Archive pour la catégorie ‘Education / training’

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

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 promotes access to education for all in developing countries

Lundi 7 novembre 2011

European funding to support education for the most vulnerable groups in developing countries will be decided tomorrow.

Tomorrow, the EU will pledge new funding for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), to improve basic education in over 46 developing countries. The EU’s new commitment will provide €31.8 million to the GPE Fund between 2011 and 2013.

The new support will be announced at a Pledging Conference in Copenhagen of over 200 participants from more than 40 countries, organised by the Global Partnership for Education to replenish and mobilise resources and political commitments to support education for all in developing countries.

The new “Agenda for Change” in EU development policy proposes to strengthen the EU’s commitment to education. It states that the EU should focus on those sectors which build the foundations for sustainable growth and help ensure that it is inclusive. These include education, health and social protection for all.

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) works towards putting the 67 million out of school children in developing countries into a school for a quality education.

Facts and figures

Since 2004, thanks to bilateral Commission support:

- More than 9 million pupils have been enrolled in primary education

- More than 85,000 new female students have been enrolled in secondary education

- More than 720,000 primary school teachers have been trained.

The priority that the Commission places on education is reflected in its level of support in the current programming cycle (2007/8-2013).

Support to education in 46 countries with a total amount of €3.9 billion:

- €2.2 billion for primary and secondary education,

- €0.5 billion for Technical and Vocational Education and Training, and

- €1.2 billion for the EU’s higher education programmes with the developing world.

In addition to direct support to education, the European Commission provides a substantial contribution via general budget support to countries; many of which are GPE-endorsed. The total amount of general budget support amounts to €3.4 billion (2007/8-2013), out of which €2.3 billion are endorsed by countries belonging to Global Partnership for Education.

Out of the 46 countries supported by the Commission, 17 are fragile or affected by conflict, so that €900 million (or 33% of our funding to basic education and technical and vocational education and training) goes to these countries.

The Commission has recently committed new funding to Sudan, South Sudan (€12 million each) and Somalia (€30 million in addition to an earlier commitment of €55 million).

Global Partnership for Education

Established in 2002, the Global Partnership for Education is comprised of 46 developing countries, and over 30 bilateral, regional, and international agencies, development banks, the private sector, teachers, and local and global civil society groups. Over 15 more developing countries are expected to join the partnership in the coming years.

The Global Partnership for Education Fund has provided US$2.2 billion in financial aid between 2004 and 2010.

Since 2003, thanks to partners working together, 19 million children have been put into school, 200 million textbooks have been distributed, 300,000 additional teachers were hired, 30,000 classrooms were built and daily school meals were provided to 700,000 children.

In GPE countries, 68% of girls now finish primary school, the primary school completion rate has increased from 60% in 2002 to over 72% in 2009 and repetition rates have on average halved within 3-5 years of their entry to the Partnership.

The EU is on tracks regarding the legislation on GMOs

Vendredi 28 octobre 2011

The EU wants strict legislation in terms of GMOs in the production and consumption in Europe.

Two independent reports evaluating the European Union’s legislation on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) conclude that there is broad support for the legislation’s objectives and show that recent legislative Commission initiatives are heading in the right direction.

The documents, published today, also note that some adjustments are necessary if we are to meet the objectives of the legislation -the protection of health and the environment and the creation of an internal market- and to ensure that the legislation is properly implemented.

The reports

The two reports were carried out by independent consultants on the Commission’s behalf1. The first, a 238-page document, evaluates the EU’s legislative framework in the field of GM food and feed. The second, a 137-page document, focuses on the legislative framework in the area of GMOs cultivation. The main goal of the exercise was to collect facts and opinions, particularly from stakeholders and competent authorities. The evaluations assessed the effectiveness and efficiency of the legislative processes and formulated options for the improvement and adjustment of the system.

The Commission, after the completion of both documents, carried out the necessary internal policy analysis on their findings. This process has just been completed, thus the Commission proceeds today with their publication.

The main findings

The two reports register broad support, from stakeholders and competent authorities alike, for the main objectives of the legislation, such as the protection of health and the environment and the creation of an internal market, as these objectives are consistent with the needs of society. Nevertheless, there’s room for further improvement, according to the reports.

For instance, the reports note that the authorisation system could be more efficient, GMO cultivation would benefit from more flexibility and the risk assessment process from further harmonisation.. Good news is that only limited changes to address specific issues are sufficient rather than an overall change to the system.

On the right track – already delivered

The evaluation reports confirm that many actions the European Commission has launched in recent months are on the right track.

First, the Commission’s package on GMO cultivation adopted in July 2010, and responding to the need for more flexibility on GMO cultivation, is identified as one such action. The package includes a recommendation on the co-existence of GM and non-GM plants that allows more flexibility to Member States to take into account their local, regional and national conditions when preparing their relevant legislation. The key proposal, currently under discussion in the Council and Parliament, is allowing Member States to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMOs in their territory.

The more flexible approach on GM cultivation preserves the strict EU-wide authorisation system already in place, which is based on science, safety and consumer choice, the relevant report notes adding that the system could be made more efficient.

Second, the Commission also advanced on tackling the technical problem of low level presence (LLP) of unauthorised GMOs in imported feed products. A harmonising regulation addressing LLP in feed imports entered into force in July and was well-received by Member States and business operators

Third, the Commission published in April 2011 a report on socio-economic implications of GM crops, based on contributions from the Member States as requested by the 2008 Environment Council Conclusions. The Commission followed up by launching on 18 October 2011 a process to assist Member States in the collection and sharing of information

In the pipeline

In addition, the Commission will propose in the coming weeks more precise requirements for the submission of authorisation applications for imported products for food and feed use.

It is also revising the guidelines on environmental risk assessment to make them more detailed and precise and is already discussing them with Member States and stakeholders. The final document will have legal status and be endorsed by Member States. This is an important step towards a better implementation of the strict environmental risk assessment requirements of the GMO legislation.

Another priority aspect is the reinforcement of the monitoring of environmental effects by companies and by Member States. EFSA and Member States’ experts are closely collaborating with the Commission to have more detailed guidelines.

The EU schoolchildren eat healthy?

Lundi 24 octobre 2011

Discover the special report of the European Court of Auditors No. 10/2011 investigating the effectiveness of programs, “School milk” and “School Fruit.”

The European Union’s School Milk Scheme (SMS) and School Fruit Scheme (SFS) aim to encourage children to eat healthily by consuming dairy products and fruit and vegetables, and to contribute to improving the market for these products. The SMS has made grants available to Member States since 1977 for the sale of reduced rate milk products to school children, while free distribution under the SFS has started much more recently in the 2009/2010 school year. The EU now earmarks an annual budget of € 180 million for those two schemes.

This European Court of Auditors’ (ECA) performance audit assessed the effectiveness of the two schemes, notably assessing whether the EU subsidies have a direct impact on the beneficiaries’ consumption and if the schemes are likely to meet their educational objectives and influence future eating habits.

The audit concluded that

- the Milk Scheme is largely ineffective and has very little impact, as

- It is affected by very significant deadweight, i.e. the subsidised products, in most cases, would have been included in canteen meals or bought by the beneficiaries without the subsidy. This effect is enhanced by the lack of a mechanism for targeting priority needs.

- The stated educational goals are insufficiently taken into account in the design and implementation of the scheme.

- Although it is too early to conclude on the effectiveness of the School Fruit Scheme, its design gives it a better chance to achieve its objectives. Some solutions employed for the Fruit Scheme could be considered as possible ways to improve the effectiveness of the Milk Scheme.

The ECA makes a series of recommendations, especially for the SMS. If this scheme is to be continued, thorough reforms will be needed to remedy the weaknesses identified. The model of distribution outside canteens and free of charge should be considered, targeting a population to be determined in relation to actual nutritional needs. The role and importance of the accompanying educational measures should be assessed. There should also be greater coordination and synergy between the two schemes to ensure that they have a harmonised approach to nutrition and are managed efficiently.

The EU draws lessons from the crisis and wants to clean up financial markets

Jeudi 20 octobre 2011

The changes experienced by financial markets in recent years have modified our traditional approach regarding the world of finance. The EU believes it is time to adapt to its changes by proposing regulation and greater transparency of the markets.

Drawing lessons from the 2008 financial crisis, the G20 agreed at the 2009 Pittsburgh summit on the need to improve the transparency and oversight of less regulated markets – including derivatives markets - and to address the issue of excessive price volatility in commodity derivatives markets. In response to this, the European Commission has today tabled proposals to revise the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID). These proposals consist of a Directive and a Regulation and aim to make financial markets more efficient, resilient and transparent, and to strengthen the protection of investors. The new framework will also increase the supervisory powers of regulators and provide clear operating rules for all trading activities. Similar discussions are taking place in the United States and other major global financial centres.

Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier said: “Financial markets are there to serve the real economy – not the other way around. Markets have been transformed over the years and our legislation needs to keep pace. The crisis serves as a grim reminder of how complex and opaque some financial activities and products have become. This has to change. Today’s proposals will help lead to better, safer and more open financial markets.”

Background

In force since November 2007, the original Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) governs the provision of investment services in financial instruments (such as brokerage, advice, dealing, portfolio management, underwriting, etc.) by banks and investment firms and the operation of traditional stock exchanges and alternative trading venues ( so-called multilateral trading facilities. While MiFID created competition between these services and brought more choice and lower prices for investors, shortcomings were exposed in the wake of the financial crisis.

Key elements of the proposal

More robust and efficient market structures: MiFID already covered Multilateral Trading Facilities and regulated markets, but the revision will now bring a new type of trading venue into its regulatory framework: the Organised Trading Facility (OTF). These are organised platforms which are currently not regulated but are playing an increasingly important role. For example, standardised derivatives contracts are increasingly traded on these platforms. The new proposal will close this loophole. The revised MiFID will continue to allow for different business models, but will ensure all trading venues have to play by the same transparency rules and that conflicts of interest are mitigated.

In order to facilitate better access to capital markets for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the proposals will also introduce the creation of a specific label for SME markets. This will provide a quality label for platforms that aim to meet SMEs’ needs.

Taking account of technological innovations: Furthermore, an updated MiFID will introduce new safeguards for algorithmic and high frequency trading activities which have drastically increased the speed of trading and pose possible systemic risks. These safeguards include the requirement for all algorithmic traders to become properly regulated, provide appropriate liquidity and rules to prevent them from adding to volatility by moving in and out of markets. Finally, the proposals will improve conditions for competition in essential post-trade services such as clearing, which may otherwise frustrate competition between trading venues.

Increased transparency: By introducing the OTF category, the proposals will improve the transparency of trading activities in equity markets, including “dark pools” (trading volumes or liquidity that are not available on public platforms). Exemptions would only be allowed under prescribed circumstances. It will also introduce a new trade transparency regime for non-equities markets (i.e. bonds, structured finance products and derivatives). In addition, thanks to newly introduced requirements to gather all market data in one place, investors will have an overview of all trading activities in the EU, helping them make a more informed choice.

Reinforced supervisory powers and a stricter framework for commodity derivatives markets: The proposals will reinforce the role and powers of regulators. In coordination with the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) and under defined circumstances, supervisors will be able to ban specific products, services or practices in case of threats to investor protection, financial stability or the orderly functioning of markets. The proposals also foresee stronger supervision of commodity derivatives markets. It introduces a position reporting obligation by category of trader. This will help regulators and market participants to better assess the role of speculation in these markets. In addition, the Commission proposes to empower financial regulators to monitor and intervene at any stage in trading activity in all commodity derivatives, including in the shape of position limits if there are concerns about disorderly markets. The G20 Summit in Cannes on 3 and 4 November will also address the issue of commodity derivatives.

Stronger investor protection: Building on a comprehensive set of rules already in place, the revised MiFID sets stricter requirements for portfolio management, investment advice and the offer of complex financial products such as structured products. In order to prevent potential conflict of interest, independent advisors and portfolio managers will be prohibited from making or receiving third-party payments or other monetary gains. Finally, rules on corporate governance and managers’ responsibility are introduced for all investment firms.

Next steps: The proposals now pass to the European Parliament and the Council (Member States) for negotiation and adoption. Once adopted the Regulation, the Directive, and the necessary technical rules implementing these will apply together as of the same date.

How to increase the effectiveness of the European Social Fund (ESF)?

Mercredi 5 octobre 2011

While proposals for cohesion policy after 2013 are about to be published, the Council of Ministers met on October 3 to discuss the future of the ESF.

The focus should continue to be on education, social inclusion, job creation and poverty reduction.

In particular, ministers were asked to express their positions on the objectives that should be given priority; on how to improve the effectiveness of the ESF and give it a more results-oriented approach; and whether allocations should depend on the needs and potentials of specific regions.

The ESF is the main funding instrument at European level for promoting employment (with a strong focus on young people, the long-term unemployed and the low skilled), social inclusion and equal opportunities, and for developing skills and competences. Member states have made extensive use of ESF funding to cushion the impacts of the economic crisis. For the 2007-2013 programming period, 75 billion euros have been made available to national and regional authorities from the ESF.

Most member states use the ESF to implement tailor-made measures adapted to the needs of specific target groups, combining individual guidance, training and employment support. This approach, which also takes into account the particular needs and personal characteristics of individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, is seen as the most efficient way to reintegrate marginalised groups into the labour market, promote their social inclusion and reduce the risk of poverty. Gender mainstreaming, the promotion of equal opportunities and anti-discrimination measures are also widely supported by the ESF in member states.

The objective of the ESF is to reduce differences in prosperity and living standards across member states and regions, promoting economic and social cohesion. It is devoted to supporting employment in the EU and helps member states better equip Europe’s workforce and companies to face new, global challenges.

Teachers’ starting salaries of the EU is not attractive

Mercredi 5 octobre 2011

A report of the European Commission indicates that the salaries of teachers in most of the 27 EU Member States are not sufficiently attractive, both in terms of initial compensation as long-term prospects. Discover the details of this report.

In almost all European countries, gross basic salaries for teachers entering the profession are lower than national GDP per capita - and their pay will not even double over the course of their working lifetime, except in a handful of Member States. These are the main findings of a report which compares the salaries of public-sector teachers and school heads in 27 EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Turkey. The data, based on the 2009/10 school year, covers pre-primary to upper secondary education. Where figures are available, and taking both salary levels and allowances into account, the best paid teachers in the European Union are in Luxembourg, Denmark and Austria. The least well-paid are in Bulgaria and Romania. Six million teachers are currently employed in the Member States. The report, compiled by the Commission’s Eurydice network, is published to coincide with World Teachers’ Day (5 October).

The report shows that at the beginning of their careers, teachers’ gross basic salaries are lower than national GDP per capita in all countries with the exception of Germany, Spain and Portugal. Only in three countries (Cyprus, Portugal and Romania) is is possible for teachers to double their basic salaries in the course of their career. However, even in these countries, it takes more than 20 years to progress to the top salary scale.

A wide range of allowances are available in most European countries, in addition to basic salaries, but only half of the countries award specific allowances for further professional qualification and excellence in teaching.

Actual teacher salaries, including add-ons, are close to the top of the pay scale in many countries. This is due to an ageing teacher population and the allowances that teachers may receive. In Denmark (€ 61 804), Greece (€ 22 817), Finland (€ 44 775) and England (€ 35 580), teachers’ take-home pay is on average higher than the top pay scale due to these allowances.

In general, teachers in Europe maintained their purchasing power in 2009 and the economic crisis had an impact on their salaries in only a few countries in 2010 (Ireland, Greece, Spain, Latvia and Romania). During the same period, the Netherlands and Poland increased teachers’ salaries. More recent and forthcoming austerity measures in many countries may affect teachers’ salaries and overall spending on education. Nevertheless, many European governments are placing the education sector at the core of their reform programmes.

Eurydice

The report is produced by the European Commission’s Eurydice Network, which provides information on and analyses of European education systems and policies. As of 2011, 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 drafts its studies and provides a range of online resources.

The EU Council is tackling challenges raised by ageing populations

Lundi 3 octobre 2011

September 30, the Council of the EU launched a Joint research programming on ageing.

Research into the challenges raised by ageing populations were the subject of conclusions adopted by the Council on 30 September. The initiative “More Years, Better Lives” aims to unite research efforts and develop a common strategic research agenda on demographic change.

The initiative will contribute to reducing the fragmentation of member states’ research disciplines and efforts and stepping up the mobilisation of skills, knowledge and resources with a view to strengthening the EU’s competitiveness.

The number of Europeans aged over 65 is expected to rise significantly, indeed by 42 %, from 87 million in 2010 to 124 million in 2030. Ageing populations will have an impact on the economy, society and public finances, increasing the need for public age-related transfers and services.

Research projects could deliver an input to policymaking on helping older people lead an active and healthy life, thereby enabling them to stay independent for a longer time. Other projects could cover the use of innovative care solutions, as well as sustainable health and long-term care systems.

The process is driven by participating member states. The Commission’s role is to facilitate the process and provide support where necessary. Participation is voluntary and so far 15 countries - EU and non-EU - have joined. The first results are expected after 2012.

The initiative coincides with the European Year 2012, which is dedicated to active ageing and solidarity between generations.