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ANDS hosts first virtual summit on ‘Youth Protection’ across MENA

Dubai, UAE; June 08, 2022: ANDS, a leading company in the electronic nicotine delivery solutions and heated tobacco technology, has hosted its first ever virtual summit to launch a unique initiative, the ‘Sentinel Program’, representing its vision towards youth protection. 

The program addresses solutions for youth vaping and provides ANDS’ perspective on protecting minors and non-smokers from being exposed to nicotine delivery solutions. The initiative includes steps on product conformity, packaging, marketing practices, up to trade and retail practices.

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LA PROPRIÉTÉ INTELLECTUELLE, INDISPENSABLE POUR LUTTER CONTRE LES PROCHAINES PANDÉMIES

Comment la communauté internationale fera face à de futures pandémies, similaires à celles que nous connaissons ? 

L’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS) en est aux premiers stades de la discussion sur ce que l’on appelle un instrument de prévention, de préparation et de réponse aux pandémies (PPR).

Cet instrument doit permettre de déterminer comment la communauté internationale fera face à de futures pandémies, telles que celles que nous connaissons actuellement. Une conférence planifiée pour ce mois-ci pourrait ainsi bouleverser le consensus international sur la propriété intellectuelle.

Confinements et vaccins

La pandémie de Covid-19 illustre de manière fascinante ce que beaucoup d’entre nous savent depuis des décennies : l’Etat est souvent lent et inefficace, tandis que l’industrie privée relève avec succès les défis de notre époque. Lorsque la pandémie a été déclarée par l’OMS, le chaos était inévitable. Des drones qui suivaient les joggeurs pendant qu’ils faisaient du sport aux bancs de parc qui ont été enlevés ou recouverts de ruban adhésif, les réactions des Etats étaient discutables du point de vue du droit civil et mal conçues en même temps.

Il était pourtant clair pour tout le monde, dès le début, qu’un vaccin était le seul moyen réaliste et rapide de sortir durablement des confinements. Le hic, c’est que, au départ, le temps de développement d’un vaccin était estimé à de nombreuses années.

Alors pourquoi sommes-nous aujourd’hui confrontés à une crise de Covid-19 contrôlée et à des infections dont les conséquences sont bien moins graves pour les malades ?

La concurrence privée entre les fabricants de vaccins a pris une ampleur et une rapidité sans précédent. Bien que tous les vaccins aient des noms médicaux, le patient ordinaire les connaît plutôt sous le nom de différentes entreprises pharmaceutiques.

Il est vrai que la passion des scientifiques et le devoir civique des entreprises jouent un rôle dans la recherche pharmaceutique et le développement des vaccins. En fait, nous ne devrions pas minimiser cet effet, car la plupart des entreprises pharmaceutiques ont vendu pendant des décennies des médicaments vitaux à prix coûtant dans les pays en développement.

A quoi sert la propriété intellectuelle sur les vaccins ?

Cependant, nous devons également comprendre que les investisseurs et les conseils d’administration des entreprises doivent voir l’opportunité d’un retour sur investissement, afin de couvrir les coûts immenses de la recherche médicale. Les droits de propriété intellectuelle répondent à cette attente, en créant un cadre juridique qui permet aux entreprises de créer des innovations médicales, en sachant qu’elles ne pourront pas être volées.

Au cours du développement des vaccins contre le Covid-19, les entreprises pharmaceutiques ont échangé des informations brevetées importantes avec leurs concurrents, afin d’obtenir des résultats plus rapidement – un échange d’informations rendu possible et organisé par une protection juridique complète.

Sans cette protection, les entreprises pourraient être hésitantes à l’idée de collaborer avec des entreprises concurrentes. Les DPI ont également permis la coopération entre les autorités de réglementation, y compris les accords de pré-achat, qui se sont avérés essentiels pour la préparation aux pandémies.

Malheureusement, ce fait n’est pas reconnu par les détracteurs de la propriété intellectuelle. Un nombre considérable de législateurs estiment que le mécanisme PRP ne devrait pas être basé sur la prémisse des droits de propriété intellectuelle.

Ils commettent une grave erreur en rendant la propriété intellectuelle responsable de la lenteur de la diffusion, car c’est le contraire qui est vrai. Toutefois, ces critiques peuvent rendre les Etats responsables d’autre chose : la lenteur des chaînes d’approvisionnement et les obstacles réglementaires sont en effet un aspect inutile et mortel de la distribution des vaccins. Nous avons besoin d’un système réglementaire harmonisé pour l’autorisation et la distribution des vaccins, ainsi que d’une réduction significative des barrières commerciales.

Quand les règles ralentissent tout

Si, en plus de la complexité du développement des vaccins, les entreprises doivent se frayer un chemin à travers la jungle réglementaire de 51 voies d’autorisation d’urgence dans 24 pays (en temps normal, il y aurait eu 190 procédures réglementaires différentes), de nombreux développeurs pourraient en conclure que cela ne vaut tout simplement pas la peine de supporter les coûts de conformité pour trouver une solution médicale. En outre, nous devons numériser les flux commerciaux entre les pays et travailler selon un système de normes médicales mutuellement reconnues.

Pourquoi le Royaume-Uni et l’Union européenne ne travaillent-ils pas selon le principe de la confiance mutuelle pour l’autorisation des vaccins ?

Les tentatives de développement d’un vaccin en dehors du système de propriété intellectuelle ont échoué. Les tentatives connues des hôpitaux et des universités d’établir des bases non commerciales pour un vaccin contre le Covid-19 n’ont pas fourni de détails sur les essais précliniques.

En parallèle, les solutions vaccinales de certaines autocraties isolées, comme Cuba, suscitent un grand scepticisme : malgré les succès qu’ils revendiquent eux-mêmes, les scientifiques cubains n’ont publié aucune donnée sur l’efficacité du vaccin.

Dans l’intérêt de l’innovation médicale, les organisations internationales de la santé ne devraient pas envisager de mesures qui porteraient atteinte aux droits de propriété intellectuelle. La pandémie de Covid-19 a justement montré que les chercheurs et les fabricants sont incités à partager leurs connaissances et à libérer ainsi leur potentiel d’innovation lorsque leurs succès peuvent être brevetés et commercialisés.

Originally published here

The Bees Are Doing Fine. Why Do Activists Say They Aren’t?

Pollinators are essential to our ecosystem; thus, a drastic decline in them would hurt not just nature around us but also humans. With that in mind, lawmakers around the globe have been worried about the effect of human behaviour on the sustainability of bee colonies. Environmentalists have been adamant that “bee-killing pesticides” are to blame, and not just in recent years: their claims that the chemicals we use to protect from crop losses and plant diseases are responsible for bee colony collapses. 

However, the numbers don’t bear that out. Since the introduction of neonicotinoid insecticides – the pesticides blamed for bee death – in the mid-90s, bee populations have not collapsed. The data show that as of 2020, there has been an increase of beehives by 17% since 2010, 35% since 2000, and 90% since 1961. In the United States, the number of bee colonies has been stable for 30 years, while in Europe, where farmers also use these insecticides, the number has increased by 20%.

Local or regional reductions in managed bees can occur because bee-keepers adapt their stock in terms of the market demand. As honey prices are currently on the rise, it is likely that in many areas, bee-keepers will increase their supply to benefit from higher prices. As for wild bees, not just are they hard to count (because, as the name suggests, they are wild), but existing research predicting catastrophic decline has been debunked in the past.

That does not mean that there are no threats to pollinators or that modern farming does not have an impact on them. In fact, climate change has affected the warming-tracking of bumble bees and led them to seek higher elevation. Added to that, solitary bees are affected by the impact of habitat loss caused by the rapid expansion of agriculture over the last centuries. That said, we need to put the habitat issue into context: research published on May 30 shows how comparative models point to peak agricultural land use already having been reached. This means that despite a growing population, humanity is unlikely to increase its need for land for farming purposes any longer. Even though that is the case, food production continues to grow because modern farming techniques allow us to create more yield with the same or even less land.

On the one hand, the reason for this shift lies in the fact that developing nations have increasing access to modern farming equipment and crop protection tools. Where previously farmers needed a lot of labour to hand-weed, machines are able to cover the entire field in a fraction of the time, and fungicides assure that the food is safe for human consumption. On the other hand, innovations in the developed world have also modernised the way we make, consume, and deliver food. Improved supply chains guarantee that we don’t need a farm in every small rural area anymore, and modern genetic engineering has made our crops more resilient and efficient. Yet even before that, the use of crop protection chemicals has ensured that farmers don’t lose a significant share of their crops each year.

However, with the development of modern agricultural practices came its opponents. Environmental activists have contested the legitimacy of the use of pesticides and instead advocated for organic farming. Not just does this undermine the trust in the regulatory bodies that oversee the safety of the products, but it also misses two key factors: organic farming, contrary to popular belief, does use a long list of pesticides, and a shift to all-organic would increase the need for farmland. A study by the University of Melbourne found that organic farming yields 43-72 percent less than traditional farming and that it requires 130 per cent more farmland to yield the same output.

Defenders of modern agriculture should vehemently push back against the notion that today’s food model undermines bee health or human health, for that matter. In fact, the solutions of environmental activists are so counter-productive to their own stated aims that we can safely say to them: we’re on your side, but you’re not.

Originally published here

Is Russia Funding European Environmental Activists?

Russia might be funding European environmental organizations to support its position in the energy market and undermine competitors.

Why is Europe’s political class questioning the effectiveness of modern agricultural practices and the legitimacy of nuclear power when the rest of the developed world is upgrading its fission capacity and allowing for gene-editing technology to revolutionize food production? One could think it’s the inherent need for Europe to be different from the rest of the world, but that would neglect the significant lobbying efforts that have prevented the continent from becoming food and energy independent.

In 2014, former NATO secretary-general and prime minister of Denmark Anders Fogh Rasmussen described this phenomenon to The Guardian:

“I have met allies who can report that Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organisations – environmental organisations working against shale gas – to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas.”

The extraction of shale gas is known as fracking. While legal and used in the United States, European parliaments have consistently opposed this alternative and preferred to rely on standard Russian gas pipelines. According to a letter sent to then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin by U.S. representatives Lamar Smith and Randy Weber, Hillary Clinton told a private audience in 2016 “We were even up against phony environmental groups, and I’m a big environmentalist, but these were funded by the Russians …”

Has the Russian Federation been funding environmental activists around the world? A few more voices point in this direction.

WWF Germany, BUND (Friends of the Earth), and NABU (Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union), three environmental organisations who were avowed opponents of Germany’s NordStream pipelines with Russia, dropped their opposition after Gazprom promised funding for environmental protection, according to a 2011 report from the European Parliament. A foundation set up by a German federal state, environmental organizations, and NordStream (controlled by Gazprom) had filled its coffers with €10 million with representatives of the environmental organizations sitting on the board. Did these groups drop their opposition to the pipelines because of Russian funding? Whether they did or not is anyone’s guess.

Another striking example is Belgium, where the federal energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten (from the green party “GROEN”) has sought to dismantle Belgium’s nuclear energy capacity. Van der Straeten’s former job? Lawyer and associate at a law firm whose largest client is Gazprom. 

It’s not just energy dependence that Europe has created, but also significant food import dependency. According to the European Union (EU), 19 percent of “other feed and feed ingredients” imported to the bloc come from Russia, as well as almost 8 percent of sugar (other than beet and cane), and slightly more than 6 percent of imported wheat. While total agri-food imports from Russia to the EU only represent 1.4 percent, the country’s trade is vital for Europe’s animal feed, and by blocking Ukrainian trade routes, Moscow is worsening food security all over Europe. Conveniently, many of the organizations mentioned above have been adamant about reducing European farmland, phasing out crop protection, and blocking the use of genetic engineering.

The question of whether environmental activists have been funded by the Russian state might help resolve the even more puzzling inquiry into why they told deliberate mistruths for decades. Take the example of insecticides: when a decline in the honey bee population went unexplained for some time in the early 2000s, environmental activists first blamed their favorite boogeyman – genetic engineering. When that talking point was debunked by the scientific community, environmentalists turned their attention to neonicotinoid insecticides, and also subsequently to neonic alternatives such as sulfoxaflor.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a March 2018 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report, and reports from Canada and Australia, there has been no proven link between neonics and harm to bee populations. The scientific community rejected sulfoxaflor-related claims as recently as July last year. The European Food Safety Authority EFSA and the EPA, even called sulfoxaflor “better for species across the board.”

Not just have those claims about bee health been rejected, but bee population growth across the globe is on the rise. The data show that as of 2020, there has been a 17 percent increase in beehives, a 35 percent increase since 2000, and a 90 percent increase since 1961. In the United States, the number of bee colonies has been stable for thirtyyears while in Europe, where farmers also use insecticides, the number has increased by 20 percent.

These mistruths about crop protection and bee numbers have made countries fight what even mainstream news sources in Europe consider “bee-killing pesticides.” 

In France, Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front (itself supported by loans from Russian banks)supported a ban on sulfoxaflor in 2015. In 2019, the country outlawed neonics and sulfoxaflor, only to discover that it led to a massive decrease in sugar beet production. Paris had to pause the bansas its beet farmers were facing extinction but still received criticism from environmental organizations for their pragmatic decision. Again, the fact that Russia is a significant exporter of sugar beet is likely purely coincidental and unrelated.

Do environmental organizations support the efforts of foreign governments by increasing the dependence of NATO allies on Russia? Even if not deliberately, they do so indirectly as their advocacy leads to food inflation and economies that cannot argue from a position of strength. 

Originally published here

EU’s green agenda and PFAS ban are incompatible

As part of the climate agenda, the European Union and member states have advocated the phasing out of gas-powered vehicles by 2035. The goal is to have at least 30 million electric vehicles on European roads by 2030, which would be a 2900% increase from the current amount. With demand for electric vehicles soaring in the EU, domestic industries are looking for innovative ways to establish supply chains for batteries and other components.

On the one hand, the EU seeks to boost the market for electric vehicles to achieve its climate targets. On the other hand, the proposed blanket PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) ban, pledged by the European Commission, will make it impossible to manufacture EVs in the EU.

PFAS are key to the production of EVs. However, instead of considering the spillover effects of banning over 4000 chemicals that carry individual risks, the EU decided to take the same approach as the US move towards banning all of them. In the US, the PFAS Action Act which would heavily restrict all these substances is awaiting the final decision in the Senate. Both the EU and US are on the verge of making the same policy mistake that will achieve nothing except make consumer products more expensive and hinder innovation.

PFAS are used to produce life-saving medical equipment and are vital for contamination-resistant gowns, implantable medical devices, heart patches, etc. These chemicals are also widely used in green technology production. In particular, solar panels, wind turbines, and lithium-ion batteries.

Fluoropolymers (one specific class of PFAS) are an essential part of green technology. Fluoropolymers are used to produce lithium batteries, the power source behind electric vehicles. They are durable, heat and chemical resistant, and have superior dielectric properties, all of these qualities make it hard for other chemicals to compete. If PFAS are banned as a class, the green ambitions of switching to electric vehicles would be extremely difficult to turn into policy. The blanket PFAS ban would cause further disruptions in the EV supply chain, increasing costs for consumers and ultimately making them less attractive as an alternative to gasoline vehicles.

Fluoropolymers are also used in coating and sealing solar panels and wind turbines that protect against harsh weather conditions. Fluoropolymers provide safety by preventing leaks and environmental releases in a range of renewable energy applications. The unique characteristics of PFAS such as water, acid, and oil resistance make these substances hard to replace.

Unless damaged, solar panels continue to produce energy beyond their lifeline. Fluoropolymers are what make solar panels durable. Going solar requires significant investments and without fluoropolymers, the risk of producing and installing them will increase, and production shortages will follow. This is exactly what is currently happening in Europe with microchips, which rely on PFAS in the production process. The closing of a plant in Belgium has left semiconductor manufacturers on the verge of serious production delays.

That is not to say that PFAS are risk-free. A 2021 study by Australian National University confirms that the PFAS exposure does carry some risk, but that most exposure comes from contaminated water. If EU regulators really want to make a difference, their legislation should focus on regulating PFAS from a clean water approach, as opposed to a full ban that comes with a long list of externalities.

The proposed ban is also problematic because fundamentally it won’t drive down demand for PFAS. Banning will shift production to countries like China, where environmental considerations are nearly non-existent. As a result, European regulators will be giving China the upper hand for both EV battery production, solar panels, and semiconductors. Not to mention, banning a substance that is key to so many production processes will magnify the damage caused by inflation. For European EV and solar panels producers, the PFAS ban will be a huge hurdle that is extremely difficult to overcome.

If the European Union is really as determined to pursue a transition to EVs as they suggest, the PFAS blanket ban should be called off. Instead, PFAS should be assessed individually and where poor production processes result in water contamination, the government should intervene.

Originally published here

What the US can learn from Europe’s war-induced food crisis

Lift the sanctions on Russia, and we’ll allow for Ukraine to export its food: that was the message that Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko passed on to its European counterparts recently. Moscow has been responsible for blocking Ukrainian transport ships carrying grain from passage through the Black Sea. Around 24 million metric tons of wheat and maize are currently unable to leave the country as prices are exploding. Wheat prices have jumped, now double compared to last year, while maize prices have gone up by 82 percent.

As Europe scrambles to find food imports from other trade partners — Russia being sanctioned and Ukraine unable to export — lawmakers are divided over the steps forward. In fact, the European Union had been discussing a comprehensive reform to its agricultural system through the so-called “Farm to Fork” plans. This roadmap seeks to reduce farmland by 10 percent, cut pesticide use in half, and increase organic farming to a fourth of the overall farmland use, up from the current 8 percent. Farmer representatives had been critical of the plans, and USDA published an impact assessment showing that the reforms would lead to a reduction in GDP between 7 and 12 percent. However, politicians in Brussels insisted that the plans were needed for the sake of the bloc’s carbon dioxide emission reduction targets.

Now that the war in Ukraine rages on longer than anyone expected, the tide is turning.

Both the European Parliament’s largest parliamentary group and France’s President Emmanuel Macron have made it clear that “Farm to Fork” comes at the wrong time and that in wartime Europe cannot afford the ambitious reforms. On top of that comes the pressure from Brexit Britain: England just introduced legislation that would legalize gene-editing in food production, in what is by far the most significant divergence from EU legislation since the exit. An adviser to the UK’s environment department said that this would have numerous benefits, from building crops that are more resistant to the climate crisis, pests and diseases to increasing crop yields, which could help to combat global hunger. All these factors are not just crucial in the long run but can also help the country weather food supply chain disruptions such as those created by the war in Ukraine.

This comes at a time when scientists just developed a gene-edited tomato that boosts vitamin D levels. Between 13 and 19 percent of Britons have a low vitamin D count, making innovations such as these essential.

Lawmakers in the United States have, in the past, attempted to copy European Union food regulations. The Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act (PACTPA), supported by lawmakers including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would copy-paste EU food regulations into federal law. This piece of legislation, which could be approved by Democrats, would undermine the entire American food system as we know it. The United States has always preferred innovation over a hawkish approach to the precautionary principle, which is why, in contrast to Europe, it has assured that food is readily available and affordable. In 2020, Americans spent 5 percent of their disposable income on groceries, compared to 8.7 percent in Ireland (the lowest in the EU), 10.8 percent in Germany, 12 percent in Sweden, 17 percent in Hungary and 25 percent in Romania.

On the worldwide scale of food production, the United States has already fallen behind China and India. Both countries’ stake in food exports is negligible compared to the overall domestic production. However, unburdened by the increasing restrictions on modern agriculture, they could soon increase the economic competition in international food markets. China is already the leading trading partner for an increased number of countries in the world, particularly in developing nations.

The United States cannot afford to fall behind in the world food trade and should guarantee its competitive edge to support its allies in times of crisis.

Originally published here

EU Chemical Policy Could Undermine Semiconductor Manufacturing Efforts

A new report published by the Consumer Choice Center highlights how heavy handed chemical policy could undermine Europe’s efforts for semiconductor manufacturing.

The Consumer Choice Center’s David Clement, co-author of the report explained, “In February the EU announced the European Chips Act, with the goal of increasing supply chain resilience and boosting domestic production from 9% to 20% by 2030. Unfortunately, if the EU gives in to efforts calling for a ban, or phase out of PFAS, the goals of the Chips Act will be impossible to achieve.”

“PFAS, a grouping of 4000+ man-made chemicals, are vital for the production of semiconductors. If the EU seeks to ban their use then increasing domestic chip manufacturing will be incredibly difficult. Europe will ultimately end up failing to meet it’s chip production goals, or it will become almost entirely dependent on China for these chemicals. Both of these scenarios are problematic. If the EU is serious about increasing domestic chip production they have to also work to secure the key inputs involved in the production process, and PFAS are one of those key inputs.” said Clement

“In fact, we know that this is what will happen if the EU opts for a phase out. This is exactly what happened when Belgium paused production at a PFAS chemical plant in response to the tightening of environmental regulations. Reporting done by Business Korea highlighted that semiconductor producers have only 30 to 90 days of coolant inventory left before they will encounter serious production problems.” said Clement

“A clean drinking water approach to PFAS is entirely appropriate, but getting there cannot, and should not, result in outright production bans. If the EU can narrow its sights on proper production processes to avoid water contamination, they can protect European citizens without the chaos of an exacerbated semiconductor shortage,” said Clement.

Originally published here

The demand continues – will supply ever catch up?

In April, the Canadian federal government announced its budget for 2022 with a much-needed focus on building homes over the next decade. Initiatives in the proposal included the launch of a new Housing Accelerator Fund of $4 billion to aid in speeding up housing development, which highlights the obvious demand for homes in this country.

Canada led the G7 in percentage population growth over the last five years (the 5.2% population growth is double that of the United States’ 2.6%). Canada added 1.8 million citizens between 2016-2021 and the federal government has plans to welcome 1.3 million immigrants over the next three years. This population growth is being achieved against the backdrop of a chronic housing supply shortage.  It was reported this year by Consumer Choice Centre that among the G7, Canada has the lowest average housing supply per capita with only 424 units per 1,000 people nationally, a ratio that is lower than it was five years ago. Of all the provinces, Ontario leads this disparity with only 398 units per 1,000 people – requiring 650,000 units to be built just to meet the national average.

With the recent increase in interest rates and construction cost inflation, some developers are taking a pause on launching new products, which will only exacerbate the supply imbalance and contribute to upward pressure on prices in the coming years. Whether for rent or for sale, Canada needs to build more houses, and quickly.

Read the full article here

RYANAIR CONTESTE LES AIDES ÉTATIQUES, ET AVEC RAISON

Si les aides étatiques sans limites ont bénéficié à certaines entreprises, d’autres ont totalement été mises de côté… ce qui pose la question d’une concurrence déloyale, par exemple dans le secteur du transport aérien. 

La compagnie aérienne low-cost Ryanair a passé la majeure partie des deux dernières années à s’attaquer à des cas d’aides d’Etat dans toute l’Europe. La compagnie aérienne estime que les aides gouvernementales accordées aux transporteurs nationaux pendant la pandémie de Covid-19 étaient injustifiées et créaient des avantages concurrentiels injustes.

Avant de commencer, il convient de noter deux choses : tout d’abord, je conçois que de nombreux lecteurs aient pu avoir des expériences négatives avec les compagnies aériennes mentionnées. En tant que grand voyageur moi-même, il m’est arrivé à plusieurs reprises d’être retardé, de rester bloqué dans des aéroports éloignés et d’être totalement ignoré par le service clientèle.

C’est une réalité malheureuse des voyages aériens – parfois pour des raisons météorologiques, parfois à cause de la négligence totale de la compagnie aérienne – mais je ne laisse pas cela influencer mon jugement lorsque j’écris sur les relations louches du gouvernement avec le secteur aérien.

Deuxièmement, pour ceux qui ont lu mon précédent article sur la question de l’aviation : si je pense que le secteur est souvent injustement réglementé et taxé par le gouvernement (comme nous le sommes tous), cela n’exonère pas les grandes entreprises.

En fait, de nombreuses grandes entreprises recherchent spécifiquement des subventions gouvernementales et font pression pour obtenir des politiques désavantageuses pour leurs concurrents. Ryanair elle-même a bénéficié pendant très longtemps de subventions gouvernementales pour les aéroports régionaux en Europe, ce qui lui a permis de proposer des tarifs inférieurs au prix du marché conventionnel.

Des dizaines de milliards pour quelques entreprises

Toutefois (je me rends compte que c’est un grand « toutefois »), la compagnie aérienne irlandaise a tout à fait raison dans son analyse des cas d’aides d’État.

Les contribuables européens ont ainsi payé plus de 30 Mds€ pour soutenir des compagnies aériennes durant la pandémie… Cliquez ici pour lire la suite.

Lufthansa : 9 Mds€. Air France : 4 Mds€. British Airways : 2,5 Mds€. Alitalia : faillite complète (après les sauvetages gouvernementaux des années précédentes) et reprise par l’Etat. Les contribuables européens ont payé pour ces aides, soit directement, soit par le biais de l’inflation provoquée par l’utilisation délibérée de la planche à billets par la banque centrale.

Ryanair conteste 30 Mds€ de ces fonds, en s’appuyant sur le principe juridique de l’Union européenne qui interdit les subventions publiques si elles faussent la concurrence loyale dans l’union. Dans certains cas, notamment ceux de la compagnie aérienne publique portugaise TAP et de la compagnie néerlandaise KLM, la Cour européenne de justice de Luxembourg a estimé que les gouvernements néerlandais et portugais n’avaient pas suffisamment justifié les mesures d’aide.

Toutefois, la Cour n’a pas exigé des compagnies aériennes qu’elles remboursent les prêts « pour l’instant ». Comparez cela à la façon dont les particuliers sont traités lorsqu’ils doivent de l’argent à l’Etat… Malheureusement, dans de nombreux cas, le tribunal de l’UE rejette les affaires engagées par Ryanair en se basant sur le fait que Covid-19 représentait une urgence extraordinaire pour ces compagnies aériennes.

La compagnie irlandaise à bas prix poursuit également des compagnies aériennes, telles que la TAP, pour conserver leurs créneaux horaires dans les aéroports. Les créneaux aéroportuaires en Europe sont organisés selon les règles du « use it or lose it ».

En pratique, si une compagnie aérienne ne dessert pas une certaine route, elle peut ainsi perdre le droit à la connexion, et l’aéroport peut donner le créneau à un concurrent. Cela explique pourquoi, tout au long de cette pandémie, certaines compagnies ont fait voler des avions vides entre certaines destinations… simplement pour conserver leurs créneaux.

Pour contrer cet effet, l’UE a décidé d’exempter temporairement les règles relatives aux créneaux horaires, ce qui a permis aux grandes compagnies aériennes de conserver leurs créneaux et de ne pas les donner à leurs concurrents. De façon perverse, ces compagnies aériennes ont utilisé l’argent des contribuables pour faire pression en faveur de leur avantage concurrentiel, dans les aéroports de tout le continent.

Des difficultés avant le Covid

Voici pourquoi Ryanair a raison : même si les Etats européens n’avaient pas introduit les confinements, le Covid-19 aurait tout de même eu un effet sur le secteur de l’aviation. En effet, dès avril 2020, les compagnies aériennes étaient en difficulté financière. Si des compagnies établies qui opèrent depuis des décennies sont incapables de faire face à une réduction temporaire des tarifs passagers, se pourrait-il qu’elles ne devraient pas opérer sur le marché en premier lieu, et que de nouvelles compagnies améliorent les erreurs commises par leurs prédécesseurs ?

Ryanair est la plus grande compagnie aérienne d’Europe, et bien qu’elle ait reçu du gouvernement irlandais des fonds reliés au Covid, ses aides sont dérisoires par rapport à l’argent empoché par une compagnie comme Lufthansa, qui exploite un réseau de compagnies qui ont toutes reçu des sommes importantes des contribuables autrichiens, suisses ou belges.

Les compagnies aériennes devraient se faire concurrence sur un marché véritablement libre. Oui, elles devraient être exemptes de taxes et de réglementations punitives, mais elles ne devraient pas non plus attendre des contribuables qu’ils paient la facture de leur mauvaise gestion. Lorsque les Européens ont payé pour l’aide Covid, ils ont souvent aussi financé la mauvaise gestion de ces compagnies, comme des acquisitions mal calculées et des projets secondaires.

L’exemple de la compagnie allemande Condor vient à l’esprit (qui a également été attaquée en justice par RyanAir, sans succès) : en septembre 2019, la société mère de Condor, Thomas Cook, s’est effondrée, et pourtant Condor a reçu un prêt du gouvernement allemand pour la sauver de la ruine financière. Maintenant que Condor a reçu une aide d’Etat pendant la crise du Covid-19, juste un an plus tard, l’Etat allemand peut-il démontrer de manière fiable que les dommages subis par la compagnie ne sont dus qu’à la pandémie, ou se pourrait-il que la compagnie aérienne ait déjà fait faillite auparavant ?

Et dans quelle mesure l’aide liée au Covid est-elle justifiée, alors que l’entreprise venait juste de bénéficier d’un prêt pour surmonter la tourmente de l’année précédente ?

Il semble que de nombreux Etats européens financent des compagnies aériennes pour des raisons nationalistes. Le gouvernement allemand, comme tout autre, veut garder les compagnies à l’intérieur de ses frontières, afin qu’elles continuent à payer des impôts dans les caisses du Trésor public. Mais les seuls qui paient réellement les factures sont les consommateurs, et pas seulement par le biais du prix des billets.

Nous devrions plutôt laisser les mauvais acteurs échouer et permettre plus d’innovation et de flexibilité sur le marché européen de l’aviation.

Originally published here

Malaysia Towards A Vape Regulated Nation

Big Industry players are acknowledging that vaping is not risk-free, but there is growing scientific evidence that it is certainly less harmful than smoking cigarettes. Risk-proportionate regulations and taxation for vaping are being called to encourage smokers to switch to a low-risk alternative. With the Malaysian Government introducing a taxation on nicotine vapes, many in the vaping industry are exhaling a sigh of relief as the grey line lingering over nicotine taxation has loomed for the longest time. 

In relation to that, the public are commending the Malaysian government for moving in the right direction of regulating it instead of an outright ban, as vaping products play a crucial role in reducing the enormous health burden caused by cigarette smoking.

Malaysia towards regulating vape products 

The aftermath of banning vaping will only open doors for the prevalence of the black market, which poses the danger of owning and inhaling substandard products. With nicotine vapes being legal for sale and consumption, the lack of regulation needs to be addressed to prevent consumers from falling prey to black market products, perceiving netizens who are forthrightly switching to vaping as a choice. 

It is in the best interest of the nation to quickly roll out proper regulations to benefit the Malaysian economy as it could lose an estimated RM1 billion tax revenue from vape products alone, being too substantial to remain unregulated. 

Read the full article here

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