Archive pour juin 2008

Eu funding: “Think Small First”: A Small Business Act for Europe

Mercredi 25 juin 2008
 
 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants within the frame of the DG Enterprise and Industry annual work programme concerning very specific projects

Most jobs in the EU are provided for by Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs), companies of 250 employees or less.

They have a crucial importance for the future development, but very often face enormous bureaucratic hurdles and obstacles. European SMEs deserve to be better assisted to fully unlock their potential of long term sustainable growth and of more job creation. To achieve this goal, the European Commission has unveiled today the Small Business Act for Europe (SBA), based on ten guiding principles and proposes policy actions to be undertaken by both the Commission and Member States.

The Commission is proposing a genuine political partnership between the EU and the Member States reflecting the political willingness to recognise the central role of SMEs in the EU economy and to put in place for the first time a comprehensive policy framework for the EU and its Member States. The SBA proposal goes hand in hand with the recently announced plans of the European Investment Bank Group to simplify, modernise and diversify the range of its instruments to support SMEs.

At the heart of the SBA is the conviction that achieving the best possible framework conditions for SMEs depends first and foremost on society’s recognition of entrepreneurs, including crafts, micro-enterprises, family owned or social economy enterprises, and making the option of starting one’s own business attractive. This means that the rather negative perception of the role of entrepreneurs and risk-taking in the EU must change.

The European Small Business Act sets out 10 principles which should be adopted at the highest political level and concrete measures that will make life easier for small businesses. After consulting with businesses and their representatives, the European Commission has also resolved to propose new legislation in four areas that particularly affect SMEs:

* First, a new General Block Exemption Regulation on state aids will simplify procedures and reduce costs. It will increase the aid intensity for SMEs and make it easier for SMEs to benefit from aid for training, research and development, environmental protection and other types of aid.
* Secondly, a new statute for a European Private Company will allow a “Société privée européenne” (SPE) to be created and operate according to the same uniform principles in all Member States. It has been designed to address the current onerous obligations on SMEs operating across borders, who need to set up subsidiaries in different company forms in every Member State in which they want to do business. In practical terms, the SPE would mean that SMEs can set up their company in the same form, no matter if they do business in their own Member State or in another. Opting for the SPE will save entrepreneurs time and money on legal advice, management and administration
* Thirdly, a new proposal on VAT will offer Member States the option to apply reduced VAT rates for locally supplied services, including labour intensive services, which are mainly provided by small and medium enterprises.
* Lastly, an amendment to the directive on late payments is foreseen in 2009 to help to ensure that SMEs are paid within the 30 day time limit stipulated.

10 principles shall guide the conception and implementation of policies at EU and Member State level, such as granting a second chance for business failures, facilitating access to finance and enabling SMEs to turn environmental challenges into opportunities.

In addition to the standing commitment to cut administrative burden by 25% by 2012, the time needed to start a new company should be no more than one week, the maximum time to obtain business licenses and permits should not surpass one month and one-stop-shops should assist to facilitate start-ups and recruitment procedures.

Where practical, the Commission plans to use concrete dates in a year for the entry into force of regulations/decisions affecting business. Member States are invited to consider similar measures.

The SBA includes an ambitious set of measures to allow SMEs to fully benefit from the Single Market and expand into international markets by orienting more resources to small companies’ access to finance, Research & Development and innovation. They will also make it easier for them to participate in the standard-setting process, win public procurement contracts and turn environmental challenges into business opportunities.

Finally, the SBA seeks new ways to stimulate interest in entrepreneurship and cultivate a more entrepreneurial mindset, especially among young people. Young people, who want to start up a business, can now gain experience by spending time in an SME abroad via the just launched “Erasmus for young entrepreneurs” programme. This will help upgrade their skills and contribute to the networking among SMEs in Europe. Similar mobility programmes are also underway for apprentices.

The SBA is fully embedded in the Growth and Jobs strategy. Member States are invited to take advantage of the update of the Lisbon cycle 2008 to reflect the SBA in their National Reform Programmes.

Background

Although 99% of companies in the EU are SMEs (companies with a maximum of 250 employees and a maximal turnover of € 50 million), most legislation and administrative procedures don’t distinguish on the basis of company size. As a result, 23 million SMEs often have the same administrative requirements as Europe’s 41,000 large companies. During past years SMEs have created 80 % of the new jobs in the EU.

 
  Source:
Press Room - European Commission
 
  More information:
DG enterprise

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EU funding: Boosting Small and Medium Enterprises’ investment in research

Mercredi 25 juin 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.
 EUREKA-EU research and development support programme for high-tech SMEs, financed by the Article 169 under FP 7 Capacities

European Commission welcomes the Council agreement on the “Eurostars” Programme

On Monday 23rd of June, the Council of Ministers agreed to provide EUR 100 million from the EU’s 7th Framework Programme (FP7) budget to Eurostars, a Research and Development (R&D) programme jointly set up by 31 countries to boost research capacities of Small and Medium-Sized companies (SMEs) in Europe. The EUR 100 million from FP7 will leverage at least EUR 300 million in public funding from the participating countries, resulting in a package of EUR 400 million for financing trans-national research partnerships driven research-performing SMEs in Europe.

EU Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potočnik said: “Research-performing SMEs are the entrepreneurial stars of Europe. We have to join our efforts to support them in this task. The “Eurostars” programme is an excellent example of how Member States and the Commission can contribute to economic growth by reinforcing cooperation between their respective research programmes. Making it possible for SMEs to collaborate with the best European research teams, Eurostars will help them turn new ideas into successful businesses, and reinforce their competitive edge in knowledge and innovation – the cornerstones of our prosperity.”

Research-performing SMEs (i.e. companies capable to perform their own R&D) are crucial to the economic success of Europe in the global knowledge economy. With their flexible organisation, resolutely forward-looking strategies, and strong commitment to R&D, these SMEs are uniquely positioned to compete successfully in the global knowledge economy, seizing market opportunities and generating new jobs.

Eurostars provides a new, flexible and efficient tool specifically tailored to the needs of R&D- intensive SMEs. Based on Article 169 of the Treaty, the Commission has proposed to the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament that the European Community participates in Eurostars with up to EUR 100 million from the 7th Framework Programme (FP7) budget. Following the approval of the European Parliament in April, this proposal was adopted by the Council today.

The integration of the national research and development programmes of the participating countries into a joint programme for research-performing SMEs further contributes to the realisation of the European Research Area (ERA). This initiative adds to, and fully complements, existing actions in favour of SMEs in FP7. It also reinforces the cooperation between EUREKA[3] who will be managing the Eurostars programme, and the Community’s FP7.

The EUREKA Secretariat issues calls, receives project proposals, organises evaluation by independent experts, manages the Community contribution to the Joint Programme, and monitors progress of projects. The first such call (closed in February 2008) generated over 200 applications, demonstrating the high level of interest of the SME community.

 
  Source:
Press Room - European Commission

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EU funding: EUROCITIES Conference on Climate Change and Mobility

Mardi 24 juin 2008

Environment and transport experts from across Europe attend event in London

Around 100 participants from across Europe attended the EUROCITIES Conference on Climate Change and Mobility, which was jointly organised by EUROCITIES’ Environment and Mobility Forums and hosted by Transport for London. The joint session on 3 June was opened by Kia Andreasson (Vice-Mayor of Gothenburg, Political Chair of the Environment Forum) and Niels Torslov (Copenhagen, Technical Chair of the Mobility Forum).

London’s Climate Change Action Plan was presented by Shirley Rodrigues, Head of Environment at the Greater London Authority. The Plan aims to deliver major reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions while also bringing financial benefits in terms of lower energy costs. It includes a series of measures that will drastically improve energy efficiency in buildings, businesses and the transport sector, while also making greater use of renewable energy sources.

A very interesting and fruitful panel discussion included contributions from: Ronan Dantec (Vice Mayor of Nantes), Mario Aymerich (European Investment Bank), Pedro Ballesteros (European Commission - DG Transport and Energy), Ian Hodgson (DG Environment) and Helen Woolston (Transport for London). The speakers analysed how climate change and urban mobility are being addressed at different levels of governance, and how integration can be improved.

More than 65 participants took part in a Projects Fair, starting with an introduction of the European funding opportunities that are available for cities in the mobility and environment sectors, followed by a project brokerage session in which a variety of project proposals were presented by the cities of Düsseldorf, Leeds, Rotterdam, Sheffield and Stockholm, plus the Region of Wallonia (Belgium).

During the afternoon, two parallel workshops dealt with the practical aspects of developing and implementing urban mobility policies that also contribute to tackling climate change. One workshop looked at how to facilitate cooperation among different actors and stakeholders, and the other focused on issues in relation to decision-making procedures.

The Conference was preceded on 2 June by meetings of various EUROCITIES Working Groups that deal with issues related to environment and mobility. Then on 4 June there were separate meetings of the Environment and Mobility Forums during which members discussed their respective ongoing activities and plans for the next two years.

 
  Source:
Eurocities
 
     

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EU funding: Energy dialogue regarding high oil prices

Mardi 24 juin 2008

Minister of the Economy Andrej Vizjak today co-chaired the fifth meeting of the EU-OPEC Energy Dialogue in Brussels.

The main theme of the ministerial meeting was high oil prices. The ministers of the EU Member States and OPEC Member Countries exchanged positions and information.

Energy policy and climate change are major priorities among EU policies, as demonstrated in particular during recent years. “We are aware that these two areas must be at the top of the list of discussed topics,” noted Minister Vizjak in his address. He pointed out that the aim of a low-carbon future is clear and binding. The EU Member States and OPEC Member Countries share a common interest in encouraging energy efficiency and alternative energy sources, increasing the transparency of oil markets, encouraging competitiveness in energy markets and enhancing dialogue between oil-producing countries.

High oil prices were an important topic at the meeting, and Minister Vizjak expressed his concern on behalf of the Council of the European Union as well. He explained that there is a correlation between the current high oil prices and the motivation of the EU to reach its ambitious goals concerning renewable energy sources and energy efficiency. Mr Vizjak added: “This correlation is even more alarming because its consequences are felt by our companies and our citizens. It would be reasonable to increase productivity and thus help reduce prices to a more acceptable level.”

The ministers also discussed the establishment of an OPEC-EU energy and technological centre, which was welcomed both by the Presidency and the Member States.

 
  Source:
Slovenian presidency
 
   

EU funding: Lifestyle traits a strong factor in obesity

Mardi 24 juin 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.

Scientific studies of twins can throw light on many fascinating aspects of the genes versus environment debate.

In a study just published by EU-funded researchers, lifestyle factors came out more strongly responsible for obesity and insulin resistance than hereditary ones.

The study, entitled ‘Acquired obesity and poor physical fitness impair expression of genes of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation in monozygotic twins discordant for obesity’ is published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism.

It involved 14 pairs of identical twins, eight male and six female, all born in Finland between 1975 and 1979. One twin in each pair was obese (called discordant pairs). The control group consisted of five male and five female identical twin pairs who were not obese and had similar body weights (called concordant pairs).

Recent studies have suggested that defects in the genes that are responsible for the body’s conversion of food to energy can cause insulin resistance. Researchers were interested to find out if this was caused by hereditary or environmental factors.

The study found that the lifestyle led by the identical twins in the study impaired their gene expression much more than hereditary factors. For example, it was found that acquired obesity and lack of exercise contributed to insulin resistance.

During the study, the researchers measured the insulin sensitivity of the subjects’ whole bodies, and how fit they were. They also took needle biopsies of abdominal subcutaneous fat tissue.

The results found that among the discordant pairs the obese twins had lower insulin sensitivity which means it is harder for their bodies to produce energy. They also found that the genes responsible for helping cells to convert food to energy were less active in the obese twins, suggesting that the faulty expression of these genes could make it harder to control weight and easier to gain it.

The researchers now want to do a further study to see if exercise and other positive lifestyle changes can increase gene expression.

EU support for the research came from the ‘Quality of life and management of living resources’ Thematic Area of the Fifth Framework Programme (FP5).

 
  Source:
CORDIS

EU funding: Commission’s lobby register: it’s time to sign up

Lundi 23 juin 2008

The European Commission launched today its online register of interest representatives.

All interest representatives engaged in influencing the policy formulation and decision-making processes of the European institutions are invited to register. When registering, they will be asked to disclose some information to enhance the transparency of the relations between lobbies and the Commission.

Organisations that sign up to the register will have to indicate who they are, what their objectives and missions are and what policy areas they are particularly interested in. Furthermore, they can describe their main activities of interest representation as well as their networking efforts. Registrants will also have to disclose financial information, so that the driving forces behind a lobbying effort become clear. Organisations lobbying on behalf of third parties will have to indicate the names of their clients.

When registering, interest representatives must sign up to a code of conduct which has been adopted by the European Commission. It sets out general principles — such as openness, honesty and integrity — which should guide the activities of interest representatives when they are dealing with the European Commission. The code also formulates seven clear rules of behaviour that interest representatives are expected to respect.

 
  Source:
Press Room - European Commission

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EU funding: Commission proposes strengthening European Judicial Netwo

Lundi 23 juin 2008
 
 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for judicial cooperation and training for legal practitioners in the field of criminal justice
 Grants for judicial cooperation projects between practitioners in civil matters

The Commission has adopted a proposal for the review of the 2001 decision on the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters between the Member States.

The purpose of this proposal is to endow the network with a new legal framework, a more effective organisational structure and greater means to enable it to play a lead role within the European judicial area as the essential vehicle for cooperation between all those involved in civil justice in future.

The creation of the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters developed from the idea that the gradual establishment of an area of freedom, security and justice requires the improvement, simplification and acceleration of effective judicial cooperation between the Member States in civil and commercial matters.

The Judicial Network in Civil Matters, which has been operating since 1 December 2002, provides tangible benefits for individuals and enterprises involved in cross-border litigation. Its function is to facilitate judicial cooperation between the Member States and to improve public access to justice through its Internet site, which came on line in 2003. The network consists of some 400 members, contact points with the Member States, judges, liaison magistrates and central authorities of the justice ministries.

In a report issued on 16 May 2006, the Commission had observed that the Judicial Network in Civil Matters had generally improved judicial cooperation in the Union, but that it was still far from achieving its full potential. In particular, it had emerged that the effectiveness of the network in accomplishing its tasks depended largely on the still limited performance capacities of its contact points and that these capacities needed to be increased.

By means of this new proposal, the Commission therefore intends to strengthen the role of the network in performing its tasks of judicial cooperation. More particularly, the Commission proposal sets out to:

* Strengthen the role and means of the contact points designated by each Member State
* Open up the network to the legal professions
* Improve public access to justice
* Encourage the European judicial network to adopt a more open attitude to the world

For the European Commission, the purpose of the network has always been to become the key instrument for the practical establishment of the European area of civil justice. The Commission continues to believe that the network can play a lead role as the Union’s genuine operational tool for the implementation of the Hague Programme as regards both the evaluation of how instruments are applied and, above all, the concrete expression of the reciprocal recognition of decisions and the improvement of judicial cooperation in civil matters.

Without prejudice to the terms of reference of other structures, the network must therefore quickly become a permanent forum for discussion and monitoring the progress made and the difficulties encountered in implementing the instruments adopted in respect of civil matters, especially via input from the contact points and members 4 the network in terms of practical experience.

 
  Source:
Press Room - European Commission
 
   

Eu funding: European Council: mitigating effects of high food and oil prices

Lundi 23 juin 2008

EU leaders unanimous in favour of mitigating effects of high food and oil prices

At their June Summit under the current Council President, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, EU Heads of State and Government today called for a united front in taking measures to relieve the effects of high food and oil prices at European and world level.

In this context, the Heads of State welcomed the European Commission’s plan to increase funding for direct aid to the European citizens hit hardest.

Alongside short-term solutions, effective long-term structural adaptation will be needed. European Council President Janez Janša highlighted the following key measures:

* systematic monitoring of market trends with a view to reducing systemic risks and preparing for potential shocks;
* measures on efficient energy use and diversification of energy sources to help reduce fossil fuel dependency;
* bolstering innovation and research into the development of new technologies supporting energy saving and diversification of energy sources;
* setting up sustainability criteria for the production of biofuels and, in particular, promoting the development of second-generation biofuels produced from by-products which do not jeopardise food production;
* establishing systematic dialogue between oil-producing countries, oil-consuming countries and oil companies.

Prime Minister Janša described synergies in all policy areas – agriculture, energy, adapting to climate change, science and EU external policy – as being of key importance.
However, the need to find a solution to the problem is not confined to Europe alone.

 
  Source:
Slovenian presidency

EU funding: 1st Online Arts Festival

Vendredi 20 juin 2008
 
 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for cooperation and exchanges in the field of youth and informal education and training.
 Grants for stimulating the integration of young people in social and working life in order to guarantee the democratic process of civil societies in Mediterranean partner countries

Euro-Med Young Artists Network is launching a call for entries for its 1st Online Arts Festival to be held online in October 2008.

The festival is open for young artists (from 15 to 30 years old) living in one of the Euro-Med countries in all fields of arts that can be published on the web. The aim of the festival is to promote the use, among young people, of internet tools in arts.

All entries must have been produced after January 1st, 2005 and must be submitted via the online form no later than September 20th, 2008.

 
  Source:
Youth in action
 
  More information:
EMYAN

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EU funding: Europe-wide truck tour brings anti-discrimination message to 20 cities

Vendredi 20 juin 2008
 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for transnational projects, awareness raising and development of anti-discrimination strategies and policies

Commissioner Vladimír Špidla will tomorrow launch the 2008 ‘For Diversity. Against Discrimination.’truck tour as part of the EU’s Europe-wide anti-discrimination information campaign.

The tour will kick off at the United Islands of Prague music festival (Czech Republic), where 20,000 visitors are expected – before going on to visit 20 cities in 10 different EU countries over the next four months. The initiative – now in its fifth year – aims to raise awareness of the right to a life free of discrimination and has so far reached half a million people.

The truck tour is one of the most popular activities under the ‘For Diversity. Against Discrimination.’ campaign: an EU-wide information campaign launched in 2003 to raise awareness of discrimination and the legislation which exists to combat it, as well as to promote the benefits of diversity across the EU. By the end of the 2008 tour, the truck tour will have visited all Member States since it first set out in 2004 – details of routes. The Czech Republic has had three previous visits from the truck: Prague in 2004 and 2006 and Ostrava in 2004. This year Kacov (Sazavafest) will also host the truck.

The campaign aims in 2008 to build on the success of the 2007 European Year of Equal Opportunities for All, to which its activities last year were closely linked.

The 2008 truck tour will visit Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia. Stopping in two cities per country, the truck will visit music, youth and film festivals, sporting events, universities and employment fairs, and bring together business, NGOs, musicians, artists and the general public to explore discrimination and diversity issues.

Other activities under the campaign in 2008 include the Journalist Award which will be launched in August. This award recognises the work of online and print journalists in the EU who, through their work, contribute to a better public understanding of the benefits of diversity and the fight against discrimination.

 
  Source:
Press Room - European Commission

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