Archive pour janvier 2009

EU and China cooperate towards better work conditions

Vendredi 30 janvier 2009

European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities and China’s Ambassador will meet in Brussels to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on health and safety at work.

he MoU will set up a structured dialogue covering issues of common interest in the field of health and safety at work. The dialogue aims to improve mutual understanding on health and safety through activities ranging from regular exchanges of information, legislation and best practice to joint studies, seminars and conferences. Annual review meetings will bring together senior officials from both sides. In addition, China and the EU are currently exploring the possibility of a substantial cooperation project to support the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) in their commitment to improve Chinese workers’ health and safety.

The signature follows recent cooperation between the EU and China in the field of coal mine safety, an area particularly emphasised in the MoU.

China produces around 40% of the world’s coal and it still represents the vast majority of all coal mine accidents in the world. Accidents in the industry are considered to be the second highest cause of accidental death in China, after road traffic accidents, with close to 6,000 deaths per year on average. The EU has a long experience in health and safety policy, particularly in the mining sector and will, among other things, provide expertise to support China in this area.

Background

One of the major objectives of the Commission’s 2007-2012 strategy on health and safety at work: “Improving quality and productivity at work”, is to promote health and safety at the international level.

SAWS is an agency directly under the State Council in China responsible for overall supervision and regulation of work safety. It also directly administers the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety.

Coal production has been declining continuously in the EU over recent decades, but China’s coal output is growing rapidly. Coal currently accounts for over 70 per cent of the total energy consumed in China.

Consult the EU Calendar!

Vendredi 30 janvier 2009

It is a new tool launched on Internet.. the European Union Calendar. It is a initiative from the Commission that aims at facilitating the information acces to all the institutions activities.

The EU Calendar is a web tool that aims to help journalists and information professionals to find their way through the continuous flow of information available on EU matters. It is a unique entry point for advance information (texts, links and images) on upcoming legislation, actions and events prepared or organised by the EU institutions.

All the information is available within 3 mouse clicks:

* a calendar of upcoming actions and events (weekly, monthly, and quarterly);
* brief information on each event (place, date, contacts, summary of content );
* images, video’s and/or specific websites giving in depth information.

European Union helps Serbia to improve its health care system

Vendredi 30 janvier 2009

The European Union launched new Masters programme related to the health care management. The objective of this project is to help improve health care services in Serbia, under the European Union project Training in Health Care Management framework.

New Masters programme in health care management presented

Masters programme in health care management funded under the European Union project Training in Health Care Management starts on 6 March 2009. The total value of the project is EUR 5 million. The programme is intended for those who want to become successful managers of health care institutions. The deadline for submitting applications is 15 February 2009.

Serbian Minister for Health Tomica Milosavljevic pointed out that the EU has been assisting Serbian health care system for several years now. Milosavljevic believes that the Masters programme in health care management will help improve health care services and use of health care resources for the benefit of all Serbian citizens.

The aim of this programme is to enable future managers to manage reforms and restructuring of the health care system. The programme has been developed in cooperation with medical schools of the universities in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Nis and Kragujevac, Faculty of Organisational Sciences in Belgrade and the Ministry of Health.

Both the programme and the studies are fully funded under the European Union project Training in Health Care Management.

How to manage the Europe’s diversity? Cities have some solutions…

Vendredi 30 janvier 2009

Education : Qualifications framework more transparent

Jeudi 29 janvier 2009

The New European Qualifications Framework will be discussed during the meeting that will gather education specialists and policy-makers in Brussels on 29/30 January. The aim of this tool is to facilitate the educational transfert and the recognition of the qualifications for people moving between different education and training systems of different countries.

Over 150 education specialists and policy-makers from 58 countries across the world are coming together in Brussels on 29-30 January to discuss the external dimension of the new European Qualifications Framework (EQF). The EQF is a reference tool that aims to make it easier for people to move between different education and training systems or countries and have their qualifications recognised.

EU countries are currently putting in place this voluntary scheme with regard to their own systems. At the same time, many countries in the EU’s vicinity and across the world are working on similar schemes and are showing a keen interest in sharing experiences with Europe, or in ways of linking up to the EQF.

The global conference on the EQF is organised by the European Training Foundation (ETF) in cooperation with the Chair of the European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee, Mr Jan Andersson, the Czech Presidency, the Directorate-General for Education and Culture of the European Commission and Cedefop, the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training.

What is the situation in R§D for the Europe of 27?

Mardi 27 janvier 2009

The Europe of 27 seems to stagnate regarding the investment in R§D according to two recent reports on Innovation and on Science, Technology and Competitiveness. And yet, this investment is very important to deal with the actual economic crisis.

Public and private investment in R&D and innovation are considered to be essential for helping economies to stabilise and get out of crisis periods. Yet the intensity of research investment (the amount invested in R&D compared to GDP) has not increased in recent years, and remains at around 1.84%. Commissioner Potocnik emphasised that European businesses in particular must step up to the plate.

The competitiveness report examines data from the period 2000 to 2006, while the innovation scoreboard includes data from 2007; neither report reflects the impact of the current economic crisis. However, both show clearly that while European universities are producing more research graduates, many of them might be lost to competing regions due to lagging job opportunities. Foreign investment in the EU27 was also shown to have increased substantially, with Europe claiming 62% of US foreign R&D investment.

All EU Member States increased their R&D expenditure between 2000 and 2006, indicating their commitment to the Lisbon strategy of investing 3% of GDP in R&D. Portugal and Greece in particular made notable efforts. However, many continue to perform well below average. In Italy, Spain and Lithuania, Commissioner Verheugen said, ‘it is essential that a concentrated effort be made to improve the situation’.

In terms of competitiveness, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland performed exceptionally well, but R&D intensity did not increase in the UK, France or Italy and increased only slightly in Germany. This is important because these countries have the highest GDP in the EU27.

While the difference in investment has been closing between European Member States, the overall stagnation is having an impact on Europe’s global competitiveness, especially in the face of China’s rapid growth. Notably, 12 Member States showed higher R&D intensity than China while 15 spent far less than China on research. R&D intensity in Japan, South Korea and China has been on the rise, and while intensity in the US has decreased it has done so from a position of considerable strength.

Creating conditions favourable to fast-growing high-tech SMEs is necessary, along with a more innovation-friendly European market and better access to ‘EU-wide’ patenting.

The innovation scoreboard shows Denmark, Germany Finland, Sweden and the UK to be innovation leaders, ‘with innovation performance well above that of the EU average and all other countries. Of these countries, Germany is improving its performance fastest while Denmark is stagnating.’

Creativity and innovation are closely linked. The scoreboard included an analysis of creativity and design indicators, which showed that countries with a good creative climate tend to have higher levels of R&D and design activities, and also strong overall innovation performance.

An increasing number of researchers are being attracted to Europe from third countries, and Europe is producing more research graduates than ever; however, the share of researchers in the labour force is still lower than in the US or Japan. European researchers are publishing in professional journals more than any other region, but US researchers still lead in high-impact publications. The competitiveness report also indicates much room for improvement in the number of European patents filed.

According to the innovation scoreboard, ‘The remaining gap with both the US and Japan is concentrated in four areas: international patenting […], public-private linkages and numbers of researchers (despite the improvements in both these areas), and business R&D expenditures.’

The European Innovation Scoreboard is published independently, and includes innovation indicators and trend analyses for the EU27 Member States as well as for Croatia, Turkey, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

EU-Afghanistan Troika: renewal of the European involvement

Mardi 27 janvier 2009

This event will take place on 28th January in Prague. Afghanistan’s democracy agenda, Afghanistan’s presidential and parliamentary elections.. many issues will be discussed and the Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy will confirm the EU’s commitment to Afghanistan with the €500 million assistance package for 2008-2010

Benita Ferrero-Waldner Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy will attend the EU-Afghanistan Ministerial Troika meeting on 28th January in Prague. Afghanistan is represented by Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta. The meeting will touch upon the implementation of Afghanistan’s democracy agenda, the preparation of Afghanistan’s presidential and parliamentary elections foreseen in 2009 as well as the EU’s contribution to improving rule of law and regional developments including Afghan-Pakistan relations. Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner will confirm the EU’s commitment to Afghanistan with the €500 million assistance package for 2008-2010 which focuses on three key priority areas: reform of the justice sector; rural development including alternatives to poppy production; and health.

The EU is keeping its promises to Afghanistan. The €1 billion pledge made in 2002 after the fall of the Taliban, and the 2008 - 2010 €500 million package demonstrate the Commission’s continuing commitment to help Afghanistan build a more secure and prosperous future. The Commission remains one of the main donors in Afghanistan and one of the very few that provide a multi-year commitment focussing its programmes on rural development, health as well as justice reform. Furthermore, the funding for LOTFA (Law and Order Trust Fund Afghanistan, police salaries and training) and ARTF (Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, governance notably in the provinces) continue.

Background

The Afghan National Development Strategy and the Afghanistan Compact provide the framework for co-operation between the Afghan government and the international community. The Afghanistan Compact covers a five-year period (to end-2010) and sets out mutual commitments, detailed benchmarks and timelines across four crucial areas: (1) security; (2) governance, rule of law and human rights; (3) economic and social development; and (4) counter-narcotics. It emphasizes increased Afghan ‘ownership’ and ‘leadership’ and includes provisions on increasing the effectiveness of international assistance.

Rule of Law

As the largest donor to the LOTFA (€200 million since 2002), the Commission continues to be a major contributor to salaries and training needs of the Afghan police.

The Commission has launched a programme supporting the justice sector to improve qualification, recruitment, and career structure for judges and prosecutors and to introduce an ethics code.

These activities complement the ESDP mission on policing deployed by Member States in 2007.

In addition the Commission supports capacity building in local and regional administration, aiming at increasing the focus on rule of law in the provinces.

Furthermore, nearly €50 million of EC aid were invested in the development of major border crossing posts at the border with Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. These facilities have significantly improved customs and border management and are already generating increased revenue from custom duties to the Afghan budget.

Rural Development

The Commission supports rural development programmes in north eastern and eastern Afghanistan, to reduce poppy dependence through alternative livelihoods. Despite an overall increase in opium cultivation since 2007, there are encouraging signs of sustained reduction in the Northeast where the Commission has been active.

Health

As one of the three key donors to the health sector (with the World Bank and the US) Commission programmes continue to focus on provision of primary health services and secondary health care. The aim is to lift the coverage of basic health services from around 80% at present to near 100% by the end of 2010 through training of medical staff and rebuilding of health clinics.

Social Protection

The EC plays a leading role in supporting action for children at risk (street children, exploitative child labour, child trafficking, children victims of war etc.). A €24 million aid package has recently been approved by the Commission to sustain efforts and achievements in social protection of highly vulnerable groups and persons.

International Award for Sustainable Transport: which cities selected for 2009?

Lundi 26 janvier 2009

Thanks to their innovative transport strategies, this year, Milan and Istanbul were awarded ‘Honourable Mentions’ in the 2009 International Award for Sustainable Transport competition. This award aims at granting the involvement of a city for the sustainable transport such as the set up of non-motorised travel for bicyclists

EUROCITIES members, Milan and Istanbul, were awarded ‘Honourable Mentions’ in the 2009 International Award for Sustainable Transport competition, for having adopted innovative transportation strategies to confront climate change and decrease air pollution from vehicle emissions. The Award recognises a city or major jurisdiction that has made most significant progress during the year in improving public transportation, non-motorised travel for bicyclists and pedestrians; implementing programmes to reduce private car use; reducing urban sprawl; and reducing transport-related air pollution.

Among this year’s entrants, Milan was awarded for its bike sharing system and the ‘Ecopass’, which it introduced last January 2008 to restrict access to the central area of the city by charging the most heavily polluting vehicles. This is the first urban environmental policy worldwide in the transport sector based on the European Union’s “polluter pays” principle and is an evolution of the London’s congestion charge. Since February 2008, there has been a 19.2% traffic reduction within, and an 8% reduction outside, the enforcement time. As a result, public transport speed increased by 11.3%, passenger ridership increased on public transport by 9.7% and in two months there was a 3.9 million euro financial return. Because of this, carbon dioxide has decreased by 12% during the enforcement period, and particulate matter has decreased by 19%.

Istanbul was recognised for its Metrobus, a BRT system that carries 450,000 passengers a day over 43 kilometers of segregated busway. Metrobus was built on expressways, so its travel speed is uncommonly fast at 40 kilometers per hour. This has reduced travel time by 75%. The system is also integrated with the underground metro and existing bus services. Other cities in Turkey are looking to this low cost, quickly implemented example as a model.

Neighbourhood Policy: the European Union involved for the Infrastructures

Lundi 26 janvier 2009

Thanks to the “NIF Trust Fund Agreement”, the Member States can provide additional funds to the Neighbourhood Investment Facility. This will allow notably to influence the funding of the infrastructure projects forecasted in the neighbouring countries

In 2008, € 37 million of additional contributions have been pledged by 15 Member State and will complement the € 100 million already provided by the EC Budget.

The Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF) priorities are to support very large investment projects for infrastructures in the ENPI region focusing on transport, energy, and environment but also social and private sectors. Therefore, the Facility contributes to address some of our common major challenges with our partners (e.g. renewable energy promotion).

The amounts at stake for large infrastructure projects are huge and considerable financial resources are required. Today’s signature of the NIF Trust Fund is a fundamental step to achieve a partnership bringing together grants from the European Commission and the EU Member States with loans from European public Finance Institutions as well as own contributions from the ENP partner countries.

The resources of the NIF Trust Fund will be used as of 2009 to finance projects together with the European Budget contribution. In 2008, 15 Member States already pledged € 37 million of additional contribution while the Commission took the commitment to contribute a total amount of € 700 million for the NIF for the period 2007-2013.

Linz and Vilnius, European Cultural Capitales 2009

Vendredi 23 janvier 2009

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for cultural events in the big cities of the European Union

Linz and Vilnius were chosen as European Cultural Capitales 2009. This event aims at making people from Europe closer.

Those two towns will offer fantastic programmes of events and activities for the year. Linz celebrated the start of its European project with three days of festivities in the company of its visitors from near and far. On the eve of 2009, Vilnius residents and visitors witnessed a unique musical fiesta of dance, sound and light.

Detailed information about the various activities in these two cities is available on their own websites:

Linz 2009: http://www.linz09.at/en/index.html

Vilnius 2009: http://www.culturelive.lt/en/main

The European City of Culture project was launched, at the initiative of Melina Mercouri, by the Council of Ministers on 13 June 1985.