Archive pour septembre 2008

Driving forces for growth in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region (Italy)

Vendredi 26 septembre 2008

Danuta Hübner, European Commissioner for regional policy, is continuing her official visit to Italy

The new programme for 2007-2013, devised by the region in the framework of the cohesion policy, focuses on developing its significant potential in research and innovation. Contributions by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) will amount to total European investment of €74 million.

Commissioner Hübner will meet with the President of the region, Mr Renzo Tondo, and other members of the regional government. She will discuss the implementation of the ERDF programme, which includes numerous Community priorities as defined by the Lisbon strategy for employment and growth: improving the region’s performance in the area of research and innovation is one primary objective, as is reducing emissions of greenhouse gases by promoting renewable energies. The region spends 1.1% of its GDP on research and development, which is in line with the average for the rest of Italy but is still far from the average across the 27 EU countries (1.8%) and from the targets set by the Lisbon strategy (3%). The programme also envisages 5% growth in the productivity of small and medium-sized enterprises by 2013.

An overview of the projects co-financed by the European Union

The Commissioner will visit the AREA science park in Trieste, a flagship of Italian research that is renowned at European level. The site encompasses 80 research centres, and is a stimulating environment for the businesses located on the same campus. The areas covered are many and varied: pharmaceuticals, agri-food, automobiles, micro-electronics and information technology. It is a good example of the way in which traditional industries in the region can benefit from the high-tech sectors.

The programme also includes a visit to the Tergeste project to regenerate the Cittàvecchia district in the historic centre of Trieste, supported by the old URBAN Community programme. This project has contributed to the creation of small businesses bringing new economic activity to the area. It made it possible to renovate a number of public buildings, and led to the creation of bursaries for disadvantaged young people. (EU contribution: €6.6 million).

The Commissioner will also see how the Sant’Andrea customs area was converted following Slovenia’s accession to the European Union. The work, carried out in cooperation with Slovenia under the INTERREG programme, consisted of the establishment of a railway junction between the towns of Gorizia and Vrtojba by creating a road/rail platform (EU contribution: €1 million).

Territorial cooperation

Because of its geographical location, the region takes an active role in cross-border and transnational cooperation programmes. It participates in the Italy-Austria programme and serves as the “managing authority” for the one associating Italy and Slovenia. It is also involved in the cross-border “Adriatic” programme, co-financed by the Pre-Accession Instrument (IPA), alongside Slovenia, Greece, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania. The region has the opportunity to play a pivotal role in projects linked to sustainable development in the Adriatic Sea, particularly by exchanging examples of best practice with the other regions in the area.


Reconstruction of the Railway Vinkovci - Tovarnik Starting

Vendredi 26 septembre 2008

On Wednesday, September 24, 2008, at 11 am, Minister of Finance Ivan Suker, Minister of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure Bozidar Kalmeta and Head of Delegation of the European Commission to the Republic of Croatia Mr. Vincent Degert, marked the beginning of the reconstruction works on the railway Vinkovci – Tovarnik – State Border, from Deletovci to Jankovci, at the Đeletovci rail station

The project worth over 60 million euro is co-financed from the ISPA pre-accession fund.

The European Union has allocated non-refundable aid in the amount of 38 percent of the total project value, and the tender procedure was carried out in line with the public procurement regulations for non-EU countries. The European Commission is co-financing the project in the amount of 28.789.000,00 euro (38%) under the ISPA programme, while the rest of the funds was allocated from the Croatian State budget.

Reconstruction of the railway Vinkovci – Tovarnik – State Border is the first project of this size in Croatia to be financed under the EU pre-accession funds and the first one in which investments in railway infrastructure are co-financed. The project beneficiary is Croatian Railways Ltd and it is coordinated by the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure.

Reconstruction of the railway Vinkovci – Tovarnik includes the works on railway stations, halts and tracks, reconstruction of level crossings and a new traffic signalization and traffic management system.

Construction works are carried out by the company Salcef Construzioni Edili e Ferroviarie SPA from Rome, and the traffic signalization and traffic management system will be built in by the company Bombardier Transportation Italy in consortium with the Italian company SITE SPA.

“Freedom, Security and Justice: What will be the future?”

Jeudi 25 septembre 2008

Commission launches wide-ranging public consultation to define future priorities relating to freedom, security and justice

Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for freedom, security and justice, has decided to launch a wide-ranging public consultation as part of the discussions that will result in the definition of priorities for the period beginning in 2010.

One of the European Union’s core objectives is to provide its citizens with an area of freedom, security and justice without internal borders. An area in which citizens enjoy protection as individuals, the respect of their fundamental rights and freedom of movement. An area in which citizens’ security and their collective protection are guaranteed by appropriate measures. An area in which a judicial decision from one Member State can be applied in another and in which citizens have easier access to justice. And, lastly, an area that requires concerted management of immigration and asylum.

Many elements come into play in this important effort: the respect of fundamental rights, citizenship including, for example, participation in local and European elections, the free movement of persons, data protection, judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters, the fight against drugs, police cooperation, the fight against terrorism and organised crime, legal and illegal immigration, integration, asylum and visa policies, and questions related to the EU’s external borders.

The European Union has made significant progress towards creating this area of freedom, security and justice. According to a recent Eurobarometer published in July 2008, a majority of European citizens attach a great deal of importance to the EU’s actions in this field.

The impetus has been provided by two successive multiannual programmes that set out detailed priorities and initiatives to be taken in the various sectors. The second programme – “The Hague Programme” – will be more or less completed in 2009.

Now we must look ahead and define the European Union’s future priorities in this field, addressing major challenges such as taking greater account of citizens’ interests, an increasingly globalised world requiring closer cooperation with non-EU countries and the constant progress of technology.

The Commission has decided to launch this wide-ranging public consultation as part of the discussions that will result in the definition of priorities for the period 2010-2014.

Contributions must be submitted by 20 November 2008.

http://ec.europa.eu:8082/justice_home/news/consulting_public/news_consulting_public_en.htm

Roundtable in Kaunas kicks off discussions on the EU’s Baltic Sea Strategy

Jeudi 25 septembre 2008

The European Commission (DG Regional Policy) has been tasked with drawing up an EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (BSR)

Preparatory work on the strategy is underway with early discussions taking place during the annual Baltic Sea States Subregional Cooperation (BSSSC) conference last week. Meeting in Kaunas in Lithuania on 18-19 September, participants had a chance to exchange views during this first of several events, with a focus on issues of ‘accessibility and attractiveness’.

The Baltic Sea States Subregional Co-operation (BSSSC) is a political network for decentralised authorities in the Baltic Sea Region. It was founded in Stavanger, Norway in 1993 and involves regional authorities from across the 10 countries bordering the Baltic Sea. The BSSSC signed a Declaration of Common Interest with the Committee of the Regions in 2007.
The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (to be presented to the European Council in June 2009) will aim at furthering cooperation between various stakeholders in the region including Baltic Member States, regional authorities, financing institutions, the EU, other pan-Baltic organisations and non-governmental bodies, to promote a more balanced development of the Region. It will build on significant existing work developed between the many stakeholders involved and will be closely aligned with the work of the Northern Dimension. One of the most pressing concerns to be addressed is that of environmental pollution. Tackling this and many other shared challenges calls for more a more structured cooperation. The next roundtable will take place in Stockholm, Sweden on 30 September.

EDUC Commission meeting

Jeudi 25 septembre 2008

The CoR’s Commission for Culture, Education and Research (EDUC) meeting in Brussels today will focus on integration and intercultural dialogue as well as youth mobility and education

Members will adopt several draft opinions to be voted on by the Committee’s Plenary Assembly in November 2008 or February 2009.

As local and regional authorities work to align their policies and manage the process of integration, the sharing of best practices, targetted funding, the reform of educational systems and labour mobility become ever more important factors for their success.

Discussions on Milan Belicas (SK/EPP) draft opinion will centre around intercultural dialogue as a key condition for integration policy while mobility of young workers across the EU and stronger cooperation among youth voluntary organizations are at the heart of the draft opinion tabled by Rinda den Besten (NL/PES). Members will also discuss the draft opinions of Helma Kuhn-Theis (DE/EPP) and Ursula Männle (DE/EPP) dealing with the challenges facing Europe’s education systems and the need for closer European cooperation on schools.

Conference on Support to Tourism Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Jeudi 25 septembre 2008

H.E. Ambassador Dimitris Kourkoulas, Head of the European Commission Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina, attended the opening ceremony of the Conference on Support to Tourism Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina on Tuesday in Sarajevo

Organised on the occasion of marking the World Tourism Day, this conference gathered all relevant stakeholders to exchange views and to jointly derive conclusions on future actions in tourism sector.

Organization of this conference was a result of a joint initiative by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Working Group for Coordination of Activities in Tourism in B&H, supported by the Delegation of European Commission to Bosnia and Herzegovina that recognized the initiative as a necessary step in the process of further development and promotion of tourism in the country.

Ambassador Kourkoulas reminded that the European Commission supported the development of competitiveness in tourism sector by financing 60 projects with over than 10 million €. In addition, last year a comprehensive Mapping Report was produced in order to provide strategic guidelines and recommendation for targeted EU assistance in the future. Outlining the fact that capabilities of BiH tourism infrastructure need to be strengthened, Ambassador Kourkoulas said that development of tourism sector would contribute to the overall development of BiH economy.

Nevenko Herceg, Minister of Environment and Tourism of the Federation of BiH stressed the importance of creating a positive image of BiH by promoting it as a beautiful country of rich history based on variety of cultures. His colleague from Republika Srpska, Mr. Predrag Gluhakovic, Minister of Trade and Tourism of RS, urged that no one in BiH should be shy of promoting all the beauties and capacities of BiH and that tourism should gain second or third place of the community priorities.

Thematic part of the Conference commenced with the presentation by Dr. Johan Hesse, First Secretary and Head Operational Section Economic Reform and Natural Resources of the Delegation of the European Commission to Bosnia and Herzegovina. He presented the findings of EU funded report about assessment needs in the BiH tourism.

The conference covered broad spectre of topics relevant for further development of tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina: from the legislative framework and tourism statistics, topics related to the cultural heritage protection and tourist valorisation, significance of branding and marketing in tourism to the brief on priorities in the sector of tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina as recognised by the EU. On this occasion, successful entrepreneurs and/or representatives of the local communities were also given the opportunity to concisely present their initiatives that had significant results, and shared their own views on the successful tourism business models.

Bridging the “innovation gap” between the USA and the EU

Mercredi 24 septembre 2008

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the EU’s flagship initiative for boosting innovation in Europe, formally began its work yesterday in Budapest, the institute’s seat

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) wants to bridge the “innovation gap” between the USA and the EU.

The EIT is a major EU initiative which aims to foster excellence in European innovation and to provide new solutions for major challenges, such as climate change, renewable energies or the next generation of information and communication technologies. The ceremonial opening took place in the presence of the Hungarian Prime Minister, Ferenc Gyurcsany, Commission President, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, and Commisioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, Jan Figel.

The EIT will involve business funding, to supplement around 300 million Euros that will come from the Commission itself.

Women’s victory to the science competition

Mercredi 24 septembre 2008

On the 16th September, winners of the first Xperimania competitions (from molcule to materials) have been rewarded in the Natural Sciences Museum in Brussels

Artcile only available in French

The problem of “Women at Work” in the Southern Mediterranean Region

Mercredi 24 septembre 2008

Despite the significant strides made in the past decades in women’s education in the Southern Mediterranean region, women’s share in paid work and entrepreneurship still leaves much to be desired

Such is the report according to the Role of Women in Economic Life (RWEL) EU-funded programme.

The programme deals with the issue in its second thematic newsletter titled “Women at Work: Insights on Employment and Entrepreneurship in Mediterranean Partner Countries”. It examines the challenges facing women’s employment and micro-entrepreneurship in the region, through a diverse set of contributions and resources.

RWEL is funded by EuropeAid’s Regional Programme and aims at facilitating and expanding opportunities for women’s economic participation. It focuses on improving their integration in the labour market, supporting enterprise creation and management, improving access to financial mechanisms and tools, and developing capacity-building actions and vocational training.

EU projects to develop Montenegro

Mercredi 24 septembre 2008

EU funding worth €4 million has been used to mobilise international managers and specialists and local consultants. The experts, in turn, assisted SMEs in their development

More than 100 representatives of Montenegro’s business community gathered in Podgorica to take stock of the results of the turn around management (TAM) and business advisory services (BAS) support to Montenegrin small and medium enterprises.

The programme was initiated in Montenegro in 2002 and carried out in three cycles lasting two years each. It is managed by the European Agency for Reconstruction and implemented by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). To date, EU funding worth €4 million has been used to mobilise more than 40 international managers and specialists and 80 local consultants. The experts, in turn, assisted 34 medium sized and around 200 small companies to streamline their organisation and improve their management and marketing practice. Amongst the beneficiaries are Montenegrin household names such as meat processor Martex, soft drinks maker Pirella and Airports of Montenegro.

Deputy Prime Minister Vujica Lazovic, outlined the Government Agenda for improving the overall business environment in Montenegro. Traditional focus on development of tourism and production of healthy foodstuffs and transport infrastructure will in future be complemented by stronger support for development of the information society. These sectors offer the best opportunities for business but the great challenge will be how to ‘translate these comparative advantages into Montenegrin competitive advantages’.

The less developed North of Montenegro will be helped to establish business support institutions and improve access to finance for its enterprises, said Mr Zoran Vukcevic, Director of the SME Agency. The country’s first credit guarantee fund with a special windows for rural business is expected to become operational in January of 2009. In the meantime, the Government has launched a credit line worth €13 million in support of entrepreneurship development, of which a significant portion will assist businesses in northern municipalities.

Charlotte Salford, Director of the TAM/BAS Programme at the EBRD underlined the sustainability of the programme, as EBRD credits will become available to help successful TAM and BAS candidates to consolidate/expand their business after closure of the CARDS Programme’s grant facility.

Several representatives of the business community that took floor praised the assistance received from the EU, in particular for the efforts to support SMEs based in less developed northern regions. Others highlighted the company needs that have yet to be addressed on the road to Europe, and called on the government to complete the enterprise privatisation process and help them address the business barriers emerging at the municipal level.

Background

The North of Montenegro is receiving increasing attention from the donor community and from government in order to narrow the considerable gap in living standards between this part of Montenegro and other regions. 80% of Montenegro’s poor are domiciled in the northern municipalities. Sectors offering potential for growth include agriculture, agro-industry, wood processing, mining, energy and tourism. Current TAM/BAS operations are involved in all these sectors except for mining and energy, whose development EAR supports through separate EU funded programmes.

Other EU funded projects benefiting the Northern Municipalities include a pilot to introduce entrepreneurship learning into elementary and secondary school curricula, investment in municipal infrastructure - and assistance in completing and implementing fiscal decentralization legislation with one emphasis on reviewing criteria and management practise of the Government’s equalization fund, a facility fed by the central budget and designed to provide equal levels of government services throughout the country. EU assistance has also helped northern municipalities to support and integrate a significant portion of the country’s 24,000 refugees and internally displaced people.

Follow on projects under IPA 2007 and 2008 will allocate more resources to help this part of the country to improve service delivery at local level, to create more jobs by facilitating access to credit and reducing business barriers – and to address structural unemployment through a sustainable approach to active employment measures.