Archive pour février 2010

STAT/10/27

Jeudi 25 février 2010

STAT/10/27 2 4 February 2010 December 2009 compared with November 2009 Industrial new orders up by 0.8% in euro area Up by 0.6% in EU27 In December 2009 compared with November 2009, the euro area 1 (EA16) industrial new orders index 2 rose by 0….

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Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement: incompatibility with EU data protection regime

Mercredi 24 février 2010

A new multilateral agreement to strengthen the enforcement of intellectual property rights and to combat counterfeiting and piracy (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement - ACTA)was adopted by the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS).

The EDPS regrets that he was not consulted by the European Commission on the content of an agreement which raises significant issues as regards individuals’ fundamental rights, and in particular their right to privacy and data protection. In this context, he views with concern the fact that little information is publicly made available about current negotiations. From what has been reported about the content of ACTA, he is concerned as regards a potential incompatibility between envisaged measures and data protection requirements. This would apply in particular to the legal framework that would be put in place to fight piracy on the Internet and which could include large scale monitoring of Internet users and the imposition of obligations on Internet Services Providers to adopt graduated response schemes.

These policies would typically involve disconnection of Internet access after prior warnings for illegal sharing or downloading of copyright protected material.

Peter Hustinx (EDPS) said intellectual property is important to society and must be protected, but a right balance between protection of intellectual property rights and the right to privacy and data protection should be ensured. Also, data protection requirements are taken into account from the very beginning of the negotiations so as not later on having to find alternative privacy compliant solutions .

The EDPS main recommendations include the following:
- to investigate less intrusive means to fight piracy on the Internet : the EDPS takes the view that three strikes approach policies are not necessary to achieve the purpose of enforcing intellectual property rights. Alternatively, less intrusive solutions should be considered or, at least, envisaged policies should be performed at a more limited scope, notably through targeted ad hoc monitoring
- to apply appropriate safeguards to all data transfers in the context of ACTA : as far as ACTA involves international exchanges of personal data between authorities and/or private organisations located in the signatory countries, the EDPS calls on the EU to implement appropriate safeguards to all data transfers made in the context of ACTA. Such safeguards should take the form of binding agreements between EU senders and third country recipients
- to establish a public and transparent dialogue on ACTA , possibly by means of a public consultation, which would also help ensuring that the measures to be adopted are compliant with EU privacy and data protection law requirements.

Tasty Bunch awards the winners of its Treasure Hunt game

Mercredi 24 février 2010

Lara García de Veas Piñeiro (1 st Winner), Seamus Hickey (2 nd ), Francesca Martini and Silvia Vicari (3 rd ) proved their excellent knowledge on balanced diet and healthy lifestyle by answering successfully all questions of the on-line Treasure Hunt game, in the framework of the EU Healthy Eating Campaign “The Tasty Bunch”. The winners will be awarded prizes involving sports and good cooking habits in four ceremonies held in Spain, Ireland and Italy.

Dacian Ciolos, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development said EU supports a balanced diet among European school children, as European agriculture provides the necessary elements for healthy nutrition.

John Dalli, Commissioner for Health and Consumer policy said young Europeans show a huge interest in nutrition and physical activity.

Launched in September 2009 (see IP/09/1366 ), Tasty Bunch runs alongside the EU’s School Fruit Scheme and School Milk Scheme – initiatives to encourage a more balanced diet and healthier eating habits amongst children.

The Treasure Hunt has been running since September 2009 on the Tasty Bunch website, where sporty and healthy fruit, vegetables and dairy characters helped more young competitors to answer 16 questions on balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. Among the challenging prizes, all inspired from the Tasty Bunch characters, such the Mr Milk and Yoghurt Jr, Mrs Pear and Leek the Basket player, the lucky winners had the chance to choose among a ping-pong table, mountain bike, juice or yoghurt machines.

Background

The Healthy Eating Campaign brings the message: Eat it, Drink it, Move it right into schools. Over 17.000 children and their teachers took part in the Tasty Bunch’s roadshow games throughout Belgium, France, the UK, Ireland, Estonia, Lithuania and Poland. Feed-back has been very positive with schools calling the event interesting, instructive and interactive. The attractive video testimonial featuring Belgian tennis champion Justine Henin and the 8-year-old Guinness record holder Rosolino Cannio encouraging children’s eating habits for the better.

Parents can also find a range of useful tips and advice on how to get their kids to eat a balanced breakfast or choose a healthier snack between meals. The Teachers’ corner offers access to Best initiatives, Facts & figures and Pedagogical tools in all EU languages to support the teachers in their work at school.

Around 22 million kids are overweight in the EU, of which 5 million are obese.

Human rights for disabled

Mercredi 24 février 2010

In Europe live 50 million disabled citizens. This is why MEPs backed EU membership of a UN Convention that treats disability not as a social welfare issue but as a human rights and legal issue. This is a step away from the current practice of treating disabled persons as objects of charity and social protection.

If the convention is adopted into EU law it would give disabled people rights in areas like education, employment and transport.

UN Convention still unratified

At a hearing on the issue held by the Human Rights Sub-Committee the Chair, Finnish Green Heidi Hautala regretted the reluctance of several EU member states to ratify the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Parliament passed the Convention in April last year and called on governments to ratify it. In the Parliament there is cross-party group of MEPs from different nationalities and political stripes to promote disability issues.

Disabled and their NGOs must participate

Speaking at the Hearing Erzsébet Szöllősi, Vice President of the European Disability Forum, stressed the importance of “the participation of people with disabilities (and groups that represent them) in the implementation of the Convention and the involvement of civil society”.

The EU is already engaged in extending rights to disabled people in transport, telecom services and education through the European Disability Strategy (2004-2010) and through the Disability Action Plans.

Calls for expressions of interest for HAPTIMAC and COSMIC

Mercredi 24 février 2010

Projects HAPTIMAP (Haptic, Audio and visual interfaces for maps and location-based services) and COSMIC (Complementary metal and organic semiconductor integrated circuits “) announced calls for proposals for new partners.

HAPTIMAP
The HAPTIMAP (’Haptic, audio and visual interfaces for maps and location-based services’) project has issued a call for a new commercial partner. The project receives financial support from the European Commission in the Seventh Framework Programme, under the Cooperation Programme ICT - Information and Communication Technologies.

The subject of this call is to find an additional commercial partner that can develop a map or location-based service that uses haptic, audio and/or visual information for user interaction. This service will illustrate the use of the HAPTIMAP toolkit and important HAPTIMAP concepts. An acceptable alternative would be for the new partner to use HAPTIMAP concepts and the toolkit to enhance a pre-existing service.

To ensure good communication between the toolkit developers and the location-based service developers, the project expects a limited part of the new partner’s effort to be used for participating in the toolkit development.

The developed location-based service is expected to be an important channel for commercial exploitation in the project. The new partner will also be expected to support (or participate) in the planned training and demonstration of the developed service.

COSMIC
The COSMIC (’Complementary organic semiconductor and metal integrated circuits’) project has announced a call for a partner with comprehensive expertise in the area of organic integrated circuits.

The new partner’s task will be to demonstrate project developments in an ambitious lead application for organic integrated circuits, e.g. a line driver circuit for QVGA displays (240 lines) or a comparable flexible organic circuit of similar complexity. The work includes specification, design, fabrication and characterisation of the integrated circuit, which must be based on p- and n-type organic semiconductors. It should be fabricated at the final stage on foil substrates.

COSMIC is funded under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and will run until December 2013.

COSMIC aims to develop applications of direct relevance to consortium partners and demonstrate the capability of organic complementary technology in generating value for European industry.

A look ahead to Wednesday & Thursday’s sitting

Mardi 23 février 2010

The agenda of the 2nd Brussels plenary session is the following one:

What are the priorities for fisheries reform?
How should EU fishery resources be managed? Parliament will set out its views when it votes on a report on Thursday. The social, environmental and economic dimensions of fisheries policy are all equally important, says a report drafted by the Fisheries Committee.

Reducing red tape for smaller companies
Micro-companies could be exempted from having to draw up annual accounts if MEPs approve an amendment to EU accounting rules on Thursday. However, these exemptions would have to be granted by EU Member States, and the companies would still have to keep records of their business transactions and financial situation.

More work for MEPs: more resources needed
Parliament will vote on plans to create 150 new jobs in the European Parliament and increase the budget for hiring MEPs’ assistants. Parliament’s vastly increased powers and tasks under the Lisbon Treaty mean that extra staff are needed in Parliament’s political groups, its administration and to work with MEPs.

Parliament to debate Greek debt crisis and EU 2020 strategy
On Wednesday MEPs will debate the outcome of the informal European Council held in Brussels 11 February. At the summit, the EU leaders made a pledge to help Greece in its debt crisis and issued a statement in which they called on the Greek government to implement measures to reduce the budgetary deficit by four percentage points in 2010.

EP resolution ahead of UN Human Rights Council meeting
Human rights in the EU and around the world, in particular in Haiti, will be the subject of a debate at Parliament on Wednesday.

Gaza conflict and implementation of Goldstone report
Parliament will debate the follow-up to the UN fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict led by former South African judge Richard Goldstone.

MEPs to give their views on Ukraine
Following the European Parliament’s debate on Ukraine earlier this month in Strasbourg, MEPs will vote on a resolution on this topic at the Brussels plenary session on Thursday.

Women’s rights 15 years after Beijing
Fifteen years after the UN’s Fourth World Conference on Women, held in 1995 in Beijing, much remains to be done, believe MEPs, who on Wednesday will debate a progress report on the goals set at the conference.

Investing in energy infrastructure
The EU’s energy policy is aimed at securing energy supplies, mitigating climate change and ensuring competitiveness. MEPs will debate and vote this week on legislation designed to enhance the policy by requiring EU governments to give the Commission details of any investment they are making in energy infrastructure.

Giving dementia sufferers the help they need

Mardi 23 février 2010

An EU-funded team of researchers has developed an innovative system that helps Europeans with mild dementia take care of themselves. The COGKNOW (’Helping people with mild dementia navigate their way’) project received almost EUR 2 million under the ‘Information society technologies’ (IST) Thematic area of the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).

Experts say that short-term memory loss is one of the first signs of dementia. So while dementia sufferers are able to carry out tasks, they either do not know how to do them or forget how to perform them. Another symptom that affects dementia sufferers is loss of self-confidence. The more insecure a patient becomes, the more unwilling they are to connect with people socially.

The COGKNOW project partners tackled this problem by identifying the different needs of dementia patients and developing a trouble-free and easy-to-use device to meet those needs.

‘Separate devices and solutions exist for many of the needs, and if people learn how to use them early on, then they may be able to continue using them quite far into the disease,’ explained Dr Johan E. Bengtsson, scientific coordinator of COGKNOW. ‘But it then becomes a problem for the patient to remember where the devices are, and how each of them works.’

According to the project partners, patients need simplified devices as the disease progresses. However, advanced dementia hinders a patient’s ability to use even simple devices. As a result, they need a caregiver’s support.

The COGKNOW consortium, which comprises medical doctors, software researchers and developers from Europe, developed two simple devices, one for the home and a mobile one that the patient can carry with them. These devices are equipped with touch-screen technology, and what is particularly interesting is the fact that users can purchase the hardware devices and install the COGKNOW Day Navigator software suite for use.

‘The application takes control of the device and makes it impossible for the user to activate the more difficult-to-use functions of these devices,’ Dr Bengtsson said.

Different instructions can be installed on the in-home device, effectively making it easier for the users to go about their daily routines. Reminders including when to brush their teeth, to do the laundry and warm pre-prepared meals can be added to the system.

A global position system (GPS) is included in the mobile device. Many people with dementia wander and lose their sense of direction when outside their home. The device is able to guide them home safely.

The innovative system has already been tested in three countries. Most users and caregivers noted a boost in the quality of life. The dementia sufferers were able to get through the day with the help of the devices.

Some COGKNOW partners are now working to bring it to market. ‘About 2% of the population of Europe suffers from mild dementia and it costs an estimated EUR 10 000 a year to provide care for each of them when they cannot cope anymore,’ Dr Bengtsson said.

‘If COGKNOW only extends people’s ability to look after themselves for an extra few months, then the savings are still potentially billions of euro.’

The project partners hail from Estonia, France, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK.

Special Report about EDF support

Mardi 23 février 2010

The European Court of Auditors has analysed whether European Development Fund support for regional economic integration has been effective in East Africa and West Africa, which together account for well over 50 % of the total amount allocated to regional EDF programmes.

The Court examined the European Commission’s approach, its management of the support provided and a sample of individual projects and concludes that, overall, EDF support for regional economic integration has so far been only partially effective, due to a number of factors.

The Court finds that the occurrence of multiple Regional Organisations with overlapping mandates and membership results in a complex institutional framework. Moreover, despite the Commission’s capacity building support, the Regional Organisations still lack institutional capacity, albeit in varying degrees, in all aspects of the project cycle.

The Commission’s approach to supporting regional integration in East Africa and West Africa is relevant to the regions’ and the countries’ needs to achieve higher economic growth as a means to fight poverty. However, the strategies and interventions at the regional and national levels have largely been designed and implemented independently of each other, with insufficient attention paid to the possibility of creating complementarity between them, except, to some extent, in the transport sector.

The Commission’s Delegations have neither adequate guidelines nor sufficient capacity to manage regional programmes. The roles and responsibilities of the different Delegations in a region are not clearly established, nor has an effective coordination mechanism between them been set up. The larger responsibility of those Delegations managing regional as well as national activities is not reflected in their staffing capacity.

It was difficult for the Court to assess the effectiveness of individual projects, due to poorly defined objectives and the lack of adequate reporting and monitoring. Recent, ongoing projects mostly have a wide scope and ambitious objectives; however, their implementation has so far been slow. For the projects examined, the results, or likely results, are, at best, only partially satisfactory.

On the basis of its observations, the Court recommends that the Commission should make the continuation of its support for regional integration conditional on an early agreement on how to achieve the necessary convergence between the various Regional Organisations and on the national authorities taking greater ownership of the regional integration process. The Commission should improve coherence between its regional and national strategies; examine whether the financial allocation in the tenth EDF to regional programmes is too high; define the responsibilities of the Delegations in the regions concerned, set up an appropriate coordination mechanism between them and review their staff capacity.

Tourism in the EU27 Total nights spent in hotels fell by 5% in 2009 Nights spent by non-residents down by 9%

Mardi 23 février 2010

STAT/10/26 22 February 2010 Tourism in the EU27 Total nights spent in hotels fell by 5% in 2009 Nights spent by non-residents down by 9% In 2009, nearly 1.5 billion nights were spent in hotels and similar establishments 1 in the EU27 , a decrease of 5.1% …

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EU agencies engage in dialogue with EC President Barroso

Lundi 22 février 2010

The heads of European Union Agencies used the important opportunity for a dialogue with European Commission President Barroso to strengthen the partnership with the EU Instititutions.

The 28 EU agencies were established to help implement EU policies more efficiently and to respond to particular needs identified by the EU institutions. In recognition of the critical role of the Parliament and Council in shaping the renewed institutional framework, members of the European Parliament and representatives of the Spanish Presidency also participated in the meeting in Brussels.

In its Communication “European agencies – the way forward” of March 2008, the European Commission called upon the European Parliament and Council to give a new momentum to the development of a clear and coherent vision on the place of agencies in European governance. Today’s discussions will feed into the inter-institutional dialogue on the future governance of the EU Agencies, which involves an evaluation of existing Agencies and reflections on changes which could be made to improve the system in the future.

The Agencies represent a significant presence within the EU with, in 2008, a combined staff of more than 4,460 people and a combined budget of around €1.24 billion, representing just 1.03% of the overall EU budget of that year.