Archive pour février 2010

January 2010 - Euro area annual inflation up to 1.0% - EU up to 1.7% up to 1.0% up to 1.7%

Samedi 27 février 2010

STAT/10/28 26 February 2010 January 2010 - Euro area annual inflation up to 1.0% - EU up to 1.7% Euro area 1 annual inflation was 1.0% in January 2010 2 , up from 0.9% in December 2009. A year earlier the rate was 1….

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Ashton discusses with EU parliaments their goals for a 21st century foreign service

Vendredi 26 février 2010

The High Representative of the EU for Foreign and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, attended the Congress of Deputies in Madrid this Thursday to discuss with the EU Foreign Affairs Committee Chairpersons (COFACC), the priorities of her term of office, among which she stressed creating a 21st century foreign service.

Her two priorities, she explained, will be neighbourly relations with the Balkans, the Ukraine, the Mediterranean, and strategic relations with third countries, in particular, those which are becoming regional powers, such a China, India, Brazil or South Africa.

With the strategic partners she will try, she said, to nurture direct economic and political relations, but also to strengthen the ties for co-operating in matters of global stability and crisis management.

Ashton reported than in April, she will travel to China, which is an essential strategic partner, and now there is an opportunity to reinforce this relationship.
The deputies asked numerous questions about how the future foreign service would work, to which Ashton answered stating “categorically” that it will have transparent budgets and that the delegations heads will attend he European Parliament, which she herself will report to in March on the basic s and that on the basic structure of the service.

Answering questions from a member of parliament, she stated that she is uninterested in national quotas in such foreign service, although she was in favour of a certain positive discrimination toward women.

The foreign service, she said, will be an umbrella for European Union action.
Among the immediate plans, she reported on to the members of parliament are a trip in 10 days to the Middle East, where she expects Europe to become involved in a more effective manner

Commission adopts biomass sustainability report

Vendredi 26 février 2010

The Commission today adopted a report on sustainability requirements for the use of solid biomass and biogas in electricity, heating and cooling. The report makes recommendations on sustainability criteria to be used by those Member States that wish to introduce a scheme at national level, in order to avoid obstacles for the functioning of the internal market for biomass.

Günther Oettinger, Commissioner responsible for Energy, said that biomass as one of the most important resources of renewabe energy should be monitored by the Commission. Member States should receive recommendations on how to use energy in a efficient way. According to Oettinger a review is foreseen within the next 18 months. This will help to know if changes need to be done in the legislation.

The report is accompanied by an impact assessment which shows that binding criteria would impose substantial costs on European economic actors, bearing in mind that at least 90 % of biomass consumed in the EU comes from European forest residues and by-products of other industries. Hence, the report concludes that at this stage, more detailed legislation is not necessary.

In the absence of harmonized rules at EU level, Member States are free to put in place their own national schemes for solid and gaseous biomass used in electricity, heating and cooling. The report provides recommendations for Member States to follow similar patterns and most importantly to be guided by the sustainability criteria explained in the report. In this way, it will be possible to minimize the risk of the development of varied and possibly incompatible criteria at national level, leading to barriers to trade and limiting the growth of the bio-energy sector.

The recommended criteria relate to:

( a) a general prohibition on the use of biomass from land converted from forest, other high carbon stock areas and highly biodiverse areas;

(b) a common greenhouse gas calculation methodology which could be used to ensure that minimum greenhouse gas savings from biomass are at least 35% (rising to 50% in 2017 and 60% in 2018 for new installations) compared to the EU’s fossil energy mix;

(c) the differentiation of national support schemes in favour of installations that achieve high energy conversion efficiencies; and

(d) monitoring of the origin of biomass.

It is also recommended not to apply sustainability criteria to wastes, as these must already fulfill environmental rules in accordance with waste legislation at national and at European level, and that the sustainability requirements should apply to larger energy producers of 1 MW thermal or 1MW electrical capacity or above.

Under the Renewable Energy Directive, Member States must submit National Renewable Energy Action Plans in June 2010. These will be a key tool for identifying the EU’s ambitions for exploiting its biomass potentials, whether in electricity, heating or transport. Following the submission of these plans and analysis of emerging national schemes, the Commission will consider in 2011 whether additional measures such as common sustainability criteria at EU level would be appropriate.

Spain asserts that the EU must be ‘at the forefront in the fight for human rights’

Vendredi 26 février 2010

Conference of the Presidents of the EU Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committees

The President of the Spanish Government, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, today asserted that the EU must be at the forefront in the defence of human rights, when referring to the death of the Cuban dissident, Orlando Zapata, after a long hunger strike.

According to the spanish President, Mr Zapatero, and referring to the pain that cuban prisoners undergo, it is important to demand the release of prisoners of conscience in respect of the Human rights. So far, this demand is not only spanish but international.

Mr Rodríguez Zapatero, who was opening a parliamentary conference which is being held in Madrid as part of the Spanish Presidency of the EU, ‘deeply’ regretted Mr Zapata’s death and offered his condolences to his family and friends.

Opinion on Iceland’s accession bid delivered by the EC

Vendredi 26 février 2010

The European Commission issued today its opinion recommending the opening of accession negotiations with Iceland following the country’s application for membership of the European Union. In the opinion, the Commission acknowledges Iceland’s adherence to the common values of the Union, such as democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights. It identifies challenges ahead on the road to accession. Following today’s recommendation by the Commission, it is now for the Council of the European Union to decide on the opening of accession negotiations with Iceland.

Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner Stefan Füle said that the given opinion is an important step in the accession process tha twould be as a guidance for Iceland to be a Member State of the EU.

To become a member of the EU, an applicant country must meet the political and economic criteria laid down by the European Council in Copenhagen in 1993 and adopt the entire body of EU law, the ” acquis”. Through its participation in the European Economic Area (EEA), Iceland has already taken on a considerable part of the acquis. As an EEA member Iceland has participated in the single market for more than 15 years. The Commission’s report identifies areas where the Icelandic authorities need to make serious efforts to achieve full alignment with EU law, in particular fisheries, agriculture and rural development, environment, free movement of capital and financial services.

Iceland submitted its application for EU membership on 17 July 2009 to the Council, which, on 27 July, asked the Commission to provide an opinion on the application. As the basis of its opinion, the Commission sent a 350 page questionnaire on all EU-relevant policy areas to the Icelandic authorities. Based on full and detailed answers from Iceland and additional information from EU Member States, international organisations and local and international non-governmental organisations, the Commission has drawn up a thorough analysis of Iceland’s current situation and medium-term prospects.

Iceland’s bid for accession comes at a time of economic crisis. Experience with former accession candidates shows that the prospect of EU membership and ensuing reforms have a stabilising effect on financial markets. Iceland’s application highlights the Union’s role in promoting economic and political stability.


Vendredi 26 février 2010

COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION EN Brussels, 22 February 2010 6754/10 (Presse 40) ELEVENTH MEETING OF THE COOPERATION COUNCIL BETWEEN THE EUROPEAN UNION AND THE KYRGYZ REPUBLIC Brussels, 23 February 2010 - EU Press release The Cooperation Council between …

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Commission responds to calls for stronger EU border management agency

Jeudi 25 février 2010

The Commission today made proposals to strengthen European Union’s border management agency, Frontex. The proposals include reinforcing the legal framework to ensure full respect of fundamental rights during Frontex activities and enhancing the operational capacity of Frontex to support Member States. With the new proposal Member States would put more equipment and more personnel at the Agency’s disposal. Frontex would be able to co-lead border patrols operations with EU Member States. It would also be allowed to provide technical assistance to third countries and deploy liaison officers in third countries.

Cooperation between EU countries on managing immigration through the EU agency Frontex has so far been limited by its lack of resources and of insufficient coordination between national authorities, according to evaluations carried out by the Commission and by an independent evaluation. Frontex is a key tool for maintaining an area without internal borders and helps EU countries to coordinate border patrols over air, land and sea.

Today’s proposal would ensure that Frontex can provide appropriate technical and human resources in the framework of joint border patrols. EU countries would have to ensure that a pool of equipment such as boats and planes are at the disposal of the Agency, which would also be able to gradually buy or lease equipment.

The proposal also introduces an explicit requirement for all border guards taking part in operations to have been trained in fundamental rights, with the aim to safeguard that all immigrants are met with full respect of fundamental rights and in particular the principle of non-refoulement.

The operational capacity will be enhanced by clarifying the respective roles of Frontex and the participating Member States, while respecting the principle that each Member States remains responsible for controlling its section of the external border; specific provisions are proposed concerning the operational plan, the evaluation of the operations and incident reporting schemes.

Frontex will continue to be able to coordinate joint operations, returning immigrants to their country of origin. Safeguards are put in place to make sure that these return operations are carried out in full respect of fundamental rights. For example, an independent monitor shall be present during such operations and report to the Commission on the compliance by Member States with EU law and a code of conduct that sets out the fundamental rights standards to be respected.

The proposals now have to be debated and approved by the European Parliament and EU governments in the Council.

Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs” to boost creation of small enterprises

Jeudi 25 février 2010

Are you thinking about setting up your own business or are you already a successful entrepreneur? The Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs exchange scheme offers an excellent opportunity for new entrepreneurs to acquire relevant skills for managing a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME). The new entrepreneurs will learn how to manage an SME as well as getting familiar with the business environment in another EU country by working with an experienced entrepreneur. “Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs” was launched by the European Commission in February 2009.

European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for enterprise and industry policy, said: “During these difficult economic times we need to unlock the huge potential of start-up entrepreneurs and stimulate them to take the final step and set up a new enterprise. They gain a unique opportunity to learn from experienced colleagues so that their business ideas can become a reality. We need more SMEs to get out of the current crisis. They are creating most new jobs and are the driving force of our economy.”

New entrepreneurs can choose to stay between 1 to 6 months with an experienced entrepreneur. During that period, they are expected to acquire relevant start-up and SME management knowledge in areas like financial and operational management, development of innovative products and services, successful sales and marketing practices, European commercial law and the single European market.

Host entrepreneurs are experienced entrepreneurs who own or manage an SME in the EU. They will also benefit from the scheme through enhancing their market access and identifying potential partners in other EU countries. The scheme will facilitate networking between entrepreneurs by building upon cross-border knowledge and experience within the EU.

Tajani underlined that the level of internationalisation of SMEs needs to be improved, given that only few SMEs exporting their goods and services within or outside the EU.

So far more than 50 exchanges have taken place while 100 are currently carried out. There are more than 1800 applications with Italy and Spain accounting for more than 45% of the total applications.

“Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs” is financed by the European Commission and operates across EU Member States with the help of more than 160 intermediary organisations which have prominent business support background, such as Chambers of Commerce, business support organisations or start-up centres.

“Barcelona Agenda” approved to help coordination between local authorities and EU

Jeudi 25 février 2010

The European Summit of Local Governments has approved the “Barcelona Agenda”, a set of policies to improve coordination between local authorities and to encourage them to participate in building Europe.

Both objectives are combined so that to set up a chamber of local governments within the Committee of the Regions of the EU in order to strengthen communication between EU institutions and local authorities.

The Agenda calls for local governments to promote social, economic and regional cohesion by providing good quality public services that will improve people’s lives, and also demands greater cooperation between all levels of government, local, regional and national, both at European level and within the member states.

Since Monday 22 February, the governments of 260 cities, most of them European, have been discussing putting into place policies to tackle the economic crisis from a municipal perspective, calling for these to be applied by the European Union.

During the opening event, Spain’s Third Vice President and Minister of Territorial Policy, Manuel Chaves, expressed Spain’s support for local governments figuring more prominently in the decisions of the EU, especially now with the objective of overcoming the financial crisis, creating employment and maintaining the European social model.

Chaves reiterated that the Spanish Presidency of the EU is committed to applying the Treaty of Lisbon, overcoming the financial crisis “as soon as possible”, creating employment and “ensuring that the EU becomes rooted in the consciousness and desires of its people” through “multi-level governance”; in other words through the greater involvement of local-level governments.

The President of the Generalitat de Cataluña (the autonomous regional government), José Montilla, meanwhile, called for regional and local governments to take part in defining specific issues, such as the “new financial perspectives” of the EU and the process of building Europe in general.

Montilla expressed the willingness of Catalonia to “help make the new phase of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation a success” and its desire to make progress towards a new model of production in which knowledge will be key.

The Regional Minister of the Economy and Finance, Antoni Castells, called in his speech for cities’ financial influence and their powers to reflect their political and representative importance, and said he supported strengthening the European Political Union to make the EU an influential player on the world stage, and for progress to be made towards a Europe that speaks “with one voice” in the world.

The former President of Portugal, Jorge Sampaio, urged greater decentralisation of European governments and better balance between powers and budgets at “all levels” of its administrations, in order to benefit local governments and avoid “administrative and financial chaos”.

The Mayor of Barcelona, Jordi Hereu, called on the European Union to give the Mediterranean railway corridor “priority” status and lamented the fact that there are people who see city councils as “subsidiary bodies”.

The local government summit meeting ends on Wednesday with a series of “decentralised sessions” in nine Catalan cities, including Sabadell and Terrassa (in the province of Barcelona) and Tarragona.

Making smarter cities a large-scale reality in Europe

Jeudi 25 février 2010

A growing number of Europe’s biggest cities are signing up to ‘EUROCITIES Green Digital Charter’ that commits them to reducing emissions through Information and Communications Technologies (ICT).

An official signing ceremony was held on 23 February as part of the High Level Event on ICT for Energy Efficiency organised by the European Commission, in cooperation with the Spanish Presidency of the EU, and EUROCITIES.

Joining the first 14 cities that signed up to the charter in November 2009, these latest 7 signatories - Amsterdam, Bologna, Helsinki, Malaga, Nice Cote d’Azur, Porto and Rijeka - have agreed to:

- Deploy five large-scale ICT pilot projects before 2015;
- Decrease ICT’s direct carbon footprint by 30% by 2020; and
- Create a partnership of cities on ICT & Energy Efficiency to work until 2011.

The city of Nuremberg intends to join the group in March.

Today, cities across Europe are responsible for a main share of emissions, but they are also well-placed to deliver solutions. In terms of specific measures aimed at reducing emissions through IT, city councils that get behind the charter will identify opportunities to use new technologies at a critical scale, provide for regulatory incentives, set up new types of public-private partnerships with business, industry and the voluntary sector, and share expertise and practice with fellow cities.

At the event’s opening ceremony, Digital agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes warmly welcomed the Green Digital Charter that sets targerts to reduce carbon emissions and to deploy five large scale ICT pilots for cities before 2015.

The signature of the document already by 21 cities follows the Commission Recommendation adopted in October 2009 that emphasises the role of the public authorities in achieving the EU’s 2020 targets. The Commission will encourage more of these sorts of collaboration.

The Green Digital Charter originates from talks between EUROCITIES, Manchester City and the European Commission.