Archive pour avril 2010

MEPs on whether closing airspace was right call

Mercredi 28 avril 2010

The political fallout from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland continues as people around Europe ponder whether the closure of so much of the continent’s airspace was the right thing. Following a Parliamentary debate on 20 April we spoke to a few MEPs to ask them what they thought about Europe’s response. All agreed that safety must be paramount, but others called for more investment in other forms of transport.

For Mathieu Grosch, a Belgian Christian Democrat and a member of Parliament’s Transport Committee,
Member States did not deal with the volcano crisis very efficiently, due to the fact that 27 different air traffic authorities are responsible for European airspace.

Mr Grosch backed the “Single European Sky” (SES) initiative which aims to standardise air traffic controls across Europe. He said it could include a crisis management aspect and could come on stream within 2-4 years.

A lack of information

For the Romanian Socialist Silvia Adriana, Vice-chair of the Transport Committee, trapped passengers were often confronted with the lack of information and they didn’t know about their rights.

She also backed the Single European Sky and said that If Trans-European Transport Networks provided more modes of transport, passengers could have been re-directed to their destinations by other transport means such as rail or boat.

All these developments need huge investment, but the cost of not having these projects in place proved to be unaffordables.

According to the French Liberal Corinne Lepage, in terms of safety, the precautionary principle was applied. Faced with such a natural event…the implementation of the precautionary action was consistent with procedure and the best course of action.

Call for more investment in rail

Michael Cramer, a Green member of the Transport Committee welcomed the safety first approach. The responsibility for the safety must not be transferred to the airlines. He also said there should be more investment in railways in future.

According to Tošenovský, a Czech MEP for the Europe of Conservatives and Reformists and Vice-Chair of the Industry Committee, the closure of air space was necessary and it seems to have been coordinated based on passenger safety. He said there is a need to analyse whether the extent of the measures taken was necessary.

French Christian Democrat Christine De Veyrac applauded the decision by most governments for targeted closures with the emphasis on safety first. The aim now must be to consolidate it as soon as possible. Progress is slow.

A greener transport for Europe?

Mercredi 28 avril 2010

A new European Environment Agency (EEA) report, based on analysis of long-term trends calls for a clear vision defining Europe’s transport system by 2050 and consistent policies to achieve it.

While technological advances produce cleaner vehicles, more and more passengers and goods are travelling further distances, thereby offsetting efficiency gains.

On its tenth anniversary, the EEA’s TERM report presents an overview of transport’s impact on the environment, built on an analysis of 40 policy-relevant indicators. The report’s findings for the period 1997–2007 present a mixed picture, with some improvements in air pollutants and serious concerns regarding persistent growth in transport’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Transport, including international aviation and maritime transport, accounts for around a quarter of total EU greenhouse gas emissions. Unlike some sectors, transport’s impact on the environment continues to be closely linked to economic growth.

Trends and findings

Freight transport tends to grow slightly faster than the economy, with road and air freight recording the largest increases in the EU-27 (43 % and 35 %, respectively, between 1997 and 2007). The share of rail and inland waterways in the total freight volumes declined during that period.

The current economic slowdown has reduced transport volumes but transport is expected to resume its growth as soon as the economy starts to grow again.

Passenger transport continued to grow but at a slower rate than the economy. Air travel within the EU remained the fastest growth area, increasing 48 % between 1997 and 2007. Car journeys remained the dominant mode of transport, accounting for 72 % of all passenger kilometres in the EU-27.

In EEA countries, greenhouse gas emissions from transport (excluding international aviation and maritime transport) grew by 28 % between 1990 and 2007, and now account for around 19 % of total emissions.

Despite recent reductions in air pollutant emissions, road transport was the largest emitter of nitrogen oxides and the second largest contributor of pollutants forming particulate matter in 2007.

Among 32 EEA countries, only Germany and Sweden are on track to meet their 2010 indicative targets for biofuels use.

Road traffic remains by far the largest source of exposure to transport noise. The number of people exposed to damaging noise levels, especially at night, is expected to increase unless effective noise policies are developed and implemented in full.

Festival of Europe - European Parliament open days in Strasbourg, Luxembourg and Brussels

Mardi 27 avril 2010

On 9 May 1950, Robert Schuman laid the foundations of the European Union as we know it today, calling for a Europe built on concrete achievements, starting with genuine solidarity. To mark the Schuman Declaration’s 60th anniversary, the European Parliament and other EU institutions will hold a festival of Europe and open days in Brussels on 8 May and Strasbourg on 9 May. Parliament’s President Jerzy Buzek will be in Strasbourg throughout 9 May.

These open days, which will be celebrated in all EU Member States, aim to bring the Union closer to its citizens and inform them of the impact of European policies on their daily lives. The two open days will enable citizens to visit the EU institutions’ premises and debate Europe with EU and national leaders.

In the Strasbourg chamber, over 800 young people from the 27 Member States will be able to debate the European project with President Buzek and MEPs at a special Euroscola session. In Brussels, visitors will be able to take part in debates in the chamber with MEPs and also meet political groups and EP officials. In Luxembourg, a European Parliament stand will welcome the public on the square outside the EU Court of Justice.

Several fun activities (music, dance, children’s village) and sports (football tournaments) will take place inside and outside EP buildings in Strasbourg, Brussels and Luxembourg. The buildings will be open from 10.00h to 18.00h in both Strasbourg and Brussels.

Programme of the 9 May 2010 Open Day in Strasbourg - 60th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration

*Euroscola session - debate with 800 young people and European Parliament President Mr Buzek in the European Parliament chamber.
*Europe parade - 1000 participants will go to the European Parliament
*Raising the colours ceremony with Eurocorps, in the presence of the European, French and German authorities
*European Futsal (mini-football) tournament, in co-operation with Strasbourg city authorities, UEFA and the Alsatian football league association
*Stands of Parliament’s political groups and services
*Inauguration of the Robert Schuman circuit around the European Parliament
*Showing of a candidate film for European Parliament’s 2010 LUX Prize as part of the “Festival of Europe, 27 countries, 27 films” operation at the l’UGC Ciné Cité Strasbourg-Etoile

Contact: Jean-Jacques Fritz

Tel : 0033 3 88 1 74499

e-mail :

Programme of the EU institutions’ 8 May 2010 open days in Brussels

*Debates open to the public in the European Parliament chamber with Parliament’s Vice-President Mrs Durant
*Stands of Parliament’s political groups and services, institutions and European bodies
*exhibitions and conferences
*fun activities around the European Parliament (street theatre, concerts, children’s village, etc)
*Showing of three films from the European Parliament LUX prize collection as part of the the “Festival of Europe, 27 countries, 27 films” operation at the UGC de Brouckère and Toison d’Or cinemas (9 May)

Contact: Delphine Colard

Tel : 0032 2 28 43383

e-mail :

Programme of the EU institutions’ 8 May 2010 Festival of Europe in Luxembourg

*6-7 May: academic colloquium on the Robert Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950
*European Parliament stand on the square outside the EU Court of Justice
*Continuous music and dance programme
*Sharing a giant European cake, given by Parliament
*Gala football match between a selection of former Luxembourg internationals, led by Zinedine Zidane, celebrity backer of the friends of the European Leukodystrophy Association (ELA)

*Showing of two films from the European Parliament LUX prize collection as part of the the “Festival of Europe, 27 countries, 27 films” operation at the Utopolis cinema (9 May).

Contact: Roger Bretnacher

Tel : 00352 4300 22596

e-mail :

The Council facilitates the ERDF in the field of housing for marginalized

Mardi 27 avril 2010

The Council today adopted a regulation allowing the extension of financial support from
the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for housing interventions for extremely
poor and marginalised communities, including many Roma communities

The aim is to promote the inclusion of Roma and other marginalised people by providing
them with acceptable housing conditions. Today, some 8 million EU citizens are Roma -
more than the combined population of several member states. Many Roma live in abject
poverty, without proper access to housing and other basic infrastructure.
The new regulation extends housing interventions eligible for ERDF support to the
renovation of houses in rural areas and to the replacement of houses, irrespectively of the
area (urban or rural). The current ERDF allows only housing interventions in urban areas
and the renovation of existing houses, thereby excluding many of the poorest communities
in the EU. The regulation reflects a first-reading agreement between the Council and the
European Parliament.
The EU support to housing expenditure can reach a maximum of 3% of the ERDF
allocation for each operational programme, as long as it does not exceed 2% of the total
ERDF allocation (which is about EUR 198.77 billion in the period 2007-2013). Member
states must cofinance the EU up to a level of 50%, the cofinancing rate depending of the

Revive the Union for the Mediterranean

Mardi 27 avril 2010

While the European Parliament has set out its approach to revive the Union for the Mediterranean, the European Union is preparing the second summit of the Union in June.

This article is only available in French.

Call for EU to assess how its decisions impact the European islands

Mardi 27 avril 2010

The call to evaluate how European Union initiatives affect the islands was one of the major conclusions of the event “Towards the recognition of insularity in the European regional policy”, held on Monday at the Es Baluard Museum in Palma de Mallorca.

The President of the regional government of the Balearic Islands, Francesc Antich, presented the conclusions of this summit, being held as one of the events during the Spanish Presidency of the EU. The conclusions included recommendations falling within six different areas, which will be submitted to all the European institutions so they can be effectively applied within European regional policy.

The first recommendation was for impact evaluations to be carried out on EU decisions before they are adopted, taking into account their effect on the islands, in order to avoid any contradiction between various policies and to enable islands to receive fairer treatment.

The participants at the summit also criticised the fact that GDP was the only indicator taken into account when classifying the regions for the 2007-2013 period, a parameter that they believe makes it impossible to reflect the true complexity of the notion of cohesion and called for new indicators with statistical data to give a clear picture of the geographical disadvantages suffered by the islands.

Focus on the diversity of the islands

Thirdly, the President of the Balearic Islands also asked for sufficient focus to be placed on the diversity of the islands, and for them not to be viewed as a single entity, pointing out the differences between mountainous islands, sparsely populated islands and archipelagos containing two or more islands, all of which must be taken into account since, in the two latter cases, the costs related to the disadvantages of insularity are much higher.

Antich also called for an integrated political-legal-financial framework to increase flexibility, for the principle of proportionality to be applied when “implementing public policies on the islands”, and for a fresh look at the regulations on transborder cooperation.

The six recommendations should make up an integrated framework of EU policies in the areas of transport, education, employment, research, technological development, innovation, competition and industrial policy, the environment, agriculture and fisheries in order to overcome the limitations stemming from insularity and provide a coherent response to all the problems that the islands face.

According to Antich, the conclusions reached on Monday must become the backbone for “a single roadmap designed to improve the way in which island regions are dealt with”. The objective is to improve cohesion, based on the principle of regional continuity, enabling the inhabitants of islands to enjoy full EU citizenship without suffering any discrimination.

more than 500 European mayors will sign up the Covenant of Mayors declaration at the hemicycle of the European Parliament in Brussels

Lundi 26 avril 2010

Next Tuesday 4th of May more than 500 European mayors will sign the Covenant of Mayors Declaration at the hemicycle of the European Parliament in Brussels. Co-organised by the European Commission, the Committee of the Regions and the European Parliament, this year’s ceremony marks twelve months of exceptional growth in the Covenant of Mayors and the event will be an opportunity for mayors from across Europe to come together to share their experiences of participating in the Covenant.

An initiative of the European Commission, the Covenant of Mayors encourages and supports cities to take the lead to tackle climate change at local level and regional. The Covenant of Mayors is a commitment by signatory towns and cities to go beyond the objectives of EU energy policy in terms of reduction in CO2 emissions through enhanced energy efficiency and cleaner energy production and use.

Signatories of the Covenant of Mayors also commit to draft, submit and implement a Sustainable Energy Action Plan, explaining how they will achieve their objective for their territory, including actions concerning both the public and private sectors.

The background:

Launched in 2008, the first Covenant of Mayors Ceremony took place during EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) on 10th February 2009 at the hemicycle of the European Parliament in Brussels gathering more than 100 mayors. More than 1500 cities and towns in 36 countries have adhered to date to the Covenant. Many of them have already outlined their action plans, which prove how tackling climate change mitigation at local level is a great opportunity to mobilise sensible investments, create stable jobs and improve living conditions. In parallel, new political developments and support programmes are being developed by the Commission and other institutions to reinforce the Covenant.

The event:

Covenant of Mayors Ceremony

Hemicycle of the European Parliament in Brussels from 14.00 to 17.00 hours

Press Conference at 13.15

Highlights for the attending Media to the event:

13.15-14.15: Press Conference (EP Press conference room): Mr José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Prime Minister of Spain, Mr José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, Mr Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament, Mercedes Bresso, President of the Committee of the Regions, Mr Gianni Alemanno , Mayor of Rome, Mr Sten Nordin, Mayor of Stockholm.

14.00-17.00: Covenant of Mayors Ceremony (at the hemicycle of the European Parliament): One-to-one ITV opportunities with both speakers and Mayors; and Photo & AV opportunities (Ceremony, family picture, signature ceremony).

EIB and Commission back launch of prototype satellite Alphasat

Lundi 26 avril 2010

Europe will launch an innovative telecoms satellite in 2012 with up to € 225 million in backing from the EU’s Risk-sharing Finance Facility (RSFF), jointly created by the European Commission and European Investment Bank. The Alphasat mission is a joint undertaking of the European Space Agency and Inmarsat Plc, a UK-based satellite communications company.

An agreement will be signed in Brussels on Thursday at 16h00 by European Investment Bank President Philippe Maystadt and Inmarsat Chief Operating Officer Perry Melton in the presence of European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan Quinn and ESA Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications Magali Vaissiere. There will be a photo- opportunity at the signing.

The prototype Alphasat satellite will be the first satellite to be launched using a next generation satellite “bus” developed by the European Space Agency and the French agency CNES. It will extend high-speed data and voice communications to remote parts of Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Alphasat will be used by maritime, aeronautical and land mobile users in all kind of situations and this will among other things facilitate the work of medical and emergency services.

The Alphasat satellite will be open access for research organisations. It will initially house four technological demonstration payloads developed by several European universities, industry and space organisations for aeronautical, land and maritime research.

According to the EIB President Philippe Maystadt, This confirms the EIB’s long-standing support to Europe’s space industry. This satellite will put European industry in a leading position in this segment and could bring significant spill-over effects for research and innovation in Europe. This is the type of investment the EIB intends to finance further under the Europe 2020 initiative.

For the Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn, Alphasat will be launched thanks to EU funds, EIB loans and private sector entrepreneurship. It will help Europe’s space industry to innovate, contribute to jobs in the knowledge economy and bring much-needed services to people in remote regions. It will be a symbol of the Europe 2020 Strategy in orbit.

The EIB is providing Inmarsat a loan of up to €225 million towards the construction and launch of the satellite, expected to cost around €598 million. The loan is being provided from the joint EC-EIB Risk Sharing Finance Facility, backed by funds from the European Union’s 7th research framework programme (€1 billion) and EIB own resources (€1 billion). ESA is contributing around €230 million through the provision of the Alphabus platform.

The RSFF (se IP/07/761, EIB/07/50) improves access to research, development and innovation financing for private companies or public institutions. The RSFF covers projects whose ambition and complexity makes private funding sources difficult to find, despite the prospects of major benefits in terms of economic growth, job creation, competitiveness and social advances. By leveraging other funds, the facility will overall create an additional financing capacity of up to €10 billion for eligible activities.

re-launched EU-US Development Dialogue

Lundi 26 avril 2010

The EU-US dialogue on development was relaunched today in Washington. It provides a framework for cooperation between the two largest donors in the world in their efforts to tackle poverty worldwide. This initiative has been a priority for EU development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs and USAID Administrator Dr Rajiv Shah in the first few months since they both took up office. With five years remaining to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, the relaunch is a sign of new political will to work together in the fight against poverty.

According to the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, today’s commitment of the two biggest donors, the EU and US, to join forces in the fight against poverty is good news for poorest countries. He is confident that the three roadmaps agreed for joint action on Millennium Development Goals, Food security, and Climate change will ensure concrete progress on the ground.

Agreed joint roadmaps

At the EU-US Summit in November 2009, leaders decided to re-launch the EU-US development dialogue and cooperation process. Leaders also decided to hold annual meetings at ministerial level to advance and guide transatlantic cooperation at policy level as well as the achievement of results in the field.

After an inactive period of more than a decade, the EU-US development ministerial (High Level Consultative Group on Development) was re-launched today. It is the first political-level meeting in this format since world leaders adopted the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The initial focus areas of this renewed dialogue are the MDGs, food security and climate change.

During the meeting, the EU and the US agreed on three roadmaps for cooperation in the next two years covering:

*Millennium Development Goals: the EU and US agreed to focus efforts on those countries most in need. They committed to work together in making aid more effective. The Commission presented the proposed 12-point EU Action Plan to support developing countries in getting back on track. The Dialogue will take forward cooperation in health, education and gender-related MDGs in view of the UN High Level meeting on MDGs due to take place in New York in September;
*Food security: both sides agreed to work together at global level, notably in reforming the Committee on World Food Security and to ensure concrete follow up of G8 L’Aquila Summit; at regional level, in particular in Africa; and at country level. Some pilot countries will be indentified in the coming months in consultation with partner countries;
*Climate change. Following the Copenhagen Summit and in view of the Cancun Summit, both sides stressed the importance of adaptation, of reducing emissions from deforestation, and of mitigation The EU underlined the importance of ensuring the application of aid effectiveness principles to any additional funding for climate change adaptation and mitigation work in developing countries.

Finally, it was agreed that the next EU-US Development Dialogue would take place in Europe in 2011.

Greece is resolved to seek international assistance

Lundi 26 avril 2010

Referring to a “national need”, the Greek prime minister, Georges Papandréous has activated the mechanism of using the International Monetary Fund and the European Union on Friday, the 23th of April. Mr. Papandreou was speaking during a televised address, shortly before the scheduled departure to Washington of George Papaconstantinou, the Greek Minister of Finance.

This article is only available in French