Archive pour août 2009

KlaraFestival 2009 - Innovation and creativity through music

Lundi 31 août 2009

Teams of one of the most creative festivals in Brussels and the European Year of Creativity and Innovation agreed to collaborate in this way

Classical, jazz and traditional music will come to you in ways and places where you have never heard it before. This year’s festival retains the original slogan – forza musica ! – as a way of communicating just what a marvellously bracing antidote to self-absorbed isolation and the numbing daily routine music can be.

On the opening night, under the patronage of Jan Figel’, European Commissioner for education, training, culture and youth, 15 concerts will take place in train and metro stations and on 2 squares in Central Brussels. For this First Night, the intention is to share the beauty of classical music with as many people as possible, to create surprise and to stimulate imagination.

Shifting the context of classical music makes it dynamic and it is in fact an absolutely free reach-out to the people who live or work in Brussels.

From 4 pm on, strongly frequented metro stations will be transformed into concert halls by “guerrilla” musicians appearing out of nowhere. North and Central Station will host the two world-renowned pianists Katja Skanavi and Severin von Eckardstein while Midi Station presents a breath-taking drum show (Kodo preformed by UTheatre) during rush hour from 4 to 5.30 pm.

From 6 to 8 pm, the pianists play in two other public spaces: The baroque Grand Place and Brussels’ outdoor living room: Place Flagey.

From 28 August to 11 September, the Festival will take the audience to such far-flung realms as the Far East through a mix of traditional and modern music, and Sweden, which is currently celebrating 6 months of its presidency.

Lunchtime concerts will be showcasing fresh new talent in Flagey, but also more mature talent such as Elisso Wirssaladze and the Aviv Quartet.

In parallel, the Seoul Philharmonic, Martha Argerich, Charles Dutoit and conductors such as Daniel Harding, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Valery Gergiev, Myung-Whun Chung & Muhai Tang, Orphei Drängar are to be heard in the Bozar.

However, the festival wouldn’t be complete without the 7th series of Living Room or Late Nights, full of surprises as well. Creative listeners wanted!

The INTERREG North West Europe offers to participate in its conference on climate change.

Lundi 31 août 2009

The conference will focus on the four priorities of the program with special attention given to climate change and will take place on 8 and 9 October in Rotterdam.

The sessions will entice the active participation of the public during the whole event in a playful way and will include staged debates with officials and experts on the topic of Climate Change and transnational cooperation; Interactive conferences where the public will have an important role; Workshops focused on the event’s main topic (”Climate Change: Mitigation and Adaptation”); Partner search and networking activities focused on the four priorities of the Programme.

With this conference, the Programme wants to:
1. Promote the results of the INTERREG IVB North-West Europe Programme and offer network opportunities for potential and current project promoters. The event also aims at facilitating the personal contact between the Programme’s officers and the project promoters. These activities will focus on the four priorities of the Programme: Innovation, Natural Resources, Connectivity and Strong Communities.
2. Create dialogue on the topic of Climate Change: Mitigation and Adaptation, which corresponds to several Strategic Initiatives of the Programme INTERREG IVB NWE for the current period 2007-2013 (namely Climate Change, Transport and Energy). The sessions aim at inspiring new projects and facilitate the exchange of ideas and expertise among professionals of a broad number of fields.

The NEMO project is exploring new ways to biofuels.

Lundi 31 août 2009

The EU has funded a new project with the ambition to develop techniques for efficient production of biofuels from the point of environmental but also economically.

Called NEMO (’Novel high-performance enzymes and micro-organisms for conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to bioethanol’), the initiative will generate new ways of converting agricultural and forestry waste, such as straw and wood chips, into liquid biofuels.

Some EUR 5.9 million of NEMO’s EUR 8.25 million budget comes from the ‘Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology’ Theme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). The 4-year project brings together 18 project partners including universities, research institutes and companies producing enzymes, ethanol and chemicals, from 9 European countries (Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland). NEMO is coordinated by Professor Merja Penttilä of VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

At the moment, most biofuels in use are so-called first-generation biofuels. These are based on sugars found in crops such as sugarcane, starch from crops like corn, or vegetable oils. The production methods used to generate these fuels are not very efficient and offer only limited greenhouse-gas emissions savings compared to traditional fossil fuels. Furthermore, there are concerns that energy crops could compete with food crops for land, leading to food shortages and rising food prices.

Second-generation biofuels offer a number of advantages. For a start, they are made from waste products from food crops (e.g. stems, leaves and husks), so they do not require farmers to choose between growing energy crops or food crops. They are also more efficient, and so offer greater environmental benefits.

However, the energy in these plant parts is locked up in a form called lignocellulose, which makes extracting the sugars from this substance extremely difficult.

Second-generation biofuel production has four stages: first the raw material undergoes pre-processing, before the lignocellulose is converted into simpler sugars. Microbes then ferment the sugar into ethanol, and finally the ethanol is distilled.

NEMO project partners are focusing on the first part of the process. One of the major goals of the project is to develop enzymes that can convert the lignocellulose into sugar compounds that can be easily fermented and turned into ethanol. The researchers will also study yeast strains that can convert sugars into ethanol quickly and efficiently.

The new enzymes and yeasts will be tested in pilot-scale facilities to ensure that they function well under industrial conditions.

According to the project partners, the technologies developed by NEMO could also be applied to the production of other biofuels and chemicals.

A report from the European Commission shows that the EU is unlikely to reach its target of obtaining 5.75% of energy used by the transport sector from renewable sources (such as biofuels) by 2010. Based on current trends, the figure is more likely to be 4%. Progress on second-generation biofuels is therefore urgently needed if the EU is to meet its longer-term target of obtaining 10% of transport fuels from renewable sources by 2020, as agreed under the recently-approved Climate and Energy Package.

August 2009: Business Climate Indicator continues to recover

Samedi 29 août 2009

IP/ 09/1254 Brussels, 28 August 2009 August 2009: Business Climate Indicator continues to recover The Business Climate Indicator (BCI) for the euro area increased again in August. However, the level is still very low, even when compared to the previous …

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August 2009: The Economic Sentiment Indicator continues to recover

Samedi 29 août 2009

IP/0 9/1253 Brussels, 28 August 2009 August 2009: The Economic Sentiment Indicator continues to recover In August, the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) for the EU and the euro area continued to improve, registering the fifth consecutive increase in …

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State aid: Commission approves the restructuring of Austrian Airlines

Samedi 29 août 2009

IP/09/1256 Brussels, 28 August 2009 State aid: Commission approves the restructuring of Austrian Airlines The Commission has today decided to close the formal investigation procedure into the privatisation and restructuring of Austrian Airlines concluding …

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THe Directorate General Education and Culture launched a new call for proposals.

Vendredi 28 août 2009

The new call has been launched within the framework of sub-action 4.6 of the Youth in Action programme, and concern the creation of new partnerships.

The main purpose of the call for proposals is to support partnership projects with regional or local public bodies (i.e. regions, municipalities, etc.) or with organisations active in the youth sector at European level, which intend to develop or reinforce their long-term actions, strategies and programmes in the field of non-formal learning and youth.

The EIB promotes sanitation projects in Africa

Vendredi 28 août 2009

In order to rehabilitate and to construct wastewater plants in the Maseru region (Lesotho),the EIB signed a LSL 201 million works contract with the Lesotho Water and Sanitation Authority (WASA)

The EIB previously committed a loan worth LSL 150 million (approx. EUR 14.5 million) in support of this project, which is the second in the series of WASA’s three-phase investment programme to increase access to sanitation facilities in line with its Millennium Development Goal objectives.
To ensure the success of this project, which will improve the health and living conditions of 100,000 people in Maseru, the EIB joined forces with the European Commission, through its EU-ACP Water Facility. The European Commission is providing grant finance of LSL 100 million, which is further complemented by a LSL 40 million grant from the Government of Lesotho.

The EIB loan and EC grant finance contribute towards an increase in sanitation coverage in Maseru from 49% to 85%, thus exceeding the Millennium Development Goal of achieving 80.5% coverage by 2015. The project is the second phase of WASA’s Maseru sanitation investment programme. The first phase of “immediate works” is currently being undertaken with EU funding. The second phase which is supported by EIB and EU funding will:

* upgrade sanitation services through an affordable mix of appropriate technology, including dry facilities for poorer households

* significantly increase wastewater treatment capacities to reduce the pollution of water sources, including the Caledon River

* improve public health with an expected reduction of sanitation related diseases in urban Maseru

* establish the first National Sanitation Master Plan for the definition of future sanitation projects and replication of successfully applied approaches

The conception of the third phase of WASA’s programme will commence soon and should foresee both further sanitation measures and the treatment of industrial wastewater in Maseru.

The Maseru Wastewater Project is one of seven projects for which EIB loans are pooled with EU-ACP Water Facility grants in sub-Saharan Africa. Other projects are currently implemented in Mozambique, Malawi, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Benin and Senegal. The total funding for these seven projects amounts to EUR 326 million, of which EUR 109 million comes from EC grants and EUR 130 million from EIB loans. The rest is provided by Governments and other members of the international donor community. All projects will contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals for water and sanitation, with an expected 3 million people benefiting from first-time access to safe drinking water supply and sanitation.

The United Kingdom is investing in a European project

Vendredi 28 août 2009

The investment of 11.4 million euros from the British Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) on behalf of the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) should aggressively assert its storage capacity.

This substantial investment will help fuel the success of ELIXIR (’European life-science infrastructure for biological information’), a large-scale, EU-funded, data-storage project.

ELIXIR, initially funded with EUR 4.5 million through the ‘Infrastructures’ Theme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), was set up to address the lack of stable funding for Europe’s scientific data resources, such as original genomic data. Its mission is to create and operate a sustainable infrastructure for biological information in Europe. The project partners believe that the information captured and made available by the project will underpin advances in medicine, environmental science, biotechnology, agriculture and food science.

The incredible volumes of biological data being generated daily throughout Europe will be of most benefit to the research community if it can be accessed easily and stored indefinitely. For example, new ‘high-throughput’ methods of genome sequencing work so quickly and are of such potential value across several disciplines that an adaptable, large-scale storage system is increasingly in demand. Without it, the data could potentially be lost.

ELIXIR, a pan-European infrastructure will require the long-term input and support of leading EU-based bioinformatics facilities. The cost of the project is estimated at more than EUR 228 million. In June, the Swedish Government was the first to secure long-term funding for the project by contributing SEK 19 million (EUR 1.7 million) through the Swedish Bioinformatics Infrastructure for Life Sciences (BILS).

EBI, a UK facility that is part of the Germany-based European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), expects to act as the central ‘hub’ for ELIXIR. The project will use modern supercomputing and grid technologies to create a robust storage environment for the data, which will be captured from thousands of labs. The data will then need to be maintained and organised so that it is accessible for current and future generations of life-science researchers.

The new funding will make it possible for EBI to develop its existing data resources and IT infrastructure so that it can prepare to handle these daunting tasks.

The European Union seeks to practices concept saving energy.

Jeudi 27 août 2009

The European Commission wants to promote initiatives on energy saving through its cohesion policy. This commitment was confirmed during a workshop last June 19.

The European Commission and leading financial institutions organised the event to raise awareness of energy efficiency and renewable energy support schemes. Presentations from the event are available.
The European Economic Recovery Plan highlights energy efficiency investments as a win-win opportunity to support economic activity during the crisis and reduce energy costs. The amendment to Article 7 of the European Regional Development Fund Regulation is designed to support Member States in their recovery efforts.
The buildings sector is responsible for approximately 40 % of EU final energy consumption and 36% of EU CO² emissions. Residential buildings account for about 2/3 of this energy use and the corresponding emissions. This sector also has extensive untapped potential for cost-effective energy savings - 30% of the energy used in buildings could be saved by 2020. Investing in the building sector is essential to help achieve the EU’s climate change, energy and job creation objectives. With the new regulation now in force, the challenge is to ensure that regions use the new possibilities to leverage greater support for clean energy and foster sustainable development