Archive pour juin 2011

A consultation on EU air quality policy

Jeudi 30 juin 2011

This consultation, launched by the Commission, happens when air pollution is one of the main environmental worries facing EU citizens. Indeed, almost 50% of them live in areas where EU air quality objectives are still not met.

As part of a comprehensive review of Europe’s air policies intended to set new long-term objectives beyond 2020, the European Commission is launching a public consultation on its current policy in this area. For the next twelve weeks, views are being sought on the strengths and weaknesses of the existing legislative framework and progress on its implementation. This web-based consultation is part of a broader process of reflection that will feed into a review due no later than 2013.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “Looking back at Europe’s record in improving air quality, we have much to be proud of. But with 500 000 premature deaths associated with high air pollution from particulate matter, there is clearly much work still to be done. We need to start a discussion on the next generation of air quality objectives straight away.”

The public consultation invites all interested parties to share their views on the best way to improve the EU’s air quality legislation. It is divided into two parts – a short questionnaire for the general public and a longer section for experts and practitioners from national administrations, regional or local authorities, researchers, businesses, stakeholders, health, environmental and other groups involved in the implementation of EU air quality legislation.

Next Steps

This is the start of a broad consultation process as announced by the Commission in January 2011 (see MEMO/11/31). The Commission will continue its preparatory work and carry out another round of public consultations before presenting ideas on the future of EU air policy by 2013 at the latest.

Background

EU air policy has a long history and is one of the success stories of environmental policy. According to the European Environment Agency’s (EEA) State of the Environment Report emissions from all relevant air pollutants have decreased over the past 20 years. Emissions from certain pollutants have decreased significantly, with lead emissions for example being reduced by approximately 90%. EU legislation on industrial emissions, vehicle emissions and fuel quality has played a major part in this.

But EU air quality is still some way short of the objectives of the 6th Environmental Action Programme, where the EU agreed “to achieve levels of air quality that do not give rise to significant negative impacts on and risks to human health and the environment.”

In 2008, 45% of the EU’s population still lived in zones exceeding the particulate matter (PM10) limit values, 49% in zones exceeding the annual NO2 limit value, and 46% in zones exceeding the O3 health target value. In addition, 20-30% of urban population are exposed to a range of exceedances.

The latest Eurobarometer on “Attitudes of European citizens towards the environment” (365) reveals that 36% of citizens list air pollution as one of their five main environmental concerns, while 40% mention pollution in towns and cities as the environmental issue that first comes to mind.

10 years of the euro: and the winner is …

Jeudi 30 juin 2011

Euro-area citizens and residents have selected the winning design of a new euro coin that will be issued next January to commemorate 10 years of euro banknotes and coins. Close to 35 000 people voted in an online competition from a choice of five designs that had been pre-selected by a professional jury following a design competition among citizens from the whole euro area.

The new commemorative 2-euro coin will be issued by all euro-area Member States. It is estimated that some 90 million of these coins will be put into circulation.

The winning design symbolises the way in which the euro has become a true global player in the last ten years and its importance in ordinary people’s lives (represented by the people in the design), trade (the ship), industry (the factory) and energy (wind power stations).

The selection of the coin design

Citizens of all euro-area countries of the euro area were invited to submit designs via a dedicated website during a three-week period in May. A professional jury selected five from among the more than 800 designs submitted.

These five were put to a public web vote among citizens and residents of the euro area between 6 and 24 June. Close to 35 000 participated in the vote. The winning design received 34 % of the votes.

The winning design was created by Mr Helmut Andexlinger who is a professional designer at the Austrian Mint.

Commemorative euro circulation coins

This is the third time that all euro-area countries have issued a euro coin with a common design on the national side. The first was the commemorative 2-euro coin issued to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome in 2007 and the second commemorated 10 years of Economic and Monetary union and the creation of the euro as book money, in 2009.

Commemorative coins always have a value of 2 euro and are put into circulation in the whole euro area, and they are often the subject of keen interest from coin collectors.

Lower prices in mobile telephony

Jeudi 30 juin 2011

With a European regulation, the price of phone calls from abroad are expected to decline further from July 1st. Indeed, European legislation aims ultimately at a disappearance of differences between national calls and international calls disappear by 2015.

This article is only available in French

Regional policy and sustainable growth

Jeudi 30 juin 2011

DG Regio has just published a brochure on how Regional Policy contributing to sustainable growth in Europe

Sustainable growth is one of the three main pillars of the new ‘Europe 2020′ strategy. The brochure sets out the how EU’s regions and cities can exploit the opportunities offered by Cohesion Policy to boost local and regional sustainable growth. A number of good practice examples provide practical support and underline the potential of the low-carbon and resource efficient economy to provide jobs, growth and preserve the environment and resources.

Second half of 2010 compared with second half of 2009 Household electricity prices in the EU27 rose by 5.1% and gas prices by 7.7%

Jeudi 30 juin 2011

STAT/11/97 29 June 2011 In the EU27, household electricity prices1 rose by 5.1% between the second half of 2009 and the second half of 2010, after a fall of 2.3% between the second half of 2008 and 2009….

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Labour Force Survey Employment rate for those aged 20 to 64 in the EU27 decreased to 68.6% in 2010 Full-time employees worked 40.4 hours a week on average

Jeudi 30 juin 2011

STAT/11/96 29 June 2011 The total employment rate1 for people in the EU27 aged 20 to 64, which is the age group targeted in the Europe2020 strategy2, rose steadily from 66.8% in 2002 to 70.4% in 2008, then fell to 69….

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Brussels, 28 June 2011 President of the European Council congratulates Christine Lagarde following her election to the post of Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund

Jeudi 30 juin 2011

EUROPEAN COUNCIL THE PRESIDENT EN Brussels, 28 June 2011 (OR. fr) EUCO 33/11 PRESSE 210 PR PCE 8 Herman Van Rompuy President of the European Council congratulates Christine Lagarde following her election to the post of Managing Director of the International …

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Brussels, 28 June 2011 Remarks by Herman VAN ROMPUY President of the European Council at the European Parliament Conference of Presidents

Jeudi 30 juin 2011

EUROPEAN COUNCIL THE PRESIDENT EN Brussels, 28 June 2011 EUCO 32/11 PRESSE 209 PR PCE 7 Remarks by Herman VAN ROMPUY President of the European Council at the European Parliament Conference of Presidents It is my honour to report back to you on what was …

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Luxembourg, 28 June 2011 Council agrees on general approach for extending the Euratom framework programme for nuclear research (2012-2013)

Jeudi 30 juin 2011

COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION EN Luxembourg, 28 June 2011 12161/11 PRESSE 205 Council agrees on general approach for extending the Euratom framework programme for nuclear research (2012-2013) The Council today 1 agreed on a general approach 2 for extending, …

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first special report on the Single Payment Scheme of the common agricultural policy

Mercredi 29 juin 2011

Currently applied in 17 of the 27 EU Member States, the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) is the major mechanism for providing EU farmers with financial support. It helps farmers to better respond to market demand and to promote agricultural practices protective for the environment. The European Court of Auditors publishes today its first report on this mechanism

The report focuses on the beneficiaries of the policy, the conditions of access to the scheme and the definition of eligible land. It also examined to what extent the scheme contributes to the objectives of supporting farmers’ income and to maintaining agricultural land in good agricultural and environmental condition (GAEC).

The ECA found that the SPS has contributed to the achievement of two of the main objectives of the CAP mentioned above. However, the overall conclusion of the audit is that the implementation of the scheme resulted in a number of questionable features:

* the definition of the beneficiaries of the scheme was formulated, and subsequently applied, in a way that permits persons or entities not engaged in agricultural activity, or only marginally so, to benefit from SPS payment. The Court found cases where the system encouraged investments by operators who have little interest in farming as an activity but who exploit the guaranteed returns that SPS provides ;

* in some member states the installation of new farmers is often hampered by present conditions of access to payments entitlements (which may entail substantial investments)

* the specifications of land eligible for EU aid as well as of eligible agricultural activity are loosely defined. As a consequence, farmers may receive payments without having to carry out any maintenance activity and there is no direct link between the level of the SPS aid and the costs incurred in maintaining land in good agricultural and environmental condition;

* Currently some twenty different variants of the SPS are applied across the EU. Under the main variant (the historical model), aid is calculated on the basis of what farmers received in the years 2000-2002. Over time, payments have become divorced from current farming conditions in the different regions.

* The SPS primarily benefits few but large beneficiaries.

Based on its findings and conclusions, the ECA has made a number of recommendations for the Commission to consider, including: directing aid to “active” farmers, defining eligible land and agricultural activity more clearly in order to exclude activities that do not increase agricultural productivity as well as parcels not devoted to agriculture. It further recommends to take into consideration the cost of activities that positively contribute to the preservation or improvement of the environment. Finally, the Court also recommends that the value of the entitlements be based on current farming conditions in the various regions of the EU and that a more balanced distribution of SPS aid between farmers be sought.