Articles taggés avec ‘EU’

EU Funding: Progress in favour of sustainable transport in UE

Mercredi 3 septembre 2008

The EU transport ministers joined their Norwegian, Swiss, Moroccan and Tunisian counterparts on 1 and 2 September at La Rochelle in the Charente-Maritime for an informal meeting around an ambitious work programme

EU Funding: 24 new family homes for displaced Kosovo Roma

Mercredi 30 juillet 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Support to participation of South-Eastern European countries in the stabilisation and association process (”Closed programme”)

A new social housing scheme comprising 24 family homes was handed over to the Municipality of Berane by representatives of the European Agency for Reconstruction, the European Commission, UNHCR and the German NGO HELP

The event was attended by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Affairs, the Bureau for the Care of Refugees, CARITAS of Luxemburg and members of the Roma community in Berane.

Vuko Golubovic, the mayor of Berane municipality, announced that the local authorities will continue their support for refugees and displaced persons by creating employment opportunities for them in the municipality. He added that his intention is to ensure that the investment in the “New Riverside” Social Housing Scheme will become sustainable. According to Mr Golubovic, this will only be possible if the already significant integration of the Roma displaced persons in the local labour market will be further enhanced.

The “New Riverside Social Housing Scheme” is the first of its kind in Montenegro, established with assistance largely provided by the European Union’s CARDS Programme at the request of the Montenegrin Bureau for the Care of Refugees and the municipality of Berane.

It is part of a wider CARDS project, with a starting budget of € 2.5 million, designed to help the Montenegrin Government implement the integration component of its “National Strategy for Resolving the Issues of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons”. It comprises not only housing solutions but other social infrastructure such as a home for the elderly as well as income generating activities for displaced persons, refugees and socially vulnerable Montenegrins.

The programme is implemented by the German NGO HELP and co-funded by HELP and UNHCR. Other EU member state charities such as the Dutch Grabovac have added funds to individual programme components. The Berane component of the programme has, in addition, benefited from financial contributions from CARITAS Luxemburg and the Municipality of Berane. Thanks to the catalytic effect of CARDS and the dynamism of the civil society organization in charge, the total value of the program, and thus its benefits, have grown to near €4 million.

There are approximately 25,000 refugees and displaced persons in Montenegro, or 4% of the total population.

 
  Source:
European Reconstruction Agency

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EU Funding: European Union maintains trade preferences for developing countries

Vendredi 25 juillet 2008

The European Commission has welcomed the adoption by EU Member States of a new Regulation applying the EC’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) for the period from 1 January 2009 until the end of 2011. .

This decision will allow the EU to maintain
preferential access to its market for 176 developing countries. The renewed preference
system will be updated and improved, ensuring that GSP is targeted at those countries that need it most. GSP provides real economic value to developing countries, with €57 billion worth of trade under the scheme in 2007

As a result of re-calculations to reflect the evolution of trade, preferences for specific product groups will be re-established for six beneficiary countries of GSP (Algeria, India, Indonesia, Russia, South Africa and Thailand). Preferences will be suspended for one country, Vietnam, for one product group, namely Section XII products (footwear and some other products). These adjustments are triggered automatically when a country’s performance on the EU market goes above or below a certain threshold. This procedure follows strict rules, and helps to ensure that the benefits of GSP preferences are targeted at the countries that need them most. Suspension of preferences, called “graduation”, reflects the fact that a particular country is competitive in the EU market for the products in question.

Alongside the standard GSP scheme, the EU also offers a special incentive arrangement for Sustainable Development and Good Governance, known as GSP+. GSP+ offers additional preferences to support vulnerable developing countries in their ratification and implementation of relevant international conventions on human and labour rights, environmental protection, and good governance. Interested countries have until 31 October this year to apply in order to benefit for GSP+ preferences from January 2009.

Background

The GSP is an autonomous trade arrangement through which the EU provides non-reciprocal preferential access to the EU market to 176 developing countries and territories. In 2007, developing countries exported €57 billion worth of goods under GSP, with a nominal duty loss for the EU of €2.5 billion. At present, 14 beneficiary countries receive the additional preferences offered under the GSP+ incentive arrangement. These preferences will lapse at the end of the year and both existing and potential new beneficiaries meeting the applicable criteria will need to apply before 31 October 2008 if they wish to receive GSP+ treatment from January 2009. A special arrangement for the 50 least-developed

 
  Source:
DG Trade

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EU Funding: European Commission and EU Presidency launch European Development Days 2008

Vendredi 25 juillet 2008

The European Commission and the French Presidency of the European Union have officially announced that the European Development Days (EDD) 2008 event will be held from 15 to 17 November in Strasbourg

EDD 2008 is one of the major events in the international development calendar, falling at a unique strategic time for Europe and its partners, two months after the United Nations General Assembly and a few weeks before the Doha Conference.

Following the EDD events in 2006 (on governance) and 2007 (on climate change), this third edition of the event will focus on the role of local authorities and the local dimension to development. Media and development, which will be the subject of a Forum in Burkina Faso in September (http://media-dev.eu), will also be on the EDD agenda.

The European Development Days provide a unique opportunity for debating, exchanging new ideas, creating synergies and launching practical initiatives. The event demonstrates Europe’s commitment to addressing issues in the development field.

Background:

The EDD have become a regular high-level event in the European and international calendar. Every year since 2006 the event has hosted more than 3 000 participants from all continents, representing some 1 200 organisations from the development sector.

A natural platform for discussing the major issues in development cooperation and launching new initiatives, the event gives everyone a say: public administrations, parliaments, local authorities, civil society, international organisations, academics, development agencies, the private sector and the media.

The EDD are more than a not-to-be-missed institutional gathering; they also aim to raise public awareness of development cooperation issues. To this end, a number of events will be organised for the general public, including exhibitions, festivals, concerts, workshops and fairs.

The European Union is the leading development aid donor, accounting for 56% of the worldwide total, worth € 47.6 billion in 2007. EU aid will rise to €66 billion in 2010 and €90 billion in 2015. The European Union is also the developing countries’ main trading partner.

 
  Source:
Press room - European Commission

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EU Funding: Commission unveils plans for cooperation between national research programmes

Mardi 22 juillet 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 New framework programme for research and technology aiming at better exploiting research capacities in Europe and transforming scientific results into new products, processes and services.

The European Commission has set out its plans for boosting cooperation between national research funding programmes

The new ‘Joint Programming’ scheme is designed to ensure that public research funds are used as efficiently as possible, and help Europe tackle shared problems more effectively. The first Joint Programming Initiatives should be launched by 2010.

Just 15% of public research funds in Europe are allocated at the European level, either through the EU’s own framework programmes, or through intergovernmental organisations such as CERN (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research) or pan-European schemes like EUREKA. The remaining 85% is locked up in programmes which are designed and implemented nationally.

Currently, there is little collaboration between these national research programmes, although many of the challenges they address are shared by all European countries.

The new Joint Programming Initiatives will see Member States combine resources and monitor and review progress together. Membership of the initiatives will be entirely voluntary, and the emphasis will be on pooling public research funds (unlike the Joint Technology Initiatives, which combine public and private research funds).

Member States wishing to work together on a given issue will first have to set out a common, long term vision for the agreed area. On the basis of this, a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) will be drawn up, which should contain clear, measureable and realistic objectives. Finally, the SRA will be implemented; in this stage, all Member States involved will be expected to align their national research programmes to the SRA.

The European Commission’s role in all of this will be that of facilitator, although EU funds may be made available to certain initiatives depending on their added value and European dimension.

According to the European Commission, Joint Programming will enable researchers to find common answers to common problems.

The plans will now be discussed by Europe’s research ministers, who are expected to endorse the concept and objectives of Joint Programming by the end of the year. The ministers will then appoint a group of experts to identify the areas for which Joint Programming is most suitable.

This selection will be made on the basis of clear criteria; for example, the challenge to be addressed must be pan-European or global in scale, yet be sufficiently focused so that clear objectives can be set. Publicly funded research must be key to addressing the problem, and the initiative should help to overcome fragmentation and duplication of research efforts in the field concerned.

Eventually, the Council will officially launch the JPIs and monitor their progress.

The Joint Programming scheme is just one of five launched by the Commission as part of its plans to reinvigorate the European Research Area (ERA). The others concern the management of intellectual property by public research organisations; research mobility and research careers; pan-European research infrastructures; and international science and technology cooperation.

 
  Source:
Cordis

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EU Funding: Commission gives Golden Stars to 12 citizenship projects

Mardi 22 juillet 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants to support organisations working in the field of active European citizenship and to the promotion civic participation

The European Commission has selected 12 civic participation projects that encourage action and debate on EU issues at the grass-roots level

Later this year, these projects will be awarded the “Golden Stars of active European citizenship” in a prize ceremony in Brussels, hosted by Commissioner Jan Figel. The 2008 Golden Stars are awarded as part of the Europe for Citizens programme, and give official recognition to initiatives that showcase cooperation, effective working methods and tangible results in the area of civic participation. The winning projects involve participants from 22 EU Member States.

The task of identifying this year’s winners was trusted to an external jury, composed of seven members, and chaired by Mr. Hannu Takkula, Member of the European Parliament and Vice Chairman of the EP Committee on Culture and Education. Members in the jury included Mrs. Brenda King from the European Economic and Social Committee and Mr. Keith Walters from the Committee of the Regions.

The Golden Stars are awarded each year under the Europe for Citizens programme, which focuses on organised civil society and at a wider, grass-roots audience. This main EU programme in the field of active citizenship is designed to enhance citizen involvement in the construction of Europe; to this end, a budget of some € 27 million is available for the year 2008.

The Golden Stars award ceremony will take place on 13 November 2008, in Brussels. It will be open to the public upon registration.

 
  Source:
Press room - European Commission

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EU funding: Practical preparations for the euro: final countdown for Slovakia

Vendredi 18 juillet 2008

With only 5½ months to go before the adoption of the euro, Slovakia’s preparations are quite advanced but further efforts are necessary.

Slovakia last week received the final and formal approval for adopting the euro on 1 January 2009 and the conversion rate was set. It must now concentrate on ensuring that the population and businesses are well prepared and the changeover takes place smoothly.

The Commission today adopted the seventh regular ‘Report on the practical preparations for the enlargement of the euro area’. The report focuses on Slovakia, which will adopt the euro on 1 January 2009. The conversion rate has been set at 30.1260 Slovak crowns to the euro.

The practical preparations have been entrusted to the National Coordination Committee and the Government Plenipotentiary for the Introduction of the Euro. The Commission suggests that Slovakia reinforces the coordination structures to ensure that they work efficiently and are able to solve any problems diligently.

Preparations of the financial and banking sectors are well advanced. The euro coins - a total of 500 million pieces has been foreseen - will be minted by the national Mint at Kremnica, a town in the centre of Slovakia whose minting traditions go back many centuries. The designs of the national sides that were selected by a popular vote can be seen at:

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/the_euro/coins12768_en.htm

The amounts of banknotes ordered by commercial banks so far are relatively low: only 27% of a total of 188 million estimated to be needed by the NBS, compared to 92.5% in Malta and an average of 67% for the first group of euro area countries at a similar point in time. To ensure a smooth introduction of euro cash, it is absolutely essential that banks and businesses should be supplied with banknotes and coins before €-day. Businesses themselves appear to be late in planning for the quantities of cash they will need to be able to give change in euro from day one and avoid queues at banks. Additional efforts with a view to increasing the frontloading volumes to banks and sub-frontloading to businesses should, therefore, be made.

Regarding €-day itself, the banks plan for extra opening hours in the first days of January 2009, including, in some branches, special counters for businesses. The NBS and the commercial banks also plan to distribute mainly small denomination banknotes (€10 and 20) at automated cash points and over-the-counter to ease the changeover.

In order to get familiar with their new currency, Slovak citizens will have the possibility to buy mini-kits as of December. A total of 1.2 million such kits have been ordered, but this may prove insufficient. The experience from the previous changeovers showed that each household buys approximately one mini-kit. Slovakia has some 2 million households and a total population of 5.4 million.

The Commission strongly believes businesses should be encouraged to sign the ‘Ethical Code’ of conduct devised by the Government Plenipotentiary together with the Association of Slovak Entrepreneurs, undertaking to respect the conversion rules. This is to address consumers’ fears of price increases during the changeover.

The Slovak Trade Inspection (SOI) will be in charge of controlling that the rounding rules are respected and prices correctly converted and displayed in both currencies until end 2009 as planned by the government. The SOI has the power to deliver warnings and charge penalties of up to € 60,000 in case of breaches. It is important that it has sufficient resources to carry out these tasks. However, administrative price regulation or equivalent market distortive measures would better be avoided as such practices would only delay the normal price adjustments arising from the evolution of world markets that would inevitably occur in one shot at the end of the freezing period.

The euro information campaign has intensified in recent months and is already wielding results with some 64% of Slovaks saying they feel very, or rather well, informed about the changeover, according to a Flash Eurobarometer survey carried out in May, compared to 51% in September 2007. This is important to ensure the citizens embrace their new currency with full confidence. But although they are more familiar with the euro and with Economic and Monetary Union there is still a growing demand for information.

A separate survey that explored the state of preparations among Slovak enterprises, mostly SMEs, indicates that the majority are rather well informed and feel they are advanced in the preparations.

 
  Source:
Press Room - European Commission

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EU funding: Commission’s help in front of the global food price rise

Vendredi 18 juillet 2008
 
 

Commission proposes special financing facility worth €1 billion to help developing country farmers

The European Commission today proposed to establish a special “facility for rapid response to soaring food prices in developing countries”. The fund would be worth €1 billion and would operate for two years, 2008 and 2009. This money would be in addition to existing development funds and would be taken from unused money from the European Union’s agricultural budget. It would be provided to developing countries which are most in need, based on a set of objective criteria. The facility would give priority to supply-side measures, improving access to farm inputs such as fertilisers and seed, possibly through credit, and to safety net measures aimed at improving productive capacity in agriculture. The support would be paid via international organisations, including regional organisations. The proposal falls under the co-decision procedure and the Commission hopes that Council and Parliament can reach agreement by November in order not to lose the unused 2008 money.

Rising food prices in 2007 and 2008 have had negative effects on many developing countries and their populations. Poverty has deepened for hundreds of millions of people and recent progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals has been put at risk. Rising food prices have resulted in riots, unrest and instability in several countries, risking the gains of years of political, developmental and peacekeeping investments.

However, the new situation could also provide a window of opportunity to stimulate a supply response from farmers in developing countries. It offers new income-generating opportunities to bring rural communities out of poverty by providing incentives for investments and productivity improvements.

At the same time, high agricultural prices have contributed to a reduction of market expenditure in the 2008 EU budget and to lower estimates for the 2009 budget within heading 2 of the financial framework. The Commission believes this provides an exceptional opportunity to provide a temporary facility to help stimulate farming in developing countries.

The Commission expects the positive results of this assistance to include an increase in agricultural production and food security in assisted countries, reduced malnutrition rates and reduced food price inflation.

Eligible countries and the share they should receive will be selected on the basis of transparent criteria. Information provided by the UN Task Force and international organisations (mainly UN agencies like FAO, WFP, World Bank and IMF) will be used, and this may be supplemented by country-specific information obtained from EC Delegations.

While all developing countries are potentially eligible for support, assistance will be provided to those that are severely affected by the food price crisis in socio-economic and political terms, have a need for measures to be taken and which do not have the means or capacity to respond unassisted.

Indicative criteria in selecting countries include reliance on food imports, food price inflation, and social and fiscal vulnerability. Other financing available to the country from the donor community will be taken into account, as well as the country’s potential to increase agricultural production. The Facility also allows for regional-level programmes, covering all developing countries of that region. Global initiatives may also be financed when implemented through a regional or international organization.

Assistance channelled through International Organisations could for instance apply to FAO (emergency input delivery programme), IFAD (e.g. rural finance), UNICEF (child nutrition, nutritional safety nets), WFP (humanitarian food assistance, transitional safety nets), the ICRC (food assistance) and the World Bank (market-based risk management, safety nets).

The Commission hopes the co-decision procedure can be completed by November, to allow commitment of funds in 2008 and implementation in early 2009.

 
  Source:
Press Room - European Commission

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EU funding:EU project offering bright lights for bright future

Jeudi 17 juillet 2008
 
 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 New framework programme for research and technology aiming at better exploiting research capacities in Europe and transforming scientific results into new products, processes and services.

The EU-supported project OLLA (’Organic LEDs for ICT and lighting applications’), backed with EUR 12 million in financing, may have come to an end, but the consortium has announced an extended collaboration via the OLED100.eu project.

The partnership forged between leading European companies will tackle OLED (organic light-emitting diode) lighting technology. The project’s aim is to improve the efficiency, lifetime and size of the light-emitting diodes.

Coordinated by Patrick Keur, OLED100.eu kicks off on 1 September 2008 and ends in 2011. The project partners seek to secure a power efficiency of 100 lumens per watt; lengthen the lifetime by more than 100 000 hours; expand the area to one metre by one metre, and reduce production costs to or under €100 per square metre.

For nearly two decades scientists have sought ways to convert electrical energy into visible light by using means other than incandescent sources. They have also looked to offer the market highly efficient and fully customised light in form, colour and appearance. However, they have focused their energies on display applications only. Sources now say that the potential of OLED technology is great, particularly as OLEDs can provide a myriad of products which offer high efficiencies at high brightness, different appearances, as well as shape and colour combinations.

OLED100.eu’s contribution to the lighting technology will prove positive, sources say. The research team adds that OLEDs have the potential to become the number one light source choice for various applications, including liquid crystal display (LCD)-backlighting, emergency lighting, signalling and advertising.

By 2023, these specific diodes will have succeeded in replacing the currently used lights - incandescent and fluorescent - and OLLA helped kick-start this phenomenon successfully. OLLA recently presented the basic technology for a highly efficient white OLED light source based on the Novaled PIN OLEDTM technology.

The results achieved in OLLA also include the delivery of large indium tin oxide (ITO)-free OLEDs, the first large-area printed OLEDs and a number of information and communication technology (ICT) demonstrators.

The researchers say all key players involved in the OLLA and OLED100.eu projects have strengthened their cooperation and fuelled their expertise to get the innovative technology off the ground as quickly as possible, particularly for the international markets.

 
  Source:
CORDIS
 
  More information:
Hitech projects

EU funding: What future for the training of magistrates and judicial personnel in the European Union ?

Jeudi 17 juillet 2008
 
 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for judicial cooperation and training for legal practitioners in the field of criminal justice
 Grants for judicial cooperation projects between practitioners in civil matters

The conference organised in Bordeaux on July, 21th, 2008 will deal with the training of magistrates and judicial personnel

The aim of the conference is to take stock of existing training courses and review training needs, with a view to establishing some guidelines for the future.

The discussions will focus on issues concerning common knowledge and values and also on the specific needs of judicial personnel.

The French Presidency hopes that this conference will be an opportunity to further the discussions begun during the Informal Justice and Home Affairs Council on 7th and 8th of July on the training of magistrates and judicial staff within the EU with the aim of getting the Council of Ministers to adopt a resolution on training before the end of the Presidency.

Since the Summit of Heads of State and Government in Tampere, Finland, in 1999, judgements on civil and criminal matters handed down by the magistrates of the European Union must be implemented in other Member States; this is known as the application of the mutual recognition principle. According to this principle, judges in one Member State of the Union must recognise legal decisions handed down in other Member States as though they were decisions handed down in their own country and must give them the same legal effect.

For example, a European arrest warrant issued by a Romanian judicial authority must, if necessary, be enforced in France. In these circumstances, the French judge must apply the ruling of the Romanian judge.

The implementation of this principle presupposes great mutual trust between the magistrates and judicial personnel within the EU. However, this type of mutual trust cannot be imposed from above but must be based on a sense of belonging to the same judicial culture; one of its foundations is the conviction that the magistrates and judicial personnel of other countries receive sufficient training.

To improve the application of mutual recognition, it is therefore important to develop a common judicial culture and bring the Member States’ knowledge closer together in this area.

Although considerable efforts have been made to achieve this target, gaps still remain in the area of training, particularly with regard to:

* knowledge of European Union law;
* the use of different networks and bodies created to facilitate European judicial cooperation;
* command of languages;
* knowledge of the legal and judicial systems of other Member States or exchanges between legal professionals on their working practices and the difficulties they encounter.

 
  Source:
French Presidency