Articles taggés avec ‘EU’

EU funding: EU clampdown on ring-tone scams

Jeudi 17 juillet 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants in the framework of the programme of Community action in the field of consumer protection policy

EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva today announced the results of an EU-wide investigation into websites offering mobile phone services such as ring-tones and wallpapers

The enquiry, which was carried out on more than 500 websites across the 27 Member States, Norway and Iceland, found that 80% of the sites checked need to be further investigated for suspected breaches of EU consumer rules. Many of the websites target children and young people. Problems found included: unclear price information where prices are incomplete did not include taxes or customers are unaware that they are signing up to a subscription. Large numbers of websites do not provide some of the required contact information about the trader. Other problems relate to misleading information where key information is hidden in very small print or hard to find on a website or the word “free” is used to mislead consumers into a long-term contracts. The breaches vary in the degree of seriousness. More than 495 million mobile phones are owned by Europeans. Ring-tones alone were estimated to make up 29% of the overall “mobile content” market in Europe in 2007 (about 10% higher than 2006). The value of European ring-tone sales in 2007 was estimated at €691 million. Seven countries Norway, Finland, Sweden, Latvia, Iceland, Romania, Greece) are publishing the names of the websites which they found to have irregularities.

The Sweep

The “Sweep” is a new kind of EU investigation and enforcement action. Member States carry out simultaneous, coordinated checks of webpages for breaches in consumer law in a particular sector. They contact operators with alleged irregularities and ask them to clarify their position and/or taken corrective action.

The mobile services Sweep took place between 2-6 June. Enforcement authorities across Europe checked mobile service websites for suspected violations of EU consumer law - Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (2005/29/EC); Distance Selling Directive (1997/7/EC), E-commerce Directive (2000/31/EC).

The results

The Sweep focused on 3 types of practices in the mobile services sector which compromise consumer rights (unclear information about the offer’s price, trader information, misleading advertising).

* 80% of websites checked are being further investigated. The total number of websites checked was 558, the total number of websites that need further investigation is 466. The number of cases potentially requiring cross border co-operation between different national authorities, CPC cases (Consumer Protection Co-operation Network) is 76.
* 50% of websites checked targeted children (279 websites out of 558). These websites used children’s cartoon characters, well known TV characters or required parental consent. The same high level of irregularities (80%) also applied to these sites.
* Many websites indicated multiple irregularities. The figures are as follows
* Almost 50% of all the sites checked had some irregularity related to the information about the offer’s price (268 websites out of 558). On many websites prices and related charges and fees are not clearly indicated or not referred to at all - until the consumer is invoiced via their phone bill. Prices did not include all taxes, in the case of a subscription, the word subscription is not clearly mentioned or the period of a subscription is not clear.
* Over 70% of all the websites checked lacked some of the information required to contact the trader - the trader name, geographic address or the contact details were incomplete (399 websites out of 558). This is against EU law -the eCommerce Directive 2000/31/EC requires details of the service provider, including an email address, to be displayed.
* Over 60% of websites checked presented the information in a misleading way (344 out of 558). Information on the contract is available on the site but hidden in small print or hard to find. Goods and services advertised as “free”, but the customer is misled and later finds that there are charges or that they are tied into a contract.

What happens next?

Companies will be contacted by the national authorities and asked to clarify or correct problems identified. Failure to do so can result in legal action leading to fines or closure of their websites. For cross border cases, national authorities will work with colleagues from other EU authorities. Authorities are asked to report back on their progress in the first half of 2009.

Press Room - European Commission

EU funding: Climate package: are we sharing the cuts in emissions?

Jeudi 17 juillet 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for strengthening Community environment policy and legislation, with a view to promoting sustainable development in the EU

Last year EU leaders agreed to cut CO2 emissions by a fifth by 2020 in a bid to tackle climate change.

Emerging global agreements could up that figure to a 30% cut. Earlier this year the European Commission unveiled legislation that would allow these steps to be taken. The EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme is at the heart of these efforts although keys areas like transport and buildings are not covered. Deals based on solidarity between States will be how CO2 cuts are agreed for these areas.
Finnish Green MEP Satu Hassi is vice-chair of the Environment Committee and parliament’s rapporteur for the “Effort Sharing Decision” to reduce Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions. “Effort Sharing” covers areas not covered by the EU’s emission trading scheme such as transport, buildings, services, agriculture and waste. Between 2013 and 2020 they will make up about half of all emissions.

Ms Hassi wants emissions in these sectors capped - and that includes transport by ship which is not covered by the Kyoto agreement. At their last plenary session in Strasbourg MEPs voted to include aircraft in the trading scheme in 2012.

“Falls short of what is needed”

Ms Hassi believes that the proposals put forward by the Commission are not ambitious enough. She told us they: “fall short of what is needed in order to keep global warming below the 2°C limit. Reductions of 30% compared with 1990 level would be in the range given by the UN’s climate change panel. But the Commission proposes 30% reduction only as a part of an international agreement, and doing part of this via offsetting.”

She would like industrialised countries to aim for targets of 80% reductions by the middle of the century. This is higher than the 25%-40% cuts scientists believe are necessary to contain temperature rises at 2°C.

There is already discord among EU states as to the level that they should be starting at. At present 2005 is given as the reference year so countries would have to make cuts appropriate to their emissions based on 2005. However, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia all believe it does not reflect their efforts to restructure post-Communist economies based on heavy industries. They have put forward a target of an 18% cut in emissions.

How can we reduce emissions?

The “offsetting” of emissions by reducing them outside the EU is one way proposed by the European Commission. It wants 3% of emissions not covered by the trading scheme to be offset. Ms Hassi opposes the use of credits as it would not achieve the 24-40% cuts she believes are necessary.

For countries outside the EU she believes that separate emissions reductions target should be agreed and that Europe should use its technological know-how to help. The UN’s International Panel on Climate Change says that developing countries need to reduce their emissions by 15-30% compared to business as usual.

The Commission has proposed that countries can reduce their emissions (those not included in the trading scheme) until 2020. Countries can either borrow or carry over their emissions limit to the next year depending on progress.

The Hassi report will be voted on by the Environment Committee in October, the plenary will consider it in December.

European Parliament

EU Funding:EU allocates €4 million to support industrial and regional development in the Banat region - Serbia

Mercredi 16 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”)

As part of the EAR’s municipal support programme for 27 municipalities in north-eastern Serbia, €4 million has been allocated to support a major development project to construct an industrial zone at Ecka near the town of Zrenjanin, “capital” of the Banat region

Zrenjanin, with a population of 80,000, is the third largest town in the Serbia’s northern province of Vojvodina. As a whole the municipality has 132,000 inhabitants and has pursued a very successful development policy over the past few years. One industrial zone has already been set up, but is now entirely occupied, and the municipality thus applied to the Agency’s MSPNES programme for assistance to establish a second zone at Ečka on the outskirts of the town.

The project was promoted at a press event in Zrenjanin on 2 July. This was attended by a European Union delegation consisting of Ambassadors Josep Lloveras (European Commission) and Ron Van Dartel (Netherlands), and, from the Agency’s Belgrade Centre, Daniel Giuglaris (head of office) and Vassilis Petrides (programme manager). Welcoming them all, Mayor Goran Knežević stated that the visit affirmed EU support for the town as a place of long-established European values. Expressing thanks for the donation, he highlighted its significance for this industrially-developed and geographically important part of Serbia, and stated that construction of the Zone would create about 8,000 new jobs.

Presenting details of the project to the delegation and the press, deputy mayor Predrag Stankov pointed out that the Ečka project had been one of 105 submitted by the 27 municipalities covered by the EAR’s north-east Serbia programme. The Agency had decided to support only four of these projects from the grant fund attached to the programme, and the new industrial zone had come top of the list – hence the generous level of EU funding. The town had already invested €2.2 million, the EU would provide a further €4 million, and the Serbian National Investment Programme an additional €1.3 million. This budget would be spent on building and connecting the complete infrastructure needed for the 72-hectare zone – networks for water supply, sewage disposal and surface water drainage, telecommunications, gas and electrical systems, roads, security fencing.

Daniel Giuglaris confirmed that the Zrenjanin project had been chosen on the basis of a detailed feasibility study, and had met all the necessary criteria – it had met stipulated technical requirements, justified social and economic demands, secured co-financing from other sources, and proved its economic viability. It would boost the economic development of the town and the region, and thus fitted well into the overall purpose of the Agency’s municipal support programmes. Since 2001, there had been three of these, focusing on the east, south and south-west of Serbia, but this, the fourth, in the north-east of the country was by far the biggest. Covering the three districts of the Banat region, it also included the Branicevo district centred on Požarevac south of the Danube. It thus completed the huge geographical circle of municipal support programmes financed by the CARDS programme.

The north-east support programme, Giuglaris went on, included a grant fund totalling €13.5 million for financing major priority investment projects such as the Ečka Zone. The tendering procedure to find a contractor for this was now well advanced and it was expected to let the contract by the end of August.

European Agency for Reconstruction (EAR)

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EU Funding: Montenegro: EU supports the First National Conference on Life – Long Entrepreneurship Learning

Mardi 15 juillet 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants aimed at supporting cooperation activities in the fields of lifelong education and training and at promoting bodies active at European level in education and training

The CARDS Project ‘Labour Market Reform and Workforce Development’, an EU-funded project managed by the European Agency for Reconstruction and implemented by WYG International (United Kingdom), in cooperation with the Municipal Authorities of Berane, organised a National Conference on Life-Long Entrepreneurship Learning (LLEL)

This has been the first ever National Conference on Life-Long Entrepreneurship Learning in Montenegro – ‘From Idea to Action’ and took place in Berane on 20 June 2008. The Conference was held in the facilities of the local Gymnasium ‘Panto Malisic’ to promote the results of the pilot ‘National Best Practice Initiative’, which was a package of LLEL measures put in practice by the CARDS Project with the institutions in Berane. The achievements in the municipality of Berane should become a good example for replication throughout Montenegro.

The mayor of Berane who opened the conference emphasized that the municipality had recognised how important it is to invest in human resources and workforce development in these dynamic times of globalisation. He also stressed that entrepreneurship learning is essential for local social and economic development. The Deputy Minister of Education and Science underlined that entrepreneurship learning is one of the eighth key competences for life-long learning and that with the activities in Berane Montenegro is going well in the direction of achieving EU standards in the field of entrepreneurship learning.

The activities in Berane form part of a broader €1,5 million EU project designed to address the need for labour market reform and workforce development. The project activities were started in November 2006 and the project’s completion date is set for 20 September 2008. On 12 September a Final Conference will be held.

With assistance from the EU funded project, several activities related to the introduction of life- long entrepreneurship learning have been conducted over the past year in this municipality, following the latest achievements and recommendations of the European Union in this domain. These activities were supported by all relevant local partners – the municipality, educational institutions and institutions for training and employment, companies and institutions for supporting small and medium-sized enterprises

Promoting entrepreneurship learning at the national level contributes to better understanding of its role and significance for the future of young people. It is also of great significance for the quality of learning during the regular school period and afterwards, for adult learning. From this year on, the National Conference on Life – Long Entrepreneurship Learning will be held in Montenegro on a regular basis. The main aim of the Conference is the promotion of entrepreneurship learning, presenting achievements and offering a forum for exchanging opinions on priorities and opportunities for further policy and practice development, all in the framework of the strategy for LLEL and the action plan that the CARDS Project Team assisted to prepare and that are currently under the governmental adoption procedure.

CARDS Project ‘Labour Market Reform and Workforce Development’

Montenegro signed a financing agreement with the European Commission in 2006 for a programme worth €18.5 million. The agreement has enabled the implementation of the EU’s annual Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation (CARDS) programme – a financial assistance package to help Montenegro improve its governance and institutions, and accelerate economic and social reforms.

EU funds have enhanced the capacity of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare in labour market policy formulation and clarified institutional links between the Ministry and the Montenegro Employment Agency. More specifically, support has been provided to:

- Both bodies for development and modernisation of policy and executive responsibilities, reinforcing social dialogue capacity and social partnership in the area of labour market reform and workforce development
- Develop a National Action Plan for Employment, including an implementation plan, operational arrangements and funding implications for an ‘employment fund’ to support active employment measures (training, counselling, self-employment support) for specific target groups that include those made redundant as a consequence of privatisation and plant closures, women, youth, long-term unemployed and minorities
- Develop labour market and employment statistics, information systems, analysis, research capacity, monitoring and reporting systems
- Facilitate a dialogue on life-long learning strategies in Montenegro by establishing a national partnership for innovation in the learning system to meet the needs of the next generation and beyond.

European Agency for Reconstruction

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EU Funding: Commission proposes to Member States to jointly address major societal challenges

Mardi 15 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.

Climate change, diseases, or energy are societal challenges shared by all EU countries

National research, which currently makes up 85% of all European public research funding, will have more impact if Member States pool their resources and better coordinate their efforts. The European Commission today proposed that Member States adopt a new approach of “Joint Programming”. It aims at tackling current compartmentalisation which undermines the efficiency of Europe’s research.

The Communication adopted today by the Commission “Towards Joint Programming in Research: Working together to tackle common challenges more effectively” proposes that Member States first identify a limited number of key challenges on which to focus their efforts, and then, agree on a common vision, develop and implement a Strategic Research Agenda for each area.

The Communication stresses that Joint Programming will be a voluntary process and need not involve all Member States in each specific initiative. It can relate to the coordination of existing national programmes, or the setting up of entirely new ones, pooling resources and collectively monitoring and reviewing progress. The Commission’s role is that of a facilitator and the implementation may or not may involve Community financing. If the EU Council of Ministers agrees with the proposal, Joint Programming Initiatives should be underway by 2010.

The European Strategic Energy Technology Plan and the foreseen Marine Research Strategy provide pilot experiences for this initiative.


The Communication is one of five policy initiatives planned by the Commission to follow up the 2007 Green Paper “The European Research Area: New Perspectives” and is a further step in the creation of the “fifth freedom” by removing barriers to the free movement of knowledge.

Press room - European Commission

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EU Funding: MEPs vote on Strategic Energy Technology Plan

Mardi 15 juillet 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants in the framework programme for innovation activities (including eco-innovation) in enterprises, take-up of information technologies and better use of energy.
 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.

MEPs have adopted a new report which outlines recommendations on how the EU can strengthen the European Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan and help the EU to meet its climate change targets

For Jerzy Buzek MEP, rapporteur and member of the Industry, Research and Energy Committee and the Temporary Committee on Climate Change of the European Parliament, the report offers a realistic, sustainable solution to the challenge of climate change. He believes that it not only recognises the need to reduce carbon emissions but also recognises the need to maintain the EU’s competitiveness in global markets.

The report was passed by the European Parliament in a vote of 596 in favour, to 85 against, with just 14 abstentions.

The EU has set itself targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020, and by 2050 it hopes to reduce emissions by 60 to 80%.

The report aims to achieve this ambitious goal by setting out a plan on what the energy agenda for Europe should be. The agenda includes promoting research into new, clean energy technologies which the parliament views as crucial to successfully fighting climate change.

Such technologies also have the added benefit of not only helping Europe achieve its targets on greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy and energy efficiency, but also in securing Europe’s energy supply in the future.

Biofuels, which have been under increasing scrutiny recently, are also mentioned in the report, which calls for increased research in this area. This research would determine once and for all the overall environmental impact of the production of those fuels.

Another example of the EU’s commitment to new technologies is the recommendation to support the creation of up to 12 proposed Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) demonstration projects. The report also notes that support for clean coal technologies, such as coal to gas conversion, ‘will make it easier and cheaper to deploy CCS with the possibility of making it mandatory in the future’.

Parliament however made it clear that the SET Plan should not be financed through the reallocation of funds made available for energy under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP). Instead they stressed to the Commission that alternative funding be allocated for the support of new low carbon and zero carbon technology research and development, demonstration and commercialisation activities.


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EU funding: Member States sould reimburse 410,3 million Euro for CAP

Mercredi 9 juillet 2008

Commission to recover € 410.3 million of CAP expenditure from the Member States

A total of € 410.3 million of EU farm money unduly spent by Member States is claimed back as a result of a decision adopted by the European Commission. The money returns to the Community budget because of inadequate control procedures or non-compliance with EU rules on agricultural expenditure. Member States are responsible for paying out and checking expenditure under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and the Commission is required to ensure that Member States have made correct use of the funds.

Main financial corrections

Under this latest decision, the 28th since the 1995 reform of the system for recovering unduly spent CAP money, funds will be recovered from Germany, Spain, France, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden. The most significant individual corrections are:

* € 145.2 million charged to Italy for weaknesses in the photo-interpretation of images and in the on-the-spot control procedure based on images from earlier years concerning arable crops (area aids) payments;
* € 127.7 million charged to Greece for shortcomings in LPIS-GIS system and in on-the-spot checks concerning area aids and nuts payments;
* € 69.4 million charged to Great Britain for inappropriate timing of the follow-up field visits and for the inaccurate determination of the area eligible for payments.

Press Room - European Commission

EU funding: Can animals comprehend the power of symbols?

Mercredi 9 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.

Humans interpret symbols every day, from traffic lights to warning labels on tins. We also use symbols on a more complex level such as currency.

When we use money, be it a paper note or a coin, we inherently understand the corresponding intrinsic value that that note or coin has. Our whole economic system runs on the basis that we all understand the value currency has.

The question is, do animals also have this understanding? The project SEDSU, funded by the EU with around €37,500 in financing, is saying yes, animals may very well understand the power of symbols and of currency.

Conducted by the CNR, Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, Unit of Cognitive Primatology and Primate Center, Rome, Italy, the SEDSU (’Stages in the evolution and development of sign use’) study was funded by the NEST (’New and emerging science and technology’) programme of the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) and examined the fundamental question of ‘Can non-human animals comprehend and employ symbols?’

Traditionally speaking, it has been humans who have been defined as the ’symbolic species’. Perhaps the most complex implementation of symbols humans have devised is in the languages and scripts they have created. According to this study: ‘This mental representation of symbols - objects that arbitrarily represent other objects - ultimately affords the development of language, and almost certainly played a decisive role in the evolution of our hominid ancestors.’

Over the years it appears as though humans have been unique in the evolution of the use of symbols. While some evidence does exist however that apes can use symbols in various contexts and indeed, have even been trained to use language, data is lacking when it comes to species of monkeys which are further removed from the human family tree.

This is why the study focused on the tufted capuchin monkeys, a South American species that diverged from humans about 35 million years ago. In this experiment five capuchins were engaged in ‘economic choice’ behaviour. Each monkey was given the chance to choose between three different foods offered in variable amounts.

The monkeys chose between ‘tokens’ that represent actual foods. After choosing one of the two token options, monkeys could exchange their token with the corresponding food. What they saw was that the capuchin monkeys assigned a value for each token and food item. Capuchins were indifferent between one Cheerio and two pieces of parmesan cheese, indicating that the value of one Cheerio is equal to two times the value of one piece of parmesan cheese. When choosing between tokens that represented the same foods, the relative value increased - for example, capuchins were indifferent between one Cheerio-token and four parmesan-tokens.

These results indicate that capuchin monkeys can indeed apply reason to symbols. However, as they do so, capuchins also experience the cognitive burden of figuring out what each symbol represents. In this respect they appear to behave similarly to young children.

The study concludes that while capuchin monkeys may not achieve the same standard of adult humans with regard to symbolic competence, the study is able to demonstrate that animal species relatively distant from humans have undertaken the path of symbolic use and understanding.

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EU funding: All-inclusive air fares just around the corner as MEP back legislation on transparency

Mercredi 9 juillet 2008

Air travellers will soon be able to see at a glance exactly what they have to pay for their tickets, as Parliament approved new EU rules.

Air fares as displayed will have to include all taxes, fees and charges added to the basic ticket price and known at the time of publication. Parliament approved a deal on this legislation reached with the Council, as it takes on board the EP’s key first-reading amendments.
The price you actually have to pay

Booking via Internet - often the only possibility with low-cost air carriers - is a particular concern. Under the EU regulation, all carriers will in future have to provide the general public with comprehensive information, “including on the Internet,” on their air fares. Air fares that are “addressed directly to the travelling public” will have to include all applicable taxes, non-avoidable charges, surcharges and fees known at the time of publication.

The following information, at least, must be specified: air fare or air rate, taxes, airport charges and other charges, surcharges or fees, such as those related to security or fuel. Optional price supplements must be communicated in a clear, transparent and unambiguous way at the start of any booking process and their acceptance by the consumer must be on an “opt-in basis”.

Security taxes and charges

With security charges on the rise, MEPs successfully argued that the consumer has a right to know how high these costs are, and what they are used for. Where airport or on-board security costs are included in the price of an air ticket, these costs will have to be shown separately on the ticket or otherwise indicated to the passenger. And, whether levied by the Member States or by air carriers or other entities, security taxes and charges must be transparent and be used exclusively to meet airport or onboard aircraft security costs.

A wide-ranging regulation

The new rules on transparency of air fares are part of a regulation which updates existing EU legislation on a range of matters to do with the operation of air transport services in the Community.

Among other things, it aims to establish a level playing field for leasing aircraft and to clarify who has administrative responsibility for revoking or suspending licences.

In addition, stricter controls on the financial situation of airlines should ensure that, if a carrier is on the verge of going bankrupt, passengers’ rights can be safeguarded.

Moreover, Member States must now ensure the proper application of Community and national employment legislation to employees of any Community carrier operating air services from an operational base outside the Member State where that carrier has its principal place of business. In the past, the use of bases outside the country of origin has made it difficult to determine which territory’s employment laws apply to crews.

The new regulation should enter into force later this year or early next year.

European Parliament

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EU funding: You control climate change: Be a Changer!

Mardi 8 juillet 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for cooperation and exchanges in the field of youth and informal education and training.

Taking part in this competition could be your first step towards saving the Earth’s climate.

Becoming a Changer means being a part of an international community that works to protect the environment while having fun! And if that isn’t enough to get you started there are also great prizes to be won. Be a Changer! Keep track of the changes you make in your daily life and get as many friends as possible to do the same. Make a pledge to fight climate change by registering on the website. Support a Changer! Check out the Community of Changers. Find friends that have pledged to be Changers and give them your support.

The competition runs until 30 November 2008.
All you need to do is register for the competition.

European Youth Portal
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