Articles taggés avec ‘Policies and Programs’

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: Climate change: Awareness campaign aims to create virtual community of young ‘changers’

Mercredi 4 juin 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

The public awareness raising campaign on climate change launched by the European Commission in May 2006 moves into a final stage tomorrow that will focus on five Member States – Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania and Bulgaria

Launched on World Environment Day, this third phase of the “You control climate change” campaign aims to initiate pro-active dialogue on climate change in these five countries, where national campaigns have not yet been implemented. This stage of the campaign is centred around television advertising and a competition for young people that seeks to create a virtual community of ‘Changers’ committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by adapting their daily habits.

The final phase of the campaign will be launched through a series of events in national capitals on 5 and 8 June. These include a 4 km bicycle race around Bucharest and ‘Changer’ stands at the Ekofestival 2008 in Prague and at the Magic Sports Island sports festival on Margaret Island in Hungary. In all countries it will be possible to exchange plastic bags for a re-usable cotton bag.

The campaign in the five countries will run until mid 2009 and will comprise the following main elements:

- A TV advertisement showing how simple everyday actions can help to combat climate change will be broadcast on key youth channels in the five countries starting this month. It will also be available on the campaign website. Advertisements encouraging young people to change their habits are also scheduled to appear in prominent outdoor locations and on public transport
- The “Be a Changer” competition aims to get young people in the five countries to submit a pledge to adopt new habits and actions to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These actions will be photographed by them and posted on-line where they can be voted on. Those making pledges and those who register as their supporters will together form a virtual community of ‘Changers’ sharing their creative ideas on combating climate change and competing to achieve the best results. At the end of the competition, the four most popular Changers in each country, along with one supporter from each country, will win a one-year membership of Earthwatch, the world’s largest environmental non-profit organisation. Those over 18 will also take part in a youth environment camp that will teach them the practical tools to make a difference to the environment; those under 18 will win camera equipment worth around €1,000. The competition will run until 30 November 2008
- An internet media campaign targeted at youth-focused portals and chat platforms will drive Internet users to the “Be a Changer” competition website

Cost

The final stage of the campaign will cost €1.5 million taking the total cost of the campaign since it was launched two years ago to almost €6.2 million.

 
  Source:
Press Room - European Commission
 
  More information:
Campaign website

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EU Funding: Green Week 2008: Only One Earth – Don’t waste it!

Mardi 3 juin 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

This year’s Green Week, the biggest annual conference devoted to European environment policy, will take place from 3 to 6 June at the Charlemagne Building in Brussels

Under the slogan “Only One Earth – Don’t waste it!” Green Week 2008 will focus on the need for Europe and the rest of the world to make its use of resources more sustainable.

In addition to 38 conference sessions, there will be an extensive side-events programme, including a ceremony on 3 June at which Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas will announce the winners of the European Business Awards for the Environment 2008. Eleven companies from seven Member States have been nominated.

3,000 - 4,000 participants

Now in its eighth year, Green Week has established itself as a major annual forum for dialogue and for sharing experience, expertise and best practice on the environment. It brings together some 3,000-4,000 representatives from different levels of government, international institutions, business, non-governmental organisations and the scientific and academic communities. The ultimate objective is to find the most effective ways to protect and improve Europe’s environment, now and for the future. Green Week is open to the public free of charge.

Under the over-arching theme of sustainable use of resources, Green Week 2008 is structured around four sub-themes: Resources and waste management; Sustainable consumption and production; Nature and biodiversity; and Climate change.

The 38 conference sessions will cover an extensive range of issues, from the Commission’s plans to revise the EU Emissions Trading System to waste management challenges in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, from the economic effects of biodiversity loss to the application of Extended Producer Responsibility for products, and from water saving to the advantages and disadvantages of biofuels.

Commissioner Dimas will speak at the opening and closing sessions, while Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen and Commissioner for consumer protection Meglena Kuneva will also participate in sessions during the week.

Other speakers include:

- Janez Podobnik, Slovenian Environment Minister
- Anders Wijkman, MEP
- Angela Cropper, Deputy Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme
- Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director, European Environment Agency
- Lorraine Bolsinger, Vice-President, General Electric

Side-events: Environment Business Awards and LIFE Awards

At a ceremony on the evening of 3 June Commissioner Dimas will announce the winners of this year’s European Business Awards for the Environment and present them with trophies. The awards recognise “the Best of the Best” companies that have already won awards at national level. Eleven companies from seven Member States have been nominated out of 125 entries received, as follows:

- Management award: Terr’Avenir (France), The Co-operative Group Ltd (UK), TRIIP (Estonia)
- Product award: JCDecaux SA (France), Red Eléctrica de España (Spain), ertex-solar GmbH (Austria)
- Process award: CHOREN GmbH (Germany), DHV BV (Netherlands), Bayer AG (Germany)
- International Cooperation award: Windkraft Simonsfeld GmbH (Austria), KIT (Royal Tropical Institute) (Netherlands)

 
  Source:
Press room - European Commission
 
  More information:
Green Week web site

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Eu funding : Young People and Tobacco – Show and Share Your Idea!

Mardi 27 mai 2008
 
 

 European funds

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

Create a video, photo or comic strip to reduce smoking across Europe and to encourage a life without tobacco.

The materials produced will support the positive aspect of a life without tobacco. Young people´s empowerment and involvement in issues affecting their health and well-being should be underlined. There are four categories: best video, best “candid camera”, best photo, best comic strip.

Deadline: 30 June 2008.

This competition was launched by the European Commission’s Health & Consumer Protection Directorate (DG SANCO) in partnership with the European Youth Forum (YFJ) to involve young Europeans (aged 15 to 35) on matters affecting their health and well-being.

 
  Source:
Youth in Action
 
  More information:
Help EU

Eu funding : Improving the safety and environmental performance of vehicles

Lundi 26 mai 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

The European Commission proposes that all new cars from 2012 will have Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems, to drastically improve vehicle safety.

Furthermore lorries and other heavy vehicles should be fitted with Advanced Emergency Braking Systems (AEBS) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW) Systems as of 2013. Last year the Commission already proposed the obligatory fitting of passenger cars with Brake Assist Systems (BAS) to protect pedestrians. These measures will reduce fatal casualties in traffic by an estimated 5000 a year. At the same time the Commission proposes the obligatory introduction in 2012 of low rolling resistance tyres, which considerably save on fuel consumption and CO2 emissions and might also reduce noise, while maintaining high level safety. Low rolling resistance tyres will reduce up to 7 gram of CO2 per km, therefore contributing strongly to the CO2 reduction strategy for cars, adopted in February 2007. Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions will further be reduced by the proposed introduction of Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems. The Commission proposal will also sweep away more than 150 existing Directives and replace them with one single Regulation, which is directly applicable in the EU and refers to harmonised UN standards.

European Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for Enterprise and Industry, stated: “We are simplifying legislation. We are improving road safety. We are promoting fuel efficiency. We are presenting a modern integrated policy approach beneficiary for citizens, for the environment and the industry.”

1. The Commission proposes that the following safety requirements are introduced:

* Mandatory Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems for new car series and commercial vehicles to be phased in from 2012, with all new cars being equipped by 2014. ESC acts on the braking or power systems of a vehicle to assist the driver in maintaining control of the vehicle in a critical situation (caused, for example, by poor road conditions or excessive speed during cornering). As well as saving casualties, the widespread use of ESC in vehicles could significantly reduce the traffic congestion caused by accidents involving large vehicles.
* Advance Emergency Braking (AEBS) on large vehicles employing sensors to alert the driver when a vehicle is too close to the vehicle in front and, in certain situations, apply emergency braking to prevent or reduce the consequences of a collision (from 2013).
* Lane Departure Warning (LDW) Systems on large vehicles to assist drivers by warning them when their vehicle is in danger of leaving the lane unintentionally, mainly due to lack of driver attention (from 2013).
* In addition, the Commission has proposed in October 2007, that passenger cars need to be fitted with Brake Assist Systems (BAS) as from 2009. If the complete European car fleet is fitted with BAS, as many as 1100 pedestrian lives may be saved every year. The use of BAS can considerably reduce the stopping distance of a vehicle in an emergency situation with the effect that a collision with a pedestrian could be avoided altogether or would occur at least at a far lower speed (see IP /07/1453).
* In line with the recommendation of the CARS 21 report, the repeal of over 50 existing Directives and more than 100 amending Directives to be replaced where possible by references to United Nations Regulations.

2. New requirements for tyres

* Low Rolling Resistance Tyres (LRRT), to be obligatory from 2012 , lead to lower fuel consumption by reducing the resistance to motion that occurs when the tyre rolls, caused mainly by the deformation of the wheel or tyre or the deformation of the road. Rolling resistance depends very much on the material of the wheel or tyre and can be reduced by, for example, the use of silica in the tread compound. In order to avoid any negative impact on safety, explicit safety requirements are introduced alongside new standards on noise.
* Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS), obligatory from 2012, warn the driver when the tyre is significantly below its optimum pressure. Maintaining proper tyre inflation is essential for both fuel efficiency and better tyre performance. Deflated tyres can cause up to 4% increase in fuel consumption while reducing tyre lifespan by 45%. Tyres can lose 3-6% of pressure per month, and this may not be noticed by the driver. Deflated tyres are also an important factor causing road accidents.

According to research by TNO in the Netherlands, the fuel saving potential of LRRT and TPMS in passenger cars is 3% and 2.5% respectively. For new cars with expected engine test cycle performance of 130 g CO2/km this would mean additional reductions of more than 7 g CO2/km (3.9 LRRT and 3.25 TPMS). The CO2 reduction potential of LRRT+TPMS on a current car (with a test cycle of, for instance, 160g) would be greater than 7kg/tonne.

Advanced Safety Systems

Preliminary estimates suggest that the new proposals for fitting advanced systems to heavy vehicles could ultimately save around 2500 lives per year (around 500 for ESC and 1000 each for AEBS and LDW) and many more lives outside the EU since the legislation will encourage manufacturers to fit ESC as standard for a wider range of markets. Fitting ESC on cars is likely to save around 2000/2500 lives per year. The proposal also allows for the optional fitting of AEBS and LDW on cars, provided certain standards are met.

 
  Source:
Press room - European Commission
 
  More information:
European Commission

Eu funding : Annan, Gorbachev join EP leaders and other guests for Energy Globe Awards

Lundi 26 mai 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

Politics, music and film meet at the European Parliament on Monday night for the 9th Energy Globe Awards.

The awards - which promote the use of clean and renewable energy - will present awards to projects in following categories: Earth, Fire, Water, Air and Youth. Kofi Annan and Mikhail Gorbachev will be joined by Alanis Morissette and Dionne Warwick whilst Bollywood actor Aamir Khan will represent the world of film.
The ceremony will be presented from the parliament’s building in Brussels by TV presenter and actress Désiree Nosbusch in English. She will also be joined by Italian singer Zucchero and Aboriginal Park coordinator Leanne Liddle.

Some of the prizes will be presented by parliament’s President Hans-Gert Pöttering and the president of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso. The Council of the European Union will be represented by Slovenia’s PM Janez Jansa as Ljubljana currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

On this website over the next few days we will have a full report from the Gala itself as well as interviews with some of the VIPs who attended. The parliament has strongly backed the awards given the importance it attaches to environmental and energy questions. At present MEPs are legislating on a number of important EU-wide subjects:

* Revision of the EU Emission Trading Scheme;
* CO2 emissions from passenger cars;
* Renewable energy sources and biofuels;
* Binding national targets for emissions reductions;
* Carbon Capture and Storage.

As well as the main awards the Energy Globe Awards also help support local projects which help save energy, protect the environment or help more people access drinking water or electricity. This year projects from 109 countries participated. Indian activist Maneka Gandhi is chairing the jury.

 
  Source:
European Parliament

EU funding : The CAP reform

Lundi 26 mai 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

Adjustment of Common Agricultural Policy – an Incentive for Response by Other EU Policies

A three-day informal meeting of the agriculture ministers of the EU Member States started today in Maribor. The ministers will conclude their visit to Slovenia with a plenary session on Tuesday, 27 May 2008, at Brdo pri Kranju. On the initiative of the Slovenian Presidency, at the meeting the ministers will discuss climate change, biofuels, environmental protection, risk management in agriculture and food safety. For the first time, the agriculture ministers will also exchange views on the legislative proposals relating to the “review” of the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which will be presented by the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mariann Fischer Boel.

The review of the CAP reform opens an important issue on new challenges and the adjustment of European agriculture to the changing global circumstances. In the conclusions adopted by the EU Council in March, the agriculture ministers stressed the need for risk management in agriculture and established that new challenges must receive a broader response, including through other EU policies.

According to Minister Jarc, agriculture needs to respond to climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time adapting production to new climate conditions. It is necessary to assess the impact of biofuel production on global food safety, establish sustainability criteria for biofuel production and place greater emphasis on the research and development of second-generation biofuels.

In addition to environmental protection, Minister Jarc highlighted the rising prices of agricultural products, which is the reason why risk management in agriculture is gaining in importance. On account of the growing world population and increased demand for food, agricultural production will have to increase as well.

At the informal meeting, the ministers will discuss how the agricultural sector should be adjusted to these changes; in what way an appropriate balance could be found between delivering sufficient quality food at affordable prices for consumers on the one hand and ensuring the protection of the environment, cultural landscape and natural resources on the other hand; and whether the solutions contained in the legislative proposals are the proper answer to these challenges.

 
  Source:
Slovenian presidency

Eu funding : Alterego European Competition

Jeudi 22 mai 2008
 
 

 European funds

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

Create your “double portrait”!

Imagine you were born in another European country, who would you be? Where would you go? What would you look like? This pan-European competition engages young people (14 to 18 years old) in 22 EU countries to create a ‘double portrait’ using film, photography, painting, music or mixed-media, and show it to people across Europe. The winner will receive a week’s training from high-profile artists in Denmark (16th – 21st of November 2008) and his/her work might become part of an exhibition touring throughout Europe between January and March 2009.
The deadline for uploading material is 5 September 2008; winners will be announced the 3 October 2008.

 
  Source:
Youth in action
 
  More information:
Alter Ego

Good headway being made on entrepreneurship key competence

Lundi 19 mai 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Assistance to the Candidate countries to support their progressive compliance with EU rules and policies, including the acquis communautaire if necessary, in preparation for their accession

The ETF has just completed an interim assessment of the EU’s pre-accession countries’ performance on the human resource dimensions of the European Charter for Small Enterprise. Three countries in particular stand out for their efforts in promoting entrepreneurship as a key competence

Firstly, Montenegro has elaborated a national entrepreneurial learning strategy which is expected to go for Government approval in late spring 2008. The strategy covers all parts of the education system and is intended to provide a comprehensive framework for lifelong entrepreneurial learning development with a particular emphasis given to key competence development. While the strategy awaits adoption, however, the education authorities have already moved on introducing the key competence within some 38% of secondary schools with where teachers have been trained and new pedagogic-didactic materials introduced. Lola Radulović of the SME authority underlines the wider value of the entrepreneurship key competence, ‘employers need enterprising workers, people who are spot opportunities and who are not frightened of taking an initiative’, she says.

Serbia is also forging ahead with key competence development but specifically in the vocational training areas e.g. agriculture, mechanical engineering and health care with additional occupational areas to be included in 2008 (e.g. electrical engineering, tourism). These developments follow the adoption of the national vocational training strategy adopted in late 2006 and demonstrate a commitment by the Belgrade authorities to see through the reforms outlined in the strategy.

For its part, Kosovo has elaborated an entrepreneurial learning strategy which covers all parts of the education system, where the entrepreneurship key competence is a primary pillar to envisaged reforms. Kosovo has additionally defined a series of standards for entrepreneurial learning to ensure appropriateness of the teaching and learning processes.

Meanwhile, two neighbouring countries have taken important steps to address the key competence policy concerns. Croatia is revisiting its national curriculum strategy with a view to incorporating the key competence provisions within pre-school, primary and secondary education. And fYR of Macedonia has signalled intentions to move forward strategically on key competence developments with a specific request for support from the European Union through its IPA Programme. This will build upon harder entrepreneurship knowledge and skills promotion which is now mandatory for all secondary level schooling.

Reflecting on the key competence developments of the four countries, Anthony Gribben points to good policy motivation by the countries to accommodate the education guidelines within the SME Policy Index.

The ETF works with the European Commission (Directorate General for Enterprise & Industry), OECD and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is supporting the EU pre-accession region in meeting the policy requirements of the European Charter for Small Enterprise.

 
  Source:
Education and Training Agency (ETF)

Debate on the digital future of Europe

Mercredi 14 mai 2008
 
 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for the development of an inclusive information society and more efficient and effective services in areas of public interest, and improvement of quality of life

How to respond to increasingly intense competition on the global market?

More than 250 million Europeans regularly use the internet, 80% of them have broadband connections. At the two-day conference ‘Information Society at the Crossroads’, which opened at Brdo on 13 May 2008, participants agreed that information and communication technology (ICT) is one of the most important driving forces behind economic and social modernisation. The conference, organised jointly by the Slovenian Presidency and the European Commission, is dedicated to the interim report on the i2010 Strategy (i2010 - A European Information Society for growth and employment), launched in 2005 as the first comprehensive policy framework for an integrated European information society, which proposed the following three priorities: establishment of a single European information space, strengthening innovation and investment in ICT, and achieving an inclusive European information society (that promotes growth and jobs in a manner consistent with sustainable development and prioritises better public services and quality of life).

The interim review of the i2010 initiative confirms the important contribution and role of ICT in assuring economic and social development in the European Union as well as the contribution of appropriate information society policies and media to achieving Lisbon objectives. The conference will therefore address topics of increasing importance for competitiveness and the deployment of ICT in Europe: the further development of networks and the internet (new generations) and bridging of the digital divide, the establishment of pan-European services (ensuring an efficient and operational single market for advanced e-products and e-services) and views of the end user as consumer and as active co-producer of digital content.

Compared with other industrial regions, Europe does not make sufficient use of the economic potential of the largest market in developed countries and fails to invest sufficiently in ICT. Mojca Kucler Dolinar, the Slovenian Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology and Co-President of the EU Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council, noted that “the Interim Report identifies important successes in implementation of the strategy in Member States, however between developed and developing EU Member States there are still appreciable differences which may threaten coherent development in the future. Activities and policies to promote competitiveness and reduce the differences between the more successful and the less successful should be planned in order to prevent fragmentation between Member States.” With regard to the interim report, Mrs Kucler Dolinar further pinpointed the provision and promotion of the free movement of knowledge and innovation - the ‘fifth freedom’, stressing the need for coordinated action and cooperation by all Member States in implementing the instruments supporting development at both EU level (e.g. the ICT Programme in the 7th Framework Programme) and national level and in the context of utilisation of EU structural funds.

 
  Source:
Slovenian presidency