Archive pour mars 2011

Health: Commission launches 3rd Journalist Prize

Jeudi 31 mars 2011

Today, registration opens for the 3rd EU Health Prize for Journalists. The aim of this prize is to raise awareness on health issues by showcasing the talents of the best health journalists from across the 27 Member States. As with the previous two prizes, the theme of the 3rd prize is ‘Europe for Patients’, which from this year, includes the topic of pharmaceuticals. The winners will receive cash prizes of 6.000 € for first place, 2.500 € for second place and 1.500 € for third place.

Over 700 journalists from across the EU have participated in this Health prize so far. Their articles show how health issues affects Europeans every day lives. The Commission is confident that this year will bring to the fore new talent and put the limelight on citizens and patients views’ and concerns on health.

Journalists are invited to submit articles on one or more of the topics of the Europe for Patients campaign.

This year, the Commission’s initiatives in the realm of pharmaceuticals have been added to the issues covered by this competition, which are: cross-border healthcare, rare diseases, health workforce, patient safety, organ donation and transplantation, cancer, flu vaccination, prudent use of antibiotics, mental health, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and childhood vaccination. The focus of articles should be on the patient.

A special prize will also be awarded to the best article showing what smoking does to people’s health, and how people’s lives can be damaged by tobacco and nicotine.

The rules

*Participants to the competition must be nationals or residents of one of the 27 EU Member States and aged 18 or over.

*A maximum of 2 articles can be submitted per participant and team submissions are accepted as long as the team does not exceed 5 people.

*All articles must be in one of the official languages of the EU and have been originally published in either a print or online media outlet.

*The maximum length of the article should not exceed 20 000 characters (including spaces).

*More rules and conditions can be found on the dedicated website.

Selecting and awarding the winners

In each Member State, a national jury composed of journalists and public health experts, chaired by the European Commission, will select one national finalist.

An EU jury will then select three EU level winners and the special prize winner among the 27 finalists. The 27 finalists will be invited to Brussels at the beginning of 2012 for a media seminar on EU health issues, to be followed by an award ceremony.

Winners of the previous Prizes

The first place winner of the 1st EU Health Prize for Journalists was French journalist Estelle Saget, with her article “Schizophrenia explained to family and friends” printed in ‘L’Express’.

A team of 2 Italian journalists, Gianluca Ferraris and Ilaria Molinari, writing for ‘Panorama’, won first place in the 2nd EU Health Prize for Journalists. Their article “Stealing Hope” drew attention to “healing clinics” that offer expensive, but unproven, therapies to vulnerable patients suffering from chronic diseases.

The EU health prize for journalists and the Europe for Patients Campaign are funded under the Second Community Health Programme 2008-2013. Further details on the rules and conditions are available on the website.

The new standards designed to promote waste recycling markets

Jeudi 31 mars 2011

Adopted today, the first end-of-waste Regulation defines at what point a material derived from waste ceases to be waste and can be treated like any other product or commodity. This new standard aims to stimulate the recycling markets in Europe.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “We must start treating waste as a valuable resource, and the adoption today of these end-of-waste criteria for material streams will really boost our recycling industry and services. It marks another important step towards Europe’s goal of becoming a resource-efficient economy and a recycling society.”

An important aim of end-of-waste rules is to stimulate recycling markets in the EU. This will create legal certainty and a level playing field for the recycling industry, remove unnecessary administrative burdens from the recycling sector by releasing safe and clean secondary raw materials from the scope of waste legislation, and contribute to the raw materials supply of European industries.

The lack of clear and harmonised criteria in the past resulted in a situation where some Member States developed different and not always compatible frameworks for regulating recovered materials.

Today’s Regulation means clean and safe metal scrap does not have to be classified as waste provided producers apply a quality management system and demonstrate compliance with the criteria by a statement of conformity for each metal scrap consignment.

Any kind of treatment, like cutting, shredding, cleaning and de-pollution needed to prepare the scrap for the final use in steel or aluminium works or foundries has to be completed before the metal scrap can be released from waste status. For example, old cars have to be dismantled, fluids and hazardous compounds removed and the metal fraction treated in order to recover clean metal scrap which meets the end-of-waste criteria.

The establishment of ‘end-of-waste’ criteria was introduced by the new Waste Framework Directive which aims to achieve much higher levels of recycling and minimise the extraction of additional natural resources. The long-term goal is to turn Europe into a recycling society: one which avoids waste and uses unavoidable waste as a resource wherever possible.

The Waste Framework Directive builds on established principles of environmentally safe waste management, laying down a five-step waste hierarchy which promotes prevention, preparation for re-use, recycling and other forms of recovery. Waste disposal such as landfill, still the most common form of municipal waste disposal in the majority of Member States, should only be considered as the last resort. EU waste policy aims to move waste management up the waste hierarchy and introduces the concept of life cycle thinking to ensure that any action has an overall benefit compared to other options.

Next Steps

The Regulation will enter into force after its publication and will be directly applicable in all Member States after a transition period of 6 months. The Commission is currently preparing criteria for other material streams which are particularly important for EU recycling markets, such as copper, paper, glass and compost.

European Commission report tracks progress in enforcing fundamental rights in the EU

Jeudi 31 mars 2011

The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights has now been legally binding for over a year – primarily on the EU institutions (European Parliament, Council and the European Commission) when preparing new European laws, but also on national authorities if they are implementing EU law. As part of its efforts to make fundamental rights a reality for citizens in the EU, the European Commission is reporting for the first time on how the Charter is being applied. The Annual Report on the application of the Charter shows that fundamental rights are relevant across a wide range of policies – from data protection to immigration and asylum – and that public interest in the Charter runs high. However, the report also highlights that the Charter is frequently misunderstood.

“To make the Charter work in practice, people need to know their rights and how to apply them so that justice can be done,” said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner. “The EU is not a fundamental rights supercop. The Charter applies primarily to the EU institutions. Rights must be enforced by national judges under national constitutions in the first instance.” She added: “However, when EU law applies, I will not tolerate any violation of fundamental rights. This report helps us track progress so we can take action when needed and draw lessons for the future.”

“This report marks an important milestone on the road to fulfilling the EU’s commitment to fundamental rights. It will guide the EU in its policy and law making, and makes clear where more action is needed – by the EU institutions or the Member States – to uphold fundamental rights for everyone in the EU,” said Morten Kjaerum, Director of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights.

People’s interest and expectations about the enforcement of the EU Fundamental Rights Charter are high. At the same time, a large number of complaints received concerned situations where the Charter could not be applied (see Annex). This reflects a frequent misunderstanding about the purpose of the Charter and the situations where the Charter applies or does not apply, as well as the EU’s role.

Today’s report therefore aims to help better inform the public as to when they can rely on the Charter. In particular, it seeks to clarify the respective roles of Member States and their national systems for protecting rights on the one hand, and the European Commission on the other. Individuals who consider that their fundamental rights have been breached need to know where to turn so they can access justice.

Today’s report gives the first comprehensive overview of how fundamental rights are being implemented in the EU following the Lisbon Treaty, which made the Charter legally binding. The report highlights how the rights enshrined in the Charter must always be taken into careful consideration by the EU institutions, while Member States are bound by the Charter only in cases where they implement EU policies and law. The report is structured into six chapters reflecting the six titles of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights: Dignity, Freedoms, Equality, Solidarity, Citizens’ Rights and Justice (see Annex). It shows that the Charter is relevant across a range of policies for which the EU is responsible.

For example, regarding the use of body scanners at airports, the Commission highlighted the need to respect fundamental rights such as human dignity, private and family life and data privacy. In border management, the Commission proposed new rules to make border surveillance at sea more effective while ensuring the respect of fundamental rights of migrants intercepted at sea. The Commission also proposed amendments to the rules governing Frontex, the EU’s external borders agency (see IP/10/184). The proposals require that border control official undertake training in fundamental rights and that any incidents during operations, including in relation to fundamental rights, must be reported to the national authorities and followed up.

The EU’s Court of Justice has also played an important role in upholding the Charter. In particular, regarding the right of personal data protection, the Court on 9 November 2010 invalidated part of EU legislation that required the publication of the names of natural persons that were recipients of funds deriving from the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. In a landmark equality case, the Court ruled on 1 March that different insurance premiums for women and men constitute sex discrimination and are not compatible with the Charter (MEMO/11/123). Member States are not allowed to derogate from this important principle in their national legislation.

In 2010, the Commission took action to ensure the right for all EU citizens to move and settle down in another EU country and the right not to be discriminated. To ensure these rights, the Commission took immediate action following events in the summer of 2010 involving the expulsion of EU citizens of Roma origin from France (SPEECH/10/428 and MEMO/10/502). The Commission carefully checked whether the relevant operations had been carried out in full compliance with EU requirements. Following the Commission’s action, France and other Member States are now changing their rules in order to bring them fully in line with EU rules on free movement.

Economic governance: taking action on the root causes of the crisis

Jeudi 31 mars 2011

Despite an encouraging, but fragile, recovery in the past couple of months, MEPs haven’t lost sight of the continuing economic and social hardship in the European Union.

MEPs have tabled over 2000 amendments to the six legislative proposals in the European Commission’s economic governance package, the mains aims of which are: to ensure that member states quickly identify and move to correct trends that could jeopardise the economic stability of the EU as a whole and to rein in the capacity of governments to pile up debt.

Diagnosis: crisis as a consequence of economic imbalances, exploding debt

Two complementary problems are seen as at the root of Europe’s economic crisis - reckless government spending and economic imbalances and both can lead to the EU having to step in with emergency loans.

An example of the first case is Greek government spending. To finance spending on wages, investment and social services in excess of tax revenue, the government ran a deficit and borrowed money from banks. When the banks begin to fear loans might not be repaid because of high levels of public debt and recession, they cut back lending and the EU had to step in with emergency loans.

Economic imbalances arise because some countries like Germany have large trade surpluses, while others like Greece and Portugal have large trade deficits. This leads the private sector in countries with a deficit to borrow from countries with a surplus to finance for example a real estate bubble (like those seen in Ireland and Spain). When the bubble bursts, government steps in to save the banks hiking up public debt.

Remedy: curb imbalances, sanction excessive spending

Of the six economic governance proposals, four deal with deficits and debt (reinforcing the existing Stability and Growth Pact) and the other two break new ground, introducing surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances:

*strengthening the SGP through more focus on the public debt limit of 60% of gross domestic product. Until now the focus has been mainly on keeping deficits within 3% of GDP. In addition, the aim is to introduce semi-automatic sanctions for countries that fail to meet commitments on debt and deficit. Once proposed, sanctions (of between 0.2-0.5% of GDP) would only be rejected if a majority votes against them - at the moment sanctions require a majority in favour.

*curbing imbalances through surveillance of, as yet undecided, national indicators of imbalances and recommendations of action to reduce them. There would be sanctions for countries that failed to comply.

ECB looking to EP for stricter procedures

The European Central Bank is counting on the EP to back stricter procedures on debt and deficits because not all EU countries are strongly in favour of a stronger role for the Commission and automatic sanctions.

But a number of MEPs have warned that cutting deficits could prolong and deepen the reccession. They point out that the debt burden is the result of governments saving imprudent and greedy financial institutions and not necessarily because of reckless spending. Others MEPs are concerned that growth and jobs have not been included in the package

In addition, the political groups still differ, primarily on the nature of sanctions and the rate at which excessive debt should be reduced per year. They also raise other issues that need to be tackled including: eurobonds, a financial transaction tax, the European semester (a set period each year when governments publicly present national budget plans for scrutiny before they are implemented) and a common bank resolution regime (there are big differences in bankruptcy laws between EU countries).

The package comes before the Economics Committee in June and is expected to be in plenary in June.

When collecting a penalty payment set by the Court of Justice, the Commission cannot make an assessment of the compliance of national legislation with EU law

Jeudi 31 mars 2011

Press and Information General Court of the European Union PRESS RELEASE No 27/11 Luxembourg, 29 March 2011 Judgment in Case T-33/09 Portugal v Commission That assessment comes within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Court of Justice and the Commission …

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The Court of Justice upholds the Commission’s decisions fining ArcelorMittal Luxembourg €10 million and ThyssenKrupp Nirosta €3.17 million for anticompetitive conduct

Jeudi 31 mars 2011

Press and Information Court of Justice of the European Union PRESS RELEASE No 26/11 Luxembourg, 29 March 2011 Judgments in Joined Cases C-201/09 P ArcelorMittal Luxembourg v Commission and C-216/09 P Commission v ArcelorMittal Luxembourg and in Case C-352/09 …

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The Court sets aside in part the judgment of the General Court concerning registration of the sign ‘BUD’ as a Community trade mark and refers the matter back to the General Court for a further decision

Jeudi 31 mars 2011

Press and Information Court of Justice of the European Union PRESS RELEASE No 25/11 Luxembourg, 29 March 2011 Judgment in Case C-96/09 P Anheuser-Busch Inc. v BudÄ•jovický Budvar A geographical indication protected in a Member State may prevent registration …

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Brussels, 25 March 2011 Decision adopted on treaty amendment

Jeudi 31 mars 2011

EUROPEAN COUNCIL EN Brussels, 25 March 2011 EUCO 15/11 PRESSE 81 CO EUR 9 Decision adopted on treaty amendment The European Council today adopted a decision amending the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union in order for a permanent mechanism …

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Brussels, 25 March 2011 Peter Praet is appointed to the executive board of the European Central Bank

Jeudi 31 mars 2011

EUROPEAN COUNCIL EN Brussels, 25 March 2011 EUCO 14/11 PRESSE 80 CO EUR 10 Peter Praet is appointed to the executive board of the European Central Bank The European Council today adopted a decision appointing Peter Praet (Belgium) member of the executive …

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Brussels, 28 March 2011 PRESS STATEMENT EU facilitated dialogue: working group on civil registry set up Brussels, 28 March 2011

Jeudi 31 mars 2011

EUROPEAN UNION EN Brussels, 28 March 2011 8360/11 PRESSE 83 PRESS STATEMENT EU facilitated dialogue: working group on civil registry set up Brussels, 28 March 2011 The second meeting of the dialogue foreseen in UN General Assembly Resolution 298 was held …

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