Archive pour août 2011

EU funded research helps astronomers see the bigger picture

Mardi 23 août 2011

A groundbreaking technique to produce real-time, high-resolution images of distant galaxies has been developed by astronomers thanks to EU-funding. Radio telescopes around the world can now simultaneously observe the most remote objects in the universe and create high resolution images – a level of detail equivalent to identifying a football on the moon.

The technique, called Electronic Very Long Baseline Interferometry (e-VLBI), helps to reveal clues on how galaxies are formed by allowing astronomers to receive and process data in near real-time as an experiment is running, thanks to high speed optical networks. This allows multiple radio telescopes throughout the world to work together to simulate one giant telescope. This not only improves the quality of observation results but also helps to maximise the return on investment in radio telescopes. Two high- capacity electronic communications networks projects, EXPReS and NEXPReS, which have received €7.4 million in EU funding, are supporting the development and use of e-VLBI astronomy. Developing e-Infrastructures to build Europe’s innovative advantage is one of the priorities of the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200).

Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes said: “It’s great news that European researchers have managed to use innovative techniques to make much more effective use of radio telescopes to probe distant galaxies.”

Radio astronomers observe celestial objects to understand how galaxies evolve and interact with each other. Traditional Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) observations are performed by telescopes distributed across several countries that simultaneously point at the same source. The greater the distance between telescopes, the better they can distinguish the small details of the source. Each station traditionally recorded data on hard disks that were shipped to a central supercomputer where the data was analysed. The new e-VLBI technique allows telescopes to connect directly to the central supercomputer via optical fibres, avoiding the costs of managing storage media and bringing much faster results. The data is then processed in real-time, providing astronomers with scientific results in a matter of hours rather than weeks. Previously limited to Europe, the e-VLBI technique is now being used on a global scale.

The e-VLBI technique was recently used to observe a “Seyfert galaxy” revealing the emission of powerful gamma rays thought only to originate from the most powerful type of black holes. No other galaxy of this kind had ever been detected at such high energy, and it could be the first member of a new class of cosmic objects. These e-VLBI observations have been made possible through the use of a global, real-time network of the largest and most sensitive radio telescopes in Europe, East Asia and Australia as far apart as 12,458 km, connected through high-speed optical networks.

Background

e-VLBI observation is testing new frontiers, since it allows real-time monitoring and the possibility to deliver immediate results, which is essential for coordination with other observatories at other wavelengths. More radio telescopes are expected to become connected through real-time high-speed networks, and the NEXPReS project is advancing technology to remove the distinction between traditional VLBI and e-VLBI techniques.

e-VLBI has also has other uses: it can be used ‘in reverse’ to measure the motion of the Earth’s tectonic plates and help to predict earthquakes; it can observe variations in the Earth’s orientation and length of day, which can in turn be used in climate change research, and to measure the speed of gravitational waves in fundamental physics research. To do so, a global network of antennas measures time differences from distant sources (such as pulsars) over a period of time.

Through the EXPReS project, which ran from 2006 to 2009, the supercomputer at the Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe (JIVE) in The Netherlands has been upgraded for e-VLBI operations. It can receive data from up to 16 telescopes at a time at 1 Gb/s from each telescope. The supercomputer now offers regularly scheduled e-VLBI sessions, as well as opportunities for observations of transient cosmological objects, such as exploding stars, possibly connected to the formation of black holes.

EU Globalisation Fund support for workers increases three-fold in 2010 !

Mardi 23 août 2011

Nearly 23 700 workers dismissed due to economic crisis and major structural changes in world trade patterns were helped by the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) last year, according to a report adopted today by the European Commission – more than double the number of workers helped by the Fund in 2009. The €83.5 million paid out by the EU’s Globalisation Fund to nine Member States are intended to help the national authorities as they support dismissed workers in finding new job opportunities.

László Andor, EU Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, said on the publication of the annual report: “Since its launch in 2007, the European Globalisation Fund as an instrument to express EU solidarity has been stepping in to support those who have lost their jobs. The Fund has covered training and job search assistance for thousands of European workers and it will continue to play a crucial role in fighting unemployment or preventing it.” He added: “The EGF reflects the need to focus on the challenges of this decade, while preserving strong investment in areas like training, innovation and European infrastructure.”

The fourth annual report on the activities and results of the EGF shows a three-fold increase in 2010 of EGF contributions paid out to Member States. The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, as the EU’s budgetary authority, took 31 decisions in 2010 to deploy the EGF funding: 13 of these were in response to applications made in 2010 and 18 concerned applications from the second half of 2009. This steep rise reflects the sudden impact of the global financial and economic crisis leading to a dramatic increase in applications in 2009. Three times as many cases were approved in 2010 compared with 2009, and a 60 % increase in terms of EGF co-financing was paid out to Member States.

The EGF contributions targeted 23 688 workers dismissed in nine Member States (Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain), with a total of € 83 554 141 from the Fund. The support was granted to co-finance active labour market policy measures proposed and organised for the workers by the Member States, over a 24-month period following the date of application. The EGF co-financed 65% of the measures, with national sources providing the remaining 35%. The concrete measures for the job-seekers included intensive, personalised job-search assistance, various types of vocational training, up-skilling and retraining measures, temporary incentives and allowances for the duration of the active measures, and other types of support such as business creation and public employment schemes.

The EGF, an initiative first proposed by President Barroso to provide help for people who lose their jobs due to the impact of globalisation, was established by the European Parliament and the Council at the end of 2006.

As part of its proposal for the next Multiannual Financial Framework beyond 2013, the Commission has proposed that the EU should continue to express solidarity with redundant workers and the affected regions through the EGF also in the future.

Background

The Commission received a total of 31 applications for EGF support in 2010 - one more than in 2009. These were submitted by 12 Member States for a total of € 169 994 542 in EGF support to target 31 995 redundant workers in 16 sectors. Three Member States applied for the first time in 2010: the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia.

There have been 78 applications to the EGF since the start of its operations in January 2007, for a total amount of about €355 million, helping nearly 76,000 workers. EGF applications are being presented in a growing number of sectors, and by an increasing number of Member States.

The 2010 annual report also describes the outcomes of four EGF contributions granted in previous years to three Member States (Spain, Portugal and Germany) and the way the EGF support helped the redundant workers find new jobs. It shows that 629 workers laid off by employers in the car, textile and mobile phone industries had found new jobs or become self-employed by the end of the 12-month EGF support period (20% of the 3 146 receiving support). As a direct consequence of the crisis, the results for the workers’ reintegration into employment were seriously affected by the difficulties facing local and regional labour markets in terms of job opportunities and vacancies.

On the positive side, the three Member States reported a series of interesting facts indicating that the personal situation, self-confidence and employability of the workers concerned had clearly improved thanks to the EGF assistance and services, even though they did not always find new work rapidly. The EGF gave Member States the opportunity to act more effectively in the regions affected by redundancies - in terms of the number of people assisted and the duration, type and quality of support - than would have been possible without EGF funding.

The EU funds also allowed countries to respond more flexibly and to include personalised and innovative actions in their measures as well as devoting more attention to the least skilled. The assistance co-funded by the EGF therefore represents an enhanced investment in skills, which has already been shown to have a positive impact on the re-employment rates of the workers helped, also in the medium and longer term following the end of the EGF measures.

In addition, the EGF is reported to have been a useful instrument at a time of budget deficits and public sector cuts, as national resources have become scarce and Member States are struggling to recover from the global crisis. These reports make it clear once again that the EGF provides valuable help to the redundant workers and shows EU solidarity in the face of change.

EU strikes hard at paedophiles

Lundi 22 août 2011

A new directive will penalise sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children as well as child pornography across the EU by harmonising around 20 relevant criminal offences and setting thresholds for maximum penalties. It will also strike hard at sex tourism and child pornography on the internet.

According to studies, between 10% and 20% of children in Europe suffer some form of sexual abuse during their childhood. The number of websites containing child pornography is rising, the images becoming more graphic and violent. Some 20% of sex offenders reoffend after their conviction.

Penalties

Under the draft directive, penalties for sexual abuse of children and sexual exploitation will range from at least one year to a minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment, depending on the nature of the crime.

Acts such as making the child witness sexual activities (abuse) will by punishable by at least one year’s imprisonment, whereas coercing child into a sexual act will be punishable by at least 10 years’ imprisonment.

Attending pornographic performances involving children (exploitation) will be punishable by two years’ imprisonment, whereas forcing a child into prostitution will be punished by a minimum of 10 years.

At least one year’s imprisonment is provided for for possessing child pornography (the only exception – holding it for the purposes of investigation), whereas the production of such material carries a sentence of at least three years’ imprisonment.

Moreover, the draft law adds to the list of crimes the act of “online grooming” – befriending children in chat rooms and forums with the intention of sexually abusing them.

Combating child pornography on the internet

The Member States will have to ensure prompt removal of child pornography sites that are hosted in their territory, and seek their removal if hosted in other countries. They will be able to block access to such web pages.

Online grooming that results in the production of child pornography or in child abuse will add at least one year to the maximum sentence.

Fighting sex tourism

The directive will make it possible to prosecute EU nationals for child abuse-related crimes committed outside EU territory, which should help reduce demand for sexual services. In addition, the member states will have to ensure that the organisation of travel arrangements for such purposes is punishable too.

Protecting the childcare sector

In order to prevent paedophiles from obtaining childcare-related jobs across the EU, the directive introduces the possibility for future employees in this sector to request and receive information about candidates’ previous convictions, also when the candidates are EU nationals from other member states.

Victim protection

Child victims will have additional protection during investigations and legal proceedings. For instance, the child will not have to be subjected to interviews by law enforcement and judicial authorities, or be made to appear before the public in court.

Next steps

The draft was agreed by the Council and the European Parliament in June and should be become law by the end of this year, after its formal adoption by the two institutions. The member states will then have two years to transpose the directive into national law.

World Humanitarian Day: Honouring the people helping people

Lundi 22 août 2011

18 August 2011 – 19 August is World Humanitarian Day and as every year since 2008, tomorrow the European Commission will honour those who dedicate their lives to preserving and improving the lives of others who need assistance to survive

Collectively, the EU is the world’s largest humanitarian donor – since the start of this year it has delivered over 37% of global humanitarian funding. The Commission is actively engaged in ensuring that Europe’s leadership in the humanitarian sphere delivers concrete results. Its Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Directorate General (ECHO) has more than 400 people working in 47 field offices anywhere in the world where humanitarian aid is needed.

The Commission collaborates with over 200 relief organisations. Its humanitarian partners include 14 United Nations agencies, 191 non-governmental organisations and three international organisations (The International Committee of the Red Cross/Red Crescent, The International Federation of the Red Cross/Red Crescent and the International Organisation for Migration).

In 2010, the Commission funded the activities of the world’s most efficient humanitarian aid operators with €1.115 billion. This support is translated into relief and hope for 151 millions of suffering people in 80 countries.

This is the fourth time that World Humanitarian Day is marked around the world, honouring humanitarian staff who lost their lives and raising awareness about humanitarian assistance worldwide. The UN has chosen “people helping people” as the motto of this year’s campaign. The World Humanitarian Day was established in 2008 by the UN General Assembly which picked 19 August in memory of the 22 UN humanitarian workers who were killed by the bomb explosion in the UN office in Baghdad, Iraq, on 19 August 2003. One of them was the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative Sergio Vieira de Mello.

“World Humanitarian Day marks a time of remembrance and regret – and of resolve to continue to help those most in need despite the dangers,” Commissioner Georgieva said.

Humanitarian workers pay a high price for their commitment. Kidnappings, shootings and death threats are part of the job description in Afghanistan and Somalia, Darfur, Sri Lanka and many other places. According to the UN, in the last ten years it has become increasingly dangerous for aid workers to deliver assistance to those in need. Attacks on humanitarian posts have tripled, resulting in about 100 deaths per year. In 2010 there have been 129 security incidents targeting humanitarian workers; 69 of them were killed, 86 were injured and 87 were kidnapped.

The EU is dedicated to continue helping humanitarian aid workers in their combat against misery and to keep up its advocacy for the respect of humanitarian principles.

EUROPE’S HUMANITARIAN RECORD

Europe has a long and proud tradition of humanitarian service and is the birthplace of many of the world’s largest and most efficient relief organisations.

Throughout the years, EU Member States have engaged actively and donated generously to support the victims of numerous humanitarian emergencies.

The European Union has also actively provided humanitarian assistance for more than 40 years. In 1992 it created the European Community’s Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) “to ensure a swifter and more effective intervention”. In February 2010, when the current European Commission took up duty, ECHO was elevated to a full-fledged Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection. The move reflected the Treaty of Lisbon, which gives a joint, more prominent role to humanitarian aid and civil protection. Kristalina Georgieva was appointed the first Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.

The Commission has given humanitarian assistance in more than 100 countries around the world. Throughout the years, the biggest recipients of EU humanitarian funding have been: Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (during the dissolution of Yugoslavia), Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, the occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Russia and Burundi.

Major crises where EU solidarity has made a big difference are the South Asian tsunami of 2004 and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and floods in Pakistan. An important aspect of the Commission’s humanitarian work is its focus on “forgotten crises”, humanitarian situations which are not widely reported in the media and where the Commission is often the sole provider of humanitarian assistance.

Today the European Union is the largest donor of humanitarian aid. The top twenty institutional donors in the world include the European Commission and eleven EU Member States – Sweden, the UK, Germany, The Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, Spain, France, Ireland, Belgium and Italy.

The Commission accepts that Spain can temporarily restrict the free movement of Romanian workers

Mercredi 17 août 2011

Following a request from the Spanish authorities on 28th July 2011, the European Commission has approved Spain’s request to restrict its labour market to Romanian workers until 31 December 2012 due to serious disturbances on its labour market. Spain has been hit very hard by the crisis. The unprecedented fall in GDP (‑3.9% between 2008 and 2010) has resulted in the highest unemployment rate in the EU, over 20% since May 2010. The continuous increase of Romanian residents in Spain and their high level of unemployment have had an impact on the capacity of Spain to absorb new inflows of workers.

Commissioner László Andor, European Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, insists that: “This decision has been taken because of the very specific employment situation in Spain. As a rule, I am convinced that restricting the free movement of European workers is not the answer to high unemployment. We should rather focus on creating new job opportunities. From the start, Spain has always had a very open policy to workers from other countries, including the new Member States, which the Commission has always welcomed. However, the Commission understands why, at this particular juncture - because of the dramatic employment situation and the very complex financial environment - the Spanish authorities wish to step back from full free movement. The Spanish request is supported by factual evidence and the Accession Treaty does allow the re-imposition of temporary restrictive measures in such cases. By implementing these changes, Spain would still remain more open to workers from new Member States than some other Member States. However, we hope this move will be limited in time as much as possible and an overall positive attitude towards free movement in Europe will continue to prevail. I continue to encourage Spain to reform its labour market and improve employment opportunities for young people, and I also call for greater efforts to enhance employment opportunities in Romania. Both countries need to use EU structural funds better in order to create jobs in a more robust way. This is what is necessary to make a long-term difference to the employment situation.”

In today’s decision, the European Commission authorises Spain to temporarily impose restrictions on Romanians to access its labour market, until 31 December 2012. These restrictions will apply to activities in all sectors and regions. However it shall not affect Romanian nationals who are already active on the Spanish labour market.

These temporary restrictions are authorised by the European Commission in view of the current economic situation in Spain. The country is facing serious labour market disturbances, characterised by the highest unemployment rate in the EU (21% in June 2011, against 9.4% on average in the EU and 9.9% in the euro area) and a slow economic recovery (only 0.3% of GDP growth in the first quarter of 2011 in comparison to the previous quarter, against 0.8 % for the EU and the euro area).

Moreover, the analysis by the Commission has established that Romanian nationals living in Spain are strongly affected by unemployment, as 30% of them are unemployed. 191 400 Romanian citizens working in Spain were unemployed in the first quarter of 2011, i.e. the second highest number after Spanish nationals. This number was only 80 100 three years earlier. In the same period, the number of employed Romanians fell by nearly 24 %. Despite a fall in the number of Romanian national coming to work in Spain in recent years, probably due to the economic recession, the inflow remains at high levels. The number of Romanian nationals usually resident in Spain has increased from 388 000 on 1 January 2006 to 823 000 on 1 January 2010.

As Spain had already opened its labour market to all EU-citizens, any restriction of the free movement of workers constitutes a derogation and can only be temporary. European Commission will monitor closely the situation in Spain and will have the possibility of modifying or revoking the Decision at any time it sees fit.

In general, free movement of workers has had a positive economic impact at the European scale and has produced economic growth in the receiving countries. Recent estimates suggest that the long-term impact of the population flows between 2004 and 2009 on the GDP of the EU-15 was an extra 0.9%.

European citizens making more requests for Commission documents than ever before

Mercredi 17 août 2011

Europe’s citizens are showing an ever greater interest in Commission activities, over a growing number of policy areas. That’s the conclusion of the latest annual report on public access to documents, which shows an 18% increase in the number of requests for documents in 2010.

In total, the Commission received 6,361 requests for access to documents in 2010. This compares to 5,401 in 2009 – and just 450 ten years ago. These requests concerned everything from a single document to entire files concerning various administrative procedures. The many requests for documents that were already publicly available are not included in these figures.

Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič said: “These figures reflect a growing interest in Commission activities and I welcome that. Disclosure of documents is often in the public interest and is a key way of increasing transparency. This can only be a good thing. Greater transparency ensures that the Commission is open to public scrutiny and accountable for its work.”

Competition policy topped the list of areas of interest, accounting for nearly 1 in 10 requests, followed by home and justice affairs, transport and energy, the internal market and the environment. The biggest proportion of requests came from people or organisations based in Belgium (17.95%), with Germany close behind (16.62%).

In certain limited circumstances defined by the legislation (Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001), the Commission can refuse to supply a document. Nevertheless, full access was granted in more than four out of five cases. The principal reasons for refusing an initial request in 2010 were: protection of the purpose of inspections, investigations and audits, protection of the Commission’s decision-making process, and protection of commercial interests.

This reflects the fact that many requests concern a specific, private interest rather than a general, public interest. Complainants in infringement proceedings, competitors or alleged victims of anti-competitive behaviour are among those who request documents of interest to themselves, but which cannot be made publicly available without harming a legitimate countervailing interest.

The report points out that analysing such requests creates a substantial administrative burden that consumes significant public resources. But recent case law from the Court of Justice, also outlined in the report, should help establish a balance between different rights, and increase efficiency in dealing with requests.

EU funds new research project to respond to unexpected epidemic threats such as E.coli

Mardi 9 août 2011

The European Commission has decided to allocate an additional €12 million from the EU’s Research Framework Programme to reinforce Europe’s capacity for tackling pathogens like the virulent Escherichia coli (E.coli) bacteria that recently infected close to 4,000 people in Europe and killed 46.

This autumn, a cross-border consortium called ANTIGONE will start work on research aimed at getting as full a scientific picture as possible of the new E. coli strain – to which approximately €2.1 million will be specifically dedicated - and of a range of other virulent pathogens that could pose a threat to human health. By better understanding these pathogens, scientists can go on to develop ways to tackle them - the research will focus on ways to prevent future epidemics and deal with new outbreaks. The consortium will work in close collaboration with another project selected for funding earlier, PREDEMICS.

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, said: “Our policy is to focus EU research and innovation funding on the things that matter most to Europeans and of course health is right at the top of that list. So I am very pleased that we have been able to allocate this additional funding to reinforce further Europe’s capacity to identify and respond to epidemic outbreaks “.

ANTIGONE – ANTIcipating the Global Onset of Novel Epidemics, is currently scheduled to involve 14 partners from seven countries. The project will gather specific expertise on a broad range of viruses and bacteria, including Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC). ANTIGONE will build the knowledge and gather the resources to help identify, study, prevent and counteract unexpected new epidemic threats. In particular, the project aims to identify the factors that make viral and bacterial pathogens from animals prone to cross the species barrier and be transmitted among people. When new and unknown diseases emerge, ANTIGONE will be able to perform and coordinate analysis of the bacteria or viruses involved and of the epidemiology of the disease concerned and the way it is transmitted. The project will also try to identify possible ways of eradicating disease and draw lessons that may help prevent threats in the future.

Background
In recent months, Germany endured one of the largest outbreaks of haemolytic uremic syndrome and bloody diarrhoea caused by enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli, also referred to as Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC). Figures updated by the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) on 27 July refer to 46 people having died from STEC, 45 of them in Germany.

The Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Consumers (DG SANCO) activated immediately the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) and the Early Warning and Response System (EWRS). These networks ensured a rapid distribution of information throughout the EU on both possible food sources and human cases.

The Directorate-General for Research and Innovation has a long track-record of supporting high-quality research projects that build the scientific tools needed to respond to emerging epidemics.

The overall portfolio of research on emerging epidemics, with a budget of well over €170 million under FP7 (2007-2013), includes work on improving capacity to detect new unknown emerging viruses (project EMPERIE), on developing drugs against any virus (project SILVER) and on limiting transmission of several vector-borne emerging diseases (project EDENext), like West Nile or Dengue fever, Chikungunya etc.

The European Commission has previously funded research on pathogenic enterohaemorrhagic E. coli, mainly on the food and water safety aspects.

Two proposals recently submitted to the Commission in response to a “call for proposals” (invitation to bid for funding) for research on epidemics were assessed as excellent. The first one was the PREDEMICS proposal - Preparedness, Prediction and Prevention of Emerging Zoonotic Viruses with Pandemic Potential using Multidisciplinary Approaches. This project focuses on four families of viruses with an epidemic potential in Europe: influenza, hepatitis E, rabies, diseases caused by rabies-related lyssaviruses and infections caused by the Japanese encephalitis virus or the West Nile virus.

With the allocation, in the light of recent events, of another €12 million in EU funding to this field of research, the ANTIGONE project can now also be funded. It will integrate research on STEC with other bacteria and viruses, such as Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic fever, Ebola, SARS, plague, Q-fever, etc.

The project will also include a “flexibility clause” that allows for a quick response to any future unexpected human epidemic threat without the need for the Commission to issue a new call for proposals.

ANTIGONE and PREDEMICS will work in close collaboration.

Europeans more confident about the economy

Vendredi 5 août 2011

Europeans are starting to be more optimistic about the economy’s outlook with more people saying that the worst of the crisis is behind us, according to the Spring 2011 Eurobarometer, the bi-annual opinion poll organised by the European Union.

43% of Europeans think that the crisis’s impact on the job market has already reached its peak. (see Annex). That’s one percentage point more than the in previous survey in autumn 2010 (MEMO/11/16) and 15 percentage points higher than in spring 2009. Europeans are also increasingly asking for EU action and stronger European cooperation to tackle the crisis and avoid future problems. Nearly 8 out of 10 Europeans think stronger coordination of economic policy among EU Member States would be effective in tackling the economic situation.

“The latest Eurobarometer survey confirms that the European Union is gradually emerging from the crisis. People believe that the EU is taking effective measures against the crisis and we are back on the path of recovery,” said Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission. “The survey also shows that the majority of people believe the EU is now going in the right direction. They expect the EU institutions and national governments to continue to confront the common challenge of sustaining growth and creating jobs. If we all act responsibly, Europe has a good chance of coming out of the crisis stronger than it was before.”

While the general EU trend is positive, there is still some scepticism in countries that continue to face recession and rising unemployment. Differences exist between more “optimistic” and “pessimistic” countries. A majority of Member States, in particular Denmark (68%), Estonia (64%), and Austria (62%), believe that the impact of the economic crisis on the job market has already reached its peak. The opposite opinion is seen in countries struggling with the crisis, such as Portugal (80%) and Greece (78%).

Europeans continue to broadly support the idea of “being stronger by working together” (see Annex): 79% (+2 percentage points from autumn 2010) are in favour of “a stronger coordination of economic policy among all the EU Member States, 78% (+3) are in favour of “a closer supervision by the EU when public money is used to rescue banks and financial institutions,” 78% (+3) think that “a stronger coordination of economic and financial policies among the countries of the euro area” would be effective, 77% (+2) support a closer supervision by the EU of the activities of large financial groups” and 73% (+2) think that “a more important role for the EU in regulating financial services” would be effective.

Citizens also continue to see the EU as the most effective actor – ahead of national governments – in tackling the effects of the economic crisis (see Annex). The EU remains in first place (22%, -1) and is closely followed by the national governments (20%, unchanged). The G20 (14%, -2) has lost third place to the International Monetary Fund (15%, unchanged). The United States (7%, +1), for the third consecutive time since the Spring 2010 Eurobarometer, lags behind international organisations.

Public support for Europe 2020 Strategy
Regarding the Europe 2020 Strategy, which sets out a series of initiatives to enhance growth and create jobs (see IP/10/225), Europeans rated all seven initiatives as “important” (see Annex). Support was the highest for “helping the poor and socially excluded and enabling them to play an active part in society (79%, +3), “modernising labour markets, with a view to raising employment levels” (79%, +3) and “supporting an economy that uses less natural resources and emits less greenhouse gas” (76%, +3). The majority of Europeans also believe that the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy – fostering innovation and increasing competitiveness – are realistic and can be achieved.

Finally, a majority of Europeans are optimistic about the future, saying that the Europe 2020 Strategy puts the EU on the right track: 46% (unchanged). They share the view that “the EU is going in the right direction to exit the crisis and face new world challenges.” This view is shared by net majorities of 46% or more in 21 of the 27 Member States.

Background
The Spring 2011 Eurobarometer was conducted through face-to-face interviews between 6 May and 26 May 2011. A total of 31,769 people were interviewed across the 27 EU Member States and in the candidate countries.

Visit EP during summer

Vendredi 5 août 2011

In Brussels this summer? Why not pay a visit to the European Parliament and enjoy a multimedia-guided visit to the debating chamber. From 18 July to 2 September the EP is doubling the number of tours. You can take the tour at 1000, 1100, 1500 and 1600 CET from Monday to Thursday and at 1000 and 1100 CET on Friday. Click below to find out more.

for more information:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/parliament/public/staticDisplay.do?id=50&pageRank=2&language=EN

EU presidential and parliamentary elections observation mission in Congo

Mercredi 3 août 2011

The European Union is to send an election observation mission (EOM) to the Democratic Republic of the Congo for the presidential and parliamentary elections to be held on 28 November 2011.The mission will be deployed six to eight weeks before the polls and will be led by Ms Mariya Nedelcheva, Member of the European Parliament.

“At the invitation of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I have decided to send an election observation mission for the presidential and parliamentary elections to be held on 28 November 2011 and to appoint Ms Mariya Nedelcheva, Member of the European Parliament, as Chief Observer to lead the mission. This decision forms part of the European Union’s continuing political support for the democratic process and comes on top of financial support amounting to EUR 47.5 million for the elections”, said Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice‑President of the Commission