European Commission

Law
Valve and five other PC game publishers fined €7,8 million for "geo-blocking" practices by EU Commission
Valve and five other PC game publishers fined €7,8 million for "geo-blocking" practices by EU Commission
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

Valve and five publishers of video games are to pay fines of 7,8 million euros according to the will of EU competition regulators. As the EU Commission announced on Wednesday, EU antitrust law had been violated.

The other companies affected are Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and ZeniMax, also among the better-known names in the industry.

The companies are accused of preventing consumers from using purchased video games in other EU countries. Specifically, it has been criticized that game keys - that are required on Steam to unlock games, only work within certain national borders.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
EU Commission orders up to 300 million more vaccine doses from BioNtech
EU Commission orders up to 300 million more vaccine doses from BioNtech
Credit: Ashles Winkler for Pendect

The EU Commission has concluded a contract for up to 300 million more doses of the Corona vaccine from the Mainz-based company BioNtech and its US partner Pfizer. 75 million doses of this should be available as early as the second quarter of 2021, EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in Brussels on Friday.

Back in November, the EU Commission ordered up to 300 million doses of vaccine from BioNtech/Pfizer for all 27 states - a firm order for 200 million doses and an option for 100 million more, which was recently pulled.

In Germany, BioNtech is currently working on a new production site in Marburg. If this goes into operation in February as planned, the company will be able to massively expand vaccine production.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
UK and EU agree to extend Brexit negotiations past Sunday deadline
UK and EU agree to extend Brexit negotiations past Sunday deadline
Credit: TPCOM (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

In a joint statement, the United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said it was "responsible at this point to go the extra mile" and extend Brexit trade talks beyond a self-imposed deadline.

"We had a useful call with Boris Johnson this morning. We agreed that talks will continue," announced von der Leyen earlier Sunday.

The talks were initially extended until Sunday after Wednesday's meeting between von der Leyen and the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, billed as a "last-ditch effort," ended without an agreement.

Earlier this week, a joint statement by Johnson and von der Leyen cited three "critical" sticking points: fishing rights, the UK's ability to diverge on EU standards, and legal oversight of any deal.

Technology • Internet & Web
Brussels accuses Amazon of violating antitrust laws by illegally using company data
Brussels accuses Amazon of violating antitrust laws by illegally using company data
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager announced that the Competition Department has opened a new investigation against the US company for commercial practices linked to its premium programmed which could constitute an abuse of its dominant market position. "We have come to the preliminary conclusion that Amazon has illegally abused its dominant position as a market service provider in Germany and France by using confidential data on a large scale to compete with smaller retailers."

As a service provider, the Seattle-based company has access to the private business data of its vendors, their volume of visits, sales and shipments, and even the complaints they receive from customers.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
EU Commission removes upload filters from digital package
Archive - protest against European Upload Filters in 2019
Archive - protest against European Upload Filters in 2019 Credit: unsplash.com / Markus Spiske

In a new proposal the legislators at the European Commission have removed a general filter obligation for uploaded content to digital platforms.

The original proposal would've required operators of digital communication platforms who want to continue to enjoy freedom from liability - the non-responsibility for content published by users - should proactively check for violations. This includes checking for copyright infringements or illegal content such as child pornography.

Whether and what replaces the filter obligation is currently still open.

Lifestyle • Citytrips
Cluj-Napoca, a city in Romania, in the finals for European Capital of Innovation
Cluj-Napoca, a city in Romania, in the finals for European Capital of Innovation
Credit: European Commission

The finals include the following cities: Espoo (Finland), Helsingborg (Sweden), Leuven (Belgium), Valencia (Spain), Vienna (Austria), and Cluj-Napoca (Romania).

The winner of the competition, to be announced on September 24, receives €1 million, which is to be used in consolidating activities which innovate the infrastructure. The five runners-up will receive  €100,000 each.

Health
Second Ebola vaccine receives approval by European Commission
Second Ebola vaccine receives approval by European Commission
Credit: Government of Prince Edward Island (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The medical and pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson has received approval for their Ebola vaccine by the European Commission.

Both components of the two-dose vaccine for the prevention of the virus have been approved and the company hopes that this will lead to "accelerated registration" in African countries. J&J is the second company to receive approval for an Ebola vaccine after Merck.

Health
Netflix reduces streaming quality in Europe

Following the coronavirus outbreak, more and more people in different European countries are voluntarily staying at home or forced due to movement restrictions. With this comes a higher internet usage throughout the whole continent. After talks between Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, and the Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, the streaming service has announced that it would reduce the data consumption by 25% by lowering the picture quality and therefore "preserve the smooth functioning of the internet during the Covid-19 crisis".