Archive pour août 2010

EU strengthens the links with ASEAN

Mardi 31 août 2010

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht has participated last week to the 42nd ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting (AEM). It’s the first time in three years that an EU representative has participated in such a meeting.

The visit presents an opportunity to intensify trade and economic relations with ASEAN as a group, after the negotiations for a region-to-region Free Trade Agreement (FTA) were put on hold in 2009. Furthermore, the Commissioner had a number of useful bilateral meetings with Trade Ministers from various Asian countries.

Commissioner De Gucht said he went to Da Nang (Vietnam)to show Europe’s desire for greater economic and political engagement with ASEAN.

To underline the renewed sense of engagement the Commission and ASEAN Ministers agreed to meet regularly at the annual AEM. They also announced that the first ever ASEAN-EU business summit would be held in 2011. This summit is meant to raise awareness about business and investment opportunities in the EU and ASEAN.

Background

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) comprises ten countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. The region is the fifth biggest trading partner of the EU. In May 2007 the EU and ASEAN launched negotiations for a regional FTA, covering all but three members of ASEAN (the exceptions being Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar). Seven negotiating rounds were held, but the progress was slower than expected. In March 2009 finally, both sides agreed to a temporary suspension of the negotiations. The EU is now exploring bilateral FTAs with some ASEAN countries. Talks have started with Singapore, and we had encouraging discussions with Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Bilateral FTAs should ultimately provide a stepping-stone for a future agreement in the regional context.

Already now trade between the EU and ASEAN is substantial. In 2009 bilateral merchandise trade reached 118 bn Euro, more than 5% of the total EU trade. The EU is ASEAN’s 2nd biggest trading partner behind China and by far the largest investor in the region, accounting for 24.5% of total investment ahead of Japan (15%) and the US (8%).

ASEAN managed the recent crisis remarkably well. By now, all ASEAN countries have strong growth rates almost reaching pre-crisis levels. In 2010, ASEAN is poised to achieve an average economic growth rate of between 4.9 percent and 5.6 percent.

The EU finances various trade-related technical assistance projects to support ASEAN regional integration. These cover a range of topics such as intellectual property rights (ECAP II), statistical capacity building and, in the pipeline, support to FTA negotiations as well as for the development of the ASEAN Economic Community.

New EU-Australia wine trade agreement

Mardi 31 août 2010

Tomorrow, September 1st 2010, a new agreement governing the wine trade between Australia and the European Union will enter into force. It is an agreement ment to replace the one signed in 1994. T

he new agreement safeguards the EU’s wine labelling regime, gives full protection to EU geographical indications, including for wines intended for export to third countries, and includes a clear Australian commitment to protect EU traditional expressions. It also provides for the phasing out of the use of a number of important EU names such as Champagne and Port on Australian wines within a year of the agreement coming into force.

Dacian Ciolos, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development said the agreement provides important safeguards for EU wine interests. It ensures the protection of Geographical Indications and traditional expressions for EU wines in Australia and beyond. Australian wine producers will, now on, phase out the use of key EU Geographical Indications and traditional expressions for wine.

The agreement provides for the immediate protection of other EU Geographical Indications for wines. For the use of some terms, phase out periods have been agreed. In particular, Australian producers will not be able to continue the use of important EU names such as Champagne, Port, Sherry and other European geographical indications, along with some traditional expressions such as, Amontillado, Claret, and Auslese from 1 September 2011 onwards, i.e. one year after the entry into force of the agreement.

The new agreement safeguards the EU wine labelling regime, by listing optional particulars which may be used by Australian wines (i.e. an indication of vine varieties, an indication relating to an award, medal or competition, an indication relating to a specific colours, etc.) and by regulating the indication of vine varieties on wine labels.

The new agreement also outlines the conditions for Australian wine producers to continue to use a number of quality wine terms, such as vintage, cream and tawny to describe Australian wines exported to Europe and sold domestically.

The agreement was signed in Brussels on 1 December 2008. The Australian authorities informed the European Union on 27 July 2010 that they had completed their ratification procedures.

€90 million EU grant for Moldova

Mardi 31 août 2010

Moldova is set to receive an EU grant of up to €90 million to help it through the financial crisis, following a vote at Parliament’s Committee on International Trade on Monday.

Members of the committee overwhelmingly backed plans to provide the funds when they approved a report by by Iuliu Winkler (EPP, RO) by 20 votes to 1 with no abstentions. A final vote by the full Parliament will take place on 7 September in Strasbourg.

The money will help Chisinau to finance its balance-of-payments deficit and meet its budgetary needs, and will supplement IMF, World Bank and other bilateral support already granted to Moldova. It will be made available in three or four instalments: two in 2010 and one or two in 2011.

MEPs insisted that Parliament must be regularly briefed by the Commission on how the assistance is managed and whether the principles of efficiency, transparency and accountability are being observed.

In November 2009, Parliament gave its backing for macro-financial support to Serbia (€200 million in the form of a loan), Bosnia and Herzegovina (€100 million, loan), Armenia (€65 million loan and €35 million grant), and Georgia (€46 million, grant). In May 2010, MEPs approved macro-financial assistance to Ukraine (€500 million, loan).

EU and International response to help Pakistan

Lundi 30 août 2010

Les graves inondations de mousson qui ont touché le Pakistan a tué plus de 1.600 personnes, a touché près de 20 millions de personnes (12% de la population pakistanaise total) et a causé d’importants dommages aux terres agricoles et les infrastructures y compris les maisons.

In close cooperation with the EU Member States and the international community, the European Commission, through its offices for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO/MIC), is providing humanitarian relief and rescue expert support to assist the Pakistani authorities and the Pakistani population. The European Commission, through the Instrument for Stability (IfS), is also contributing to the early recovery and medium to longer term post disaster needs assessments that are underway under the lead of the United Nations and the World Bank/Asian Development Bank respectively, in cooperation with the government of Pakistan, to assess the extent of the damage and the required needs for early recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

Council adopts its position on the EU draft budget 2011

Lundi 30 août 2010

The Council adopted its position on the EU draft budget for the financial year 2011, approving targeted cuts in the Commission’s proposal whilst ensuring appropriate funding for the priorities of the European Union, in particular economic recovery

The Council’s position takes into account the current budgetary constraints of the member states and is in line with the budget guidelines for 2011 adopted by the Council on 16 March this year. It also leaves sufficient margins under the different headings of the financial framework in order to cope with unforeseen budgetary needs.

Consultation on the Green Paper “Unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries”

Vendredi 27 août 2010

Huge success for the Commission’s consultation with more than 350 contributions submitted. They will help the Commission better respond to the needs of cultural and creative industries in Europe.

More than 350 public authorities, public or private organisations active at European or national level, and individuals – from more than 25 countries and representing the cultural and creative industries in their diversity – have submitted their ideas and opinions to the Commission’s consultation that closed on 30 July.

It already emerges that the broad approach taken by the Commission, going from access to funding to capacity building and skills development, from the need to open up a common European space for culture to the need to help cultural and creative industries develop locally and go global, from the promotion of European creators on the world stage to the need to ensure the sustainability of creation in the digital environment, was very well received.

All contributions will be put online in early September while the Commission will publish a detailed analysis of this consultation in the fall.

EU Youth Matters in Open Days 2010

Vendredi 27 août 2010

The OPEN DAYS 2010– European Week of Regions and Cities - will be held for the eighth time in Brussels between 4 and 7 October 2010. Around 100 seminars, workshops and debates, including on youth issues, exhibitions and networking opportunities will take place, organised in partnership with regions and cities from all over Europe.

It has become an annual key event at which cities and regions to showcase their capacity for creating growth and jobs, implementing European Union cohesion policy, and proof the importance of the local level for good European governance.

Held within the framework of the OPEN DAYS, the workshop in LOCAL AND REGIONAL ACTION ON EU YOUTH MATTERS will explore how local and regional actors can make the most of the European dimension of their youth policies and programmes.

This will be done by delving into how:

* localities and regions can become more involved in European youth policies and programmes, within the framework of the new EU youth strategy and the EU Youth in Action programme;
* this involvement can be strengthened by partnerships between the European Commission and local/regional actors at various levels;
* local/regional actors can benefit from exchanges of good practices across national borders and governance levels;
* such exchanges can be enhanced with a view to exploring and developing synergies.

The workshop will take place on 6th of October 2010 from 09:00-10:45.

Contribution of MOT in the European consultation on the revision of the Regulation on EGTC.

Vendredi 27 août 2010

The COR has launched a broad consultation on the revision of European Regulation on EGTC.

The COR has launched a broad consultation on the revision of European Regulation on EGTC. The opinion of initiative to be prepared by the COR response to this consultation will prepare the work of EU institutions in 2011 on the review of Regulation on EGTC. The MOT has sent its contribution on July 15 last. The results of this consultation will be presented at the Open Days in Brussels at the workshop of the Committee of the Regions to be held on October.

A review of the Commission points out the weaknesses of INTERREG for the period 2000 - 2006

Vendredi 27 août 2010

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Support to cooperation between European regions at cross-border level

A report published by the Commission in July advanced weaknesses of the European program Interreg for the period 2000-2006 and calls for better information to local authorities.

This article is only available in French.

The LUX film contenders received their prizes

Jeudi 26 août 2010

The free winning movies of the European Parliament’s 2010 LUX film prize are: Akadimia Platonos, Die Fremde and Illégal. they were presented during an event at the Venice International Film Festival. Like past LUX Prize contenders, these films speak to Europeans’ hearts and identities, forcing us to ask ourselves about our cultural and family relations, and the rules by which we live.

The three contenders, unveiled in the Venice Days (Giornate degli Autori) section of the Venice International Film Festival, were produced in Greece/Germany (Akadimia Platonos by Filippos Tsitos), Germany (Die Fremde by Feo Aladag) and Belgium/France/Luxembourg (Illégal by Olivier Masset-Depasse).

As with previous winners — Auf der anderen Seite (2007), Le silence de Lorna (2008) and Welcome (2009) — the 2010 LUX Prize winning film will receive European Parliament financial support for subtitling the film into all the 23 official languages of the European Union (EU), an adaptation of the original version for the visually- or hearing-impaired, and the production of a 35 mm print per EU member state.

This year’s contenders will be screened in the Venice Days’ premises (10-11 September), and again at the European Parliament’s Brussels premises (26 October-19 November). Members of the European Parliament will vote for the winning film and the 2010 LUX Prize will be awarded on 24 November by the President of the European Parliament at its headquarters in Strasbourg.

Akadimia Platonos (Plato’s Academy)

Every day Stavros raises the metal shutters of his cigarette store, puts out the newspapers in front and then sets out the chairs where he and his friends sit all day, looking out on the dusty intersection and surrounding grey buildings that shelter their businesses. They’re all very proud of the way their dog Patriot, on the opposite pavement, barks at every passing Albanian. Stavros and his friends don’t like these foreigners even though they’re willing to do the jobs the Greeks won’t do, nor do they like the recently arrived Chinese. By the store’s entrance, Stavros’ increasingly senile mother mopes in an armchair, regardless of the affectionate care lavished on her by her devoted son. Then one day she suddenly falls upon an Albanian worker, embracing him and calling him «my son» in Albanian. In fact, what does Stavros really know about his parents? His mother has always told him that after his father died up north, she moved to Athens, when he was but a year old. Now Stavros’ pals start looking askance at him: is he Greek or Albanian? Does he really have the right to sing the racist little ditty: Albanian, Albanian, you’ll never become a Greek…?

Die Fremde (When we leave)

What would you sacrifice for your family’s love? Your values? Your freedom? Your independence? German-born Umay flees her oppressive marriage in Istanbul, taking her young son Cem with her. She is hoping to find a better life with her family in Berlin, but her unexpected arrival creates intense conflict. Her family is trapped in their conventions, torn between their love for her and the values of their community. Ultimately they decide to return Cem to his father in Turkey. To keep her son, Umay is forced to move again. She finds the inner strength to build a new life for her and Cem, but her need for her family’s love drives her to a series of ill-fated attempts at reconciliation. What Umay doesn’t realize is just how deep the wounds have gone and how dangerous her struggle for self- determination has become.

Illégal

Tania and her 14 year-old son Ivan are illegal immigrants from Russia, who have been living in Belgium for 8 years. In a permanent state of alert, Tania lives in constant fear of having her identity checked by the police - until the day she is arrested. Mother and the son are separated. Tania is placed in a holding centre. She does everything in her power to find her son again, in spite of the constant threat of deportation hanging over her head.

Film directors’ perspectives on Europe

Akadimia Platonos director Filippos Tsitos says: EU is a good idea. The disagreements begin when one has to decide who has the right to enter the Union, who has the right to remain in it, who is going to get help from it, and which of its members are to have more privileges than others. Discrimination hangs around these decisions. Tolerance is the beginning of the solution. And how an individual can tolerate his very own self is the subject of Akadimia Platonos.

For Die Fremde director Feo Aladag, we live in a multicultural society, which can no longer simply promote consensus but must find new ways to get around increasing divergence. That will only happen with ongoing dialogue and by allowing ourselves to be being guided by our similarities rather than by our differences. A harmonious co-existence is possible if we, in the name of empathy, grow beyond the shadows of our principles and convictions. This theme is universal, as it affects all of us, whether it is people who love one another, or people who share a society, a country or a planet and who are therefore a community.

Illégal director Olivier Masset-Depasse says the LUX Prize is a wonderful initiative encouraging the circulation of films on a European scale. What is a film that cannot be seen? Because of this it is clear that the prize is a real opportunity for Illégal because what is shown in this film can be widely applied in many European countries. The LUX Prize would be an excellent starting point as wide a dissemination of this film as possible.

European Parliament commitment to culture

The LUX Prize was established in 2007, as a tangible symbol of the European Parliament’s commitment to the European film industry and its creative endeavours. Since then, the LUX Prize has cast an annual spotlight on films that go to the very heart of the European public debate. Beyond the stories they tell, these films trigger questions for Europeans: the values they share or question, the project of building Europe, and the way they address cross-border concerns such as immigration, justice, solidarity, public freedoms or fundamental rights. No matter which social issue it illustrates, each film gives a glimpse of Europeans, their lives, their convictions and doubts, and their quest for identity.

The three shortlisted contenders were chosen by the same panel that made the ten-film LUX Prize 2010 Official Selection on 28 June.