May 29, 2009
Energy & Environment Agency Network
FEDARENE, the European Federation of Regional Energy and Environment Agencies, is a not-for-profit network of local/regional organisations from seventeen different EU countries which implement, co-ordinate and facilitate initiatives related to local energy demand and supply and the pursuit of sustainable development. The network is also strongly involved in representing the grassroots community interest in EU policy-making in these fields, forming inter-regional partnerships to foster exchange, and capacity-building operations.
One of FERARENE's key current issues is a belief that the solutions proposed last winter in the European Commission's 'Second Strategic Energy Review' to address the security of energy supplies, fail to give energy efficiency the role it deserves and also overlook the role of local and regional stakeholders. The Covenant of the Mayors is another initiative the federation is keen should be used to give more visibility to local and regional energy actions..A recent report drafted within the Committee of the Regions by the network's President reflects and documents this perspective.
The current issue of FEDARENE Info contains a special 'Focus on Regional Strategies for Sustainable Energy' and illustrates the importance of regional action for sustainable energy by profiling two outstanding examples, from France and Sweden. The previous issue focused on the regional role in Energy Performance in Buildings.
Posted by iroronan at May 29, 2009 03:00 PM
May 23, 2009
Regional air access
High accessibility for visitors and investors from elsewhere is a prerequisite for attractiveness and economic development potential. A recent ESPON study of the relative change in potential accessibility by air for Europes'regions from 2001 to 2006 examined the detailed air transport network of scheduled flight connections between all European airports. An associated map rates every region's relative position by reference to a European average.
The findings indicate that the South-East followed by the West were in the categories to have gained most ground during this period while all other Irish regions, particularly the South-West, receded in the rankings. The dominant factor seems to be the opening up of Eastern Europe which, along with improved access to remoter parts of Spain, Italy and Scandinavia, mainly through the growing proliferation of low-cost airline routes, has greatly redressed the traditional European core-periphery pattern to the extent that several major Capital regions have lost their comparative advantage.
Posted by iroronan at May 23, 2009 02:35 PM
May 21, 2009
European Enterprise Awards announced
The Commission presented the prizes for the 2008/2009 European Enterprise Awards on 13 May as part of the inaugural European SME Week. These annual awards recognize initiatives that support entrepreneurship at local and regional level and this year attracted more than 350 entries across 5 categories. The Scarborough Renaissance Partnership from Yorkshire received the Grand Jury's Prize for achieving a ''seaside renaissance brought about through creative and cultural enterprises''
The 'Spirit of Enterprise Forum', a collaborative network (with the South East Regional Authority prominently involved) of over 50 public and private sector organisations aiming to collectively boost levels of entrepreneurship and to enhance the business environment of the South-East, was nominated from Ireland in the Entrepreneurship Promotion category. The other Irish initiative to be shortlisted (for Enterprise Development) was Macroom E, the country's first environmental business park/enterprise centre. This joint venture among a number of public agencies in the South-West provides ''conscientious entrepreneurs'' who commit to an environmental charter with favourable rents and access to shared services, state supports, and mentoring and training.
Posted by iroronan at May 21, 2009 02:42 PM
May 18, 2009
Best of...LIFE Environment
The 'Best LIFE-Environment Projects 2008-09' exercise has documented what are felt by the programme and national authorities to be the outstanding funded initiatives of which five have been selected as the 'Best of the Best' and are therefore eligible to receive extra financing. The projects, from across the EU-25, cover all of LIFE-Environment’s main themes: Land-use development and planning; Water management; Minimising the impact of economic activities; Waste management; and Integrated Product Policy.
Posted by iroronan at May 18, 2009 02:39 PM
May 16, 2009
Publication: Economic crisis impact on Social Housing
CECODHAS, the European Liaison Committee for Social Housing, has published a special edition of their newsletter, focusing on the impact of the financial crisis on the social housing sector.
Posted by iroronan at May 16, 2009 03:07 PM
May 14, 2009
Cultural Heritage prize
The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government's 'Survey of Historic Gardens and Designed Landscapes' - a research and fieldwork inventory of the extent and state of survival of these sites - has been awarded a European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage and is shortlisted for a overall grand prize to be awarded on 5 June 2009.
The Awards scheme, jointly organised by the European Commission and the Europa Nostra federation of cultural heritage organisations, highlights exceptional restoration and conservation, research and education/training achievements, and awareness-raising initiatives to promote high standards and high-quality skills in conservation practice and to stimulate useful trans-border exchanges based on heritage protection. Previous Irish winners since 2002 have been the restoration work on the Ha'penny Bridge, Trim Castle, Sligo Courthouse and the National Botanic Gardens plus the efforts of the Irish Georgian Society. Applications for the 2010 award are already welcome with a deadline of 1 October.
Posted by iroronan at May 14, 2009 02:56 PM
May 13, 2009
Territorial Impact and energy vulnerability tools
Two pan-European research projects under the ESPON 2013 Programme on the sustainable and balanced development of the continent's regions and cities have unveiled new information and created tools on the potentials, challenges and opportunities presented by the territorial footprint of EU Policies. These are felt likely, in time, to also be of relevance in predicting regional and local impacts of the current global economic and financial crisis and in shaping appropriate responses.
The first interim report of TIPTAP (Territorial Impact Package for Transport and Agricultural Policies) shows progress in developing a robust and fully operational model for Territorial Impact Assessment. Its application shows how scientific modelling can help detect relevant trends with respect to the territorial impacts of the respective EU policies. Meanwhile the RERISK (Regions at Risk of Energy Poverty) interim report maps for the first time the economic vulnerability of European regions in terms of energy recourses. According to the project findings, differences in regional vulnerability mainly derive from the consumption side as defined by the prevailing economic base, transport structure, social situation and climate conditions.
Posted by iroronan at May 13, 2009 02:27 PM
May 13, 2009
Social Fund overheads revision
On 5 May the European Council adopted a Regulation to boost the effectiveness of the European Social Fund (ESF) - i.e. accelerating the spending of Structural Funds - against the impact of the current economic crisis. The new Regulation is to simplify and improve ESF management and control procedures in relation to the paperwork necessary to justify expenditure on indirect costs/overheads (as opposed to more identifiable 'real costs'). This will allow for the application of a flat-rate basis of up to 20% of overall costs, to be calculated using standard scales of unit cost (as defined by Member States), with lump sums up to EUR50,000 (for both direct and indirect costs) being applicable. The new rules are to be applied retroactively from 1 August 2006.
Posted by iroronan at May 13, 2009 02:06 PM
May 11, 2009
EU Youth Report and Strategy
The first European Youth Report - 'A Strategic Vision to Promote a Better Knowledge of European Youth' - was published in late April by the European Commission's Youth Policy Unit. This compilation of data, brief analyses on the situation of young people in Europe, and overview of the comparative situation in the EU Member States is intended to provide an improved evidence-base for policy-making and identifying research gaps by complementing the recent adoption of the Communication''An EU Strategy for Youth - Investing and Empowering'', outlining a new youth cooperation framework in Europe. The latter initiative will promote a cross-sectoral approach to address important youth-related issues: creating more opportunities in education and employment, improving the participation in society, and fostering solidarity. The Report is now expected to be published every three years.
Posted by iroronan at May 11, 2009 02:46 PM
May 09, 2009
Integration online tools
The European Commission has launched two new tools to assist the integration of third country nationals living in the European Union. The 'Integration at your fingertips' website is designed to provide high quality resource materials from across the EU, and breed a strong online community. This will allow integration practitioners to share good practices as well as to investigate funding opportunities and partnerships as well as staying updated on the latest developments at EU, national and local level. This development follows on from the European Integration Forum, organised in April in conjunction with the European Economic and Social Committee, as a platform through which EU institutions, stakeholders and civil society organisations can exchange views on integration issues.
Integration online tools.
Integration at your fingertips
European Integration Forum
Posted by iroronan at May 9, 2009 02:09 PM
May 05, 2009
Regional Policy: a ''place-based'' future?
An independent review of EU Regional Policy's rationale, objectives, achievements and structures with the post-2013 period in mind was published on 27 April. The main thrust of 'An Agenda for a Reformed Cohesion Policy'
(Barca Report), authored by the Director General of Italy's Ministry of Finance and Economy, is that comprehensive reform is required to allow the policy to achieve maximum effect and that this will need renewed policy engagement, more concentrated priorities, and modified governance arrangements.
A central element of the findings is the need for what is termed a well-resourced 'place-based' economic and social development strategy approach tailored to the specific needs of very diverse regions and cities as a means of ensuring harmonious development and reducing disparities. This implies a spatially aware policy, probably operating at the level of functional regions, with an emphasis on addressing persistent underutilisation of potential, chronic economic inefficiencies, and persistent social exclusion. This differs from the current regime which is primarily based on a logic of redistribution to allow GDP per capita across the EU to converge.
The report suggests that the current funding architecture should be largely maintained but with greater coherence between the various programmes. As such, integrating all forms of support for territorial development including the rural development elements of the European Agriculture Rural Development Fund and the territorial actions of the Fisheries Fund under the umbrella of Cohesion Policy is one of its key recommendations. Barca also favours increased checks and balances on Member State spending with a greater role for the European Parliament; and enhanced strategic contracts between Member States/regions and the Commission in developing programmes in order to ensure the proper effect of subsidiarity and to guarantee quality performance and results.
Posted by iroronan at May 5, 2009 06:34 PM
May 01, 2009
State Aids simplification
A simplification package to improve the effectiveness, transparency and predictability of EU state aid decisions was adopted by the European Commission on 29 April. The package includes a Best Practice Code to provide practical guidance on ''day-to-day'' process issues, particularly as regards the duration, transparency and predictability of complicated Commission decisions not covered by the General Bloc Exemption Regulation and not put forward in the context of the current financial and economic crisis (where specific and temporary frameworks apply). The code is based on a joint Commission-Member States commitment and voluntary arrangements whereby the former will enhance the quality and completeness of notifications provided the latter react promptly and completely to case-related requests.
The second element is a Simplified Procedure Notice document. This aims to improve the Commission's treatment of more straightforward cases which are based on previous decisions, measures and guidelines. It is the Commission's intention that this mechanism should allow for the approval of clearly compatible aids decisions within one month. The Notice includes an illustrative list of aid measures, including certain SMEs, environmental, innovation and rescue and restructuring aid, which are in principle eligible for simplified treatment. Interested stakeholders will henceforth be able to comment on the envisaged aid measure.
Posted by iroronan at May 1, 2009 08:24 PM
May 01, 2009
EU Budget: 2008 underspend; 2010 rise?
In 2008, European Union spending amounted to 98.5% of Member States contributions to the EU budget. The high implementation rate of funds leaves a record low surplus, reflecting the effect of reforms to promote tighter and more effective budgetary management and ongoing efforts to ease the pressure on national exchequers by only calling on Member States for payments that are strictly necessary. As recently as 2001 the surplus was 16%. 2008's end-of-year excess amounted to EUR1.79bn which will be returned to Member States after a 15 April decision by the European Commission. The Irish share is EUR23.6 million. Meanwhile on 29 April the Commission tabled a preliminary proposal for a 3.4% increase on the 2009 figure to bring the 2010 EU budget to EUR138.6 billion.
Posted by iroronan at May 1, 2009 12:05 PM
May 01, 2009
Impacts of ageing strategy
A strategy for tackling Europe's demographic challenge was unveiled on 29 April as the Commission published a Communication on the impacts of an ageing population. The Communication is largely based on the findings of a working group of national experts from EU Member States set up to look at the impact of this issue on public services. The Communication presents the agerelated expenditure projections on the basis of new Eurostat population projections up to 2060.
Posted by iroronan at May 1, 2009 11:57 AM