Archive pour janvier 2011

Regional policy is able to achieve the objectives of sustainable growth in the EU for 2020

Vendredi 28 janvier 2011

The Commission called on 27 January 2011 the authorities of the Member States managing the Cohesion Fund to be directed towards projects for sustainable growth and gives them ways to improve the quality of investment.

The call to action is the fruit of co operation between the Commissioners for Regional Policy, Environment, Energy and Climate Change. Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy said that Regional policy was a key instrument in implementing the Europe 2020 Strategy because success in achieving Europe 2020 goals will in large part depend on decisions taken at local and regional level. The Commission urge those in Member States who manage EU funds, to invest more in sustainable growth, and draw on the experience of others, to ensure that the available funds achieve the greatest possible impact. There are plenty of opportunities that can be seized right now, without waiting for the next financial period. The Commission will help build the necessary expertise in a series of seminars this spring.

The Communication “Regional Policy contributing to Sustainable Growth in Europe 2020″ is presented by Commissioner Johannes Hahn together with Commissioner for environment Janez Potocnik, Commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger, and Commissioner for Climate Change Connie Hedegaard. It is accompanied by a longer paper setting out the principles behind the advice from the Commission in more detail and offering examples of good practice by regional and local authorities that others are encouraged to learn from.

In the current budget for Cohesion Policy €105 billion is available to fund projects for sustainable growth. The Commission document calls on Member States and regional and local authorities, who manage the funding programmes, to make full use of the funds available, and prepare for the future financial period in which Europe 2020 will be a central focus for Cohesion Funds.

The Communication includes the following recommendations :

*Regions and cities should accelerate investments in renewable energies and energy efficiency, seizing new opportunities available for energy investments in buildings

*Managing authorities should give priority to projects that enhance resource efficiency of transport

*Managing authorities to should invest in natural capital, use Cohesion funding for natural risk prevention and prioritise “green infrastructure”

*Authorities should give greater support to eco innovation, supporting clusters and use regional funding to promote Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

*EU programmes and projects should be screened for their climate resilience, and climate change should be addressed in territorial planning, particularly in areas linked to sea or river basins

*Preference should be given to projects which increase efficiency in water reutilisation, waste prevention and recycling.

*Improving the quality of co-funded projects is to by further drawing on innovative delivery methods such as ‘green public procurement’. This means that environmental and social considerations should be taken into account in purchasing procedures.

*EU regions are also encouraged to develop synergies between regional policy and the other EU instruments such as the EU’s Research Framework Programme, the Rural Development Policy, the Competitiveness and Innovation programme or the Covenant of Mayors to maximise their impact.

*To prepare for the next generation of programmes, both by having a greater thematic focus on green investment and by building capacity, using technical assistance budgets, to involve local, regional and non-government parties in regional climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Next steps

In the short-term, the Member States can, where necessary, realign expenditures under their cohesion policy programmes to boost resource efficiency and a low carbon economy.

The Commission will further support the regions by leveraging resources with other partners, in particular International Financial Institutions (IFIs), developing expertise and know-how through targeted seminars..

New decision of Eurostat on deficit and debt The statistical recording of operations undertaken by the European Financial Stability Facility

Vendredi 28 janvier 2011

STAT/11/13 27 January 2011 Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, has today published a decision on the recording of operations undertaken by the European Financial Stability Facility….

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The European Commission initiated an extensive program to develop the single market in services

Jeudi 27 janvier 2011

The European Commission adopted 27 January 2011 a package of measures to boost trade within the European Union in the service sector.

Michel Barnier, Commissioner for Internal Market and Services said that the present times of crisis, European Commission needed to unlock the further potential for growth that exists in an integrated Single Market for services. This will help businesses grow, innovate and create more jobs. This will also provide for better and more competitive services to EU consumers and businesses alike.

Targeted actions to strengthen EU services markets

The Services Directive was a major step forward, but work remains to be done to make EU services markets work better. The Communication “Towards a Single Market Act – (IP/10/1390) for a highly competitive social market economy”, adopted on 27 October 2010 stated that the gains from a better functioning Single Market for services are estimated at annual profits of €60 to €140 billion, a growth of GDP of between 0.6 and 1.5%. While services currently represent two-thirds of the EU’s GDP and employment, they only account for around one-fifth of total intra-EU trade. Today, only about 8% of European SMEs do business in other Member States. This lack of dynamism not only hampers choice for consumers, but also prevents small and innovative businesses from developing their activities and growing further.

In response, the Commission has outlined the following actions:

* Making sure the Single Market works on the ground: in 2011 and 2012, the Commission will carry out a “performance check” of the Single Market for services from the user’s perspective, e.g. a Swedish architect who wants to design a house in Italy or a Finnish resident who uses the services of a Czech accountant. The “performance check” will take account of all other EU rules applying to services beyond the Services Directive and will assess how these different EU rules interact. The objective is to identify specific practical problems that hamper the internal market for services and how the interaction between different rules may have unintended effects. The Commission has already indentified a need to consider further action vis-à-vis the limitations imposed on certain providers in some countries, e.g. in terms of the legal form they can take (for instance prohibiting providers of craft services such as carpenters from taking the form of a limited liability company), or of the persons that can hold capital in their companies (for instance the obligation to be a qualified tax advisor in order to hold capital in a company offering tax advice services).

*Removing obstacles to cross-border services: The “mutual evaluation” provided particular evidence of difficulties in the cross-border provision of services without permanent establishment (where the service provider is not permanently based in the country he/she is offering the service). The Commission will now closely monitor the effects of the Services Directive in this respect. A first progress report will be published by the end of 2011 and from then on annually. The emergence of new regulatory barriers to services in Member States’ legislation must also be avoided. Such barriers can stem from Member States revising their establishment requirements and the Commission will closely monitor relevant developments.

*Ensuring an ambitious implementation and thorough application of the Services Directive: The Commission will engage in bilateral dialogue with a number of Member States where there is evidence of problems with implementation of the Directive. Furthermore, the Commission will in 2011 carry out a first economic assessment of the effects of the implementation of the Directive and its impact on the functioning of the services markets

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Background

The Services Directive is an EU law that came into force with the aim of removing unnecessary and burdensome obstacles to the provision of services across the EU. Services represent +/- 66% of EU GDP. The Services Directive is a horizontal law covering a large variety of services representing around 40% of EU GDP and employment. The Directive required Member States, by the end of 2009, to simplify their administrative procedures and establish “Points of Single Contact” to allow businesses to more easily process paperwork electronically. In order to take stock of the progress made and identify remaining gaps, the Directive foresaw a “mutual evaluation” process that was carried out in 2010. This was an innovative and evidence-based exercise of “peer review” in which the Member States and the Commission examined together the main results of the implementation of the Services Directive.

A dynamic EU services sector is a key priority for the Commission. Services are the driving force of the EU economy and around nine out of ten jobs are created in this sector. As identified in the Commission’s Annual Growth Survey (see IP/11/22), the EU will only meet its ambitious Europe 2020 targets for sustainable and inclusive growth if urgent structural reforms are prioritised in services and product markets to improve the business environment.

Croatia is on track to join the European Union

Jeudi 27 janvier 2011

The negotiations for the accession of Croatia will continue in 2011 after the resolution of the Committee on Foreign Affairs adopted on January 26th 2011.

MEPs congratulated Croatia on its substantial progress” in introducing reforms that would be necessary for it to join the EU. “Negotiations with Croatia can be completed in the first half of 2011 provided that the necessary reforms continue to be pursued resolutely. MEPs see considerable improvement in the changes to the constitution and to the judiciary, as well as Croatia’s closer co-operation with the International Crime Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). They stress however that the tribunal’s request for important military documents still remains outstanding.

Among the remaining challenges to concluding EU accession negotiations, MEPs list Croatia’s complex reform of the public administration, the fight against corruption, support for returning refugees and the adoption of restructuring plans for shipyards in difficulty.

Corruption

Whilst acknowledging the government’s efforts to fight corruption and prosecute two former ministers and a former prime minister, MEPs judge that corruption “seems to have been widespread in Croatia and remains a serious overall problem”. Moreover, few corruption cases have come to court and most remain at the investigation stage, they add. The Committee asks OLAF to co-operate closely with the Croatian authorities in order “to shed light on the potential consequences of generating secondary corruption within EU institutions”.

Refugees

Overall, progress has been made in the field of refugee returns and public hostility towards returning Serbs has diminished, MEPs say. However, yet more efforts are needed to help returnees to acquire permanent resident status, improve house reconstruction and launch social integration projects for returnees, thousands of whom have not yet returned and remain in Serbia.

Shipyard privatisation

The Croatian government should accelerate the process of restructuring and privatising shipyards, failing which it will not be possible to close the “competition” chapter of the EU accession negotiations on time.

The biggest challenge starts at home

MEPs are very concerned that the majority of Croatian citizens think that Croatia’s EU membership would not benefit the country, according to the latest Eurobarometer survey. They therefore urge the Croatian authorities and civil society to mobilize and make citizens “feel the European project is theirs as well”. Croatia will need to put EU membership proposals to a referendum. In addition, parliamentary elections will take place in November this year.

French Natura 2000 wins award

Jeudi 27 janvier 2011

Natura 2000: The Rhone-Alpes. Rhone-Alps - Nature and territories of the Region Rhone-Alpes is rewarded by the French National Forest Service, the National Forestry Board (NFB).

The project aimed to integrate nature conservation and Natura 2000 into existing rural development policies related to pastoralism, forestry, water resource management and tourism in the Rhône-Alpes Region. Lise Wlérick from the Environnement Office National des Forêts Rhône-Alpes et Savoie said that this award recognised the work that her colleague François Drillat and she has been undertaking for more than15 years on the Natura 2000 site ‘Tourbière et Lac des Saisies’.”

The ongoing conservation initiative involves “reconciling protection of a rich and fragile natural site and economic development”. She describes her work among the social and economic partners as “delicate”.
The Natura 2000 site is the first of its kind to win the prize. The project leaders hope that it will reinforce the need for the project actions among partners as well as the many tourists who use the Arpeliéres pathway through the site.

The European Commission draws the lessons of mass immunization against swine flu

Jeudi 27 janvier 2011

After criticism of the disproportionate response of the European Union to fight against swine flu. After considering the risks, the Committee on Public Health reassess spending and recommends actions for the future.

H1N1 had caused 2,900 deaths in Europe by April 2010, which compares with 40,000 for seasonal flu in a moderate year.

The resolution drafted by Michèle Rivasi (Greens/EFA, FR) was adopted with 58 votes for, 2 against, and 1 abstention. She commented that “this report is an important attempt to highlight the concerns that have been raised about the disproportionate response to the swine flu in Europe, as well as the potential influence of pharmaceutical companies in response processes.”

Vaccination programmes

EU Member States’ responses ranged from wholesale vaccination programmes to none at all (in the case of Poland). Billions of Euro were spent in total. Pointing to the need to reassess vaccination strategies, the Environment and Public Health Committee also suggests that better cooperation (e.g. group purchases of vaccines) will be necessary in future.

MEPs call for further safeguards to prevent potential conflicts of interest. Names of experts who advise European health authorities should be published. Following cases where this was not done, the report furthermore underlines that under EU legislation, full liability for vaccines must remain with the manufacturer, not with Member States.

WHO and EU

The resolution calls on the World Health Organisation to review its definition of a “pandemic” to consider the severity of an illness, and not only the spread of a virus. To ensure the EU’s own risk assessment capacity, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control should be given the support necessary to assess risks independently, as well as perform its other tasks, say MEPs.

Initiatives to restructure the public sector are rising

Mercredi 26 janvier 2011

While the EU has emerged slowly from recession, growth continues to slow. According to latest edition of Eurofound European Restructuring Monitor.

While the EU technically emerged from the recession 18 months ago, growth continues to be sluggish, hesitant and unequally spread, the latest edition of Eurofound’s European Restructuring Monitor quarterly shows.

Restructuring measures appear increasingly to be affecting public sector employment as a result of widespread public spending restrictions and cuts.

Unemployment in the European Union has been stable at 9.6% over the last six months but labour market performance continues to vary widely across EU countries. Some are experiencing robust growth, notably Sweden, Poland and Germany, while others have stagnant or contracting economies, even when not technically in recession – such as Greece, Ireland and Spain.

Over the last quarter (1 October to 31 December 2010), the European Restructuring Monitor (ERM) reported 304 cases of restructuring of which 172 were cases of restructuring involving job loss. Total announced job losses were approximately 88,0000 in the quarter as against announced job creation of just over 47,000.

The public administration sector reported by far the largest number of announced job losses (23,000) followed by health and social work (6,126), construction (6,045) auto manufacturing (6,018) and financial intermediation (5,282 jobs).

As in the previous quarter, the second-ranking sector was computer and related activities with 7,121 job gains, just ahead of the retail sector recording another 6,306 new jobs.

The report launched by the Eurofund (European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions) also provides a sector focus on the European postal sector. It has undergone considerable restructuring in recent years, driven by EU directives fixing deadlines to remove legal monopolies on all postal services.

Initiatives to restructure the public sector are rising

Mercredi 26 janvier 2011

While the EU has emerged slowly from recession, growth continues to slow, according to latest edition of Eurofound European Restructuring Monitor.

While the EU technically emerged from the recession 18 months ago, growth continues to be sluggish, hesitant and unequally spread, the latest edition of Eurofound’s European Restructuring Monitor quarterly shows.

Restructuring measures appear increasingly to be affecting public sector employment as a result of widespread public spending restrictions and cuts.

Unemployment in the European Union has been stable at 9.6% over the last six months but labour market performance continues to vary widely across EU countries. Some are experiencing robust growth, notably Sweden, Poland and Germany, while others have stagnant or contracting economies, even when not technically in recession – such as Greece, Ireland and Spain.

Over the last quarter (1 October to 31 December 2010), the European Restructuring Monitor (ERM) reported 304 cases of restructuring of which 172 were cases of restructuring involving job loss. Total announced job losses were approximately 88,0000 in the quarter as against announced job creation of just over 47,000.

The public administration sector reported by far the largest number of announced job losses (23,000) followed by health and social work (6,126), construction (6,045) auto manufacturing (6,018) and financial intermediation (5,282 jobs).

As in the previous quarter, the second-ranking sector was computer and related activities with 7,121 job gains, just ahead of the retail sector recording another 6,306 new jobs.

The report launched by the Eurofund (European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions) also provides a sector focus on the European postal sector. It has undergone considerable restructuring in recent years, driven by EU directives fixing deadlines to remove legal monopolies on all postal services.

The program of public consultation on the European Capitals of Culture is available

Mercredi 26 janvier 2011

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for cultural events in the big cities of the European Union

On 2 March 2011, the European Commission will hold a public consultation meeting in Brussels to discuss the future of European Capitals of Culture after 2019.

There is a large consensus that the European Capitals of Culture have become one of the most ambitious cultural events in Europe. They have also become one of the most visible initiatives of the European Union and probably one of the most appreciated by European citizens.

The current European Capitals of Culture scheme lasts until 2019 and the European Commission would like to hear your views on the future of the initiative.

The public consultation meeting is open to all interested individuals and organisations.

Agenda of the meeting

Interpretation will be provided in the following languages: English – French – German – Spanish – Italian.

If you would like to participate, please register before 1 February 2011 by sending an e-mail to the following address: EAC-ECOC-consultation@ec.europa.eu

Address of the meeting: Bâtiment Charlemagne, Salle Alcide de Gasperi, rue de la Loi 170, Bruxelles.

The European Commission, as part of sustainable growth launched an initiative to use scarce resources more wisely.

Mercredi 26 janvier 2011

Natural resources are necessary for the functioning of the economy and quality of life. The European Commission has presented 26 January 2011 a policy framework that should ensure a more sustainable and environmentally friendly natural resource.

José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, who brought this initiative said that the current patterns of resource use were unsustainable. They exert too much pressure on the planet and increase the dependence of the economy on external supplies. Smarter use of limited resources is a strategic necessity, but also opens up economic opportunities. More efficient use of resources, the adoption of clearer policies in the long term and the realization of joint investment in green innovation will strengthen the basis for growth and employment to benefit our citizens and help make progress in achieving the goals of energy and climate.

Background

This strategy is the seventh and last of the Europe 2020 flagship initiatives which aim at building smart, sustainable and inclusive growth for Europe. It establishes resource efficiency as the guiding principle for EU policies on energy, transport, climate change, industry, commodities, agriculture, fisheries, biodiversity and regional development. By using synergies across these policy-areas, the strategy will be instrumental in reaching a variety of EU objectives, from reducing European greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 95% by 2050 to reforming the agricultural and fisheries sectors, from reducing food insecurity in developing countries to making the Union more resilient to future rises in global energy and commodity prices.

The strategy already lists a number of specific initiatives to be tabled in 2011, e.g.:

* A low-carbon economy roadmap 2050;
* A 2020 energy efficiency plan;
* A white paper on the future of transport
* An energy roadmap 2050
* A roadmap for a resource-efficient Europe;
* Reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy, the Common Fisheries Policy, Cohesion Policy, energy infrastructure and trans-European transport networks;
* A new EU biodiversity strategy for 2020;
* Measures regarding commodity markets and on raw materials.

The Commission will now make concrete proposals in these policy areas. Their implementation will be monitored in the framework of the Europe 2020 strategy.