Archive pour octobre 2010

Olli Rehn European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Why EU Policy Co-ordination has failed, and how to fix it The 2010 Ludwig Erhard Lecture Brussels, 26 October 2010

Vendredi 29 octobre 2010

SPEECH/10/590 1. Introduction Ladies and Gentleman, Let me thank you for your kind invitation to address such a distinguished audience, especially as the lecture is named after Ludwig Erhard, the father of the “economic miracle” of the post-war Germany. …

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The Belgian Presidency of the European Union defends the social services of general interest (SGI)

Jeudi 28 octobre 2010

Legislation and European policies on public services and social services of general interest (SGI) generates many issues. The public sector and social services of general interest are being made vulnerable by competition policy and internal market rules. These services of general interest nevertheless play an important role in the lives of citizens, especially when it comes to addressing the shortcomings of public policies and services provided by the private sector.

For this reason, the Belgian Presidency of the European Union has taken the initiative of organising a Forum in order to discuss these fundamental questions. For the first time, the Forum was held in the presence of the competent Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, the Commissioner for the Internal Market and the Commissioner for Competition, as well as the president of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee of European Parliament.

This 3rd Forum on the SSIG was held on 26 and 27 October 2010 in Brussels. It offered a chance to conduct a wide-ranging discussion on SSIG, and the role they play in various European countries, particularly during this time of economic crisis and budgetary restrictions.

The market is not an end in itself, but a means that must contribute to social progress, with the aim of constructing a social market economy declared Laurette Onkelinx, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Social Affairs and Public Health, who organised the event.

At this Forum, 15 concrete recommendations were adopted by the participants and expressed in plenary session before several high-level panels: social partners, civil society and institutional representatives (European Parliament, Commission, Member States).

The minister is convinced that we must continue the invaluable work that has been done at the 3rd Forum and take action on multiple fronts: according to him, we must give the existing rules greater visibility and make them better known among the primary parties concerned, and even guide them in the procedures. He also thinks it is time to provide greater legal security and to recognise the specific nature of SSIG and therefore adapt the rules which, ultimately, were not made with them in mind.

The final sessions of the Forum were opened with a message from Professor Mario Monti. The remarks of the former European Commissioner for competition and the internal market and the author of the eponymous report on the renewal of the internal market preceded the round-table talks made up of high-level figures. The latter held discussions and called for the necessary balance between the economic and social spheres.

Within the highly topical context of the crisis, the lasting impact of an event of this type and above all the intermediary work involving all of the interested parties (institutions, social partners, civil society) was emphasised. It was deemed important for the Council to continue this analysis and its activities within the Council for Social Protection with the support of the Commission. This issue is one of the priorities of the Belgian Presidency and therefore conclusions will be presented before the Ministers for Social Affairs on 6 December.

2011: the strategic priorities of the European Commission

Jeudi 28 octobre 2010

Systemic global economic crisis and increasing concurrences are the European Union in facing unprecedented scale challenges. The European Commission, Parliament and the Council therefore seek to ensure a sustainable economic recovery. The European Commission has adopted its new work program for 2011 with concrete actions. This is all about bringing Europe away from the crisis and building a prosperous, safe and socially fair future.

European Commission President, José Manuel Barroso, said of the new work programme that the European Union had proved equal to the challenges facing it but that we were not yet out of the woods and that our policies needed to reflect our ongoing commitment to creating sustainable growth and jobs based on the Europe 2020 Strategy and we need to concentrate on initiatives where the EU can bring a real value-added. He assessed that the work programme adopted the 27th of October 2011 would ensure that recovery was sustained into the new year and beyond. He talked about a great degree of convergence on the overall priorities for Europe. He also said he hoped that this would translate into early political results to the benefit of citizens.

The priorities for 2011 fall under five main headings:

* Sustaining Europe’s social market economy out of the crisis and beyond (examples include a legislative framework for bank crisis management, proposals to reinforce the protection of consumers of financial services and a regulation on credit rating agencies – aiming to complete the ambitious reform of our financial sector next year);
* Restoring growth for jobs (examples include new fiscal enforcement mechanisms, proposals to support the competitiveness of EU enterprises, especially SMEs, a European Energy Efficiency Plan, a Social Business initiative, legislative initiatives on posting of workers and working time to be elaborated in close dialogue with social partners, improvement of the frameworks for company taxation and VAT );
* Pursuing the citizens agenda: Rights, Freedom and Justice (examples include strengthening of consumer rights, a Common Framework Reference for contract law, renewed Civil Protection Legislation, A Registered Travellers Programme and a new governance structure for OLAF, the EU’s anti fraud office);
* Europe pulling its weight on the global stage (examples include supporting the new European External Action Service, projecting the 2020 growth objectives on the external scene and continuing to improve EU’s development assistance to target those most in need);
* From input to impact: making the most of EU policies (examples include a proposal for the next Multi-annual Financial Framework, according a central importance to smart regulation and prolonging the Consultation period to 12 weeks).

Background

The President’s State of the Union Address in early September 2010 initiated an open debate in which EU institutions could discuss the priorities of the Union for the year to come. The Commission Work Programme takes full account of these fruitful discussions and translates the Commission’s vision into concrete actions for 2011. In so doing, it also reviews achievements of the 2010 Work Programme and highlights initiatives under consideration for the coming years.

As in 2010, the Commission work programme is accompanied by four annexes:

* a list of 40 strategic initiatives which the Commission commits to deliver in 2011 (Annex I)
* a list of more than 140 other possible initiatives under preparation until the end of the mandate (Annex II)
* a list of simplification proposals and withdrawals (Annexes III and IV).

The Commission will now work closely with the European Parliament and the Council, as well as stakeholders, including national parliaments to ensure a broad ownership on the overall approach as well as on individual initiatives.

What industry for which Europe?

Jeudi 28 octobre 2010

The industry should be a strong lever for economic influence for the European Union. This statement could sum up the communication - An integrated industrial policy for the globalisation era - October 28, 2010, adopted by the European Commission at the initiative of Vice-President Antonio Tajani. This flagship initiative of Europe 2020 Strategy presents a strategy which objective is to stimulate growth and job creation by maintaining and supporting a strong European industrial base, diversified and competitive provider of high-paying jobs, and emiting less carbon.

European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship said that Industry was at the heart of Europe and indispensable for finding solutions to the challenges of our society, today and in the future. He told that Europe needed industry and industry needed Europe. He insisted upon the need of taping into the full potential of the Single Market, its 500 million consumers and its 20 million entrepreneurs.

In this era of intensifying globalisation, the concept of national sectors and industries is obsolete. Coordinated European policy responses are needed. Europe also needs an approach that looks at the whole value chain, from infrastructure and raw materials to after-sales service. Promoting the creation and growth of small and medium-sized enterprises has to be at the core of EU industrial policy. Moreover, the transition to a sustainable economy has to be seized as an opportunity to strengthen competitiveness. Only a European Industrial Policy targeting competitiveness and sustainability can muster the critical mass of change and coordination needed for success. Antonio Tajani added that there would be no sustainability without competitiveness, and that there would be no long-lasting competitiveness without sustainability. He assessed that there would be none of them without a quantum leap in innovation.

Ten key actions for European industrial competitiveness:

An explicit and thorough competitiveness proofing of new legislation will be undertaken. The impact on competitiveness of all policy proposals will be properly analysed and taken into account.
Fitness checks of existing legislation will identify the potential for reducing the cumulative effects of legislation so as to cut the costs for businesses in Europe.
The creation and growth of SMEs will be supported by making it easier for them to access credit and help their internationalisation.
A strategy to strengthen European standardisation will be presented to meet the needs of industry.
European transport, energy and communication infrastructure and services will be upgraded to serve industry more efficiently, taking better into account today’s changing competitive environment.
A new strategy on raw materials will be presented to create the right framework conditions for sustainable supply and management of domestic primary raw materials.
Sector-specific innovation performance will be addressed through actions in sectors such as advanced manufacturing technologies, construction, bio-fuels and road and rail transport, particularly in view of improving resource efficiency.
The challenges of energy-intensive industries will be addressed through actions to improve framework conditions and support innovation.
A space policy will be pursued, developed in collaboration with the European Space Agency and Member States. The Commission will develop a space industrial policy to create a solid industrial base covering the whole supply chain.
The Commission will report on Europe’s and Member State’s competitiveness, industrial policies and performances on an annual basis (see MEMO/10/533).
Living up to the ambitions of a strong, diversified and competitive industrial base in Europe requires mutually reinforcing policies. This concerns notably the various flagship initiatives developed under the Europe 2020 strategy and strategies such as the one on the EU’s Single Market, adopted on 27 October (see IP/10/1390).

Antonio Tajani concluded saying that Europe was more than the sum of its parts and that We must raise our joint ambitions in the area of industrial policy, step up our actions and strengthen European governance. He hastened to highlight this was not business as usual.

Background
Europe’s industry is steadily recovering from recent years’ financial and economic crisis and there are reasons to be confident about the ability of industry to overcome challenges linked to a changing global business environment. Nevertheless, industrial production levels still remain more than 10% below their pre-crisis level, despite the recent dynamic recovery by almost 10%. Manufacturing employs a quarter of people in the private sector, and another quarter work in industry-related services. 80% of all research and development activity in the private sector takes place in the manufacturing industry.

“.eu” : five years already !

Jeudi 28 octobre 2010

Five years ago, when “.eu” was launched, sceptics were numerous. Today, with 3.5 million registration mark, “.eu” is the 9th most popular extension in the world.

The European institutions were the first to make the switch, changing their domain registrations from .int to .eu but since then, “.eu” has expanded to cover just about every form of human endeavour. In April, .eu’s birthday was celebrated during the plenary in the presence of 130 MEPs and, of course, the agency running it, EURid, a common endeavour by the “.be”, “.it” and “.se”, domains from Belgium, Italy and Sweden.

Over the past five years the use of “.eu” has expanded at a steady pace, with several hundred registrations daily. Germany is the main market and with more than a million registrations in five years, .eu has proved more popular for new sites than the national domain name “.de”.

The fastest growth however has been in Estonia, Poland, Slovakia and Lithuania, where .eu is competing with .com to be the second most popular extension after the national top-level domain. In all, “.eu” is now the fourth most popular domain in the EU and the 9th most popular in the world, in a market led by the ubiquitous “.com”

Hope and glory

Initially “there was a lot of scepticism because the question was what added value does it bring on top of national domain names…I think five years on we have proven that it has been efficient, effective and of benefit to business,” British Socialist Arlene McCarthy said during the “.eu” birthday party in Strasbourg.

Creativity in action

“Creative” uses of .eu include some Basque webpages, where it is used to refer to the Basque language, Euskara, and some Romanian, Portuguese and Galician personal websites, as eu in those languages is equivalent to the English pronoun “I”.

How to register your own .eu domain name?

1. An EU citizen or organisation? Check on Eurid whether the name you want to register is available. The system works on a “first come, first serve” basis.
2. Register the name for up to 10 years with a .eu accredited registrar. There are lots so use the internet or EURid to find one in your country. You have to pay registrars for their service.
3. After this you become the domain holder, meaning that you have a right to trade, transfer or delete your .eu domain name.

European globalization adjustment fund helps Irish workers

Mercredi 27 octobre 2010

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants to support Member States in their social plans to support individual workers.

On October 26, the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgets decided to help the 850 Irish workers who lost their jobs in the industry of aircraft maintenance. This decision must be approved by the full Parliament and the Council of Ministers.

Ireland, like many other European countries, suffers heavily from the economic crisis. It has requested assistance in respect of 850 redundancies in the company SR Technics Ireland Ltd, operating in the air transport sector in the Dublin region. The total amount of EU funding earmarked for these workers is €7 445 863.

Although there was a broad trend even before the financial and economic crisis for airlines to reduce their costs by outsourcing maintenance work to suppliers in lower-cost countries, these job losses were triggered by the onset of the crisis, which led airlines to pursue cost-cutting more vigorously.

The package of EGF assistance for the former workers of SR Technics will help 850 of the most disadvantaged workers back into employment by offering them: guidance and training, both in and outside the workplace, education and promotion of entrepreneurship and self-employment. The total estimated cost of the package is almost €11.5 million, of which the European Union has been asked to provide EGF assistance of €7.4 million.

Following the green light by the committee, the full Parliament will vote on the proposals in November in Brussels and the Council of Ministers then has to give its final approval.

The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was established to provide additional support for workers made redundant as a result of major structural changes in world trade patterns due to globalisation or the financial crisis and to assist them with their reintegration into the labour market. The annual ceiling of the fund is €500 million.

European Commission provides 17 million euros to support humanitarian needs in Darfur

Mercredi 27 octobre 2010

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Assistance and emergency aid to the most vulnerable populations of third countries

On October 26, the European Commission decided to allocate aid of 17 million euros to support the provision of essential humanitarian goods in southern Sudan, bringing the total assistance from the European Union in the country to 131 million euros. The decision comes before the referendum on self-determination of southern Sudan to be held in January 2011.

Commissioner Georgieva said that the humanitarian needs in several parts of Sudan were considerable. Commission needs to boost our response to avoid the looming breakdown in food assistance programmes. It also needs to provide support to its partners so that they are prepared, thus preventing a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation threatened by violence which could surround the [referendum should be used if there will only be one. “Referenda” is plural] of 2011.

The additional funding is aimed mainly at supporting the major humanitarian pipelines for provisions such as food, non-food items, nutritional supplies, medical kits, seeds and tools, that need to be purchased and stockpiled[?] so that they can be distributed on time to the people in need. The referenda on self determination for the South and the Abyei region due to take place in January 2011 may cause unrest and displacements among the population, so the humanitarian community is preparing itself for these scenarios.

Background

Sudan is the European Commission’s largest beneficiary country for humanitarian aid. With this new allocation, the budget for 2010 is €131 million, covering operations in Darfur, South Sudan and the Transitional Areas.

The humanitarian crisis in Sudan remains complex with persisting conflicts leading to large scale displacement of populations, high vulnerability to food insecurity, epidemic outbreaks and natural disasters, and lack of access to the most basic services such as healthcare or safe drinking water in many areas.

Commission-funded projects are implemented by non-governmental relief organisations, specialised UN agencies and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement. DG ECHO [clearer perhaps?] closely follows developments in the humanitarian situation and plays an active role in the local coordination of relief efforts. It also monitors the use of the Commission’s relief funds. To that end, ECHO has offices in Khartoum, Nyala and Juba.

2011 budget: start of negotiations between European Parliament and Council

Mercredi 27 octobre 2010

October 27 marks the start of negotiations between Parliament and the Council on the 2011 European Union budget. An agreement must be reached between Parliament and the Member States within three weeks to avoid having to work in 2011 with the same budget as last year. This was the case in 2010, on a month-by-month basis.

The differences between the Council position, on the one side, and the Commission and Parliament position, on the other, are relatively small. Comparing commitment levels, Council wants an increase of 0.2%, the Commission suggested an increase of 0.8%, and the Parliament opts for an increase of 1.1%. The difference between Council and Parliament in absolute figures is €1.29 billion.

EP President Jerzy Buzek will lead Parliament’s delegation at the first meeting with the Council delegation, led by Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme. Parliament’s delegation includes Budgets Committee Chair. Alain Lamassoure (EPP, FR), Commission expenditure rapporteur Sidonia Jedrzejewska (EPP, PL) and administrative expenditure rapporteur Helga Trüpel (Greens/EFA, DE).

Mr Lamassoure expects the Council to be open to discussion, not only on the 2011 budget, but also on the medium-term financing of the EU. He said that member States could not ask the EU to do more, while paying less and leaving the revenue system unchanged. EU needed a genuine discussion, also about a new system of resources. European policy-makers should not leave this important discussion to their successors.

Ms Trüpel hopes that the animosity between some Member States and Parliament will come to an end. Some harsh statements have being made about proposing EU a higher budget in times of crisis. She recalled that all have agreed to the same objectives. Member States and Parliament should be honest and work together to achieve their objectives.

Ms Jedrzejewska said that basically the budget was restored as it was proposed by the Commission. The Commission, being the executive arm of the EU, was best positioned to estimate the level of expenditure necessary for 2011. Unlike previous years, Parliament is sticking to the ceilings of the framework Commission decided in 2006 and she recalled that the EU took tasks on board because there was value to be gained. Commission’s moderate approach - less increase than inflation - should be taken as a sign of willingness to reach a realistic outcome.

The provisional timetable is as follows:

* 27 October: start of conciliation + trilogue
* 4 November: trilogue
* 8 November: trilogue
* 11 November: final conciliation committee meeting

146 million euro from uuncommitted funds will be allocated to energy projects

Mercredi 27 octobre 2010

On October 26, the European Parliament’s Energy Committee gave its approval to the Council to release 146 million euro from uncommitted funds. The fund will finance energy saving, energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Amended legislation on the European Energy Recovery Plan (EERP) will channel the unspent money into a new fund, to finance projects such as:

* renovations of public and private buildings to improve energy efficiency or switching to renewable energy;

* the construction of renewables-based heat-and-power installations, with distribution networks, and their integration into electricity grids;

* clean urban public transport solutions, particularly electric and hydrogen vehicles;

* local infrastructure, including efficient street lighting, electricity storage, smart metering and smart grids.

The fund will focus chiefly on helping local and regional authorities to pay for such projects, which must be economically and financially viable, so as to refund the investment in due course.

Contributions from the fund could take the form of loans, guarantees, equity or other financial products. Up to 15% of the funding may be used to provide technical assistance to public authorities to help set up the projects. Geographical balance is to be an important criterion in the selection of projects.

Background

The EERP, which was launched in 2009, aims to boost economic recovery by funding energy projects such as cross-border gas and electricity inter-connectors, offshore wind parks, and Carbon Capture and Storage projects (CCS). In 2010 a total of €3.98 billion was earmarked for such plans.

Parliament sought unsuccessfully to include energy efficiency and renewable energy in the EERP when it was first proposed. The European Commission promised to consider this at a later stage, using funds unspent by the end of 2010. Thus, a total of €146.34 million will be available from 1 January 2011 and must be allocated by 31 March 2014.

The proposed rule changes were approved by the Energy Committee by 49 votes to 2 with no abstentions. The full Parliament will vote on the changes during the November session in Brussels.

Environment: protecting a transboundary area in South-East Europe

Mardi 26 octobre 2010

The European Commission has proposed the ratification of an agreement to protect the sustainable development of the Prespa Park area. This area is shared between Greece, Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, has a significant ecological value. The agreement, brokered by the European Commission and the countries of the natural area, marks a change in the existing local mechanisms for cooperation and will facilitate the successful implementation of the objectives of the framework directive on the EU Water .

Environment Commissioner Potocnik said he was delighted by the successful conclusion of the Prespa Agreement and that he trusted the Council and Parliament would quickly agree to its ratification, thereby making the entry into force possible. The Prespa Lakes basin is a globally significant ecological and cultural landscape with unique habitats, flora and fauna. Enhanced cooperation through international agreements such as this one supports Member States in their efforts to fully and effectively implement EU water legislation and contributes to a common understanding and shared priorities with third countries in line with the neighbourhood and enlargement policies.

A commitment to sustainable development

Under the agreement, the parties will be obliged to manage the lakes in a prudent manner, giving special attention to the water level. Pollution is to be prevented, and biodiversity must be protected and conserved. Any development of the area is to be carried out in a sustainable manner.

The Participation of the European Union as a Party is needed as the agreement covers matters falling within the Union’s competence, such as the management of the river basin which is regulated by the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). The EU will facilitate the sharing of the wealth of experience, best practices and knowledge that has been developed in the framework of the Common Implementation Strategy of the WFD with the Member States and stakeholders. This covers areas such as the analysis of pressures and impacts on the watershed, the monitoring of the status of water, and public participation.

Background: water legislation

The European Union has long-standing legislation protecting its waters, culminating in the 2000 Water Framework Directive. The Directive has a number of objectives, such as preventing and reducing pollution, promoting sustainable water usage, environmental protection, improving aquatic ecosystems and mitigating the effects of floods and droughts. Its ultimate goal is to achieve “good ecological and chemical status” for all Community waters by 2015. It provides for coordination of efforts within shared river basins, across administrative and political boundaries. Under the WFD, where river basins extend beyond the territory of the Union, Member States should establish appropriate coordination with the relevant non-Member States, with the aim of achieving the objectives of the WFD throughout the river basin district.