Articles taggés avec ‘Society and Culture’

EU Funding: 24 new family homes for displaced Kosovo Roma

Mercredi 30 juillet 2008

 European funds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
  Source:
European Reconstruction Agency

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EU funding: 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: Emin Gjiku Cultural Complex of the Museum of Kosovo

Vendredi 13 juin 2008

The European Agency for Reconstruction has provided EC funds for the recently completed rehabilitation works which have restored one 18th century guesthouse building back to its original state

The Emin-Gjiku complex of houses is one of the best examples of 18th century Kosovo architecture left in Pristina. Emin-Gjiku is an ancillary ethnographic and cultural centre of the Museum of Kosovo. The European Agency for Reconstruction has provided EC funds for the recently completed rehabilitation works which have restored one 18th century guesthouse building back to its original state. It is intended to give local and international visitors an idea of domestic lifestyle in Kosovo over two centuries ago.

The general objective of the rehabilitation programme was to revive and draw attention to Kosovo’s cultural heritage as a way to promote interest in culture and building heritage and promote links between Kosovo’s cultural institutions and European cultural networks.

This project benefited from the EU support provided through the European Agency for Reconstruction and by the French NGO “Patrimone Sans Frontières” (PSF). The EAR funded rehabilitation, while PSF provided professional supervision.

The European Union, through the European Agency for Reconstruction, has contributed substantially to the restoration of historical buildings in Kosovo. It has already managed the completed restoration of five kullas (Albanian castle-houses), in the municipalities of Deçan/Decane and Pejë/Pec, and historical Ottoman house known as Gospodarska Kuca-Saraj in the Serb village of Hoca e Madhe/Velika Hoca, an important part of Kosovo’s cultural heritage, the Konak and dormitory in Deçan/Decane monastery and the ongoing reconstruction of the seminary and archbishop’s residence in Prizren/Prizren.

 
  Source:
European Agency for Reconstruction

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