Archive pour la catégorie ‘Citizenship’

The European Union calls for a reduction in youth unemployment

Mardi 20 décembre 2011

21% of young Europeans are unemployed, Europe demands an immediate response of the States.

The new ‘Youth Opportunities Initiative’, adopted by the Commission today, calls on 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 Commission is also urging Member States to make better use of the European Social Fund which still has €30billion of funding uncommitted to projects. In addition, the Commission has put forward a set of concrete actions to be financed directly by EU funds.

The Commission will also make funds available for technical assistance to help Member States make greater use of available EU funding - especially the European Social Fund (ESF) of which €30bn remains uncommitted to projects.

More details
The main actions financed directly by the Commission in the new ‘Youth Opportunities initiative’ are:

- using €4m to help Member States set up ‘youth guarantee’ schemes to ensure young people are either in employment, education or training within four months of leaving school.
- dedicating € 1.3 million to support the setting up of apprenticeships through the European Social Fund. An increase of 10% by the end of 2013 would add a total of 370,000 new apprenticeships.
- using €3m of the European Social Fund Technical Assistance to support Member States in the setting up of support schemes for young business starters and social entrepreneurs;
- gearing funds as much as possible towards placements in enterprises and targeting at least 130,000 placements in 2012 under ERASMUS and Leonardo da Vinci;
- providing financial assistance in 2012-2013 to 5,000 young people to find a job in another Member State through the ‘Your first EURES job’ initiative
- reinforcing the budget allocation for the European Voluntary Service in order to provide at least 10,000 volunteering opportunities in 2012;
presenting in 2012 a framework for high quality traineeships in the EU;
- ensuring around 600 further exchanges under Erasmus for entrepreneurs in 2012.
The actions proposed by the Commission will pave the way for Member States to develop further youth-related measures under the next generation of European Social Fund programmes and as part of the EU budget 2014-2020.

Background
There are 5 million unemployed young people in the EU today and 7.5 million young people between 15 and 24 are currently neither in employment nor in education or training. This concerns not only low-skilled young people having left school too early, but more and more university graduates who cannot find a first job.

The Commission wants to mobilise all actors concerned as well as available EU funding to take immediate measures that will enable smoother transitions between education and work as well as ease access to work for young unemployed across Europe. The aim is to help youngsters that are neither in education nor work to find a job, or return to training and to help those with a third level education find a first job.

The Commission will strongly support Member States in this endeavour by giving them policy guidance as well as concrete assistance. In the context of the Europe 2020 strategy, Member States are expected to address youth employment in their 2012 National Reform Programmes and youth policies and measures will systematically be addressed in the draft Country Specific Recommendations for 2012. The Commission will continue to assess and analyse measures taken by Member States to fight youth unemployment and will report on this to the informal Council of Employment and Social Ministers in April 2012.

Denmark launches the website of his presidency which starts in January 2012

Lundi 19 décembre 2011

The Danish Minister for European Affairs launched the website of the presidency which starts January, 1st 2012 for six months.

From 1 January and for six months onwards, Denmark will lead the work of the EU Member States in the Council. Denmark will lead weekly council meetings in Brussels and Luxembourg, thousands of meetings of European officials and a number of conferences and seminars in Denmark. In addition eight informal ministerial meetings will be held in Denmark.

The webpage is a central tool for the Presidency for disseminating information. Here you can find all you wanted to know about the work of the Presidency, its activities and results in various policy areas.

Eu2012.dk has news and information on the Presidency, on the EU and on Denmark. An extensive calendar gives an overview over meetings, events and cultural activities. Accreditation for meetings is through the website, where you can also find all relevant information and documents related to the meetings.

News and photos give an overview of the newest events and users can subscribe to a newsletter on the Presidency, create their own RSS-newsfeed and follow the Presidency on both twitter and on the mobile website. You will also find an extensive list of the Presidency’s spokespersons and an overview of the Danish Government.

The European Commission promotes the mobility of European highly skilled people

Lundi 19 décembre 2011

The working age population declines in Europe and demand for qualified professionals should increase to 16 million people in 2020.

If Europe is to meet this demand, gaps in labour shortages need to be filled – for example through mobile and well qualified professionals from other EU Member States. They can be a key source of growth, but only if they can easily go to where jobs are and this requires their qualifications in the EU to be recognised in a fast, simple and reliable way. That is why the Commission has today adopted a proposal for modernising the Professional Qualifications Directive (Directive 2005/36/EC).

Today’s proposal aims at simplifying rules for the mobility of professionals within the EU by offering a European Professional Card to all interested professions which would allow easier and faster recognition of qualifications. It also clarifies the framework for consumers, by inviting Member States to review the scope of their regulated professions and by addressing public concerns about language skills and the lack of effective alerts about professional malpractice, notably in the health sector.

Key elements of the proposal:
1. The introduction of a European professional card will offer to interested professionals the possibility to benefit from easier and quicker recognition of their qualifications. It should also facilitate temporary mobility. The card will be made available according to the needs expressed by the professions (for example, nurses and mountain guides expressed a strong interest in using such a card). The card is associated to an optimised recognition procedure carried out within the existing Internal Market Information System (IMI) and will take the form of an electronic certificate, allowing the professional to provide services or become established in another Member State.

2. Better access to information on the recognition of professional qualifications: all citizens seeking the recognition of their professional qualifications should be able to go to a one-stop shop rather than being passed around between different government bodies. This one-stop shop should be the Points of Single Contact (PSCs), created under the Services Directive, which will allow citizens to obtain information in one place about the documents required to have their qualifications recognised and where they can also complete all online recognition procedures.

3. Updating minimum training requirements for doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, midwives, veterinary surgeons and architects: the minimum training requirements for these professions were harmonised 20 or 30 years ago. They have been updated to reflect the evolution of these professions and of education in these fields. For example, the entry level for nursing and midwifery training has been upgraded from 10 years to 12 years of general education.

4. The introduction of an alert mechanism for health professionals benefiting from automatic recognition: competent authorities of a Member State will be obliged to alert competent authorities of all other Member States about a health professional who has been prohibited from exercising his professional activity by a public authority or a court. This is particularly important because there have been examples of doctors banned from practising in their home Member State, moving abroad to work, and other Member States were not aware of it.

5. The introduction of common training frameworks and common training tests, replacing common platforms, should offer the possibility to extend the mechanism of automatic recognition to new professions. Interested professions could benefit from automatic recognition on the basis of a common set of knowledge, skills and competences or on a common test assessing the ability of professionals to pursue a profession.

6. Mutual evaluation exercise on regulated professions: a new mechanism is introduced in the Directive to ensure greater transparency and justification of the professions they regulate through a specific qualification requirement. Member States will have to provide a list of their regulated professions and justify the need for regulation. This should be followed up by a mutual evaluation exercise facilitated by the European Commission.

Background:
The Professional Qualifications Directive is essential to enabling professionals to start a new business or to find a job in another Member State requiring a specific qualification for a specific professional activity. The modernisation is one of the twelve levers for growth set out in the Single Market Act (IP/11/469).

The European Commission examines the cross-border inheritance

Jeudi 15 décembre 2011

Currently, people who inherit a property abroad must pay a tax in several countries.

In fact, in extreme cases the total value of a cross-border inherited asset might even have to be paid in tax, because several Member States may claim taxing rights on the same inheritance or tax foreign inheritances more heavily than local inheritances. Citizens may be forced to sell inherited assets, just to cover the taxes, and small businesses may face transfer difficulties on the death of their owners. To tackle these problems, the Commission today adopted a comprehensive package on inheritance taxation. Through a Communication, Recommendation and Working Paper, the Commission analyses the problems and presents solutions related to cross-border inheritance tax in the EU.

Background
Today’s Communication points out that there are two main problems when it comes to cross-border inheritance tax in the EU:

The first is double or multiple taxation, where more than one Member State claims the right to tax the same inheritance. Divergent national rules, a shortage of bilateral inheritance tax conventions, and inadequate national double tax relief measures can result in citizens being taxed twice or more on the same inheritance. Member States are free to apply national inheritance rules as they see fit once they are in line with EU rules on non-discrimination and free movement. The Commission is not proposing any harmonisation of Member States’ inheritance tax rules. Instead it is recommending a broader and more flexible application of national double taxation relief measures so as to provide a pragmatic, speedy and cost-effective solution to the significant tax burdens facing many citizens. The Recommendation in today’s Package suggests how Member States could improve existing national measures to ensure that there is adequate double tax relief. It sets out solutions for cases in which several Member States have taxing rights. The Commission invites Member States to introduce the appropriate solutions into national legislation or administrative practices.

The second inheritance tax problem that citizens can encounter is discrimination. Some Member States apply a higher tax rate if the assets, the deceased and/or the heir are located outside their territory. In such cases, EU law is clear: Member States are obliged to respect the basic principles of non-discrimination and free movement set out in the Treaties. The Working Paper published today sets out the principles on non-discriminatory inheritance and gift tax, using case-law to illustrate them. This will help Member States to bring their provisions into line with EU law, while also raising citizens’ awareness of the rules which Member States must respect.

Although cross-border inheritance tax problems may seriously affect individuals, revenues from domestic and cross-border inheritances taxes account for a very small share - less than 0.5% - of total tax revenues in Member States. Cross-border cases alone must account for far less than that figure.

Next steps
The Commission will launch discussions with Member States to ensure appropriate follow up to the Recommendation. In addition, it is ready to assist all Member States in bringing their inheritance laws into line with EU law. In 3 years time, the Commission will present an evaluation report showing how the situation has evolved, and decide on this basis whether further measures are necessary at national or EU level. Meanwhile, the Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, is continuing to take the necessary steps to act against discriminatory features of Member States taxation rules.

The European Commission strengthens consular protection

Mercredi 14 décembre 2011

The Commission has proposed to strengthen assistance to citizens in crisis situations in third countries.

The aim is to ease cooperation between consular authorities and strengthen European citizens’ right to consular protection. EU citizens abroad have the right to ask for assistance from a consulate or an embassy of another EU Member State when their Member State is not represented in the country. EU Member States must also help citizens evacuate as if they were their own nationals. Today’s proposals will strengthen these rights by clarifying when a citizen is considered not represented and specifying the type of assistance Member States typically provide in cases of need, such as arrest, serious accident or lost documents. The Commission has also developed an interactive website on consular protection, which lists the contact details of all EU Member States’ embassies and consulates outside the EU – searchable either by EU nationality or by country.

Recent major crises have highlighted the importance of consular protection outside the EU. Around 150,000 EU citizens were affected by the crises in Libya and Egypt after the democratic uprisings in spring 2011 and following the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. Many were assisted by other EU countries’ consulates or embassies where their own country was not (or was no longer) represented. The right to consular protection also applies in day-to-day situations, such as when a holidaymaker is seriously ill or falls victim to a crime.

The Commission’s proposed legislation aims to provide a stable framework for cooperation and coordination among Member States. It clarifies that EU citizens are considered as unrepresented when an embassy or consulate of their own Member State is not ‘accessible’, meaning that they cannot reach it and return to where they started at least the same day. The proposal also specifies to what extent citizens’ non-EU family members are eligible for help. It provides how assistance should be coordinated with the citizens’ home Member States. In crisis situations, the new rules promote the role of the ‘lead’ Member State that is in charge of coordinating and leading assistance of unrepresented EU citizens.

Background
In 2009, consular protection was provided by Member States’ consuls in 300,000 cases. Every year, 5.12 million EU citizens travel to countries outside the EU where their home Member State is not represented and a further 1.74 million EU citizens live in such countries. EU citizens are also increasingly exposed to crisis situations, both natural and man-made.

The EU Treaties guarantee all EU citizens the right to equal treatment regarding protection from the diplomatic and consular authorities of any Member State when they are travelling or living outside the EU and their own country is not represented (see Articles 20(2)(c) and 23 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union; Article 46 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights). In almost all countries in the world, at least one EU state is not represented. The only three countries where all 27 EU Member States are represented are the United States, China and Russia.

In its Citizenship Report of October 2010 (see IP/10/1390 and MEMO/10/525), the Commission committed to increasing the effectiveness of EU citizens’ right to be assisted in third countries, including in times of crisis, by the diplomatic and consular authorities of all Member States, by proposing legislative measures and by better informing citizens via a dedicated website and targeted communication measures (action 8).

In its Communication of March 2011 (see IP/11/355 and MEMO/11/185), the Commission also announced that within the next 12 months it would present legislation to establish the coordination and cooperation measures necessary to facilitate consular protection for unrepresented EU citizens.

The European Commission presents the new “Europe for Citizens” programme

Mercredi 14 décembre 2011

The new program “Europe for Citizens” will focus on the twinning of cities, the history of Europe and the discussion of civil society.

The programme, which runs from 2014 to 2020 and has a budget of €229 million, will support activities to increase awareness and citizens’ understanding of the EU, its values and history, such as the remembrance of Europe’s past and partnerships between cities (town-twinning). It will also help people become more engaged in civic and democratic activities through debates and discussions on EU-related issues.

The current ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme 2007-2013 already provides a legal framework to support a wide range of activities and organisations promoting European citizenship. As part of helping citizens become aware of the different aspects of European citizenship, the new ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme will support think tanks, citizens’ groups and other civil society organisations. In addition, it will promote better understanding of the EU, its history and values, and knowledge of the impact of EU policies on their daily lives. Under the remembrance part of the programme, citizens engage in a reflection on the history of European integration, its identity and its goals.

The new programme will complement the Commission’s Citizenship Report 2010 (see IP/10/1390).and its proposal to designate 2013 as the ‘European Year of Citizens’ (IP/11/959).

Background
In June 2011, the Commission adopted the multiannual financial framework for 2014-2020 (see press pack). The Commission is now complementing this framework with new specific programmes for the next financial period.

The current ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme (2007-2013) comes to an end on 31 December 2013. It gives citizens the chance to participate in making Europe more united, to develop a European identity, to foster a sense of ownership of the EU, and to enhance tolerance and mutual understanding. To date, with a modest budget of €215 million, it has supported more than 9,000 projects per year through project grants and operational support. It reaches more than 1 million European citizens per year through thousands of projects launched at local, regional and European level.

Thanks to the ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme, civil society organisations can develop their capacity and mobilise citizens at the local level to debate issues that have an impact on their daily lives – such as the economy, jobs or environment – in a European context. They can also engage in transnational partnerships that lead to the exchange of best practices and to increased cooperation with the European institutions.

Town twinning is a good example of how citizens learn from each other, respect each other and jointly develop local projects.

Consultation publique au sujet des personnes handicapées

Mardi 13 décembre 2011

The European Commission today launched a public consultation to develop future initiatives for people with disabilities.

The consultation will help the Commission to prepare its proposals for a European Accessibility Act, planned for autumn 2012. The initiative aims to ensure that people with disabilities have access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transport and to information and communication services. It will also benefit people with limited mobility, such as the elderly. The consultation – itself fully accessible – is aimed at gathering views from businesses, people with disabilities and the general public and will remain open until 29 February 2012.

The Commission adopted a comprehensive strategy last year to create a barrier-free Europe for disabled people by 2020 (IP/10/1505). The plan outlines how the EU and national governments can empower people with disabilities so they can enjoy their rights.

One of the key actions included was an accessibility initiative. The aim is to use standardisation or public procurement rules to make all goods and services accessible to people with disabilities while fostering an EU market for assistive devices. This market is expected to grow considerably in the coming years, following the experience in the United States.

A study by the UK’s Royal National Institute of the Blind showed that a £35 000 investment by a supermarket chain in making their website accessible brought in additional revenue of over £13 million a year. In Germany, a study found that more accessible facilities would increase travel by persons with disabilities, yielding between €620 million and €1.9 billion in additional turnover for the German tourism industry.

Background
One in six people in the European Union – around 80 million – have a disability that ranges from mild to severe. Over one third of people aged over 75 have disabilities that restrict them to some extent. These numbers are set to rise as the EU population grows progressively older. Most of these people are all too often prevented from fully participating in society and the economy because of physical or other barriers, as well as discrimination.

The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights says that the “Union recognises and respects the right of persons with disabilities to benefit from measures designed to ensure their independence, social and occupational integration and participation in the life of the community.” In addition, the EU and all its 27 Member States have already committed to creating a barrier-free Europe by signing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

‘Accessibility’ means that people with disabilities have access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, transportation, information and communications technologies and systems, and other facilities and services.

On 1-2 December 2011, the Commission organised a major conference in the context of the European Day of People with Disabilities, which also focused on the disability rights perspective of the economic crisis. During the conference, Vice-President Reding announced that Salzburg, in Austria, was the winner of the 2012 Access City award, the EU prize for accessible cities (IP/11/1492).

On 6 December 2011, leaders of the EU institutions came together for the first time with the European Disability Forum, at a high-level meeting, to discuss issues facing Europeans with disabilities (IP/11/1507).

European Council and Signing of the Accession Treaty with Croatia

Jeudi 8 décembre 2011

The leaders will discuss the economic strengthening of the eurozone, energy and the enlargement of the European Union.

EU leaders will review the overall economic situation in Europe and measures to boost growth and jobs.
They will consider proposals to monitor draft budgets and cut deficits for all eurozone countries – with even tighter economic and budget surveillance for countries facing serious financial instability or needing bail-outs.

Treaty change

Leaders will also examine the potential benefits of joint eurozone bonds, for instance whether they would help reduce and stabilise the interest rates countries have to pay to borrow money.
The Commission has put forward 3 options for these so-called stability bonds , with an analysis of financial and legal implications. An amendment to the EU’s Lisbon Treaty – which governs how the Union functions – might be required.

Energy plan

Safe, secure, sustainable and affordable energy is high on this European Council’s agenda.
Leaders will consider energy-saving and efficiency measures that would set legally binding requirements for EU countries to improve energy efficiency at all stages – production, distribution and final consumption.
This would provide significant financial, economic and employment benefits – and help consumers reduce their energy bills.
EU leaders have also called for a single energy market by 2014, enabling energy to be bought and sold more freely across national borders. An open market with smart, integrated infrastructure would be more competitive.

New EU members

Also on the table is the possibility of admitting new countries into the EU, a plus for the Union’s strategic interest, security and prosperity. The Commission has recommended that negotiations be opened with Montenegro. It has also proposed granting EU candidate status – the first step in the process – to Serbia.
Meanwhile, Croatia is in the final stages of becoming the EU’s 28th member. The EU concluded negotiations in June, paving the way for the signature of the accession treaty on 9 December.
Croatia will soon hold a referendum to decide if the country will join the EU on 1 July 2013.

The enlargement is positive for Europe !

Jeudi 8 décembre 2011

The Council welcomed progress made by the candidates but efforts are still needed.

Key challenges remain in the enlargement countries. Good governance, rule of law and administrative reforms are essential to come closer to the EU. Problems affecting freedom of expression and the media remain a particular concern. Improving the social and economic inclusion of vulnerable groups, including the Roma, should continue.

Enlargement countries are also affected by the global economic and financial crisis and have taken steps towards economic recovery. Further efforts to deliver structural reform and fiscal consolidation reforms for jobs and growth should accelerate these countries’ recovery and growth.

Regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations remain essential parts of the enlargement process. They contribute to prosperity, stability, reconciliation and a climate conducive to addressing disputes and the legacy of the past. All parties concerned should address bilateral issues in a constructive spirit.

The enlargement process continues to reinforce peace, democracy and stability in Europe and allows the EU to be better positioned to address global challenges. It generates far-reaching political and economic reform in the enlargement countries which also benefits the EU as a whole.

The enlargement countries are the candidate countries (Iceland, Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey) which have opened accession negotiations, and potential candidates, two of which (Albania and Serbia) have applied for membership, whereas two others (Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo) have not applied. Croatia has concluded negotiations, and the signature of the Accession Treaty takes place on 9 December in the margins of the European Council.

The summit on 9 December will decide on the possible next steps for any country moving towards EU membership on the basis of each of the countries’ own merits.

One in three migrants in the EU are over-qualified for their jobs

Jeudi 8 décembre 2011

One in three foreign-born persons aged 25 to 54
overqualified for their job, compared with one person in five among the native-born.

Over the years, migration has had an impact on the composition of European societies. In 2010, foreign-born persons accounted for 9.4% of the EU27 population. Their socio-economic situation was in general less favourable than for native-born persons.

In 2008 in the EU27, the unemployment rate of foreign-born persons aged 25-54 was higher than for native-born persons in this age group (10% compared with 6%). When employed, foreign-born persons often have more difficulties to find a job corresponding to their education level. This can be measured using an overqualification rate, which refers to the percentage of persons with a high level of education who have a job which does not
correspond to this level. In the EU27 in 2008, foreign-born persons aged 25-54 registered a significantly higher overqualification rate than native-born persons (34% compared with 19%).

These figures come from a publication issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. This publication looks at a broad range of characteristics of migrants aged from 25 to 54 living in the European Union and EFTA countries. It looks separately at foreign-born persons, foreign citizens and second generation migrants.

It covers the socio-economic situation of migrants including labour market status, income distribution and poverty. Reasons for migration and length of residence are also examined.

Higher rates of unemployment and overqualification for foreign-born persons

In 2008, the unemployment rate of foreign-born persons aged 25-54 was higher than for native-born persons in this age group in all Member States for which data are available, except Greece and Hungary. Particularly high gaps were registered in Belgium (14% for foreign-born compared with 5% for native-born), Sweden (11% and 3%), Finland (11% and 5%), Spain (15% and 9%), France (12% and 6%) and Germany (12% and 6%).

As regards employment, foreign-born persons aged 25-54 registered a significantly higher overqualification rate than native-born persons in 2008 in all Member States for which data are available. The difference was particularly marked in Greece (62% for foreign-born compared with 18% for native-born), Italy (50% and 13%), Spain (58% and 31%), Cyprus (53% and 27%), Estonia (47% and 22%) and Sweden (31% and 11%).

One in three foreign-born person aged 25 to 54 at risk of poverty or social exclusion

In 2008 in the EU27, 31% of the foreign-born aged 25-54 were assessed to be at risk of poverty or social exclusion, following the criteria set by the Europe 2020 strategy. The native-born registered a lower rate of 20%. This pattern was observed in all Member States for which data are available, except Hungary and Lithuania. Particularly high gaps were recorded in Belgium (36% for foreign-born compared with 13% for native born), Sweden (32% and 10%), Greece (45% and 23%), France (34% and 14%), Austria (32% and 13%), Finland (31% and 13%) and Denmark (31% and 13%).

Foreign-born persons are also in a less favourable situation with regard to housing conditions. In 2008 in the EU27, foreign-born persons aged 25-54 were more likely to live in overcrowded dwellings than native-born persons (23% compared with 19%). The differences were particularly high in Austria (40% for foreign-born compared with 9% for native born), Greece (49% and 26%), Slovenia (61% and 41%), France (26% and 8%) and Denmark (21% and 6%).