Archive pour octobre 2011

European subsidies intended for construction workers in Italy

Lundi 31 octobre 2011

A 3.9 million euro European aid was decided by the European Globalisation Adjustment today in benefit for 528 construction workers in Italy .

The European Commission has today proposed to provide €3.9 million of assistance from the European Globalisation adjustment Fund (EGF) to Italy. The funding, matched by €2.1 million of national contribution, will help 528 redundant construction workers from a number of mostly small enterprises in two Italian provinces of Trentino and Bolzano back into employment. The proposal now goes to the European Parliament and the EU’s Council of Ministers for their approval.

The Italian application relates to 643 redundancies in 323 small and medium sized enterprises operating in the construction of buildings sector in the region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. The dismissals were a consequence of the financial and economic crisis, which resulted in a substantial fall in demand for new houses and house renovation in this region where the construction sector is an important employer.

Of the total 643 workers made redundant, the 528 workers with the greatest difficulties of re-integration into the labour market are targeted for assistance from the EGF. The package of EGF assistance will offer the workers one-to-one counselling and guidance; skills assessment and outplacement; coaching; general training and re-training; individual vocational training; mentoring after reintegration into work and participation and subsistence allowances.

Background

Available data confirms the significant downturn in the construction sector, which fell in the EU-27 for seven consecutive quarters (first quarter of 2009 to the third quarter in 2010) compared to the same period of previous years. This was mainly due to the decrease in private investment in the residential sector.

The area affected by the redundancies is the region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol which covers two autonomous provinces: Trento and Bolzano/Bozen. The economic situation of both provinces deteriorated in 2009 and their economic growth was negative (-3,0 % and -2,6 % respectively) compared with the previous year. Unemployment in Trento increased by 117 % in 2010 compared to 2009. In Bolzano/Bozen unemployment in at the end of 2010 was 43 % higher than in the same period the previous year.

In this area in Italy, the construction sector contributes to about 15 % of regional GDP and represents 8.6 % of the jobs in Trentino and 8 % in Bolzano/Bozen. The impact of the redundancies at local level is especially high - some 9.3 % of the new redundancies in the province of Trento from March to December 2010 took place in the construction sector, while in the province of Bolzano/Bozen this rate was 11 %.

There have been 78 applications to the EGF since the start of its operations in January 2007, for a total amount of about €357.6 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.

EGF applications relate to the following 25 sectors: automotive (Austria, Belgium, Germany, France, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Spain); textiles (Belgium, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Spain); wearing apparel (Malta, Lithuania, Slovenia, Spain); construction of buildings (Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Spain); specialised construction (Ireland); architectural and engineering (Ireland); machinery and equipment (Denmark, Germany, Poland); printing industry (Netherlands); electronic equipment (Austria, Netherlands, Portugal); retail trade (Czech Republic, Greece, Spain); mobile phones (Finland, Germany); basic metals (Austria, Bulgaria); domestic appliances (Italy, Lithuania); computers (Ireland); shipbuilding (Denmark); furniture (Lithuania); carpentry and joinery (Spain); ceramics (Spain, Italy); stone/marble (Spain); crystal glass (Ireland); shoe manufacture (Portugal); publishing (Netherlands); wholesale trade (Netherlands); aircraft maintenance (Ireland); road transport (Austria).

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. In June 2009, the EGF rules were revised to strengthen the role of the EGF as an early intervention instrument. It forms part of Europe’s response to the financial and economic crisis. The revised EGF Regulation entered into force on 2 July 2009 and applies to all applications received from 1 May 2009 onwards.

EU unleashes a second operation to help the victims of the earthquake in Turkey

Lundi 31 octobre 2011

Today, the foreign minister signed an agreement to provide funds to assist earthquake victims in Turkey.

Today, at the Ministry for EU Affairs, the EU and the Turkish Red Crescent are signing a grant agreement for the supply of some 1,200 temporary housing units accommodating 6,000 persons rendered homeless after the 23 October earthquake in the Van Province.

These housing units, made of steel and fully insulated, are composed of 2 rooms, a kitchenette and a bathroom and toilet. They will be connected to electricity, water and sewage. The cost of this second operation is € 4 million, or approximately Turkish Lira 10 million.

The procurement and installation of these temporary housing units will be made by the Turkish Red Crescent, direct beneficiary of the EU grant (under the so called Instrument for Preaccession Assistance - IPA), in cooperation with the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), the Van Governorate and the Van and Erciş Municipalities.

The temporary housing units will be allocated to the families whose houses have been destroyed or are unsafe.

Background

This operation comes in addition of the supply, currently under way, of some 6,600 family tents accommodating approximately 35,000 persons. The tents are provided through grants from some 18 Member States of the European Union*, while the coordination and part of the air transport costs are provided by the European Commission through the European Civil Protection Mechanism. Most tents consignments have already been delivered to Erzurum airport. In some case, EU Member States have provided direct grant donations to the Turkish authorities.

The Commission has also deployed a European Civil Protection team of six experts to the disaster area. The team is facilitating the arrival and distribution of assistance provided through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

The Polish Presidency wants to develop youth mobility in the Eastern Partnership

Lundi 31 octobre 2011

The Polish Presidency organized a seminar in the region of Lower Silesia on the mobility of young people under the Eastern Partnership, a topic that Poland is attached to.

The Polish region of Lower Silesia was host for today’s high-level seminar on Eastern Partnership, one of the main priorities of the European Polish Presidency. Organised by the Assembly of European Regions (AER) and its Youth Regional Network (YRN), the event aimed at showcasing inclusive youth mobility programmes in regions spanning the Eastern Partnership and the other European countries.

Włodzimierz CHIBOSZ, Member of the Lower Silesia Regional Board, reiterated that the region is pleased to host members of the AER Youth Regional Network (YRN) for the second time. The Eastern Partnership brings a positive added value to relations between the EU as well as Eastern Europe and the Caucasus countries. Only a gradual and progressive cooperation will enable these societies to become a full-fledged and integrated part of the EU in the future. He stressed that there are no doubts the cooperation within the Assembly of European Regions has helped to fulfill this goal.

Regional, European and educational representatives presented their good practices in interregional and academic exchanges as well as financial tools provided by the European Commission in the Eastern dimension:

Piotr BORYS, Member of the European Parliament, welcomed young participants from the EU and EaP countries by answering a crucial question: why is the EU heading East? He answered that today’s discussion about Eastern Partnership is not coincidental. It means over 70 million citizens, which corresponds to nearly 20% of EU population. The ongoing activities by the EU to achieve a greater integration with Eastern Europe stem from the strong will to share our good practices, with our Eastern neighbours, to which nearly 2 billion euros were allocated.

All young Europeans have the right to be informed about the opportunities stemming from the Eastern Partnership initiative according to Hande ÖZSAN BOZATLI, President of AER Committee on Culture, Education, Youth and International Cooperation. She added that duty as politicians, is to ensure that they are aware of these opportunities, that they make use of these chances and that their efforts to exchange experiences with the other side of Europe, are not hampered by bureaucracy or lack of information.

Ms Maria PODLASEK from the European Commission’s DG on Culture and Education said that in 2012 the European Commission”s Youth in Action program will receive 31,5 million Euros to finance exchanges with Eastern Europe and the Caucasus (EEAC) countries. This is an unprecedented amount of money, which will be allocated from the European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument (ENPI). The increase is a response to interest of young Europeans in establishing more contacts with this part of Europe: 27.630 young people participated in the projects in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus (EEAC) countries financed through the European Commission’s Youth in Action programme between 2007 and 2010.

YRN declaration
All these aspects were highlighted in the Wroclaw Declaration adopted by YRN members during their Plenary session, where they pledged to increase awareness about and accessibility to existing youth mobility opportunities in wider Europe for all young people, including disadvantaged youth.

The key themes of the last plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg

Lundi 31 octobre 2011

MEPs met four days last week to discuss and vote on such matters as the financial crisis, the 2012 budget, health and mobility of workers from Romania and Bulgaria into the EU.

On 25 October, the EP called for stricter rules to prevent mafia-style organisations from gaining access to public funds. MEPs urged the Commission to draw up rules to prevent companies linked to organised crime from getting government contracts. They also proposed setting up a special committee “within three months” to investigate the misuse of public funds by criminal organisations and their infiltration into the public sector.

Also on Tuesday, the EP voted on a resolution highlighting the need for a reform of global economic governance to help rebalance the world economy and avoid another slump. MEPs call for a more democratic IMF, an end to banking secrecy, separation of speculative and retail banking, a single EU seat at the IMF and World Bank, and a halt to political exchange rate manipulation.

MEPs discussed the euro-zone summit, on Tuesday and again on Thursday, when they welcomed the decisions taken by leaders to resolve the crisis but also expressed doubts that the proposed measures are far-reaching enough.

Parliament called on all EU countries to allow Bulgarian and Romanian workers full access to their labour markets before the end of the year.

The EU’s 2012 budget was centre stage Wednesday as MEPs agreed on key priorities for funding ahead of negotiations with finance ministers, set to begin in November.

MEPs also came up with proposals for a new skills and jobs agenda, which focuses on how the EU could reach its 75% employment target by 2020.

The problem of antibiotic resistance and the growing danger to humans and animals (it causes around 25,000 deaths in the EU each year and results in €1.5 billion in healthcare costs) led MEPs to call on the EU to promote a more prudent use of antibiotics.

People who are at risk of serious harm if they return to their home country, but who don’t qualify as refugees should get similar rights to refugees as regards work, education, health care and accommodation, according to asylum rules proposals approved on Thursday.

MEPs approved a report about tackling sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography that calls for more investigations and charges to be brought, as well as the removal of child pornography from servers across the EU.

In a resolution Thursday, MEPs condemned the 7-year jail sentence given to Ukraine’s opposition leader. It said that a failure to review Yulia Tymoshenko’s conviction will jeopardise the conclusion of the Association Agreement and its ratification, while pushing the country further away from the realisation of its European perspective.

The EU is on tracks regarding the legislation on GMOs

Vendredi 28 octobre 2011

The EU wants strict legislation in terms of GMOs in the production and consumption in Europe.

Two independent reports evaluating the European Union’s legislation on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) conclude that there is broad support for the legislation’s objectives and show that recent legislative Commission initiatives are heading in the right direction.

The documents, published today, also note that some adjustments are necessary if we are to meet the objectives of the legislation -the protection of health and the environment and the creation of an internal market- and to ensure that the legislation is properly implemented.

The reports

The two reports were carried out by independent consultants on the Commission’s behalf1. The first, a 238-page document, evaluates the EU’s legislative framework in the field of GM food and feed. The second, a 137-page document, focuses on the legislative framework in the area of GMOs cultivation. The main goal of the exercise was to collect facts and opinions, particularly from stakeholders and competent authorities. The evaluations assessed the effectiveness and efficiency of the legislative processes and formulated options for the improvement and adjustment of the system.

The Commission, after the completion of both documents, carried out the necessary internal policy analysis on their findings. This process has just been completed, thus the Commission proceeds today with their publication.

The main findings

The two reports register broad support, from stakeholders and competent authorities alike, for the main objectives of the legislation, such as the protection of health and the environment and the creation of an internal market, as these objectives are consistent with the needs of society. Nevertheless, there’s room for further improvement, according to the reports.

For instance, the reports note that the authorisation system could be more efficient, GMO cultivation would benefit from more flexibility and the risk assessment process from further harmonisation.. Good news is that only limited changes to address specific issues are sufficient rather than an overall change to the system.

On the right track – already delivered

The evaluation reports confirm that many actions the European Commission has launched in recent months are on the right track.

First, the Commission’s package on GMO cultivation adopted in July 2010, and responding to the need for more flexibility on GMO cultivation, is identified as one such action. The package includes a recommendation on the co-existence of GM and non-GM plants that allows more flexibility to Member States to take into account their local, regional and national conditions when preparing their relevant legislation. The key proposal, currently under discussion in the Council and Parliament, is allowing Member States to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMOs in their territory.

The more flexible approach on GM cultivation preserves the strict EU-wide authorisation system already in place, which is based on science, safety and consumer choice, the relevant report notes adding that the system could be made more efficient.

Second, the Commission also advanced on tackling the technical problem of low level presence (LLP) of unauthorised GMOs in imported feed products. A harmonising regulation addressing LLP in feed imports entered into force in July and was well-received by Member States and business operators

Third, the Commission published in April 2011 a report on socio-economic implications of GM crops, based on contributions from the Member States as requested by the 2008 Environment Council Conclusions. The Commission followed up by launching on 18 October 2011 a process to assist Member States in the collection and sharing of information

In the pipeline

In addition, the Commission will propose in the coming weeks more precise requirements for the submission of authorisation applications for imported products for food and feed use.

It is also revising the guidelines on environmental risk assessment to make them more detailed and precise and is already discussing them with Member States and stakeholders. The final document will have legal status and be endorsed by Member States. This is an important step towards a better implementation of the strict environmental risk assessment requirements of the GMO legislation.

Another priority aspect is the reinforcement of the monitoring of environmental effects by companies and by Member States. EFSA and Member States’ experts are closely collaborating with the Commission to have more detailed guidelines.

European aid to help flood victims in Central America

Vendredi 28 octobre 2011

Given the urgency of the situation in Central America, or tens of thousands of victims in emergency situations, the EU has provided funds to help them.

The European Commission intends to give €4 million humanitarian aid to assist people affected by floods in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. Some 100,000 of the most vulnerable people caught up in the affected areas will benefit.

“Farmers have lost their crops in the inundated fields, families have lost their homes in high water and mudslides. The cost of food is rising and so is the risk of disease. We worry about the most exposed to hunger, poverty and extreme weather. We are moving to help them cope with a growing humanitarian crisis,” said Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis response.

The funding will provide the people at risk with food and medical care, shelter, clean water and sanitation. Some of it will be invested in disaster risk reduction measures to mitigate the impact of future floods. The priorities will be implemented through the Commission humanitarian partners.

The European Commission has deployed a civil protection team to El Salvador, where the impact of the floods is greatest. The Commission will also provide additional civil protection aid in the country – the European assistance requested by the authorities will be distributed through the European Civil Protection Mechanism.

The funding decision comes in response to inspections carried out earlier this month by the Commission’s humanitarian experts in flood-hit areas of Guatemala and El Salvador.

Background

Heavy rains broke over the region on 10th October, caused by a tropical depression. The worst-hit areas are in Guatemala and El Salvador but Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama were also affected.

At least 105 people have been reported dead, with another 650,000 affected. More than 90,000 people have been evacuated and 50,000 are living in around 400 temporary shelters. Significant damage has been caused to infrastructure and agriculture. Many areas are still inaccessible and the rain continues, making it difficult to fully appraise the extent of the damage.

The European Commission has provided more than €18.5 million in Central America since last year, helping hundreds of thousands of people affected by floods, hurricanes, health threats and droughts.

The European Parliament is in favour of a growth-oriented budget for 2012

Vendredi 28 octobre 2011

Growth, employment, innovation and development support are the key terms of the new EU budget for 2012, such as opted by the European Parliament.

In general, MEPs sought to restore the draft budget proposed by the Commission, which the Council cut in July. Parliament’s position implies an increase in payments of 5.2% as compared to this year’s budget, resulting in a budget of €133.1 billion. The budget resolution was adopted with 431 votes in favour, 120 against and 124 abstentions.

A 21-day conciliation period starts in November, with meetings foreseen on 8 and 18 November. Furthermore, there are budget trilogues foreseen on 3, 10 and 14 November. If Parliament and Council can agree, the final budget could be approved at the December session in Brussels.

Investments in R&D, cohesion and structural funds on track

The spending categories that see the biggest increases in payments are Research and Development (10.35%) and Cohesion and Structural funds (8.8%). This is because these policies in fact consist of long-term investment projects which now, in the fifth year of the current multiannual financial framework (MFF), are up to full speed and for which money committed earlier now needs to be paid out.

Another category that sees a significant increase is Freedom, Security and Justice (6.84%), due to growing needs to manage refugee and migration flows and step up maritime surveillance in the Mediterranean.

By contrast, in category 1A, “Competitiveness for growth and employment” and category 4, “the EU as a global player”, Parliament wants to spend only slightly more than the Commission originally proposed.

Several MEPs criticised the Council for inconsistencies in its position on the Commission’s Draft Budget. The budgets for the new European financial supervision bodies and Frontex are deemed insufficient for them to function properly, whereas their work is considered a top priority.

Research, innovation and education (heading 1A)

Francesca Balzani (S&D, IT), who is steering the budget through Parliament, stressed that investments are needed to secure future growth and employment. Parliament followed her proposals to increase spending on programmes related to the EU2020 strategy

Parliament does not agree to funding the EU’s nuclear fusion programme ITER with money allocated for R&D under the 7th Research and Development Framework Programme, as the Commission and Council propose. As the idea for this mega-project was mooted during the current MFF period, MEPs feel it should be financed with fresh money, and not by funding taken from other research projects.

Cohesion policy (heading 1B)

On the policy for greater cohesion between the EU’s regions, MEPs restored the Commission’s draft budget proposal, which Member States had sought to cut.

Agriculture and environment (heading 2)

Parliament agreed to add €250 million to emergency funds for fruit and vegetable producers. This money is meant to prevent future crises like the EHEC-bacteria outbreak earlier this year and to compensate farmers for the financial consequences of further crises.

MEPs strongly defended the EU’s “food-for-the-needy” scheme, which provides food to food banks, for which Council is blocking a new legal basis.

Freedom, security, justice and citizenship (headings 3a and 3b)

Parliament disagreed with cuts proposed by the Council on the EU Refugee Fund, Return Fund and External Border Fund (€45 million). The budget for the EU border agency Frontex should be increased by a reserve of €25 million, they said, because this money might be needed for maritime border controls in the Mediterranean and for stepping up surveillance at the Greek-Turkish border. Just last month extra money was added to the 2011 budget for these purposes and MEPs feel that matters may not improve by the end of the year.

Foreign affairs (heading 4)

MEPs approved an increase of €100 million in aid to Palestine, the Middle East Peace process and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). They also approved €27 million for the development co-operation instrument for Asia and Latin America, and added €3 million for election observation missions and €3 million for the Turkish-Cypriot Community. To fund this, MEPs cut other lines, such as the EU Police Mission in Afghanistan and the line for emergency measures under the common foreign and security policy (CFSP).

Administration (heading 5)

The rapporteur for the EP budget and those of the other institutions, Mr José Manuel Fernandes (EPP, PT) proposed further cuts to Parliament’s budget. Parliament opted for a below-inflation increase of 1.44%, while doing significantly more with the money. The proposal now includes the accommodation of 18 extra MEPs as a result of the Lisbon Treaty. If these costs were excluded, the increase would amount to only 0.8%. To bring expenses down, MEPs intend to save money on translation and interpretation, by making organisational changes, and voted for a 5% cut in travel expenses, for example by reducing the number of business flights. All allowances will be frozen at 2011 levels.

The Arabs Spring was honoured at the European Parliament on the 14th December

Vendredi 28 octobre 2011

Five militants of the Arab Spring received the 2011 Sakharov Prize. They will be given the award by the President of Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, 14 December in Strasbourg.

Parliament’s 2011 Sakharov Prize goes to Asmaa Mahfouz (Egypt), Ahmed al-Zubair Ahmed al-Sanusi (Libya), Razan Zaitouneh (Syria), Ali Farzat (Syria) and posthumously to Mohamed Bouazizi (Tunisia). This nomination was submitted jointly by the EPP, S&D, ALDE and Green groups.

Following the decision by the Conference of Presidents (Parliament President and political group leaders) Thursday morning, President Buzek underlined that these individuals contributed to historic changes in the Arab world and this award reaffirms Parliament’s solidarity and firm support for their struggle for freedom, democracy and the end of authoritarian regimes. He added, their award was a symbol for all those working for dignity, democracy and fundamental rights in the Arab world and beyond.

Asmaa Mahfouz

Ms Mahfouz joined the Egyptian April 6th Youth Movement in 2008, helping to organise strikes for fundamental rights. Sustained harassment of journalists and activists by the Mubarak regime as well as the Tunisian example prompted Ms Mahfouz to organise her own protests. Her Youtube videos, Facebook and Twitter posts helped motivate Egyptians to demand their rights in the Tahrir Square. After being detained by the Supreme Council of Armed forces, she was released on bail due to pressure from prominent activists.

Ahmed al-Zubair Ahmed al-Sanusi

Mr Ahmed al-Sanusi, also known as the longest-serving “prisoner of conscience”, spent 31 years in Libyan prisons as a result of an attempted coup against Colonel Gaddafi. A member of the National Transitional Council, he is now working to “achieve freedom and race to catch up with humanity” and establish democratic values in post-Gaddafi Libya.

Razan Zaitouneh

Ms Zaitouneh, a human rights lawyer, created the Syrian Human Rights Information Link blog (SHRIL) which reports on current atrocities in Syria. She publicly revealed murders and human rights abuses committed by the Syrian army and police. Her posts have become an important source of information for international media. She is now hiding from the authorities who accuse her of being a foreign agent and have arrested her husband and younger brother.

Ali Farzat

Mr Farzat, a political satirist, is a well-known critic of the Syrian regime and its leader President Bashar al-Assad. Mr Farzat became more straightforward in his cartoons when the March 2011 uprisings began. His caricatures ridiculing Bashar al-Assad’s rule helped to inspire revolt in Syria. In August 2011, the Syrian security forces beat him badly, breaking both his hands as “a warning”, and confiscated his drawings.

Mohamed Bouazizi

Mr Bouazizi, a Tunisian market trader set himself on fire in protest at incessant humiliation and badgering by the Tunisian authorities. Public sympathy and anger inspired by this gesture led to the ousting of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Mr Bouazizi’s self-immolation also sparked uprisings and vital changes in other Arab countries such as Egypt and Libya, collectively known as the “Arab Spring”.

Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought

The Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought, named in honour of the Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov, has been awarded by the European Parliament every year since 1988 to individuals or organizations that have made an important contribution to the fight for human rights or democracy. The prize is accompanied by an award of €50,000.

This year, the other two shortlisted finalists were Belarusian civil activist and journalist Dzmitry Bandarenka and the Columbian San José de Apartadó Peace Community.

The winners of Galileo Masters 2011

Jeudi 27 octobre 2011

The winners of the Galileo Master 2011 awards receives their prizes in Munich.

Also announced were the GSA Special Topic prize winner and the winner of the first-ever GMES Masters competition.

Europe is moving forward in the world of satellite navigation technologies, a sector up to now completely dominated by the GPS system. The milestone launch of the first two operational Galileo satellites in Kourou, French Guyana, on 21 October 2011, shows just how far Europe has come, now fashioning itself as an equal member in the global space power club.

The European Commission, the European Space Agency (ESA), the European GNSS Agency (GSA) and regional and national governments have all been doing their parts to get European industry, academia and research communities up to speed in the development of new services and applications to exploit increasingly accurate and available satellite-based positioning signals.

One way they’re doing so is through the European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC), which hands out cash prizes and presents money-making opportunities to budding entrepreneurs with the ultimate aim of stimulating business and job creation in the EU.
Grand prize winner

At this year’s European Satellite Navigation Competition, the €20 000 Galileo Master grand prize went to the California-based start-up company Making Virtual Solid (MVS) for its groundbreaking ‘True3D’ navigation and guidance system, an augmented reality navigational display system designed to project non-distracting, translucent guidance information directly onto the windshield of a car.

In order to be considered in the ESNC finals, MVS had won the USA Challenge, a regional ESNC partnership organised by Inside GNSS magazine, which is also the global media sponsor for ESNC 2011. The company was one of five finalists introduced at the ION GNSS 2011 conference.
Gian Gherardo Calini with CATUAV’s Jordi Santacana ©Peter Gutierrez

Cost-engineered for the automotive market, True3D accurately places images – icons, road signs, a guide wire – in the driver’s forward view. These images appear to be outside the windshield, from a distance of two meters to infinity. The images, generated by linking GNSS, map, and other data, are designed to maximise situational awareness using NASA guidelines established for pilot safety.

Second place in the overall running was shared by Baden-Württemberg’s regional winner, Jens Rieder and his team from the Universität Heidenheim, for SkyAmps – a highly efficient, fully automatic wind power plant based on two kites; and the regional winner for Switzerland, Philipp Elbert and his team from the ETH Zürich and the Swiss company HESS AG, for AHEAD – a system designed to minimise the CO2 emissions of hybrid electric buses through a predictive energy management strategy based on precise positioning.

Third prize in the competition was also shared by two regional winners: Hesse’s Jörg Pfister of pwp-systems GbmH with PTbox, a robust positioning unit for public transport designed to offer enhanced attractiveness and reduced CO2 emissions; and Vladimír Vejvoda of Prague for Mobile Epileptic Fit Detector (MEFID), a mobile remote unit that can help save lives by rapidly detecting signs of an imminent epileptic attack in child patients.
Open competition

The ESNC, hosted by the Bavarian regional government in Germany, is open to applicants around the world, operating on a regional basis in Europe and with a number of non-European participants such as Canada, Australia, Taiwan, and the USA.

In his opening remarks to the awards ceremony, Bavarian State Minister for Economic Affairs, Infrastructure, Transport and Technology Martin Zeil said that for the eighth year running, the ESNC is boosting innovation in satellite navigation on a global scale. He added that with 401 participants from 49 countries, this innovation contest reached new all-time highs this year.

In addition to the grand prize, 21 regional prizes and seven special prizes were awarded by partners from industry, research institutions and European institutions for the best GNSS-based applications.

Zeil said added that one-third of the winners of the previous ESNCs have gone on to found new companies. He added that this confirms their expectation that the innovation contest should provide a means of promoting the international commercialisation of space technologies and providing new businesses and jobs related to satellite navigation.

The GSA Special Topics Prize went to CATUAV, a small company in Catalonia developing a Mini-UAV Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), using GPS and EGNOS to allow safe navigation in controlled airspace.

The GSA’s Gian Gherardo Calini said that aviation is a key market for EGNOS, and this is why we are so excited about the winner of our Special Topic prize. As you know, EGNOS is now certified for aviation and so this is the time for all of us to be thinking about new aviation-related technologies, applications and services like the ones coming from companies like CATUAV.

For the first time, the Galileo Masters competition shared its stage with the new Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) Masters competition. Created by ESA, the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, the DLR German Aerospace Center and T-Systems, and supported by the EU, the GMES Masters competition received over 100 proposals from 17 countries.

Volker Liebig, Director of ESA’s Earth Observation Programmes, unveiled the Deforest ACTION Earth Watchers project as the first overall winner. Liebig said that this ambitious project, submitted by the Dutch company Geodan, takes an innovative approach to rainforest conservation. He added that it allows ordinary citizens to contribute to rainforest monitoring through social media using ‘crowd-sourcing’, which involves millions of volunteers who can analyse near-real-time satellite imagery to help halt illegal deforestation.

In a taped message, ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain said, “By triggering the creation of innovative value-added services, the GMES Masters competition demonstrates the potential of the GMES programme to stimulate economic growth in Europe. As this competition has clearly shown, an important number of promising business cases making use of GMES services are now ready to be implemented, and many more are to follow in the near future.”

A brand new Communication on Corporate Social Responsibility

Jeudi 27 octobre 2011

The Commission has published a news Communication on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) based on the last one from 2006. It aims at creating a new platform CSR in the EU.

It aims to encourage companies to be involved even more in addressing employment and social issues within the Europe 2020 strategy, and is one means of securing an exit from the economic crisis.

The Commission firmly believes that if companies pay genuine attention to training, youth employment, dialogue with employee representatives, employee health and well-being, gender awareness, and diversity management they will be drivers of new commercial opportunities. This can only be good for reinforcement of the social market economy model, for the mitigation of recent job losses, and for the achievement of the 75% employment target.

With this new initiative, the Commission will continue to work closely with stakeholders, including companies, trade unions, and NGOs. It will pay particular attention to the international dimension of CSR, where attention to a living wage, good health and safety in the workplace, elimination of forced or child labour, freedom of association, and other decent work and human rights issues are key.

The Commission will also work on:

- Disclosure of non-financial information: improving transparency to highlight how companies’ focussing on social issues
- Rewarding and incentivising companies for responsible behaviour through public procurement and socially-responsible investing
- Encouraging CSR in education: motivating young people and extending responsibility values to the next generation of business managers.