Archive pour novembre 2010

Towards a long-term resident status for refugees and people under international protection

Mardi 30 novembre 2010

New rules adopted by the Commission on civil liberties should give refugees the same rights as nationals of third countries long-term residents, including freedom of movement and, under certain conditions, equal treatment with nationals of the EU in a wide range of economic and social areas. Refugees and other persons enjoying international protection may therefore have the status of long-term resident in the EU.

This legislation, which amends an EU directive of 2003, will bring “direct benefit to all the beneficiaries of international protection who have been residing legally on the territory of the EU for more than 5 years, but currently have no entitlement to long-term resident status. It will bring an end to their differential treatment vis-à-vis other third country nationals, and will give them greater certainty about their situation in the EU”, said Civil Liberties Committee rapporteur Claude Moraes (S&D, UK), who is steering the legislation through Parliament.

Under Council Directive 2003/109/EC, which governs the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents, refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection are not currently entitled to long-term resident status. The amended directive would close this gap.

The new rules would enable beneficiaries of international protection who become long-term residents to take up residence in a Member State other than that in which they are recognised. Under certain conditions, they would enjoy equality of treatment with citizens of the EU Member State in which they reside in a wide range of economic and social areas, including education and access to the labour market and social security benefits. Furthermore, the new rules also strengthen safeguards against “refoulement” (expulsion).

This agreement will be put to a vote by the full Parliament at its December plenary session, in Strasbourg. Member States will have two years to comply with the new rules. The UK, Ireland and Denmark are opting out of this directive.

Committee vote: 27 in favour, none against, no abstentions

In the chair: Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES)

Definitions

“International protection” covers both refugee status under the Geneva Convention and subsidiary protection status.

“Refugee” means a third country national who, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group, is outside the country of nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country, or a stateless person, who, being outside the country of former habitual residence for the same reasons as mentioned above, is unable or, owing to such fear, unwilling to return to it. “Refugee status” means the recognition by a Member State of a third country national or a stateless person as a refugee.

“Person eligible for subsidiary protection” means a third country national or a stateless person who does not qualify as a refugee but in respect of whom substantial grounds have been shown for believing that the person concerned, if returned to his or her country of origin, or in the case of a stateless person, to his or her country of former habitual residence, would face a real risk of suffering serious harm and is unable, or, owing to such risk, unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country. “Subsidiary protection status” means the recognition by a Member State of a third country national or a stateless person as a person eligible for subsidiary protection.

“Refoulement” - the key component of refugee status and of asylum is protection against return to a country where a person has reason to fear persecution and danger. This protection is sometimes referred to as the “non-refoulement” principle.

Human Rights soon in the heart of relations between EU and Russia?

Mardi 30 novembre 2010

After the EU-Russia human rights consultations on 17 November and ahead of the bilateral summit to be held on 7 December, the EP Human Rights Subcommittee on Tuesday took stock of the human rights situation and the rule of law in Russia. MEPs inisited on the fact these are issues which should be raised at the highest political level.

Maria Manotskova, representing the Russian human rights NGO SOVA Center for Information and Analysis, contended that the definition of extremist-oriented crimes was very broad in the Russian law. Religious groups such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, journalists, politicians, bloggers, social activists and even artists had been indicted because of extremist statements.

The Commission representative confirmed that this law was a cause of serious concern, saying “there is a great gap between the text of this law, which in general is in line with European standards, and the realities on the ground.”

Thorough evaluation of EU-Russia human rights consultations

“Between 2005 and 2010, eleven rounds of consultations took place and eight human rights defenders were assassinated in Russia”, Grégoire Théry from the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) told the meeting.

He also warned that his organisation would recommend the suspension of the human rights consultation unless a serious review of the process took place. This should include:

* establishing public indicators of progress with concrete benchmarks;
* holding consultations alternatively in Russia and the EU;
* a solid political back-up at highest EU political level

Another request from the EU side was for other Russian institutions to be involved in the consultations besides the foreign affairs ministry like the ministries of justice and interior, the prosecutor’s office and prisons.

The Council representative confirmed that “an internal reflection” was under way at Council level on ways of assessing these consultations

Human rights in the new partnership agreement

Referring to the new future Agreement with the Russian Federation currently under negotiation, Inese Vaidere (EPP, LT) wanted to know what place human rights would have in this new legal framework, given that the conclusion of the new agreement would need the European Parliament’s consent. The Commission representative reassured MEPs that human rights would occupy a strategic position and be mentioned as a key principle and objective but also that it would be referred to in sensitive chapters such as fighting terrorism and granting asylum.

Civil society organisations are “losing courage”

Asked by MEPs Graham Watson (ALDE, UK) about the trend of reporting by Russian NGOs when meeting European Commission representatives, the Commission said the NGOs “are losing courage”. There had been some hope when President Medvedev took office but since then the realities hade not changed substantially.

Report of EP delegation to Beslan

Heidi Hautala (Greens/EFA, FI), chair of the subcommittee, reported to the meeting on the delegation of MEPs to Beslan and Ingushetia from 30 August to 3 September, when the EP delegation had attended the commemorations of the three-day siege in September 2004.

World AIDS Day 2010: Commission calls for renewed investment, more prevention and screening

Mardi 30 novembre 2010

EU Commissioner for Health John Dalli will give a keynote speech at a seminar on HIV testing in the European Parliament, to commemorate World AIDS Day. Early detection is vital for early treatment and increasing life expectancy, as estimates show that about one third of people infected with HIV in Europe are unaware they have it. To fight AIDS on a global scale, EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs recently announced a 10% increase in contributions to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM), to which the EU is already the largest donor, providing 52% of resources. The increase would allow the Commission to contribute around €1.3 billion over the period 2002-2013.

On the eve of the annual World Aids Day, John Dalli, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy said: “HIV and AIDS have been causing great suffering to people and communities across the world for more than a quarter of century. Testing is an important first step to fight the virus. Today is the time to build up momentum; and strengthen our commitment to fight this terrible disease.”

Andris Piebalgs, Commissioner for Development added: “Without a healthy population it is impossible to create inclusive and sustainable growth in developing countries to reach the Millennium Development Goals. AIDS remains one of the most deadly diseases and we have to increase our efforts in preventing the spread of this virus.”

Despite the overall decrease in the number of new infections, the total number of people living with HIV worldwide continues to grow. The number of people living with HIV globally now stands at 33.4 million. Sub-Saharan Africa remains the worst affected region, accounting for 71% of all new HIV infections in 2008.

As the world’s biggest donor of development aid, the European Commission remains committed to its engagement in fighting AIDS in cooperation with its partner countries all over the world.

Background on EU involvement in the fight against AIDS

EU Member States and the European Commission have provided more than $10 billion from 2002 – 2010 to the GFATM, which equals 52% of the GFATM resources. In June this year, the GFATM reported that 2.8 million people with HIV have received life-saving antiretroviral (ARV) treatment thanks to their actions. In addition, through its contribution the Commission gave access for 7.7 million people to insecticide-treated mosquito nets and provided antiretroviral combination therapy to 750,000 people with advanced HIV infection.

The European Commission is a founding member of the Global Fund. It has been providing strong political and financial support to it since 2002. The 10% increase proposal is subject to approval by the budgetary authorities of the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group (ACP).

The EU also supports its partner countries all over the world in designing and implementing their national health policies. Through this instrument the EU can help to provide longer-term and more consistent financing to combat this terrible disease.

Litigation between the Commission and a German association: The European Ombudsman finds a solution

Mardi 30 novembre 2010

Mr Nikiforos Diamandouros, who is the European Ombudsman, has soled a payment dispute between the European Commission and a German cultural association. This follows a complaint from the association that the Commission had reduced by more than EUR 6 000 the final payment for an exhibition on 28 European regions. The total costs of the project amounted to EUR 290 000. The Commission initially refused to pay the outstanding sum, arguing that it had not been duly notified about reallocations in the budget. The Commission accepted the Ombudsman’s proposal for a friendly solution to the complaint and agreed to pay the outstanding sum of EUR 6 000 plus more than EUR 1 500 interest.

EU-funded exhibition on 28 European regions between Bordeaux and Kiev

In 2005, the German cultural association VIA REGIA - Kultur für Europa e.V. organised an EU-funded exhibition on 28 European regions between Bordeaux and Kiev. The project was carried out in the framework of the 2004 enlargement of the European Union. The Commission agreed to pay 71 % of the total budgeted costs of EUR 290 000.

The exhibition turned out to be a major success and was shown in 50 cities instead of the five originally foreseen. In August 2005, the association requested a change to the budget. A Commission official agreed to the proposed changes. The Commission, however, reduced its final payment to the association by more than EUR 6 000, arguing that it had not been properly notified about the budget change.

In December 2008, the association turned to the Ombudsman, claiming that the Commission wrongfully reduced the final payment for the project. After his investigation, the Ombudsman concluded that the Commission had not given a reasonable account of how it dealt with the complainant’s payment claim. He asked the Commission, in a friendly solution proposal, to reconsider the association’s claim. The Commission accepted the proposal and paid the complainant the outstanding EUR 6 000 plus more than EUR 1 500 in interest.

The Court annuls the provisions of the Council Regulation making adjustments to the salaries of EU officials with effect from July 2009

Mardi 30 novembre 2010

Press and Information Court of Justice of the European Union PRESS RELEASE No 114/10 Luxembourg, 24 November 2010 Judgment in Case C-40/10 Commission v Council By fixing, in the regulation, an adjustment of officials’ salaries different to that proposed …

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By authorising the use of the name “pure chocolate” Italy has infringed EU Law

Mardi 30 novembre 2010

Press and Information Court of Justice of the European Union PRESS RELEASE No 115/10 Luxembourg, 25 November 2010 Judgment in Case C-47/09 European Commission v Italian Republic A statement on the labelling indicating the absence of substitute vegetable …

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A new single market act: what about cities and regions?

Lundi 29 novembre 2010

The European Commission is embarking on a detailed recasting of the single market rules, twenty-five years after the Single European Act. Regions and cities are particularly concerned about the implications of proposals from the European Commission relating to public procurement and services of general interest. Therefore the CoR invited the European Commissioner for the internal market and services, Michel Barnier, to present the main pillars of the reform at the Forum on the Single Market Act organised by the Committee of the Regions on 30 November.

Regions and cities are active in many policy areas on which depend the smooth functioning of the single market. Public procurement, public transport, energy and services of general interest are among those having most impact on the development of the regions. A few weeks after the adoption of the European Commission Communication on the Single Market Act, the Forum organised by the Committee of the Regions looks into challenges and opportunities of the new initiative from the perspective of Europe’s regions and cities. The event will combine a political debate with concrete examples of local and cross-border projects.

Responding to a presentation of the reform by Commissioner Michel Barnier, the concerns of local and regional authorities will be set out by the President of the CoR, Mercedes Bresso. Joining in the discussions will be Vincent Van Quickenborne, Belgian Federal Minister for Economy and Administrative simplification, Malcolm Harbour, European Parliament Chair of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, and Louis Grech, European Parliament Vice-Chair of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection.

During the afternoon, the floor will be given to the regions to present 10 examples of good practice in the fields of public-private partnerships; transport and energy supply; and cross-border economic and social services. Local and regional authorities are on the front line where these issues are concerned, especially given their responsibilities for managing local services. It should not be forgotten that local authorities account for half of public sector jobs, and one third of public spending (almost 16% of GDP).

The Committee of the Regions will adopt its official opinion in the next few months, drawn up by the Commission for Economic and Social Policy (ECOS) with Jean-Louis Destans, President of the General Council of the Eure (PES/FR), as rapporteur.

Journalists are welcome to attend the conference and meet the speakers. The detailed programme can be found at: www.cor.europa.eu/sma

Visit the CoR’s website: www.cor.europa.eu

The Committee of the Regions

The Committee of the Regions is the EU’s assembly of regional and local representatives. The mission of its 344 members from all 27 EU Member States is to involve regional and local authorities and the communities they represent in the EU’s decision-making process and to inform them about EU policies. The European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council are obliged to consult the Committee in policy areas affecting regions and cities. It can appeal to the EU Court of Justice if its rights are infringed or it believes that an EU law violates the subsidiarity principle or fails to respect regional or local powers.

For more information, please contact:

Athénaïs Cazalis de Fondouce
Tel: 32 02 282 2447
athenais.cazalisdefondouce@cor.europa.eu

A new Judge at the General Court of the European Union

Lundi 29 novembre 2010

By decision of 18 November 2010, the representatives of the Governments of the Member States appointed Mr Andrei Popescu as Judge at the General Court of the European Union for the period from 26 November 2010 to 31 August 2016, replacing Mr Valeriu M. Ciucă.
A formal sitting of the Court of Justice has taken place the 29th of november 2010 on the occasion of the departure from office of Mr Valeriu M. Ciucă and of the taking of the oath and entry into office of Mr Andrei Popescu.

Andrei Popescu

Born 1948; graduated in law from the University of Bucharest (1971); postgraduate studies in international labour law and European social law, University of Geneva (1973-74); Doctor of Laws of the University of Bucharest (1980); trainee assistant lecturer (1971-73), assistant lecturer with tenure (1974-85) and then lecturer in labour law at the University of Bucharest (1985-90); principal researcher at the National Research Institute for Labour and Social Protection (1990-91); Deputy Director-General (1991-92), then Director (1992-96) at the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection; senior lecturer (1997), then professor at the National School of Political Science and Public Administration, Bucharest (2000); State Secretary at the Ministry for European Integration (2001-05); Head of Department at the Legislative Council of Romania (1996-2001 and 2005-09); Agent of the Romanian Government before the Courts of the European Union (2009-10); Judge at the General Court since 26 November 2010.

Three new pan-European research infrastructures in the field of energy within the Innovation Union

Lundi 29 novembre 2010

The construction of three new pan-European research infrastructures in the energy sector was announced by the Research Ministers of EU Member States and associated countries, and by the European Commission, on 29th November 2010 in Brussels. A research facility in the area of wind energy in Denmark, a concentrated solar power installation in Spain and a nuclear research reactor in Belgium. The total investment amounted to 1.2 billion euros. These facilities integrate the roadmap European Strategy Forum on European Research Infrastructures (ESFRI).

The announcement will take place at the Belgian Presidency ENERI Conference, at the Square, Mont des Arts, Brussels. Energy research infrastructures play an important part in realizing the European Strategic Energy Technology (SET)-Plan.

European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, said: “Developing world-class research infrastructure in Europe, by pooling resources at EU level, is an important objective of the Innovation Union (see IP/10/1288, MEMO/10/473). These facilities will enable ground-breaking research and innovation and ultimately they could help to secure the EU’s future energy supply. We need to bring research, technology, industry and market implementation closer together and that is the purpose of the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan.”

In its updated Roadmap 2010, ESFRI has identified 50 new research infrastructures or major upgrades of existing ones, in order to stay at the forefront of research over the next 10 – 20 years. Their total construction cost amounts to some € 20 billion and their operational cost would be around € 2 billion per year.

One of the objectives of the Innovation Union is to launch by 2015 the construction of 60% of these priority European research infrastructures, primarily financed by EU Member States, but with the support of European Programmes.

The new infrastructures announced today

In Denmark the WindScanner project has the capacity to produce detailed maps of wind conditions at a wind farm covering several square kilometres. This knowledge will lead to more efficient, stronger and lighter wind turbines. The facility will be in operation from 2013 and costs will be between € 45 and 60 million. WindScanner will be operated by the Risø DTU National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy near Roskilde, leading a consortium with six other partners, from Germany, Greece, Spain, The Netherlands, Norway and Portugal

The solar research infrastructure EU-SOLARIS at the Advanced Technological Centre for Renewable Energy in Tabernas, Almeria (Spain) focuses on developing new technologies for concentrated solar power and has a construction cost of about € 80 million. Other complementary sites at several leading European laboratories – representing European countries with the most solar potential (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Turkey) and Germany (technological provider) – will be part of the new research infrastructure.

The Belgian nuclear fission research infrastructure MYRRHA, in Mol, has research capacity on the reduction of radioactive nuclear waste. The detailed engineering design of the facility is scheduled to be completed in 2014. The total construction cost is budgeted at approximately € 960 million (2010-2023). MYRRHA will be the first large facility in the world for research on radioactive spent nuclear fuel and its reduction via partitioning and transmutation. The infrastructure can also be used to test the feasibility of a new generation of nuclear power plants – the Lead Fast Reactor technology. MYRRHA is a complementary infrastructure to the Jules Horowitz Reactor (thermal spectrum reactor), under construction in Cadarache, France.

Background

Research infrastructures can be major scientific equipment, collections, archives or structured scientific information such as bio-banks, data and computing infrastructures. They are used by scientists to conduct top-level research paving the way for applying technology to solve the grand challenges that society faces today, not only in the field of energy, but also for example climate change, health, the secure supply of resources and coping with an ageing population.

The 7th Framework Programme for Research of the European Union has a budget of € 1.7 billion for research infrastructures. About € 560 million, including the € 200 million European Commission contribution to the Risk Sharing Finance Facility, of this is specifically for the development of new research infrastructures. Additional funds of € 10 billion are available from EU Structural Funds. Support for the construction of research infrastructures can also be obtained from the European Investment Bank in the form of loans.

The future of the Culture programme

Lundi 29 novembre 2010

The conference “Culture in Motion” and a consultation meeting with stakeholders are planned on 15 and 16 February in Brussels to discuss the future of the Culture programme. These events aim to assess the added value of transnational cultural cooperation projects supported by the EU. It will also take stock of what could not be reached in the field of culture without European funding.

A sample of projects funded by the Culture Programme 2007-2013, by the Pilot Project for Artist Mobility and by other EU programmes (like the Lifelong Learning Programme, Citizenship Programme, Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme and European Regional Development Programme) will help show concretely how funding is making a difference on a European level, as well as, underline the significant role of culture in enhancing smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and supporting other EU policies.

16 February in the afternoon, stakeholders are invited to discuss how a future Culture Programme could be further optimised to help the cultural sector to achieve the aims as set out in the EU-2020 strategy.