Archive pour avril 2009

Belgium and Denmark decide open their labour markets

Jeudi 30 avril 2009

The Belgian and Danish Governments will open their labour markets to workers from eight EU Member States in Central and Eastern Europe .

Germany and Austria have informed the Commission that they intend to continue to apply transitional measures on labour market access until 30 April 2011. The United Kingdom continues to apply its Workers Registration Scheme. Denmark will also open its labour market to workers from Bulgaria and Romania.

1 May 2009 marks the beginning of the final two years of transitional arrangements that allow EU countries to restrict the free movement of workers from eight of the ten states that joined the EU in 2004. The transitional arrangements apply for a total period of seven years and started on 1 May 2004. Unless a Member State communicates to the Commission that it is experiencing a serious disturbance of its labour market, or threat thereof, the transitional measures end on 30 April 2009 and Community law on free movement of workers applies (in other words, no restrictions apply).

Belgium and Denmark have now decided to end restrictions for workers from the EU-8 Member States; in Denmark the labour market will also be open to workers from Bulgaria and Romania.

Freedom of movement is a right for every EU worker and is one of the four fundamental freedoms of the European Union. At the signing of the Accession Treaty in 2003, all EU-15 Member States undertook to move as quickly as possible towards the full application of the acquis communautaire (EU law) on free movement of workers.

Five years after accession, only Germany and Austria have requested that workers from the EU-8 Member States continue to apply for a work permit before taking up employment. The Commission is currently examining their notifications. This will take several weeks. In the United Kingdom, EU-8 workers have to register with the Workers Registration Scheme within 30 days of commencing employment. The transitional measures will end on 30 April 2011 at the latest when all Member States must apply Community law on free movement for workers from the EU-8 Member States.

The European Parliament adopted a new action plan for urban mobility

Mercredi 29 avril 2009

The new action plan on urban mobility adopted by the European Parliament is very well received by the European network of cities and regions promoting innovation in transport.

According to Councillor Francesc Narvaez from Barcelona, the current president of Polis, this report is “an important milestone towards the implementation of a coherent and comprehensive European policy on urban mobility”.

Councillor Narvaez added that under the impulsion of MEP Gilles Savary (PES), and thanks to the cooperation of all parties in the Transport Committee, the European Parliament has delivered a text of high quality. The report adopted last Thursday 23rd of April indicates the next steps for the consolidation of this policy on urban mobility.

The first step should be the adoption by the European Commission of the Action Plan on urban mobility itself. Polis members hope that this will be an opportunity for the European Commission to confirm its commitment to the CIVITAS programme, as stated in the report of the European Parliament, and that new projects will be funded during the second half of FP7.

Councillor Narvaez also expresses his hope that as suggested by the European Parliament, the current policy trend “will pave the way towards the creation of a new European financial instrument for urban mobility in the future financial perspectives”.

The improvement of urban mobility is critical for the achievement of several objectives of the European Union, for instance on climate change and on the competitiveness of our economies, and can contribute significantly the European objectives of economic recovery.

Polis members call for the achievement of the new urban mobility culture and for this purpose also welcome the emphasis of the Parliament’s report on public transport and soft modes.

Polis member Stéphane Coppey, Président of Tisséo (Toulouse) insists that he hopes that the upcoming action plan which is expected to follow the vote of the European Parliament “will support public transport, soft modes such as walking and cycling, and help to improve intermodality”.

Results for the year 2008 of the European Neighbourhood Policy

Mercredi 29 avril 2009

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Cross-border co-operation programmes with the new neighbour countries

The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), seeks to develop close ties between the EU and neighboring countries to the east and south.

On 27 April, foreign affairs ministers took stock of achievements in this domain during 2008.

The ENP offers incentives and bilateral cooperation in return for concrete reforms. A tailor-made agenda of political, economic and sectoral reforms is established on a one-to-one basis, with each partner. At present, 16 countries participate in the ENP: Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, the occupied Palestinian territories, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine.

The ENP aims to forge deeper ties, but is distinct from the process leading to EU membership. Cooperation relates to a wide variety of areas such as political dialogue, energy and the environment and people-to-people contacts. Progress is reviewed annually.

Despite the difficult economic situation in 2008, achievements were recorded in many areas , such as trade, research and youth mobility. For example, bilateral trade in goods between Lebanon and the EU continued to grow, and Ukraine updated its research policy with more direct sustainable development objectives.

However, more reforms are needed in the fields of good governance, human rights and the fight against corruption.

The transport ministers met in Litoměřice

Mardi 28 avril 2009

The issue of intelligent transport systems will be one of the topics discussed at the informal meeting of ministers responsible for transport in the Czech Republic.

The motto of the Czech Presidency is a “Europe without Barriers”, thus the motto of the informal Council is “Intelligent Mobility without Barriers.”

Among other issues, the Ministers will discuss obstacles impeding mass implementation of intelligent transport systems in road transport.

There were several reasons for choosing the given topic: at the formal meeting of the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council in Brussels on 30 March the conclusions on the ITS action plan were adopted and the European Commission as well as the Member States were called on to further promote and develop this area.

The Ministry of Transport discussed the proposed programme also with Sweden, which will organise the ITS World Congress in September, as the country holding the next Presidency. Christer Karlssson was invited as an expert from Sweden to speak about the practical aspects of ITS use in transport, with emphasis on the safety of road transport. Professor Petr Moos, the former Transport Minster, was invited to represent the Czech Republic and to introduce the topic of implementation of transport infrastructure fees in road transport.

As a part of the informal programme, there will be an eSafety truck parked outside the House of Culture, where the ministers will have an opportunity to examine new road safety technologies. They are a practical outcome of the science and development programme supported by the European Union.

Intelligent Transport Systems can contribute significantly to the enhancement of the flow of traffic and road safety. Improved flow of traffic can result in lower consumption of fuel for drivers.

Wielkopolskie is the first polish EU region to sign up to JESSICA the sustainable funding for urban development projects.

Mardi 28 avril 2009

A conference in Poznan will present the opportunities created by EU membership

During the conference, which is organised by the Wielkopolskie region entitled “Five Years with Europe”, she will attend the signing ceremony of the agreement between the region and the European Investment Bank to implement JESSICA (Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas), which allows cities to benefit from innovative investments combining EU grants and loans.
JESSICA: an alternative source of funding for urban development

Together with Hanna Jahns, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Regional Development, and Marek Woźniak, the Marshal of the Voivodeship, Commissioner Hübner will attend the signing ceremony establishing the “JESSICA Holding Fund” between Wielkopolskie and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

JESSICA is a joint initiative of the Commission, the EIB and the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEDB) launched in 2006. This initiative enables Member States and regions to invest some of their Structural Fund allocations in revolving funds - rather than one-off grant financing. This means that financial resources can be recycled in order to enhance and accelerate investment in urban areas. These investments, which may take the form of equity, loans and/or guarantees, are delivered to projects via Urban Development Funds and, if required, Holding Funds.

Fifteen Member States have so far demonstrated interest in the JESSICA initiative (Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom), and detailed evaluations, jointly funded by the EIB and the Commission, are being carried out to help them to assess how the initiative could be implemented.

Five years with Europe

In her key note speech in Poznan, in front of an audience including Members of the European Parliament, local politicians, mayors and academics, Commissioner Hübner will underline that enlargement has emerged as a great political and economic success for the EU and its citizens and created a win-win situation for all 27 Member States.

The economic benefits speak for themselves: new Member States have expanded at a pace of 5.5% of GDP over the past five years, compared to 3.5% in the previous five years. As a result of enlargement, the single market has granted 500 million consumers, and is today the world’s largest trading bloc.

The programme for Wielkopolskie in 2007-2013

In the margins of the conference, Commissioner Hübner will hold talks with the Marshal and other representatives of the region. Their discussions will focus on how to get the most from the Structural and Cohesion funds. Wielkopolskie will benefit from an investment of €1.27 billion from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), with a programme focused on developing business competitiveness, revitalising urban areas developing transport infrastructure, protecting the environment and boosting innovation and information technology (MEMO/08/116).

As part of the measures taken under the European Economic Recovery Plan, the region has just received additional advances for 2009 amounting to €25.4 million from European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and € 12.1 million from European Social Fund (ESF), on the top of the €131 million it has benefited from since 2007. These front-loaded payments will accelerate the implementation of EU-funded projects on the ground.

Note for editors

Poland is the biggest beneficiary of EU investment under the European Cohesion Policy in 2007-2013. It will receive a total of €67.3 billion.

In 2007-2013, Wielkopolskie will receive:

* €1.27 billion from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
* €605 million from the European Social Fund (ESF).

It will also benefit from an annual payment from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). In 2008, this allocation amounted to €245 million.

The European Commission is widening its scope of action in the field of youth

Mardi 28 avril 2009

“Youth – Investing and Empowering” is a new EU strategy for youth policy for the coming decade adopted by the Commission.

The new strategy acknowledges the fact that (1) young people are one of the most vulnerable groups in society, especially in the current economic and financial crisis, and (2) in our ageing society, young people are a precious resource. The new strategy is cross-sectoral, with both short and long-term actions, which involve key policy areas that affect Europe’s young people, particularly youth education, employment, creativity and entrepreneurship, social inclusion, health and sport, civic participation, and volunteering. The new strategy also emphasises the importance of youth work and defines reinforced measures for a better implementation of youth policies at the EU level.

The young generation is a dwindling resource, whose present share of 20% of the population is projected to fall to 15% by 2050. Our youth are also a precious resource, and the current economic and financial crisis especially highlights the need to nurture young human capital. While young people in the EU today enjoy greater opportunities, they also face difficult challenges, as many drop out of school and employment, or are threatened by poverty and social exclusion.

According to surveys, education, employment, social inclusion and health are issues which most of all preoccupy today’s young people. Europe’s youth must also be empowered to benefit from opportunities such as civic and political participation, volunteering, creativity and entrepreneurship, sport and global engagement. To confront such challenges, and open up opportunities for all young people, the Commission is proposing a renewed EU youth strategy that sets out a wide-ranging response.

The strategy “Youth – Investing and Empowering”, which is a follow-up to the renewed social agenda announced by the European Commission in 2008, has the following goals:

* to create more opportunities for youth in education and employment,
* to improve access and full participation of all young people in society, and
* to foster solidarity between youth and society.

It emphasises the important role of youth work in dealing with unemployment, school failure and social exclusion, as well as improving skills and providing leisure time.

The Commission proposes to employ a cross-sectoral approach to address all youth related issues, with the new strategy outlining different actions to be pursued by the Commission and the Member States. As such, it constitutes a part of the EU’s coordinated response to the current crisis.

The strategy proposes a better, more flexible and simplified method of coordinating youth policy among the Member States, with reinforced links with the Lisbon Strategy for more growth and jobs.
The Commission’s adoption of the new strategy on youth follows an extensive consultation exercise undertaken in 2008, involving national authorities, the European Youth Forum, youth organizations and other stakeholders. Young people themselves were consulted on-line and will now be invited to react to the Commission’s proposals in a new phase of the permanent dialogue between the EU and its youth.

Today also sees the publication of the Commission’s first “EU Youth Report”, which includes detailed data and analysis compiled by EUROSTAT. These reports will now be published every three years and will contribute to providing a better knowledge base in the field of youth.

The next parliamentary elections in Lebanon will be monitored by European envoys.

Lundi 27 avril 2009

During the next legislative elections scheduled for June 7 the European Union will send an observer mission in Lebanon

The EU EOM will consist of some 90 observers and will be led by Mr José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, Member of the European Parliament, who also led the previous EU EOM to Lebanon in 2005. This mission represents a further contribution by the European Commission to strengthening democracy in Lebanon.
The EOM Core Team consisting of the Chief Observer and nine experts, arrived in Lebanon on 18 April. Thirty Long Term Observers (LTOs) will be deployed to assess the campaign period and pre-election preparations around the country. Approximately fifty Short Term Observers (STOs) along with a delegation of Members of the European Parliament will be deployed over the election period to observe voting, counting and the tabulation of results. Some additional STOs will be recruited locally from diplomatic missions of EU Member States in the country. The EU EOM will stay in the country after the elections in order to assess the post-election period.

For this mission the EU has made available some € 4.7 million from the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). The European Commission is also working closely with Lebanon on the issue of the electoral reform and has provided € 4 million to support implementation of changes in the electoral law.

The main goal of the long standing EU–Lebanon partnership is to promote the development of Lebanon as a democratic, politically open and economically strong neighbour of the EU. Today, the legal basis for this relation is laid down in the EU-Lebanon Association Agreement, which entered into force on 1 April 2006. The EU-Lebanon Action Plan from 19 January 2007 gave a new impetus to bilateral relations in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy.

The European Commission launched a competition in the health field.

Lundi 27 avril 2009

You will have the opportunity to share your views about the health issues.

Why take part?

Taking part in the European youth health competition will give you the opportunity to share your views across Europe about the health issues that concern you most – from obesity, smoking and drinking to the effects of poor housing and poverty – and solutions that you believe could help to address them. To participate, all you have to do is to send us a short message together with a drawing, poster, photograph or video expressing your ideas. The only rule is – be creative!

Provided your entry meets certain criteria, you can then post it on this website, or send it to us by regular post.

If you are among the winners, you will be invited to attend the EU conference on youth and health in Brussels on 9/10 July 2009, to present your ideas in person.

You can also share your views by taking part in the blog discussion.

So, have a go…

Train and find employment through the ESF

Lundi 27 avril 2009

Thanks to a European Social fund training Eva Gyulai learns professional cooking and find a job in a restaurant.

It is a weekday lunchtime, and every table at the Ízlelő (’Titbit’) restaurant, in the town of Szekszárd in Hungary, is occupied. Along one wall of the bright, cheerful room, a wooden climbing frame and a pile of toys are proof of the place’s ‘family-friendly’ approach. But as well as mothers with young children, the varied clientele includes couples, older people and local office workers.
In the busy kitchen, 33-year-old Éva Gyulai helps to prepare the dishes.
For Éva, this means understanding her colleagues by lip-reading – she has been almost totally deaf since birth, when a medical error and an overdose of oxygen permanently damaged her hearing. Seven of the restaurant staff have disabilities, and came to work at Ízlelő thanks to a local training project co-funded by the European Union through the European Social Fund. The Blue Bird Foundation, established in 1997 with the aim of promoting a society offering opportunities and choices for all individuals, launched the LIFT Likeliness – Integration – Full employment – Training project in June 2006, and has helped 36 unemployed young people with low educational levels and disabilities to acquire new skills to enable them to find work.
Bad work, low pay

Born in Szekszárd, Éva attended a special residential school for deaf people in Budapest until she was 16. There she learnt to lip-read, before returning to her home town to complete her school certificate. But getting a decent job was not easy. She started doing unskilled piecework, sewing nappies in a factory.
Before long, Éva met and married her husband Zoltán, who works for a local printing firm, and the young couple moved in with his parents. When their two sons, Àkos, ten, and Balázs, seven, were born, she was glad to take maternity leave to look after them. Balázs has asthma and eyesight problems that have required two operations already, and held him back a year. But when both boys were ready to start school, Éva was eager to look for a different kind of job.
A new beginning

She heard from another mother about the LIFT project, and signed up as one of 16 people on the catering course (a further 20 learned building skills). The training lasted for a year, and during that time she received a salary from the project budget. In September 2007, she qualified as a cook and got a job at the family-friendly restaurant – which the Foundation also runs – together with six of her colleagues who do the cooking, washing up and waiting at table.
The Ízlelő kitchen prepares up to 140 meals each day, 40% of them for takeaway customers. The head chef and dietician together select healthy menus that will appeal to young people. The restaurant already supplies lunches for the Foundation’s own family day-care centre, and plans to expand to cater for a local primary school. Àkos likes to eat there when his parents take him.
And other customers agree that the restaurant offers good quality and reasonable prices.
The taste of freedom

With a reliable second income, Éva and Zoltán have been able to realise their dream of buying a home of their own.They moved into their house outside Szekszárd in December 2008, relishing the challenge of renovating the property. The good-sized garden has vines and fruit trees. Zoltán is looking forward to learning about wine-making, while Éva’s priority is growing apples to make her own apple pies, and planting flowers.
Éva feels fortunate to have found the Ízlelő restaurant.

Lets talk about innovation.

Vendredi 24 avril 2009

The seminar “Interface Innovation” co-organized by the European Commission and the European Journalism Center was attended by journalists from 14 European countries.

The event allowed the participants to share their views and experiences on the importance of increasing the investments into innovation in time of crisis.

In this respect, the example of Finland in the early 1990s was recalled several times. Tough decisions to reverse dramatic negative growth of 7% and big investments in education and innovation allowed the country to overcome the crisis and become one of the innovation frontrunners in Europe.

A very lively round table with the participation of four Ambassadors of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation (EYCI) took place. It concluded that creativity and innovation are not innate talents and both of them can be learnt and developed through education and lifelong learning. Soft skills like lateral thinking, curiosity, thinking outside the box, learning by doing, taking risks, etc are crucial for developing creativity and innovation from an early age and should be further enhanced at school.

Martin Schuurmans (Chairman of the EIT Governing Board), Mr Colombo and Mr Flodström (members of the Governing Board) presented the first steps of the recently created European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT). Asked “why the EIT now?” Mr Colombo answered: “As far as the innovation capability is concerned, Europe is lagging behind other developed countries such as the USA, Japan and the emerging economies in. It is well aligned in terms of research but not in terms of ability to transform research achievement into business or service opportunities”.

The increasingly important role of creative industries was also evoked during the seminar. Xavier Troussard, head of the Unit “Culture policy and intercultural dialogue” at the European Commission stressed one of the objectives of the European Agenda: culture as a catalyst of creativity. He pointed out that “even if some traditional enterprises in the culture sector have not still found a “business model” it is very important the recognition of the fact that culture sectors can be the drivers of deep changes in the economy”.