Archive pour avril 2008

Commission facilitates interoperability for Europe’s trains

Jeudi 24 avril 2008
 
 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants in the frame of the Trans-European Networks for transport

Today the European Commission adopted an amendment to the European standard for train signaling and speed control – the European Train Control System (ETCS) - which guarantees a common standard that enables trains to cross national borders and enhances safety

Deployment of ETCS across key freight and high speed corridors will greatly improve the competitiveness of European railways.

The ETCS concept is simple: information is transmitted from the ground to the train, where an on-board computer uses it to calculate the maximum authorised speed and then automatically slows down the train if necessary. ETCS is one component of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS).

Currently, there are more than 20 different signalling systems in operation in Europe and their incompatibility is a major technical barrier to international traffic. ERTMS is a tool to establish an integrated and intelligent railway transport system in Europe. Using the most up-to-date technologies, ERTMS allows for reduced transport costs and improved punctuality and safety. It helps make rail a more competitive alternative to road, air and sea transport. ERTMS is also a key element of several trans-European transport network (TEN-T) priority projects and is important for the overall upgrade of European railways.

Following an intense ten year phase of research and development, validation of the ETCS standard was carried out from 2000 to 2007 with real scale projects underway in parallel. Since 2005, feedback from projects prompted the need to fine tune the specifications in order to move from local to global compatibility and ensure interoperability between all projects in Europe. Today’s decision eliminates the risk of any ambiguities that might have resulted in incompatible projects and guarantees that Europe’s trains equipped with ETCS can travel on any line equipped with ETCS.

ETCS is already installed on over 2,000 km of track and by 2012 over 11,000 km of ETCS will be in operation. Freight transport will benefit significantly from ETCS and when complemented by other measures, freight volume is expected to increase by 55% along certain corridors, travel time is expected to be reduced by 20% and reliability is expected to increase by 26%. All of this makes rail a more attractive option for freight transport. Rail safety will also be enhanced.

 
  Source:
Press room - European Commission

Eurobarometer survey: the importance of access to civil justice for EU citizens is confirmed

Jeudi 24 avril 2008
 
 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for judicial cooperation projects between practitioners in civil matters

A recent Eurobarometer survey shows that close to three-quarters of Europeans believe that measures should be taken to help citizens gain access to civil justice in other Member States

Citizens would prefer these measures be taken at EU level through common rules. More than 8 out of 10 believe that the EU should assist in the enforcement of civil court rulings in one Member State involving payment to be made in another Member State.

The objective of a recent Special Eurobarometer survey was to gain insight into the experiences of European Union citizens, their opinions and their preferences with regard to civil justice in the European Union. The idea of European civil justice is to ensure that citizens and companies in one Member State can exercise their rights in another Member State in the event of a dispute that crosses national borders.

This survey examines the extent to which European Union citizens have been involved in civil justice matters in another European Union Member State, what their opinions and concerns are about (access to) civil justice in other Member States and what their preferences are when it comes to harmonising European law and enforcing civil court rulings.

The results underline the need for an information campaign targeting Europe’s citizens. The Special Eurobarometer 292 highlights the fact that getting involved in a civil justice matter abroad is frightening, complicated and an unknown prospect for most Europeans. It cannot be ignored any longer.

 
  Source:
Press room - European Commission
 
  More information:
Freedom, Security and Justice EU website

EU funds needed to get Galileo into orbit by 2013

Jeudi 24 avril 2008
 
 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 European project for satellite navigation

After negotiations with the private sector to set up Galileo, the EU’s satellite radio-navigation system, hit a dead-end, the European Commission last year recommended that the satellites, their launch and the earth infrastructure should be publicly funded

During Tuesday’s session in Stasbourg, MEPs returned to Europe’s satellite radionavigation programme, discussing a report drafted in the Industry Committee by Hungarian Etelka Barsi-Pataky (EPP-ED).

Who will fund Galileo?

In May last year the Commission presented a report on the future of Galileo saying that the most realistic and economic option is for the public sector to put the initial infrastructure in place. The system would be operated by a private concession holder.

Originally, the Community planned to establish a public-private partnership to take over the deployment and commercial operation of the satellite navigation system. However, after concession negotiations with the private sector failed, Parliament agreed with the Council in November 2007 to finance the deployment (€3,4 billion) entirely from EU funds.

In June last year MEPs on the Budget Committee agreed on the following principles for Galileo:
- Galileo should be financed from the EU budget
- The EU Budget should be increased accordingly
- Galileo is “of an enormous European added value”.

What is it all about?

Currently, there are two radio navigation satellite networks: the American GPS and the Russian Glonass systems. Both were designed during the Cold War for military purposes, but Glosnass is no longer fully operational.
GPS is widely used but it has short-comings:

- A mediocre and varying degree of accuracy
- Limited reliability, especially in regions in extreme latitudes (crossed by many aviation routes), in densely populated areas and town centres.
- Its predominantly military character means civilian users could be cut off in the event of a crisis.
- No guarantees or liability in the event of an accident caused by GPS error.

The EU decided to develop Galileo, over which it has control, which meets accuracy, reliability and security needs and which covers difficult areas such as Northern Europe and which will ensure continuity of public service. The political decision to launch the Galileo project was taken at the Nice European Council in December 2000 and the aim was that it would be in operation in 2008, after development and the deployment of the satellites.

Under the original Public Private Partnership plan, public funds would cover development costs, while construction and deployment would mainly be financed by the private sector, which would also operate the system.

Where it went wrong

The project hit delays with its testing timetable and over negotiations with the private sector and is now five years behind schedule. So far only one of the three satellites has been launched. Giove A1 was launched in December 2005 and began transmitting Galileo navigation signals in January 2006. The Giove B satellite, which should have been launched in 2006 has been postponed until the end of 2007.

Negotiations with Euro-GNSS, the private consortium of 8 European companies, failed at the beginning of the year because of the companies’ fears of additional costs. Transport ministers agreed in June that the EU’s collaboration with the consortium should end and that the next stage should be managed by the public sector.

So what does Galileo entail?

Galileo will be based on 30 satellites placed in three orbits at an altitude of 24,000 km and covering the entire surface of the Earth with a network of ground control stations. Each satellite will be equipped with an atomic clock providing extremely precise time measurements, making it possible to determine the location of any stationary or moving object to within 1 metre.

Most appliances will be able to use Galileo and GPS.

 
  Source:
European Parliament

Europe must act on global food crisis

Jeudi 24 avril 2008
 
 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for research projects linking scientific knowledge to public health, as regards agriculture, environment and food

Life scientists from developing countries have made an impassioned plea for Europe to support life sciences research designed to address the global food crisis

The scientists were speaking at a symposium held in Alexandria, Egypt, which was organised by the EU-funded EAGLES (’European action on global life sciences’) project. In a statement issued after the conference, the scientists describe themselves as ‘dismayed and even horrified at the persistent failure of Europe to deploy its life sciences effectively in the fight against hunger’.

Around the world, some 800 million people are suffering from chronic hunger and there are 40,000 hunger-related deaths every day. The scientists are now concerned that climate change and the increasing use of biofuels could exacerbate this situation.

On biofuels, the researchers highlight the growing trend for the conversion of traditional food crops into energy crops. They recommend that no new energy production system be introduced in Europe without research that demonstrates that the system will not negatively impact on local and global food security.

The authors of the statement warn that without adequate support, Europe’s life scientists will fall behind their counterparts in the rest of the world, where scientists are drawing on biotechnology and traditional plant breeding techniques to develop new plant varieties which are already benefiting farmers and consumers.

The researchers call on Europeans to fulfil their obligations to humanity and commit themselves to abolishing hunger as they had once campaigned to abolish slavery.

The EAGLES project is funded under the ‘Food quality and safety’ Thematic Area of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). Its aim is to bring together life scientists from Europe and the developing world to tackle hunger and disease and ensure that European skills and resources in the life sciences are used for the good of all people.

 
  Source:
CORDIS

EU and Japan discuss global challenges like climate change at Summit on 23 April 2008

Mardi 22 avril 2008
 
 

Discussions will focus on strengthening cooperation on key global challenges such as climate change and meeting the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in Africa

This meeting, ahead of the G8 from 7-9 July in Japan, will also address the situation in the WTO Doha Development Agenda negotiations, global economic prospects, and regional issues in East Asia, the Middle East, Afghanistan and Myanmar, as well as EU-Japan relations.

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso will represent the EU, together with Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša in his capacity as President-in-office of the European Council. They will be joined by Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and Commissioner for External Trade, Peter Mandelson, as well as the Slovenian Minister of Economy, Andrej Vizjak. Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda will represent Japan.

Background:

This is the 17th annual EU-Japan summit.

Japan was identified as a strategic partner of the EU in the European Security Strategy of 2003. Bilateral relations are based on the 2001 Joint Action Plan which sets out four main objectives for cooperation: promoting peace and security, cooperating for greater prosperity, assuming global responsibility and the bringing together of people and cultures. Apart from summit meetings, regular dialogue takes place on a host of issues at ministerial and senior-officials level.

Japan is the world’s second-largest national economy. In 2007, Japan was the EU’s fifth-largest trading partner Total merchandise bilateral trade amounted to € 121.6 billion. Total EU merchandise exported to Japan was worth €43.7 billion.

 
  Source:
Press roomo - European Commission

“GMES” becomes “Kopernikus”

Mardi 22 avril 2008

Kopernikus is the new name of the European Commission’s earth observation activities previously known as GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) so far.

The name Kopernikus was announced by Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, today at a dedicated conference in Lille, organised in cooperation with the French presidency of the EU.

The objective of Kopernikus is to monitor the state of the environment on land, at sea and in the atmosphere and to improve the security of the citizens in a world facing an increased risk of natural and other disasters.

Stepping up the fight against terrorism

Mardi 22 avril 2008
 
 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for actions aimed at preventing and reducing risks of terrorist attacks and at protecting critical infrastructure

Public provocation to commit terrorist offences as well as recruitment and training for terrorism, also via the Internet, will be regarded as criminal offences and punishable as such in all EU member states

European ministers of justice agreed at the Council meeting on 18 April in Luxembourg to amend Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA on combating terrorism accordingly. In this way, the current EU legislation will be aligned with the Council of Europe Convention on prevention of terrorism adopted in 2005, especially Articles 5 to 7.

In addition, the Council adopted an action plan on enhancing the security of explosives. This initiative aims at preventing the use of commercially available explosives, chemical precursors and detonators to commit terrorist acts. Its consists of 47 measures to improve exchange of information and best practices as well as co-operation between member states. These include for example the setting up, by the end of this year, of an EU-wide early warning system to inform national security authorities on thefts of explosives or detonators and suspicious transactions.

The plan also foresees the establishment of a European Bomb Data system, which will provide authorised EU and national bodies with information (such as photos, films and technical descriptions) on incidents involving explosive devices.

Both the new framework decision and the action plan contribute to the implementation of the Counter-Terrorism Strategy adopted by the European Council in December 2005, in the light of the violent terrorist attacks in the United States (2001), Madrid (2004) and London (2005).

 
  Source:
The Council of the European Union

Cancer: MEPs call for EU cancer task force to be set up

Mardi 22 avril 2008

The European Parliament adopts recommandations in a resolution on combating cancer in an enlarged European Union.

Changes in youth policy urgently needed

Mardi 22 avril 2008
 
 

European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
Grants for cooperation and exchanges in the field of youth and informal education and training.

The Meeting of Directors-General for Youth, chaired by Zorko Škvor, the Slovenian Director-General for Youth, concluded the 21 April 2008. The main topics of the meeting were future youth policy and young people with fewer opportunities.

The meeting began 20 April 2008, when the Directors-General had a meeting with the participants of the youth event and listened to what the young people had to say. Today, the Directors-General were addressed by Dr Milan Zver, the Slovenian Minister for Education and Sport and current President of the EU Education, Youth and Culture Council, who expressed concern regarding demographic changes.The Minister pointed out that young people should be given more opportunities to be involved in shaping the fundamental instruments and strategies of youth policy.

The Directors-General also discussed the issue of young people with fewer opportunities. Certain countries presented examples of good practices, and a proposal for a resolution on young people with fewer opportunities comprising individual actions to be deployed by the EU Member States in this area was also discussed. The resolution is expected to be adopted at the EU Council of Ministers in May.

At the end of the meeting, the Directors-General adopted conclusions that would serve as guidelines for the Council of Ministers for Education, Youth and Culture to be held in May.

 
  Source:
Slovenian Presidency of the EU

La Commission soutient le journalisme engagé : lancement du Prix Lorenzo Natali

Mardi 22 avril 2008

La Commission européenne a lancé aujourd’hui la 16ème édition du Prix Lorenzo Natali.

Ce prix récompense les journalistes engagés pour les Droits de l’Homme, la Démocratie et le Développement. Cette année il s’ouvre à l’ensemble des travaux journalistiques : supports radio, télévision, presse, Internet.