Tag Archive | "European Union"

Critical Analysis: Data Breaches Signify Need for Unified Data Protection Laws

If you are reading this blog post then you have access to the internet, a network that you are currently sharing with 2.4 billion other people, some of which may not have your best interests at heart. Many people use this network for daily activities, ranging from shopping to social networking. As internet users interact with the web they leave behind data that, if acquired by people with malicious intent, can leave them vulnerable to identity theft, credit card fraud, and embarrassment. While internet users can and should take precautions to avoid scams, interacting with the internet necessarily requires leaving personal information in the hands of others. This fact of the internet presents many challenging legal issues regarding the responsibilities of the parties that acquire personal data.

Privacy protections on the internet need to be addressed on a global scale. Image Source: shutterstock

Privacy protections on the internet may need to be addressed on a global scale to establish cross-border data access rules. Image Source: shutterstock

Late last year, Target – a large American retail store with recently expanded operations in e-commerce – was hacked, compromising the credit card information and personal data of millions of customers. Within a month of Target’s hacking disclosure, Neiman Marcus announced that hackers exposed the customer payment card data collected by their systems. While data breaches seem to be occurring more frequently than ever, these particular incidents caught the attention of enough influential people to make this issue a political priority in the United States.

In early February the US Congress met twice to discuss whether the Federal government needs to take action concerning the increasing prevalence of major data breaches. One of the main issues discussed during the hearings was the lack of a unified policy regarding companies’ responsibility to disclose data breaches to their customers. Currently, laws requiring disclosure exist in forty-six U.S. states, but differences in the law of each state provide companies with a complex and unclear view of how to handle data breaches. Staying true to their recent form, Congress has yet to take any legislative action with regard to the issues discussed during the hearings.

In order to avoid being accused of taking a US-centric view of the problems posed by internet information governance I should note that many countries besides the US are acting quickly to legislate around issues concerning data breaches. In Russia, data collection is regulated under the Personal Data Law which was implemented on July 27, 2006. This body of law requires e-commerce companies to obtain written consent before they can collect certain private personal information and also ensures these companies take the appropriate technical measures to protect their customers’ data. The European Union identified the advantages of a unified data protection scheme back in 1981 when it proposed the Data Protection Directive. In 2012 the European Union announced its intent to remain at the forefront of data protection when it proposed a currently pending major reform to the data protection legislation in place.

If the increasing frequency of data breaches is any indication, the time for a more comprehensive and global legal framework to data protection is approaching rapidly. At the world economic forum in early 2014 Brad Smith, Microsoft’s chief legal officer, called for an international convention to establish cross-border data-access rules.  Many challenges to an international legal framework for data protection remain, including the many separate legal issues with varied stakeholders, the technical complexity and continuous innovation of the internet, and the difficulty of international agreement. Despite these challenges, the internet is a global system which at some point will require international legal solutions.

Matthew Aeschbacher is a 3LE law student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and a staff editor for the Denver Journal of International Law & Policy.

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Critical Analysis: The Changing Landscape of International Privacy

In the weeks and months to come, the international community will see the deployment of a number of new privacy initiatives.  The new privacy laws are likely to have been spurned by several factors including: the need to update existing laws that are nearly 20 years old; data breaches and government leaks; and the increasing pressure to come into compliance with the privacy standards established by the European Union.

Noteworthy developments are coming from across the globe, with some of the most recent reforms coming out of Malaysia, South Africa and Ukraine.

privacy_embed

New data and privacy developments are happening across the globe in an effort to update old policies.

Malaysia’s Personal Data Privacy Act came into effect last November, but a deadline requiring companies to register by February 15th is fast approaching.  The PDPA will require stricter data management standards for businesses and impose large fines on those who fail to comply.  This hurdle will come quickly for many small and medium-sized business owners who may not know how or have difficulty implementing the required changes.  Despite the government’s efforts, there are many who are still in the dark about the Act.

Also in November, South Africa signed into law the Protection of Personal Information Act, but has yet to see an enforcement date.  The Act expands on a general ‘right to privacy’ that had been established in 1996.  The aims of the Act were to give effect to the constitutional right to privacy and bring South Africa into alignment with the existing data protection framework.  A noteworthy provision for businesses is that much like the E.U. Safe Harbor requirements, the Act places restriction on the flow of personal data outside of South Africa.

The regulatory structure responsible for data protection in Ukraine has undergone major reform.  One of the biggest changes was the abolition of the Data Protection Office and creation of the Ombudsman—an independent official appointed by the Parliament.  The move brings Ukraine into line with E.U. policies on Data Protection.

Although the trend seems to be that countries are implementing policies and statutes to come into compliance with E.U. standards, the European Union is expected to vote to replace the 1995 EU Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC).  Although the reform has been in the works since 2012, a vote to finalize the issue has been delayed and may not take place until 2015.  Changes, initially expected to broaden data exchange between the U.S. and E.U., may have different implications for the existing Safe Harbor framework following the exposure of widespread NSA surveillance.

The expansion of privacy regulation is good news for consumers worldwide, but also important for businesses who handle personal data.

Jordan Edmondson is a Staff Editor for the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.

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Critical Analysis: Proceed with Caution: Keeping Your Electronically Stored Information in the Cloud

In an era driven by technology, there are an ever-increasing number of corporations choosing to store their information electronically (“ESI”). ESI is anything that can be stored on an electronic medium system, such as: emails, spreadsheets, databases, images, etc. Further, because ESI is voluminous, corporations are storing it in server farms or, to the layperson,  “the cloud” as a cost-effective measure. The positive of this approach is that corporations can store virtually unlimited amounts of ESI for a very low cost. The negative is that the ESI might be stored in a “server farm” located in a foreign country. The problem with this is that many countries, primarily in Europe, have laws that prevent exportation of data for foreign litigation proceedings. The legal issue: What happens when corporations involved in U.S. litigation are requested to produce ESI located in a foreign country that has a data blocking statute?

Corporations must be careful when storing data as foreign laws conflict with US discovery obligations. Image Source: eDiscovery Blog

Corporations must be careful when storing data as foreign laws conflict with US discovery obligations. Image Source: The eDiscovery Blog

For one, litigants face consequences whether they comply with the discovery request or not. This is because the U.S. discovery rules are so expansive that they offend foreign justice systems where the court plays an important role in the search for evidence. In opposition to the U.S. discovery rules some nations have enacted blocking statutes that criminalize the exportation of ESI for purposes of foreign litigation. Even the European Union has become involved with by requiring compliance with its Data Protection Directive. Thus, corporations have a catch-22: (1) comply with the blocking statute and face sanctions from U.S. courts or (2) comply with the discovery request and face possible sanctions and/or criminal proceedings in a foreign country.

Another consequence is a delay in the discovery process. This delay adds to the cost of what is already viewed as the most expensive phase in the litigation process. More often than not, the cost of discovery, specifically e-discovery, is a valuable tool for encouraging settlement talks. However, when parties are consistently engaging in pre-trial motion practice over the issue that foreign blocking statutes cause, this “tool” becomes less valuable. Without the requested information, a party may have no idea how strong their legal position is and thus cannot engage in reasonable settlement talks. Thus, the impediments foreign blocking statutes have on litigants is a clearly an issue that corporations must consider.

Fortunately, the Supreme Court, through its pre-ESI decision in Societe Nationale Industrielle Aerospatiale v. U.S. Dist. Court for Southern Dist. of Iowa, has provided some hope for litigants faced with this conflict. 482 U.S. 522, 544 (1987). The Court, despite its holding that parties’ faced with blocking statues are required to produce requested documents, also instructed lower courts to consider the following factors in determining whether documents located in foreign countries are discoverable in the U.S: (1) The importance to the investigation or litigation of the documents or information requested; (2) The degree of specificity of the request; (3) Whether the information originated in the United States; (4) the availability of alternative means of securing the information; (5) and the extent to which noncompliance with the request would undermine important interests of the United States, or compliance with the request would undermine important interests of the state where the information is located. This decision, coupled with subsequent lower court decisions applying these factors to ESI cases, has placed litigants with discoverable ESI in foreign countries in a better position than was originally thought.

Despite the aforementioned decisions, corporations must be conscientious about where they store their ESI. Possibly because this legal issue is relatively recent, courts remain hesitant to not compel discovery of ESI where foreign blocking statutes conflict with discovery obligations. Until this conflict becomes resolute, it would be wise for corporations (and all potential litigants with ESI, for that matter) to ensure their ESI is kept in countries without blocking statutes. By doing this, litigants avoid the catch-22 foreign blocking statutes present in U.S. court proceedings. After all, ESI is the future, if not the present, of the discovery process.

Casey Smartt is a 2L and a Staff Editor on the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy

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Angela Merkel and David Cameron

How Germany Surpassed Great Britain … Economically At Least

In the wake of Prime Minister David Cameron’s call for a voter referendum on Britain’s membership in the EU, new grassroots groups have sprung up supporting a renegotiation of Britain’s EU membership.[1]  While Britain considers removing itself from the EU entirely, Germany has emerged as a powerful leader in the EU.  Some scholars have gone so far as to say that Germany is “keeping Europe afloat.”[2]  What led to Germany’s current power player status is complicated.  Whether it be Germany’s rapid economic growth or German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personality is anyone’s guess.

Now, as Cyprus repeats the Greek meltdown, it has become clearer that the euro zone has not been able to create a “banking union” in any meaningful sense.[3]  Developing a true banking union is made more difficult by the fact that Germany continues to oppose creating a euro-wide deposit insurance program.[4]

Despite the Greek bailout in 2010, and the follow-up bailout in 2012 (of which Germany was the biggest contributor of funds[5]), the EU has record-high unemployment.[6]  As a result of Germany’s economic influence throughout the EU, it will likely be Merkel who dictates what happens in Cyprus.  While Britain was notably absent from discussions surrounding the creation of an EU banking supervisor, Merkel noted that it was “a big step toward more reliability and confidence in the euro zone.”[7]  This post explores some of the factors that led to Germany’s strong economic position in the EU and what that could mean for Britain in the future.

German Economic Influence

Angela Merkel and David Cameron

And with good reason, too!
(Spectator)

Most people in Germany, even down to the standup comedians, believe that Germany is economically dominant because of their “system of apprenticeships” and commitment to building a society that helps entrepreneurs.[8]   Germany also overhauled the labor market in an effort to hold down costs.[9]  On top of the societal systems, Merkel reminds Germans of Great Britain’s Margaret Thatcher as one who seems to “balance government accounts as though they were a household budget.”[10]  The difference, however, is that Thatcher had the British people’s support for doing so, but Merkel has no democratic mandate.[11]

This system has led to Germany being the only country in the EU with the funds necessary to deal with financial crisis.[12]  The German economic platform has also given Merkel the power to “dictate the terms under which struggling euro zone nations can apply for further credit, eroding the democratic autonomy of the Greek, Italian and Spanish parliaments.”[13]  In 2012, when Merkel approved the second round of bailouts for Greece, she stated: “The risks of turning away from Greece now are incalculable. No one can assess what consequences would arise for the German economy, on Italy, on Spain, the euro zone as a whole and finally for the whole world.”[14]  Despite these admonitions, the tide of approval for Greek bailouts was turning.

Various headlines such as “German money is being thrown away on the bankrupt Greeks” bore out a strong current of German criticism.[15]  Some posit that Germany continues to do provide bailout funds because of their “self-imposed obligation to help build a Europe where the petty nationalisms that had ruined the continent in two world wars could be definitively overcome.”[16]  As stated by Simon Winder, author of Germania: A Personal History of Germans Ancient and Modern: “The tragedy for the Germans is that they viewed the euro as their great, healing gift to the rest of Europe, an act of self-denial in which they cashed in their totemic deutschmark for the continent’s greater good.”[17]

Britain Meanwhile…

Britain continues to extricate itself from the EU and from any sort of indication that they are willing to assist other failing countries.  In the face of calls for Britain to leave the EU altogether and with Cameron seeking re-election, he is unlikely to offer any British assistance that will back British taxpayers into a European Union corner that they do not want to be in.  Pulling away from the EU at this point has left an opening that Germany’s economy has filled.

Where to From Here? Culture v. Economics

The contrast between the economic strength of Germany and the cultural influence of Britain is stark.  While Germany seems devoid of a cultural identity, “Britain is the cultural dynamo of Europe by a million miles.”[18]   What kind of actual power British cultural influence can bring to the EU with a fledgling British economic system remains to be seen.  What is clear, however, is that the world is looking to Germany for economic answers.



[1] Stephen Castle, British Group Backs Renegotiating E.U. Role, The New York Times, April 22, 2013.

[2] Stuart Jeffries, Is Germany too Powerful for Europe?, The Guardian, March 31, 2013.

[3] Hugo Dixon, A Union That Exists in Name Only, The New York Times, March 31, 2013.

[4] Id.

[5] Louise Armitstead, Germany Approves Greek Bail-out but warns Angela Merkel Against Further Help, The Telegraph, Feb. 27, 2012.

[6] David Jolly, Unemployment in Euro Zone Reaches a Record 12%, The New York Times, April 2, 2013.

[7] Raf Casert and Don Melvin, EU Backs Banking Supervisor, Greece Bailout, Yahoo! News, Dec. 13, 2012, available at http://news.yahoo.com/eu-backs-banking-supervisor-greece-bailout-145720588–finance.html.

[8] Stuart Jeffries, Is Germany too Powerful for Europe?, The Guardian, March 31, 2013.

[9] David Jolly, Unemployment in Euro Zone Reaches a Record 12%, The New York Times, April 2, 2013.

[10] Stuart Jeffries, Is Germany too Powerful for Europe?, The Guardian, March 31, 2013.

[11] Id.

[12] Louise Armitstead, Germany Approves Greek Bail-out but warns Angela Merkel Against Further Help, The Telegraph, Feb. 27, 2012.

[13] Stuart Jeffries, Is Germany too Powerful for Europe?, The Guardian, March 31, 2013.

[14] Louise Armitstead, Germany Approves Greek Bail-out but warns Angela Merkel Against Further Help, The Telegraph, Feb. 27, 2012.

[15] Stuart Jeffries, Is Germany too Powerful for Europe?, The Guardian, March 31, 2013.

[16] Id.

[17] Id.

[18] Id.

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David Cameron and Angela Merkel

Cameron Courts Germany to Discuss Great Britain’s Future in the EU

This is a follow up post to my prior post: David Cameron Wants Out of the EU: What are the Risks and Rewards?

Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, arrived in Berlin last week to engage in talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The purpose? Demonstrate “the close relationship between the two center-right leaders and a discussion of Britain’s future with the European Union.”[1]  Earlier this year Cameron announced that if his Conservative Party were to be reelected in 2015, he would either “reduce British entanglement with the EU – or allow his people to vote in a referendum to leave the bloc all together.”[2]

David Cameron and Angela Merkel

Sitting down to discuss their differences.
(Irish Examiner)

In the months following his announcement, Cameron has not let up on his calls for a re-evaluation of Britain’s membership in the EU. Just last week, he stated that “British support for the EU was ‘wafer thin’”[3] and that he would like to see member states given the right to opt of some EU laws.   Cameron’s conclusion that Britain’s placement in the EU has lost much of its utility comes on the heels of Britain’s weak economic data[4] and his claims that the EU has “sometimes overreached itself with directive and interventions and interference.”[5]

According to Cameron, “Europe will be more successful if it has the strength of flexibility rather than the weakness of inflexibility.  I think the best outcome for Britain is our membership of a reformed European Union.”[6] This signals a slight change in Cameron’s phrasing of the EU/Britain relationship. Previously, Cameron seemed determined to get Britain out of the EU altogether; now, however, he has started to focus more on reforming the EU.[7]  It is likely that the backlash from both France and Germany have tempered Cameron’s hardliner approach.

Great Britain and Germany Face Off Over Competing Views of the EU

While Cameron and Merkel are making the weekend into a family affair by bringing along their spouses, the relationship between the two has not always been so cordial.[8]  In 2009, Cameron pulled “his Conservatives out of the centre-right bloc in the European Parliament to which Merkel’s Christian Democrats belong.”[9]  Cameron’s previous visit to Berlin in 2011 came on the heels of a Cameron speech where the central message was “less Europe” and Merkel’s speech, given on the same day, emphasized the need for “more Europe.”[10]  Granted, Britain was attempting to maintain its distance from the euro-crisis, but Merkel scoffed at the idea that Britain should still have political pull in the EU.[11]

In March 2012, Britain and the Czech Republic were the only two Eurozone states that refused to sign a new fiscal treaty. While Cameron was complaining that his ideas were being ignored, Merkel described the treaty as a “great leap” and “a first step towards stability and political union.”[12]

Even more recently, Cameron’s plan “to defuse the Tory civil war over Europe by winning back powers from the EU has been thrown into doubt after Germany said it would prefer to solve the Eurozone’s problems without a new European treaty.”[13] Germany’s opposition to Cameron’s plan adds to the already sharp criticism pointed at Great Britain by France, which has come “out against opening up the EU rulebook again in the timescale envisaged by Cameron.”[14]

At Stake for Both Sides

Cameron’s visit is aimed to reduce the chatter surrounding Britain’s touchy relationship with the EU throughout the Eurozone.  Recall that shortly after Cameron’s referendum announcement, France commented that Britain could not have an “a la carte” attitude towards the EU,[15] and “German officials said Britain could not ‘cherry-pick’ the terms of membership.”[16] While German officials are not encouraged by Cameron’s desire to roll back EU powers, they were not surprised.[17]

If Britain leaves the EU, many argue that “France’s relative influence would increase as would that of the southern ‘Club Med’ nations, which tend to be less committed to free markets and budgetary rigor . . . . If Merkel [and Germany lose] Britain, then her game of politics of options”[18] will cease. The question really becomes what price Germany is willing to pay to keep Britain in the EU due to the fact that Britain is an “important German ally, especially on free trade issues.”[19]

The consensus is that Merkel needs Cameron: whether it be for free trade policies that require approval of all 27 EU member states, or on broad sweeping free trade policies.[20]

Some commentators have hinted that Germany and Britain could come to common ground on the issue of reforming the EU, but the depth of that reformation is likely going to be more limited than any of Cameron’s supporters envision.[21]  Germany is unlikely to budge on allowing Britain to opt out of more policy areas or give up “on the core values of European integration, a much stronger political idea on the Continent than in Britain.”[22] Tobias Etzold, an expert on European integration with the German Institute for International Security Affairs, warns: “It is important that Great Britain understands that possible alternative to full membership in the EU would hurt them more than it would hurt the remaining members.”[23]

Cameron would be wise to remember that just this month Merkel and French president, Francois Hollande, “snubbed a UK exercise to assess the impact of EU laws and regulations on Britain and the rest of Europe.”[24]

Conclusion

The topics that are officially slated for discussion between Cameron and Merkel range from the forthcoming G8 summit to the situation in Syria.  The highlight, however, is that the two leaders are scheduled to talk over “all aspects” of EU reformation.[25]

It is interesting to note that at the same time that Cameron seeks to increase Britain’s independence from the EU, he also is fiercely against Scottish independence.[26]  While Cameron may have hundreds of years of history to bolster his argument that Scottish independence is bad for the United Kingdom, one cannot help but be struck by the juxtaposition.

Treana Hickey is a third year law student at the University of Denver and is a Staff Editor on the Denver Journal of International Law & Policy.


[1] Melissa Eddy and Stephen Castle, In Cameron and Merkel Visit, a Chance to Discuss British Role in Europe, The New York Times, April 12, 2013.

[2] Andrew Higgins, Europe is Edgy as Cameron Seeks to Loosen Ties, The New York Times, Jan. 23, 2013.

[3] Stephen Brown, Merkel, Cameron to Bring Families Together in Castle Outside Berlin, Yahoo! News, April 12, 2013, http://news.yahoo.com/merkel-cameron-bring-families-together-castle-outside-berlin-143320632.html.

[4] Carsten Volkery, Opposing Visions of Europe: Tensions Ahead of David Cameron’s Berlin Visit, Spiegel Online, Nov. 17, 2011, http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/opposing-visions-of-europe-tensions-ahead-of-david-cameron-s-berlin-visit-a-798399.html.

[5] Andrew Sparrow, Cameron and Merkel to Discuss EU Reform in Germany, The Guardian, April 12, 2013.

[6] Cameron to Press for EU Reform During Berlin Visit, Europe Online Magazine, April 12, 2013, http://en.europeonline-magazine.eu/cameron-longs-for-eu-reform_275521.html.

[7] Andrew Sparrow, Cameron and Merkel to Discuss EU Reform in Germany, The Guardian, April 12, 2013.

[8] Melissa Eddy and Stephen Castle, In Cameron and Merkel Visit, a Chance to Discuss British Role in Europe, The New York Times, April 12, 2013.

[9] Stephen Brown, Merkel, Cameron to Bring Families Together in Castle Outside Berlin, Yahoo! News, April 12, 2013, http://news.yahoo.com/merkel-cameron-bring-families-together-castle-outside-berlin-143320632.html.

[10] Carsten Volkery, Opposing Visions of Europe: Tensions Ahead of David Cameron’s Berlin Visit, Spiegel Online, Nov. 17, 2011, http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/opposing-visions-of-europe-tensions-ahead-of-david-cameron-s-berlin-visit-a-798399.html.

[11] Id.

[12] EU summit: All but two leaders sign fiscal treaty, BBC News, March 2, 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17230760.

[13] Toby Helm, Germany and France ‘will block David Cameron’s plan for a new EU treaty’, The Guardian, April 6, 2013.

[14] Id.

[15] France’s Hollande rejects ‘a la carte’ attitude to EU, BBC News, Feb. 5, 2013,  

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21336397.

[16] Melissa Eddy and Stephen Castle, In Cameron and Merkel Visit, a Chance to Discuss British Role in Europe, The New York Times, April 12, 2013.

[17] Stephen Brown, Merkel, Cameron to Bring Families Together in Castle Outside Berlin, Yahoo! News, April 12, 2013, http://news.yahoo.com/merkel-cameron-bring-families-together-castle-outside-berlin-143320632.html.

[18] Melissa Eddy and Stephen Castle, In Cameron and Merkel Visit, a Chance to Discuss British Role in Europe, The New York Times, April 12, 2013.

[19] Stephen Brown, Merkel, Cameron to Bring Families Together in Castle Outside Berlin, Yahoo! News, April 12, 2013, http://news.yahoo.com/merkel-cameron-bring-families-together-castle-outside-berlin-143320632.html.

[20] Carsten Volkery, Opposing Visions of Europe: Tensions Ahead of David Cameron’s Berlin Visit, Spiegel Online, Nov. 17, 2011, http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/opposing-visions-of-europe-tensions-ahead-of-david-cameron-s-berlin-visit-a-798399.html.

[21] Melissa Eddy and Stephen Castle, In Cameron and Merkel Visit, a Chance to Discuss British Role in Europe, The New York Times, April 12, 2013.

[22] Id.

[23] Id.

[24] Andrew Sparrow, Cameron and Merkel to Discuss EU Reform in Germany, The Guardian, April 12, 2013.

[25] Id.

[26] John F. Burns and Alan Cowell, Cameron Details Arguments Against Scottish Independence, The New York Times, Feb. 16, 2012.

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Critical Analysis: International Movement to Ban Products Using Animal Research

A white mouse suffers from skin and eye irritation tests conducted in a research lab. (Care2.com)

A white mouse suffers from skin and eye irritation tests conducted in a research lab. (Care2.com)

It took 20 years of campaigning and several delays, but on March 11, 2013, the European Union law went in to effect to ban cosmetic products and their ingredients that use research on animals. The ban stipulates that no new products tested on animals will be imported in the EU. This ban will include products from skin cream and toothpaste to bleaches and air fresheners. The EU ban follows a similar import ban in Israel that went into effect in early January for toiletries, detergents, and cosmetics. These import bans mean that any company that uses animal testing for new cosmetics will no longer be able to sell those products in the EU or Israeli markets.

The EU cosmetic industry is estimated to be worth $91 billion per year. The import ban opens the question as to whether or not other countries will end up adopting the EU standard in order to compete in the market. India is one country that recently made some movement in response to the ban. In late February, Drug Controller General of India, Dr. GN Singh ordered animal testing for cosmetics to be indefinitely suspended. In addition, an elected representative, Baijayant Panda, is also urging India to follow the EU and Israel to set an example for cruelty-free products.

On the other hand, in China, the law mandates that manufacturers test products on animals before selling to consumers. This will put China at an economic disadvantage since they will not be able to sell those cosmetic items in Europe. However, the Chinese regulation also puts outside brands in a bind. If they wish to sell within China, it will require the companies to make exceptions to comply with the required animal testing. A company claiming to be cruelty-free but allowing Chinese regulators to test certain products on animals could tarnish a company’s image in the eyes of its consumers. For example, the Japanese cosmetic company Shiseido, responded to the EU ban by explaining that in April, it would only use animal testing in rare instances of safety concerns or for import to China.

The Humane Society describes some of the types of animal tests used for researching cosmetic chemicals include skin and eye irritation tests used on rabbits without pain relief, force-feeding tests to look for cancer or birth defects, and lethal dose tests that feed chemicals to animals to discover the dosage level that causes death. However, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine consider animal testing alternatives to be necessary because animal research is not effective and does not accurately predict the way the human body will react to chemicals it is given.

The European Commission has been researching alternatives since 1991 but formally established the European Union Reference Laboratory with the launch of the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods in 2011 to work towards reducing and replacing animals for chemical, biological, and vaccination safety testing. Animal alternatives include human volunteers for clinical studies, synthetic human tissue, computer simulation programs, or in vitro cell cultures. From 2007 to 2011, the European Commission made 238 million euros available to fund the research of alternative methods.

Despite the progress made, some people disagree with this view that alternatives are the better choice. Scientist Jennifer Sass of the Natural Resources Defense Council believes the alternatives cannot address all of the safety issues present. For example, synthetic skin tests will not indicate detrimental effects to the immune system. Furthermore, some scientists still firmly believe animal testing can be useful for humans in areas such as genetics, stem cell research, and the development of antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals. One German lawmaker, Ms. Roth-Behrendt, also believes the EU ban for cosmetics still provides companies with a loophole. She theorizes that if the ingredients tested on animals for non-cosmetic purposes, such as pharmaceuticals, the cosmetics companies could potentially use them. In addition, ingredients tested on animals prior to the ban will remain on the shelves. The EU remains firm on the ban however in hopes that scientists and regulators will collaborate and create innovative alternative methods.

It will be interesting to see whether other countries such as the U.S., Canada, Russia, or Brazil will adopt the EU standard to ban animal testing with cosmetics or if more corporations will voluntarily react to the changed law like Shiseido. Groups like PETA will likely continue to work closely on advocating for change in China; especially as science and technology progresses, animal advocates will hope that in time the laws will reflect a more humane method of research and development. It is possible that this EU ban will push more movement toward banning animal testing, not just for cosmetics, but also in other areas of safety testing such as medicine and pharmaceuticals.

Kristen Pariser is a 2L and Staff Editor for the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.

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David Cameron Wants Out of the EU: What are the Risks and Rewards?

The Treaty of Maastricht established the European Union (“the EU”) under its current name in 1993.[1]  The Treaty included a Social Chapter that laid “down EU policies on workers’ rights and other social issues.”[2]  The Treaty also established an economic and monetary union, which required the Member States to (1) coordinate their economic policies, (2) provide multilateral surveillance of the coordination, and (3) be subject to financial and budgetary discipline.[3]  The objective of monetary policy was to ensure the common currency’s “stability thanks to price stability and respect for the market economy.”[4]

Great Britain, however, has never adopted the EU’s single currency, opted out of the Treaty’s Social Chapter, “does not participate in Europe’s Schengen passport-free travel zone,” and “announced last year that it would opt out of a range of justice and security policy areas.”[5]

More specifically, Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, has voiced his frustration with the EU’s economic policies.[6]  Cameron has stated: “In the name of social protection, the EU has promoted unnecessary measures that impose burdens on businesses and government, and can destroy jobs.”[7]

Can't pick and choose these stars. (Borsen)

Can’t pick and choose these stars.
(Borsen)

Just a year after his very public criticisms, on January 23, 2013, Cameron announced that if his Conservative Party were to be reelected in 2015, he would either “reduce British entanglement with the EU – or allow his people to vote in a referendum to leave the bloc all together.”[8]

The response to Cameron’s announcement has been mixed globally.  In the Eurozone, however, the criticism has come quick.  French President Francois Hollande “told the European Parliament there can be no ‘a la carte’ attitude to the EU.  [ . . . ] National interests, he said in Strasbourg, risked taking precedence over the interests of the EU.”[9]  Hollande also noted that either Europe “must move forward together [. . . ] or we will not move forward at all.”[10]

This first look at the potential impacts of Cameron’s announcement focuses on Great Britain’s current role in the European Union and a few of the political costs that may not be worth any of Great Britain’s solo gains.

A General Overview of the EU

The main governing body, the European Commission, is the only body that can propose new laws for the EU.[11]  The Commission is made up of 27 Commissioners—one for each EU member country.[12]  The Commissioners are appointed by their home countries and are not popularly elected.[13]   “The number of Commissioners will be reduced in 2014, so that not every member-state will have its own Commissioner.”[14]

European citizens, however, directly elect the Members of European Parliament (“MEPs”).[15]  There are a total 736 MEPs, while only 72 are from the United Kingdom.[16]  According to the BBC, the MEPs as whole have the power to block, scrutinize, and change the laws proposed by the Commission, as well as approve or disapprove of the European Union’s budget.[17]

Finally, the EU Council of Ministers is where the national governments of all 27 Member states come together to debate and vote on both domestic and foreign policy.  In 2014, “Parliament will be put on an equal footing with the Council for most issues, including the crucial areas of the budget and agriculture, under a system dubbed the ‘co-decision.’”[18]

A recent New York Times article noted that while officially decisions are made by national governments in the complicated way described above, “[i]n practice, countries strike informal agreements and compromises, often trading support on one issue for a reciprocal agreement, sometimes in an unrelated area of policy.”[19]

Europe, You Stay Over There. (Mirror)

Europe, You Stay Over There.
(Mirror)

Great Britain’s Current Role

It is no secret that Britain has had a tenuous relationship with the EU despite its status as a Member State; even the giant piece of art that depicts each of the member countries represented on the EU Council of Ministers pokes fun at Great Britain by leaving the country off the mural.[20]

The Potential Gains & Losses

The following chart, originally compiled by BBC’s Brian Wheeler and Laurence Peter, lays out the arguments on both sides of the debate over Britain’s future relationship with the EU.[21] Only arguments pertinent to this posting remain and others have been removed.

Key Question

Better off out

Better off in

Are there any viable options for Britain leaving the EU? Yes. Britain could negotiate an “amicable divorce”, but retain strong trading links with EU nations. . . .Some favour the Swiss model, based on bi-lateral treaties with the EU rather than membership of the European Economic Area (EEA), a kind of “EU-lite”.Others say the EEA/Norway model would be easier as the UK is already a member of the free trade area. 

Some argue for a clean break from the EU, with the UK free to make trade deals with nations around the word.

No. An “amicable divorce” is a pipe dream.France, Germany and other leading EU nations would never allow Britain a “pick and mix” approach to the bloc’s rules.Norway and Switzerland have to abide by many EU rules without any influence over how they are formed.”If we weren’t in there helping write the rules they would be written without us – the biggest supporter of open markets and free trade – and we wouldn’t like the outcome,” argued David Cameron in a speech last year. 

If Britain went for a clean break from the EU, its exports would be subject to EU export tariffs and would still have to meet EU production standards.

 

What would be the impact on British jobs? With small and medium-sized firms freed from EU regulation, there could be a jobs boom. More than 90% of the UK economy is not involved in trade with the EU, yet still bears the burden of these rules, says the Bruges Group. The Eurosceptic think tank claims pulling out of the EU but staying in the EEA would create 1 million British jobs. Millions of jobs could be lost as global manufacturers move to low-cost countries within in the EU. Britain’s foreign-owned car industry would shift into the EU and sectors linked to membership such as aerospace would suffer. Airbus production could move to France and Germany, pro-EU commentators claim.
Would Britain save money?The UK paid £8.9bn into EU budget in 2010/11, says the Treasury, out of £706bn in public spending. Yes. It would save billions in membership fees, and end the “hidden tariff” paid by UK taxpayers when goods are exported to the EU, caused by red tape, waste, fraud and other factors.A study by UKIP MEP Gerard Batten claims the total cost to the UK of EU membership, when all these factors are taken into account, is £65.7bn a year. No. The UK’s contribution to the EU budget is a drop in the ocean compared with the benefits to business of being in the single market, says pressure group Business for New Europe.It could be costly for UK exporters if they face EU legal arguments against UK standards – there could be a lot more court cases.
What would be the effect on trade? “We will continue to trade with Europe, as part of an association of nation states,” says Eurosceptic Tory MP Bill Cash.The UK would also be free to establish bi-lateral trade agreements with fast-growing export markets such as China, Singapore, Brazil, Russia and India through the World Trade Organisation. The EU is the UK’s main trading partner, worth more than £400bn a year, or 52% of the total trade in goods and services.”The UK is always likely to be better positioned to secure beneficial trade deals as a member of the EU than as an individual and isolated player,” says Labour’s Europe spokeswoman Emma Reynolds.
Would the UK’s influence in the world change?  The UK would remain a key part of Nato and the UN Security Council and a nuclear power, with a powerful global voice in its own right. The Bruges Group wants an end to the “discredited” principle that Britain acts as a transatlantic bridge between the US and Europe, saying it should make self-reliance its guiding principle. Stripped of influence in Brussels, Berlin and Paris, Britain would find itself increasingly ignored by Washington and sidelined on big transnational issues such as the environment, security and trade.America and other allies want Britain to remain in the EU. The UK risks becoming a maverick, isolated state if it leaves.
Would taxes change? The EU has limited power over tax, which is largely a matter for national governments. The exception is VAT which has bands agreed at the EU level. Outside the EU, the UK would potentially have more flexibility. “Tax avoidance and evasion will reach crippling levels as our economy becomes increasingly wholly owned by foreign multinationals that make tax avoidance in Britain central to their business strategy,” claims The Observer in a recent editorial.
Would Britain’s legal system, democratic institutions and law-making process change? It would be a major shot in the arm for British democracy as the Westminster parliament regained its sovereignty and re-connected with voters.The country would be free from the European Arrest Warrant and other law and order measures, but would still have to deal with the European Court of Human Rights, which is separate from the EU. Britons benefit from EU employment laws and social protections, which would be stripped away. Withdrawal from the European Arrest Warrant could mean delays for the UK in extraditing suspects from other European countries; and the UK already has some opt-outs from EU labour law, including the Working Time Directive.

Conclusion

As EU budget talks heat up, many will be monitoring Britain’s bargaining effectiveness with Cameron’s comments looming over any budgetary talks. Since Cameron has sent the signal that Britain is not interested in any crucial positions within the EU, Britain may have already set itself up to have less bargaining power in the future.

Treana Hickey is a 3L at the Sturm College of Law and a Staff Editor on the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy 



[1] Treaty of Maastricht on European Union, http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/institutional_affairs/treaties/treaties_maastricht_en.htm

[2] Profile: European Union, BBC News, Nov. 30, 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18788906.

[3] Treaty of Maastricht on European Union, http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/institutional_affairs/treaties/treaties_maastricht_en.htm

[4] Id.

[5] Stephen Castle, Critical Stance on Europeans May Jeopardize Britain’s Influence, The New York Times DealBook, Ed. Andrew Ross Sorkin, Jan. 22, 2013.

[6] Id.

[7] Richard Fletcher, Davos 2012: David Cameron’s ‘stop tinkering’ call wins Britain few friends in Europe, The Telegraph, Jan. 26, 2013.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/davos/9041508/Davos-2012-David-Camerons-stop-tinkering-call-wins-Britain-few-friends-in-Europe.html.

[8] Andrew Higgins, Europe is Edgy as Cameron Seeks to Loosen Ties, The New York Times, Jan. 23, 2013.

[9] France’s Hollande rejects ‘a la carte’ attitude to EU, BBC News, Feb. 5, 2013,  

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21336397.

[10] Gavin Hewitt, France Takes Aim at Britain, BBC News, Feb, 5, 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21338499

[11] BBC News- Inside the European Commission, BBC News Video, April 28, 2009, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8021647.stm.

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[14] Profile: European Union, BBC News, Nov. 30, 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18788906.

[15] BBC News- How the European Parliament Works, BBC News Video, April 28, 2009, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8021660.stm.

[16] Id.

[17] Id.

[18] Profile: European Union, BBC News, Nov. 30, 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18788906.

[19] Stephen Castle, Critical Stance on Europeans May Jeopardize Britain’s Influence, The New York Times DealBook, Ed. Andrew Ross Sorkin, Jan. 22, 2013.

[20] Profile: European Union, BBC News, Nov. 30, 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18788906.  

[21] Brian Wheeler and Laurence Peter, The UK and EU: Better off out or in?, Jan. 16, 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20448450.

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Critical Analysis: EU Wins Nobel Peace Prize

The European Union flag. (CzechFolks.com)

Early on Friday, October 12, the Nobel Committee in Oslo surprised many by giving the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union or EU, rather than an individual. The peace prize is historically bestowed upon individuals like Mother Teresa and Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu for fighting injustice, ending wars, and helping people in need. Last year’s peace prize was shared by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, Liberian antiwar activist, Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkol Karman, a democracy activist in Yemen.

This year, the Norwegian panel weighed 231 nominations before deciding to award the 2012 Peace Prize to the EU, even as the supranational organization faces its most serious crisis since it emerged from the ruins of World War II. Speaking in Oslo, Thorbjørn Jagland, head of the Nobel committee, dismissed the EU’s problems, stating that the institution had been a force for peace both after the World War II, and following the bloody slaughter of the 1990s in the Balkans. Citing EU achievements, Jaglan proclaimed, the “main message is that we need to keep in mind what we have achieved on this continent, and not let the continent go into disintegration.”  Jagland cited several key EU achievements. He said another conflict between France and Germany was “unthinkable” following 70 years as close allies.

The EU is often described as a “family of democratic European countries, committed to working together for peace and prosperity.” The origins of peace in Europe lie in the alliance made between France and Germany that gave birth to the European Coal and Steel Community, a forerunner of the EU. The EU, which now claims 27 member states, came into formal existence through the Treaty on European Union, signed at Maastricht in 1991. Since the EU came into existence, the continent has seen consistent peace, and international security remains one of the EU’s top priorities, not just in Europe but in the rest of the world. In addition, the single market is probably the EU’s single biggest claim, though the two achievements seem to be interrelated.  In addition, the EU accounts for half of all global aid, €53.1bn last year alone.

However, the Nobel Committee’s announcement to give the peace prize to the EU was met with mixed reactions. On one hand, many politicians and world leaders praised the decision, as is evidenced by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble’s statement that “the award of the Nobel Prize of Peace to the European Union reminds us that the EU is endlessly more than [interest-rate] spreads and bailout funds.”  Likewise, José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, said the award proved that the European body was “something very precious.” Barroso also stated that the award was a “justified recognition” of a unique project that works for the benefit of its citizens and the world.

In contrast, others in the international community were not so pleased with the Committee’s decision, “mocking the award to an agglomeration of countries, many of which are in recession and internal turmoil.” Rania Svigkou, a spokeswoman for Greece’s Syriza party stated that the “award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU is an insult to the people of Europe themselves, who currently are experiencing an undeclared war as a result of the barbaric, anti-social austerity policies that are destroying social cohesion and democracy.” Likewise, Nigel Farage, a British Eurosceptic, allegedly remarked: “This goes to show the Norwegians really do have a sense of humor.” Another Brit, Martin Callanan, a member of the European Parliament and the leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, stated that “the Nobel committee is a little late for an April Fool’s joke,” further stating that the EU’s policies have exacerbated the financial crisis.

The Nobel Peace Prize Committee has made little secret that the prize is being given in part because of the current predicament that the EU finds itself in. In response to a question about the decision, the secretary of the Nobel Peace Prize stated that the Committee was trying to send a message to the European public, urging them “to secure what they have achieved on this continent.” Thus, it seems feasible that the Committee is giving the award, in part, as a means to plea for support of the endangered EU at a critical moment in the institution’s history.

Kate Hennessy is a 3L at the University of Denver School of Law and Staff Editor of the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy. 

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Critical Analysis: European Union Economic Position – Spanish Bailout

As the world market continues to struggle, Spanish Officials refuse aid for a possible bank bailout.  Spain’s Economy Minister, Luis de Guindos, spoke in Brussels regarding Spain’s economic position.  In responding to recent reports that Spain would be seeking a bailout for its banks, Mr. de Guindos stated, “I have absolutely not discussed any intervention in Spain’s banks today,” referring to the meeting in Brussels.  Responding to whether Spain would seek a future bailout from the EU, Mr. de Guindos said, “We are not preparing anything . . . we have a road map.”  While the Spanish Economy Minister’s comments bolstered the EU market, many speculators believe that a Spanish bailout is necessary and imminent.

Following the Spanish housing bubble of 2009, many Spanish banking institutions struggle to recover from their bad loans.  Currently, the Spanish banking sector is thought to need roughly between €50 and €100 billion from the EU.  However, Spanish officials are refusing to accept bailout conditions and, rather, seek to have any bailout money given directly to the Spanish banking sector.  As the Financial Times Deutschland wrote, “For months, the Spanish government has refused to make use of the bailout funds. Meanwhile, it has cried out ever more loudly for help. Apparently, the government believes that in their great distress they will be able to bypass the rules and still be helped out of the crisis. That may have to happen if the entire euro zone falls deeper into the abyss.”

Regardless, many EU member countries are ready to lend aid.  French Finance Minister, Pierre Moscovici, said at a Paris press conference that, “If Spain desires, we in the euro zone can mobilize rapidly.”   Additionally, EU members are confident that reasonable bailout conditions will be placed for the betterment of the EU.  Holger Schmiedeg, chief economist at Berenberg bank in London, predicts Europe, “will not impose onerous additional conditions on Spain,” and, “Once Spain has been granted 50 billion euros to recapitalize its domestic banks, the Spanish sovereign will be able to fund itself on the market again at bearable interest rates.”  Despite Spain’s reasoning behind its refusal to accept EU bailout money, the EU is in agreement that a necessary and imminent Spanish bailout needs to occur for the betterment of European market.

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

News Post: EU and US Impose Further Sanctions on Iran

By: Kaitlin Fox

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with nuclear scientists

The European Union (EU) and the United States took further action on Monday to curb Iran’s nuclear program.  The EU agreed to impose a phased ban on oil purchases from Iran while the United States expanded its sanctions on Iran to include the countries’ third largest bank, Bank Tajarat.  Iranian Government Officials reacted by reiterating their threat to close the Straight of Hormuz, in which twenty percent of the world’s oil passes.  It is unclear whether the EU and U.S. actions will prove effective.  Some speculate that Iran will simply turn to alternative markets while others sense that the sanctions will cause major damage to the Iranian economy.  Either way, recent events are certain to escalate tensions in the region.

The EU’s phased ban on oil purchases does not permit EU member states to enter into new contracts for Iranian oil.  However, countries that have existing contracts will have until July 1 to end those agreements.  The EU’s decision is meant to “force a shift in policy and avert the risk of military strikes against Tehran.”  The U.S.’s sanction against Bank Tejarat is poised to further restrict Iran’s access to the international financial market.  The Treasury, under the Secretary for Terrorism, David Cohen, stated that, “At a time when banks around the world are cutting off Iran and its currency is depreciating rapidly, today’s action against Bank Tejarat strikes at one of Iran’s few remaining access points to the international financial system.”   Thus far, Iran has had little regard for its international obligations, and both U.S. and EU officials hope that these moves will increase their cost of defiance.

The EU’s action represents a shift in policy, as the EU has been reluctant to impose an embargo on Iranian oil imports. The U.S. stopped importing oil from Iran years ago where as EU member states, including France, Italy, Greece and Spain, currently import approximately 600,000 barrels of oil per day from Iran..  The EU’s shift came after the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran was moving toward nuclear capability this fall.  The EU’s timeline to enforce its embargo coincides with the U.S. six-month timeframe, during which President Obama will need to decide whether to pursue sanctions on countries that import Iranian oil.    The effectiveness of recent action is unclear. Jamie Webster, a Middle East oil analyst at PFC Energy stated that the sanction could merely cause Iran to shift its customers and deliver more to Eastern markets.  What is clear, however, is that a drop in oil revenue would have a significant negative impact on an already weak Iranian economy.

Iran’s reaction to the EU and U.S. sanctions was defiant and almost skeptical.  Officials in Tehran insisted that the EU needed Iranian oil more than Iran needed its business.  Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi stated that, “The West’s ineffective sanctions against the Islamic state are not a threat to us. They are opportunities and have already brought lots of benefits to the country.”  The particular benefits he refers to are undefined and other officials in the region fear grave consequences of Iran’s hard-line approach.  Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Britian, Prince Mohammad Bin Nawaf, expressed his concern that Iran’s threat to block the Straight of Hormuz would have grave consequences on the region and would undoubtedly escalate the entire situation to the detriment of Iranian citizens.  http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/24/us-iran-idUSTRE80N0YB20120124  If Iran’s attitude remains unchanged, the situation will certainly escalate as evidenced by the United States sailing an aircraft carrier through the straight, accompanied by British and French warships on Sunday.  The United States has asserted that, “it would not tolerate the closure of the world’s most important oil shipping gateway.” http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/24/us-iran-idUSTRE80N0YB20120124

Amidst this turmoil, it remains in controversy: do sanctions actually work?  Sanctions are appealing to governments like the U.S. and the EU.  In theory, sanctions force policy by blocking money from flowing in and out of a country, and thus forcing the sanctioned government to give in to political pressure.  On the surface, this seems like a much better option than forcing the issue through military action whilst risking American lives.  However, it is arguable whether sanctions do more harm to the citizens of the sanctioned country than to the governments they attempt to influence.  In this case, Iranian citizens already suffer from a weak economy and an oppressive government and it is likely that these sanctions will enhance these problems by further devaluing the currency and increasing oil prices.  The goal of these sanctions is to persuade the Iranian government to halt its nuclear program; but with the imminent risk of further stirring tension in the region and without any guarantee of success, there is the possibility that sanctions may do more harm than good.

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