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Web sites mentioned in this issue are available at:
|EU Code Week||http://codeweek.eu/|
|‘Painting a Safer Europe’ video||https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zs8oPSXdU5U|
|EU Youth Guarantee: first steps taken but implementation risks ahead||http://www.eca.europa.eu/en/Pages/DocItem.aspx?did=31500|
THE ONLINE INTERACTIVE RISK ASSESSMENT (OiRA) has been extended to live entertainment. Starting with the leather industry (see issue 61) the health and safety tool has spread to cleaning, hairdressing and private security at EU level with many other industries covered in individual countries. Now the live performance sector has launched two new online resources, one for venues and one for productions, in the appropriate surroundings of a theatre in Brussels. The European social partners in the industry, employers Pearle and trade union federation EAEA, have developed a series of question and answer web pages specially adapted to the stunts and performances on the stage, the chemical and hazardous substances that may be used in special effects, frequent high noise levels and the presence of an audience. Once the questions have been answered the user can print out the recommendations and add to them by walking around the workplace and talking to workers and union reps. Anita Debaere, director of Pearle which has some 7,000 members said ‘The tools help every company (in particular those … small and medium sized … ) to consider implementing a health and safety policy … to take measures which minimise and avoid risks’ while Dearbhal Murphy for the EAEA added ‘The real aim is to help to develop a culture of risk assessment in the sector by simplifying the process and making it part of everyday working’.
e-Books court ruling stirs VAT pot
THE EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE (ECJ) recently threw a scare into two sensitive EU policy areas. Its decision on France’s and Luxembourg’s V.A.T. regimes for books is likely to have repercussions for both the Europe-wide tax regime and the European Commission’s fond hopes for a digital single market. The two countries, along with other Member States, levy a reduced tax rate on books, respectively 5.5% and 3% and extended this to the electronic versions; the ECJ found this contravened the EU V.A.T. directive. The immediate consequence will be the resetting of V.A.T. on eBooks in France at the usual rate of 20%, however the court’s verdict has stirred up doubts about the way the tax is applied in general in the EU. Different countries choose different sectors for reduction, for example hotels in Bulgaria or night clubs in Malta, and while these might not affect competition in the single market, companies selling eBooks are interested in basing their operation in the lowest-taxed area. It is thought that the U.S. giant Amazon decided to have its European H.Q. in Luxembourg for this reason. Although EU Commissioner Ansip believes that a harmonised EU digital market would boost the economy by €300 billion (see issue 71) this will not happen without ‘Fiscal neutrality in terms of similar goods being sold in their physical or digital form’ according to the current holder of the EU presidency which happens to be Luxembourg. It seems that only a reformed EU directive can solve the problem but this is especially hard to organise in tax matters as all 28 Member States must vote in favour. Nonetheless the Commission is preparing a ‘broader VAT reform’ in the words of a spokesperson.
|EU Code week enlists big names for grass-roots digital agenda|
|LAST MONTH THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION SUPPORTED a week of events designed to encourage people to learn how to write the instructions that control computers known as code or source code. Started in 2013 by the Young Advisors for the Digital Agenda the week focuses, though not exclusively, on children and young people, and consists of thousands of workshops, lessons, seminars and other activities throughout Europe. The ability to code is thought not only to ready young people for a job in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), in which there are forecast to be 825,000 vacancies by 2020, but also to improve problem-solving skills, collaboration and creativity. The organisations involved in the week’s events range from grass-roots education movements such as CoderDojo and RailsGirls to the well-known digital giants Google and Microsoft who are members of the Commission’s Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs. This year Code Week has spread from the 28 EU Member States to 20 others from Africa to Japan and the U.S.A.|