Archive pour la catégorie ‘Justice - Security’

The European Commission presents the new LIFE programme

Lundi 12 décembre 2011

The new program for 2014 will be more flexible and will have a larger budget.

New aspects of the future LIFE Programme include:

- Creation of a new sub-programme for Climate Action;
- Clearer definition of priorities with multi-annual work programmes adopted in consultation with the Member States;
- New possibilities to implement programmes on a larger scale through “Integrated projects” which can help mobilise other EU, national and private funds for environmental or climate objectives.

The sub-programme for Environment will support efforts in the following areas:

- “Environment and Resource Efficiency” will focus on more innovative solutions for better implementation of environment policy and integrating environmental objectives in other sectors;
- “Biodiversity” will develop best practices to halt biodiversity loss and restore ecosystem services, while keeping its primary focus on supporting Natura 2000 sites, especially via integrated projects consistent with Member States Prioritised Action Frameworks (as described in the Commission’s new paper on Financing Natura 2000);
- “Environmental Governance and Information” will promote knowledge sharing, dissemination of best practices, and better compliance, in addition to awareness raising campaigns.

The sub-programme for Climate Action covers the following areas:

- “Climate Change Mitigation” will focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
- “Climate Change Adaptation” will focus on increasing resilience to climate change;
- “Climate Governance and Information” will focus on increasing awareness, communication, cooperation and dissemination on climate mitigation and adaptation actions.
Grants to finance projects will remain the Programme’s main type of intervention. Operating grants for NGOs and other bodies will still be possible, and there will also be scope for contributions to innovative financial instruments.

LIFE will adopt lighter and more flexible procedures.

Next Steps
The Commission hopes that the proposals will complete their passage through the European Parliament and the Council in time for the next programming period (2014-2020).

Background
The LIFE Programme is part of the Commission proposal for the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020, which sets out the budgetary framework and main orientations for the Europe 2020 Strategy. The Commission decided to address environment and climate action as an integral part of all the main instruments and interventions and in addition to the “mainstreaming” approach, it proposes to continue the LIFE Programme currently regulated by the LIFE+ Regulation. Combining mainstreaming with a specific instrument is designed to increase the coherence and added-value of the EU intervention.

Launched in 1992, the LIFE Programme is one of the spearheads of EU environmental funding. It has financed over 3,500 projects, contributing EUR 2.5 billion to environment protection. LIFE+, which started in 2007 and runs until 2013 with a budget of just above EUR 2.1 billion, mostly finances grants (these cover 78 % of the LIFE+ budget).

LIFE has played a significant role in the implementation of major EU environmental legislation such as the Habitats and Birds Directives, and the Water Framework Directive. The proposals for the new programme build upon evaluations of previous experience, and the results of recent public consultations. These show that eco-innovation projects in the area of climate change, water and waste have been most successful in achieving direct environmental benefits.

The Committee of the Regions will meet on 14 and 15 December.

Jeudi 8 décembre 2011

The future EU budget and European Green Capitals on agenda.

Key issues within the ongoing debate on the Euro crisis such as macroeconomic conditionality, Eurobonds and the financial transaction tax will be addressed on Wednesday afternoon during the presentation of the CoR opinion on the Multiannual Financial Framework post-2013 proposed by the Commission last June (rapporteur: Flo Clucas, UK/ALDE).

European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, responsible for interinstitutional relations, will present the EU executive’s work programme for 2012 to regional presidents and mayors from across the EU on Thursday 15 December. Under the motto “Delivering European renewal”, the Commission has set out ambitious proposals to get the economy back on track. Committee of the Regions members will scrutinise these plans from a local and regional perspective and will issue their recommendations in the form of a resolution.

The second day’s agenda will be rounded off by European Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potočnik, who will discuss next year’s Rio+20 meeting following the adoption of the CoR’s opinion on the sustainable development conference (rapporteur: Ilmar Reepalu, SE/PES). Many of the Committee’s points have already been taken up in the official EU negotiating position for the Rio conference, and Mr Potočnik is expected to highlight the importance of ensuring that any new global deal recognises the full involvement of sub-national authorities.

The Commissioner will then join with CoR President Mercedes Bresso in the transfer of the European Green Capital award from the 2011 holder, the German city of Hamburg, to the 2012 laureate, Vitoria-Gasteiz, capital of the Basque region in Spain. The transfer ceremony will include interventions from Holger Lange, State Secretary for Environment of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and Javier Maroto Aranzábal, Mayor of Vitoria-Gasteiz.

The European Commission signs an international agreement to support the introduction of electric vehicles

Jeudi 17 novembre 2011

This treaty with the United States and Japan will allow a convergence of regulatory obligations in this field.

This will lead to cost savings through economies of scale for automotive manufacturers. Currently they only produce relatively small volumes of electric vehicles in different world regions. The agreement is, therefore key in the context of economic recovery and general cost-sensitiveness of the industry. Taking into account that the rules for electro-mobility technologies are currently being developed on both sides of the Atlantic and Asia, the cooperation is particularly interesting as it offers a unique opportunity to develop common approaches.

European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said that this is a crucial step towards the development and reach out of electric cars. The regulatory cooperation agreement will help to increase the market potential for this important breakthrough technology, contributing for competitiveness and a more sustainable road transport.

Background
Under the proposed cooperating agreement 1 two informal working groups on electric vehicles will be set up under the 1998 Agreement on Global Technical Regulations. The initiative was taken by the European Commission, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan 2 . The working groups are indeed open to all countries that are contracting parties to the relevant UN Agreement, including India and China.

The first group will address the safety aspects of electric vehicles and their components, including the battery. It will cover the safety of occupants against electric shocks in-use, while recharging as well as after an accident. The second group will focus on environmental aspects of regulations applied to electric vehicles.

The aim of both groups is to exchange information on current and future regulatory initiatives in this field, to avoid unnecessary differences between regulatory approaches and, where possible, develop common requirements in the form of a Global Technical Regulation (GTR).

The World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, also known as Working Party 29 (WP.29), operates under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), located in Geneva. It defines a large number of vehicle regulations, covering safety and environmental requirements for cars and other vehicles. The aim of the Forum is to promote harmonised technical requirements which reduce development costs and avoid duplication of administrative procedures for industry and therefore contribute to economic efficiency and lower costs for consumers and society.

The 1998 Agreement establishes a process through which countries from all regions of the world can jointly develop global technical regulations (“gtrs”) for vehicles and their components. It is complementary to the 1958 Agreement, with the particular aim to promote participation of various countries in the gtrs. At the present time, there are 32 Contracting Parties to the 1998 Agreement, including the EU, Japan, USA, Korea, China and India.

A European label for the symbolic sites of European integration

Mercredi 16 novembre 2011

Following a decision of the European Parliament, a European heritage label could emerge in 2013 for the symbolic sites of European integration.

Particular attention will go to “transnational” sites, given their special symbolism for Europe’s common history.

Every two years from 2013, Member States will be able to propose up to two candidate sites, from which the jury of 13 independent experts will chose a maximum of one.

The label will guarantee the quality of selected sites such as monuments, natural, submerged, archaeological, industrial or urban sites, cultural landscapes, places of remembrance, cultural goods and objects or intangible heritage associated with a place. It may also be granted to contemporary heritage, for relevance to Europe’s common history and heritage, rather than its architectural or aesthetic merits.

Candidate sites

Particular attention will go to “transnational” sites, given their special symbolism for Europe’s history. These sites must nonetheless meet the conditions for granting a label and designate a co-ordinating site to be sole interlocutor with the European Commission.

Member States may also apply for a “thematic” label for several national sites linked by a common theme.

Towards uniform heritage labels

The European heritage label scheme builds on an intergovernmental one of the same name, started in 2006. Sites that have been awarded labels since 2006 under the old scheme may apply for labels under the new one. Within six years of the new scheme’s entry into effect, a decision should be taken on whether European third countries may also take part.

Managing, protecting and promoting the sites will remain the responsibility of Member States. The European Commission will run communication and awareness-raising work such as creating a specific internet site for the label and encouraging promotional activities that network labelled sites.

Europe in lack of science graduates

Mercredi 16 novembre 2011

According to two reports by the European Commission today, Member States are invited to encourage science graduates.

The report on mathematics education reveals that only five European countries (England, Italy, the Netherlands, Ireland and Norway) have set national targets to boost achievement levels, although a majority of EU Member States provide general guidelines to address pupils’ difficulties in this area. The report on science shows that no Member States have specific national support policies for low achievers, although five countries (Bulgaria, Germany, Spain, France and Poland) have launched programmes to tackle low achievement in general. The reports conclude that although much has been achieved in updating mathematics and science curricula, support for the teachers responsible for implementing the changes is still lacking.

Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said that Europe needs to improve its educational performance. Both mathematics and science play a crucial role in modern curricula in meeting not only the needs of the labour market, but also for developing active citizenship, social inclusion and personal fulfilment. These studies show that although progress is being made, we still have a long way to go. We also need to address gender balance so that more girls are encouraged in science and mathematics. It’s time to step up our efforts to support the teaching profession and to help children who are struggling at school.

Both reports provide a comparative analysis of approaches to teaching mathematics and science, with the aim of contributing to European and national debate on how to improve standards.

Concerns about achievement levels led to Education Ministers adopting an EU-wide benchmark in 2009 which called for the share of 15-year-olds with insufficient abilities in mathematics, science and reading to be less than 15% by the end of the decade. Of 18 EU countries with comparable data, Finland, Estonia and the Netherlands are the best performers, with Bulgaria and Romania at the other end of the scale (see IP/11/488)

Background
Mathematics

Mathematical competence has been identified by Education Ministers as one of the key competences necessary for personal fulfilment, active citizenship, social inclusion and employability in a knowledge society.

A range of factors influence the way mathematics is taught and learned. International surveys suggest that pupils’ attainment is related to family background, quality of teaching and to the structure and organisation of education systems.

The report on mathematics education (the first produced for the Commission) finds that a majority of European countries have adopted an outcome-based approach, where the focus is on pupils’ practical skills. The amount of mathematics content in curricula has decreased while the focus on problem-solving and the application of mathematics has increased. This approach better responds to the needs of students and pupils and clearly shows how they can apply mathematics in the real world.

The challenge that remains, however, is providing the necessary support to teachers, which calls for continuing training. In addition, support and guidance for teaching diverse groups of students need to be strengthened.

Science
Only eight countries (Germany, Spain, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Austria, the United Kingdom and Norway) have overall strategies for promoting science education which address the curricula, teaching methods and further training for teachers. Of the countries which do not have such a strategy, most run individual programmes and projects such as school partnerships and science centres.

In addition, most European countries promote innovative ways of teaching science, such as inquiry-based learning, from primary level onwards. Most also recommend engaging students in discussions on environmental concerns and demonstrating practical applications of science in daily life.

While this is encouraging, specific national support policies for low achievers in science subjects do not exist in any European country. Instead, support is covered by a general framework of measures for pupils with learning difficulties, irrespective of the subject. These include differentiated teaching, one-to-one tuition, peer assisted learning, tutoring and ability grouping.

Eurydice
The studies were compiled by the Eurydice network and focus on curriculum reforms, teaching and assessment methods. They address tackling low achievement, increasing motivation through focusing e.g. on practical applications and teacher education. They examine each topic in the light of academic research, the latest results from international surveys and an in-depth review of national policies and programmes.

The Eurydice Network provides information on and analyses of European education systems and policies. It consists of 37 national units based in all 33 countries participating in the EU’s Lifelong Learning Programme (EU Member States, Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey). It is co-ordinated and managed by the EU Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency in Brussels, which provides a range of online resources.

2014-2020: towards an increase in funding in the areas of migration, asylum and internal security

Mardi 15 novembre 2011

The European Commission, in response to the news of the attacks in Norway and the Arab Spring, has decided to increase the funding available in the field of internal affairs and to simplify procedures for granting.

For the next Multiannual Financial Framework (period 2014-2020), the Commission is proposing an overall Home Affairs budget of €10.7 billion. This represents an increase of almost 40% compared to the total budget for the period 2007-2013.

While the amount of funding available for managing migration flows and addressing security threats will increase, the number of funds will be reduced from six to two: A new Asylum and Migration fund with an overall budget of €3,869 million and a new Internal Security fund worth €4,648 million. Simplifying the rules, speeding up the procedures and cutting red tape will ensure that results are delivered quicker on the ground.

Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs that with these proposals, we are bolstering the EU’s capacity to provide support when and where it is most needed. Adequate funding with simpler and more flexible rules is crucial to address the increasingly transnational challenges that the EU faces. We need a faster and more effective EU response to events like those we have seen in North Africa in recent months.

Background
The two Funds, proposed in today’s communication from the Commission, will provide financing opportunities for policies on asylum and migration, effective border management systems, the fight against organised crime, corruption and terrorism and many other areas:

The Asylum and Migration Fund will focus on people flows and the integrated management of migration. It will support actions addressing all aspects of migration, including asylum, legal migration, integration and the return of irregularly staying non-EU nationals. Its overall budget is set at €3,869 million.

The Internal Security Fund will support the implementation of the Internal Security Strategy (IP/10/1535 and MEMO/10/598) and the EU approach to law enforcement cooperation, including the management of the union’s external borders. It will have a global budget of €4,648 million, which will also cover the development of new IT systems, such as the future entry/exit system and the Registered Traveller Programme.

This new structure of funding will allow for a better understanding of the rules by all partners, creating economies of scale. Moreover, a flexible emergency response mechanism in the two Funds will allow the EU to react rapidly to fast evolving crisis situations, such as mixed migratory flows or terrorist attacks or cyber attacks. The two funds will replace the European Fund for the Integration of Third Country Nationals, the European Refugee Fund, the External Borders Fund, the European Return Fund and the two specific programmes Prevention of and fight against crime (ISEC) and Prevention, Preparedness and Consequence management of Terrorism and other Security-related risks (CIPS).

The Lisbon Treaty, the Stockholm Programme and its Action Plan have defined the scope of EU action in the area of Home Affairs up until 2014. EU funding for Home Affairs policies after 2013 should look beyond this roadmap and focus on delivering results and better complementing national budgets. At the start of the next Multiannual Financial Framework (2014-2020), the Commission will discuss with each participating State how home affairs funding can best be used to achieve all EU policy objectives in this area. This dialogue will ensure a focus on policy priorities and results.

These legislative proposals will now be discussed and negotiated with the European Parliament and the Council. The Funds should become operational in 2014.

Objective: avoiding mistakes in spending on cohesion policy

Lundi 14 novembre 2011

DG Regio has published a working paper analyzing the errors of the cohesion policy between 2006 and 2009. It also indicated what actions can be implemented to avoid such errors.

While errors do exist, they are concentrated in a handful of programmes in a small number of Member States. The document stresses however, that ‘errors’ are not equal to ‘fraud’. The term ‘error’ is used for any non-compliance with a condition for receiving EU funds, while ‘fraud’ entails deliberate or criminal deception for the purpose of making an unjust gain. The Commission’s analysis highlights the most common examples of errors, such as contracts awarded without following the correct tender procedure; inadequate documentation to support expenditure (lack of audit trail); inaccurate calculation of overheads; application of incorrect co-financing rate; and, overestimated payment claims.
The Commission will continue its stringent audit work, along with the European Court of Auditors to further reduce the incidence of such errors. The proposed legislative package for cohesion policy form 2014-2020 will play a major part in this also through such features as the move to E-Cohesion (electronic data management) and conditions for a wider use of simplified costs.

The EU welcomes Russia’s arrival in the WTO

Jeudi 10 novembre 2011

The WTO accession of Russia comes after many years of discussions.

The EU has today welcomed the conclusion of negotiations for Russia’s accession to the WTO. Today’s unanimous approval by the Members of the Working Party on Russia’s WTO accession brings an end to this 18 year long process and paves the way to formalising the results of these negotiations by the entire Membership of the WTO. The EU now looks forward to a unanimous political endorsement of Russia’s WTO accession at the 8th WTO Ministerial Conference on 15-17 December this year.

European Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht, welcomed the news saying, “I am delighted that Russia is now set to join the WTO. This is an important step for Russia’s economic development and for the multilateral trading system. I’m also very pleased at this achievement today because Europe has played a critical role to ensure this long-standing goal has finally been reached. I now look forward to the upcoming WTO Ministerial in December to formally endorse Russia’s accession to the WTO Membership.”

The EU acknowledges the major efforts of the Russian Federation as well as its negotiating partners in finding solutions for the most difficult issues, which were resolved in the last weeks and days. The EU is also appreciative of the determination of Georgia and Russia to reach a timely resolution of their sensitive bilateral issues, and we very much welcome the efforts of the Government of Switzerland for their instrumental role in this respect.

The accession of Russia to the WTO is significant from both a multilateral and bilateral perspective. Russia as well as its trading partners will benefit from Russia’s integration into the global, rules-based system of trade relations. Russia’s accession to the WTO is especially important for the EU, Russia’s largest trading partner. We are convinced that this step will give a major boost to further development of our economic relationship. Russia’s membership in the WTO will also prove an important stepping stone for deepening the bilateral economic integration, including through the conclusion of the ongoing negotiation on the New Agreement.

Background

Benefits for the EU of having Russia in the WTO:

It would open up opportunities in the Russian market for EU investors and exporters alike. Russia’s import tariffs would come down and there would be a limit on export duty levels for a list of essential raw materials.

WTO accession would improve the overall business and investment climate. Russia would adopt international product standards and WTO rules in a number of areas such as customs procedures, licensing and intellectual property.

Accession and the ensuing economic reforms would help to make Russia’s economy more transparent and predictable. This would create a strong incentive for foreign companies to boost their investments in the Russian economy – in all sectors.

Russia’s entry in the WTO will have an estimated value for the European Union of €3 900 million.

EU-Russia trade in facts and figures

Russia is the EU’s third largest trading partner after the US and China with an 8.6% share of EU trade in 2010.

The EU is Russia’s biggest trading partner with a 45.8% share of its overall trade in 2010. Total trade with Russia amounted to €244 billion in 2010, compared to €183 billion in 2009. Imports from Russia increased by 31.4% in 2010, and exports from the EU to Russia went up by 38.2%.

The EU is by far the most important investor in Russia. It is estimated that more than 75% of the investment stock comes from the EU.

The EU has not forgotten its outermost regions

Mercredi 9 novembre 2011

The outermost regions (ORs) receive a special allowance for the programming of 2007-2013. In the midst of negotiations on the next legislative package on Cohesion Policy, Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy, visited Martinique in order to inform the Presidents of the ORs on the future of these regions in regional policy European.

Commissioner Hahn attended the Conference of Presidents of Ultra-peripheral Regions (chaired by Regional Council President Serge Letchimy) in Martinique (France) on 3 and 4 November and outlined the Commission’s recent cohesion policy 2014-2020 proposals.
The new legislative package takes account of the special circumstances of ultra-peripheral regions, as recognised in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU):
- the specific allocation to compensate for additional costs due to their insularity is to be maintained;
- ultra-peripheral regions will continue to benefit from Community co-financing of up to 85%;
- they will also receive a larger envelope of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for territorial cooperation (up from EUR 150 million to 275 million).
The European Commission is in the process of planning a new strategy for the ultra-peripheral regions, to be adopted in 2012, which will make the most of their numerous advantages.
The European Union has 8 ultra-peripheral regions: five French overseas departments (Réunion, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Saint-Martin and Martinique), two Portuguese autonomous regions (Azores and Madeira) and one Spanish autonomous community (Canary Islands).

The EU supports SMEs in Egypt

Mardi 8 novembre 2011

European subsidies have been adopted to support the development of SMEs in Egypt. Particularly affected by economic turmoil related to Arab spring, the country recieves 22 million euros from the Commission.

Today the European Commission has approved a programme aimed at improving living conditions for the poor and stimulating job creation in rural areas in Egypt by supporting the development of agricultural Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The new support, worth €22 million, will improve access to finance for farmers and increase productivity in selected value-chains such as the dairy and aquaculture sector with the aim of improving farmers’ living conditions. The support will also provide capacity building and training in order to improve farmers’ business planning skills and enhance the understanding of local banks dealing with agricultural SMEs.

EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle, said: “Small and medium enterprises have a vital role to play in creating jobs and growth in Egypt. By making it easier for them to access finance we are helping to remove one of the main barriers to job creation, enabling more Egyptian people to make a living and support their families as a result”.

The project follows up on the spirit of the Financial Investment and Sector Co-operation (FISC) – a Rural Component programme that ended last year and which was evaluated as a positive one. The project is expected to start following the establishment of the first democratic government in the second quarter of 2012 with the first farmers already benefitting in the second half of 2012.

Facts and figures on EU-Egyptian relations

EU financial co-operation with Egypt is governed under the European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument which has foreseen an envelope of €449 million over the period 2011-2013. The priorities under this multi-annual framework are threefold:

(i) support to political reform, human rights and judiciary;

(ii) support to economic reforms and

(iii) support to sustainable development.

In 2011, a total of €122 million were committed to Egypt to assist in the areas of energy, social housing, trade enhancement and support to agricultural SMEs.

Agriculture

Agriculture has always been a key sector for the Egyptian economy, contributing 13.7% of GDP and providing approximately 30% of total jobs of the labour market. In the follow up to the historic events of January 25th 2011, the Commission support, which is part of the Annual Action Programme 2011, will help Egypt face some of its most important and urgent socio-economic challenges as it moves towards more democracy and shared prosperity.