Europe and the train of the Digital Single Market

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by Isabel Espín, Professor at the Law School of Universidade de Santiago de Compostela

The European Union must not miss the train of a true digital single market that will keep the momentum of its important digital content industry and make it more competitive without losing the essence of European cultural identity.

The Communication from the Commission on a strategy for the Single Digital Market in Europe of 6 May 2015 takes account of this and calls for a comprehensive legislative reform in order to combat fragmentation and barriers in the European digital market, a situation that has been affecting Europe’s leadership capacity in the global digital economy.

The basis for such regulatory initiatives are Article 4 (2) (a) and Articles 26, 27, 114 and 115 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. There are many topics involved in a comprehensive and integrated single market initiative: data protection, e-commerce, consumer protection, access (broadband and interoperability), competition law, taxation, etc.

From the point of view of copyright, the Commission’s communication on promoting a European economy founded on fair, efficient and competitive copyright in the digital single market, of 14 September 2016, is the instrument that point out the initiatives concerning the protection of copyright in the digital single market. Such initiatives are: the Proposal for a Regulation regulating copyright and related rights for online television broadcasts and rebroadcasts on online TV and radio programs; Proposal for a Regulation governing the exchange of accessible copies between the EU and third countries part of the Marrakesh Treaty; Proposal for a Directive to facilitate access to public works for blind and or visually impaired persons (Marrakech Treaty).

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Pharmaceutical Crime and E-Commerce: a Portuguese Overview

 

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by João Fidalgo Jorge, Lawyer and Collaborating Member of CEDU

In 2003, the European Court of Justice declared that a comprehensive ban on the mail-order sales of freely available pharmaceuticals was contrary to European Law (Case C-322/01, 11 December 2003 – the so called “Doc Morris decision”). In reaction to this decision, the German parliament went beyond the court’s ruling, and the Statutory Health Insurance Modernization Act 2004 (“GKV-Modernisierungsgesetz vom 01.01.2004”) opened the door to mail-order and online sales of prescription drugs as well. Some 10 years later, the Research Project on Internet Commerce and Pharmaceutical Crime (ALPhA – http://www.alpha.uni-osnabrueck.de) was born in Osnabrück, under the coordination of Prof. Dr. Arndt Sinn: part of the research programme of the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) on public safety, this joint project is funded by the “Public Safety and White-Collar Crime” branch of the programme. The project builds on the ministry’s stated aim of using the results of the research programme to preserve and increase public safety in the face of increasing white-collar crime without compromising the principles of the rule of law.

In Portugal, the Doc Morris decision effects generated some legal and policy discussions on the subject. This reaction ultimately led to new legislation which provides that retail pharmacies (and similar sales points) may now provide the remote selling of medicines, through their websites – even to consumers currently living in other member states of the European Union, under the conditions laid down on Article 9-A of the Decreto-Lei nº 307/2007 (from 31/08). The use of an electronic website depends on prior notification to the National Institute of Pharmacy and Pharmaceuticals (INFARMED), which created and is responsible for the management of an official list of all licensed Internet pharmacies. The INFARMED then monitors the Internet presence of pharmacies engaged in remote selling, in collaboration with the pharmacies themselves and also other entities (such as the criminal police), according to Articles 9-A and 45 of the mentioned DL 307/2007 – as well as the rules established by the Portaria nº 1427/2007, from 02/11.

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