Bosses show little backing for Byrne

first_img“If we are the ‘main business representative body’ [as Byrne described them] then we are surprised that the Commissioner keeps reporting that there is ‘broad support’ for the plan,” said Chauvin.“That is because, from the very outset, UNICE has expressed high scepticism and has asked, from the very beginning, for clarification. “Maybe it’s time to get that clarification. The reform Byrne is proposing is far-reaching and could have an impact not only on consumers but the whole internal market. But we have not had a satisfactory response and we are not in a position to support it.”Chauvin admitted that industry was encouraged by Byrne’s initial promise to replace some of a patchwork of EU consumer protection laws covering many sectors with a single framework directive that would force companies to trade fairly with their customers.But he said this plan appears to have been scaled back and that the new directive might be an extra layer of red tape that will make life more complicated for companies – particularly small firms. “Now they [Byrne and his officials] are saying the broad framework could co-exist…it is changing, and moving like an amoeba – but the contours are not shaped,” added Chauvin. The linchpin of Byrne’s plan – to be in place when he leaves the Commission in 2004 – is a framework directive that would force businesses from plumbers to e-commerce bookstores to abide by common levels of ‘fairness’ in their dealings with customers. In an interview with European Voice last week, Byrne said a green paper outlining his proposals had received “a very good response” from business groups. However Jérôme Chauvin, head of company affairs at Brussels-based EU employers’ federation UNICE, suggested the Irish Commissioner’s statement was overly positive. The business group said it also has concerns over the way the Byrne blueprint will fit in with other pressing areas of EU policy.These include Commission President Romano Prodi’s proposals on European governance, the Convention on the future of Europe and a separate initiative on sales promotions, launched by Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein.At the same time, UNICE said it was unclear how Byrne’s plans would affect industry’s efforts to police itself.last_img read more

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