Archive pour la catégorie ‘Citizenship’

The European Commission proposes new support for social enterprises

Mercredi 7 décembre 2011

Social enterprises account for 10% of companies in Europe and 11 million employees. They often benefit from government support, but their financial situation remains fragile.

With today’s proposal for a Regulation, the Commission lays the foundations for a strong European market for social investment funds. It introduces a new “European Social Entrepreneurship Funds” label so investors can easily identify funds that focus on investing in European social businesses. The approach is simple: once the requirements defined in the proposal are met, managers of social investment funds will be able to market their funds across the whole of Europe. To get the label, a fund will have to prove that a high percentage of investments (70% of the capital received from investors) is spent in supporting social business. Uniform rules on disclosure will ensure that investors get clear and effective information on these investments.

Key elements of the proposal
A recognised EU brand for social entrepreneurship funds:

Currently, investors can find it difficult to identify funds that are investing in social businesses and this can undermine trust in the social business market. Meanwhile, social investment funds can find it difficult to differentiate themselves from other funds and this can undermine the growth of the sector. The Regulation adopted today creates a common brand: the “European Social Entrepreneurship Funds”. With this label, investors will know that the majority of their investment is going into social businesses. In addition, the common EU-wide brand will make it much easier for investors throughout the EU to locate these funds.

Improved investor information:
Just as investors can find it difficult to identify funds investing in social businesses, the information available about these funds and what they are doing can be difficult to compare and use. Setting a common EU framework for this information is therefore vital. All funds that use the new brand should in the future clearly publish information about the kinds of social businesses they target, the ways they are selected, the ways the fund will help the social businesses, and how social impacts will be monitored and reported.

Better performance measures:
The projected impact is an important factor for investors in choosing between various social investment funds. The proposed measures will set out clear requirements for funds to inform investors on how they will go about monitoring and reporting on impacts. However, more is likely to be needed. The Commission will undertake further work to develop better and more comparable ways on how the social performance of investments can be measured. This will allow for the development of a more transparent investment market and greater investor confidence.

Break down barriers to fundraising across Europe:
Rules targeting social investment funds differ per Member State and are often onerous and complex. For this reason, the new proposals will simplify rules. For example, a European passport would ensure that social entrepreneurship funds could raise funds across Europe. Fund managers will not be forced to use the new framework, but if they do, they will be able to gain access to investors across the EU and to a clearly recognisable EU brand that investors will grow to trust and seek out.

Availability to investors:
Because investing in social businesses can be risky, the “European Social Entrepreneurship Funds” label would at the start only be available to professional investors. Once the framework is up and running, the Commission will examine possible measures to make such investments also available to retail customers.

Next steps:
The proposals now pass to the European Parliament and the Council (Member States) for negotiation and adoption under the co-decision procedure.

European Parliament adopts a European protection of victims

Mardi 6 décembre 2011

MPs propose that henceforth the victims of crime receive the same protection from one Member State to another

Measures to protect crime victims from aggressors already exist in all EU Member States but at present they cease to apply if the victim moves to another country. When it takes effect, the European Protection Order (EPO) will enable anyone protected under criminal law in one EU state to apply for similar protection if they move to another.

On Monday the Civil Liberties Women’s Rights committees endorsed the final text agreed with national governments.

The EPO directive was an initiative originally requested by 12 Member States and promoted by the EU’s Spanish Presidency (first half of 2010).

All crime victims to be covered

MEPs sought from the outset to make it clearer that the rules should cover all victims of crime, not just victims of gender violence. Most protection measures are granted to female victims of gender violence but an EPO could cover victims of either sex and other crimes too.

The rules would apply to victims or possible victims who need protection “against a criminal act of another person which may, in any way, endanger his life, physical, psychological and sexual integrity […] as well as his dignity or personal liberty”. Such acts would include harassment, abduction, stalking and “other forms of indirect coercion”.

Keeping aggressors away

The agreed text says that once a person is granted protection in one Member State under domestic criminal law, s/he may request an EPO to extend this protection to another EU country to which s/he decides to move. It will be up to the Member State of origin to issue the EPO and forward it to the other country.

An EPO may be issued only if the aggressor is banned by the initial country from places where the protected person resides or which s/he visits, or if restrictions are imposed on contact or approaches by the aggressor to the protected person.

The person causing the danger should have a right to be heard and to challenge the EPO. However, in the notification of the aggressor or potential aggressor, “due regard should be taken to the interest of the protected person of not having his/her address or other contact details disclosed”, stresses the text.

This directive would only apply to protection measures taken in criminal matters. However, due to differences among Member States’ legal systems, the country to which the person moves may apply other kinds of measures (criminal, administrative or civil), provided they guarantee a similar level of protection.

Protecting victims’ relatives

Thanks to MEPs, an EPO may also be requested to safeguard relatives of a beneficiary of a European Protection Order.

Wide protection for victims: new legislation to cover civil matters

The EPO in criminal matters will be complemented by separate legislation for civil matters. To that end, the Commission proposed in May 2011 a regulation on mutual recognition of protection afforded by civil law. The combination of the two instruments (the EPO directive and the regulation) should cover the broadest possible range of protection measures for victims issued in the Member States.

Next steps

Parliament is to vote on the final text at the December plenary session. Once formally adopted, Member States will have three years to transpose the new directive into national law.

The European Parliament highlights the human rights

Mardi 22 novembre 2011

A meeting will be held Nov. 23 gathering the great defenders of human rights and the winners of the Sakharov Prize

This Human Rights Conference and Sakharov Prize Network event provides a timely occasion to discuss the powerful role of new technologies in the battle for human rights. Moreover, it also gives an ideal opportunity to look at human rights issues in countries in transition, especially in light of current international developments such as the Arab Spring.

Human rights issues are always at the top of the Parliament’s agenda. The conference wants people engaged in the struggle for human rights around the World to look at Brussels as not only as the European Union’s capital, but also as a human rights hub.The event will close with a public debate at the BOZAR Cultural Centre in the evening in Brussels.

Interview opportunities contact:

Sakahrov prize laureates present: Hauwa Ibrahim, Wei Jing Sheng, Salih Mahmoud Osman, Alecsandr Milinkievic, Reporters without Borders, Zhanna Litvina - Belarus Association of Journalists, Taslima Nasrin, Salima Ghezali, Leyla Zana, Ladies in White and Oslobodjenje.

The Vice-President of the European Commission launches the start of activities of the European Institute of Law

Jeudi 17 novembre 2011

One year after the idea of its creation, the institute opened its first working meeting attended by Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice

It will hold its first working meeting to discuss the Commission’s proposal for an optional Common European Sales Law ( IP/11/1175 ). Founded in June, with its seat in Vienna ( IP/11/666 ), the Institute aims to improve legal consistency in Europe by providing practical advice to policymakers and authorities and to further develop EU law. It is an independent non-profit organisation bringing together legal practitioners and academics from all over Europe. The Institute will make an important contribution to the EU’s wider goal of building a European area of law and justice.

According to Vivian Reding, the European Law Institute will help build a European legal culture. More consistency between Europe’s different legal systems will help strengthen mutual trust and our citizens’ confidence in the EU’s legal system, strengthening confidence in the European rule of law, which is the cement binding the European Union together. It will make the European area of justice concrete and real so that people can exercise their rights and take advantage of the Single Market’s opportunities. The Institute will also bring added value to research on how EU law is implemented across the Union. It will engage in projects that will have concrete results for the daily lives of European citizens and legal practitioners.

European law has a profound impact on the daily lives of European citizens, businesses and national political and legal structures. Academic research and judicial training is needed to further develop and strengthen all areas of European law – whether civil, criminal or administrative.

The Institute will help analyse the difficulties faced by legal professionals, identify possible solutions to help improve the application of EU law, and develop suggestions for reforms of EU legislation in all areas. It will also be a forum for exchange and discussion for lawyers, academics and professionals.

The initiative to create a European Law Institute – promoted by the Commission in its action plan for delivering an area of freedom, security and justice for Europe’s citizens ( IP/10/447 ) – draws inspiration from the American Law Institute, a non-governmental body that played a crucial role in developing the Uniform Commercial Code, which facilitates sales and other commercial transactions across the United States’ 50 states. The Institute decided to organise its first working meeting to discuss the Common European Sales Law, which could be freely chosen by businesses and consumers for selling and shopping online in the EU.

The creation of the European Law Institute was part of the Commission’s 2010 Action Plan to implement the Stockholm Programme. Vice-President Reding spoke about the importance of its creation in April 2010 in Florence ( SPEECH/10/154 ). On 1 June 2011, the Institute’s first inaugural congress was held in Paris ( IP/11/666 ) before the University of Vienna won the right to host the seat of the Institute for an initial four-year period.

The aims of the European Law Institute are to :

- evaluate and stimulate the development of EU law, legal policy, and practice;
- make proposals for the further development of the body of EU law and for the enhancement of Member States’ implementation of EU law;
- identify and analyse legal developments in areas within the competence of Member States that are relevant at the EU level;
- study EU approaches regarding international law and enhance the role EU law could play globally, such as in drafting international instruments or model rules;
- conduct and facilitate pan-European research, such as drafting, evaluating and improving principles and rules that are common to the European legal systems;
- provide a forum for jurists – academics, judges, lawyers and other legal professionals – from different legal traditions to hold discussions

Young businesswomen trained by tutoring

Mardi 15 novembre 2011

While women represent only 34.4% of self-employed in Europe, a new network of tutoring is being launched today to promote women entrepreneurship.

Female mentors to help woman entrepreneurs to get started

Brussels, 15 November 2011. A new European network of mentors to promote female entrepreneurship through the sharing of know-how and experience has been launched today by the European Commission. Women only account for 34.4% of the self-employed in Europe. To raise this share, successful businesswomen will assist women entrepreneurs who established a new enterprise two to four years ago. The mentors will give these new entrepreneurs concrete advice on how to run and grow their enterprises in this early, critical phase of the businesses as well as help them to develop the necessary soft skills and coach them. The network will cover 17 European countries; 170 mentors will participate in it.

Entrepreneurship fits well with women’s life choices in particular giving them flexibility regarding the reconciliation of private and professional life, specifically concerning the time and place of work. Further, due to the economic crisis, many women that became unemployed could use their skills and knowledge, start-up their own company and create their own job.

European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Industry and Enterprises, said: “It is clear that female creativity and entrepreneurial potential are the most underexploited source of economic growth and new jobs that should be further developed in Europe. In a time of crisis we cannot afford to forgo this potential. Having more women entrepreneurs will economically empower women and contribute to growth.”

Selection of mentors

Mentors will be selected among businesswomen (or businessmen) who have personal experience of owning and managing a SME successfully for at least five years and are aware of specific challenges that women entrepreneurs face and are ready and willing to share their knowledge and know-how with their mentorees on a volunteering basis (i.e., without remuneration), are available to meet them regularly for a minimum of one year and are willing to engage with at least two mentorees.

The mentors shall meet with their mentorees regularly and discuss with them current as well as strategic issues of the management of the mentorees’ companies, helping them to build / acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and confidence/mindset. To avoid conflicts of interest, mentors are not allowed to take any economic interest in their mentorees’ companies.

The potential of women entrepreneurs in creating economic growth and new jobs:
In the USA the Women Presidents’ Organisations (WPOs) released the latest figures of the 50 fastest growing women-owned/led companies in North America. The Top 50 generated a combined $4.1 billion in 2010 revenues (mean of $82.7 million) and collectively employed 24,650 in 2010 (projected average for 2011 is 557 employees per company).
The UK government in its WES (The European network to promote women’s enterpreneurship) 2008 report mentions that women are the largest underrepresented group in terms of participation in enterprise. Only 15% of the 4.7 million UK enterprises are majority women-led and if women started businesses at the same rate as men there would be 150,000 extra start-ups each year in the UK. If the UK matched US levels of female entrepreneurship there would be 900,000 more businesses in the UK.
In Sweden in 2008 more than 131 000 companies were run by women having more than € 35 billion in total turn-over, employing around 358 000 people and paying their employees more than 6 billion Euros in salaries.
Women enterprise differently than men, therefore women-specific support measures are needed:

Firstly, women attach more importance to family circumstances when considering setting up a business (61% versus 49% in the case of men). They will think very carefully about probabilities of success and examine every potential source of failure in detail before they use the family house as collateral and/or family savings as capital to start-up their business.
Secondly, in most cases, when women decide to start up a new company, they keep their former jobs and carry out both activities in parallel for some time: in this respect, one can say that women are more cautious than men and their awareness of risk of failure is more developed.
Thirdly, women take over existing businesses after a longer testing period than men, once they are familiar with the companies’ activities (because of heritage, separation or divorce from a business partner, etc.).
The fourth particularity is financing: women’s start-ups use less capital than men’s and have less equity.
Finally, women entrepreneurs have compared to men a lower but steadier growth. This often means less risk for failure.
The European Network of Mentors for Women Entrepreneurs is one of the actions proposed in the 2011 Review of the Small Business Act for Europe. It will cover 17 countries (Albania, Belgium, Cyprus, FYROM, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom).

The positive effects of the mobility of workers from Romania and Bulgaria on the European economy

Lundi 14 novembre 2011

The European Commission published a report highlighting the advantage of the mobility of workers from Romania and Bulgaria into the EU.

These workers have contributed to the skills mix as well as filling vacancies in sectors and jobs with labour shortages such as in construction and the domestic and food services sectors.

Estimates also show a positive impact of the free movement of Romanian and Bulgarian workers on the EU’s long-term GDP with an increase by about 0.3% for EU-27 (0.4% for eu-15).

Studies show too that there has been no significant impact on unemployment or wages of local workers in receiving countries: in the EU-15 studies show wages are on average only 0.28% lower they would have been without mobility of the EU-2.

The report also highlights that there is no evidence of a disproportionate use of benefits by intra-EU mobile EU citizens and that the impact of recent flows on national public finances is negligible or positive.

The Commission report will serve as the basis on which the Council will carry out a review of how the transitional arrangements on free movement of Bulgarian and Romanian workers have worked in practice.

“Europe & me” is the winner of the 2011 Charlemagne Prize

Lundi 14 novembre 2011

“Europe & Me” won the 2011 Charlemage for Youth, a prize to reward projects implemented by young people to make Europe more visible. The 2011 winners went to the European Parliament on 9 and 10 November and met the EP President Jerzy Buzek and the culture parliamentary commission.

This year’s winner was UK entry “Europe and Me”, an online lifestyle magazine by and for young Europeans. A short film from Greece - “Balkans Beyond Borders” - came second and third prize went to the Spanish theatrical venture “Escena Erasmus Project”. The prizes were awarded in Aachen in May. During the ceremony Buzek commended the winning project as an extremely original one that shows the different aspects of what being European means.

The most European Brit

Mathew Shearman, who represented this year’s winning project, joked, that he is probably the most European British person he knows and now he has an award to prove it.

The “‘Europe and Me’ online lifestyle magazine looks at Europe as a state of mind not as a set of institutions. They have editors in seven countries and authors from all over Europe, all of whom are volunteers. Their aim in the long run is to become a learning platform for young journalists, where they can discover a new approach to cover European affairs.

Learning about each other in the Balkans

“Balkans Beyond Borders” aims to foster cooperation between young people in the Balkans. Konstantinos Ntantinos explained that European people live so close to each other, yet they know so little about each other.

He added that this award recognizes their efforts and gives credibility to their project. He would encourage other young people that if they have a good idea they be dedicated and make it come true.

Arts in the spotlight

The “Escena Erasmus Project” is a cultural exchange programme for Erasmus students. José Daniel Tormo Martínez, representing the group in Brussels said that the centre of their project is the University of Valencia, a very popular destination for Erasmus students. Each year more than 300 students want to take part in their theatre project. They have even won national theatre prizes with their performances.

Charlemagne Youth Prize

The Charlemagne Youth Prize is jointly organised by the EP and the International Charlemagne Prize Foundation in Aachen, and is awarded to projects that encourage a shared sense of European identity and integration among young people.

The three winning projects receive prize money of €5000, €3000 and €2000 respectively.

The selection procedure for next year’s prize has already been launched. Applicants have until 23 January 2012 to submit their projects. For details click on the Charlemagne Youth Prize website below.

Charlemagne Youth Prize 2012

Application deadline: 23 January 2012
Selection of 27 projects by national juries: by 5 March
Selection of 3 winning projects by European jury: by 5 April
Award ceremony in Aachen: 15 May

Back to the last EURES session

Jeudi 10 novembre 2011

The past three days, a meeting of the working group associated with the EURES informal forum of EURES managers was held in Warsaw. Discover the content of this session.

During the meeting, Member States belonging to the EURES Network received information on the EURES guidelines on the development of the EURES network and work programme to be implemented by the European Commission and Member States. The meeting was a platform for exchanging experiences between countries, as well as an opportunity to obtain information and to talk directly with the European Commission.

During the meeting, new tools were presented for work carried out as part of the EURES network, as well as the initial results of the study commissioned by the European Commission: Assessment of indicator measurement systems used by Public Employment Services and relevant recommendations on indicators of geographical mobility in the labour market. The meeting also summed up actions taken within the EURES network. The meeting participants had an opportunity to find out about a pilot project of virtual workshops and training for EURES staff, prepared by the European Commission, as well as proposals to promote mobility within the EURES network.

In addition, a Ministry of Labour and Social Policy representative familiarised participants with details about how the EURES network works in Poland’s decentralised system of public employment services.

During the workshop, EURES managers attempted to develop a proposal for a EURES services directory, which will be incorporated into EURES service offerings in 2020. The EURES Working Group Meeting was also an excellent opportunity to exchange experiences and share best practices in the field of cooperation within the EURES network.

The conference was attended by EURES Managers from the EU/EEA countries, social partners, representatives of the European Commission and representatives of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.

The European Commission gives a penalty for violence and intolerance in sport

Mardi 8 novembre 2011

The European Commission provides grants to reduce violence and intolerance in sport.

Twelve trans-national projects have received grants ranging from €125 000 to €200 000 (details below) as part of a package of ‘preparatory actions’ intended to pave the way for the launch of an EU sub-programme for sport, which would also support grassroots campaigns to promote physical activity, social inclusion through sport, and the fight against doping.

Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said that supporting sport at the grassroots’ level is one of my priorities. Without EU funding many valuable sporting initiatives would not get off the ground. She added that she is very happy that these 12 projects are receiving EU funding and wish them a lot of success.

Background: The projects funded under the 2011 ‘Preparatory Actions’

The EU support covers two themes:

a) Prevention of and fight against violence and intolerance in sport:
Projects selected in this area support innovative trans-national networks focused on the prevention of and fight against violence and discrimination. The funding supports the exchange of good practices between the sport sector, educational institutions, supporters’ organisations, non-governmental organisations and national and local authorities with the aim of promoting respect for fundamental European values in sport.

The funded projects are:

Title : ELYS - Educational LABs for European Young Supporters

Objectives : Educating young people to tackle violence in sport

Lead organisation : Regional Committee CONI, Lombardy

Countries involved : EL, ES, IE, IT, NL, NO, PT, RO, UK

Grant : €200,000

Title : Prevention of sexualized violence in sport

Objectives : Creating a network of experts and organisations to prevent sexualized violence in sport

Lead organisation : Deutsche Sportjugend im Deutschen Olympischen Sportbund e.V.

Countries involved : DE, GR, NO, UK, CZ, ES, CY, DK, BE, SI

Grant : €200,000

Title : Preventing and fighting homophobic violence and intolerance in sport - Pride in Sport

Objectives : Developing a network to fight homophobia in sport

Lead organisation : European Gay & Lesbian Sport Federation

Countries involved : DE, FR, HU, SL, UK, European-wide organisation

Grant : €160,000

Title : Pro Supporters - Prevention through empowerment

Objectives : Developing measures to tackle football-related violence and racism through preventive fan-based schemes across Europe

Lead organisation : Fonds Wiener Institut für internationalen Dialog und Zusammenarbeit

Countries involved : AT, CZ, IE, UK, DE, NL, European-wide organisations

Grant : €200,000

b) Promoting innovative approaches to strengthen the organisation of sport in Europe:
Good governance is a precondition for the autonomy and self-regulation of sport organisations. The funding supports trans-national networks aimed at developing a European dimension in sport. These networks also seek to strengthen the administrative capacity of sport organisations and to increase the competitive level of sport in Europe.

The funded projects are:

Title: Sport 4 Good Governance (S4G)

Objectives: Support and guidance for good governance in sport organisations

Lead organisation: EU Office of the European Olympic Committees

Countries involved: BE, CR, CY, DE, DK, EE, HR, IT, NL, SI, CH, European wide organisation

Grant: €200,000

Title: Good governance in grassroots’ sports

Objectives: Increasing organisational capacity

Lead organisation: International Sport and Culture Association

Countries involved: CZ, DE, DK, EE, ES, FR, IT, IE, RO, UK, European-wide organisation

Grant: €200,000

Title: The further development of a coordinated network for sport coaching in Europe (CoachNet)

Objectives: Establishing a coordination system for the improvement of sport coaching

Lead organisation: Leeds Metropolitan University

Countries involved: DE, ES, FI, FR, HU, IE, NL, PT

Grant: €200,000

Title: European Rugby League Governance Foundation Project

Objectives: Developing a European dimension in Rugby League

Lead organisation: Rugby League European Federation

Countries involved: CZ, DE, FR, IE, IT, LV, NL, SE, UK

Grant: €100,000

Title: Improving football governance through supporter involvement and community ownership

Objectives: Strengthening club ownership by supporters

Lead organisation: Supporters Direct

Countries involved: BE, DE, ES, FR, IT, PT, SE, UK

Grant: €200,000

Title: Better Boards, Stronger Sport

Objectives: Promoting effective management boards in sport organisations

Lead organisation: Sport and Recreation Alliance

Countries involved: EE, FI, HU,IE, PL and transnational sport networks

Grant: €125,000

Title: Action for Good Governance in International Sports organisations

Objectives: Identify guidelines and possible solutions to improve the governance of international and European sport organisations

Lead organisation: Danish Institute for Sports Studies / Play the Game

Countries involved: BE, CH, DE, DK, NL, SI, UK

Grant: €200,000

Title: European ABC (Academy for Billiard Champions) on the way to Sport Excellence

Objectives: Improving the organszational and institutional capacity of billiard organisations

Lead organisation: Bulgarian Billiard Federation

Countries involved: BG, CZ, PL, RO, SI

Grant: €130,000

The EU’s role in sport

The EU’s role is to support, supplement and coordinate actions by the Member States and to develop a European dimension in sport. According to Article 165 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the EU shall “contribute to the promotion of European sporting issues, while taking account of the specific nature of sport, its structures based on voluntary activity and its social and educational function… [the EU’s action] shall be aimed at developing the European dimension in sport, by promoting fairness and openness in sporting competitions and cooperation between bodies responsible for sports, and by protecting the physical and moral integrity of sportsmen and sportswomen, especially the youngest sportsmen and sportswomen”.

The proposed EU sport sub-programme will be part a broader programme supporting education, training, and youth (’Erasmus for All’), which is due to be adopted by the Commission later this month. The Commission has proposed €15.2 billion in funding for the Erasmus for All programme between 2014 and 2020 (see IP/11/857).

What kind of budget for the EU in 2014?

Vendredi 4 novembre 2011

Negotiations for the new EU budget in full swing right now. Discover the stakes of these debates.

Are European Union countries, still facing economic crises, ready to support the ambitious EU 2020 growth strategy, or will it get tangled up in the claims of member states preoccupied by what they contribute to the budget and what they get back? And, if they do come up with a budget to support the 2020 targets, what will happen to traditional policy areas? These issues will be tackled when the EU negotiates its long-term budget, the so-called multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2014-2020.

The MFF determines EU expenditure for the next 7 years, broken down by policy area. It will be accompanied by a new proposal on own-resources to ensure income. The Commission will present a proposal in June, which will be the starting point for discussions likely to continue well into 2012.

The Special Policy Challenges Committee (SURE) was tasked with defining the European Parliament’s position on the long-term budget ahead of negotiations with the Council. The work was divided into three phases:

- Phase 1 (July-December 2010): Discussions on technical and horizontal issues (for example: the Europe 2020 strategy, the duration, structure and size of the MFF)

- Phase 2: (January-March 2011): Discussions on specific policy priorities (agriculture, cohesion, energy, development aid, external relations…)

- Phase 3 (April-June 2011): Negotiations on a common EP position + vote on report

With the vote in plenary, the committee’s role ended, but the EP is still involved in talks about the future shape of the budget and was one of the key players in a conference mid-October. Find out more in the first section.