November 27, 2008
Maritime spatial planning
A Roadmap for Maritime Spatial Planning was adopted by the European Commission on 25 November to address the increasing challenges and complications emerging from the growth in competing uses of both marine and coastal spaces. This new tool is intended to facilitate the development of what is a relatively new concept of more systematically managing these resources in a sustainable manner.
The Communication provides information on current practices and instruments as well as defining a series of joint principles to encourage a debate on how an added value common approach to the challenges of shared maritime resources and issues, which are often interlinked and transcend national borders, can be achieved at EU level. Earlier this year the Irish Sea Regions Platform was launched on foot of a 2007 submission by the Dublin Regional Authority in response to the Commission’s Green Paper, Towards a Future Maritime Policy for the Union. Partners representing regions and sectoral stakeholders along the seaboard in Ireland and Britain are now working together to establish a basis to provide opportunities to develop integrated projects. Similar strategies for the Baltic and Black Seas are at more advanced stages and have contributed to the Roadmap’s content.
The spatial planning approach forms one element of the EU's wider Integrated Maritime Policy which aims to coordinate all EU policies with a maritime dimension in order to safeguard environmental sustainability and quality of life in coastal regions while promoting the growth potential of maritime industries. In 2009, the Commission will organise a number of workshops to discuss the key principles of the roadmap, launch pilot projects aimed at developing cross-border cooperation aspects and produce a progress report. An accompanying study on the legal aspects of this topic has also been issued.
Posted by iroronan at November 27, 2008 03:14 PM
November 17, 2008
National Reform Programme for Growth and Jobs
National Reform Programmes (NRPs) as drawn up by national governments are a framework for articulating Member State strategies for generating economic growth and job creation as part of the redesigned Lisbon Strategy. They offer a succinct overview of planned national level macro and micro-economic, and employment
reforms and successful and innovative policies in a bid to give new impetus to the drive to increase prosperity and to allow more people to share in it.
Ireland's NRP for 2008-2010 has now been submitted to the European Commission. It summarises progress
since 2007 while setting out a renewed approach for the economically uncertain period ahead based, in particular, on a broad range of policies and initiatives within the framework of the recently reviewed Towards 2016 social partnership agreement and Budget 2009.
The Government has indicated that it will bring forward revised and new strategies over the period ahead in response to the fast-changing situation in order to ensure a return to strong economic growth and employment performance while also stressing the interdependence of social, environmental and economic goals.
Posted by iroronan at November 17, 2008 10:33 AM
November 17, 2008
Energy now 'top priority' of EU Budget Reform
On 12 November a conference on the findings of the broad consultation on reform of the EU budget, which took place between September 2007 and April this year, revealed that widespread backing exists among public, private and NGO stakeholders for energy policy to rank among the top priorities for EU spending. The ascendancy of energy issues alongside climate change and competitiveness concerns is the most eyecatching finding arising from what is effectively the first indication towards the make-up of the post-2013 period budget.
The findings represent a massive change in grassroots thinking and, if acted upon by the Commission and Member States, in the long-term, may have huge implications for well established policies such as the CAP. Budget and Financial Programming Commissioner Dalia Grybauskaite stated that this evidence sent out a very serious signal to politicians about the need to develop new policies to face the energy challenges that Europe is facing. She added that this indicated that extensive financial resources should be allocated to improved interconnections to improve
energy supply security, research on energy efficiency, investments in new technologies and renewable energy
Conference papers: http://ec.europa.eu/budget/reform/conference/documents_en.htm
Posted by iroronan at November 17, 2008 09:39 AM
November 14, 2008
European Commission adopts 2009 Work Programme
The 2009 Legislative and Work Programme of the European Commission was adopted on 5 November. For this final
year of the present Commission's mandate the programme envisages following up on recent initiatives to address the financial crisis as well as consolidating and completing work already underway, with the emphasis on implementing the visions set out in areas like energy, climate change, migration and social policy. The priorities set out amid its 12 strategic initiatives, 37 priority initiatives, 33 simplification proposals are:
- reform and specific measures in the areas of financial markets and financial supervision aimed at rebuilding economic confidence through the 'framework for action' towards economic recovery presented late last month;
- working towards achieving global agreement on the energy and climate change package at the United Nations
Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting (Copenhagen, December) in order to move towards implementation;
- specific citizen-centred measures and policies in consumer affairs and freedom, security and justice;
- building ever improved relations with the wider world through enlargement policy, neighbourhood policy, world
trade, and transatlantic relations.
Promoting a simpler and better regulatory environment without unnecessary administrative burdens remains a key
legislative aim and specific measures are set out on simplification as well as the withdrawal of pending proposals.
Additionally, the presentation of the Budget Review, an important contribution to the debate on the shape of the future priorities of the Union and their financing, will form a key part of the legacy of this Commission post 2013.
Posted by iroronan at November 14, 2008 06:41 PM
November 14, 2008
Sustainable Energy Week: 9-13 February 2009, Brussels
Registration has opened for the 2009 European Sustainable Energy Week - the key annual event of the Sustainable
Energy Europe Campaign and the focal point for sustainable energy issues in Europe. Organised by the European
Commission's Directorate-General for Energy and Transport along with the other European Institutions, major energy actors and private companies, EUSEW 2009 is set to include over 135 events for stakeholders and general public both in Brussels and throughout Europe. This will include weekend 'open days for sustainable energy' where Cork County Energy Agency and Tipperary Energy Agency will introduce the general public to energy efficient lifestyles through organised visits to local examples of 'ecovillages' and sustainable housing estates
where renewable energy technologies have been already installed. Informative and practical talks from alternative energy experts will also take place.
Posted by iroronan at November 14, 2008 11:07 AM
November 14, 2008
Mid-West e-Inclusion project wins Commission award
Citizens First, an Interreg 3b North West Europe project led by the Mid-West Regional Authority, has won a medal as part of the eInclusion. Awards. This European Commission initiative recognises public, business and civil society sector organisations whose activities have made the best and most imaginative uses of Information and Communications Technology to positively impact on the lives of marginalised people
and communities - thereby reducing digital and social exclusion. Beyond its social necessity, overcoming this barrier is estimated to be worth up to EUR85 billion to European companies and governments over the next five years and the awards aim to inspire progress and greater all-round ICT efforts towards this goal.
Citizens First's recognition is under the category of 'Inclusive Public Services' for its efforts in engaging with isolated and socially disadvantaged communities to plan and deliver internet based public services underpinning an inclusive Information Society. It focused in particular on empowering such groups by providing technical skills training to address the socio-economic and cultural barriers that exclude them from e-government services.
Posted by iroronan at November 14, 2008 10:30 AM
November 13, 2008
Court of Auditors' Report
The implementation of the EU budget - a responsibility of the European Commission along with Member State governments in some policy areas - is audited externally each year by the European Court of Auditors. Its report on the EUR114 billion set aside for 2007 was published on 10 November and will provide a basis for the budgetary agreement procedure to be carried out between the European Parliament and the Council over the
Posted by iroronan at November 13, 2008 11:31 AM
November 11, 2008
Financing Renewable and Efficient Energy:10 December, Brussels
The European Association of Public Banks (EAPB) in co-operation with the Committee of the Regions is holding a
conference: 'Financing of Renewable and Efficient Energy in Europe'. Officials from the European Commission, experts from the banking sector, local authorities and regions will make available their expertise and discuss current developments in this field.
Posted by iroronan at November 11, 2008 11:03 AM
November 11, 2008
New websites reveal EU funding
Details of the 28,000 beneficiaries during 2007 of approximately EUR10 billion in funding, grants, contracts and other forms of EU support are now publicly available for the first time after the European Commission unveiled the 'Financial Transparency System' search engine in October. A separate portal giving details of payments to Member States from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development went live on 30 September. The websites form part of the wider transparency initiative introduced in 2005.
Financial Transparency System
Posted by iroronan at November 11, 2008 10:01 AM
November 10, 2008
LEADER funding announced
The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs announced the funding allocations under Axes 3 and 4 of the new Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 on 4 November. In what is by far the largest ever support package for this type of action, funding of EUR425.4 million (55% from the EU) will be provided towards activities to stimulate economic vitality and social well-being across all areas of Ireland not designated as gateways or hubs under the National Spatial Strategy.
The focus of Axis 3 is on quality of life and diversification into non-agricultural activities. Though complementary to on-farm measures under the programme, its actions are centred on the wider rural community including the need to provide alternative and suitable employment opportunities and the range of services that people living in rural areas need and expect. These challenges are to be addressed through support for the development of rural enterprises based on local natural resources, service provision, tourism and recreational activities, village enhancement, environmental initiatives, conservation and upgrading of rural heritage, and training.
The funding will be delivered to community groups and individuals using the well-established LEADER methodology through 36 integrated Local Action Groups (LAGS) established under Axis 4. While many of these retain their identities from previous rounds of the LEADER programmes, a certain amount of rationalisation has taken place to create more structures to operate at a 'county-level' where appropriate.
The list of LAGs and their allocations is available at:
Posted by iroronan at November 10, 2008 01:49 PM
November 10, 2008
First Life+ approvals
Two Irish projects on related themes are among the first projects approved under LIFE+ the European fund for the
environment. Both are Nature & Biodiversity activities under the component of the programme supporting the
implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives and the Natura 2000 network and tackling wider biodiversity
Shannon Regional Fisheries Board's ShannonSACLAEO initiative aims to restore the lower Shannon Special Area of
Conservation (SAC) for sea lamprey, Atlantic salmon and European otter by targeting, in particular, the control and
reversal of the damage caused by two invasive alien species (IAS): the giant hogweed and the Japanese knotweed. Meanwhile the CAISIE project of the Central Fisheries Board's will target the control of aquatic IAS and restoration of natural communities in Lough Corrib including exchange and information dissemination with other European IAS control teams and policy makers.
EU co-financing totaling EUR186 million was approved for 143 projects from over 700 applications to this first call. The
programme awards approvals annually.
Posted by iroronan at November 10, 2008 09:57 AM
November 09, 2008
Impact Assessment training: 3-5 December, Brussels
This three-day course offers participants an intensive introduction to the practical understanding of integrated (social, environmental and economic) Impact Assessment. This key tool for better regulation is becoming increasingly central to the policy-making and legislative processes of the EU. Among the themes to be addressed are identification of relevant Commission proposals for impact assessment, the timetable for their preparation, the key analytical steps followed by the Commission, and opportunities for stakeholder and Member State input.
Posted by iroronan at November 9, 2008 10:59 AM
November 07, 2008
FP7 Workshop (ERRIN): 10 December, Brussels
This free seminar organised by the European Regions Research and Innovation Network (ERRIN) will be dedicated to demonstrating the necessary steps towards understanding and getting involved in FP7. It will include information
on how to select the most appropriate FP7 call, promoting your profile among the European RTD community, and using the online CORDIS search services and project submission tools.
Posted by iroronan at November 7, 2008 11:01 AM
November 07, 2008
Comenius Regio - Schools Partnerships
The European Commission has launched Comenius Regio, a new action under the Lifelong Learning Programme to support transnational cooperation and exchange of experience and good practice between educational authorities and regional or local authorities to improve educational opportunities for children of school-age.
Comenius Regio Partnerships will fund bilateral cooperation projects on any educational topic of common relevance to both participating regions such as school management issues, better integration of pupils from migrant backgrounds, entrepreneurship education or reducing early school leaving. Schools and other relevant partners (e.g. libraries, youth organisations) within the regions/municipalities involved must be integrated into project activities. The Commission expects to fund around 500 projects until 2013 with grants covering 2-year periods of mobility exchanges of school education staff, joint teacher training activities, peer learning or study visits as well as other activities such as trials of new educational approaches, surveys, and awareness-raising campaigns. The deadline for applications is 20 February.
Posted by iroronan at November 7, 2008 10:22 AM
November 06, 2008
Secure energy on the EU periphery: 5 December, Brussels
'Secure Energy Futures for Europe's Peripheral Communities: Delivering Europe's Climate Change and Energy
Policies at the Local Level' is the final international event of the ASPIRE project under the Intelligent Energy Europe
programme. The event will demonstrate best practice being achieved towards developing a model for creating
Sustainable Energy Communities in peripheral areas of EU by identifying and maximising their potential for promoting,
using and benefiting economically from such renewable energy resources. Delegates may provide input into the
project's final conclusions and a future cooperation network for Sustainable Energy Communities.
Posted by iroronan at November 6, 2008 10:56 AM
November 06, 2008
The European Commission's Directorate-General for Internal Market and Services has launched a survey to evaluate the uptake of electronic public procurement across the EU. In particular, the evaluation will assess how well the objectives of the Action Plan for the implementation of the legal framework for electronic public
procurement, adopted in 2004, have been achieved.
The questionnaire is aimed at four different categories of users:
- Suppliers who may have conducted business with public purchasers in a traditional and/or an eProcurement
- Contracting entities including local authorities which may have awarded works, supplies or services contracts
via traditional and/or eProcurement procedures;
- Central Purchasing Bodies, i.e. specialised procurement coordinating entities; and
- National procurement policy institutions or agencies responsible for related technical or legal aspects.
The results of this survey will be collected in a report, which will be made available during the second half of 2009.
Email email@example.com to receive a logon identity.
Action Plan for eProcurement: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/publicprocurement/e-procurement_en.htm#actionplan
Posted by iroronan at November 6, 2008 09:43 AM
November 04, 2008
National-Regional partnerships for governance & projects
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, (e.g. social housing, clean water) the 'Beaupuy report' urges national authorities to step up their use of the "integrated approach" to policy making and to involve local partners from planning 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 funding and to provide all actors with the means to implement good governance.
The report advises that to succeed, multi-level governance needs to take a ''bottom-up'' 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 November 4, 2008 10:48 AM
November 03, 2008
Energy Research Alliance to foster the "green" energy technologies
The EU Commissioners for Research and Energy, Janez Potocnik and Andris Piebalgs respectively, have welcomed, on 28 October, the initiative of leading research institutes in the European Union (EU) to found the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA).The triple challenge of energy security, climate change and competitiveness that the EU currently faces is such that it will require scaling up and better coordination of all available resources to develop the energy technologies that will allow Europe's citizens to enjoy a good quality of life in a carbon constrained future where going it alone at national level is likely to lead to failure and waste of resources.
Commissioner Potocnik said that the development of cutting-edge energy technologies requires cooperation in resources beyond national borders and the creation of the European Energy Research Alliance to coordinate national and European energy research programmes was a crucial step forwards. In addition, Commissioner, Piebalgs highlighted that the Commission's Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan, November 2007) is offering a roadmap of action for Europe to develop a world-class portfolio of affordable, clean, efficient and low emission energy technologies by combining the potential of energy research capacities of the major European institutes and universities with the engagement of European industry and the commitment of the Member States. The SET Plan also includes a series of new priority European Industrial Initiatives focusing on the development of technologies for which working at Community level will add most value. Initiatives in preparation focus on carbon capture and storage, bio-energy, wind and solar energy, the European smart grid and sustainable fission. Actions will be supported by reliable information provided by the Commission's European Energy Technology Information System (SETIS).
EERA now becomes is the SET Plan's research community pillar. The cooperation of major national research institutes and universities will move help to move from today's model of collaborating on individual projects towards a new way of jointly implementing whole programmes which go from research and development through deployment. There are many scientific fields which have an impact on the development of energy technologies, from engineering to the social sciences. The Alliance is able to cover many different disciplines, bringing a much-needed multidisciplinary approach to energy research.
Posted by iroronan at November 3, 2008 01:58 PM
November 03, 2008
Intercultural Dialogue: 25-26 November, Brussels
The Committee of the Regions along with the European Commission Directorate-General for Education and Culture is
organising a forum entitled Intercultural dialogue at the heart of Europe's cities and regions. The event provides an opportunity to discuss the situation on the ground, illustrating the current and potential roles of local and regional authorities in relation to policies which impact on the integration of immigrant communities. Cases of best practice will be highlighted. The European perspective will be addressed according to the challenges posed by mobility in an
enlarged Europe; migration and integration; and how interfaith dialogue and cooperation with local and regional
authorities can contribute to social and cultural cohesion.
Posted by iroronan at November 3, 2008 10:54 AM
November 03, 2008
Access to Higher Education
European higher education providers have committed themselves to a coordinated respond to growing demands to raise employment prospects by broadening access to their services. Although education is a Member State competence, lifelong learning (LLL) with its roles in developing people's employability, adaptability and personal fulfilment while also promoting social inclusion is considered a core element of the EU's renewed Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs. When allied with flexible working arrangements ('flexicurity') it is thought that continuous education to support and realise learner potential can contribute much towards modernising European labour markets and ensuring that people have greater access to employment throughout their working lives.
The European University Association (EUA), which represents institutions and organisations involved in higher education teaching and research, published a Charter on Lifelong Learning (25 October) to emphasise the role of its members in driving this agenda. The document pledges members to work in conjunction with partners (including development agencies, employers bodies and trade unions) at local, regional, national and international level to undertake targeted out-reach measures for diversified groups of potential students and to create tailored,
attractive and relevant programmes which promote flexible and creative learning and reflect fast-changing labour markets. The charter also calls for concerted governmental action to improve recognition of prior learning as well
as establishing the appropriate financial frameworks to effectively and equitably fund LLL.
Posted by iroronan at November 3, 2008 10:26 AM
November 03, 2008
Cities step forward on Climate Change
Thinking global while acting local received another boost on 27 October as over 50 major European cities committed to adopt and implement ambitious policies to change public perceptions of climate change and mitigate its impact -provided central governments give them the power to act. While not binding, the Eurocities Climate Change Declaration provides guidelines for implementing local policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by involving all
local actors in improving standards and performances in areas including urban planning, transport and energy.
Examples of actions proposed include:
- Adopting ambitious sustainable public procurement policies;
- Developing innovative partnerships in the fields of research and higher education;
- Limiting urban sprawl and developing compact cities;
- Creating new 'eco-quarters';
- Constructing energy-efficient buildings;
- Developing new forms of mobility; and
- Developing the production of renewable energy.
Eurocities President and Mayor of Lyon Gerard Collomb stated that EU Member States "must delegate to the cities the authority to act on a local level to reduce emissions, and undertake with the European Union to provide funding for initiatives supporting public transportation, housing, and energy".This initiative follows upon last January's Covenant of Mayors where almost 100 cities signed up to a commitment to exceed the EU's stated aim of slashing CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020.
Posted by iroronan at November 3, 2008 09:26 AM