European Union

Will new EU digital regulations lead us to innovation or stagnation?

A recent event organised by the Consumer Choice Center looked at the role the Digital Services and Markets Acts will play in shaping Europe’s digital innovation future.

In December 2020, the European Commission presented the Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA). Both are aimed at regulating digital platforms, however, it remains unclear whether they will succeed in boosting innovation in the EU and ensuring fair rules of the game for all participants.

In particular, the DMA puts in place a series of ex-ante restrictions telling tech platforms how to behave and introduces a new “competition tool”. Although noble in its intentions, the worry is that the Act might fail to strike a balance between the need to incentivise European SMEs to innovate while preserving our freedom to choose services delivered by so-called “Big Tech” without excessive burdens.

On 3 March, the Consumer Choice Center hosted a high-level debate on the future of digital innovation in Europe and the role the said acts will play in shaping it. Below are some of the main points raised by our panellists.

“We need to ensure that the DMA doesn’t turn into an anti-American notion. The DMA must not be a protectionist tool used against companies from certain countries, and this is something I will keep an eye on as we move forward with the digital market reform. Digital innovation requires us to stay open, and this is only possible if we cooperate internationally, especially with our democratic partners such as the US. Small players will benefit from this too. However, safeguarding fair competition is pivotal, and that has to be at the centre of our DMA efforts,” said Svenja Hahn, a Member of the European Parliament for Germany (Renew Europe Group).

Eglė Markevičiūtė, Vice Minister at the Ministry of the Economy and Innovation of the Republic of Lithuania, joined the event in her personal capacity to comment on how to improve the alignment on data protection when it comes to the DSA and DMA. “There really is a need for greater flexibility on the enforcement and specific obligations when moving towards a set of criteria that would be applicable over a wide range of platforms and service providers. The goal is not to restrain big online platforms as a source of potential danger but to ensure that consumers as well as small and medium enterprises are protected,” she said.

“Digital innovation requires us to stay open, and this is only possible if we cooperate internationally, especially with our democratic partners such as the US” Svenja Hahn (DE, RE)

“I think the Commission sets out in the DMA to allow platforms to unlock their full potential by harmonising national rules so as to allow end users and business users alike to reap the full benefits of the platform economy and the digital economy at large. What is needed at the EU level is to ensure that harmonisation. To achieve that, I think you have to use objectives and administered rules as you can’t use very subjective or ambiguous standards,” added Kay Jebelli of the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA).

“In the United States we tend to look at things around antitrust or competition using the consumer welfare standard which is basically the question of who’s being harmed. Europe, on the contrary, follows a more precautionary principle that can be summed up as ‘can we get ahead of what we think potential harm might be’, and the American mindset tends to be like ‘why do you want to regulate inefficiency into the system’,” said Shane Tews, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

With the world of technology constantly evolving, it is crucial that the European Union is able to keep up with latest developments, thereby providing European consumers with a wide array of choices.

Originally published here

European Green Deal wird für Verbraucher teuer werden

Eine Folgenabschätzung der Europäischen Kommission legt die Kosten des “European Green Deal” dar – für Verbraucher wird es wohl teuer werden. Von Gastautor Fred Röder.

Der für den Green Deal zuständige Exekutiv-Vizepräsident der EU-Kommission Frans Timmermans bei einer Pressekonferenz, Quelle: Shutterstock

Der European Green Deal (EGD) ist einer der Eckpfeiler der Von der Leyen-Kommission in Brüssel. Es ist in den letzten Jahren klar geworden, dass es größeren Wählerdruck gibt um eine grünere Politik zu betreiben. Auf EU-Ebene hat dies zu hitzigen Debatten beim Thema Freihandel, Landwirtschaftsreformen und Emissionshandel geführt.

Der EGD ist ehrgeizig – er strebt an, bis 2050 null Nettoemissionen zu erreichen, wobei “Wirtschaftswachstum von der Ressourcennutzung abgekoppelt” werden soll. Dies soll durch Strukturreformen im Bereich der Landwirtschaft, die Entkarbonisierung des Energiesektors und die Einführung neuer Besteuerungssysteme zur Vermeidung nicht-nachhaltiger Importe nach Europa erreicht werden. Eine entscheidende Frage wird jedoch ausgeklammert:: zu welchen Kosten? Die zusätzlichen Ausgaben für die Europäische Union werden sich auf satte 260 Milliarden Euro pro Jahr (zwischen 2020 und 2030) belaufen. Es wird allerdings nicht nur der EU-Haushalt belastet, sondern direkten Kosten für Verbraucher werden ebenfalls steigen.

Ende September hat die Europäische Kommission eine Folgenabschätzungsstudie veröffentlicht. deren Ergebnisse sowohl von der Kommission als auch in der breiteren Medienlandschaft weitgehend ignoriert wurden. Das ist jedoch überraschend, denn in fast allen Modellen kommt es zu einem Rückgang des europäischen Bruttoinlandsprodukts. Die teilweise gravierenden Einbrüche werden vor allem durch Rückgänge bei Beschäftigung, Konsum und Exporten verursacht. Besonders verheerend wird der wirtschaftliche Schaden für die Mitgliedstaaten sein, die stark von Exportindustrien abhängig sind und für viele Menschen mit begrenzten Wiederbeschäftigungsmöglichkeiten in diesen Ländern. Deshalb wird insbesondere Deutschland die Folgen dieser Politik zu spüren bekommen Als Exportnation wird es Deutschland härter treffen als weniger von Industrie abhängige Länder..

Bereits bestehenden soziale Ungleichheiten werden durch steigenden Energiepreise für Verbraucher noch extremer werden. Wie die Energiewende in Deutschland bereits zeigte, hat ein überstürzter Umstieg  erneuerbaren Energiequellen, der über Subventionsprogramme und nicht Verbrauchernachfrage erfolgte, die Energiepreise für die Verbraucher stark erhöht. In der Folgenabschätzung der Kommission wird dies anerkannt, allerdings in einer Formulierung die von wenig Mitgefühl für die betroffenen Bürger zeugt: “Ein Nachteil aus sozialer Sicht sind die höheren Energiepreise für die Verbraucher”. Es als “Nachteil” zu bezeichnen, wird den immensen Kosten für einkommensschwache Verbraucher nicht gerecht.

In der Debatte um den European Green Deal wird häufig davon gesprochen, dass umweltpolitische Veränderungen die Schaffung von Arbeitsplätzen und Wohlstand ermöglichen. EGD-Superkommissar Frans Timmermans spricht gerne von “grünen Arbeitsplätzen” und bezieht sich dabei auf die Möglichkeiten, die durch die Pläne der Kommission geschaffen werden. Anstatt dass ihn die COVID-19-Krise einen sanften Ton anschlagen lässt, meint Timmermans, dass “unsere Antwort auf die Covid-19-Krise es uns ermöglicht, Arbeitsplätze nicht für Jahre, sondern für Jahrzehnte zu retten und neue Arbeitsplätze zu schaffen. Wir werden vielleicht nie wieder so viel ausgeben können, um unsere Wirtschaft wieder anzukurbeln – und ich hoffe, dass wir das nie wieder tun müssen”. Wird er es sich jetzt noch einmal überlegen, nachdem die Folgenabschätzung seiner eigenen Kommission drei Wochen nach seiner Rede ergeben hat, dass die Kosten für diese Strategie erheblich sind und insbesondere die unteren Einkommensschichten treffen werden?

Angesichts der angespannten Lage, in der die Wirtschaft und dadurch auch die Bürger besonders leiden, sollten die Diskussion um die Energiewende, wie die des EGD, alle relevanten Aspekte beinhalten – auch die negativen Auswirkungen auf die Konsumenten. Natürlich kann man meinen, dass die Kosten des EU-Plans im Angesicht der klimapolitischen Ziele gerechtfertigt sind, doch man sollte dabei nicht vertuschen, dass Verbraucher, Arbeiter, und kleine Unternehmer besonders unter diesen Entscheidungen leiden werden. Eine offene Diskussion im Sinner der Prinzipien Transparenz und verantwortlicher Regierungsführung ist notwendig, bevor Millionen von Menschen die Rechnung für diese Energiepolitik vorgelegt bekommen.

Originally published here.

Post-Brexit opportunity: making the internet less annoying

They’re cookies, and they’re not the delicious kind: internet cookies pop up on every new website we click on. The pop-up often says something like this: “We use cookies to help our site work, to understand how it is used, and to tailor the adverts presented on our site. By clicking “Accept” below, you agree to us doing so. You can read more in our cookie notice. Or, if you do not agree, you can click “Manage” below to access other choices.” What cookies do essentially is store information on your device on how and where you navigate on their website.

When retrieving the information from your device, the website knows what particularly caught your eye, and they can improve their website structure or marketing based on this data. However, cookies can also be useful to the user, in that it stores your password, and keeps you logged into your favourite social media platform or airline account. The way rules are today, you need to opt-in to allowing cookies to be stored.

It wasn’t always that way. Prior to the “Citizen’s Rights Directive“, users were assumed to having opted-in to the sites cookie policy, automatically and then explicitly opted-out if they wished. In 2009, this directive changed the approach from an opt-out to an opt-in, as it was with the privacy directive since 2002. This has created a wave of annoying pop-ups, that can sometimes block half the screen, and deteriorate user experience.

Part of the directive sets the rules regarding cookie consent, and only implies two instances for implicit consent (meaning you are assumed consenting to the use of cookies), both relating to providing a service that the user specifically requested. For instance, an online shop remembering what you put into your shopping cart, does not need explicit consent.

The reformed privacy regulation of the European Union – ePrivacy Regulation – is set to come into effect this year, but no reform of cookie consent riles is planned. This would continue the cycle of annoying cookies. However, implementations can vary. Germany has an opt-out approach, so long as data collected by cookies immediately undergo pseudonymisation and are kept in a pseudonymised state. Your cookie disclaimer in Germany will also always state that continued use of the website implies consent.

But there is an easier option already on the market. A well-reflected reform would put all cookie use under implicit consent, with the knowledge that users can use often free and already existing software that allows them to opt-out of all cookie use that they deem unsuited for them. This allows consumers to take their data use into their own hands, without an unnecessary and ineffective pop-up on every website. This could also be an integrated feature in browsers, that would allow consumers to easily navigate their privacy rules in one centralised place.

This represents yet another way in which regulatory independence would allow the UK to diverge from bad EU policies.

Bill Wirtz is a Senior Policy Analyst for the Consumer Choice Centre.

Originally published here

MERCOSUR: More opportunities for the EU

EU-Mercosur agreement will significantly boost trade between the EU and the Mercosur bloc. By giving the Mercosur bloc a preferential access to the European food market, the deal would allow European consumers to enjoy a greater choice of beef, poultry, sugar, and honey at a lower price. The EU-Mercosur FTA is undoubtedly a big win for consumer choice.

Attempts to block it on the grounds of climate change not only undermine the significance of this opportunity but also fail to realise the benefits following from this new trade relationship. These are numerous on both ends and include exports too. Duties on exports of wine and industrial goods from the EU would be reduced, meaning that the deal would give European exporters a considerable access to the Southern Common Market.

This should be kept in mind when considering voices against the deal: the EU would pass on the opportunity to grow, foster a closer relationship with a fast-growing foreign partner, and, most importantly, to bring cheaper products to consumers in the 4 Mercosur countries.

Moreover, in terms of much-feared agricultural imports, the deal would define a number of food imports that can be imported tariff-free or at a lower rate. Free trade agreements do not mean an unrestricted flow of goods from abroad. They aim to expand trade while retaining some regulations and keeping in mind potential challenges for domestic producers brought about by foreign competition.

Farmers should adapt to reality

Though these fears raised by farmers across the EU are highly exaggerated. For instance, in 2017, the EU produced about 15.0 million tonnes of poultry meat. Under the EU-Mercosur FTA, only 180,000 tonnes of poultry from the Mercosur would be allowed to be imported tariff-free. The numbers and rates are different and do take into consideration the state of food production in the EU. Therefore, seeing the deal as a dark hour for the agricultural sector in the EU is rather unjustified.

For the Mercosur countries, the historic deal with the EU would open the door to many other trade agreements across the world. Concluding a big trade agreement with such an important player in the field of international trade as the EU would attract other countries to the Mercosur and increase its bargaining power for future trade negotiations. Additionally, the deal would also encourage investments as well as boost consumer choice and enhance international cooperation.

Overall, the EU-Mercosur deal is an exciting opportunity for the EU to put the interests of European consumers first and to send a powerful pro-trade, pro-cooperation message to the world.

Read more here

The EU-Mercosur deal is a chance to put consumers first

The free trade agreement between the European Union and the South American trading bloc Mercosur (namely Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay) should be celebrated by consumers across the EU. Ideally, by dining out on the suddenly more affordable beef, poultry, sugar, and honey imported from the Mercosur countries. But before that meal comes, the EU-Mercosur free trade agreement (FTA) must undergo a complex ratification process.

Much has been said about the significance of the deal, and not without a reason: it’s a historic event. With 93% of tariffs to be scrapped on both sides, the agreement will not only put cheaper and more diverse products on the shelves, it will also send a powerful pro-trade message to the world.

There have not been many significant global trade agreements since the Uruguay Round of 1986-1993. Every FTA should be thought of as an attempt to put consumers first. The fact that after 20 years of negotiations, the EU-Mercosur deal had been finally concluded signals a crucial thing: the EU has changed the rules of the game in favour of consumers and weakened the power of protectionists. This is a momentous victory as the EU’s determination to protect domestic agriculture is well known and it has blocked numerous trade deals to date.

Winning the battle, however, is far from winning the war. The agricultural lobby will strike again on a member state level, and it is essential that national governments do not fall prey to their calls for special protection. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has already voiced his concerns that the deal would hurt the beef sector, which is why Ireland is inclined to vote against the deal. Yet the Mercosur bloc would only be able to export 99,000 tonnes of beef into Europe annually, with an average tariff of 7.5 per cent. Since Ireland alone produces 520,000 tonnes of beef annually, Varadkar’s opposition to the deal seems political rather than economic.

All deals involve compromise and difficult choices. In terms of FTAs, the choice is either to protect a vulnerable sector from foreign competition at the expense of consumers, or to shift the benefits to consumers by weakening vested interests. By choosing the former, opponents of the EU-Mercosur FTA would prevent consumers from enjoying lower prices and, therefore, make them bear the costs. Not only is this unfair since consumers are a far larger group, but it also means that choosing protection is more politically profitable.

Why? Because there is an asymmetry of information in place: protected industries know what they are going to lose as a result of free trade agreements while consumers are unaware of how they might benefit them. They therefore have little incentive to organise against protectionists which allows policymakers to act at the whim of special interests.

It cannot go on like this anymore. The failure of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations and the hostile uncertainty around the current trade negotiations between the EU and the US are signs that the interests of European consumers have been ignored for too long. The EU-Mercosur deal is an fantastic opportunity to finally put consumers first.

The deal is perceived as a threat by many because they fail to recognise there is a difference between ‘free trade’ and a ‘free trade agreement’. Free trade is the unhindered flow of domestic and foreign goods, and FTAs are far from this ideal. Trade agreements these days cover a broad spectrum of issues and represent a commitment to trade liberalisation mixed with a need to retain some regulations.

It’s also important to remember that all changes following from the deal would be implemented over the course of five years. This would give domestic producers time to prepare for an increase in supply from abroad. In the meantime, consumers should keep an eye on the ratification process and continue to emphasise the values of international trade. Trade is about interstate cooperation, increased choice, and cheaper products. Trade agreements such as the EU-Mercosur deal make the world more open, more interconnected, and more peaceful. Now that is something worth celebrating.

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Interview with Fred Roeder, an overview of the European medication Market

European elections 2019: science at the polls

In the context of the European elections, European Scientist is bringing you an overview of experts from different countries on various topics around science and science policy in Europe, in order to provide a panorama and analysis, which will be useful for the next commission.

The Europeans Scientist: What does the European medication Market looks like at the moment? How about the regulation?

After the United States, Europe is the most important and innovative region for pharmaceutical breakthroughs. Five out of ten of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies are based in Europe (though only two of them in the EU after Brexit). The regulation and access to medicines in Europe is partially regulated by the EU and partially by Member States. To understand this better it’s important to distinct between mere market authorization, which allows a drug manufacturer to sell its product in a country and pricing and reimbursement decisions which determine the price of the drug and whether the public health insurance covers it.

Market access decisions are either made by the EU or at least regulated uniformly. While the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is currently busy with moving from London to Amsterdam, it has also a central role in the medicines approval system within the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. If a pharmaceutical company seeks marketing authorization for an innovative drug in even just one EU Member State it has (in most cases) to apply centrally at the EMA for a marketing authorization. Generics and other medicines can be approved by national medicines agencies through either a decentralized method or by mutual recognition of existing marketing approvals in other Member States.

The decision on how much a pharmaceutical company, a wholesaler, and pharmacies can actually charge for drugs is made on either member state level or even on lower regional levels. Traditionally wealthier countries pay higher prices for drugs and cover more innovative medicine than less wealthy member states. There has been recently a push by Italy and also the World Health Organization to bring price controls on to a supranational level. Several EU countries already collaborate in the hope to have a higher bargaining power against pharmaceutical companies in the price negotiations.

ES: Is there a model to follow? Do you recommend more regulation and harmonisation or do you think that each state should keep its difference?

Different numbers show that innovative pharmaceutical companies make over 50% of their global profits in the United States. This has historically allowed Europe to have lower drug prices than the US. The current aggressive moves to bring drug prices even further down in several EU countries might severely harm the future pipeline for innovation in Europe. As a patient I am of course interested in cost control but I am even more interested in new drugs that are able to cure diseases we currently can’t treat. Many politicians run a populist train of cutting profits for pharmaceutical companies. This sounds first sexy but might jeopardize future scientific breakthroughs.

ES: What are your recommendations for the next Commission?

During the stalled TTIP talks there were good idea about more regulatory harmonization between the US FDA and Europe’s EMA. It would be good if the next Commission picks up these conversations and pushes for mutually recognizing market approvals of FDA and EMA. This would put both regulators under competitive pressure: Drug companies would seek approval first at the regulator that promises a better market approval process. Patients in this jurisdiction would benefit from life-saving innovative drugs being earlier available. Another important area were we still need improvements is to allow more patients to have access to potentially life-saving drugs that have not been approved by regulators yet. This is called compassionate use – One of these programs got recently approved in the United States and is called Right to Try. A terminally ill patient should have the right to try experimental (and potential unsafe) medicine if there’s a chance that this drug would save his or her life.  At the same time the Commission should refrain from pushing for unified drug prices in the EU.

Right now less affluent Member States benefit from high drug prices in the ‘North’. If there’s regulatory push to bring drug prices down to the smallest common denominator we risk that some innovative medicines companies just pull out of Europe entirely or massively delay the launch of their drugs in Europe.

Fred Roeder is a Health Economist and Managing Director of the Consumer Choice Center

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#JunkScience is entering courtrooms at expense of consumers

One of the most notable features of modern politics is how much easier it is today to be ‘involved’ in one way or another. That’s great. I’ve personally spent much of my energy in the past couple of years campaigning for better political education and other policies which do exactly that. Today, you can reach thousands of people through social media and have genuine influence with a single vote being cast for you – or by having any real-life experience in the areas you criticize, writes Matt Gillow.

One of the dark sides to that, however, is that much is commented on instantaneously – and people are encouraged to think with their gut in a split-second. That’s what gets retweets. All too often, lawmakers are basing their judgement on emotion and how social media will react, rather than cold, hard evidence and scientific fact.

The recent European Court of Justice ruling, which obliged the European Food Safety Authority to release a wealth of commercially sensitive data on the pesticide glyphosate, is the perfect example of split-second decision making which fails to pay heed to the evidence. Whilst encouraging greater transparency for consumers to make decisions is a good thing, the ruling raises intellectual property issues, acquiesces to lobbyists, and ignores the fact that many companies – which produce and sell products with pesticides like glyphosate – actually voluntarily release much of the information requested anyway. To top it all off – the ruling is based on junk science espoused by lobbyists and demonises safe products – to the detriment of the consumer.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer was instrumental in the verdict by adding glyphosate to a list of things considered carcinogenic. IARC’s list of carcinogenic products include chemicals found in carrots, celery, lettuce, jasmine tea and aloe vera – to name a few. The US House Committee on Space, Science and Technology, which has stated the IARC finding on glyphosate is an “affront to scientific integrity that bred distrust and confusion,” requested that (now former) IARC Director Christopher Wild appear before the Committee. Wild refused to testify, and his successor, Elizabete Weiderpass, has not responded.

The fundamental problem is that IARC misrepresents the relationship between hazard and risk. Risk is the hazard in question, paired with the degree of exposure to that hazard. In a practical example: a road is a hazard to pedestrians because while crossing it, you can get hit. However, identifying the real risk implies knowing whether people actually cross this street, and depends on the level of care they take while doing so.

For the agency, the best risk management process is to remove all hazards, even if their exposure doesn’t make them risky. Yes, residues of glyphosate is found in beer, but for beer to become a risk factor in relationship to glyphosate, you’d have to drink 1,000 litres a day. We’ll take it that in that particular case, it still won’t be the pesticide that will be your biggest concern.

According to science blogger The Riskmonger – Scientists working with toxic tort law firms are compelling IARC to produce monographs for the purpose of increasing their lucrative opportunities as litigation consultants. Collusion between tort lawyers and agencies such as the IARC for lucrative payouts is not only disconcerting and corrupt – but sets a horribly dangerous precedent. Any scientific innovation could soon fall victim of this procedure.

So not only has IARC become a front for junk science and peddling of bad news, but it has become a tool for trial lawyers seeking cancer findings by IARC which they then leverage in US courtrooms into multi-million dollar verdicts. In the case of school groundskeeper Dwayne Johnson vs. Monsanto, the judge ended up setting punitive damages at $39 million. By confusing hazard and risk, IARC has declared herbicides as carcinogenic when they are not.

The fact of the matter is that consumers are being peddled lies by junk science organisations, and crooked get-rich-quick litigation consultants are getting payouts off the back of dodgy opinions from IARC – with scientific research that is not backed up by their peers.

Junk science and split-second judgements based on a headline are infiltrating and harming commerce and courtrooms – and harming the consumer and taxpayer at the same time. But a move away from evidence-based policy making isn’t confined to science. In politics, legislators are increasingly voting on sentiment instead instead of taking a scientific approach.

Soundbites have infiltrated policy-making. In order to protect ordinary people and improve their daily lives – it’s absolutely essential that we make a return to evidence-based policy making when it comes to science. Instead, politicians, commentators and activists are pandering to their support base and their ideological tribes. People deserve better than policy-makers refusing to look past the headlines.

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It’s time to let Europe go supersonic

When France built its high-speed rail network, it revolutionised the way we looked at train traevl. What takes 4-5 hours by long-distance bus from Brussels to Paris can now be completed in just over an hour with a Thalys train. Dumping slow regional trains for fast and futuristic new models has brought more comfort and time-efficiency to consumers.

In aviation however, the opposite is the case. Since the 1960s, air travel hasn’t gotten any faster. According to Kate Repantis from MIT cruising speeds for commercial airliners today range between about 480 and 510 knots, compared to 525 knots for the Boeing 707, a mainstay of 1960s jet travel.

The reason for that is fuel-efficiency, which translates into cost-efficiency. While pilots have attempted to find the most efficient flight routes, it is slowing flights down which has effectively reduced fuel consumption. According to a story from NBC News in 2008, JetBlue saved about $13.6 million a year in jet fuel by adding just under two minutes to its flights.

But slowing things down doesn’t need to be the only alternative, and it will certainly shock passengers to learn that flight times are actually longer than 60 years ago. We can look at it this way: old regional trains are less electricity-consuming than current high-speed trains going at over 300 km/h, but there is precious little demand to bring travel times between Paris and London back to seven hours. In fact, as we use high-speed rail continuously, the technology improves and energy consumption is reduced. The same dynamic ought to work in aviation.

Supersonic planes have been out of the discussion in Europe for a while, but new innovations should make us reconsider our approach to this technology.

For long-distance intercontinental flights, supersonic planes cut flight time by more than half.  For instance, London-New York would go down from 7 hours to just 3 hours and 15 minutes.

Granted, the fuel-efficiency of current supersonic models isn’t yet ideal, but for a (re)emerging industry the only way from here is up. When considering the evolution of regular planes, which have become 80 per cent more efficient than the first airliners, there are good grounds for optimism about supersonic planes. What’s more, producers of supersonic planes are also supportive of alternative fuel use, a key part of the UN’s 2020 plan for carbon-neutral growth.

Faster flight times for consumers who like innovative solutions to environmental problems. What’s not to like?

The biggest catch is noise levels. As someone who grew up in a town neighbouring an airport, and having lived there almost 20 years, I know the differing views on airport noises. Many in my home village would defend the airport for economic reasons, while others would rally in associations of concerned citizens, fighting the airport one plane at a time. Over the years, their demands have found less support, because as planes became more efficient, they also made less noise.

Here is where supersonic planes aren’t starting from scratch either. While these aircrafts are louder on landing and take-off, new models, like Boom’s futuristic looking Overture,  are 100 times less noisy than the Concorde was. Furthermore, it would be important to compare those things that are comparable, in the same way that wouldn’t equate a regional jet with a large A380 with over 800 passengers. So yes, supersonic planes would be, at least for now, noisier. At the same time, the trade-off would entail faster travel times and the promise of lower emissions down the line.

The least we can do to increase consumer choice in this area is give supersonic a chance. Current regulations are not supportive of the fact that supersonic planes are fundamentally different than regular, subsonic, aircraft. There is a balance that both consumers and concerned citizens can strike, which looks at the questions of A) what we can realistically achieve in terms of reducing noise, and B) the advantageous trade-offs we’d get as a return of allowing Europe to go supersonic.

European Union Specializes in Nicotine Prohibition

Consumer Choice Center policy analyst Bill Wirtz wrote at the end of 2018 that the findings of the European Court of Justice were nothing but political due to a history of policy that prioritizes certain tobacco products over others. The FDA’s approach to regulating e-cigarettes is that the agency is down an aggressive regulatory path not too far off that of Europe’s.

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Trump’s 6-Month Window To Limit Car Imports Might Lead To A New Trade War

Washington D.C.: President Trump will give the EU and Japan six months to agree to a deal that would “limit or restrict” imports of automobiles and their parts into the US. It is claimed that car imports threaten national security since they have hurt domestic producers and their ability to invest in new technologies.

In response, Consumer Choice Center Deputy Director Yael Ossowski warned that by making such a treat, President Trump asserted his intention not to proceed with a cooperative solution. Where there is no political will to cooperate on trade, there’s an increasing possibility of a trade war.

“First and foremost, claims that car imports hurt domestic producers and their investing ability are ignorant of the interests of American consumers. Should Japan and the EU limit their supply of cars, consumers in the US will have to bear the costs in the form of higher prices. Protecting an industry at the expense of domestic consumers has never made any country better off,” said Ossowski.

“Trump’s decision will, ironically, hurt the ones it seeks to protect. The US car industry is heavily dependent on imports of car parts. If the EU and Japan limit their supply of car parts to the US market, the domestic sales and production will be restrained. The consequences will be numerous and damaging, and all Americans will have to bear them.

“Chances are high that Trump’s decision will spark a new trade war and impede international cooperation. Trade wars are always lose-lose. They must be stopped in the early stages and prevented altogether. If President Trump cares about the welfare of consumers and producers in his own country, it is high time he learned that free trade is the only way forward,” concluded Ossowski.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

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