Archive pour la catégorie ‘Local development’

What are the opportunities for European research?

Lundi 30 janvier 2012

A consultation on the European research shows the ways to make Europe more attractive for researchers, but also increasing transnationally-coordinated research; achieving higher scientific excellence; moving, working and co-operating freely across borders or tackling global challenges.

These are some of the key themes resulting from a public consultation on the European Research Area (ERA), which ended on 30 November 2011. The Commission will now decide which issues should be addressed as priorities when finalising the ERA Framework, to be tabled in June 2012 with a view to completing ERA by 2014. The findings were presented today by Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn at the “ERA conference 2012, Fostering Efficiency, Excellence and Growth” in Brussels.

Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: “With Europe crying out for growth, ERA can’t wait any longer. We can’t continue with a situation where research funding is not always allocated competitively, where positions are not always filled on merit, where researchers can’t take their grants across borders, where large parts of Europe are not even in the game, where there is a scandalous waste of female talent and where our brightest and best are leaving never to return. I want an entirely new ERA-partnership, with stronger role for key stakeholders, and much tougher monitoring of Member States’ progress. I will not hesitate to “name and shame” those who perform badly against ERA objectives.”

The European Commission received 590 responses to the on-line questionnaire and 101 ad hoc position papers by national and European research organisations and governments. Respondents to the online survey indicated deficiencies in research careers and mobility as the most urgent priority. This was followed by problems relating to research infrastructures, knowledge transfer and cross-border collaboration. A broad majority of respondents also highlighted that a higher involvement of women in science will contribute to European socio-economic growth. In position papers, cross-border collaboration, international cooperation, as well as open access to publications and data were on a similar footing to researcher-related issues.

One of the main messages from the research community is the need to attract and retain more leading researchers in Europe and to provide researchers with better and especially business-relevant skills. The global attractiveness of Europe as a location for researchers and private R&D investment should also be increased by reducing the fragmentation of the European market, and by improving employment and career prospects for researchers. The lack of open and transparent recruitment procedures is regarded as one of the main barriers to internationally mobile researchers. It is also necessary to coordinate research at transnational level to raise research quality, reduce costs and tackle global challenges.

Background

The Commission is engaging with stakeholders to design an ambitious ERA Framework. At the European Council of 4 February 2011, EU heads of state and government endorsed the Commission’s proposal to create Innovation Union and called for the completion of the European Research Area by 2014 to create a genuine single market for knowledge research and innovation. The ERA Framework will focus on non-funding measures, while Horizon 2020 is the financial pillar of the Innovation Union.

Proposed in January 2000 by the European Commission in its communication “Towards a European Research Area” (COM(2000)6), and launched at the Lisbon European Council in March 2000, the creation of a European Research Area (ERA) was given new impetus in 2007 with the European Commission’s Green Paper on ERA (COM(2000)161), followed by the Ljubljana Process in 2008.

The European Commission wants to reform Data Protection

Mercredi 25 janvier 2012

The aim is the protection of users and reducing costs for professionals.

The European Commission has today proposed a comprehensive reform of the EU’s 1995 data protection rules to strengthen online privacy rights and boost Europe’s digital economy. Technological progress and globalisation have profoundly changed the way our data is collected, accessed and used. In addition, the 27 EU Member States have implemented the 1995 rules differently, resulting in divergences in enforcement. A single law will do away with the current fragmentation and costly administrative burdens, leading to savings for businesses of around €2.3 billion a year. The initiative will help reinforce consumer confidence in online services, providing a much needed boost to growth, jobs and innovation in Europe.

The Commission’s proposals update and modernise the principles enshrined in the 1995 Data Protection Directive to guarantee privacy rights in the future. They include a policy Communication setting out the Commission’s objectives and two legislative proposals: a Regulation setting out a general EU framework for data protection and a Directive on protecting personal data processed for the purposes of prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of criminal offences and related judicial activities.

Key changes in the reform include:

- A single set of rules on data protection, valid across the EU. Unnecessary administrative requirements, such as notification requirements for companies, will be removed. This will save businesses around €2.3 billion a year.
- Instead of the current obligation of all companies to notify all data protection activities to data protection supervisors – a requirement that has led to unnecessary paperwork and costs businesses €130 million per year, the Regulation provides for increased responsibility and accountability for those processing personal data.
- For example, companies and organisations must notify the national supervisory authority of serious data breaches as soon as possible (if feasible within 24 hours).
- Organisations will only have to deal with a single national data protection authority in the EU country where they have their main establishment. Likewise, people can refer to the data protection authority in their country, even when their data is processed by a company based outside the EU. Wherever consent is required for data to be processed, it is clarified that it has to be given explicitly, rather than assumed.
- People will have easier access to their own data and be able to transfer personal data from one service provider to another more easily (right to data portability). This will improve competition among services.
- A ‘right to be forgotten’ will help people better manage data protection risks online: people will be able to delete their data if there are no legitimate grounds for retaining it.
- EU rules must apply if personal data is handled abroad by companies that are active in the EU market and offer their services to EU citizens.
- Independent national data protection authorities will be strengthened so they can better enforce the EU rules at home. They will be empowered to fine companies that violate EU data protection rules. This can lead to penalties of up to €1 million or up to 2% of the global annual turnover of a company.
- A new Directive will apply general data protection principles and rules for police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. The rules will apply to both domestic and cross-border transfers of data.
The Commission’s proposals will now be passed on to the European Parliament and EU Member States (meeting in the Council of Ministers) for discussion. They will take effect two years after they have been adopted.

Background

Personal data is any information relating to an individual, whether it relates to his or her private, professional or public life. It can be anything from a name, a photo, an email address, bank details, your posts on social networking websites, your medical information, or your computer’s IP address. The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights says that everyone has the right to personal data protection in all aspects of life: at home, at work, whilst shopping, when receiving medical treatment, at a police station or on the Internet.

In the digital age, the collection and storage of personal information are essential. Data is used by all businesses – from insurance firms and banks to social media sites and search engines. In a globalised world, the transfer of data to third countries has become an important factor in daily life. There are no borders online and cloud computing means data may be sent from Berlin to be processed in Boston and stored in Bangalore.

On 4 November 2010, the Commission set out a strategy to strengthen EU data protection rules (IP/10/1462 and MEMO/10/542). The goals were to protect individuals’ data in all policy areas, including law enforcement, while reducing red tape for business and guaranteeing the free circulation of data within the EU. The Commission invited reactions to its ideas and also carried out a separate public consultation to revise the EU’s 1995 Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC).

EU data protection rules aim to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons, and in particular the right to data protection, as well as the free flow of data. This general Data Protection Directive has been complemented by other legal instruments, such as the e-Privacy Directive for the communications sector. There are also specific rules for the protection of personal data in police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters (Framework Decision 2008/977/JHA).

The right to the protection of personal data is explicitly recognised by Article 8 of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and by the Lisbon Treaty. The Treaty provides a legal basis for rules on data protection for all activities within the scope of EU law under Article 16 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

The European Union backs greener traffic management

Mardi 24 janvier 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A new look for CORDIS

Lundi 23 janvier 2012

The site offers a new database for its projects.

The European Union has some of the world’s best research facilities and most accomplished researchers. Harnessing their full potential will help turn novel ideas into jobs, green growth and social progress. To facilitate this, the European Commission finances, either wholly or partially, a wide range of individual research and technology development projects. Details about many of these can be found on the Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS) - the primary information source for EU-funded projects.

A new Projects Service, launched on 16 January 2012, will enhance the role of CORDIS. Designed not only to be a comprehensive reference point for project participants, coordinators and stakeholders, the service will also make information and data available to wider audiences.

CORDIS has project records covering a myriad of science, technology and research-related fields and topics. Dating from before 1986 to the present, they relate to not only the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), but also previous Framework Programmes. The new service will use the breadth of the CORDIS repository as a base to bring together a wide variety of information related to individual projects, including:
- project details such as description, funding, programme;
- project results such as documents, reports, summaries;
- links;
- publications;
- multimedia;
- information and details on project participants.

The new Projects Service will unlock content, standardise the presentation of project information, and help users to find out more.

Project records are added to the database once they are made available to CORDIS by the Commission service responsible. The new service provides tools and pointers that can help filter and facilitate search queries.

Even when a project has finished, specific project information can help with result development, the planning of new initiatives, the indication of new research avenues and more.

The European Parliament wants better management of electronic waste

Jeudi 19 janvier 2012

In agreement with the Council, the European Parliament updates legislation on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).

Once Council formally approves the updated directive and it enters the EU lawbooks, Member States will have 18 months to update their national legislation.

Collection and recycling

All Member States must increase their collection of e-waste, regardless of whether they already meet the current flat-rate target of 4kg per person per year.

By 2016, most will have to collect 45 tonnes of e-waste for every 100 tonnes of e-goods put on sale three years previously. By 2019, this must rise to a rate of 65%, or alternatively they can collect a comparable figure of 85% of e-waste generated. Ten countries needing to improve their facilities will have an interim target of 40% and may take until 2021 to reach the final target.

To help everyone play their part, Parliament successfully argued that consumers should be allowed to return small items (such as mobile phones) to any larger electrical goods shop, without needing to buy a new product.

Better processing will help to recover more valuable raw materials and prevent harmful substances going to landfill. Recycling rates will need to rise to 80% for some categories of goods. The best recycling techniques should be used and products should be designed to be recycled more easily.

E-waste exports

MEPs also negotiated tighter controls on illegal shipments, to prevent e-waste being processed in countries where conditions are often hazardous to workers and the environment. The burden of proof moves from customs officials to exporters, who must properly demonstrate in future that goods are being shipped for repair or reuse as appropriate.

Cutting red tape

Producers of e-goods will continue to contribute financially towards meeting processing targets. They will benefit from simplified registration and reporting requirements and will be able to appoint representatives instead of needing to establish a legal seat in each country where they operate. New measures will prevent double charging of registration fees within Member States.

Europe wants to boost e-commerce

Mercredi 11 janvier 2012

The European Commission wants to double the volume of e-commerce by 2015 to promote growth and employment.

The development of electronic commerce and online services offers enormous potential for beneficial economic, social and societal change. The Internet economy creates 2.6 jobs for every “off-line” job lost, and offers a better choice to consumers, including those in rural and isolated areas. The gains brought by lower online prices and a wider choice of available products and services are estimated at EUR 11.7 billion, equivalent to 0.12 % of European GDP. If 15 % of retail sales were e-commerce and the obstacles to the internal market were removed, the gains for consumers might be as much as EUR 204 billion, or 1.7 % of European GDP.1 The European Commission finds, however, that there are many obstacles preventing consumers and businesses from investing fully in online services: ignorance or uncertainty about the applicable rules, offers that lack transparency and are hard to compare, and payments and modes of delivery that are often expensive and unsuitable.2

That is why, as part of the Digital Agenda3 and the Single Market Act4 and in response to the request from the European Council to submit a roadmap for the completion of the Digital Single Market by 2012, the Commission has today adopted a Communication presenting 16 targeted initiatives aimed at doubling the share of e-commerce in retail sales (currently 3.4 %) and that of the Internet sector in European GDP (currently less than 3 %) by 2015. By that year online trade and services could account for more than 20 % of growth and net job creation in some Member States (such as France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Sweden).5

Content of the communication
Under the Single Market Act and the Digital Agenda, the Communication puts forward an action plan which will facilitate cross-border access to online products and content, ultimately solve the problems of payment, delivery and consumer protection and information, and assist dispute resolution and the removal of illegal content, thus helping to develop an Internet that is more secure and more respectful of fundamental rights and freedoms. The aim is to create an environment more likely to foster a dynamic Digital Single Market by tackling the problems in its path, while promoting investment in wireless connectivity and new-generation fixed infrastructure and supporting the development of cloud computing.

The Communication identifies the potential of electronic commerce and online services to account for up to 20 % of employment and growth over the next five years. Access to goods and services will also be made easier for geographically isolated or vulnerable people, fostering cohesion across Europe.

The Communication goes on to list the obstacles to the development of the Internet economy: a legal cross-border supply shortage, inadequate information and protection for consumers, inefficient deliveries and payments, illegal content that is still too difficult to manage, and the dangers of the spread of cybercrime.

Background
Consumers often lack confidence in online trade or services and are concerned about whether their rights will be respected, especially when a problem arises. They are also often frustrated that certain services are not offered in their country or that they cannot buy in other Member States because, for instance, there are no deliveries to their country or foreign payment cards are not accepted. Lastly, they are sometimes deprived of access to broadband networks and faced with a rise in cybercrime.

The Electronic Commerce Directive (2000/31/EC) sets out rules which facilitate the provision of online services in the European Union and ensure that these services meet certain criteria. This text laid the foundations for cross-border online services. Because it is technologically neutral, it was recognised by the stakeholders at the public consultation held in 20106 as the cornerstone of the Digital Single Market. The aim is therefore to add to it, but not to amend it.

The Directive requires online service providers generally to observe the rules of the country in which they are established, and contains provisions on consumer protection. It requires service providers to indicate, for example, their contact details on their websites, guarantees that advertising is easily identifiable as such, and protects against spam. Under certain conditions the Directive also grants liability exemptions to intermediary providers if they host or transmit illegal content placed online by a third party.

The European Data Protection Supervisor presents its priorities for 2012

Mardi 10 janvier 2012

The EDPS presented today its strategic planning of actions to do in 2012.

Here, the EDPS identifies issues of strategic importance that will form the cornerstones of his consultation work for 2012, while not neglecting the importance of other legislative procedures where data protection is concerned.

The EDPS’ central mission in the field of consultation is to give advice on three main areas: the revision of the legal framework for data protection, technological developments and the Digital Agenda, and further developing the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice. In addition, the EDPS has identified financial sector reform as an area of strategic importance for 2012.

- Overview of the issues of strategic importance for the EDPS:

- Towards a new legal framework for data protection

- Revision of the EU data protection framework

- Technological developments and the Digital Agenda, IP rights and Internet

- Pan-European framework for electronic identification, authentication and signature

- Internet monitoring (e.g. enforcement of IP rights, takedown procedures)

- Cloud computing services

- eHealth

- Further developing the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice

- EU-PNR

- EU-TFTS

- Border controls

- Review of the Data Retention Directive

- Negotiations on agreements with third countries on data protection

- Financial sector reform

- Regulation and supervision of financial markets and actors

In order to better fulfil his advisory role, the EDPS will consider publishing guidelines on important technical or societal phenomena that affect personal data protection (such as ‘naming and shaming’ practices) or recurring data protection aspects of EU legislative initiatives (such as the provisions concerning exchanges of information).

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) is an independent supervisory authority devoted to protecting personal data and privacy and promoting good practice in the EU institutions and bodies. He does so by:

- monitoring the EU administration’s processing of personal data;

- advising on policies and legislation that affect privacy;

- cooperating with similar authorities to ensure consistent data protection.

Europe has got memory !

Jeudi 22 décembre 2011

A new project funded by the FP7 aims to create RAM chips of 100Gbit/s

This article is only available in french

The European Commission announces the resources allocated to Eurostat for the next 5 years.

Mercredi 21 décembre 2011

Good statistical studies are essential for European democracy.

In order to ensure reliable, comparable and cost-effective statistics in the years ahead, the Commission today adopted a proposal for the European Statistical Programme 2013-17. With a budget of €299.4 million, the programme will run for 5 years from 1 January 2013. European Statistical System (Eurostat and national statistical institutes) will be responsible for implementing the multiannual programme, in accordance with the European Statistics Code of Practice and respecting the principles of independence, integrity and accountability. A large proportion of the budget will be allocated to the Member States in order to support the implementation of the Programme at national level.

The European Statistical Programme sets out 3 overriding objectives for 2013-17, namely:

- To provide high quality statistics to better design, monitor and evaluate EU policies.

- To implement more efficient methods of producing European statistics-

- To strengthen the leading role of the European Statistical System in official statistics worldwide

The Programme breaks these general objectives down into more specific headings, with details on how they will be implemented. An annual work programme will be drawn up each year with concrete actions to meet these objectives. The need for information must be weighed against the resources available and the burden placed on businesses and citizens in responding to the necessary questionnaires and surveys to compile statistics. Therefore, the European Statistical Programme highlights certain areas which will be given priority focus. These follow the EU’s broader priorities, such as Europe 2020, strengthened economic governance, climate change, growth and social cohesion, people’s Europe and globalisation.

While EU policy-making will largely influence the work of the European Statistical System in the coming years, any statistics produced under the new Programme will also be available to other decision-makers, researchers, businesses and European citizens on an equal basis.

Background
The European Statistical System (ESS) has been faced with a number of challenges in recent years. The demand for high-quality, timely, and ever more complex statistics is increasing, while the resources available to produce and disseminate these statistics have become more limited. Increased efficiency and flexibility are required of the ESS, to respond to these challenges and contribute to the successful development and implementation of EU policies. These challenges were addressed in the Commission Communication on the production method of EU statistics and the ESS strategy for its implementation. Implementation of the Communication and strategy are the core of the European Statistical Programme.

The European Statistical Programme starts already in 2013 because it will follow up the current programme which will finish in 2012. Under the current rules, the European statistical programme can not exceed a period of five years and will therefore end in 2018.

Next Steps
The draft Regulation will now be discussed by the Council and the European Parliament, with a view to adoption by the end of 2012, so that the new programme can start on 1 January 2013. Negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework for the whole EU budget will continue in parallel.

The FP7 supports a project of German biofuel

Mardi 20 décembre 2011

Europe supports research on renewable energy produced from waste.

Supporting this objective is the BIOBOOST (’Biomass-based energy intermediates boosting biofuel production’) project. Set to kick off at the start of 2012, BIOBOOST will develop novel energy carriers, generating energy-rich intermediate products from biogenous residues, assess environmental compatibility and optimise logistics chains. The BIOBOOST partners will ultimately boost biomass and residues use across Europe. The project is funded under the Energy Theme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) to the tune of EUR 5.1 million.

Led by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany, the BIOBOOST team will convert residual biomass into energy carriers for the production of high-quality and engine-compatible fuels and chemicals, as well as for the generation of heat and electricity.

The work will complement KIT’s bioliq(R) concept, which targets the production of designer fuels for diesel and Otto engines from biogenous residues such as straw. ‘Due to its broader access to usable residues and a broader spectrum of use of the energy carriers, this project fits excellently to our bioliq(R) project in Karlsruhe,’ says Dr Ralph Stahl from the Institute of Catalysis Research and Technology (IKFT) at KIT. ‘Both projects profit from each other in an ideal manner.’

The team will use biogenous residues to produce a variety of intermediate products that are rich in energy. The researchers will also test and assess them with respect to their usability in the bioliq(R) process, for instance. Besides the BioSynCrude(R) produced by flash pyrolysis in the bioliq(R) process, BIOBOOST will focus on generating, optimising and assessing other products as well, and will evaluate the economic efficiency of the entire process. These activities will help the project partners in their quest to improve the efficiency of future biomass and residues use.

The BIOBOOST consortium will tackle this issue in a series of steps. They will initially focus their efforts on concentrating the energy, as the residual biomass (e.g. straw) materialises in a spatially distributed manner and contains a tiny amount of energy. Biogenous residues are converted into coke and oil at decentralised facilities; this is performed via pyrolysis or carbonisation. The products are mixed to form energy-rich intermediate products containing up to 90% of the energy stored in the biomass. These energy carriers can be further processed after they have been moved to a central location, where they undergo large-scale use. The transport is performed in an economically efficient way.

Apart from generating customised fuel like gasoline, kerosene or diesel, the BIOBOOST team will look into the manufacture of plastics and chemicals, namely propylene, methanol and ethylene.

Scheduled to end in 2015, the BIOBOOST project brings together experts from Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland and Finland.