Articles taggés avec ‘Multilateral’

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.

  More information:

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: Erasmus Mundus: successful Lebanese students and scholars receive scholarships to study in the EU

Mardi 8 juillet 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for the enhancement of quality in higher education and the promotion of intercultural understanding through co-operation with third countries
 Grants aiming at co-operation in higher education between the EU and Third-Countries through a co-operation and mobility scheme addressing students and academic staff.

Over thirty-eight Lebanese participants have benefited from the EU’s Erasmus Mundus programme to date. Nine students and one scholar from Lebanon have been selected to receive an Erasmus Mundus Masters Courses scholarship for the academic year 2008/09

These scholarships will allow them to study in Europe for one or two years and obtain a Masters degree from one of the 103 top-quality Erasmus Mundus Masters Courses offered by consortia of European higher education institutions. These ten Lebanese participants can be added to the eleven other successful Lebanese candidates that took part in Erasmus Mundus Masters Courses in 2007/8 and the 17 Lebanese students hosted in EU universities as part of the Erasmus Mundus scheme of exchanges (Erasmus Mundus External Co-operation Window – EM ECW).

The Erasmus Mundus programme is the EU’s co-operation and mobility programme in the field of higher education. It aims to enhance quality in European higher education and to promote intercultural understanding through co-operation with third countries. It supports European top-quality Masters Courses and also provides EU-funded scholarships for third country nationals participating in these Masters Courses (students, and scholars for teaching and research activities). The programme also provides scholarships for EU-nationals studying at partner universities throughout the world. The Masters Courses are high-quality Masters level programmes designed and offered by a consortium of higher education institutions in at least three different European countries. They address all fields of study. Each course must foresee a study period in at least two of the three institutions, and should last from one to two academic years. 21 Lebanese students and scholars have been selected to follow Masters Courses in European universities in 2007/8 and 2008/9. They are from the Lebanese University, Université Saint Joseph, the American University of Beirut and Notre Dame University.

The European Commission has also launched the Erasmus Mundus External Co-operation Window (EM ECW) which offers 1 to 34 months exchanges to undergraduate, masters, doctorate and post-doctoral students as well as academic staff. To date, this exchange scheme is limited to two Lebanese universities, the American University of Beirut and the Lebanese University, which are members of a university consortium lead by the Lund University from Sweden. In the EM ECW 2007 selection round, 5 EU students were selected to be hosted in Lebanese universities, while 17 Lebanese students are hosted in EU Universities.

Apart from the Erasmus Mundus programme, the European Commission supports the development of the higher education sector in Lebanon through its Tempus programme for inter-university cooperation. Under this programme, curricular reform and governance reform have been selected as priorities for the years 2007-2013. Since 2003, Lebanon has benefited from almost EUR 7 million.

Additional information

More than 2,000 students and 450 teaching staff from outside Europe have been selected to receive an Erasmus Mundus scholarship for the academic year 2008/09.

In 2008, a total number of 17 new partnerships of Erasmus Mundus Masters Consortia with higher education institutions in non-European countries were selected. Altogether, they encompass 62 universities from 28 different third countries. These 17 partnerships foresee an outgoing mobility of an estimated 477 European students and 192 European scholars over the next two years. The partnerships allow European higher education institutions, scholars and students to strengthen their ties with other higher education environments in the world.

This latest selection completes the first phase (2004-2008) of Erasmus Mundus. In total, more than 6,000 students will have received an Erasmus Mundus scholarship to obtain a degree in Europe over the five-year period. Over the same period, more than 1,000 teaching staff from third countries have been given an Erasmus Mundus scholarship to actively contribute to Masters courses in teaching or research activities.

The second phase of Erasmus Mundus (2009-13) is expected to start in 2009 with a planned total budget of 950 million euros. Its main new features are the inclusion of joint doctoral programmes, increased scholarships for European students and an intensified structural cooperation with third-country higher education institutions. In addition, the new proposal integrates a mobility scheme for all levels of higher education.

EC Delegation to Lebanon

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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
  More information:

EU funding: Cleaner, greener cities debated Tuesday night

Mardi 8 juillet 2008

More European cities in the future should think hard about introducing measures such as “green zones” in their city centers, argues Austrian centre right MEP Reinhard Rack (EPP-ED) in a report to be debated Tuesday evening.

The report calls for greater use of public transport across Europe in an effort to reduce the number of private cars on the road. The hope is that this could protect the environment and reduce CO2 emissions from cars.
The report argues that cities and their surroundings face similar problems and challenges regarding pollution, congestion, and noise and road safety. The result is that is getting more difficult to move around towns and cities according to the report.

Negative effect on quality of life noted

It says that in addition to being a major contributor to climate change, pollution and other environmental problems, traffic can also have negative effects on the quality of people’s lives. Given this the report calls for towns and cities across Europe to choose from a wide range of flexible instruments, combining “hard” and “soft” law measures

The report goes on to say that cities should be free to adopt their own mobility policies while public transport must be made more efficient, attractive and accessible. Attention must be paid to the particular needs of employees, people with reduced mobility, children and the elderly

Currently cities such as London, Rome, Milan, Valetta and Stockholm already introduced measures such as green zones, road pricing and congestion charging.

The Rack report responds to a Commission Green Paper entitled “Towards a new culture of urban mobility” and a White Paper on a European transport policy for 2010.

European Parliament

Eu funding: Commission welcomes Council approval of Slovakia’s euro adoption

Mardi 8 juillet 2008

The European Commission welcomes today’s final and formal decision by the ECOFIN Council allowing Slovakia to adopt the euro as from 1 January 2009.

On a proposal by the Commission, the Council also decided that the Slovak koruna will be converted into euro at the rate of 30.1260 SKK/EUR. In the coming 5½ months, it will be vital for Slovakia to advance with and complete its technical and practical preparations to ensure that the changeover to the euro takes place smoothly, as it did in Cyprus and Malta at the beginning of this year.

Today the European Union’s finance ministers adopted the legal acts necessary for Slovakia to adopt the euro on 1st January 2009. Based on a Commission proposal, they also decided that the Slovak koruna will be replaced by the euro at the rate of 30.1260 SKK to the euro. On 7 May this year, the Commission concluded that Slovakia met the convergence criteria to adopt the euro and consequently made a proposal to the Council that it allow Slovakia to do so.

Need to pursue stability-oriented policies

Membership of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) offers huge benefits for the Slovak economy and its citizens, including thorough integration into a stability-oriented policy framework, enhanced cross-border trade and investment, better access to integrated financial markets, and greater price transparency and competition.

In order to fully reap the benefits of the monetary union and ensure a smooth integration into the euro area, Slovakia needs to build on the efforts it has made to qualify for euro adoption by striving to maintain sound public finances, promoting wage-setting in line with productivity growth, pursuing further structural reforms to enhance the functioning of product and labour markets, and remaining vigilant in monitoring financial sector and credit dynamics.

Final practical preparations

Like previous euro-area entrants, Slovakia will also have to pay close attention to the practical preparations needed in the next 5½ months to ensure a smooth changeover.

Production of the euro coins will start shortly after today’s ECOFIN decision in the Slovak Mint of Kremnica. To see the Slovak national sides of the euro coins go to:

Next week, the Commission is expected to adopt its regular report on the state of the practical preparations for the introduction of the euro in the EU countries that have not yet adopted it and do not have a legal opt-out. This seventh report will focus on Slovakia, given the imminence of its changeover date.

Press Room - European Commission

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EU funding: Europe offers young scientists astronaut experience

Lundi 7 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 Space Agency is giving graduate students the opportunity to take their experiments to new heights.

Under the programme ‘Fly Your Thesis! - An Astronaut Experience’, Master’s or PhD thesis students will fly their experiments in microgravity. The ESA’s Education Office says interested parties have until 31 August 2008 to submit their proposals.

In layman’s terms, microgravity is weightlessness or zero gravity. The first image that springs to mind is an astronaut floating inside their spacecraft. But microgravity also affects active people, like swimmers jumping off diving boards and amusement park revellers. Lasting for only short periods of time, microgravity occurs during the ‘free fall’ period of such types of activities.

Using an Airbus A300 Zero-G aircraft, the students will take part in a series of parabolic flights during the programme. The participants will be placed in up to 20 teams, chosen by a review board, and will be asked to present a detailed scientific proposal, under the guidance of a scientific mentor. The French-owned Airbus A-300 aircraft provides frequent and repeated periods of weightlessness, the ESA says.

The review board will assess all proposals during a workshop, to be held at ESA’s European Space Technology and Research Centre (ESTEC) in the western Dutch municipality of Noordwijk later this year. Visits to the Germany-based European Astronaut Centre (EAC) are also on the cards for the students. EAC is the training site for European astronauts.

At the end of the first workshop, three or four teams will be asked to carry out their experiment on an ESA Microgravity Research Campaign, which is scheduled to take place in the French port city of Bordeaux in 2009. Thanks to this campaign, the students will have the opportunity to rub elbows with leading European scientists who are conducting their own research. It should be noted that the teams will accompany their experiments on board for 3 flights of 30 parabolas. Each parabola will provide students with around 20 seconds of microgravity.

Under the programme, each team of students must design a scientific experiment that will be carried out in microgravity. The experiment is part of the students’ Master’s or PhD thesis, or research programme. The deadline for the teams to register on ESA Education’s Project Portal and upload their outline proposals is 31 August 2008. All teams must use the Letter of Intent template for their proposals.

Students taking part in Fly Your Thesis! are supported by the ESA Education office, ESA microgravity experts and members of ELGRA (European Low Gravity Research Association). In a statement, ESA says it will also provide financial support to cover part of the cost of the experiments, necessary travel and accommodation, as well as conference participation.

In a related development, people attending the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) workshop of the ESA may be asked to perform their experiments in another gravity research facility.


EU funding: Climate Change package 2020: the EU’s Emission Trading System’s 3rd Phase

Lundi 7 juillet 2008

What will be the future shape of the European Emission Trading System (ETS), a cornerstone of the EU’s efforts to curb greenhouse gases?

The EU Commission proposed in January to extend ETS to other sectors and greenhouse gases. Parliament rapporteur Avril Doyle agrees, but her draft report for the Environment Committee calls for adjustments to channel ETS auction revenues towards climate protection measures and to give industry more clarity of how exactly the system will work after 2012.
The Emission Trading System (ETS) is a “cap and trade system”. At present “National Allocation Plans” prepared by each country define allocations - or “caps” - of how much CO2 each country and each industrial emitter in the scheme may emit. If companies emit more they must purchase permits. If they emit less, they can sell - “trade” - their unused allowances. An allowance for a ton of CO2 currently trades €28.

The aim is to reduce greenhouse gases by 8 % by 2012 compared to 1990 levels and at least by 20% by 2020. These are based on commitments made at and after the Kyoto agreement. If further agreement is reached these cuts could be raised to 30%.

ETS “cornerstone” of climate change package

There are three phases envisaged for the ETS from 2005 to 2020. The sectors covered are power and heat generation, oil refineries, metals, pulp and paper and other energy intensive industries - for example cement production.

The Scheme has drawn criticism from several quarters - especially in the first phase. Having said that, the importance of the Scheme has been defended by the rapporteur, Irish centre right (EPP-ED) MEP Avril Doyle. She told us that as it covers sectors which make up half of the CO2 emissions the Scheme is “the cornerstone of the EU strategy for fighting climate change”.

Rapporteur wants more revenue for environmental measures

The Commission proposals for the third phase of the ETS are planned to be adopted by the end of 2008: They include extending it to other industries such as chemical and aluminium production. They also include a single EU-wide cap for the Greenhouse gases - as opposed to national plans and allocations. It also wants future allocations to be by auctioning and for free allocation to be exceptional and to be decreased.

Ms Doyle presented a draft report in the Environment Committee at the end of June. She praised proposal as “balanced” and says that it would “significantly improve and strengthen” the ETS.

Nevertheless, she put forward a number of draft amendments:

* Notably that 50% (rather than 20% as foreseen by the Commission) of revenues from auctioning should be directed towards environmental and climate protection measures such as reducing deforestation.
* Strict rules to be applied to which kind of credits / emission allowances are given for investment in green and renewable energy projects.
* Emission credits are to be awarded to the operators of the first 12 facilities that are using Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology before 2013.
* Ms Doyle wants that EC, by the end of 2010, to indicate the amount of allowances to be auctioned for the period 2013 to 2020. This will ensure planning and predictability for industries.
* Avoiding the risk of “carbon leakage” in energy intensive industries (see box). Ms Doyle is against already naming these sectors in the Directive, as it would be “detrimental to the chances of international negotiations reaching an international climate agreement”.

Dublin born Avril Doyle is a vice-chair of the Fisheries Committee and a member of the Environment and Climate Change Committee. She was first elected to the European Parliament in 1999.

What happens next? The deadline for amendments in the Environment Committee was 2 July, MEPs in that Committee will hold a vote on 7 October and the matter will be debated by the full plenary probably in December.

Jargon buster - become a climate change guru

Carbon leakage: the risk that high emitting industries are either delocalised to sites outside the EU or that competitors outside the EU take over the market share of European companies.

Clean Development Mechanism & Joint Implementation: Possibilities under the Kyoto protocol (for countries and companies) to receive emission credits by investing in climate friendly technologies in another country.

Windfall profits: In the first phase of ETS especially power companies made profits by selling allowances that they had received for free but did not need.

European Parliament

EU funding: Young People - Agents of Intercultural Dialogue

Lundi 7 juillet 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for actions promoting intercultural dialogue and a citizenship citizenship respectful of cultural diversity

Meeting of youth representative groups from the European Union in Marseilles from 5 to 9 July.

This European youth event aims to foster dialogue between young people and policy makers on all levels. It highlights the importance placed by public authorities on involving young people in the decisions affecting them and achieving their full participation in society.

As part of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008 (EYID), this youth event takes place during the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union and revolves around intercultural dialogue and “young people’s role as agents of intercultural dialogue”.

The event will take place in Marseilles from 5 to 9 July 2008.
Some 150 national youth delegates will attend from 50 different countries including Member States of the European Union and European Free Trade Association (EFTA), and countries around the Mediterranean. They will be joined by representatives of European associations, a delegation from the European Youth Forum and a number of experts.

Five issues will be addressed:
1) Intercultural dialogue on a daily level,
2) Youth involvement in intercultural dialogue,
3) Measures accompanying as part of the intercultural dialogue process,
4) Challenges and opportunities for intercultural dialogue: focus on mobility,
5) Tools and communication in the different fields of intercultural dialogue.

The conclusions from discussions between young people will be recorded and presented to policy makers in a plenary session on 9 July. The 27 Directors-General, the European Commissioner for Youth, the French Minister for Health, Youth, Sport and the Voluntary Sector and the Secretary of State for Sport, Youth and theVoluntary Sector will attend the presentation in the Palais du Pharo. This event is intended to provide political leaders with food for thought and help them draft domestic and European youth policies.

French Presidency

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