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La fin du courrier sous film plastique ?

Le 28 février 2019, un arrêté du Gouvernement wallon favorisant la prévention de certains déchets et la propreté publique a été adopté. Il interdit les envois postaux sous film plastique, tout en prenant en compte la nécessité de laisser un temps d’adaptation aux acteurs.

Il considère ainsi que « la mise sous film plastique des publications gratuites n’est pas indispensable à leur distribution, et que les alternatives avérées sont disponibles sur le marché, notamment pour le regroupement des publications, leur protection éventuelle et leur adressage ». Fini donc le film plastique autour des envois postaux, les entreprises devront mettre en œuvre d’autres moyens (écologiques) pour protéger ou regrouper leurs envois postaux.

Champ d’application

L’arrêté vise principalement les « imprimés publicitaires », terme qui englobe les catalogues, documents promotionnels, bons de commandes, offres, et tout autre document envoyé par les entreprises de vente en ligne.

La presse d’information gratuite est également soumise à l’interdiction, mais uniquement si la publication remplit plusieurs conditions cumulatives portant notamment sur la périodicité et le type de contenu (information à portée locale, petites annonces, manifestations culturelles, enquêtes publiques, etc.).

La nouvelle réglementation revêt néanmoins un bémol, et non des moindres : elle ne concerne que la distribution d’imprimés publicitaires sur le territoire de la région wallonne. Les autres régions (flamande et bruxelloise) ne sont pas concernées.

Interdiction immédiate ou progressive ?

Pour les imprimés publicitaires sous film plastique qui ne faisaient l’objet d’aucune distribution sous film plastique avant le 28 avril 2019, leur distribution sous film plastique est directement et immédiatement interdite en Région wallonne.

Pour les imprimés publicitaires qui faisaient déjà l’objet d’envoi sous film plastique avant le 28 avril 2019, il a été prévu une réduction progressive de leur usage jusqu’à leur suppression complète au 31 décembre 2022.

Les objectifs de réduction sont les suivants :

  • pour le 31 décembre 2019 : réduction de minimum 20 % de la quantité de films plastiques utilisés en 2017 ;
  • pour le 31 décembre 2020 : la réduction de minimum 30 % de cette quantité ;
  • pour le 31 décembre 2021 : la réduction de minimum 50 % de cette quantité ;
  • pour le 31 décembre 2022 : la suppression totale des films plastiques.

Lorsque les données ne sont pas disponibles pour 2017, l’année de référence pourra être 2018 (moyennant due motivation et démonstration auprès de l’administration).

La quantité de films plastiques s’entend du tonnage de films plastiques destinés à la région wallonne ou, lorsque les données ne sont pas disponibles, et moyennant due motivation et démonstration de l’équivalence, le nombre de films utilisés.

Les obligations de rapport annuel

 Pour le 1er mars de chaque année, les distributeurs d’imprimés publicitaires devront faire rapport à l’administration (à savoir le Département sols et déchets (DSD) du SPW Agriculture, ressources naturelles et environnement) reprenant :

  • Le nombre de publications emballées dans du film plastique et distribuées en Wallonie l’année précédente ;
  • Les producteurs respectifs de ces publications ;
  • L’année de référence ;
  • Le tonnage correspondant de films plastiques.

Le format et les modalités des rapports et communications sont pour le moment libres, mais l’administration pourra les préciser ultérieurement. Possibilité qu’elle examine en ce moment-même.

Les distributeurs peuvent confier l’exécution collective de tout ou partie de leurs obligations de rapport à un tiers, à condition d’en communiquer les coordonnées à l’administration.

Les sanctions

Le non-respect de l’obligation de réduction progressive est une infraction de catégorie 2, conformément à l’article 51 du décret du 27 juin 1996 relatif aux déchets.

Il peut être puni d’une amende d’au moins 100 euros et de maximum 1.000.000 euros. Théoriquement, le responsable pourrait également être puni d’un emprisonnement de huit jours à trois ans.

Les peines maximales pourront être doublées en cas de récidive dans les 3 ans.

L’infraction pourra également être poursuivie par voie d’amende administrative d’un montant de 50 à 100.000 euros.

En 2021, de nouvelles sanctions entreront en vigueur. Les sanctions pénales resteront identiques, mais les sanctions administratives seront quant à elles augmentées à un montant allant de 150 à 200.000 euros. Des mesures d’exécution à prendre par le prochain Gouvernement pourront le cas échéant prévoir l’application exclusive de sanctions administratives ou l’application de mécanismes transactionnels pour certaines infractions.

Conclusion

L’arrêté du 28 avril 2019 a le mérite de prendre une mesure forte et très concrète pour la protection de l’environnement et la réduction des déchets plastiques.

Il est néanmoins regrettable que les Régions n’ont pas pu se mettre d’accord sur des mesures qui seraient uniformes sur l’ensemble du territoire.

D’ici-là, reste à espérer que l’exemple wallon sera suivi par les autres Régions ou que les entreprises adopteront de leur plein gré ces mesures à l’ensemble de leurs envois postaux.

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Laurent de Brouwer et Charlotte Behets Wydemans

Our Digital Finance Team interviewed on the latest FinTech Trends

Catherine Houssa, Partner in our Digital Finance Team, was interviewed on the latest FinTech trends by La Libre Belgique in a special edition dedicated to the take-off of tech in Brussels.

An opportunity to also highlight the advantages of Brussels as a set-up point for FinTechs willing to reach all of Europe.

The full article is available here.

UBO Register – Important updates in the FAQ document

An important update of the UBO Register FAQ document has been published by the Federal Public Service Finance on 2 April 2019. It provides a number of clarifications on the scope of the regulations, notably with respect to the notion of senior managing official, the situation in case of a usufruct / bare ownership, co-ownership, shareholders’ agreements… It also confirms that UBOs will have the right to know who consults their data. The updated FAQ document is available here: http://bit.ly/QandA-ubo

For any question, please contact Sandrine Hirsch or Nikita Tissot.

The final text of the new Companies Code has been published

Today has been published the Law of 23 March 2019 introducing the Code of companies and associations and amending certain other regulations (notably the Law on takeover bids). The final text is now available here.

For any assistance, please contact Sandrine Hirsch or Nikita Tissot.

New Copyright Directive approved by the EU Parliament

On 26 March 2019, a fierce battle took place in the arena of the EU Parliament. Arguments flowing back and forward resulted in a close majority in favour of the supporters of the new Directive (EU) 2019 of the European Parliament and of the Council on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market and amending Directives 96/9/EC and 2001/29/EC (hereinafter: the New Copyright Directive). You may find the debate here and the final text as adopted here.

The fact that the European Commission launched the proposal back in September 2016 with a legislative process lasting nearly two and a half years and only 348 Members of the European Parliament (hereinafter: MEP) voting in favour, while 274 MEP voted against and 36 MEP abstained, illustrates the controversial nature of the New Copyright Directive. This led to the adoption of the current text containing merely 32 articles to be accompanied with almost three times that amount of recitals, i.e. 86.

Closing the value gap

The biggest battle was fought over the new obligations and the personal scope of Online Content-Sharing Service Providers (hereinafter: OCSSP). When reading between the lines of the personal scope, the thresholds and the exemptions, it seems that the new rules on the internet are tailored towards big information society service providers such as YouTube, Facebook and similar platforms. The goal of the New Copyright Directive is clear: the EU only intends to regulate the internet to the extent necessary to tackle the famous “value gap” and ensure appropriate remuneration for rightholders for the use of their protected works on the internet.

Under the New Copyright Directive, an OCSSP means “a provider of information society service of which the main or one of the main purposes is to store and give the public access to a large amount of copyright-protected works or other protected subject matter uploaded by its users, which it organises and promotes for profit-making purposes”.

Despite clear indications, the New Copyright Directive still leaves room for interpretation of this new key concept. It will be interesting to see how courts will define the boundaries and interpret the open notions like “main” and “large”. What is certain, is that activities of providers of services like Wikipedia (online encyclopaedia), Dropbox (online storage), eBay (online marketplace) and Telenet or Belgacom (electronic communication services) are not included in the scope as they are explicitly excluded for the reason that they do not have as their main purpose to give to the public access to a large amount of copyright-protected works.

The new obligations on OCSSP flowing from the New Copyright Directive include amongst others that OCSSP must now obtain an authorisation in exchange for an appropriate remuneration from the rightholders in order to communicate the protected works to the public. In the event that they cannot obtain such authorisation, they must demonstrate best efforts to obtain it, demonstrate best efforts to make unavailable unauthorised content for which relevant and necessary information was provided and organise an expeditious notice, take down and stay down mechanism for unauthorised content. The latter must include an effective and expeditious complaint and redress mechanism with a human review in the event of disputes. At the same time, the OCSSP must refrain from general monitoring and over-blocking.

Other key features of the New Copyright Directive

Besides the above-mentioned, other key features of the New Copyright Directive include:

  • New exceptions and limitations covering text and datamining, the use of works in digital and cross-border teaching activities and copies made for the preservation of cultural heritage
  • Measures to ensure wider access to out-of commerce works by providing the grant of non-exclusive licences to cultural heritage institutions for non-commercial purposes, together with measures to ensure transparency and stakeholder dialogue
  • Measures to facilitate collective licensing and rules governing collective management organisations offering such collective licenses
  • Negotiation mechanism to assist parties facing difficulties related to the licensing of rights for the purpose of making available audiovisual works on VOD platforms
  • New publisher’s rights with regard to online uses of their press publications
  • A right for authors and performers to receive information as well as appropriate and proportionate remuneration when they license or transfer their exclusive rights
  • A right of revocation for authors and performers in case of a lack of exploitation after transferring or licensing their rights on an exclusive basis

Conclusion

The journey is far from over. The Council of Ministers still has to give its final opinion over the New Copyright Directive and it is expected that it will accept the final text on 9 April 2019. After that, the text will be published in the Official Journal and the Member States will have 2 years after the date of entry into force of the directive to transpose it into their national laws.

The rules laid down in this new directive aim at creating a fair balance between access to creative works and appropriate remuneration for the rightholders. It would be in the interest of all stakeholders that users and rightholders come to a mutual understanding and conclude the necessary licenses to keep contents available while at the same time ensuring appropriate remuneration of the rightholders, and ultimately prove the sceptics wrong.

We will keep monitoring the progress of the New Copyright Directive and its implementation and keep you updated.

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Philippe CampoliniPeter Blomme and Christopher Dumont

For any question, do not hesitate to contact the authors:
philippe.campolini@simontbraun.eu – +32 2 533 17 52
peter.blomme@simontbraun.eu  – +32 2 533 17 13
christopher.dumont@simontbraun.eu – +32 2 533 17 58

Register of Beneficial Owners – Obligation to identify UBOs

1) INTRODUCTION

The Belgian anti-money laundering regulations (the Law of 18 September 2017 and the Royal Decree of 30 July 2018) require all companies, non-profit-making organisation and foundations, as well as trusts, fiduciaries and other similar legal entities managed from Belgium, which are the responsible “information providers”, to obtain and hold adequate, accurate and up to date information on their “beneficial owners” (UBO) and to transmit it to the UBO Register, managed by the General Administration of the Treasury.

2) DEFINITION OF UBO

UBO are individuals who directly or indirectly exercise effective control over information providers. There are different categories of UBO depending on the type of control exercised and on the type of information provider.

For companies, the following are considered as beneficial owners:

  1. Individual(s) who directly or indirectly has/have ownership of a sufficient percentage of voting rights or own sufficient shares in the company (an indication of a sufficient percentage is the possession, directly or via ownership interest held by one or more companies, of more than 25% of voting rights or of shareholding);
  2. Individual(s) who control via other means (such as via a shareholders’ agreement) ;
  3. In the case no individual(s) is/are found under the first two categories, the senior manager.

Others persons qualify as UBO for non-profit-making organisations, foundations, trusts, fiduciaries or other similar legal entities. If your entity corresponds to one of those, we will provide you with further details.

 3) INFORMATION TO PROVIDE

As mentioned in the Royal Decree, the following information regarding each beneficial owner must be communicated to the UBO Register by the company which is the information provider:

  1. last name, first name, date of birth (day/month/year), citizenship(s), country of residence, complete address of permanent residence, date on which they became the UBO of the company, national registry number or registration number with the Crossroads-Bank for Companies (or overseas equivalent),
  2. the relevant category of UBO to which he/she belongs,
  3. if he/she is a direct or indirect UBO (via one or more other entities),
  4. if the individual(s) meets the criteria alone or in coordination with others,
  5. for indirect beneficial owners, full identification of each of the intermediary entities is required,
  6. the percentage of shares or voting rights owned and,
  7. in case of indirect holding or control, the percentage of shares or weighted voting rights held in the company.

4) ACCESS TO THE REGISTER

The UBO Register is an online register accessible on the FPS Finance website.

UBO Register data are accessible not only to the competent authorities and obliged entities (notably the Ministry of Finance, the tax authorities, the Belgian Financial Intelligence Processing Unit (CTIF), the police, the National Bank of Belgium, the FSMA, company auditors, accountants, lawyers, notaries, bailiffs, etc.), but also, for companies, to all members of the “general public”, in line with the increased transparency principle enshrined in the 5th Anti-Money Laundering directive.

However, those persons will not have access to the first name, the exact date of birth, the complete address of residence, the national registry number or equivalent of the beneficial owners.

All consultations of the register made by those persons will be recorded and kept for a period of 10 years.

The data held in the register will also be kept for a period of 10 years after the date of loss of legal personality of the information provider or the date on which it ceased its activities.

5) REQUEST FOF DEROGATION

A request for derogation can be made via the UBO Register online platform. In this case, access for the general public to the information is suspended until the General Administration of the Treasury grants or declines to accept the derogation.

In principle, a derogation may only by granted under exceptional circumstances, expressed as follows under in the directive:

“in the event the beneficial owner concerned demonstrates that this access exposes him/her to disproportionate risk, to risk of fraud, kidnapping, blackmail, extortion, harassment, violence or intimidation, or in the event the beneficial owner is a minor or incapacitated”. 

A specific request may also be made directly via the General Administration of the Treasury.

Supporting documents which evidence the derogation request must be attached to the official request.

6) DEADLINE

The different entities must transmit the information to the UBO Register before 30 September 2019.

Administrative or criminal fines will apply in case of non-compliance by companies and more particularly by the directors of their obligations. The fines range between 250 EUR and 50,000 EUR.

Thereafter, all modifications must be recorded within a one month period.

Moreover, the information recorded in the Register must be confirmed annually by the information providers. The companies are required to establish a procedure which ensures it is possible to make information available and to keep up to date and correct information, clearly identifying their beneficial owners.

7) FORMALITIES

Companies are required to take the following measures:

  1. Set up internal procedures to facilitate the collection of the requested information and communication of any potential changes relating to it;
  2. Identify the beneficial owners and their corresponding category(ies), and where necessary compile the documents testifying to the veracity of the information communicated (e.g.: a copy of an identity card, a shareholder register, a notarial deed, articles of association of the intermediary company in case of indirect ownership).
  3. Appoint the legal representative or an external representative with an E-ID card who will be responsible for providing the information listed in the Royal Decree via MyMinFin on behalf of the information provider. In the scenario an external representative is chosen, it may be either an internal agent to the information provider or an external agent (e.g. an accountant, a legal advisor, a natural or legal person).

Practical information is available on the website of the Federal Public Service Finance, particularly under the FAQ document.

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Sandrine Hirsch and Nikita Tissot

For any question, do not hesitate to contact the authors:
sandrine.hirsch@simontbraun.eu – +32 2 533 17 64
nikita.tissot@simontbraun.eu  – +32 2 533 17 06

 

Simont Braun secures major victory for Wolu TV against Telenet

Simont Braun (Emmanuel Cornu and Thomas Derval) secured an important victory for Wolu TV ASBL against Telenet.

Our lawyers successfully represented the association before the Brussels Business Court in a compensation claim brought by the telecom company.

Read more in an article by Nicolas Keszei published yesterday in L’Echo.