Archive pour juillet 2008

EU Funding: European research towards trusted ambient intelligence workshop

Jeudi 24 juillet 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 6th Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration aimed at creating the European Research Area
 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.

The second European workshop on European research towards trusted ambient intelligence (EuroTRUSTAmI) will be held in Sophia-Antipolis, France, from 16 to 18 September

EuroTRUSTAmI aims at providing a comprehensive vision of European research projects which attempt to advance the AmI vision and develop secure and dependable computing environments in a context of open, heterogeneous and dynamic networks.

30 European research projects related to ambient intelligence and security issues will present their objectives, progress and results, and finally exchange views to outline long term information technology security strategies for Europe.

Research areas to be explored include:
- AmI environments: secure, dependable and trusted infrastructures;
- grid and global computing;
- pervasive adaptation;
- authentication/biometrics;
- cooperative systems;
- open platforms and interoperable services;
- networking and coordination actions in security.

The event is co-organised by the SERENITY project, funded under the European Commission’s Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).

 
  Source:
Cordis

EU Funding: EU poverty reduction programme in Rwanda wins UN Public Service Award

Jeudi 24 juillet 2008

A grassroots level development programme, jointly funded by the Government of Rwanda and the European Commission, has been awarded the United Nations Public Service Award 2008

The prize recognises global excellence in public service in countries around the world. The Commission has financed the programme, known as the “Ubudehe” programme, since early 2001. So far a total of € 25 million has been contributed for fighting rural poverty and improving local governance in Rwanda.

The ‘Ubudehe’ programme empowers citizens at community level in Rwanda to plan and implement poverty reduction projects. The programme was found to have fostered citizens’ participation in policymaking while having improved transparency, accountability and responsiveness in the public service.

More than 9,000 communities have benefited from the programme so far. This number is due to rise to 15,000 by the end of the year. The programme was first piloted in the Butare province in early 2001. The Commission has financed the programme both in its initial pilot phase and, more recently, in its national roll-out with a total amount of € 25 million.

Background:

The United Nations Public Service Awards Programme is the most prestigious international recognition of excellence in public service. The Awards programme was established in 2003 to promote professionalism in the public sector around the world, recognising that democracy and successful governance are built on a competent civil service. 150 countries participated in the 2008 competition. Rwanda was amongst the 12 countries which have been honoured with an award.

 
  Source:
Press room - European Commission

EU Funding: First call for Innovative Medicines Initiative a success

Mercredi 23 juillet 2008

The first stage of calls for the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), which is supported by the EU with €1 billion in funding, was recently closed and is already being regarded as a success by many of those involved

From 30 April until 15 July 2008, numerous consortia of academia, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), regulatory organisations and industries not affiliated with the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) submitted their Expressions of Interest to the IMI Joint Undertaking (IMI JU) first Call for proposals.

Launched by the European Commission and the EFPIA in 2004, the IMI is a unique initiative as it represents a dynamic partnership between the two bodies.

All in all, close to 150 Expressions of Interest were received spanning a total of 18 topics. The topics addressed in this first IMI JU Call for proposals included: six in the pillar ‘Improving the Predictivity of Safety Evaluation’; seven in the pillar ‘Improving the Predictivity of Efficacy Evaluation’; and five in the pillar ‘Closing the gap in Education and Training’.

The current iteration of IMI will continue over the next five years. EFPIA has stated that it will match the EU’s financial contribution of €1 billion.

By working in tandem the IMI hopes to hasten the discovery and development of new and improved medicines. Along the way they also hope to bolster Europe’s competitiveness in the biopharmaceutical sector.

From the outset, it was outlined that the IMI JU will fund Patient Centred Projects (i.e. research projects that address the principle causes of delay, or bottlenecks, which slow down the development of innovative medicines).

For many Europeans, much of this sounds far removed from their everyday life. IMI, however, has the potential to significantly alter the lives of patients. The Education and Training pillar, for example, will lead to patients obtaining more information about the transmission of their illnesses. IMI will also improve access to innovative therapeutic approaches such as personalised medicine.

Following the close of the first call, all applications will be evaluated by Peer Review Committees by September 2008. Applicants who are considered as outstanding will then be invited to join EFPIA industry members to form a ‘Project Consortium’ that will develop the full project proposal. These proposals will be sent to the IMI JU for the second stage peer-evaluation towards the end of November 2008

 
  Source:
Cordis

EU Funding: 5 million euro repair of major regional road in eastern Serbia completed

Mercredi 23 juillet 2008

A red ribbon was cut across the M25 regional road near the eastern Serbian town of Zajecar on 10 July, marking the completion of a €5 million EU-funded project to repair and rehabilitate key sections of this important transport route

The project was carried out as a follow-up to the municipal support programme which the European Agency for Reconstruction managed for this part of Serbia - a region relatively under-developed but with high potential for economic growth.

The ribbon was snipped by Daniel Giuglaris, head of the European Agency’s Belgrade office, and Zoran Drobnjak, director of “Roads of Serbia”, the government agency which had been the EAR’s partner in the project.

The M-25, or route E-752 on the European road map, is a key regional traffic artery running south for over 200 km from the town of Kladovo on the river Danube to the southern city of Nis. Many parts of it were badly in need of repair. Nine segments, totalling 30.24 km, have therefore been renewed and upgraded.

In addition, “Roads of Serbia” had spent an additional €5 million repairing and upgrading a further 54 km of feeder roads. Works started in August 2007 and were carried out by a local company from Zajecar.

Speaking at the ceremony, Daniel Giuglaris pointed out that the Agency had been active in eastern Serbia for five years

 
  Source:
European Agency fir Reconstruction

EU Funding: Commission unveils plans for cooperation between national research programmes

Mardi 22 juillet 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.

The European Commission has set out its plans for boosting cooperation between national research funding programmes

The new ‘Joint Programming’ scheme is designed to ensure that public research funds are used as efficiently as possible, and help Europe tackle shared problems more effectively. The first Joint Programming Initiatives should be launched by 2010.

Just 15% of public research funds in Europe are allocated at the European level, either through the EU’s own framework programmes, or through intergovernmental organisations such as CERN (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research) or pan-European schemes like EUREKA. The remaining 85% is locked up in programmes which are designed and implemented nationally.

Currently, there is little collaboration between these national research programmes, although many of the challenges they address are shared by all European countries.

The new Joint Programming Initiatives will see Member States combine resources and monitor and review progress together. Membership of the initiatives will be entirely voluntary, and the emphasis will be on pooling public research funds (unlike the Joint Technology Initiatives, which combine public and private research funds).

Member States wishing to work together on a given issue will first have to set out a common, long term vision for the agreed area. On the basis of this, a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) will be drawn up, which should contain clear, measureable and realistic objectives. Finally, the SRA will be implemented; in this stage, all Member States involved will be expected to align their national research programmes to the SRA.

The European Commission’s role in all of this will be that of facilitator, although EU funds may be made available to certain initiatives depending on their added value and European dimension.

According to the European Commission, Joint Programming will enable researchers to find common answers to common problems.

The plans will now be discussed by Europe’s research ministers, who are expected to endorse the concept and objectives of Joint Programming by the end of the year. The ministers will then appoint a group of experts to identify the areas for which Joint Programming is most suitable.

This selection will be made on the basis of clear criteria; for example, the challenge to be addressed must be pan-European or global in scale, yet be sufficiently focused so that clear objectives can be set. Publicly funded research must be key to addressing the problem, and the initiative should help to overcome fragmentation and duplication of research efforts in the field concerned.

Eventually, the Council will officially launch the JPIs and monitor their progress.

The Joint Programming scheme is just one of five launched by the Commission as part of its plans to reinvigorate the European Research Area (ERA). The others concern the management of intellectual property by public research organisations; research mobility and research careers; pan-European research infrastructures; and international science and technology cooperation.

 
  Source:
Cordis

Zemanta Pixie

EU Funding: Commission gives Golden Stars to 12 citizenship projects

Mardi 22 juillet 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants to support organisations working in the field of active European citizenship and to the promotion civic participation

The European Commission has selected 12 civic participation projects that encourage action and debate on EU issues at the grass-roots level

Later this year, these projects will be awarded the “Golden Stars of active European citizenship” in a prize ceremony in Brussels, hosted by Commissioner Jan Figel. The 2008 Golden Stars are awarded as part of the Europe for Citizens programme, and give official recognition to initiatives that showcase cooperation, effective working methods and tangible results in the area of civic participation. The winning projects involve participants from 22 EU Member States.

The task of identifying this year’s winners was trusted to an external jury, composed of seven members, and chaired by Mr. Hannu Takkula, Member of the European Parliament and Vice Chairman of the EP Committee on Culture and Education. Members in the jury included Mrs. Brenda King from the European Economic and Social Committee and Mr. Keith Walters from the Committee of the Regions.

The Golden Stars are awarded each year under the Europe for Citizens programme, which focuses on organised civil society and at a wider, grass-roots audience. This main EU programme in the field of active citizenship is designed to enhance citizen involvement in the construction of Europe; to this end, a budget of some € 27 million is available for the year 2008.

The Golden Stars award ceremony will take place on 13 November 2008, in Brussels. It will be open to the public upon registration.

 
  Source:
Press room - European Commission

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EU Funding: First steps of the European “Small Business Act”

Lundi 21 juillet 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for actions in relation to access to finance for the start-up and growth of SMEs and for investment in innovation activities.
 New financial instrument to facilitate to SMEs the obtention of equity and risk capital necessary to their growth
 New financial instrument to facilitate to SMEs the obtention of bank guarantees

On 18 July, the twenty-seven internal market and industry ministers worked on established a ‘European Small Business Act’ for SMEs

The internal market and industry ministers of the Member States of the European Union and the European Free Trade Area met for debates moderated by the chairman of the Competitiveness Council, meeting in its internal market and industry configuration, Hervé Novelli, French Minister of State for Business, Trades, Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises, Tourism and Services, and Jean-Pierre Jouyet, Minister of State for European Affairs, in the presence of three members of the European Commission - Günther Verheugen, Charlie McCreevy and Neelie Kroes - and Philippe Maystadt, President of the European Investment Bank.

The discussions focused on the European Small Business Act, i.e. a set of measures designed to create more favourable conditions for the growth and development of European SMEs (for example, with regard to public procurement contracts). Access to funding for SMEs was also discussed in a working lunch with Andrea Benassi, the Secretary General of the UEAPME (the European professional organisation for craft and SMEs). The ministers also voiced their support for the draft statute for a European Private Company proposed by European Commissioner Charlie McCreevy. This single company form would reduce the costs for SMEs adapting to 27 different national types of company law.

The ministers exchanged views on the EU’s strategy in a globalised economy, in particular on the Commission’s proposals aimed at supporting research and innovation and offering better access to public procurement contracts in third countries. They emphasised the comparative advantage given to the European Union by intellectual property and the need to protect intellectual property rights. The ministers expressed their wish for the European Union and its Member States to intensify their efforts in the fight against counterfeiting and their positive expectations with regard to the proposal of a strategy for industrial property rights in Europe that the Commission adopted on 16 July 2008.

 
  Source:
French Presidency of the EU

EU Funding: EU and NZ strengthen science ties

Lundi 21 juillet 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.

The EU and New Zealand have signed a Science and Technical (S&T) cooperation agreement with the aim of further boosting collaboration between researchers from the two regions

As a result, researchers from New Zealand will benefit from enhanced access to the EU’s research programmes, while European scientists will find it easier to participate in New Zealand’s research activities.

A 2003 survey by New Zealand’s Ministry of Research, Science and Technology revealed that over half of the country’s researchers were actively involved in collaborative research activities with European partners. Furthermore, over 20 teams from New Zealand participated in projects under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), mostly in the fields of food, agriculture and biotechnology.

It hoped that the new S&T agreement will facilitate cooperation not only in existing spheres of research, but also in new fields where the two parties share common interest such as health, environmental sciences and information and communication technologies (ICTs).

Since 1991, EU-New Zealand relations in the science and technology field have been governed by an Arrangement for Cooperation in Science and Technology (S&T). The signing of a full cooperation agreement should help to further deepen research links between the regions. The new agreement will enter into force following full ratification by both parties; this is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The agreement foresees the creation of a Joint EC-New Zealand Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation which will meet regularly to identify shared research priorities and plan future joint work.

New Zealand has also recently obtained funding under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) to extend support for the FRENZ (’Facilitate research cooperation between Europe and New Zealand’) platform, which aims to facilitate cooperation between researchers from Europe and New Zealand.

The signature of the S&T cooperation agreement with New Zealand brings the total number of S&T agreements between the EU and third countries to 33. Negotiations are currently underway to sign similar agreements with Japan and Jordan.

 
  Source:
Cordis

EU funding: Practical preparations for the euro: final countdown for Slovakia

Vendredi 18 juillet 2008

With only 5½ months to go before the adoption of the euro, Slovakia’s preparations are quite advanced but further efforts are necessary.

Slovakia last week received the final and formal approval for adopting the euro on 1 January 2009 and the conversion rate was set. It must now concentrate on ensuring that the population and businesses are well prepared and the changeover takes place smoothly.

The Commission today adopted the seventh regular ‘Report on the practical preparations for the enlargement of the euro area’. The report focuses on Slovakia, which will adopt the euro on 1 January 2009. The conversion rate has been set at 30.1260 Slovak crowns to the euro.

The practical preparations have been entrusted to the National Coordination Committee and the Government Plenipotentiary for the Introduction of the Euro. The Commission suggests that Slovakia reinforces the coordination structures to ensure that they work efficiently and are able to solve any problems diligently.

Preparations of the financial and banking sectors are well advanced. The euro coins - a total of 500 million pieces has been foreseen - will be minted by the national Mint at Kremnica, a town in the centre of Slovakia whose minting traditions go back many centuries. The designs of the national sides that were selected by a popular vote can be seen at:

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/the_euro/coins12768_en.htm

The amounts of banknotes ordered by commercial banks so far are relatively low: only 27% of a total of 188 million estimated to be needed by the NBS, compared to 92.5% in Malta and an average of 67% for the first group of euro area countries at a similar point in time. To ensure a smooth introduction of euro cash, it is absolutely essential that banks and businesses should be supplied with banknotes and coins before €-day. Businesses themselves appear to be late in planning for the quantities of cash they will need to be able to give change in euro from day one and avoid queues at banks. Additional efforts with a view to increasing the frontloading volumes to banks and sub-frontloading to businesses should, therefore, be made.

Regarding €-day itself, the banks plan for extra opening hours in the first days of January 2009, including, in some branches, special counters for businesses. The NBS and the commercial banks also plan to distribute mainly small denomination banknotes (€10 and 20) at automated cash points and over-the-counter to ease the changeover.

In order to get familiar with their new currency, Slovak citizens will have the possibility to buy mini-kits as of December. A total of 1.2 million such kits have been ordered, but this may prove insufficient. The experience from the previous changeovers showed that each household buys approximately one mini-kit. Slovakia has some 2 million households and a total population of 5.4 million.

The Commission strongly believes businesses should be encouraged to sign the ‘Ethical Code’ of conduct devised by the Government Plenipotentiary together with the Association of Slovak Entrepreneurs, undertaking to respect the conversion rules. This is to address consumers’ fears of price increases during the changeover.

The Slovak Trade Inspection (SOI) will be in charge of controlling that the rounding rules are respected and prices correctly converted and displayed in both currencies until end 2009 as planned by the government. The SOI has the power to deliver warnings and charge penalties of up to € 60,000 in case of breaches. It is important that it has sufficient resources to carry out these tasks. However, administrative price regulation or equivalent market distortive measures would better be avoided as such practices would only delay the normal price adjustments arising from the evolution of world markets that would inevitably occur in one shot at the end of the freezing period.

The euro information campaign has intensified in recent months and is already wielding results with some 64% of Slovaks saying they feel very, or rather well, informed about the changeover, according to a Flash Eurobarometer survey carried out in May, compared to 51% in September 2007. This is important to ensure the citizens embrace their new currency with full confidence. But although they are more familiar with the euro and with Economic and Monetary Union there is still a growing demand for information.

A separate survey that explored the state of preparations among Slovak enterprises, mostly SMEs, indicates that the majority are rather well informed and feel they are advanced in the preparations.

 
  Source:
Press Room - European Commission

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EU funding: Commission’s help in front of the global food price rise

Vendredi 18 juillet 2008
 
 

Commission proposes special financing facility worth €1 billion to help developing country farmers

The European Commission today proposed to establish a special “facility for rapid response to soaring food prices in developing countries”. The fund would be worth €1 billion and would operate for two years, 2008 and 2009. This money would be in addition to existing development funds and would be taken from unused money from the European Union’s agricultural budget. It would be provided to developing countries which are most in need, based on a set of objective criteria. The facility would give priority to supply-side measures, improving access to farm inputs such as fertilisers and seed, possibly through credit, and to safety net measures aimed at improving productive capacity in agriculture. The support would be paid via international organisations, including regional organisations. The proposal falls under the co-decision procedure and the Commission hopes that Council and Parliament can reach agreement by November in order not to lose the unused 2008 money.

Rising food prices in 2007 and 2008 have had negative effects on many developing countries and their populations. Poverty has deepened for hundreds of millions of people and recent progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals has been put at risk. Rising food prices have resulted in riots, unrest and instability in several countries, risking the gains of years of political, developmental and peacekeeping investments.

However, the new situation could also provide a window of opportunity to stimulate a supply response from farmers in developing countries. It offers new income-generating opportunities to bring rural communities out of poverty by providing incentives for investments and productivity improvements.

At the same time, high agricultural prices have contributed to a reduction of market expenditure in the 2008 EU budget and to lower estimates for the 2009 budget within heading 2 of the financial framework. The Commission believes this provides an exceptional opportunity to provide a temporary facility to help stimulate farming in developing countries.

The Commission expects the positive results of this assistance to include an increase in agricultural production and food security in assisted countries, reduced malnutrition rates and reduced food price inflation.

Eligible countries and the share they should receive will be selected on the basis of transparent criteria. Information provided by the UN Task Force and international organisations (mainly UN agencies like FAO, WFP, World Bank and IMF) will be used, and this may be supplemented by country-specific information obtained from EC Delegations.

While all developing countries are potentially eligible for support, assistance will be provided to those that are severely affected by the food price crisis in socio-economic and political terms, have a need for measures to be taken and which do not have the means or capacity to respond unassisted.

Indicative criteria in selecting countries include reliance on food imports, food price inflation, and social and fiscal vulnerability. Other financing available to the country from the donor community will be taken into account, as well as the country’s potential to increase agricultural production. The Facility also allows for regional-level programmes, covering all developing countries of that region. Global initiatives may also be financed when implemented through a regional or international organization.

Assistance channelled through International Organisations could for instance apply to FAO (emergency input delivery programme), IFAD (e.g. rural finance), UNICEF (child nutrition, nutritional safety nets), WFP (humanitarian food assistance, transitional safety nets), the ICRC (food assistance) and the World Bank (market-based risk management, safety nets).

The Commission hopes the co-decision procedure can be completed by November, to allow commitment of funds in 2008 and implementation in early 2009.

 
  Source:
Press Room - European Commission

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