Archive pour la catégorie ‘innovation’

The European Parliament regulates home loans

Lundi 30 janvier 2012

The new regulations of the Internal Market Committee seeks to better protect the borrower.

To this end, the committee amended a draft directive which aims to curb irresponsible mortgage borrowing, and also tighten up the supervision of lenders, whilst respecting existing lending practices in EU Member States.

The Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee’s opinion on the Commission proposal concerns consumer information requirements such as advertising and pre-contractual information. Other aspects, such as calculating annual charges and authorising and supervising credit intermediaries, will be handled by the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee.

In 2008, outstanding residential mortgage lending in the EU27 represented about 50% of EU GDP. Household debts, of which mortgage debt is the largest component, accounted for some 70% of euro area households’ total financial liabilities at the end of 2008, says the committee’s report.

Borrower’s right to information

The choice of a mortgage is affected by many factors besides the borrower’s ability to repay the loan. These include the information provided by lenders, the borrower’s financial literacy, conflicts of interest and irresponsible behaviour by certain market players.

MEPs therefore backed a Commission proposal to ensure that mortgage lending is governed by general rules on marketing and advertising, and which would require prospective lenders to make available information such as annual percentage rates and total costs of credit before the borrower signs the contract.

This information should be tailored to the borrower’s knowledge of and previous experience with lending practices, and should enable him or her to take a reasoned decision on whether he or she wishes to conclude the credit agreement. The information on the proposed mortgage agreement should be always made available on paper, another durable medium or in electronic form, adds the text.

MEPs also amended the text to say that a warning that the buyer could lose the property if he or she defaults on the mortgage commitments should appear in the standard information provided, rather than in advertising, because a full explanation of this risk would be too long and too costly for smaller advertisers to provide, and requiring it would therefore hand a an unfair competitive advantage to larger ones.

Dispute resolution

To put borrowers and lenders on a more equal footing, the proposed legislation would require Member states to establish out-of-court redress bodies to resolve disputes. An amendment inserted by the committee would align the dispute resolution mechanism with the EU consumer credit directive, to prevent the proliferation of similar, but differing, rules.

Next steps

The proposed directive now goes to the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, which will endeavour to take account of the Internal Market Committee’s opinion, but reserves its right to a final say on those parts of the directive that fall within its sphere of competence.

The Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee will vote its amendments to the text on 28 or 29 February.

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 Parliament debate on the Hungarian law

Vendredi 13 janvier 2012

Concerns as to whether the laws implementing Hungary’s new constitution are compatible with EU rules and values were raised by Civil Liberties Committee MEPs in a debate on Wednesday.

The Commission’s Director General for Justice, Françoise Le Bail, said that the Commission’s evaluation of the compliance of the Hungarian laws with EU law was focusing on three issues: measures to retire judges and prosecutors at 62 years old, rather than 70, the independence of the judiciary and the independence of the data protection authority.

Replying to MEPs’ questions, Ms Le Bail explained that the retirement age measure was being checked against an EU directive on non-discrimination in employment, the independence of the judiciary one against Charter of Fundamental Rights Article 47 and the data protection authority one against the 1995 data protection directive.

Ms Le Bail said that the compatibility of some of these measures with EU law was “questionable”, and promised that the Commission would complete its analysis in time for the College of Commissioners to decide on 17 January how to proceed with respect to Hungary. The Commission is prepared to make full use of its prerogatives, which could entail the launching of infringement procedures, she added.

Risk of breach of EU values?

“We don’t have to wait to see what the Commission is doing. Parliament is entitled by the Lisbon Treaty to take action”, said Renate Weber (ALDE, RO). She recalled issues such as the Hungarian media law, the Roma in France, upon which the Commission had begun very bluntly but lost momentum thereafter, and voiced concern over Hungary’s cardinal laws, which she said “would allow legislation to be cemented for the next hundred years”.

Ms Weber added that the Commission should also test Hungary’s laws against EU Treaty Article 2, which states that the EU is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.

“There is every indication that Hungary will realign its legislation according to the Commission’s evaluation”, said Frank Engel (EPP, LU), adding that “I don’t see any reason for all this hysteria”. He proposed to wait until the “regular procedure is fulfilled” before coming to any conclusion “on a decision taken by a sovereign country”.

“We needed this new constitution”, said Kinga Gál (EPP, HU), adding that “it can happen that there are mistakes, but I don’t think this can give raise to any affirmation or rumour saying that there is a breach of democracy and the rule of law in Hungary”.

“The Charter of Fundamental Rights is primarily for the EU, not necessarily legally binding in this way for Member States”, said Axel Voss (EPP, DE), adding that “this should be addressed as a regular breach of the EU Treaties”. On the independence of the data protection supervisor, he said that “it should be discussed, but not in an exaggerated fashion”. “European law must be the cornerstone of our action”, he underlined.

“Let the Commission do what it has to do”, urged Ms Gál, adding that “these issues should not be politicised” and that it is “very good” that the Commission, as guardian of the treaties, “follows this and says what needs to be changed”.

“This is about the risk of breach of fundamental rights”, argued Sophie int’Veld (ALDE, NL), adding that activating Article 7 of the Treaty, in order to assess whether there is a risk of a serious breach of EU values, “would be justified”.

“I support my group’s request for the application of Article 7. These are basic rights that should be respected by all Member States in Europe”, added Sonia Alfano (ALDE, IT).

“We are facing a drift that is worrying this House”, said Rui Tavares (Greens/EFA, PT). “A dictatorial drift”, he added. “We see again and again that citizens expect us to act on fundamental rights”, he insisted, adding that “democracy means not only that majorities rule, it is also means that majorities change”. “Would a candidate country with this kind of laws have any chance to join the EU?”, he wondered.

Mr Tavares also advocated applying Article 7, in order to determine whether there is a clear risk of a serious breach of the values on which the EU is founded. This would be an “alert procedure” for Hungary, he said.

Media law, electoral law, church law

Kinga Göncz (S&D, HU), asked the Commission what it expected the Hungarian authorities to do after the legal analysis is concluded, suggesting that a more political answer would be required, and not just a legal one. In the previous year, there had been “cosmetic changes” to Hungary’s media law, she recalled, adding that this should be avoided now. Ms Göncz also asked the Commission to analyse Hungary’s electoral law and church law.

Kyriacos Triantaphyllides (GUE/NGL, CY), asked whether the infringement of labour laws and attacks against political parties were being addressed by the Commission. Krisztina Morvai (NI, HU) also urged that the Hungarian people and workers should be heard.

Csaba Sógor (EPP, RO), defended the media and religious laws passed by the Hungarian government. “There are nine Member States which recognise fewer churches than Hungary”, he said, adding that “in Hungary there is no state religion, as it happens in many other Member States”. He also claimed that the Club radio was not closed in Hungary.

Ana Gomes (S&D, PT), voiced concerns about the electoral laws, which could render the main political opposition party illegal, she said, adding that this debate “is not against the Hungarian people, it is for the Hungarian people”.

“What is happening in Hungary today is very serious for the European project and its universal values. This is a mutation of democracy”, said Louis Michel (ALDE, BE).

József Szájer (EPP, HU), called on the European Parliament to “make an investigation before passing any judgement, as the Commission is doing”. “What Fidesz inherited is something that needed to be restructured, we needed to create a new state that is functional”, he stressed, noting that the Hungarian parliament had passed 230 laws and 30 cardinal laws. “If there are only these 4 or 5 mistakes that we are discussing, I think we did a very good job”, he concluded.

It’s not only about Hungary

We are talking about “shared principles and values” and “Parliament cannot turn a blind eye to what is happening”, said Birgit Sippel (S&D, DE), stressing that “this is not a discussion between the Commission and Hungary only. As the EU we lose all our credibility if one of our Member States is not respecting fundamental rights”.

“This isn’t about Hungary, it is about any Member State of the EU having problems with fundamental rights. I think no other Member State would have been treated differently. The Copenhagen criteria do not disappear when a country joins the EU and Article 7 also allows the Parliament to initiate proceedings”, said Alexander Alvaro (ALDE, DE).

Sophie int’Veld (ALDE, NL), observed that “Hungary took a sovereign decision to adhere to the EU treaties” and must therefore respect them. “The situation in Hungary is exceptionally serious”, but there are other Member States not respecting fundamental rights, se said, citing the treatment of Roma people in France or that of migrants and asylum seekers in her own country.

Cornelia Ernst (GUE/NGL, DE), described the way in which the Roma issue had been handled as a “fiasco”, and called for action to prevent the treaties from being violated.

A strictly legal issue?

“We accept that this is not only a legal issue, it is both legal and political”, Ms Le Bail told MEPs after the debate. “What the Commission is expecting from Hungary is full compliance with EU laws, the wording and the spirit of the EU Treaties and with the Charter of Fundamental Rights”, she concluded.

Good figures for active aging in Europe

Vendredi 13 janvier 2012

The employment rate for persons aged 60-64 increased from 23% in 2000 to 31% in 2010 and from 50% to 61% for those aged 55-59

The proportion of the population in the EU27 who are aged 55 and over rose from 25% in 1990 to 30% in 2010, and is estimated to reach around 40% by 2060. In connection with the demographic challenges presented by this increase, the European Union has designated 2012 as the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations1. Active ageing means that older age groups have the opportunity to stay in the workforce and share their experience, to keep playing an active role in society and to live as healthy and fulfilling lives as possible.

To mark the European Year, Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, issues a new publication “Active ageing and solidarity between generations – a statistical portrait of the European Union 2012″2, prepared in collaboration with the European Commission’s Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion and Eurofound, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. This publication presents data on topics such as demography, employment, transition from work to retirement, healthcare, living conditions and participation in society. In this News Release the most recent data on demographic trends and employment amongst the older population are presented, while more information on attitudes towards ageing and the participation of older persons in society can be found in a new Eurobarometer survey3 from the European Commission as well as in the Eurostat publication.

The share of those aged 55 and over varied between 21% in Ireland and 33% in Germany and Italy in 2010

The share of persons aged 55 and over in the total population increased between 1990 and 2010 in all Member States. In 2010, the largest shares of those aged 55-64 were observed in Finland (14.7% of the total population), the Czech Republic and Malta (both 14.1%), and the lowest in Ireland (10.1%), Lithuania (10.7%) and Luxembourg (10.8%). For the age group 65 and over, the highest shares were found in Germany (20.7%), Italy (20.2%) and Greece (18.9%), and the lowest in Ireland (11.3%), Slovakia (12.3%) and Cyprus (13.1%).

Employment rate for those aged 60 to 64 ranged between 13% in Hungary and 61% in Sweden in 2010

Employment of the older population has strongly increased over the last decade. While the employment rate4 for those aged 20-64 in the EU27 increased by 2.1 percentage points (from 66.5% in 2000 to 68.6% in 2010), the rates for older age groups rose more sharply, by 10.6 pp for those aged 55-59 (from 50.3% to 60.9%) and by 7.5 pp for those aged 60 to 64 (from 23.0% to 30.5%). The employment rate remained at around 5% for those aged 65 and over.

In 2010, the highest employment rates for those aged 55-59 were observed in Sweden (80.7%), Denmark (75.9%) and Finland (72.5%), and the lowest in Poland (45.8%), Slovenia (46.9%) and Malta (49.3%). For those aged 60-64 the highest rates were recorded in Sweden (61.0%), the United Kingdom (44.0%) and Estonia (42.8%), and the lowest in Hungary (13.0%), Malta (14.2%) and Slovakia (17.2%). For those aged 65 and over, the highest employment rates were found in Portugal (16.5%), Romania (13.0%) and Cyprus (12.9%), and the lowest in France and Slovakia (both 1.6%) and Hungary (1.9%).

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.

The European Commission guarantees gender equality for insurance premiums

Jeudi 22 décembre 2011

In its decision of 1 March 2011 in the case of test-purchases, the Court of Justice gave insurers until 21 December 2012 to provide equal treatment between men and women in regard to premiums and benefits of insurance.

Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner, met with leading EU insurers in September 2011 to discuss how the industry should adapt to the Court’s ruling (MEMO/11/624).

Following consultations with national governments, insurers and consumers, the new Commission guidelines respond to the need for practical guidance on the implications of the ruling. They aim to benefit both consumers and insurance companies.

The guidelines adopted today cover a series of issues which emerged from in-depth consultations with Member States and stakeholders. For example, they clarify that the ruling applies only to new contracts, in particular to contracts concluded as from 21 December 2012. They also give specific examples of what is considered a “new contract” to ensure a comprehensive application of the unisex rule at EU level from the same date.

In addition, the guidelines provide examples of gender-related insurance practices which are compatible with the principle of unisex premiums and benefits, and therefore will not change because of the Test-Achats ruling. These practices are very diverse, ranging from the calculation of technical provisions to reinsurance pricing, medical underwriting or targeted marketing.

Background
The implications of the judgment were discussed on 20 June with Member States and stakeholders at the Forum on Gender and Insurance set up by the Commission in 2009. European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding also met leaders of European insurance companies on 21 September.

The Test-Achats ruling does not mean that women will always pay the same car insurance premiums as men.

At the moment, a careful young male driver pays more for auto insurance just because he is a man. Under the ruling, insurers can no longer use gender as a determining risk factor to justify differences in individuals’ premiums. But the premiums paid by careful drivers – male and female – will continue to decrease based on their individual driving behaviour. The ruling does not affect the use of other legitimate risk-rating factors and price will continue to reflect risk.

Gender is a determining risk-rating factor for at least three main product categories: motor insurance, life insurance/annuities and private health insurance. In all three categories, it is likely that a transition towards unisex pricing will have consequences on premiums and/or benefits at the individual level for men and women. Depending on the product concerned, premiums might increase or decrease for certain categories of consumers.

The insurance industry is competitive and innovative. It should be in a position to make these adjustments and offer attractive unisex products to consumers without unjustified impact on the overall price level. Price reductions resulting from unisex pricing should be passed on to consumers with the same level of fairness as price increases.

The Test-Achats case (C-236/09), which was referred by the Belgian Constitutional Court, concerned gender discrimination in insurance pricing. On 1 March 2011, the Court of Justice of the European Union declared invalid as from 21 December 2012 an exemption in EU equal treatment legislation which allows Member States to maintain differentiation between men and women in individuals’ premiums and benefits.

Council Directive 2004/113/EC on equal treatment between men and women in regards to the access to and supply of goods and services (adopted unanimously by the EU Council of Ministers) prohibits direct and indirect gender discrimination outside of the labour market.

Article 5(1) of the Directive says that “Member States shall ensure that in all new contracts concluded after 21 December 2007 at the latest, the use of sex as a factor in the calculation of premiums and benefits for the purpose of insurance and related financial services shall not result in differences in individuals’ premiums and benefits.”

Before the ruling, Article 5(2) of the Directive gave Member States a right to derogate from the unisex rule with regard to insurance contracts: “Member States may decide before 21 December 2007 to permit proportionate differences in individuals’ premium and benefits where the use of sex is a determining factor in the assessment of risk based on relevant and accurate actuarial and statistical data. The Member States concerned shall inform the Commission and ensure that accurate data relevant to the use of sex as a determining factor are compiled, published and regularly updated.”

All Member States made use of this derogation for some or all insurance contracts. Belgian law includes a derogation for life insurance in its national legislation. A dispute about the legality of Belgium’s derogation led to the Court of Justice’s Test-Achats ruling.

The Court found the exemption to the unisex rule in Article 5(2) incompatible with the purpose of the Directive as laid down in Article 5(1) and, therefore, with the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. The Court ruled:

“Article 5(2) of Council Directive 2004/113/EC of 13 December 2004 implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services is invalid with effect from 21 December 2012.”

The European Union is launching a European network for health services

Jeudi 22 décembre 2011

The European Commission today launched the network “Health online” to facilitate the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare.

For the first time, EU legislation includes provisions on eHealth with clear objectives to find modern, innovative solutions for providing better and safer healthcare for all Europeans.

Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda said The new eHealth Network promises to bring the health benefits of the digital economy to citizens across Europe. Interoperable eHealth can help improve the safety and efficiency of care of millions of Europeans who travel within the EU every year.

The Network’s mission
The Network will bring together the national authorities responsible for eHealth on a voluntary basis to work on common orientations for eHealth. The aim is to ensure EU wide interoperability of electronic health systems and wider use of eHealth. The eHealth Network is expected to translate the results of numerous research projects and pilot projects into real-life accessible services for European citizens.

Background
eHealth is healthcare practice supported by electronic processes and information communication technologies (ICTs) .

eHealth can play a central role in making health systems more efficient and effective by allowing for example remote diagnosis, remote monitoring of patients’ conditions and secure sharing of patient records between healthcare professionals. The eHealth Network will play a key role in facilitating the future development of such services across Europe.

Council Conclusions in 2009 called for an alignment of eHealth with health strategies both at EU and at National level. In 2010 a Joint Action and Thematic Network were launched under the Health Programme and the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme.

To ensure coordination, coherence and consistency of work on eHealth at EU level and to avoid duplication of work, article 14 of the Cross-border Healthcare Directive (2011/24/EU) of 9 March 2011 sets up the voluntary eHealth Network adopted by today’s Decision.

The eHealth network is mandated to draw up guidelines on a minimum set of common data to be included in patients’ summaries; on methods to enable the use of medical information for public health and medical research; and on common identification and authentication measures to ensure transferability of data in cross-border healthcare.

The European Commission presents its new anti-fraud programmes.

Lundi 19 décembre 2011

The European Commission today adopted two proposals for programs Hercules III and Pericles 2020. With a budget of € 117.7 million, these programs will take place over the next programming phase.

Hercule III
The Hercule III programme is dedicated to fighting fraud, corruption and any other illegal activities affecting the financial interests of the EU. It focuses in particular on cooperation between the Commission, via the European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF), competent authorities in the Member States, and other European institutions and bodies.

The programme aims at ensuring equivalent protection in the Member States and in all EU institutions, bodies and agencies. Actions provided under the Hercule III programme include: technical and operational support for law enforcement authorities in the Member States in their fight against illegal cross-border activities, and professional training activities.

The previous Hercule programme produced important results such as 70 technical assistance projects that financed the purchase of sophisticated technical equipment for law enforcement agencies combating fraud, as well as anti-fraud training for over 5 300 law enforcement staff.

Pericles 2020
The Pericles 2020 programme is an exchange, assistance and training programme to strengthen the protection of euro banknotes and coins in Europe and worldwide.

Projects financed under the Pericles programme include, among others, a seminar on the “Community Strategy for the protection of the euro in the Mediterranean area”, a training course on money counterfeiting in Latin America and a number of staff exchanges between authorities within and outside the EU.

Next steps
The draft Regulations will 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 2014.

Parliament proposes a single European transport space for 2020

Vendredi 16 décembre 2011

Parliament is proposing a single legislation for safety and environment for road transport.

The “roadmap to a single European transport area” with figures, as approved by Parliament, supplements the long-run view of a Commission white paper on the future of EU transport policy.

Reducing road deaths and the carbon footprint

The resolution invites the Commission to propose an action plan to halve road deaths and serious injuries (2010-2020) and calls for measures to cut CO2 emissions from road transport by 20%, maritime transport by 30% and aviation by 30% from 1990 levels. The noise and energy consumption of trains should also be reduced by 20% from 1990 levels. Overall, transport emissions should drop by 20 % over the period 2009-2020.

Polluter pays principle to apply to all modes of transport

Faced with a proliferation of national approaches, MEPs ask the Commission to draw up a “standardised EU methodology to calculate the carbon footprint of transport and logistics operations”.

MEPs also ask the Commission to table a proposal by 2014 for the “internalisation of external costs” for all modes of transport, with a view to including pollution, noise and congestion costs in the price paid by the user. Member States should use the revenue that this generates to fund sustainable mobility and transport infrastructure costs, says the resolution.

Targeted investments to link road, rail and navigation

Parliament asks the Commission to table, by 2013, a quantitative analysis of transport infrastructure, the density of the transport network and the quality of transport services in all EU Member States, with a view to determining future priorities. Meanwhile, it asks that the EU concentrate more resources on modernising the networks of new Member States, so that by 2025, their transport infrastructure reaches the level of the rest of the EU.

To increase the number of multimodal connecting platforms along navigable waterways and railways by 20% between 2010 and 2020 they should be allocated at least 15% of funding devoted to trans-European (TEN-T) networks, says the resolution.

A majority of MEPs believe that Member States wishing to authorise the use of longer, heavier lorries on certain predetermined routes should be able to do so, provided that this does not compromise safety or damage road infrastructure.

Environment-friendly mobility and combined transport in towns

The EU should create incentives to develop safe transport infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists in towns, so as to double the number of pedestrians, cyclists and public transport passengers and promote the introduction of integrated electronic ticket systems for multimodal journeys, says the resolution. MEPs also ask that EuroVelo, the European long-distance cycle route network, be included in the TEN-T network.

Ensuring high-quality jobs and services

To ensure that opening up transport markets does not result in social dumping, MEPs stress the need to harmonise transport sector training and working conditions. In particular, they call for haulage drivers’ working hours and rest periods to be better enforced throughout the EU.

The resolution was passed with 523 votes in favour, 64 against and 37 abstentions.

Background

Transport services employ about 10 million people in the EU and generate about 5% of GDP. On average, transport accounts for 13.2% of household expenditure.

Freight will grow by 40%, and passenger numbers by 34%, between 2005 and 2030, say Commission forecasts.

The European Commission strengthens consular protection

Mercredi 14 décembre 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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