food chain rules. These rules cover the safety and quality of food and feed and also apply to agri-food chain products entering the EU from third countries and via the Internet. Consequently, e-commerce must be part of official controls. The OC Regulation aims to tackle food fraud. This includes checking compliance against marketing standards for agricultural products. Financial penalties for fraud will need to reflect the expected economic gain or a percentage of the turnover made by fraudulent operator.

The previous regulation, adopted in 2004, initiated the integration of rules on official controls. The OC Regulation, proposed by the Commission in 2013, takes it further in providing comprehensive risk-based control rules along the agri-food chain. This will allow national authorities to put their resources where they are most needed.

The OC Regulation will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU. The rules will be gradually phased in to give EU countries and industry the time to adapt.

 

7/04/2017

This article seeks to introduce non-lawyers to the Commission’s new proposal on dumping. The circumstances are complex. The proposal is all about China and it’s not about China at all. It’s about special and general methods for calculating dumping. It’s about burdens of proof and litigation strategies. It’s about the correct interpretation of China’s WTO Accession Protocol. However, an examination of the themes underlying the Commission’s proposal reveals some simple ideas and gives guidance on how to improve it.

The Commission’s radical new thinking on dumping

The Commission proposal [COM(2016) 721final] to change the EU’s approach to the calculation of dumping is all about China and nothing to do with China at all. In fact, there’s no mention of China. This is natural given the nature of the proposal. The proposal seeks to end the EU system of classifying, in law, countries as market or non-market economies and replace it with a system of classifying countries as WTO or non-WTO.

At the same time the proposal is all about China. This is because the reflections on the functionality of the EU’s dumping methodologies came about while considering the consequences of the expiry of one sentence of Article 15 of China’s 2001 WTO Accession Protocol as well as reflections on the market distortions which are evident in China.

Under current EU law, the world is divided into market economies and non-market economies. China is defined as a non-market economy. The method for calculating the level of dumping from market economies is set out in Article 2(1) to 2(6) in the basic anti-dumping Regulation [Regulation 2016/1036] and in Article 2(7) for non-market economies (the analogue country approach). As today, China is classified as a non-market economy, the Commission uses Article 2(7) to calculate dumping from China. Under the new proposal, Article 2(7) would apply to non-WTO members only and the provisions of Article 2(1) to 2(6) would apply to all WTO Members, including China, whether or not they are market economies.

Not only is China defined in law as a non-market, it is not a market economy in reality. When it joined the WTO in 2001, China agreed that it was not a market economy. Rules were written into Article 15(d) of its WTO Accession Protocol [WT/L/432] setting out the procedure to be followed if China was to demonstrate that it had made the transition to a market economy. These rules did not expire in December 2016. China has tried in the past to demonstrate that it was a market economy to the EU, but on three occasions the EU Commission has found that China did not meet all the EU’s five criteria. In the last months, the responsible EU Commissioners have all confirmed that China is still not a market economy.

That being said, the definition of China as a non-market economy will no longer be relevant for the calculation of dumping in EU law. The issue for the Commission is the level of the distortions in any particular economy rather than how the law classifies that economy. And, as market distortions can found in all economies whatever their market classification, the Commission proposal seeks to improve the mechanisms for addressing these distortions wherever they are found.

The proposal recognises that the current text of 2(1) to 2(6), which will in the future apply to all WTO members, may not be adequate to address problems with calculating dumping from countries such as China. If the market is distorted then the costs and prices on that market are distorted as well. Thus, they may not be suitable for the calculation of dumping (which measures the difference between the price in the market of origin and the price for export to the market of sale). For this reason, the Commission proposes to add Article 2(6a) to the basic anti-dumping Regulation to address significant market, and therefore price, distortions.

This article looks at the new approach being proposed. Some fundamental questions are asked about the overall approach being taken. The article then describes the changes being make and finally makes some suggestions as to improvement.

Does China get market economy status by default?

The change from classifying countries as market economies or non-market economies has profound effects on EU dumping investigations. The classification system has the big advantage of giving certainty to the system. Today complainants know how dumping from non-market economies should be calculated and how to construct a prima facie case on the basis of methodology set out in Article 2(7). The proposal removes this certainty. The methodology proposed for the future to show prima facie evidence of dumping is vague. To what extent do complainants bear the burden of proving that there are distortions in a particular economy? And if distortions are considered to be present what costs and prices can be used. This lack of certainty is at the basis of the concerns raised by many observers and users of the dumping instrument.

It has also raised the question whether the Commission is proposing that China should be granted market economy status by default. By removing the classification system, the Commission seeks to side-step the consequences of the issue of China’s status. Under the proposal, the classification of a particular market becomes irrelevant. This in turn means that the specific consequences of the expiry of one sentence of Article 15 of the WTO Accession Protocol on dumping methodologies also becomes irrelevant. In addition, the Commission also tries to side-step or anticipate the consequences of the outcome of the WTO dispute settlement procedure that China has launched against the current EU classification system.

All WTO economies will now be considered equal in law and subject to the general WTO dumping methodologies set out in Article 2(1) to 2(6). If any one of these economies is significantly distorted then the significant distortions provisions of Article 2(6a) will come into play. But Articles 2(1) to 2(6) are the provisions applicable to market economies and not non-market economies. If the Commission had intended to change the non-market provisions it would have added the new provisions to Article 2(7) rather than to Article 2(6). And if the intention was to introduce a completely new methodology surely it should have been placed in a new 2(8). By introducing the changes to the market economy provisions the Commission is in fact proposing to bring China within the market economy provisions of both EU and WTO law.

In law, the implication of the Commission’s approach is that the EU is abandoning the idea that Article 15 of the Accession Protocol can be the legal basis for treating China differently from other WTO members. This is despite the fact that only one sentence of Article 15 expires, that there is significant debate as to the legal consequence of that expiry, and that Article 15 as a whole is a recognition, by China and all other WTO members, that China was not a market economy in 2001 and that it cannot be considered a market economy until it demonstrates that it is one. China has failed to demonstrate that it is a market economy and yet the Commission seeks to treat it equally with market economies. This is unfortunate.

We now turn to the provisions of the Commission’s proposal.

Significant distortions

Article 2(6a) is divided into five subparagraphs (also, a little confusingly, lettered (a) to (e)). Paragraph (a) would allow the Commission to determine, in the course of a specific investigation, that there are significant distortions in the economy of the country of origin of the goods, and that therefore the price of the good from that country can be constructed using input costs and prices from outside the country of origin. Paragraph (b) then provides a non-exhaustive list of what might be considered a significant distortion. These include government interference in the market or any other factor distorting free market forces.

The idea of significant distortions is not provided for in WTO law or the laws of any other country. It’s a completely new concept. This has good and bad consequences. The main disadvantage is that it is not clear how it will work. On the plus side, it allows room for the EU to address the substantive problems of distortions of costs and prices in all countries.

The not knowing how it will work is maybe not the biggest problem. With time, we will learn. But there is a lot to learn and there is concern that EU industry will be harmed during the learning process. What are significant distortions and what are the consequences of the finding of a significant distortion? In many energy-rich middle eastern or north African countries the energy market is both isolated from world markets and prices are kept artificially low. Is this a significant distortion? And does that distortion affect the whole market or just the energy market?

Taking this idea a step further, China’s market for capital and finance is both closed and government managed. Only state-owned banks are licenced and those banks are obliged to finance industries considered to be favoured under the five-year plans. Most observers agree that this is a significant distortion: it is the basis of the build-up of massive overcapacities in many sectors. But is the distortion only felt in the finance and capital market or does it infect the whole economy. In a particular anti-dumping investigations does this mean that when constructing the price of the good in China all input costs and prices must be taken from outside China or only some? What has to be learnt over the coming years is what weight to give to the different distortions in a given economy and the consequences of that weight. All parties will have to become familiar with the traceability of distortions though production processes.

A significant gap in the Commission’s proposal is that it does not spell out clearly how the new approach should be considered in WTO law. General WTO law allows the construction of the price (the legal term is called the normal value) when the price is not set ‘in the ordinary course of trade’ or because a ‘particular market situation’ makes an input cost or price unreliable. The general WTO law is reflected in Article 2(1) to 2(6) of the basic anti-dumping regulation.

As the Commission considers that the general WTO rules apply, then the concept of significant distortions must come within the general WTO rules for the construction of prices and thus will be framed by the general WTO rules on what can be considered as being ‘in the ordinary course of trade’ or a ‘particular market situation’ and not by the Protocol of Accession which defines China as a non-market economy.

The WTO has not given members much guidance on what these concepts mean. Recently, the EU lost a WTO dispute settlement case about constructing the Argentinian price for Biodiesel. The EU had considered the soya price in Argentina distorted thus distorting the Biodiesel price. The WTO Appellate Body found that the EU had not shown in sufficient detail how an export tax on soya had distorted the Argentinian soya price. The AB did not find that a distortion could never be found. Rather it found that the EU had not proved the distortion in sufficient detail. A good aspect of Biodiesel for the purposes of the Commission’s new approach is that it shows off-shore price benchmarks can be used as a reference when local prices are distorted. But again, very little guidance was given by the Appellate Body as to how this would work. Can the distorted price be replaced completely or can it only be adjusted upwards towards the off-shore benchmark price and if it can be adjusted upwards, by how much?

This highlights the fundamental problems addressed previously: has the Commission abandoned too easily (and too early) the possibility of using the WTO Accession Protocol as a legal basis for special rules for China or will the proposed new rules in Article 2(6a) turn out only to be an embellishment of the existing rules in Article 2(1) to 2(6) which in turn are the general WTO rules. A second question is whether the general WTO rules on which Article 2(1) to 2(6) is based are sufficiently robust to support the new significant distortions approach.

The Country reports

Paragraph (c) of the Commission’s proposal provides that the Commission may issue Reports on distortions in markets around the world. These Reports would list distortions in the economies (or sectors of the economy) in the countries for which they would be written.

The reports would not draw any conclusions as to the impact of the distortions or the weight to be given to them. Rather the reports would be placed on the file of the of a particular investigation and the parties to that investigation would have ample opportunity to comment on them. Decisions on the consequences of the distortions would only be taken in the context of the specific investigation. In other words, if the investigation concerned a particular steel originating in China, the Report would allow the parties to the investigation to consider the distortions in the report and to argue the weight and the consequences of the distortions for that particular steel product. The Commission in turn would only make conclusions on the distortions in relation to that steel product.

Paragraph (d) of the Commission proposal provides that complainants may rely on the contents of reports when making complaints. Under EU and WTO law a complainant must show prima facie evidence of dumping. To do that the complainant must be able to know how to measure the dumping and therefore what prices from the country of origin to use. Paragraph (d) seeks to give clarity on this issue.

This aspect of the proposal gives rise to three basic problems. One, what if there is no country report? Or, what if the country report does not address all sectors of an economy and in particular the sector of concern to the complainant? Second, what are the consequences of the distortions? It is the complainant which much first determine the consequences of any particular distortion because on the basis of the weight that a complainant will give to that distortion the complainant will either dismiss all costs and prices in constructing the price and use off shore benchmarks or it will only dismiss a limited number of the input costs and prices. Third, what if the complainant gets it wrong? Does that mean the complaint has not met the prima facie test? Fourth, how will the exchange of evidence between the complainants and the exporting producers play out in the course of the investigation? What certainty can the complainants place on the report? What extra evidence might be needed to be placed on the file to show the impact of any one distortion on a particular product? Finally, what is the status of the three reports that the Commission has already issued that conclude that China has not met the five EU criteria for market economy status and that the economy is thereby distorted?

All these questions hinge around the issue of burden of proof. Under the current approach complainants know to use Article 2(7) and the clear rules set out in that article for non-market economies. Under the new proposal, there is only the uncertainty of the significance of the distortions for particular products. A particular distortion might be relevant for one product and not another or have difference consequences for the different products. But most importantly who will have the burden of showing the consequence of the distortion for a particular product.

The fact that any particular report does not draw conclusion has advantages. The main advantage is that it would not be a formal decision of the Commission and therefore not subject to challenge before the EU courts in Luxembourg (for those who might have standing to challenge it). And it is clear that the drawing up of reports would ease the burden on complainants which do not have the resources to find distortions in third country markets. But it cannot be denied that the new approach is more complex than the current approach and that it requires more work from EU complainants.

The proposal does not align the EU with the US

Underlying the Commission’s proposal, but not spelt out in it, is a shift to a Costs of Production method for constructing the price in the country of origin where there are significant distortions. The Commission will break down the costs of production into different factors. It is not known what these factors will be, but they are likely to include: capital, labour, raw materials, parts, energy, land, maintenance as well as accounting issues such as depreciation, administration and profits.

If one of the factors is distorted then the price will be constructed using an undistorted benchmark from outside the country of origin. This is current Commission practice for market economies. If more than one factor is distorted then more non-country of origin benchmarks can be used. One of the many questions to be determined is whether a particular distortion of the economy in the country of origin affects all the factors of production or only one, or some, of them and which costs or prices to use in constructing the costs of production. Would a distortion in the energy sector or in the provision of capital to a market be sufficient to distort the costs and prices of all or more than one factors of production?

The Commission is clearly attempting to mirror the approach taken in the United States to calculating dumping from non-market economies. The US uses the Factors of Production approach. However, the Commission Cost of Production approach is significantly different from the US Factors of Production approach and cannot be considered an alignment with it.

First, the US uses the factors of production approach for non-market economies only and thus the very use of the factors of production approach is based on the preliminary determination that a country has or has not a market economy. The US determined in 2006 that China was not a market economy and, until that determination is changed, complainants in the US have the certainty of using this approach when making complaints.

Second, because the US approach is based on the preliminary determination that a country is non-market, all values or costs and prices of all factors of production are taken from off-shore benchmarks. Thus, the complainant knows, in making the complaint, how to get a value for all the factors of production and can easily construct the price for the country of origin.

Third, the US approach does not allow the use of any costs and prices from the country of origin. The EU approach will result in a mix of both country of origin and international benchmarks as, unlike the US, it starts from an examination of country of origin prices.

Fourth, the US approach means that because of the 2006 determination that China is a non-market economy complainants in the US do not bear the burden of proving that a particular cost or price is distorted.

In simple terms, the US approach gives certainty. The EU approach does the opposite.

Improving on the Commission’s approach

The Commission’s approach is not without merit. It seeks to address the economic reality, and the consequences, of distortions to markets rather than the legal classification of those markets.

 

The Commission seeks to balance the absence of certainty in WTO law as to the substance of the concepts of ‘not in the ordinary course of trade’ and ‘particular market situation’ and the need to give effect to those concepts in EU law. The Commission proposal is intentionally flexible so as to allow for the implementation of the future rulings of the WTO as to how the concepts should be interpreted.

But it is this very flexibility that is causing such concern for the Union industry. These concerns relate to the functioning of the new system, its ability to provide an effective tool to address the evident distortions of the market in China, what new burdens will be placed on complainants and whether, over time, lawyers will whittle away the room for the Commission to achieve the promises it has made for the new system: that it will result in measures as effective as under the current Article 2(7) calculation methodology.

The uncertainty could be removed by recognising that the 2001 Accession Protocol provides a sufficiently strong basis for treating China differently from other WTO members. The WTO will, in the not too distant future, determine the full scope of this possibility.

That being said, amendments could be introduced into the proposal to remove many of the uncertainties inherent in the current text. Changes to the Commission proposal could include:

  1. In paragraph 6a(a) make clear that the new methodology is, in law, a new and stand-alone methodology, as the Commission insists it is, and not simply an embellishment of the existing Article 2(1) to 2(6) market economy approach. This can be achieved by removing the reference to ‘when applying this provision or any other relevant provision of this Regulation’ and or by placing the new provisions in a new Article 2(8).
  2. In paragraph 6a(a) ensure that the stand-alone methodology also allows the use of off-shore prices for the product concerned (rather than just values for the different factors of production of that product). This would ensure that the new rules allow the use of an off-shore price for the product concerned as a whole as well as allowing for the use of off-shore values for each element of the cost of production. This can be ensured by including the words ‘….. the normal value shall be based on a price or a price to be constructed ….’
  3. In paragraph 6a(a) remove the phrase ‘with a similar level of economic development as the exporting country’. This is too limiting of the range of sources for obtaining un-distorted prices.
  4. In paragraph 6a(b) expand the list of distortions to include the five NME criteria used heretofore and in particular reference to the absence of a competitive and independent financial sector and a functioning bankruptcy system. In other words, make reference to systemic distortions of markets.
  5. In paragraph 6a(c) require that the Report comes to a prima facie conclusion giving greater certainty to complainants and parties to investigations. This would bring the EU closer to the US system and lessen the burdens on EU complainants.
  6. In paragraph 6a(c) allow the use of old reports examining the market economy status of different countries as well as the conclusions of investigations of dumping of other products.
  7. In paragraph 6a(c) introduce a right for exporting producers to establish that the significant distortions do not distort costs and prices in the sector producing the product under consideration. This would reflect, but be more comprehensive than, the market economy treatment provisions in Article 2(7) and implement the provisions of Article 15(d) of China’s Accession Protocol.
  8. In paragraph 6a(d) expand the use of the Report and introduce the idea that a finding of distortions is prima facie evidence that prices and costs are not reliable and that all costs and prices to be used in constructing the normal value should come from off-shore benchmarks. This would improve the alignment of the EU system with that of the US.
  9. In paragraph 6a(d) introduce special rules to allow industries with a large incidence of SMEs to use prices for the product concerned rather than having to construct the normal value based on international benchmarks.
  10. In paragraph 6a(e) introduce a time limit on discussions of the methodology to be used.

Create a new paragraph 6a(f) to deal with the consequences of less than adequate cooperation by exporting producers and introducing consequences for lack of cooperation. For example, in the absence of cooperation or in the presence of significant distortions, the lesser duty rule should not be applied.

Conclusion

The changes proposed in this note would have the effect of giving more certainty to both complainants and exporting producers in EU anti-dumping investigations. This can only be to the benefit of all.

 

7/04/2017

Global plastics production has grown exponentially since the 1960s, reaching 311 million tonnes produced in 2014, a twentyfold increase. It is expected to reach up to 1.2 [1] billion tonnes annually by 2050. The European plastic industry plays a vital role in the EU economy, with 1.45 million employees and a turnover of 350 billion (including converters and machine building producers). While EU plastics production has stabilised over recent years, its share on the global market is decreasing. In Europe over 40% of plastics are used in packaging, 20% is used in construction and less than 10% by the automotive industry. Other common applications include furniture, household appliances, electric and electronic goods and agricultural uses. While plastics materials are a driver of our economy, a number of environmental issues related to their production, use and end-of-life need to be tackled. Externalities are not systematically factored into the prices either of the materials itself or the final product. Packaging applications are particularly relevant; their functionally has to weigh in with their considerable littering potential. Consumer behaviour also comes into play.

 

The transition to a more circular economy, where the value of products, materials and resources is maintained in the economy for as long as possible, and the generation of waste minimised, is an essential contribution to the EU’s efforts to develop a sustainable, low carbon, resources efficient and competitive economy. Plastics is one of the five priority areas addressed in the “EU action plan for the Circular Economy”[2]. The latter sets out a clear commitment to preparing a strategy “…that addressed the challenges posed by plastics throughout the value chain and taking into account their entire life-cycle, such as reuse, recyclability, biodegradability, the presence of hazardous substances of concerns in certain plastics and marine litter”.[3]

The implementation of the existing acquis, notably on separate collection of plastic waste is a key prerequisite. The plastics strategy intends to support and complement these measures by providing a systemic perspective and creating synergies with other actions, such as on prevention, eco-design, work on the interface between waste, chemicals and products policies, measures to boost markets for secondary raw materials, use of economics instruments.

 

It has been estimated that globally, in 2013, 5 to 13 million tonnes of plastic waste end up in the environment, in particular in the oceans[4]. Plastic packaging is estimated to represent the highest share, as its weight, size and low-value make it prone to uncontrolled disposal. As regards marine litter, while land-based sources are predominant, sea-based sources such as shipping or fishing are not negligible. This problem is global, as the bulk of plastic leakage takes place outside of the EU ( in particular in fast-growing Asian economies) and collective efforts are needed. New sources of plastic leakage, e.g. single-use plastic products and microplastics, are on the rise, posing new potential threats to animal and human health. Microplastics – used intentionally in products or generated during the products’ life cycle, e.g. through car tyre wear or from washing clothes – are of particular concern as their small size (less than 5 mm) increases their potential toxicity.

 

Therefore, the level of marine pollution with plastic litter and microplastics are alarming. Microplastics are entering the food chain worth yet unknown consequences. The 2015 Circular Economy Action Plan referred to an aspirational 30% reduction target for litter items found on beaches and for fishing gear found at sea.

Biodegradable plastics could be a positive development in specific circumstances, but could exacerbate consumer negligence, the exiting leakage problem, the release of microplastics in solis and water and the risk of cross-contamination of conventional plastic waste streams. Work on definitions and standards is needed (biodegradable, compostable, home-compostable). Oxo-degradable plastic fragments over time into small particles which remain in the environment and may increase pollution. Directive 2015/720[5] on plastic bags requires to the Commission top present a report examining the impact of the use of oxo-degradable plastic carrier bags on the environment.

 

The EU Legal Basis to act is based on articles 114 and 191 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

The main problem addressed by this initiative cannot be addressed through exclusive action at the level of the Member States because of their trans-boundary nature (e.g. marine plastics pollution) and of potential ramifications for the internal market. In the absence of a strategic European dimension, uncoordinated or unilateral actions by Member States would risk increasing market fragmentation. While actions at national and local level can help address some of the problems’ drovers (e.g. ensuring good implementation of the waste management rules or using economic instruments to encourage more sustainable practice), a number of key obstacles to, e.g. higher plastic reuse and recycling, can potentially be removed at lower societal costs through EU actions ( e.g. creating the right framework for economies of scale in material and product design, recycling, improving cooperation and informatics flows across a trans-national value-chain, avoiding market fragmentation and ensuring a level playing field for economic operators).

 

Pursuing the objectives included in the Circular Economy Action Plan[6], these should directly contribute to its implementation, but also to the EU’s jobs and growth agenda and the Energy Union’s vision for a low carbon, energy efficient economy. The strategy and pursuance of its objectives will also contribute to the implementation of actions under the UN Agenda 2030, more specifically towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

Indeed, the Strategy should seek to improve framework conditions for investments and innovations that enable the plastic and related industries and the entire value chain using plastics to become more circular, resource efficient and reduce its carbon footprint, in line with the climate and energy goals of the EU. It will require innovation of the whole plastics system, built on a shared vision and enhanced cooperation between all stakeholders.

 

[1] OECD Global Forum, Mechelen 2010,”Sustainable management and recovery potential of plastic waste”.

[2] See “Across the EUniverse” Number 11, “ Circular Economy-More flexible Law. The 2015 Legislative Package”. About the implementation of the Action Plan, the European Commission published a Report dated 26.1.2017 ( COM(2017) 33 FINAL)

[3] This follows up on the  “Green Paper On a European Strategy on Plastic Waste in the Environment”, European Commission, COM(2013) 123 final .

[4] WorldWatch Institute, January 2015.

[5] Directive 2015/720 of 29 April 2015, emending Directive 94/62/EC as regards reducing the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags, in OJEU L 115.

[6] Decoupling plastics production from virgin fossil feedstock and reducing its life-cycle GHG impacts; improving the economics, quality and uptake of plastic recycling and reuse, and reducing plastic leakage into environment.

7/04/2017

The 25th of March marked the 60th anniversary of the signing of the 1957 Treaty of Rome creating the European Economic Community. The EEC entered into effect in 1958 and has changed all our lives since. I was five at the time and spent the next 25 years fairly ignorant of the organisation despite the fact that my father drafted many of the tax laws necessary for Irish membership in 1973 and I qualified as a lawyer in Ireland in 1980.

 

It was only after a couple of years practicing Irish law in Dublin that I began taking EEC law seriously. I completed specialist post graduate degrees in EEC law in Amsterdam and at the European University Institute in Fiesole and in 1986 I moved to Brussels to practice what for me was the new world of EEC law. I moved to Brussels not out of love of the city but because it was the only place, at that time, where a lawyer could practice EEC law full time. It was then considered a marginal speciality. In fact, a number of my lawyer friends advised against it. They argued that EEC law was not real law and it was not the basis for a successful career. And they were right. At first. There was not that much law work around.

 

The EU in the mid 1980s was very different from today. There were still borders and border posts between the Member States. Products crossing the borders still had to go through customs procedures, get back and pay taxes, show compliance with health and safety requirements and many of the other procedures now carried out at the external frontiers of the Union. It is true that actual customs duties had been removed but non-tariff barriers to trade were very present. The EU was sufficiently divided and broken up that individual Member States were still able to keep their individual trade relations with third countries for certain products.

 

Legal work in Brussels at that time broke down into three broad areas: competition, anti-dumping and free movement. The biggest problems on free movement were in relation to food standards and product safety. What is now Article 26 TFEU prohibited quantitative restrictions on movement and measures having an equivalent effect. Article 36 set out the exceptions on the basis of the protection of the health and life of humans, animals and plants. The questions before the courts were whether an Irish government campaign to ‘Buy Irish’ was a restriction on free movement or whether France could be held liable for not preventing farmers stopping Spanish goods crossing the border. In practice this meant that there was little free movement of foodstuffs as each Member State set their own standards.

 

And then came Cassis de Dijon in 1979. This changed everything (even if it too a bit of time to sink in). The Court of Justice ruled that as most standards had the same objective of protecting health and safety they could be considered equivalent. Member States should mutually recognise the validity of each others standards. The formula handed down by the judges was that if a good was legally produced and marketed in one Member State then it should be able to move freely into a second state.

 

Member States with high standards were concerned that products would be legally placed on the market in low standard Member States and then undermine the higher standard. In addition, manufacturing could move from high standard to low standard states. The EU’s reaction was comprehensive and all encompassing. The decision was taken to change the approach to standards and to move away from product specific standards in the food sector and move to minimum health and safety standards. And it was decided to change the decision-making rules and reintroduce majority voting in the Council.

 

The 1992 programme was designed to complete the single market. This programme foresaw the adoption more than 300 laws in a five-year period that would allow the removal of the physical, economic and technical borders between the Member States and the completion of the external frontier of the Community. Work is still going on to complete the single market particularly for services but for the most part it is complete for goods.

 

In Competition, the work was two fold. One main strand of work was in relation to distribution and agency agreement. To what extent could manufacturers tie-in their agents and distributors and restrict their ability to sell outside the zones for which they had an agreement. These were the exclusive rights to sell in one Member State and not in another. What was an exclusive distributor for Germany to do if a French customer asked for goods. Could they sell or not? And could manufacturers use intellectual property to maintain divisions in the single market.

 

The second strand of work in competition law was the break-up of national monopolies. To what extent could it be considered that national and most often state owned energy or transport or telecommunication companies be considered to be in abuse of their dominant or exclusive positions in different Member States? Slowly competition law was applied to break down the monopolies and introduce competition.

 

The liberalisation of certain sectors at the Member State level automatically resulted in the need to regulate these sectors at the EU level. This implied the granting of greater competence to the Union to undertake the regulatory functions inherent in the management of the single market. So over the 1990s and into the 2000s the Member States slowly increased the competence of the Union and slowly improved the way in which decisions were to be made in Brussels. In a series of changes to the Treaty of Rome leading to the Lisbon Agreement (the failed constitution agreement) we changed the Community to the Union, we gave greater power to the Parliament, we gave more competence to the Union.

 

As all this happened the nature of law work changed. As the Union got more competence and became the regulator of the single market for more and more sectors, decisions of the institutions had a greater and greater impact on industry and there was a notable increase in litigation to annul Commission and Council decisions. The Commission as the executive of the Union became stronger. This in turn allowed the Commission to implement the competences it had in a more robust manner. This can be seen in relation to competition law. The focus shifted from distribution and dominance so as to complete the single market to attacking collusion between enterprises across the single market.

 

Lawyers also become more involved in the formulation and the quality of laws. In other words, lobbying. The idea that lawyers were lobbyists was, and for many still is, problematical. But why should this be? Lobbying is in fact advocacy. But rather than trying to persuade a judge as to the correctness of your arguments you are trying to persuade the legislator of the correctness of your analysis. The more lobbing there is the better the law is.

 

The last 30 years have been eventful and fun to have been part of. One case, bananas, lasted from 1988 to 2010. The hormones case lasted 10 years. Today we are working on the EU’s relationship with China and the US which will last for many years to come. The EU has built competence on the environment, on health and safety and the welfare of consumers. We have built and protected the common values of the EU. It has been fun, yes, but important too. We need another sixty years and more to continue the great European project.

 

7/04/2017

It’s easy and also the same time it’s very important to look at the Map of Europe. It allows you to imagine the priories for the European Integration Process: free movements of goods, capital, services and people, but also transport and energy networks, a common environmental law, a common European Agriculture policy and food safety rules. All this represents the connective tissue of a European integrated economy and society, completed by a competition policy and state aid legislation which is a check and balance system for a right development of the Single Market.

 

What did Europe do?

A first-time foreign tourist to Europe would soon realize that something called the European Europe (EU) exists but might not understand exactly what it is. Signs at the airport in a EU Member State (by far the majority of European States and with the exemption of some states, like France, which has implemented some specific anti-terrorisms rules) would direct the visitors into the “NON-EU” line for inspections by national immigration officers (there are no EU immigration officers). Once finished with border formalities, the visitors would need to change money.

 

In twelve of the EU’s currently twenty-height Member States the visitors would receive euro notes and coins but in other Member States would receive national currency. Travelling around the Country, the visitors would see the distinctive EU flag prominently displayed. In the EU’s poorer regions, the visitors would notice signs adorned with the EU flag proudly proclaiming that various infrastructural projects were being found in part by EU Commission. Staying within the territory of EU, the visitor would be able to travel unimpeded across some, but not all, national borders.

 

A curious and discerning visitor would discover that national political systems are alive and well in the EU, but there is a complementary political system centered on Brussels, meaning in this case not the politics of Belgium, but the locus of EU policy making. National Governments, Parliaments, Courts and other bodies participate in the EU system, as do separate EU institutions such as the European Commission and the European Parliament, located in Brussels and Strasbourg, the Court of Justice located in Luxembourg and the Social and Economic Committee, as far as the Regions Committee (these last bodies are only advisory bodies). Further enquiry would reveal that a complex system of EU governance produces rules and regulations harmonizing the national legislations of the Member States, sometimes substituting them, sometimes only “point the way” to the national legislators.

 

All these Institutions, with the Council representing the Member States “as a whole”, created for the Europeans a unique space for live and work together.

 

The “European Big Market”: a way to live equally

For citizens and enterprises, the Single Market refers to the EU as one territory without any internal borders or other regulatory obstacles to the free movement of goods and services. A functioning Single Market stimulates competition and trade, improves efficiency, raises quality and helps cut prices. The European Single Market is one of the EU’s greatest achievements. It has fueled economic growth and made the everyday life of European Businesses and consumers easier.

 

The Single Market Strategy is the European Commission plan to unlock the full potential of the Single Market. The Single Market is the Heart of the European Project, but its benefits do not always materialize because Single Market rules are not known or full implemented, or they are undermined by other barriers. So that the Commission has decided to give the Single Market a boost by improving mobility for services provided, ensuring that innovative business models can flourish, making it easier for retailers to do business across borders and enhancing access to goods and services throughout in the EU.

 

The EU Single Market accounts for 500 million consumers and 21 million small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs). The Commission’s main goal is to ensure the free-movement of goods within the market, and to set high safety standards for consumers and the protection of the environment.

 

Services are crucial to the Single Market. They account for over 70% of all economy activity in the EU and a similar proportion of its employment. EU companies have the freedom to establish themselves in other EU countries and the freedom to provide services in countries other than the one in which they are established.

 

A fully functional Digital Single Market would bring many benefits to European businesses and consumers. It would promote innovation and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. The Commission has adopted an ambitious strategy to complete the Digital Single Market that targets ICT standards and interoperability and e-commerce.

 

Standards are voluntary technical specification that apply to various products, materials, services and processes. They can help reduce costs, improve safety, enhance competition and facilitate the acceptance of innovation.

 

The Commission works to remove barriers to intra-EU trade and prevent to the creation of new ones so enterprises can trade freely in the EU and beyond.  It applies Treaty rules prohibiting quantitative restrictions on imports and exports.

 

The Commission introduced the CE mark to indicate that a product meets high safety, health and environment protection requirements and can be sold throughout the European Economic Area.

 

Public Procurement is the acquisition of goods and services by public authorities such as national, regional or municipal governments. The EU works to ensure that public procurement is fair, competitive and conducive to the Single Market.

 

All these issues constitute the New Commission Strategy on Single Market.

It will be difficult for UK withdraw from this legal framework. Negotiations will be very intensive for all the parties, but it is clear that the cost of replicating some or all of these features in the UK will be costly both in economic and human terms.

 

Across the EUniverse does not wish to see the UK leave but at the same time wishes to see that the EU grows and grows in a way that will make it attractive to others as a cultural, social and economic center that will be the envy of all.

 

7/04/2017

It seems nowadays that many Europeans reject the very idea of Europe; but in order to understand this rejection a prior question must be answered: what is Europe today? We are facing a crucial problem of identity and it would be appropriate to deep the question on the conceptual foundations of Europe.

As lawyers we can ask ourselves a more precise and legal question: can the European Legal Tradition, particularly in relation to the foundations of Private Law, represent an identity factor for an (old and) new Europe? Law has always been from/by/for the citizens (i.e. the ancient idea of ius civile), and in this sense the European Legal Tradition could be an identity factor for Europe. Maybe it is possible to consider the Tradition of Private Law as a general value identifying a new Europe: a tradition that can play a role as a building-block of the idea of Europe. In this perspective, the question comes down to: what is the real substance of the European Culture of Private Law?

There is a feature of European Legal Culture, which can even be considered an identifying feature, that Private Law is not only a body of knowledge, but also a rational science. The European Culture of Private Law embodied a wonderful attempt of rationalizing the world of human behaviour, and in this context jurists had complete freedom: when shaping the law, they were moving without boundaries set by religion and politics.

As we have to discover what the essential substance of a European Culture of Private Law is, we wonder if it is possible to draw up a catalogue of common legal ideas; and we find a positive answer to this question, so long as it contains a comprehensive catalogue of ideas unifying/harmonizing/merging the European Legal Culture. The minimum core of principles that composes this catalogue is made up by five fundamental ideas, which can be regarded as the pillars of European Private Law Tradition: subject/persona, ownership, obligation, contract and inheritance.

Persona, in ancient Latin, means mask, so you might evoke such a suggestion: only if someone plays a role on the ideal/virtual stage of the relevance of Law, he represents a subject in a legal sense and only in this case he emerges as a juridical subject. The second pillar is the idea of ownership: persona, the subject of the ownership, is entitled to use and to dispose entirely of the thing; in essence, the core of the idea of ownership – between ancient and modern Europe – is the juridical structure used to signify “I have”. At its origin, the idea of ownership implies the existence of a personal space subject to the power of a lord: this lord is called dominus as he exercises his power within the domus.

Another considerable pillar of the European Legal Culture is the idea of obligation. Obligation evokes the relationship between duty and liability (the Tommaso dalla Massara Of Counsel, Milan Email: t.dallamassara@nctm.it ACROSS THE EUNIVERSE 7 conceptual difference in the German thinking between Schuld and Haftung), although the law of obligations at the origins concerned only with the question of liability: the debtor is conceived under a duty to perform, and the creditor as a party with the corresponding right to claim such a performance.

In connection with the idea of obligation (and, before, with the idea of person), we can consider now the general concept of contract. In the European Culture of the Private Law, the common core of the idea of contract is that people are free to agree on the terms of their contract; and the freedom of the parties plays a relevant role in the context of the idea of ownership, operating in this framework within the corresponding limits.

The free relationship between subject and ownership represents the conceptual assumption from which the right of every person to dispose mortis causa arises. In general, inheritance represents for European Legal Tradition the transfer of an individual’s property to one or more dependants according to a formula set out in law.

What is Europe today? First of all Europe is a cultural notion, more than a geographical or legal one. Many factors have made Europe a unified culture by shaping its characters: without doubt cohesion was made possible, amongst other, by Greek philosophy, Christian ethics, Humanism, Italian Renaissance, French Enlightenment, German Idealism. If it is true that Europe is not understandable without Dante, Shakespeare, Voltaire et cetera, nobody can deny that the European Legal Tradition has also played a crucial role in shaping the idea of Europe.

The concept of Private Law is widespread throughout Europe as a whole: it is a creation of a European human spirit, an idea that demonstrated the humana ratio, as well as serving a function of meeting needs of society; accordingly, law must continuously evolve. This idea of Private Law is not present in other civilizations: thus it is an identity factor for old and new Europe; and we can see this identity in the core of European Private Law: subject/persona, ownership, obligation, contract and inheritance. These fundamental ideas form part of the basis European Culture and play a vital role in shaping its future.

The ancient roots of this common European legal culture are not a limitation on the growth of a future Europe: by understanding better our origins we can better envisage and shape our future with freedom and courage.

Europe Must Go On 

The 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome sees the EU much changed from its early origins. We have moved from an economic community to a Union based on civil and human rights and the values common to the peoples of Europe. It has been, and is, a great success.

However it is clear that the Union is not without its troubles on this important anniversary. The Brexit negotiations are about to start. There are nationalist and decentralizing tendencies in many Member States and important elections in Germany and France. There are real problems of immigration and the absence of, or the uneven distribution of, economic growth.

These problems should not daunt us. Our fathers in the integration process faced greater problems. They sought to make peace and to make an institution to guarantee peace from the ashes of the most destructive of European wars.

What we must do is face up to our problems and resolve them. We have great shoulders to stand on. We have been given the evolving EU treaties, the Single Market, a strong Court of Justice in Luxembourg, good competition law, the rights of citizens, in other words a strong legal framework.

This is no time for faintheartedness. We must move on with courage and ensure that the Union is with us for more than another 60 years.

 

In questo numero, analizziamo una pronuncia del Consiglio di Stato secondo la quale non sarebbe necessaria la pubblicazione sulla Gazzetta UE dell’istanza di proroga di una concessione portuale. I terzi eventualmente interessati a presentare offerte concorrenti sarebbero garantiti, infatti, dalla possibilità di potersi preventivamente informare circa la scadenza della concessione e dalla istruttoria della Autorità Portuale (oggi Autorità di Sistema Portuale), che dovrà rispettare il principio dell’affidamento al soggetto che offre le «maggiori garanzie di proficua utilizzazione della concessione».

Approfondiamo poi le differenze nel diritto italiano tra un contratto di trasporto e un contratto di appalto avente ad oggetto l’esecuzione di trasporti. È importante qualificare correttamente il tipo di rapporto e qui spieghiamo il perché.

Passiamo, poi, ad esaminare due recenti sentenze dei Tribunali Amministrativi Regionali. La prima decisione riguarda le possibili modalità di assentimento delle concessioni demaniali marittime. La seconda statuisce l’applicabilità del Codice dei Contratti Pubblici anche alla gestione degli interporti con le inevitabili conseguenze che brevemente ricordiamo.

Alla luce della prossima entrata in vigore della Convenzione IMO per il controllo e la gestione delle acque di zavorra, esaminiamo le prevedibili ripercussioni per il settore armatoriale. Uno dei problemi più rilevanti consiste nel fatto che, ad oggi, mancano chiare indicazioni di come rendere le navi compliant rispetto alla nuova normativa. Vi sono, poi, Stati che hanno normative più stringenti rispetto alla Convenzione IMO. Il rischio è quindi quello di investire in apparecchiature che potrebbero non essere ritenute idonee.

Una recente sentenza della Corte di Cassazione ci consente di fare un breve punto sul tema del mancato pagamento di un premio assicurativo e la conseguente sospensione della garanzia. La Suprema Corte, in particolare, afferma la sussistenza della copertura assicurativa qualora il sinistro si verifichi entro il «periodo di tolleranza», a prescindere dal pagamento della successiva rata di premio.

In materia aeroportuale, la Suprema Corte ha aperto le porte alla possibile configurazione di nuovi profili di responsabilità in capo all’ENAC, l’ente che sovraintende alla attività aereoportuale e della navigazione aerea in Italia, nel caso di inadeguata manutenzione della pista che abbia creato danno ad un aeromobile.

Infine, concludiamo con la consueta rassegna delle notizie dal mondo del lavoro marittimo e portuale. La notizia di maggior rilievo è il rinnovo, in Italia, del contratto collettivo nazionale dei dirigenti delle Agenzie Maritime, che ha portato un miglioramento della situazione corrente.

Ringraziamo i nostri colleghi dell’ufficio di Bruxelles per il loro consueto aggiornamento sulle azioni più significative delle istituzioni dell’UE adottate in materia di trasporti e di commercio intenzionale.

Troverete, infine, un primo elenco dei prossimi eventi previsti nelle nostre sedi di Milano e di Roma, oltre al consueto update sulle attività dello Studio nel bimestre passato.

Per la Cassazione non è fattibile il concordato se il piano non specifica le modalità di attuazione
La Corte di Cassazione (n. 4915 del 27 febbraio 2017) ha ribadito che il Tribunale può sindacare la «causa concreta» del concordato preventivo, interpretando in senso estensivo il criterio della assoluta, manifesta inettitudine del piano del debitore a raggiungere gli obiettivi prefissati.

Spettano ai creditori tutte le risorse generate dalla prosecuzione dell’attività nel concordato con continuità aziendale ?

Il Tribunale di Firenze (2 novembre 2016) ha confermato che il debitore può conservare parte dell’attivo, in un’ottica di favore verso il risanamento dell’impresa ed in deroga ai principi della responsabilità patrimoniale.

Cram down ex art. 182-septies l.fall. se l’accordo è conveniente per la banca rispetto al fallimento

 La recente decisione del Tribunale di Padova (31 dicembre 2016) viene messa a raffronto con i pochi precedenti editi in tema di estensione degli effetti degli accordi di ristrutturazione dei debiti a creditori finanziari non aderenti.

Trade features significantly in this first edition of Across the EUniverse for the year 2017. It cannot be otherwise. US President Trump has said that he will change US trade policy building barriers to market access and forcing US companies to manufacture at home. China President Xi has said that China promotes barrier free trade so long as the barriers are in third countries (not in China). The EU is in the process of reforming its trade defence instruments and digesting how a post Brexit world will look.

This change in trade is evidence of wider change that is taking place around us and which is likely to continue into 2017. There will be federal elections in Germany and national elections in France. If Italy gets to change its electoral law there may well be an election in Italy. Will the forces that backed President Trump in the US win in the EU as well. The country most likely to change is the Netherlands, once a bastion of openness but now toying with the idea of giving the most votes to an anti-Islam party.

In this issue we look at the legal debate concerning an Italian exit from the Euro; a comparison between Trump and Xi approach on the concept of trade; some consequences of the excessive length of court proceeding; we also examine the advantages of the new italian “rent to buy” agreement; as well as the Multilateral Investment Court; an overview of the service sector; a further examination of the trade consequences of Brexit and finally the advantages or disadvantages of enhancing the bilateral framework between EU and US in the field of energy.

As we settle into 2017 the drama of Brexit and Trump seem to have eased somewhat. While the drama might have lifted it doesn’t mean that the complexities that these two phenomena have introduced and are introducing into the practice of law have gone away. In fact, the more we reflect on what needs to be done to achieve Brexit the less clear the situation is. This week President Trump will outline what he means by the Wall and taxes on imports of goods. From a WTO law point of view it can only be disruptive and even destructive. The drama might have gone but the work is only beginning. In this issue we have a range of contributions covering how the Russian constitutional court has reacted to the European Court of Human Rights rulings in favour of the owners of Yukos, the OECD’s review of its own bribery rules, the EU’s new proposed ePrivacy Regulation, how the European Court of Auditors confirms our understanding of the responsibilities and obligations of Port Authorities in relation to concessionaires. We explain the new Italian Save the Banks decree and show how the EU Commission has a strong role in every step of the process and look at how the Commission proposes disciplining insurance distribution agents.

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