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October 31, 2008

2008 Polis Mobility in Cities & Regions Conference, Barcelona, 25/26 November

'Public meets private : Towards a common agenda for mobility in cities and regions' is the title of an upcoming this conference to be organsied by POLIS, the network of European local and regional authorities working together to develop innovative technologies and policies for local transport.

This event will be an opportunity to:
- Learn about innovative examples of multistakeholder cooperation;
- Gain insight to the future direction of urban and regional mobility;
- Debate the research needs for sustainable mobility in cities and regions;
- Network with local and regional transport decision-makers and professionals from around Europe including decision makers at local, national and EU level, transport professionals from public authorities, transport industry players and researchers
-This will also be an opportunity to learn about current practice and future plans to:
- Reduce the environmental impact of road transport
- Tackle congestion and manage mobility demand
- Deliver safer roads and a more secure transport network
- Achieve inclusive transport systems

Draft programme: http://www.polis-online.org/index.php?id=359

Posted by iroronan at October 31, 2008 10:53 AM

« i-Learning Awards | Main | 2008 Polis Mobility in Cities & Regions Conference, Barcelona, 25/26 November »

October 29, 2008

National-Regional Governance & Project Partnerships

A European Parliament report on governance and partnership in Regional Policy, adopted on 21 October, has stressed that regional and local partners should be more extensively involved, in planning and implementing regional
development projects. To provide the practical solutions that citizens expect on issues such as social housing the 'Beaupuy Report' urges national authorities to step up their use of the ''integrated approach'' to policy making
and to involve local partners from the planning stage to completion, so as to make better use of their experience and
know-how and to enhance effectiveness, efficiency, legitimacy and transparency. It also urges Member States to establish public-private partnerships to implement Structural Fund activities under the Operational Programmes and to provide all actors with the means to implement good governance.

The report advises that to succeed, multilevel governance needs to take a ''bottomup'' approach whereby local and regional authorities must step up their co-operation with national governments and the Commission. Equally, Member States are urged to decentralise both the legislative and budgetary implementation of Cohesion Policy in keeping with the subsidiarity principle. The report calls on the Commission, Member States and regional and local authorities to help integrate the management of all community funding for regional and urban development (structural funds, R&D support, and the European agricultural fund for rural development) in order to better exploit and co-ordinate these instruments. As part of Commission efforts to spearhead the introduction of modern governance practices a practical guide and an 'Erasmus-style' training and exchange programme for local and regional representatives are also proposed.


Posted by iroronan at October 29, 2008 10:15 AM

« World class clusters | Main | National-Regional Governance & Project Partnerships »

October 28, 2008

i-Learning Awards

To recognise excellence in the use of ICT for learning, applications are sought from initiatives using technology:
- to seamlessly integrate individual and organisational, formal and informal learning;
- to develop the competencies of individuals or communities (e.g. through social networking);
- for the integration of quality management as organisational learning (iQuality);
- to support equal access to learning, recognition of informal learning and social inclusion.

Deadline: 15 December
Details: www.elearningawards.eun.org

Posted by iroronan at October 28, 2008 08:38 PM

« CoR member presents on Adult Learning to Oireachtas | Main | i-Learning Awards »

October 28, 2008

World class clusters

Europe boasts an estimated 2,000 industrial clusters - groups of firms, related economic actors and research institutions that are located near each other who have developed specialised expertise, services, resources, uppliers and skills - yet these are often fragmented and lacking the necessary critical mass and innovation capacity to sustainably face global competition. A communication from the Commission published on 17 October calls for greater efforts to facilitate their emergence as world-class entities to drive economic development.

Improved synergies between the different policy levels are felt necessary to strengthen clusters and the document
addresses five key challenges: deepening the internal market to remove remaining barriers to the circulation of knowledge, personnel and finance; improving national cluster policies through the Lisbon National Reform programmes; fostering complementary transnational cooperation on cluster-design among Members States and regions; promoting better cluster management; and improving the integration of innovative SMEs into clusters and international technology transfer.

To fully reap the benefits of these actions, the Commission proposes a pilot scheme offering training programmes and a platform for cooperation of cluster managers towards a quality label and to further streamline its funding programme initiatives of relevance to cluster support. Establishing a European Cluster Policy Group to share intelligence about cluster policies is also proposed.


Posted by iroronan at October 28, 2008 08:11 PM

« Your say on the Green Paper on Territorial Cohesion | Main | World class clusters »

October 27, 2008

CoR member presents on Adult Learning to Oireachtas

Committee of the Regions' rapporteur on Adult Learning, Cllr. Mary Shields, appeared before the Joint Oireachtas
Committee on Education and Science on October 23 to present her recent CoR opinion and possible implications for
Ireland. Adult participation in lifelong learning is one of five key objectives for education in the Lisbon Strategy but
Ireland, like most other Member States, is not on course to reach the 2010 target of a 12.5% rate of participation. For a copy of Cllr. Shields report contact the IRO.

Proceedings of Oireachtas Committee:

Posted by iroronan at October 27, 2008 08:14 PM

« Improving agricultural product | Main | CoR member presents on Adult Learning to Oireachtas »

October 27, 2008

Your say on the Green Paper on Territorial Cohesion

The European Commission adopted the Green Paper on Territorial Cohesion - Turning territorial diversity into strength on 6 October, signaling the start of a major consultation (until 28 February) with regional and local authorities, associations, NGOs, civil society and other organisations, aimed at achieving a better and shared understanding of territorial cohesion (the term is not expressly defined) and its implications for the future. The objective of the process is to trigger debate among stakeholders at all levels on how to balance territorial, economic and social development by focusing on new themes, new sets of relationships binding EU territories at different levels and new forms of cooperation, coordination and partnerships.

Among the issues it hopes to clarify are determining the extent to which new social challenges such as climate policy, energy supply and demographic change should be addressed by EU Regional Policy. The paper sets out a series of initial positions for discussion that suggest that an integrated place-based approach allied with improved coordination with sectoral policies is desirable to achieving sustainable development and providing access to services; that different problems can most appropriately be addressed at different scales and levels of governance from the transnational to local; that partnership approaches with a strong local knowledge dimension to policy formation and implementation are valuable; and that building on the experience of INTERREG in coordinating responses across administrative boundaries is worthwhile.

Green paper and consultation:

Posted by iroronan at October 27, 2008 07:29 PM

« Urban Quality of Life | Main | Your say on the Green Paper on Territorial Cohesion »

October 24, 2008

Improving agricultural product

In response to current trends in food production, increasing pressure from overseas low cost products exacerbated by globalisation, trade agreements and freer markets) and the evolving market requirements, the European Commission has adopted (15 October) a Green Paper to open the debate on how to help European farmers make the most of the quality of the food and drinks they produce.

The Green Paper on agricultural product quality looks at the range of standards, quality and certification Programmes and labeling schemes currently operating under EU Agricultural Policy, including geographical indications, organic farming, and private and regional food quality certification schemes, and asks for stakeholder views on how effective these measures are in delivering guarantees and communicating the qualities of EU products. It also seeks suggestions for better exploiting the strengths of EU farming by turning consumer demands to their advantage by delivering exactly what consumers want in the form of clearly distinguished products.

Contributions are particularly sought from individuals or groups representing farmers, food producers, processors, retailers, distributors, traders and consumers as well as public bodies and NGOs. The consultation remains open until 31 December. A Communication will be prepared next year based on the results, which could lead to legislative proposals at a later stage.

Green paper and consultation:

Posted by iroronan at October 24, 2008 09:32 AM

« Cooley scoops EU Tourism prize | Main | Improving agricultural product »

October 23, 2008

Urban Quality of Life

Initial results are being made available from the second full-scale Urban Audit (carried out in 2006/2007) to compare
living conditions in European cities. These are drawn from measuring more than 300 indicators on social matters, the economy, the environment, demographics, training and education, culture and recreation, mobility and transport, the information society, and civic involvement. 321 cities across the continent including Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford (note: some data is awaiting an update reflecting Census 2006) plus Belfast and Derry were examined on criteria from recycling rates to crime figures and air cleanliness to housing stock. Achieving a good quality of life is emphasized by the renewed Lisbon Strategy and the Community Strategic Guidelines on Cohesion for 2007-2013 as a crucial instrument in attracting and retaining a skilled labour force, investors, tourists and residents to a city or region.

A detailed analysis of the raw data is currently underway and a Report on the state of European cities will be published in 2009. The full findings will provide valuable information on emerging trends which will be used to determine possible future priorities for EU Cohesion Policy funding and the European Strategy for growth and Jobs as they will enable investment to be better matched to observed needs. The process is to be repeated in full at three-year intervals with an annual data collection being planned for a limited number of key variables. Additionally, the information including city profiles and data covering core city centres, sub-city districts (initial results reveal striking evidence of social segregation within larger cities), and functional urban areas including wider commuter belts where appropriate, should also be usefully employed in national, regional and local decision-making.


Posted by iroronan at October 23, 2008 07:40 PM

« Telecoms State Aid for Border Region | Main | Urban Quality of Life »

October 20, 2008

Cooley scoops EU Tourism prize

Carlingford and the Cooley Peninsula with their 'unrivalled natural appeal' are among the twenty European destinations of Excellence recognized the European Tourism Forum in Bordeaux in September. The award of 'best local intangible heritage destination in Europe' recognises achievements in the promotion and management of tourism and local characteristics such as cuisine, traditions, arts and craft, and village life where successful business models for competitive tourism are developed in a manner that ensures their social, cultural and environmental sustainability. The winning destinations, who will officially sign a declaration setting up the Network of EDEN destinations, can look forward to increased exposure and opportunities to create a platform for the exchange of
good practices at European level.


Posted by iroronan at October 20, 2008 07:45 PM

« New Twinning Website | Main | Cooley scoops EU Tourism prize »

October 18, 2008

Telecoms State Aid for Border Region

The European Commission has approved up to EUR30 million of joint UK and Irish State Aid to provide direct international underwater telecommunications connections to/from Northern Ireland and the Border Region. By linking Letterkenny and Monaghan to Derry where the submarine cable terminates, the assistance will help to offset the
impediment of the border to doing business. The investment is designed to bring the cost of international ‘backhaul
connectivity’ services (intermediate links between the backbone and the ''edge'' of the telecommunications network) in border counties into line with that of major urban areas of the two countries.


Posted by iroronan at October 18, 2008 08:21 PM

« Local Authorities and the Developing World | Main | Telecoms State Aid for Border Region »

October 14, 2008

New Twinning Website

The Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) will unveil its new dedicated town twinning website in November. The multilingual tool is intended to help local governments across Europe to find twinning partners via an elaborate online form enabling them to upload their own details and profiles and post detailed requests for partners whose circumstances conform to requirements. A launch event in Brussels on 13 November will debate the relevance of twinning in the modern era.


Posted by iroronan at October 14, 2008 07:34 PM

« Proposed Lighting Directive | Main | New Twinning Website »

October 13, 2008

Local Authorities and the Developing World

In the run-up to European Development Days on 15-17 November (see July Bulletin) the European Commission has
adopted (7 October) a communication calling for increased 'hands on' participation by European local authorities
in the design and implementation of development activities in poorer countries. Such proactive involvement is recognised as delivering proportionally impressive and effective impacts on the ground for a comparatively small financial outlay.

This may open opportunities for more significant local authority engagement in the roll-out of national development
assistance programmes - a trend that has evolved in several EU countries in recent years in recognition of the practical skills possessed at this level. The Commission is proposing the setting up of a structured dialogue firstly among European local authorities through the Committee of the Regions in order to take stock and capitalise on available expertise and to ensure better cooperation efforts and deployment of resources.


Posted by iroronan at October 13, 2008 08:17 PM

« Public Service Reform Report | Main | Local Authorities and the Developing World »

October 12, 2008

Proposed Lighting Directive

The EU Member States' Regulatory Committee on Eco-design and Energy Labelling of Energy-using Products (EELEP) has approved (26 September) proposals by the European Commission for a regulation setting performance standards to reduce electricity consumption in lighting products. According to the Commission, savings for fluorescent lamps, high-intensity discharge lamps and related ballasts and luminaires typically used in street, office and industrial applications could amount to 15% of the equipment's current usage - or around the annual electricity
consumption of Romania.

This is among the first concrete regulatory proposals coming out of the preparatory studies under the Energy-using Products (EuP) Ecodesign Directive and will now be scrutinised by the European Parliament with formal adoption scheduled for next January. Other regulation proposals are expected by spring 2009 on external power supplies, house lighting including a phase-out of incandescent light bulbs, electric motors and other energy using product groups.

Draft proposal:

Posted by iroronan at October 12, 2008 07:37 PM

« Fisheries Programme approved | Main | Proposed Lighting Directive »

October 10, 2008

Public Service Reform Report

Reform of public services: what role for social dialogue? is a recent European Federation of Public ervice Unions (EPSU) study which looks at how services at local level are being modernised and made responsive to challenges including financial shortfalls, rising customer demands, changing age structures, social dialogue and procurement rules. The report places a particular emphasis on the role of dialogue between employers and employees and also features 10 case studies to illustrate how European municipalities and regions have modified a range of public services to adapt to new trends and developments.


Posted by iroronan at October 10, 2008 07:35 PM

« Wireless Europe outlined | Main | Public Service Reform Report »

October 06, 2008

Fisheries Programme approved

The European Commission has now approved the Fisheries Operational Programme for Ireland for the 2007-2013
period. The total eligible public expenditure of the programme amounts to EUR 66.35 million, with European Fisheries
Fund (EFF) assistance amounting to EUR 42.27 million. The new programme aims to consolidate the framework for a viable fisheries sector that respects the environment and supports vulnerable coastal fishing communities. Three of the EFF's five priority axes are eligible, namely adaptation of the fishing fleet (EUR 46.36 million); measures of common interest (EUR 12.8 million) and sustainable development of fisheries areas (EUR 7.2 million). Unlike the previous (2000-2006) programme under the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance the new programme does not provide for aquaculture, inland fishing, processing or marketing of fishery products.


Posted by iroronan at October 6, 2008 07:39 PM

« Web 3.0...the internet of things | Main | Fisheries Programme approved »

October 04, 2008

Wireless Europe outlined

Speaking at the recent ComReg Conference in Dublin, Information Society Commissioner Vivianne Reding outlined the strategic importance of unlocking the economic and social value of wireless services as preparations for the future of these frequencies gather pace. The Commissioner emphasized that beyond allocating spectrum bandwidth to the digital TV switchover ''it is also clear that we need to reserve a large share of the dividend for other public interest services and for stimulating economic growth''towards a '50:50' split between high power (broadcast) and lower power (communication) networks.
As speeds approach typical broadband connection levels, wireless is becoming a true alternative, capable of competing with fixed network operators and spurring the move towards next generation access while effectively creating a more universal infrastructure. This has particular relevance to Ireland where, as the recent government consultation paper on high speed broadband points out, many remote communities are reliant on comparatively long copper local loops which make high speed internet highly uneconomical. The everyday benefits are especially significant to small rural businesses and to public sector operational uses including mobile broadband services to manage flood prevention systems and emergency response. Additionally the wireless revolution offers comparatively lower cost network rollout, better reliability and fewer and lower power transmitters and masts.
The Commissioner proposed coordination of approaches between national flexibility and EU-level synergies without a ''one size fits all'' approach. She emphasized that significant efficiency gains and economic savings could be made by allowing investors and consumers in Member States at various stages of progress to benefit from huge economies of scale. She reiterated that the Commission's telecoms reform proposals of November 2007 to determine which frequency ranges should be set aside and what the conditions should be for their selection and use, have progressed after detailed Council of Ministers conclusions in June and the Parliamentary Spectrum Action Plan resolution of late September.
Further details:

Posted by iroronan at October 4, 2008 06:07 PM

« EU-funded research made available online | Main | Wireless Europe outlined »

October 03, 2008

Web 3.0...the internet of things

If second generation internet or 'Web 2.0' has become synonymous with blogging, social networking (e.g. Facebook) and content sharing (e.g. YouTube) the future lies in the web as a self-sufficient entity capable of intelligently linking objects together and allowing appliances, sensors, vehicles and other devices to be pre-programmed to communicate and carry out operations. This 'internet of things', aided by portable devises, has the
potential to deliver flexible new applications such as interactive control of energy consumption, safety systems in
vehicles and roads, and building security.

There is also huge potential to enable cost-effective and productive commercial transactions such as automatically
reordering supplies once existing stocks have been detected to have run low. In a 29 September communication the
Commission outlined five challenges to developing and deploying Web 3.0:
- Stimulating investment and competition in new fibre optic networks (forcing dominant operators to open access to cabling trenches);
- Moving toward 'broadband for all';
- Promoting open norms;
- Changing to internet protocol version 6 (IPv6) to compete with the future shortage of IP addresses under the
current version (IPv4); and
- Protecting privacy and safety (a Commission paper on the use of radio frequency identification microchip tags is already underway).

A public consultation, open untill 28 November, on the private and public initiatives to be undertaken is attached to
the Communication.

Posted by iroronan at October 3, 2008 07:43 PM

« 2 October, Newlands Cross (Dublin) - Broadband & ICT for SMEs | Main | Web 3.0...the internet of things »

October 01, 2008

EU-funded research made available online

The European Commission has launched a pilot project which will see the results of EU-funded research in seven key subject areas made freely available online. According to the Commission, the initiative should raise the visibility of European research, and drive innovation by ensuring that businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have access to the latest research results.

'Easy and free access to the latest knowledge in strategic areas is crucial for EU research competitiveness,' commented Janez Potocnik, the EU's Science and Research Commissioner. 'This open access pilot is an important step towards achieving the 'fifth freedom', the free movement of knowledge amongst Member States, researchers, industry and the public at large. Beyond, it is a fair return to the public of research that is funded by EU money.'

The pilot project will cover certain areas of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), namely health, energy, environment, information and communication technologies (ICTs), research infrastructures, socio-economic sciences and humanities, and science in society. These areas were chosen because of their high societal impact and their importance in helping Europe address major challenges such as climate change.

Between them, the subject areas targeted account for some 20% of the total FP7 budget. Recipients of FP7 grants in these fields will be required to deposit peer reviewed research articles arising from the projects in the open access repository of their choice.

A new clause added to the grant agreement in the chosen subject areas requires researchers to ensure their articles are freely available either 6 or 12 months after publication, depending on the subject area. In fast moving fields such as energy, environment, health and ICT, the deadline is six months. For research fields in which results remain relevant for longer, such as in the social sciences and humanities, the deadline is 12 months. This period will give publishers the chance to get a return on their investment.

The pilot will run until the end of FP7 in 2013. If the model proves successful, the Commission will expand the initiative in the next research framework programme and in the Member States. In addition, an online petition calling on the EU to 'guarantee public access to publicly-funded research results shortly after publication' has gathered almost 30,000 signatures.

Further details:
The pilot will be available from 1 September at:

Posted by iroronan at October 1, 2008 10:36 AM