Vous n’êtes pas assez intelligent pour comprendre le mot “végétarien”

Pour le Parlement européen, les consommateurs pourraient être trompés par le marquage ambiguë de certains produits.

Le comité de l’agriculture du Parlement européen (AGRI) a soutenu l’amendement de compromis n°41 le 1er avril. Ce texte demande l’interdiction de nommer des produits alimentaires à base de plantes avec des appellations faisant référence à de la viande ou des produits laitiers.

Essentiellement, des noms tels que “hamburger végétarien” ou “lait de soja” ne seraient plus autorisés car ils font croire aux consommateurs que ces produits contiennent de la viande ou du lait.

La décision de la commission fait suite à un arrêt de la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne de juin 2017. Dans l’affaire Verband Sozialer Wettbewerb eV contre TofuTown.com GmbH, le tribunal luxembourgeois a décidé que les entreprises ne pouvaient pas étiqueter leurs produits sous ces noms et que, bien que la défense ait affirmé que leurs produits étaient clairement étiquetés comme étant à base végétale, une telle interdiction serait légale. Le Parlement européen veut maintenant donner suite à cet arrêt et créer une loi définitive interdisant ces dénominations.

L’eurodéputé socialiste français Eric Andrieu a déclaré que les propositions de loi sur les noms n’étaient pas le résultat d’un lobbying. C’est probablement la seule chose sur laquelle il a raison, car les écologistes et les grandes entreprises sont actuellement en accord sur les substituts de viande.

L’”Impossible Whopper” de Burger King, leur premier burger végétal, fait actuellement la une des journaux et Nestlé devrait lancer son propre burger sans viande ce mois-ci. Nestlé elle-même serait également touchée par cette législation et, selon l’encadrement, les tribunaux pourraient prétendre que le “Whopper” de Burger King suggère que c’est un burger ordinaire.

Curieusement, je me retrouve du même côté que Greenpeace, qui a demandé aux législateurs de voter contre l’amendement, car il porterait atteinte au choix des consommateurs. De toute évidence, le lobbying n’est pas tout à fait le problème ici.

L’infantilisation des consommateurs

Cette décision de l’AGRI est le symptôme d’une culture politique de méfiance à l’égard des choix individuels des consommateurs.

On ne peut pas montrer aux consommateurs des publicités pour des boissons sucrées, sinon ils avaleront deux litres de thé glacé par jour ; on ne peut pas permettre aux consommateurs de passer à des produits réduisant les risques comme les cigarettes électroniques parce qu’ils s’écarteront de la notion d’abstinence totale, comme elle est prêchée par les défenseurs de la santé publique ; les consommateurs ne peuvent se fier aux boissons alcoolisées abordables car nous allons tous boire à notre mort.

Curieusement, les mêmes consommateurs qui ne savent même pas qu’un hamburger végétarien ne contient pas de viande sont apparemment assez responsables pour voter aux élections européennes du mois prochain. Ils éliront des représentants qui légifèrent dans des domaines tels que la sécurité, la planification économique à long terme, les budgets d’aide étrangère massifs, les complexités des réglementations fiscales internationales et le partage des informations.

Si mes supporters les plus bruyants étaient incapables de distinguer la viande des légumes, je commencerais probablement à douter de mon aptitude à occuper un mandat public. Mais pour ceux qui prennent des décisions de politique publique fondées sur des sentiments plutôt que sur des faits, ce n’est probablement pas une grande préoccupation.

Ce type de politique présente un inconvénient persistant : si les consommateurs sont infantilisés à un degré tel qu’on l’a supposé dans le cas mentionné précédemment, ils sont plus susceptibles de demander au gouvernement de résoudre leurs problèmes de consommation à leur place. Par conséquent, les législateurs sont de plus en plus inondés de “l’État devrait faire quelque chose” plutôt que de trouver des solutions novatrices aux problèmes du marché.

En fait, l’exemple du hamburger végétarien est exactement cela : les consommateurs qui veulent abandonner la viande – ou du moins réduire leur consommation – se voient offrir une véritable alternative que les grands producteurs ont adoptée. Plutôt que de célébrer la réponse exacte du marché, les législateurs chargent plutôt les entrepreneurs de réglementation.

Ne vous y trompez pas : si Nestlé et Restaurant Brands International (la société-mère de Burger King) pourraient être gênées par ces changements éventuels, ce sont les petites entreprises qui en souffriraient le plus.

L’Impossible Whopper peut être rebaptisé “Délice de légumes” ou quelque chose du genre, puis animé à l’aide d’un budget marketing important. Votre food truck du coin ne peut pas se permettre le même luxe ; cette proposition s’ajoute à une liste déjà longue de coûts de mise en conformité auxquels il est soumis.

Les services répressifs de l’UE effectueront-ils également des contrôles aléatoires en enquêtant sur les petits restaurants de hamburgers et en contrôlant leurs menus, sous peine de poursuites judiciaires paralysantes ? Le temps nous le dira.

Tout ça devient un peu ridicule. J’allais écrire que les consommateurs ne sont pas des enfants, mais même un enfant de six ans peut comprendre le concept du nom “hamburger au tofu”.

Ce sont peut-être les législateurs qui sont les vrais enfants.

Originally published on https://la-chronique-agora.com/pas-assez-intelligent-comprendre-mot-vegetarien/

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

How to solve Europe’s obesity problem

Give responsibility to individuals

Bill Wirtz is a policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center. Twitter: @wirtzbill

The measures that the World Health Organization suggests to tackle diseases caused by malnutrition, tobacco or alcohol are not only contrary to consumer choice, they also do not achieve their objectives.

Excessive price increases and branding bans have fostered the flow of fake products into the EU. Trying to over-tax products so that demand slows is regressive. It also fuels illicit trade, a trend very noticeable with tobacco and increasingly a problem with alcohol. A study commissioned by tobacco companies showed illicit tobacco trade from Algeria to France has increased 300 percent since 2012.

As for nutrition-related diseases, calorie intake is declining but so is physical activity. Lawmakers should help educators promote physical activity instead of banning products and restricting choices. Measures such as the Danish “fat tax” have shown adverse effects, with consumers keeping the same calorie intake but downgrading to cheaper products with poorer nutritional value.

Nobody is denying that some lifestyle choices are unhealthy, but giving responsibility to individuals will tackle problems like obesity much more effectively than failed government policies.

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

Studie zu Netzsicherheit und Datenschutz »DSGVO greift im Zeitalter von 5G zu kurz«

Die Autoren der Studie schlagen einen multifaktoriellen Ansatz vor, um Verbraucher und deren Daten in Zeiten massiv erhöhter Vernetzung zu schützen.

Das Consumer Choice Center hat eine Studie zum Thema Datenschutz und Netzsicherheit in Europa veröffentlicht. Speziellen Fokus legen die Autoren auf den Kontext IoT und den Ausbau von 5G-Netzen.

Die Autoren, Mikołaj Barczentewicz and Fred Roeder, unterstreichen, wie aktuell diese Studie ist: Datenlecks von Großkonzernen und die Debatte, ob die 5G-Infrastruktur chinesischer Hersteller ein Sicherheitsrisiko für europäische Verbraucher birgt, zeigen, dass neue Lösungen nötig sind.

»Unsere Studie befasst sich…

…mit aktuellen Datenschutzrisiken europäischer Verbraucher, wie die aktuelle Regulierung Verbraucher im Zeitalter von 5G-Technologien nur unzureichend schützt und welche gesetzlichen Rahmenbedingungen geändert werden müssen, um das Risiko, Datenlecks ausgesetzt zu werden, zu minimieren«, erklärt Fred Roeder, Geschäftsführer des Consumer Choice Centers.

»Die Diskussion um Huawei…

…ist eine gute Möglichkeit, endlich eine wirksame Zertifizierung der Sicherheit von Datenschnittstellen in unserer Telekommunikationsinfrastruktur einzuführen« führt Senior Privacy Fellow Mikolaj Barczentewicz aus. »Diese Zertifizierungsstandards sollten für alle Hersteller gleichermaßen rigoros sein. Schwachstellen und Hintertüren können bei jedem Hersteller auftauchen, egal aus welchem Herkunftsland er stammt.«

»Daher konzentrieren wir uns…

…auf das Problem der Anfälligkeit von Geräten und Software gegenüber vorsätzlicher Manipulation. Wir sind besorgt, dass sowohl Verbraucher-Endgeräte und Dienstleistungen, aber auch die elektronische Infrastruktur befallen werden kann. Verbrauchern ist am besten mit zielorientierter und evidenzbasierter Ordnungspolitik gedient, die klare Spielregeln kommuniziert. Brachiale Instrumente, wie Importverbote aus bestimmten Ländern sollten wirklich die ultima ratio sein, nachdem alle anderen Maßnahmen erschöpft wurden«, erläutert Roeder mit Blick auf Einfuhrverbote von Technologie in Australien und ergänzt, dass neue Haftungsregeln für Netzbetreiber und Großhändler das Risiko von Datenlecks für Verbraucher reduzieren könnten. »Selbst eine persönliche Haftung von Vorstandsmitgliedern dieser Unternehmen sollte man nicht ausschließen, falls nachgewiesen werden kann, dass bei der Beschaffung nicht gründlich genug auf Datensicherheit geachtet wurde.«

Barczentewicz schlägt daher vor,…

…dass Haftungsstandards durch Zertifizierung von Geräten und Software unterstützend wirken könnten: »Die Vorschläge der EU-Kommission zu Datensicherheit im Rahmen von 5G-Netzwerken gehen in die richtige Richtung. Stärkere Verschlüsselungs- und Authentifizierungsstandards würden Verbrauchern die gewünschte Datensicherheit näher bringen.«

Beide Autoren sehen ein Nutzungsverbot…

…von Geräten bestimmter Hersteller als wichtiges Druckmittel, um Datensicherheit auf die Tagesordnung zu bringen: »Es sollte keine Denkverbote geben, Hersteller von der Vergabe auszuschließen, falls sich herausstellt, dass die Geräte nicht sicher sind. So wird Sicherheit auch wirklich von allen Herstellern ernst genommen. Dabei müssen aber für alle die gleichen Spielregeln gelten. Einseitige Einfuhrverbote würden nur zu neuen Handelskriegen führen, bei denen Verbraucher schnell verlieren.«

Die komplette Studie (in englisch) gibt es hier zum kostenlosen Download.

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Falsch Verbunden – Fünf Thesen zum deutschen Datenstau

Exportweltmeister und Wirtschaftsmacht, aber trotzdem Digitalverlierer. Dass Deutschland so schlecht verbunden ist, hat viele Gründe. Hier sind fünf davon, gesammelt von unserem Gastautor Fred Cyrus Roeder, Ökonom und Geschäftsführer des Consumer Choice Centers.

Deutschland, die digitale Wüste in der Datenverkehr nur im Schneckentempo vorankommt: Aktuell gehört dieses Bild zu jeder guten politischen Diskussion. Dafür, dass sämtliche Politiker die Digitalisierung zur Chefsache machen wollen, sieht es verdammt düster aus. Der phänomenal schlechte Netz- und Breitbandausbau in Deutschland kennzeichnet sich durch fünf wesentlichen Punkte.

Erstens fehlen Anreize für langfristige Investitionen. Immer wenn Breitbandlizenzen in Deutschland versteigert werden freut das die Staatskasse. Die UMTS Versteigerungen aus dem Jahr 2000 spülten 50 Milliarden Euro – das entspricht 620 Euro je Bundesbürger – in den Bundeshaushalt. Wer sich danach aber über schlechtes Netz und teure Handyrechnungen ärgerte, sollte sich beim damaligen Bundesfinanzminister Eichel beschweren und nicht den Netzbetreibern. Die mussten irgendwie die ausgegebenen Mondsummen wieder einspielen. In der Folge hatten sie kaum finanziellen Spielraum für den notwendigen Ausbau des UMTS-Netzes. Die Frequenzen gehen übrigens nach 20 Jahren wieder an den Staat zurück.

Zweitens spielt die Bundesrepublik höchstens im digitalen Mittelfeld Europas. Neben der Slowakei ist Deutschland mit 91 Prozent eines von zwei EU-Mitgliedern mit einer 3G-Abdeckung von weniger als 95 Prozent. Das bedeutet: Einem von elf deutschen Haushalten fehlt mobiler Internetempfang in akzeptabler Geschwindigkeit. Auf dem Land muss jeder neunte Haushalt auf einen DSL-Anschluss verzichten! Nur 65 Prozent der Haushalte surfen mit 100-Megabit-Anschlüssen – in unseren Nachbarländern Schweiz und den Niederlanden sind es beinahe 100 Prozent. Das erscheint besonders erstaunlich, da Deutschland von allen 28 EU-Mitgliedsstaaten am fünft-dichtesten besiedelt ist. Der Netzausbau je Nutzer und Quadratkilometer sollte also eigentlich vergleichsweise günstig sein. Das ist aber nicht so.

Drittens sind die deutschen Markteintrittsbarrieren nur schwer zu überwinden. Obwohl ein gemeinsamer europäischer Binnenmarkt existiert, scheitern kleinere und ausländische Telekommunikationsunternehmen am Einstieg in den deutschen Markt. Die astronomischen Preise für Lizenzen sind nur eines der vielen Hindernisse, die es Startups und kleineren Wettbewerbern unmöglich machen, dem trägen und langsamen deutschen Netz auf die Sprünge zu helfen.

Viertens wurde 5G als Chance verpasst. Eine Studie der GSM Association von 2018 schätzt, dass bis 2025 zwei von drei Amerikanern Zugang zum superschnellen 5G-Netz haben wird. In Europa wird es wohl lediglich die Hälfte sein. Aus den bereits genannten Gründen wird diese Zahl in Deutschland eher kleiner als größer. Die Bundesrepublik und Italien verhindern eine weitreichendere Reform der Vergabe von Breitbandlizenzen in der EU. Kurzfristige Staatseinnahmen kommen hier vor langfristiger Wettbewerbsfähigkeit und schneller Internetversorgung im ländlichen Raum.

Fünftens verlieben sich Politiker in die falschen Technologien. Regulierer und Politiker schaffen nicht etwa die Rahmenbedingungen und Standards für zukünftige Innovationen. Im Gegenteil! Sie verheddern sich oft genug in Entscheidungen über konkrete Technologien. Ein besonders trauriges Beispiel ist die Regelung, dass selbstfahrende Autos über die ITS-G5 Technologie kommunizieren sollen. Besser wären technologieneutrale Gesetze, die sämtliche sicheren Technologien zulassen. Dies erlaubt deutlich mehr Innovation und bessere Technologien in der Zukunft. Niemand hätte die DVD, Blu-Ray, oder gar Streaming-Dienste erfunden, wäre gesetzlich vorgeschrieben, dass Privatnutzer bewegte Bilder nur von VHS-Kassetten oder gar 8mm-Filmrollen abspielen dürfen.

Um Deutschland von seinem chronischen Datenstau zu heilen, bieten sich gleich mehrere Mittel an. Eine Harmonisierung von Breitbandvergabe in der EU, durch die Lizenzen dauerhaft und vollständig erworben werden, würde Markteintrittsbarrieren niederreißen und gleichzeitig den Kostendruck auf die Netzbetreiber senken. Beides würde sich positiv auf Netzqualität und die monatliche Telefonrechnung auswirken. Gleichzeitig sollten unsere Gesetzgeber die Mauern zwischen den EU-Staaten schleifen und einen echten digitalen Binnenmarkt schaffen. So könnten die Anbieter ohne lähmenden bürokratischen Ballast länderübergreifende Netzdienste in allen EU Mitgliedstaaten anbieten. In Kombination mit einem technologieneutralen Regulierungsansatz kann dies Deutschland und Europa vor dem digitalen Verkehrskollaps bewahren und auf die Überholspur der Datenautobahn bringen.

Originally published on https://www.ruhrbarone.de/falsch-verbunden-funef-thesen-zum-deutschen-datenstau/164650

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About Fred Roeder

Fred Roder has been working in the field of grassroots activism for over eight years. He is a Health Economist from Germany and has worked in healthcare reform and market access in North America, Europe, and several former Soviet Republics. One of his passions is to analyze how disruptive industries and technologies allow consumers more choice at a lower cost. Fred is very interested in consumer choice and regulatory trends in the following industries: FMCG, Sharing Economy, Airlines. In 2014 he organized a protest in Berlin advocating for competition in the Taxi market. Fred has traveled to 100 countries and is looking forward to visiting the other half of the world’s countries. Among many op-eds and media appearances, he has been published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Die Welt, the BBC, SunTV, ABC Portland News, Montreal Gazette, Handelsblatt, Huffington Post Germany, CityAM. L’Agefi, and The Guardian. Since 2012 he serves as an Associated Researcher at the Montreal Economic Institute.

European Lawmakers Take Action to Protect People from Veggie Burgers

The European Parliament Agriculture Committee advanced a proposal that would ban calling a veggie burger a “burger.”

The European Parliament Agriculture Committee (AGRI) supported compromise Amendment Number 41 on April 1. The amendment calls for a ban on denominations of plant-based food products as containing meat or dairy products. In essence, names such as “veggie burger” or “soy milk” would not be allowed anymore, as they mislead consumers into believing they contain either meat or milk.

The committee’s decision follows aruling by the European Union’s Court of Justice from June 2017. In the case Verband Sozialer Wettbewerb eV v. TofuTown.com GmbH, the Luxembourg-based court decided that companies could not label their products under these names and that, despite the defendants asserting that their products were clearly labeled as being plant-based, This decision is a symptom of a political culture of distrust in consumers’ individual choices.

Such a prohibition would be lawful. Now the European Parliament wants to act on the ruling and create a definitive law prohibiting these denominations.

French socialist MEP (Member of the European Parliament) Eric Andrieu said name legislation proposals were not a result of lobbying. And that’s probably the only thing he is right about since environmentalists and large companies are currently big on the meat substitute train. Burger King’s “Impossible Whopper” is currently making headlines, and Nestlé is set to launch its own meatless burger this month. Nestlé itself would also be hit by this legislation, and depending on the framing, the courts could further claim that Burger King’s “Whopper” suggests it is a regular burger. Oddly, I find myself on the same side as Greenpeace, whichasked lawmakers to vote against the amendment as it would infringe on consumer choice. Clearly, lobbying isn’t quite the issue here.

This decision by AGRI is a symptom of a political culture of distrust in consumers’ individual choices. Consumers can’t be shown ads for sugary drinks, otherwise they will gulp down two liters of iced tea per day; consumers can’t be allowed to switch to harm-reducing products such as e-cigarettes because, otherwise, they will diverge from the notion of abstinence preached by public health advocates; consumers cannot be trusted with affordable alcohol because we’ll all drink ourselves to death.

Strangely, the same consumers who don’t even know that a veggie burger does not contain meat are apparently responsible enough to vote in the European elections next month, where they elect representatives who legislate areas such as security, long-term economic planning, massive foreign aid budgets, and the intricacies of international tax regulations and information sharing. If my most vocal supporters were incapable of distinguishing meat from vegetables, I’d probably begin to question my suitability for public office. But for those making public policy decisions based on feelings rather than on facts, this is probably not of great concern.

I was about to write that consumers aren’t children, but even a six-year-old can grasp the concept of the name “tofu burger.”

There is a persistent downside to this type of policy: If consumers are infantilized to the degree hypothesized in the previously mentioned case, they are more likely to call upon the government to solve their consumer-related problems for them. As a result, legislators are increasingly inundated with “the government ought to do something about it” as opposed to finding innovative solutions to market problems. In fact, the example of the veggie burger is exactly that: consumers who want to give up meat—or at least reduce their consumption—being given a real alternative that large producers have embraced. Rather than celebrating the accurate response of the market, lawmakers instead burden entrepreneurs with regulation.

Make no mistake: While Nestlé and Restaurant Brands International (the parent company of Burger King) might be annoyed by these eventual changes, it’s small businesses that would suffer the greatest impact. The Impossible Whopper can be renamed “Vegetable Delight” or something of the sort, then animated with the help of a large marketing budget. Your hipster food truck doesn’t have the same luxury; this proposal would add one more to an already long list of compliance costs to which it is subject. Would EU law enforcement also do random checks by investigating small burger restaurants and scaring them away from “veggie burger” menus with the threat of crippling lawsuits? Time will tell.

It’s all getting a bit ridiculous. I was about to write that consumers aren’t children, but even a six-year-old can grasp the concept of the name “tofu burger.”

Maybe it’s the legislators who are the real children.

Originally published on https://fee.org/articles/european-lawmakers-take-action-to-protect-people-from-veggie-burgers/

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

L’UE voudrait encore plus taxer les billets d’avion

La création d’une nouvelle taxe sur les vols aériens, afin de réduire l’impact environnemental, occupe nos bureaucrates européens.

Le gouvernement néerlandais propose d’instaurer une taxe de transport aérien de 7€ sur tous les vols au départ et à l’arrivée de l’Union européenne.

Selon La Haye, l’Europe a un problème majeur dû à un trop grand nombre de vols de loisir à bas prix. Selon les bureaucrates, une taxe contribuerait à décourager cette consommation.

Le secrétaire d’État aux Finances néerlandais, Menno Snel, souligne également que la mesure permettrait de faire entrer 200 M€ dans la trésorerie. N’y voyez aucune sournoiserie, c’est tout pour le climat !

La France, la Belgique et la Finlande soutiennent la proposition néerlandaise au Conseil européen. Le gouvernement luxembourgeois a déclaré qu’il ne s’opposerait pas à une taxe si tous les Etats-membres y adhèrent.

Comparer les niveaux de vie des pays qui se prononcent en faveur de la mesure est révélateur de leur engagement véritable. Dans des États-membres comme la Pologne, la Croatie ou la Roumanie, 7€ est déjà un gros montant tandis qu’à Helsinki, une pinte de bière coûte plus de 7€.

En réalité, il s’agit d’une politique de lutte contre le changement climatique pour permettre aux riches de s’acheter une bonne conscience et aux pauvres de réellement renoncer au voyage aérien.

Prenons un exemple pratique. Vous pouvez maintenant réserver un vol aller-retour en mai de Paris jusqu’à Poznań en Pologne pour un total de 50€. Comme la taxe s’applique par segment de vol, vous serez facturé 14€ de plus, soit près de 30% du coût total de votre billet.

Il s’agit d’une augmentation considérable de prix, qui peut être dévastatrice pour les consommateurs à faible revenu qui cherchent à rendre visite à leur famille, à leurs proches, à assister à un enterrement ou à un mariage. Faire payer cette lourde taxe à ces voyageurs pendant que les représentants du gouvernement se déplacent en classe affaires gratuitement n’est pas qu’un peu dérangeant, c’est grossier !

Maintenant que le transport aérien a rendu les trajets abordables, des bureaucrates interviennent violemment contre la capacité des gens à se rendre d’un point A à un point B sans faire de grands sacrifices ? Où est la morale là-dedans ?

Bien entendu, il ne s’agit pas d’une nouvelle idée. La Fédération européenne des transports et de l’environnement (T&E) plaide(1) depuis longtemps en faveur d’une augmentation des taxes sur le transport aérien. L’organisation qualifie les voyages aériens de “sous-évalués” alors que les taxes ont augmenté au cours des sept dernières années. Là encore, l’argument environnemental ne semble pas être le seul à leurs yeux(2).

Une analyse de T&E(3) a révélé que de nouvelles mesures telles qu’une taxe sur le carbone, sur les carburants, une taxe sur le kérosène et la suppression de l’exonération de la TVA pour les vols en provenance et à destination de l’Europe permettraient de collecter plus de 50 Mds€ par an.

En mai de l’année 2018, le journal belge De Standaard indiquait(4) : “Ici et là, il est suggéré que l’impact sur l’environnement et la santé joue un rôle dans l’introduction d’un droit d’accise minimum européen sur le kérosène.”

La proposition est maintenant sur la table. Toutefois, en tant que proposition fiscale, elle nécessite l’approbation unanime de tous les États membres pour être adoptée et pourrait donc être bloquée par des États comptant de nombreux consommateurs à faible revenu, des destinations touristiques ou des pays comme l’Irlande, où est basée la plus importante compagnie européenne de transport à bas prix : Ryanair.

Pourraient-ils se sentir liés par l’Accord de Paris sur le climat de 2015 pour approuver la mesure tout en rejetant la faute sur les bureaucrates de Bruxelles ?

Il existe un risque réel que le transport aérien soit de plus en plus victime d’une politique écologiste extrémiste sans intelligence, dont les interdictions et les taxes ne manqueront pas d’affecter les citoyens les plus modestes.

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

Consumer Choice Center Presents signatories of ‘Brands Matter’ pledge

The Consumer Choice Center (CCC) has revealed the names of the 25 signatories of the ‘Brands Matter’ pledge. The CCC is aiming to gain support for the cause of brand freedom in the European Parliament and get clear responses from lawmakers on this vital consumer issue.

Commenting on the pledge, Luca Bertoletti, European Affairs Manager of the Consumer Choice Center, said that one of its key objectives of ‘Brands Matter’ is to emphasise a strong link between brand freedom and innovation, and how it can help embrace entrepreneurial spirit to the benefit of consumers.

“One example is the recent emergence of local and slow food cultures and the success of craft beers which would not be possible without local branding and novel marketing techniques. Consumers benefit from innovations of local and novel brands,” said Bertoletti.

It is interesting that the report focusses some of its attention on local produce and craft beers, as these are markets that are being catered for by both corrugated and folding carton industries, often utilising digital print techniques.

“The CCC is using this pledge to raise awareness of brand freedom’s role in protecting and advancing consumer choice in the EU. Brands enhance the customer’s ability to interpret and process information, improve confidence in the purchase decision and affect the quality of the user experience. They achieve this in a variety of ways, including reducing decision-making time, providing safety, adding value to the product, or shaping local identity,” added Bertoletti.

Signatories are:

  • Lara Comi, MEP (Italy, Forza Italia, vice-chair of the EPP)
  • Renate Sommer, MEP (Germany, CDU/CSU)
  • Patrizia Toia, MEP (Italy, Partito Democratico)
  • Stefano Maullu, MEP (Italy, Fratelli d’Italia, chair of the Brands Matter Working Group)
  • Salvatore Cicu, MEP (Italy, Forza Italia)
  • Angelo Ciocca, MEP (Italy, Lega)
  • Jiri Payne, MEP (Czech Republic, Strana svobodných občan)
  • Amjad Bashir, MEP (United Kingdom, The Conservative Party)
  • Fulvio Martusciello, MEP (Italy, Forza Italia)
  • Daniel Dalton, MEP (United Kingdom, The Conservative Party)
  • Joachim Starbatty, MEP (Germany, LKR)
  • Hans-Olaf Henkel, MEP (Germany, LKR)
  • Massimiliano Salini, MEP (Italy, Forza Italia)
  • Paul Rübig, MEP (Austria, Österreichische Volkspartei)
  • Daniel Hannan, MEP (United Kingdom, The Conservative Party)
  • Nathan Gill, MEP (United Kingdom, UKIP)
  • Robert Iwaskiewicz, MEP (Poland, Nowa Prawica)
  • Seán Kelly, MEP (Ireland, Fine Gael)
  • Raffaele Fitto, MEP (Italy, Fratelli D’Italia, vice-chair of the ECR)
  • Alberto Cirio, MEP (Italy, Forza Italia)
  • Christophe Hansen, MEP (EPP, Luxembourg)
  • Frank Engel, MEP (EPP, Luxembourg)
  • Georges Bach, MEP (EPP, Luxembourg)
  • Christofer Fjellner, MEP (EPP, Sweden)
  • Rays Fernando, MEP (EPP, Portugal)

The CCC and the signatories of this pledge want to put forward legislative action to protect brands in the European Union, and oppose legislation that reduces the right to freely brand products or market them through advertising. They will work hard to extend the number of parliamentarians who sign this pledge during the upcoming legislature.

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What #AdvertisingBans get wrong about #ConsumerBehaviour

Advertising bans are increasingly relevant in political debate, with some countries having already established rules that don’t allow for “junk food” advertising. But these proposals are all based on the assumptions that consumers are buying goods that they never would have wanted otherwise, writes Bill Wirtz.

The fundamental question is: Can you make people buy something that they don’t want?

The short answer to that question is: yes. However, you’d be required to force consumers, either directly or indirectly to make that happen. The question is not that of “want”, but rather a question of “who made me want it”.

The American legal scholar Cass Sunstein, who was Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs under the Obama administration published an essay entitled Fifty Shades of Manipulation, in which he tackles manipulation and consumer sovereignty. In the said essay, Sunstein invokes different forms of manipulation, and despite the effort to differentiate, reaches the following conclusion: “It is important to acknowledge that in the commercial realm, manipulation is widespread; it is part of the basic enterprise. For that reason, the ethical taboo on manipulation is substantially weakened, in part on the theory that competitive markets impose appropriate constraints against undue harm. But in some cases, those constraints are too weak, and it is appropriate to invoke social norms or even the law to discipline welfare-reducing acts of manipulation.”

The basic flaw in the essay is a misunderstanding between “manipulation” and “marketing”, two words which are not pointing to the same type of strategy. Sunstein seems to believe that all types of advertising mislead consumers about the product, when this is actually a more exceptional case. When Volkswagen manipulated their vehicles in order to show a lower emissions output, they were giving consumers false information about their product. When companies advertise health benefits of their products that cannot be proven, then they are intentionally misleading their customers. However, this is miles away from advertising a product as being cool, refreshing, comfortable, or trendy. Are we to define the mere fact that a product is being described by the producer as “good”, as manipulation? Because by this same standard, I could feel equally manipulated by the fact that Mister Sunstein calls a book he edited himself, “relevant”. Who is he to decide what I find relevant? Will I feel misled if I find the book not to be relevant at all, and consider myself a victim of manipulation?

Most of all, it’s not like consumers are already seeing through common marketing techniques. The €9.99-trick has been around for quite a long time, and even while effective, consumers are aware of what retailers are trying to achieve here. In the same way, consumers know that it’s probably not “the best insurance”, “the smoothest soft drink”, or “the most efficient service” in the literal sense, and that marketers sell their goods the same way online as they would on an old-fashioned market place. And we’re not going after a salesman pitching his “best apples” on a marketplace, are we? In the example of the “best” apple, the salesman certainly caught your attention with his pitch, that is far from making the sale. Just thinking of all the heavily marketed products that we personally DON’T want should be proof of that.

In the same way, technological progress is uncircumventable through marketing. There is no scenario in which candlemakers market their way out of being replaced by electricity as a form of producing light. Do you buy things that you’ll find limited need for? Surely. Erroneous market decisions are a recurring theme, and nobody pretends that consumers act perfectly. If we’re willing to admit the imperfection of consumers, let’s not pretend that centralized decisions on consumer behaviour are exempt from mistakes themselves.

This is particularly true when it comes to nutrition. The food pyramid that was preached for decades was put completely upside down through new scientific findings.

Denise Minger writes in her book Death By Food Pyramid about Louise Light’s commissioned review of the 1956 food pyramid in the United States, which was ultimately rejected: “The guide Light and her team worked so hard to assemble came back a mangled, lopsided perversion of its former self. The recommended grain servings had nearly quadrupled, exploding to form America’s dietary centerpiece: six to eleven servings of grains per day replaced Light’s recommended two to three… and rather than aggressively lowering sugar consumption as Light’s team strived to do, the new guidelines told Americans to choose a diet “moderate in sugar,” with no explanation of what that hazy phrase actually meant.”

Centralized authorities make mistakes when it comes to nutritional recommendations. The claim that advertising is brainwashing us and that bureaucrats know the way out is essentially the wrong approach.

Improvements can always be made, but they have to be made through education, not blatant bans on access to information.

Let me formulate that in a way that fits the closeness of the European elections next months: if consumers are so ill-informed that they cannot even refrain from buying food as soon as they see advertising for it, then why are they fit to elect parliamentarians who legislate these advertisements away?

Originally published on https://www.eureporter.co/frontpage/2019/04/03/what-advertisingbans-get-wrong-about-consumerbehaviour/

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

25 MEPs support brand freedom

Consumer Choice Center presents signatories of “Brands Matter” pledge

Brussels, BE – The Consumer Choice Center (CCC) has revealed the names of the 25 signatories of the “Brands Matter” pledge. The CCC is aiming to gain support for the cause of brand freedom in the European Parliament, and get clear responses from lawmakers on this vital consumer issue.
Commenting on the pledge, Luca Bertoletti, European Affairs Manager of the Consumer Choice Center, said that one of its key objectives of “Brands Matter” is to emphasise a strong link between brand freedom and innovation, and how it can help embrace entrepreneurial spirit to the benefit of consumers.
“One example is the recent emergence of local and slow food cultures and the success of craft beers which would not be possible without local branding and novel marketing techniques. Consumers benefit from innovations of local and novel brands,” said Bertoletti.
“The CCC is using this pledge to raise awareness of brand freedom’s role in protecting and advancing consumer choice in the EU. Brands enhance the customer’s ability to interpret and process information, improve confidence in the purchase decision and affect the quality of the user experience. They achieve this in a variety of ways, including reducing decision-making time, providing safety, adding value to the product, or shaping local identity,” added Bertoletti.

Our signatories are:

Lara Comi, MEP (Italy, Forza Italia, vice-chair of the EPP)
Renate Sommer, MEP (Germany, CDU/CSU)
Patrizia Toia, MEP (Italy, Partito Democratico)
Stefano Maullu, MEP (Italy, Fratelli d’Italia, chair of the Brands Matter Working Group)
Salvatore Cicu, MEP (Italy, Forza Italia)
Angelo Ciocca, MEP (Italy, Lega)
Jiri Payne, MEP (Czech Republic, Strana svobodných občan)
Amjad Bashir, MEP (United Kingdom, The Conservative Party)
Fulvio Martusciello, MEP (Italy, Forza Italia)
Daniel Dalton, MEP (United Kingdom, The Conservative Party)
Joachim Starbatty, MEP (Germany, LKR)
Hans-Olaf Henkel, MEP (Germany, LKR)
Massimiliano Salini, MEP (Italy, Forza Italia)
Paul Rübig, MEP (Austria, Österreichische Volkspartei)
Daniel Hannan, MEP (United Kingdom, The Conservative Party)
Nathan Gill, MEP (United Kingdom, UKIP)
Robert Iwaskiewicz, MEP (Poland, Nowa Prawica)
Seán Kelly, MEP (Ireland, Fine Gael)
Raffaele Fitto, MEP (Italy, Fratelli D’Italia, vice-chair of the ECR)
Alberto Cirio, MEP (Italy, Forza Italia)
Christophe Hansen, MEP (EPP, Luxembourg)
Frank Engel, MEP (EPP, Luxembourg)
Georges Bach, MEP (EPP, Luxembourg)
Christofer Fjellner, MEP (EPP, Sweden)
Rays Fernando, MEP (EPP, Portugal)
The CCC and the signatories of this pledge want to put forward legislative action to protect brands in the European Union, and oppose legislation that reduces the right to freely brand products or market them through advertising. We will work hard to extend the number of parliamentarians who sign this pledge during the upcoming legislature.

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.

Europe Is Not an Example for the Green New Deal in Practice

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” suggests replacing air travel with high-speed rail connections.

But the comparisons drawn with Europe ignore that despite massive investments on the Old Continent, prices remain non-competitive with air travel and that state-run rail crumbles under its own inefficiency.

In a piece for Vox, Umair Irfan writes “High-speed trains already compete with planes in many parts of the world. They also have far lower carbon emissions.” The article compares the ambitions of AOC with existing examples in Japan and Europe.

“The prices are comparable too, with train tickets actually coming in cheaper for routes like Paris and Lyon or Seoul and Busan. The Paris-Lyon train fare is about $75, while the flight is about $115. Both trips take about 2.5 hours door to door.”

The price for Paris-Lyon by high-speed rail is indeed correct, but Umair Irfan doesn’t mention that the only carrier operating that route is the state-run carrier SNCF.

SNCF currently carries a debt of a staggering €55 billion ($62.3 billion). In fact, the yearly deficit and debt increase of the train company is so bad that France had to revise its annual debt by 0.1 percent of total GDP in 2016 and 2017.

This makes every ticket you buy in France highly subsidized, while air travel actually pays more in tax than it receives. Slate suggests that French engineers should have helped built high-speed rail in California. That would probably have been the only way to make it worse.

The choice of Paris-Lyon is also very convenient, since it’s number one and three of the largest cities in France, therefore benefitting from regular and highly used high-speed rail connections. The only air travel between those two cities is ensured by AirFrance and its subsidiary HOP!, in which the French government is a minority shareholder. Every other connection in France would be connected both quicker and cheaper by air travel.

Let’s try Paris-Nice (the fifth largest city of the country, in the South of France). High-speed rail would take you a total of 6 hours, at a cost of $90 (with highly subsidized state rail), while British low-cost airline EasyJet gets you there in 1 hour, 30 minutes for only $56. That is probably the reason why France is currently supporting an initiative in the European Union which would add an additional tax of $8 per flight segment. Smart move: if you tax airlines into higher prices, your case for “cheaper” train travel will be self-fulfilling.

It becomes even more interesting if you consider other travel itineraries. Paris-Nice is only about 600 miles. If you wanted to get from Greece’s capital of Athens to Madrid, which is a European equivalent of a “cost-to-coast,” your distance would be almost 2,000 miles, which is still less than a connection between New York and San Francisco (2,800 miles). However, Athens-Madrid by train, ferry, and bus would take you between 3 and 4 days, and cost about $340, while a direct flight would be $140 and about 4 hours.

That wouldn’t even account for the fact that the train connections are indebted, and thoroughly unreliable.

In Belgium, a structural rate of more than 10 percent of trains are late.

In Germany, a quarter of trains operated by “Deutsche Bahn” experience delays, which has brought the operator to change the definition: a high-speed train delay of less than 15 minutes is simply not counted as a delay.

You’ll also notice that Central and Eastern European nations, which have suffered historically from communism until the early 1990s, have no high-speed rail connections whatsoever, and are completely reliant on air travel to connect cities. AOC: collective ownership or fast trains, you can’t have both.

In fact, the only countries in Europe where high-speed rail starting from 165 mph — which is the speed needed to reduce travel times competitively enough to challenge air travel — are France, Germany, Spain, and Italy. In total, they have a network of about 4,600 miles of high-speed rail connection, and not even remotely close to anything the U.S. would need in terms of connection.

High-speed is no solution for passenger transport in the United States, it’s a fantasy that has paid out badly for the wallets and travelers in Europe.

Bill Wirtz is a political commentator currently based in Belgium. His articles have been published by Newsweek, The American Conservative, the Washington Examiner, Le Monde, and Le Figaro. He is a Young Voices Advocate, a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education, and works as a Policy Analyst for the Consumer Choice Center.

Originally published at https://www.newsmax.com/billwirtz/europe-green-new-deal-trains/2019/03/27/id/908966/

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.