Archive pour avril 2008

Hungary scoops first Charlemagne Youth Prize

Mercredi 30 avril 2008

Hungary’s Ferenc Rákóczi II Foundation has won the first ever Charlemagne Youth Prize for its “Students without Boundaries” project.

It was one of three prizes awarded on 29 April to projects which were judged to have fostered a shared sense of European identity and cultural exchange. Second place went to the projects in the UK and Greece. Parliament’s President Hans-Gert Pöttering and André Leysen, Chair of the Charlemagne Prize Foundation, presented the prizes.
“The Students without Boundaries” event takes place every year in Hungary and brings together over 130 students from Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine and Serbia. During their time there they discuss education in Europe as well as cultural issues. The prize ceremony took place at the University of Aachen in Germany and all three winners will be invited to the European Parliament in June.

About 400 projects entered the competition which is organised by the Parliament and the Charlemagne Foundation. The winners receive €5,000, €3,000 and €2,000, respectively.

The three best projects were selected in two steps: firstly by national juries and one representative of a youth organization, then by a European jury consisting of three MEPs, the President of the EP and four representatives of the Foundation.

On 1 May, the International Charlemagne Prize will also be awarded in Aachen. This year’s recipient is the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Charlemagne Prize, one of the most prestigious European prizes, is awarded for outstanding contributions to the cause of European unification.

 
  Source:
European Parliament

The European Union and South-East Europe: A common vision for connecting people

Mercredi 30 avril 2008

In the field of transport in the Western Balkans, the Slovenian Presidency of the EU is working hard to ensure that the European Commission is given a mandate to open negotiations on an EU ‘Transport Community Treaty’ with the countries of South-eastern Europe.

The Transport Ministers discussed guiding principles for a transport agreement at the EU Transport Council meeting in April. The proposed guidelines are aimed at establishing an integral market for road, rail and maritime and inland waterway transport with the countries of South-Eastern Europe. The proposal is based on investigative talks on cooperation in the field of transport initiated in 2007 with EU neighbouring countries.

Cooperation in the field of transport is governed by the Memorandum on the development of the South-East Europe Core Regional Transport Network signed in 2004, which served as the basis for the establishment of the South-East Europe Transport Observatory (SEETO). The Slovenian EU Presidency wishes to further enhance this successful cooperation with the intention of eliminating a transport ‘oasis’ within the EU and improving mobility in the region and between EU Member States.

An informal ministerial conference will therefore be organised in Belgrade on 7 May 2008 entitled ‘The European Union and South-East Europe: A common vision for connecting people’. The conference is organised by the Ministry of Transport of the Republic of Slovenia in cooperation with the South-East Europe Transport Observatory and with the support of the European Commission. The conference will be dedicated to the presentation of planned activities related to the ‘transport community’.

The informal ministerial conference, to which EU Member State and South-East European country Transport Ministers have been invited, is being organised and run in cooperation with the European Commission and the European Parliament. The conference, held at the Sava Centre in Belgrade, will be formally opened by Boris Tadič, the President of Serbia, and chaired by the Slovenian Minister of Transport, Mr Radovan Žerjav; the activities of the European Commission will be presented by Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner responsible for Transport, while the views of the European Parliament will be outlined by Paolo Costa, chairman of the EP Committee on Transport. Future activities in the context of the EU will be presented by Dominique Bussereau, the French Secretary of State for Transport.

 
  Source:
Slovenian Presidency

Boost the competitiveness of Europe’s pharmaceutical industry

Mercredi 30 avril 2008
 
 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants awarded via the programme of Community action of public health
 Grants for research projects concerning the treatment of major diseases and the delivery of health care

The European Commission and the pharmaceutical industry began work today on implementing the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI).

IMI aims to remove severe bottlenecks in the drug development process through innovative research projects, hence to accelerate the discovery and development of new medicines. It will launch later this year promising research projects in the areas of brain disorders, metabolic and inflammatory diseases. IMI is a unique public-private partnership between the European Commission and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).

The drug development for a new chemical or biological candidate is estimated to cost over one million euros and takes on average 12,5 years to bring a new medicine to the market. Out of every 10,000 substances synthesized in laboratories, only one or two will successfully pass all the stages to become marketable medicines. This project is all the more important as Europe was once known as the “world’s pharmacy” with until 1998 ago 7 out of 10 new medicines originated from Europe. Today this has fallen to about 3 out of 10.

IMI will boost Europe’s competitiveness in biopharmaceutical innovation and foster Europe as the most attractive place for pharmaceutical R&D. The pharmaceutical industry is a knowledge based sector that has a huge impact on employment for highly trained people. It provides Europe with high skilled jobs - in 2004 more than 612,000 with 103,000 employees in the research area. Europe produces more than 35 % of the world’s pharmaceutical output, worth some €161billion, making it the second manufacturing location after the US.

IMI brings together experts from the laboratory and the clinic working on new approaches to better predict as early as possible whether a drug works in a patient and whether it is safe. Earlier access to new treatments is the ultimate goal of this joint initiative.

IMI has a total budget of € 2 billion until 2013. In 2008 grants of € 123 million will be handed to the most promising research projects in the areas of brain disorders, metabolic and inflammatory diseases. In future calls IMI will also cover cancer and infectious diseases. These areas have been chosen because they are, primarily, important areas of unmet medical need, affecting the lives of millions of European citizens.

 
  Source:
Press Room - European Commission

Improve public access to documents of the EU institutions

Mercredi 30 avril 2008
 
 

The Commission has today adopted changes to the rules of access to documents from EU institutions.

These changes reaffirm the Commission’s commitment to transparency, up-date the rules to reflect recent case-law and aim to allow the institutions to be more efficient in responding to requests from citizens.

The Commission’s proposal with a new consolidated text puts more emphasis on active dissemination of information and it aligns the Regulation to the provisions on access to environmental information of the Aarhus Convention. It also clarifies the definition of “document”, for example to include the content of electronic databases, when it can be extracted as a printout or an electronic file.

The proposed text is also more explicit on protection of documents related to ongoing investigations. This gives more legal clarity, but it will not lead to fewer documents being made accessible to the citizens.

The Commission also proposes to improve the access to names and functions of persons acting in a professional capacity, to documents from the Member States and to the institutions’ written submissions to Courts. These changes follow recent case law of the European Courts.

The Treaty grants citizens and residents of the European Union a right of access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. The principles governing this right of access have been determined by Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001, which has been applied since 3 December 2001.

When the Commission launched its drive towards more transparency in November 2005 – the European Transparency Initiative – it also decided to review the Regulation.

As a first step, the Commission published a Green Paper and held a wide public consultation in spring 2007.

The improvements now suggested by the Commission are based on the outcome of this consultation, as well as on recommendations made by the European Parliament, and on the case law of the European Courts.

 
  Source:
Press Room - European Commission

CAP reform

Mardi 29 avril 2008

Council formally adopts wine reform which will boost competitiveness of European wines

Survey takes pulse of e-Health in Europe and prescribes wider ICT use among doctors

Vendredi 25 avril 2008
 
 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for research projects concerning the treatment of major diseases and the delivery of health care
 Grants awarded via the programme of Community action of public health

The European Commission today published a pan-European survey on electronic services in healthcare (eHealth) that shows 87% of European doctors (General Practitioners) use a computer, 48% with a broadband connection.

European doctors increasingly store and send patients’ data such as lab reports electronically. In using such eHealth applications, doctors and medical services have already improved healthcare in Europe through, for example, more efficient administration and shorter waiting times for patients. The report also highlights where doctors could make better use of ICT to offer services such as telemonitoring, electronic prescriptions and cross border medical services.

eHealth applications have a growing role in the doctor’s practices, according to the ‘Benchmarking ICT use among General Practitioners in Europe’ survey presented today by the Commission. However, there remain significant differences in their availability and use across Europe. About 70% of European doctors use the Internet and 66% use computers for consultations. Furthermore, there are wide differences across countries: Denmark has the highest broadband penetration among General Practitioners (91%), Romania the lowest (about 5%).

Administrative patient data is electronically stored in 80% of general practices: 92% of these also electronically store medical data on diagnoses and medication; 35% electronically store radiological images. European doctors often transfer data electronically with laboratories (40%), but less to other health centres (10%).

The survey shows that the countries most advanced in ICT access and connectivity are more likely to use them for professional purposes. For example, Denmark, where high-speed internet is most widely available in Europe, sees extensive use of email communication between doctors and patients in about 60% of practices (the EU average is only 4%).

The survey also highlights areas for improvement and further deployment, such as electronic prescriptions (e-Prescribing), which is practiced by only 6% of EU General Practitioners. This is widely used in only three Member States: Denmark (97%), the Netherlands (71%) and Sweden (81%).

Telemonitoring, which allows doctors to monitor a patient’s illness or manage chronic diseases remotely, is only used in Sweden (where 9% of doctors provide telemonitoring services), the Netherlands and Iceland (both about 3%). The Commission plans to report later this year on the potential and development of telemedicine.

Exchange of patient data across borders is also rare, done by only 1% of the EU’s General Practitioners, and with the highest usage rate in the Netherlands (at 5%). This year the Commission plans to make recommendations on cross-border interoperability of electronic health record systems and will launch, with several countries, a project on cross-border eHealth services for patients traveling within the EU.

A majority of European doctors agree that ICT improves the quality of healthcare services that they provide. Doctors not using ICT cite a lack of training and technical support as major barriers. To spread eHealth, they ask for more ICT in medical education, more training and better electronic networking among healthcare practitioners wanting to share clinical information.

Background:
In 2004, the European Commission adopted an Action Plan to develop the use of ICT in the Health sector. As a result, all Member States put in place strategies to accelerate e-Health deployment (www.ehealth-era.org). eHealth is part of the Lead Market initiative for innovation launched by the Commission in 2008.

The results of this survey, which involved almost 7,000 General Practitioners in the 3rd quarter of 2007, are related to these policy initiatives. The results will be presented in the forthcoming European eHealth Conference in Slovenia on May 6-7 (http://www.ehealth2008.si/).

Consultation to prepare an EU Offshore Wind Energy Action Plan

Vendredi 25 avril 2008
 
 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for strengthening Community environment policy and legislation, with a view to promoting sustainable development in the EU

The European Commission launches a public consultation to prepare an EU Offshore Wind Energy Action

The European Commission is inviting investors, project developers, wind turbine manufacturers, energy companies, government services, environmental NGOs and all other interested stakeholders, including the general public, to help identify the key barriers for the further development of offshore wind energy in Europe and what might be done to overcome them.

On 23 January 2008 the Commission made a far-reaching package of energy and climate change related proposals including a draft directive to promote renewable energy and increase its share to 20% by 2020[1]. Offshore wind energy has the potential to make a significant contribution to reaching this target but exploiting this potential is associated with a number of specific challenges that might require further, more targeted actions.

The on-line consultation is aimed at providing the Commission with a clearer understanding of the specific key challenges for future large-scale development of offshore wind energy in Europe, as well as with ideas on how the EU could support the development of European offshore wind energy resources. The consultation will be open until 20 June 2008.

 
  Source:
Press Room - European Commission
 
  More information:
Consultation

Help us make research in Europe more European, say researchers

Jeudi 24 avril 2008
 
 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 New framework programme for research and technology aiming at better exploiting research capacities in Europe and transforming scientific results into new products, processes and services.

Careers and mobility, international co-operation, research infrastructures, joint programming and knowledge sharing are today’s main concerns of European research actors, according to a report just published by the European Commission.

The report draws on over 1000 responses to a public consultation on the Green Paper “The European Research Area: New Perspectives” published in April 2007. The responses show strong overall support to further consolidate the European Research Area through new and more ambitious actions at all levels in the EU – regional, national and transnational.

In 2000, the EU called for realising a European Research Area, creating a single area across Europe, and overcoming under-capacity, fragmentation and lack of coordination between national and European research programmes. Since then, the European research landscape has changed, with growing socio-economic challenges and the impact of globalisation on science and technology requiring R&D policy responses.

The consultation results show that the original ERA objectives remain valid and relevant, but that action remains needed on the issues raised by the ERA Green Paper. Most respondents deem “sharing knowledge” and “developing world-class research infrastructures” most important, the former placed top by universities, research funding organisations and NGOs and the latter by industry and governmental bodies. “Researchers’ careers and mobility”, “international cooperation” and “infrastructures” were identified as the three most important in terms of need for action at EU level.

Respondents also draw attention to crucial interactions between research, education and innovation. Virtually all of the responses from Member States emphasise the need to consider the role of industry in ERA and its links to wider innovation and education policy. Industry itself regrets that the Green Paper focused more on challenges to public research systems and not enough on the central roles of private R&D within ERA and of the linkages between research and innovation.

Respondents endorse the use of a variety of instruments to promote ERA – financial incentives, increased EU budget, co-ordination and guidelines. While there is little demand for binding legislation, there is significant support for considering legislative action to improve the careers and mobility of researchers, as well as for a new non-binding legal framework for pan-European research infrastructures.

Concerning publicly funded research, over 70% of respondents call for more open and easy access to scientific data and 84% call for more immediate, accessible and wider dissemination of scientific publications.

More than 80% of respondents support the idea of the EC and Member States collaborating to define common European research priorities, to ensure coordinated, efficient and coherent use of legal and financial instruments and resources.

Most respondents favour Europe adopting a more active approach to define the global S&T agenda internationally. 75% of the respondents expressed the wish that Europe should “speak with one voice” and 69% of them considered that this could be achieved through placing emphasis on a small number of high-priority research themes.

A dominant theme was the need for Member States to commit to a wide and ambitious ERA policy agenda as a genuine European Research Area would only be fully realised through Member States, stakeholders and the Commission working in partnership, with each accepting their responsibility to make it happen.

Five new specific initiatives, following directly on from the consultation, will be launched in the coming months. These initiatives will address in particular:

* The management of intellectual property by public research organisations (recommendation adopted on 10 April 2008)
* The promotion of mobility and careers of Europe’s researchers
* The legal framework for pan-European research infrastructures
* Joint programming and programmes and
* International science and technology cooperation.

 
  Source:
Press Room - European Commission
 
  More information:
ERA and full report

OPEN DAYS 2008: ‘Regions and cities in a challenging world’

Jeudi 24 avril 2008
 
 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants in the framework of national sectoral or regionalised programmes to support the improving of employment and social inclusion
 Grants in the framework of national sectoral or regionalised programmes to support projects for growth and jobs creation in the least favoured regions of the Member States
 Grants in the framework of national sectoral or regionalised programmes to sustainable regional development in the least favoured regions of the Member States
 Support for investment of economic public and private actors in order to reinforce competitiveness, attractivity of regions and employment

‘Regions and cities in a challenging world’ is the theme of OPEN DAYS 2008, announced today by Danuta Hübner, Commissioner for Regional Policy, and Luc Van den Brande, President of the EU Committee of the Regions.

The sixth edition of the European Week of Regions and Cities, OPEN DAYS, will be held in Brussels from 6 to 9 October. This year, 217 regions and cities from 32 countries have signed up as partners, and participants are expected from many other countries. There will be 120 events in Brussels and around 250 local events all over Europe during OPEN DAYS, which has become the most important annual gathering of EU and regional policy-makers, experts and representatives of banking, business and civil society groups.

The event will enable participants to share their first experiences of implementing 345 Cohesion Policy programmes for 2007-2013 at local and regional level, with investment of about EUR 500 billion of EU and national funds. The debate about the policy’s future after 2013 is in full swing, and the Commission is expected to adopt an important Green Paper on territorial cohesion just before OPEN DAYS.

The OPEN DAYS 2008 seminars and debates will focus on four themes:

* Innovating regions: Promoting research, technological development and innovation;
* Sustainable development: Regional responses to climate change;
* Cooperation and networking: Exchange of best practice in regional development;
* Looking forward: A European cohesion policy for tomorrow.

Attracting about 5,000 regional and local experts to Brussels, OPEN DAYS 2008 is organised jointly by the European Commission’s Regional Policy Directorate-General and the Committee of the Regions. Partner regions and cities from 26 Member States are represented, along with others from Turkey, Croatia, Norway, Switzerland and – for the first time – Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iceland. France has registered the highest number of partners, 22, followed by Italy and Spain (19), the United Kingdom (18), and Poland (17). In addition, representatives from other countries, including China, Russia, Brazil and Serbia are expected to contribute to the event, along with international organisations. OPEN DAYS will also be an opportunity for private companies, financial institutions and civil society organisations to get together with regional stakeholders. The European Investment Bank, Businesseurope, the European employers’ organisation, Siemens, General Electric, Philips, Veolia and the European Citizen Action Service will be among organisations represented at the “Investors Café”, the event’s exhibition and meeting area.

 
  Source:
Press Room - European Commission
 
  More information:
Open Days

Europe ahead of US in funding nanotech risk research

Jeudi 24 avril 2008
 
 

European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
New framework programme for research and technology aiming at better exploiting research capacities in Europe and transforming scientific results into new products, processes and services.

Europe invests nearly twice as much as the US in research addressing the potential risk of nanotechnologies, a report issued by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) indicates.

While the US National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) allocated USD13 million (€8.1 million) to risk-related projects in the fiscal year 2006, Europe set aside USD24 million (€15 million) over the same time period.

The report was conducted by PEN, an initiative of the US-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Pew Charitable Trusts, and is based on data listed in the NNI research strategy.

According to the PEN assessment, 62 US-government funded nanotech projects with a total annual budget of USD13 million could be categorised as highly relevant to potential environment, health or safety (EHS) hazards.

The US government, on the other hand, disagrees. Their estimates amount to USD37.7 million (€23.6 million) invested in EHS research in nanotechnology.

In contrast, the EU has incorporated EHS concerns into nanotechnology research as an important part of a balanced approach to the subject. ‘It is fundamental to have a high level of public health, safety, and environmental and consumer protection,’ EU Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik said at a conference in Brussels in April 2007.

Earlier this year, the Commission adopted a code of conduct for responsible nanotech research, encompassing seven general principles to ensure that nanotechnologies are developed in a safe manner. Among other things, these principles include calls for sustainability and precaution as well as accountability of researchers and research organisations.

In addition, funding for nanotech safety research has been expanded under the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), bringing into focus quantitative data on (eco)toxicology as well as development of nano-specific tests, exposure and risk assessment methods, and methodologies for life cycle analysis. FP7 has become the world’s largest public funding source for nanotechnology with a total budget of €3.5 billion.

Experts estimate that by 2014, about 15% of the total global output of manufactured goods, worth USD2.6 trillion (€1.6 trillion), will incorporate nanotechnology.

 
     
  More information:
PEN Project