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July 28, 2008

Twinning with the Developing World

“If each local authority with its [however limited] resources decided to twin itself with a town, a municipality, a district, a province or a region in the south, the world would be changed and poverty would decrease rapidly” according to Development Commissioner Louis Michel in an open letter calling for the widespread signing of a twinning convention between local authorities in Europe and counterparts in developing countries. The third annual European Development Days will take place in Strasbourg in mid-November with the theme ‘Local authorities and development’ and will recognise the most impressive and promising north-south twinning ties established since autumn 2007. To be taken into account, twinning links should be new or at the most one year old. Applications must be submitted before 20 September to devtwinning@ec.europa.eu. Further information: www.eudevdays.eu

Posted by iroronan at July 28, 2008 03:35 PM

« European Mobility Week, 16-22 September | Main | Twinning with the Developing World »

July 21, 2008

Changes in State Aid

A newly-approved General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER) adopted on 7 July will allow Member States the freedom to grant a host of aid measures without first notifying the Commission. 26 categories of aid focussed on job creation and competitiveness as well as reducing the administrative burden for businesses and public authorities - have been designated. All are applicable to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and indeed preferential ‘‘top-ups’’ apply to SMEs in instances where larger firms are also deemed eligible beneficiaries. This initiative is in line with both the Commission’s 2005 State Aid Action Plan which aims to create a coherent, and user-friendly set of rules for aid and with provisions allowing Member States to support SME development under the new Small Business Act (see above). The Regulation authorises aid in favour of regional investment and employment; research and development – particularly in the agricultural and fisheries sectors; training initiatives; technical feasibility studies; risk capital; and wage subsidies for the employment of disabled/ disadvantaged workers. Aid measures promoting entrepreneurship such as support for young innovative enterprises, newly created small businesses in assisted regions, innovation advisory and support services, and tackling difficulties faced by female entrepreneurs are also now authorised. Additionally the Regulation offers an environmental dividend by exempting from notification a varied set of subsidies promoting environmental protection (including investment towards the attainment of standards) and energy generation/saving. Further details: http://ec.europa.eu/comm/competition/state_aid/reform/reform.cfm

Posted by iroronan at July 21, 2008 03:36 PM

« Urban Congestion & Road Pricing | Main | Changes in State Aid »

July 17, 2008

European Mobility Week, 16-22 September

Local authorities are invited to contribute to this week of local events promoted by the European Commission in conjunction with Eurocities, Energie-Cités and the Climate Alliance of European Cities. The theme for 2008 is ‘clean air for all’ and concrete sustainable transport activities relating to mobility management, quality of life, planning, accessibility, public information, commuting and negating pollution are welcome to associate themselves with the initiative and to use this as a springboard towards implementing permanent practical measures. The ‘in town without my car’ campaign is part of this week. Further details: www.mobilityweek.eu or from yvonne_butler@environ.ie

Posted by iroronan at July 17, 2008 03:49 PM

« Regional policy to boost SME prospects | Main | European Mobility Week, 16-22 September »

July 17, 2008

Urban Congestion & Road Pricing

As the European Commission prepares its forthcoming Action Plan on Urban Mobility, MEPs have called upon the EU to adopt guidelines for the creation of ‘green zones’ and the introduction of road charging schemes regulating access to city centres. A European Parliament resolution entitled ‘Towards a new culture of urban mobility’, adopted on 9 July in response to the 2007 Green Paper of the same name, recommends that the Commission should develop an overall strategy on urban mobility that will result in “more rational use of private cars” and harmonised standards to alleviate traffic congestion. The resolution insists that local authorities must have the responsibility to decide on whether or not such schemes should be established in their towns and cities and should be facilitated in doing so by access to best practice in mobility management. In advance of the forthcoming review of the EU budget, MEPs have also recommended that the EU financing of projects under the Structural Funds needs to be more closely linked to sustainable transport and environmental protection obligations including the mandatory adoption of sustainable urban mobility management programmes for cities of a certain size. Further details: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/file.jsp?id=5597882

Posted by iroronan at July 17, 2008 03:20 PM

« 11 September, Paris - Cities Influence on EU Policies | Main | Urban Congestion & Road Pricing »

July 14, 2008

Regional policy to boost SME prospects

The practical financial opportunities offered by EU Cohesion Policy to national and regional agencies charged with enterprise policy were underlined on 9 July by Regional Policy Commissioner Danuta Hübner in a speech on the Small Business Act. The Commissioner stressed that by promoting "local action", creating network clusters, assisting diversification and innovation and most importantly, facilitating access to finance, Cohesion Policy – which provides €27 billion (7.9% of total community investment) towards supporting SME development – could serve as a "launch pad" to boost the 99% of all EU businesses which provide 2/3 of all private sector jobs. Calling for member states to adapt national Cohesion Policy investments to the benefit of entrepreneurship she pointed out that "with only a small amount of investment, it is possible to achieve a high impact and raise the innovation capacity of small businesses". In reference to SMEs’ role in implementing the Lisbon Strategy for competitiveness, growth and jobs, the Commissioner emphasised a series of groundbreaking knowledge economy projects in promoting innovation which have previously arisen from national authorities use of cohesion funding. €17.5 billion of the SME funding mentioned above is earmarked for technology and innovation actions and the remainder allocated to ICT activities (14%), start-ups (12%) and eco-friendly projects (9%). Further details: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/1121&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

Posted by iroronan at July 14, 2008 04:23 PM

« Interreg Ireland-Wales Workshop, Kilkenny - 14 August, | Main | Regional policy to boost SME prospects »

July 14, 2008

11 September, Paris - Cities Influence on EU Policies

The 8th Conference des Villes (Mayors of France’s large cities) event will examine the evolving economic, social, political and cultural roles of large urban areas – particularly their combined contribution towards achieving pan-European sustainable development and the knowledge-economy goals. Investment in RTD, education and training; business competitiveness and employment generation; integrating environmental and social concerns into economic decision-making; combating social exclusion and discrimination; and promoting multiculturalism and diversity are among the topics for discussion. Further details: www.grandesvilles.org

Posted by iroronan at July 14, 2008 03:51 PM

« e-Government, Turin - 1-4 September | Main | 11 September, Paris - Cities Influence on EU Policies »

July 11, 2008

Interreg Ireland-Wales Workshop, Kilkenny - 14 August,

Interreg IVA Ireland-Wales are holding an applicant workshop on 14 August in the Lyrath Hotel, Kilkenny for Call 2 applicants. Contact: srudden@seregassembly.ie

Posted by iroronan at July 11, 2008 03:54 PM

« Deprived Urban Areas, Rotterdam - 22-23 September, | Main | Interreg Ireland-Wales Workshop, Kilkenny - 14 August, »

July 11, 2008

e-Government, Turin - 1-4 September

The 7th International EGOV Conference will provide state-of-the-art overviews of research, implementation and application in eGovernment, eGovernance eParticipation and other fields of application in the public sector. Topics for discussion include ICT4D (ICT for Development); Emergency and disaster response; and Information preservation. Further details: www.dexa.org

Posted by iroronan at July 11, 2008 03:53 PM

« Small Business Act: approved and set for Athlone conference | Main | e-Government, Turin - 1-4 September »

July 11, 2008

Deprived Urban Areas, Rotterdam - 22-23 September,

The European Union Knowledge Network is organising "Cities of Opportunity – the urban promise of upward mobility" - a conference on altering negative public perception and harnessing the potential of deprived urban areas as well as outlining strategies to better integrate them and their populations into wider society. Further details: www.eukn.org

Posted by iroronan at July 11, 2008 03:46 PM

« Technology for All Citizens, Ennis - 25-26 September | Main | Deprived Urban Areas, Rotterdam - 22-23 September, »

July 11, 2008

Small Business Act: approved and set for Athlone conference

The Commission unveiled its much-anticipated Small Business Act (SBA) on 25 June as a key piece of legislation intended to unlock the potential of 23 million European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The SBA contains almost one hundred initiatives on cutting red tape for entrepreneurs, increasing SME investment prospects, facilitating access to public finance and improving the perception of entrepreneurship and risk-taking. More than half of these initiatives are to be within the competence of Member States and despite indicating broad support for the Act, EU ministers meeting as the informal Competitiveness Council at Versailles on 17 July have yet to clarify how and when these are to be implemented. On a related matter Athlone will host a 2-day conference with a strong SBA focus entitled ‘Supporting our SMEs – overcoming barriers to their development’ on 29-30 September. Organised by the EU Committee of the Regions (through Cllr. Constance Hanniffy, President of the Committee’s Commission for Economic and Social Policy) in conjunction with the Association of Irish Regions and BMW Regional Assembly, the conference will be opened by an Taoiseach Brian Cowen TD and will include contributions from Hervé Novelli, French Secretary of State for Trade, Crafts and SMEs, Tourism and Services, (on behalf of the EU Council Presidency); Frank Ryan, CEO of Enterprise Ireland; Maive Rute, Deputy SME Envoy with the European Commission DG for Enterprise & Industry; Philippe Vanrie, CEO of EBN - the European BIC Network; and Patricia Callan, Director of the Small Firms Association, among others. To register for the conference contact: pgrennan@bmwassembly.ie

Posted by iroronan at July 11, 2008 03:22 PM

« European Information Society Conference, Naples - 25 -27 September | Main | Small Business Act: approved and set for Athlone conference »

July 05, 2008

Technology for All Citizens, Ennis - 25-26 September

The final event of the Interreg IIIb project Citizen First which has linked Mid-West Ireland (under the Mid-West Regional Authority as Leads) with partners in Cambridge, Eindhoven and West Flanders will take place in September. Citizen First’s activities to date have concentrated on refocusing local and regional activities from organisation-driven services towards citizen-centric services. The project has led to the successful implementation of services that focus and are deployed around the stated and diverse needs of citizens. However, some target groups remain at risk of further exclusion with the digitalisation of public services and in the last year, the project has been working closely with these target groups to further gain the participation of hard to reach, marginalized groups and people with special needs. While primarily aimed at local & voluntary stakeholders working on providing solutions to social exclusion by exploring the benefits of ICT, this event should also be of interest to all regional and local authority officers and politicians concerned with, social inclusion, e-inclusion, e-democracy, e-participation and people empowerment. http://www.citizen-first.net/

Posted by iroronan at July 5, 2008 07:17 PM

« Lifelong Learning Mobility | Main | Technology for All Citizens, Ennis - 25-26 September »

July 04, 2008

European Information Society Conference, Naples - 25 -27 September

EISCO 2008 will assess progress on implementing the ‘i2010 Digital Local Agenda’ (DLA) - a strategic plan for good governance and the development of the information society in Europe's municipalities, cities and regions – through its contribution to innovation, governance and e-Inclusion by means of local digital networks and communication instruments. Further details: www.eisco2008.eu/

Posted by iroronan at July 4, 2008 03:45 PM

« The Limerick Declaration and the Future of Regions | Main | European Information Society Conference, Naples - 25 -27 September »

July 04, 2008

Lifelong Learning Mobility

With a focus on “quality in mobility”, the 2008 European Awards for Lifelong Learning have been given to fifteen outstanding EU-funded projects in the field of education and training which demonstrated how mobility can broaden horizons, enhance skills and create opportunities. The awards gave particular attention to teaching staff and trainer mobility but were not restricted to the formal education system. The winning projects include a staff exchange scheme between fire services providers; religious diversity and anti-discrimination training; guidance to students in online learning resources choices; intensive study programmes developed between partner universities; and cultural translation and shared performance by pupils in different countries. Mobility will remain at the very centre of the Lifelong Learning Programme, the EU's flagship fund in the field of education and training. New actions are already planned for the coming years: · ‘Comenius Regio’ will be launched in 2009 as an action for partnerships between local and regional school authorities; · From 2010, ‘Comenius Individual Pupil Mobility’ will enable secondary pupils to spend from 3 months up to one school year at a partner school abroad; · Addition types of mobility will also be available under the Grundtvig programme for adult education. Further details: www.qim.si/eng/

Posted by iroronan at July 4, 2008 03:38 PM

« Makign SME Funding Opportunities Understood | Main | Lifelong Learning Mobility »

July 01, 2008

The Limerick Declaration and the Future of Regions

A meeting of European Regional experts and practitioners in Limerick in May discussed the future of learning regions. The result is the ‘Limerick Declaration’. It is shown below. It is relevant to every manager, administrator and councillor concerend about the future of their region. It can be printed and displayed as an example of how 21st century regions must learn and develop. Much, much more new knowledge about learning regions can be found on www.longlearn.org.uk, including unique active learning materials for managers, professionals and advisors. PASCAL European Network of Lifelong Learning Regions (PENR3L) The Limerick Declaration We recognise the urgent need for local and regional authorities to meet the changing economic, social, political, environmental, cultural and management challenges of 21st century life. We believe that the solution lies in a better understanding of the underlying regional dynamic which balances the global and the local, develops the social capital already existing in most communities and fosters innovation, creativity and growth. This can only be achieved by a large increase in continuous and lifelong learning for management, professionals and councillors, eventually extending to the citizens themselves. In short, cities and regions must become learning cities and learning regions, developing their human, intellectual and community potential for the benefit of all, and engaging all stakeholders in this task. We, new and potential members of the PENR3L network, declare that we will foster and develop new knowledge, expertise and resources to help create learning cities and regions well able to meet the future with confidence, imagination and success. In particular we believe that the following list of strategic directions will help local and regional authorities to construct stable, prosperous and sustainable learning regions that will benefit all its institutions and citizens. · exploiting the resources and expertise of Higher Education Institutions, thus helping them to fulfil their third mission in the Bologna process · mobilising the energies and potential of other public and private sector stakeholders for social and economic growth · fostering innovation, creativity and vision in people and organisations · capitalising on diversity as an investment, valuable for economic , human and intellectual growth · adapting and using already existing tools and materials to increase lifelong learning opportunities for all citizens · requiring all institutions and workplaces, including the local authority itself, to become learning organisations with continuous improvement programmes for all employees and high quality benchmarked standards · developing interaction between the local and the global to create investment opportunity · continuously improving employability and skills to meet the changing requirements of the world of work · releasing the talents, skills, experience and knowledge of the community in active citizenship projects · using the media imaginatively to publicise and celebrate the learning region internally to its citizens and externally to its customers and potential investors · enabling people and institutions to become actively involved with environmental protection projects Addenda to the declaration include the potential roles and responsibilities of stakeholders such as universities, business and industry, schools, cultural institutions and community organisations in this process. These are also shown at www.longlearn.org.uk European Regions wishing to share the benefits of membership of a dynamic and forward-looking network of experts and practitioners (PENR3L) should contact learningregions@longlearn.org.uk Those wishing to know more before joining may wish to obtain the book ‘Learning Cities, Learning Regions, Learning Communities – Lifelong Learning and Local Government’ via www.longlearn.org.uk/book4.html It gives an excellent and very readable overview

Posted by iroronan at July 1, 2008 04:25 PM

« Water Quality Standards | Main | The Limerick Declaration and the Future of Regions »

July 01, 2008

Makign SME Funding Opportunities Understood

The European Commission has launched a new website and announced a series of national events designed to spread awareness of and ease access to EU financial instruments in support of the activities of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The Enterprise Finance Index (EFI) website aims to provide data about access to finance to SMEs in a clear and user-friendly manner. This includes but is not restricted to the EU’s main funding mechanisms: the Competitiveness & Innovation Framework Programme (offering €1.1 billion specifically towards SME growth); the Seventh Research and Development Framework Programme (FP7); and the Structural Funds. The EU Finance Days for SMEs roadshow will reach each Member State’s capital over the next 18 months as an exercise in reaching out to SMEs and multipliers such as incubators and financial intermediaries to explain how they can avail of the money earmarked for them through these financial instruments. Issues such as being investment-ready; the concerns and goals of investors; and building an EU-wide venture capital market to ensure that investments are not limited by borders will also be addressed. Enterprise Finance Index: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/entrepreneurship/financing/enterprise_finance_index/index_en.htm ‘EU Finance Days for SMEs’: www.sme-finance-day.eu/

Posted by iroronan at July 1, 2008 03:31 PM