Archive pour la catégorie ‘Public management’

Cohesion spending increase

Vendredi 27 janvier 2012

The budgetary constraints currently faced by Member States mean that the EU’s structural funds are an ever more valuable source of growth-enhancing investment especially in the regions that need it most.

The effective use of these funds gathered pace in 2011, with payments to Member States from last year’s cohesion policy budget hitting a record €32.9 billion, an 8% increase on the €30.5 billion paid out in 2010. This higher payment rate from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund for 2011 also reflects the fact that we are well into the second half of the 2007-2013 financial framework, which is when most invoices are submitted. EU structural funds in 2011 helped to further the Single Market through investments in a broad range of strategic and growth-enhancing areas, including broadband connections, research and development infrastructure, innovation projects, new Small- and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and education.

In addition, the European Commission has taken measures to prioritise growth-enhancing investments. For example, temporary “top-up” payments worth €374 million were made in 2011 to Greece and Romania, following the entry into force of new rules to support the economies of Member States experiencing difficulties in terms of financial stability.

In Greece, a total of €11.5 billion will be invested in around 180 priority projects, leading to the creation of between 90,000 and 108,000 jobs.

For Italy, an action plan for the southern or Mezzogiorno regions will enable €3.1 billion of EU and national funding to be invested rapidly in regional projects in education and school infrastructure, broadband, railways and supporting SMEs. This is the result of a reprogramming of funds, in cooperation with the national and regional authorities, to trigger much-needed growth in crucial sectors.

The Commission has also called on Member States to use €22bn of European Social Fund money not yet committed to projects to improve job opportunities for young people. Today one in five youngsters looking for work cannot find a job. The new ‘Youth Opportunities Initiative’ is pleading for Member State to work on preventing early school leaving; helping youngsters develop skills relevant to the labour market; ensuring work experience and on-the-job training and helping young people find a first good job. The European Commission has also set out concrete actions to be financed directly by EU funds.

Background

At the end of 2011, the average payment rate for all three funds (European Regional Development Fund, European Social Fund and Cohesion Fund) in the EU was 33.4% of the amounts allocated for the 2007-2013 period. These rates vary significantly between countries, from 16.5% to 48.3%; while the analysis per fund reveals that the ERDF payments increased by 55% year-on-year from 22.3% at end 2010 to 34.3% at end 2011. For ESF, the payment rate has increased by 52%, from 23.25% at end 2010 to 35.43% at end 2011 (total advanced and interim payments). There are still differences between countries that vary from18.68% to 60.43%, but in all member states an improvement can be noticed.

The European Union believes in growth based on trade

Vendredi 27 janvier 2012

A range of proposals to make trade and development instruments work hand-in-hand to ensure real poverty reduction across the world are presented by the European Commission today.

The proposals aim at reinforcing the trade capacities of developing countries by making trade part of their development strategy. And to ensure we hit our target, the EU is currently looking into better ways of differentiating between developing countries to ensure the world’s poorest countries receive our biggest help. The role of trade is underlined in the proposal as one of the key drivers to support development, stimulate growth and to lift people out of poverty. Furthermore, today the EU calls for all developed economies to match its significant levels of market access to developing countries.

While the EU already provides more trade-related development assistance than the rest of the world put together, the Communication “Trade, growth and development” assesses the main next steps. For example: the traditional group of “developing countries” is outdated amid the rise of emerging economies. More tailor-made trade and development policies are needed that go beyond reducing customs duties at borders (tariff reductions), and tackle the major problem of improving the ‘business environment’.

To achieve this goal, the proposal underlines that developing countries’ leadership must also face up to their responsibilities. Developing countries need to undertake domestic reforms to ensure that the poor do indeed benefit from trade-led growth.

The Commission proposes a number of ways to improve the effectiveness of EU trade and development policy including:

reforming the EU’s preferential trade schemes to focus more on the poorest countries,
stepping up negotiations on free trade agreements with our developing country partners. These must look beyond tariffs to tackle the real barriers to trade,
increasing the use of EU instruments to promote foreign direct investment, including relevant provisions in free trade agreements to enhance legal certainty and combining EU grants with loans or risk capital to support the financial viability of strategic investments,
facilitating developing country exporters, especially small operators, to enter the EU,
assisting developing countries to improve their domestic business environment, meet international quality, labour and environmental standards and take better advantage of trade opportunities offered by open and integrated markets,
using trade measures to help mitigate the effects of natural disasters and tackle conflict catalysts, including in mining activities.
It also calls on emerging economies to assume more responsibility for opening their markets to LDCs through preferential schemes but also on a non-discriminatory basis towards the rest of the WTO membership, of which four-fifths are developing countries. At the same time, the EU offers emerging economies a more mature partnership that includes regulatory cooperation and engagement on global issues which are essential for development such as food security, sustainable use of natural resources, green growth and climate change.

Background
The EU leads the way in providing trade support to the developing countries:

- The EU imports more goods from developing countries than any other market. It is also the biggest market for developing world agricultural exports. Almost 70% of all agricultural imports to the EU comes from developing countries;
- developing countries benefit from EU preferences in the form of eliminated or significantly reduced tariffs for their goods (under the “General System of Preferences”);
- the Everything But Arms initiative offers duty free and quota free access to our markets for all Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and for all products except arms and is the most generous preferential import regime in the world;
the EU is leading world efforts for a package for LDCs in the multilateral trade talks;
- the EU supports the domestic reforms in developing countries needed for trade to fully contribute to development;
- The EU and its Member States are the world’s largest provider of Aid for Trade, which helps partners develop trade strategies, build trade-related infrastructure and improve productive capacity. The EU combined annual Aid for Trade reached €10.5 billion in 2009, maintaining the all-time high registered the year before;
- A substantial increase was also reported for EU Trade-Related Assistance (which is a sub-category of Aid for Trade that focuses on strategic trade issues such as policy development, regulation or regional integration). This brings the collective amount to nearly €3 billion, well above the target to spend €2 billion per year on Trade Related Assistance from 2010. Sub-Saharan Africa is the main beneficiary of EU Trade Related Assistance, with its share of collective EU Trade Related Assistance increasing from 15% to 28% between 2008 and 2009.

The Parlementarium celebrates 100 days successfully.

Mercredi 25 janvier 2012

Over 64,000 visitors interested in how the EU and Parliament work have experienced the Parlamentarium since Europe’s largest parliamentary visitors centre opened 100 days ago. The European Parliament’s visitors centre allows children and adults to discover Europe’s history and how the decisions that influence our daily lives are made in a modern and interactive way.

Parlamentarium opened to the public on 14 October and has gained popularity as a Brussels attraction. It is ranked among the top things to do in Brussels on the “Tripadvisor” travel information site.

The visit is accessible in the 23 official EU languages, with sign language in English, French, German and Dutch. Admission is free, it is open seven days a week and the centre is fully accessible to visitors with special needs. It also offers a role play game in which students can step into an MEP’s shoes.

The European Union backs greener traffic management

Mardi 24 janvier 2012

The three-year project, titled THE ISSUE, brings together five European regions in the United Kingdom, Italy, France and Poland.

With a EUR 2.7 million boost as part of the ‘Regions of knowledge’ Theme of the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), the project partners will support scientists, engineers and development agencies from the different regions to work together and develop more effective methods of easing road congestion and improving the urban environment.

Traffic management systems use information and communication technologies (ICT) applied to both transport infrastructure and vehicles in order to improve life on the roads for everyone. This can be in terms of safety, reliability or even productivity. Increasingly, traffic management systems are also addressing the need to tackle environmental factors.

The ultimate aim is to influence future policy so that traffic management systems that benefit public health and safety are widely implemented. The main trouble areas when it comes to traffic management are how transport impacts on urban mobility, how green our transport system is, and the health, safety and security of citizens.

In THE ISSUE project diverse technologies and research applications will be used to tackle these traffic management issues. One such example is the integration of computer intelligence solutions and real-time satellite navigation data into existing operational urban traffic management systems. Two other practical approaches are space and in situ measurements to help mitigate risk to citizens’ health from traffic-induced air pollution, and technology demonstration and pre-operational real-time trials of a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car operating in a city environment.

The project is being headed up by researchers from the University of Leicester and Leicester City Council in the United Kingdom.

Councillor Rory Palmer from Leicester City Council spoke about the project: ‘Making Leicester a low carbon city is one of our main priorities and this kind of research will be essential to helping tackle issues around congestion and air quality in the future. I am proud that the city council can help make this work possible.’

Project leader Professor Alan Wells from the University of Leicester’s Space Research Centre said: ‘With the EU funding we have secured, we can now coordinate different research activities in the same general areas of traffic and the environment that are being carried out by partners from across Europe. These sort of outcomes have never been brought together in this way before.’

The main objective of the ‘Regions of Knowledge’ Theme of the FP7 is to promote knowledge exchange and cooperation between European regions so as to stimulate economic growth and job creation. THE ISSUE project aims to create vibrant partnerships between different regional research clusters to bring together and coordinate existing and forthcoming research and technological development (RTD) programmes relevant to traffic, health and the environment.

The idea is that by holding consultations, participating regional and local authorities can identify economic priorities specific to certain regions, and ensure that their research priorities are in line with their traffic, health and environment policies.

‘The scientific teams at the heart of the project will be working closely with the bodies responsible for managing traffic, transport and air quality in the UK and European regions to explore how this research can be of value to them,’ says Professor Alan Wells. ‘Our aim is to draw on the strengths of industry and academics working in partnership. We have to be mindful at all stages of the connection between research, policy and how what we are developing can make a difference to the quality of people’s lives.’

The European Commission calls for fiscal discipline still.

Lundi 23 janvier 2012

For the second consecutive year, Brussels urges Member States the utmost restraint.

Today, EU financial programming and budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski sent a letter to the heads of all EU institutions stating that numerous Member States are operating cuts in their administrative expenditure due to the current economic and financial crisis. “Therefore, adds Commissioner Lewandowski, it is of the utmost importance to continue to demonstrate that the EU institutions are acting responsibly in the current climate of austerity”.

The Commission wants to lead by example: in 2013, it intends to reduce the number of posts in its establishment plans by 1%, as the first step towards a 5% staff reduction over the next five years. This is in line with its proposal for the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) calling for a cut across all EU institutions.

In 2012, the Commission voluntarily froze its own administrative expenditure, i.e. a 0.0% nominal increase compared to the 2011 budget. This was achieved by significantly reducing expenditure linked to buildings, information and communication technology, studies, publications, missions, conferences and meetings.

Background
- During the first months of each year the European Commission establishes the draft EU budget based on estimates of expenditure sent by all EU institutions.
- Article 314 of the Lisbon Treaty states that “the Commission shall consolidate these estimates in a draft budget which may contain different estimates”.
- Last February (2011), Commissioner Lewandowski issued a similar letter to the heads of all EU institutions urging them to cut expenditures in such areas as IT, publications, travel…
Administrative expenditure (functioning costs of the EU institutions) represents about 5.8% of the total EU budget.
- In 2012, the European Commission froze its administrative expenditure due to the current economic and financial crisis.
- Within the 5.8% of administrative expenditure the Commission’s share is about 40% as compared to other EU institutions. Therefore, the overall evolution of administrative expenditure depends also on budgetary requirements from other EU institutions.

The European Parliament wants tighter controls for phytosanitary products

Jeudi 19 janvier 2012

The main objective is to reduce hazards on the environment and human health.

Safer sofas

The updated legislation closes a loophole so that treated products - such as furniture sprayed with fungicide or anti-bacterial kitchen worktops - will be included under the rules and labelled. Agricultural pesticides will continue to be covered by other EU legislation.

Restricting harmful substances

The most problematic substances - such as those that are carcinogenic, affect genes or hormones or are toxic to reproduction - should in principle be banned. Exceptions should only be made in Member States where strictly necessary, for example if a biocide is needed to safeguard against a specific danger to health. Approvals and renewals will be time-limited, while safer alternatives are developed.

Concerned about possible risks of nanotechnology, MEPs secured separate safety checks and labelling for products containing nano-sized materials.

Opening up the market

The new legislation further harmonises the EU market for biocidal products and sets deadlines for applications to be assessed. The recognition of approvals among Member States will be improved and the possibility to apply for authorisation at EU level will be phased in from 2013, becoming possible for most biocidal products by 2020.

Reducing animal testing

To avoid duplicating tests on animals, companies will be required to share data in exchange for fair compensation

The European Parliament tracks down the waste

Jeudi 19 janvier 2012

Parliament passed a resolution to halve the food wastage in Europe.

Since food is wasted at all stages - by producers, processors, retailers, caterers and consumers, MEPs call for a co-ordinated strategy, combining EU-wide and national measures, to improve the efficiency of food supply and consumption chains sector by sector and to tackle food wastage as a matter of urgency. If nothing is done, food wastage will grow 40% by 2020, says a study published by the Commission.

Better education to avoid excessive waste

To drastically reduce food wastage by 2025, new awareness campaigns should be run at both EU and national levels to inform the public how to avoid wasting food, says the resolution. Member States should introduce school and college courses explaining how to store, cook and dispose of food and also exchange best practices to this end. To promote the idea of using food sustainably, MEPs called for 2014 to be designated as “European year against food waste”.

Proper labelling and packaging

To avoid situations in which retailers offer food too close to its expiry date and thus increasing the potential for wastage, dual-date labelling could be introduced to show until when food may be sold (sell-by date) and until when it may consumed (use-by date), says the resolution.

It adds that the European Commission and Member States should nonetheless first ensure that customers understand the difference between labels currently used within the EU, such as the quality-related “best before” and safety-related “use by” dates.

To enable consumers to buy just the amounts they need, food packaging should be offered in a range of sizes and designed to conserve food better. Foods close to their expiry dates and damaged food products should be sold at discounted prices, to make them more accessible to people in need, MEPs say.

Public institutions should favour responsible caterers

Public procurement rules for catering and hospitality should be updated to ensure that where possible, contracts are awarded to catering companies that use local produce and give away or redistribute leftover food to poorer people or food banks free of charge, rather than just disposing of it.

EU-level support measures such as distributing food to least-favoured citizens or programmes encouraging consumption of fruit and milk in schools should also be retargeted with a view to preventing food waste, adds the resolution.

MEPs also welcomed existing initiatives in some Member States to recover unsold food and offer it to needy citizens and called on retailers to take part in such programmes.

Food wastage figures

Current wastage in EU27: 89 million tonnes per annum (i.e. 179 kg per capita)

Projection for 2020 (if no action is taken): 126 million tonnes (i.e. a 40% increase)

Responsibility for food waste:

- households: 42% (60% of which is avoidable)
- manufacturers: 39%
- retailers: 5%
- catering sector: 14%

Martin Schulz elected new president of the European Parliament

Mardi 17 janvier 2012

Tuesday morning MEPs elected German Socialist Martin Schulz as president. He will lead the EP until the next European elections in June 2014.

Martin Schulz was born 20 December 1955 in Hehlrath - a small German city close to the German-Dutch-Belgian border. After high school he apprenticed as a bookseller and opened his own store in Würselen in 1982, which he ran for 12 years.

He began his political career at 19, joining the German Social Democratic Party. At 31 he became the youngest mayor of Germany’s most populous Land, North Rhine-Westphalia, when he was elected mayor of Würselen, a post he held for 11 years. “This time shaped my enthusiasm for Europe and the conviction that I wanted to help build and advance the European project,” he says of his time as a local politician.

Elected to the EP in 1994, Schulz has served on a number of committees, including the sub-committee on Human Rights and the Civil Liberties Committee. He led the German delegation of the Socialist group (SPD members) from 2000 and was also a vice-chair of the Socialist Group in the EP. He was elected group leader in 2004, a position held until he was elected EP president. Since 2009, Schulz has also acted as representative for European Affairs for Germany’s SPD party and his views have deeply influenced his party’s pro-European politics.

He is known as a man of convictions who is not afraid to speak his mind. This once provoked a now famous insult from the former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi during a plenary session in Strasbourg in 2003.

A well known face in European politics, he nevertheless maintains a strong link with his constituency. “For many years, I served as mayor of my town and listening to people’s concerns and answering their questions was my daily business. This still remains a very important part of my job,” he said.

A passion for books…and football

His wife is a gardener and landscape architect and they have two children. His hobbies include reading, history and football – he roots for his local club 1. FC Köln. Among his favourite books is “The Leopard” by Tomasi di Lampedusa and all the books of Eric Hobsbawm.

Together at work

Mardi 17 janvier 2012

The EU is presently facing major challenges and perhaps its greatest challenge ever since the establishment of European cooperation.

The paramount task will be to emerge safely from the current deep crisis in the EU, to ensure economic stability and to create the foundation for future growth and employment. At the same time, Europe must address new cross-border challenges relating to i.a. climate, energy, environment and security. Only in partnership can Europe meet these
challenges.

Through close and trusting cooperation, the Danish Presidency will collaborate with the other Member States, the EU institutions, including the European Commission and the European Parliament, as well as the Trio partners of Poland and Cyprus in a focused way to create the momentum that Europe needs. The Presidency wishes to be an open and credible partner for all parties.

The Presidency will actively support the permanent President of the European Council and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy in their efforts to promote European interests and values.

The Danish Presidency will work for a strong European economy, revitalised growth in the EU and for a stronger EU that effectively addresses the
problems that occupy Europe’s citizens and enterprises on a daily basis. We will unite and strengthen the EU by delivering concrete results that demonstrate the value of European cooperation. In this regard, four main focus areas will lie at the heart of the Danish Presidency:

1. A responsible Europe

Sustainable growth as well as job creation require that Europe emerges safely from the crisis by pursuing a responsible policy, ensuring sustainable public finances and implementing the necessary structural reforms. At the European Council on 9 December 2011, a number of important decisions were taken with respect to enhancing fiscal policy discipline with the aim of securing economic stability in Europe.

During the Danish Presidency, work will need to be done on implementing these decisions in order to enhance fiscal policy and economic coordination as part of the short-term and longterm efforts to tackle the debt crisis.

Similarly, a key goal of the Danish Presidency will be to ensure the consistent implementation of the first full European Semester and the measures adopted earlier to strengthen economic governance, also based on a strengthening of the Stability and Growth Pact and a new cooperation on addressing the economic imbalances and common requirements of national budget rules.

The negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework of the EU budget for the period 2014-2020 will be one of the largest single issues for the Presidency. The new EU budget must reflect the present economic situation and focus on the areas where the EU can make a difference . The goal will be to conclude the negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework by the end of 2012. The Danish Presidency will strive to move negotiations forward and thereby prepare the ground for the final negotiations.

2. A dynamic Europe

The return of growth and higher employment to Europe must be secured in both the short and long term. The Single Market is a cornerstone of EU cooperation, which over the last two decades has tied Europe together and created increased growth and prosperity. More than ever we need a sustainable Single Market that creates jobs and stability as well as prosperity for Europeans and companies in the EU. Growth in Europe requires the further development of the Single Market in a way that benefits both citizens and companies, and
it also requires that we strengthen education, research, innovation, gender equality and the European labour market. The Single Market must be a dynamic single market that is digital, innovative and requires creative solutions. It should constitute a strong basis for leading high-tech companies and create more green jobs.

Lastly, the EU must use its economic strength to open new international market opportunities and to promote free and fair trade, thereby enhancing the growth of European companies.

3. A green Europe

Europe should promote the transition to a green economy and enhance its focus on sustainability. This requires enhanced efforts to bring about
this transition and tackle the rising problems of environmentally harmful production methods, over-utilisation of important natural resources and climate change. The EU must strive to achieve its climate and energy targets regarding increased energy efficiency by 2020 as well as expansion of renewable energy, enhanced energy efficiency and a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Action must be taken to formulate aneffective and green transport policy, common green standards in the Single Market and the widespread adoption of sustainable consumption and production patterns.

An agricultural sector that embraces environmentally, nature and climate-friendly farming methods is also part of the solution. Similarly, action is to be taken to bring about a sustainable reform of the EU fisheries policy.

The funds for research and development within the environmental and energy sector must be increased. Lastly, the Presidency will also work towards ensuring a strong European voice at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

4. A safe Europe

The safety of citizens and Europe’s international influence in a globalised world is most effectively promoted and safeguarded through joint efforts and strong European cooperation.

Europe’s international influence within security, trade and development must be maintained.
The Member States must enhance cooperation regarding a wellmanaged asylum and migration policy as well as regarding effective action
to fight and prevent both terrorism and cross-border crime. The Danish Presidency will support the wish of EU neighbouring countries for closer cooperation, including access to EU markets, and contribute to ensuring that the enlargement process continues as a responsible enlargement policy. The Presidency will actively support EU institutions and Member States in their efforts to strengthen the EU’s global role. Lastly, the Danish Presidency will actively work towards ensuring that the European External Action Service (EEAS) becomes a strong and effective actor and towards securing better coherence between the EU’s policy within the sectors affecting developing countries.

The European Commission launches public debate on corporate restructuring.

Mardi 17 janvier 2012

European Commission launches until March 30, a major campaign of public consultation and a Green Paper on the subject.

The aim is to identify successful practices and policies in the field of restructuring and adapting to change. The results will feed into the upcoming employment package and should help to improve further cooperation between workers and employers’ representatives, government, local and regional authorities and the EU institutions. The consultation will also help identify specific restructuring measures that could help deal with employment and social challenges, and help European companies improve competitiveness through innovation and a fast, but smooth adaptation to change.

Restructuring is part of business life and one of the important ways of helping a company stay competitive. The economic and financial crisis has put an extra strain on business: from 2002 to 2010, over 11,000 cases of restructuring were recorded by the European Restructuring Monitor, with a ratio of almost two jobs lost for every one created (1.8:1). Between 2008/2010, this ratio has increased to 2.5:1. Many companies and their workers have developed innovative arrangements to limit job losses. Here, social partners have played a key role. These initiatives have varied from working hours, to more social dialogue, to adjustment measures or the intervention of public employment services. However, these may be less effective in a context of persistently weak demand.

László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion presented the new Green Paper saying: ‘To be able to react better in the future, we have to understand the reasons behind the success of some measures in some countries, or sectors during the crisis. We have to look at how measures, like for example short-time work, can be used to deal with the challenges we are likely to face in the coming period”. He added “We also want to see how we can best anticipate the employment and skills needs of the future, especially in the light of new challenges and growing social inequalities across Member States. And last, but not least, we want to see how the social impact of restructuring can be limited.’

The Commissioner also stressed how the EU stands ready to help and support Member States through the cohesion policy in particular the European Social Fund as well as the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund.

Content of the Green Paper:
The Green Paper includes several questions. In particular, it addresses the following issues:

- Lessons from the crisis – are existing policy measures and practices adequate? What are the success factors and future challenges? How have short time working schemes functioned during the crisis and how have they coped with a persistently weak demand?
- Economic and industrial adjustment – what are the relevant framework conditions and existing good practices on access to finance, to accompany structural adjustment?
- Adaptability of business and employability of workers – an anticipative approach best? Is there a possible need to update existing guidelines on restructuring and the means to ensure their implementation?
- Creating synergies in the process of industrial change – how to improve the synergies between companies, local authorities and other local actors? How to develop training as a permanent feature of human resources management?
- Role of regional and local authorities – how to encourage a supporting role of public authorities taking into account different national traditions?
- Impact of restructuring operations - what can be done by companies and employees to minimise the employment and social impact of restructuring operations and what role can public policies play in facilitating these changes?

The Green Paper is supported by the staff working document “Restructuring in Europe 2011″ Restructuring in Europe 2011, which draws on the main lessons learned in recent years on anticipation and management of change and restructuring.

The consultation period will run until 30 March 2012. During this period, anyone with an interest in the subject can submit their views via email or by post.

Background
Restructuring has been raised by the European Commission in its industrial policy flagship of October 2010, the flagship initiative ‘An Agenda for new skills and jobs’, as well as the Single Market Act. The Commission wishes to renew the debate on restructuring in the light of the lessons learned from recent experience.

The outcome of this consultation will feed into the upcoming employment package and the revived flexicurity agenda. It could lead to a renewed debate at EU level on a possible new framework for restructuring.