Sunday, June 21, 2009

Jib Jab's Barrack Obama

It' a Bird...It's a Plane, It's Barrack Obama!
(He's Come to Save the Day!)
from Jib Jab

Got a kick out of Jib Jab's latest "Jab" and thought I'd share if you hadn't seen it already...

For entertainment purposes only :--)

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GRTU Backs EC complaint Against Visa Europe

The corporate lawyers at Visa have a busy year ahead of them...

GRTU (General Retailers and Traders Union) backs EuroCommerce’s complaint against Visa Europe
12 years after its initial complaint against Visa and MasterCard, EuroCommerce is lodging a new complaint against Visa Europe.

The European retail association argues that the fees set by Visa and its member banks and imposed on retailers, constitute an infringement of European competition law. It was the imposition of exactly such fees which led the European Commission to rule against MasterCard in December 2007. EuroCommerce calls for the same robust decision against Visa.

At the core of the complaint is the Multilateral Interchange Fee (MIF): when a customer pays with a Visa debit or credit card, the merchant has to pay to his bank a non-negotiable and completely opaque amount. The fact that retailers pay for benefits which go to others distorts competition between banks: the more banks compete, the higher the prices.

Furthermore, EuroCommerce does not regard new rates published by Visa on 11 March, 2009 as a fair amount either, while MasterCard rates on cross-border transactions are zero. Studies published by the banks themselves show that the cost of running a pan-European debit card, profit included, is not higher than 1 eurocent per transaction.

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EU Contends US Internet Gambling Laws Create Adverse Trade Effects for Malta

EU contends US Internet gambling laws create ‘adverse trade effects’ for Malta

When arguing its case against the United States’ Internet gambling laws with the World Trade Organisation, the European Commission highlighted the example of Malta as a case in point demonstrating the ‘adverse trade effects’, within the syntax of the Trade Barriers Regulation, the situation is having on the Maltese economy.

In its report on US laws on remote gambling and their enforcement against EU companies, following an investigation into the US measures and how they are affecting foreign suppliers of Internet gambling services, the European Commission has concluded that the US measures constitute an obstacle to trade that is inconsistent with WTO rules.

The EC highlighted the cases of Malta, the UK and Gibraltar, and, to a lesser extent, those of Ireland, Sweden, Cyprus and Austria.

Focusing on Malta, the report found that, “As a result of the obstacle to trade, Malta has suffered a non quantified but significant negative impact on its economic activity and employment.”

It added, “According to data provided by Malta’s government to the Commission services during the investigation, the contribution of the gaming industry to Malta’s GDP in 2007 was 5.4 per cent, and 6.3 per cent of the total gross value added of the Maltese economy. Moreover, the sector in Malta had a 12 per cent market share of the industry in 2007, and employed a total of 1,882 staff as of June 2008.”

The report concludes that the US measures constitute an obstacle to trade that is inconsistent with WTO rules. As a result, WTO proceedings would be justified. At the same time, the report suggests that the issue should be addressed to the US Administration, with a view to finding a negotiated solution.

European online gambling and betting companies left the US market in 2006, but still suffer legal proceedings by US authorities based on their past activities on the US market. The report comes to the conclusion that these proceedings are legally unjustified as well as discriminatory, because the activities of EU companies took place under the cover of US WTO commitments.

Although WTO proceedings would be justified on the basis of the report, this is not an automatic consequence. The European Commission will now seek a satisfactory solution to its concerns through dialogue with the US Administration...

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