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September 26, 2009

'Smart cities' for clean energy plan

Developing a network of 25 to 30 European 'smart cities' as a means to pioneer and demonstrate groundbreaking self-reinforcing energy efficiency, renewable energy actions and green technologies is a key recommendation emerging from a draft Communication setting out funding options for the EU's Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan). The thinking behind this is that the chosen cities, which would be expanded from initial 'low-carbon zones' would serve as ''the nuclei from which smart networks, a new generation of buildings and alternative transport means, will develop into Europe-wide realities that will transform our energy system''.

The development of large-scale testing and demonstration facilities and plants in bioenergy, wind power, solar energy, carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, and, where appropriate, new generation nuclear reactors are foreseen. Among other issues, the Communication is intended to speed up market uptake of current low-carbon technology and to address the worrying fall-off in basic European energy research and technology development in recent years. Consequently, the draft Communication suggests that existing EU funding instruments for research need to be significantly reinforced.

Firmer details of the estimated EUR50 billion funding plan for the coming decade are expected to be unveiled at the SET Plan summit organised by the Swedish EU Presidency on 21-22 October in Stockholm. It is expected that the smart cities initiative and other renewables and urban energy-efficiency schemes would be the key beneficiaries of any unspent funding allocated to strategic energy (CCS and grid connection)projects under the European Recovery Programme announced last spring.

Further information
SET Plan

Posted by iroronan at September 26, 2009 10:29 AM

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September 25, 2009

Drinking Water directive consultation

Local and Regional Authorities are being offered a chance to have an early stage input into the revision of the Drinking Water Directive (DWD) through a joint initiative of the Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the European Commission. This is part of an ongoing effort to tap into the collective experiences of Europe's local and regional levels in their key areas of activity.The exercise is intended to provide a contribution to DG Environment's plan to
carry out an Impact Assessment consultation as part of the proposal for the revision of the Drinking Water Directive (98/83/EC). Under the revision the Commission aims to introduce the concept of ''source to tap'' Water Safety Plans to ensure better water quality management; to adapt some of the existing quality standards; and to lower the threshold at which reporting obligations on the quality of water intended for human consumption would apply - namely to cover daily supply systems of less than 1000 cubic metres/intended to serve less than 5,000 people.

Participation in the impact assessment will be based on questionnaire which should be filled in by someone with
experience in water management, public health or environmental protection prior to the 25 November. This is the second recent attempt by the CoR to organise an Impact Assessment consultation for local and regional actors.

Directive revision

Posted by iroronan at September 25, 2009 12:56 PM

« IRO organising a seminar and cultural event for Open Days 2009 - with thanks to Clare County Council and Tourism Ireland | Main | Drinking Water directive consultation »

September 24, 2009

Formalising local & regional involvement in EU governance

Having recently adopted a White Paper on Multilevel Governance setting out a vision of how the EU decision-making process needs to evolve, the Committee of the Regions (CoR) has now commenced a process of consultation with Community Institutions and the wider public in order to gather opinions and observations on the best way to achieve this goal. This is especially timely as another five-year cycle dawns in Brussels with a new European Parliament now in place and the Commissioners, as well as the COR members, set to be renewed later this year.

The White Paper is based on a governance model which better involves local and regional authorities in the formulation and implementation of Community policies and includes some examples intended to illustrate good practice in multilevel governance at EU level.

White Paper Comments may be submitted up to 30 November: governance@cor.europa.eu

Posted by iroronan at September 24, 2009 10:07 AM

« Sports volunteering | Main | Formalising local & regional involvement in EU governance »

September 18, 2009

IRO organising a seminar and cultural event for Open Days 2009 - with thanks to Clare County Council and Tourism Ireland

As part of the EU's Week of Regions and Cities ('Open Days'), the Irish Regions Office along with counterparts from eight other Brussels-based regional offices is organising a seminar entitled 'In search of a Framework for Cooperation in the Atlantic Area' on 7 October. This event will examine and look at means of progressing issues of mutual concern among the nations and regions surrounding this maritime space - Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, South-West England, Normany, Brittany, Galicia and Norte Portugal - through a coordianted marine spatial planning focus. A particular emphasis will be placed on the Atlantic Area Interreg programme as a means of formalising cooperation.

Later that evening, five of these partners will be hosting a 'Celtic Connections' cultural concert. IRO is delighted to have secured full Irish involvement thanks to the input of Clare County Council (from whose ranks the traditional music group Re-Seisiun are drawn) and the support of Tourism Ireland. Other performers include Welsh band Taran, the BellonMaceiras quintetofrom Galicia, and Breabach from Scotland. The concert will take place at the La Tentation venue in Central Brussels and is open to the general public. Admission is free but prior registration and confirmation is required via EUevents@wales.gsi.gov.uk.

Posted by iroronan at September 18, 2009 12:12 PM

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September 17, 2009

Sports volunteering

Back in 2006, EU sport ministers recognised ''The specific nature'' of non-profit sports organisations and agreed
that the difference between voluntary non-profit sports organisations and profit-seeking business enterprises ''should be taken into consideration in Community policies''. As part of a wider study on volunteering in the EU, launched in March, to reach a better understanding on the matter in different Member States and to help determine whether possible future policies and actions could be more effectively implemented at the European
level, an online survey on volunteering in sport has now been launched by the European Commission. This comes
ahead of the European Year of Volunteering in 2011.

Sports organisations, clubs and other stakeholders are being asked to give their impressions of how grassroots
sports structures currently work in their country and what the key trends are in order that the EU can tailor possible
future policies and actions including funding supports. The themes covered in the survey include the regulatory
framework for volunteering in sport, the socio-cultural dimension, and challenges and opportunities. More specifically, the survey tries to determine issues including the extent, if any, of legislation on the promotion or engagement of volunteers; experiences with recruiting, retaining and replacing volunteers; and whether specific tax exemptions are applied to sports organisations.

The survey is intended to provide a key basis for drafting 27 national factsheets on volunteering in sport which will
address the extent of sports volunteering, the relevant policies and regulatory and institutional arrangements in place, and the impact arising. A report analysing the main findings of these will be developed as a means of forming recommendations.

Further information

Posted by iroronan at September 17, 2009 06:16 PM

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September 15, 2009

Environmental Sustainability Index - an alternative to GDP

In search of a means of complementing the traditional system of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to measure the standard of living, performance and progress of countries and regions, the European Commission has submitted a position paper to Member States and the European Parliament entitled 'GDP and beyond: Measuring progress in a
changing world'. This initiative confirms an intention as of 2010 to produce a new comparative yardstick based on more rounded statistics beyond the purely economic.

The somewhat less tangible or difficult to quantify factors that will be considered in calculating this new Environmental Sustainability Index include not only green concerns, such as water use and waste generation, but also societal aspects including inclusiveness. ''GDP was not intended to be a measure of well-being. It doesn't pick up on issues that are vitally important to the quality of our lives such as a clean environment, social cohesion or even how happy people are'' according to an 8 September Commission statement.

This is intended to form a long-term policy-making tool which better reflects realities on the ground by providing a counterbalance to the seemingly positive economic activity arising from clearly negative issues such as the overuse of natural resources or disaster recovery measures. As an extension, the Commission is also pledging to develop a 'European Sustainable Development Scoreboard' in order to allow for the identification of environmental trends and a benchmarking of best practices. To make this more of a reality it is intended to greatly speed up the processing and release of environmental and social data by Eurostat so that it is as timely as the economic equivalent.

Further information

Posted by iroronan at September 15, 2009 09:41 AM

« Interreg NWE Call for Proposals | Main | Environmental Sustainability Index - an alternative to GDP »

September 13, 2009

Online Urban Exchange Forum

A new online forum where towns, cities, and villages can share experience and expertise in the management and development of urban areas was launched on 1 September. The Cities Exchange is an initiative of the Urbancity local authority urban information services who confidently expect this to become the most valuable source of urban information sharing in the world.

Contributors, regardless of the size of the settlement, the issue addressed or the scope of the plan involved, are invited to submit a short paper discussing the problems faced by their urban centre, the policies and practices adopted as solutions, the results, and an assessment of the longer-term lessons learned. The organizers have already received indications from interested parties of their intentions to upload some 10,000 separate studies in the near future.


Posted by iroronan at September 13, 2009 02:55 PM

« Innovation Challenges for SMEs conference, 2 October, Trim | Main | Online Urban Exchange Forum »

September 09, 2009

Interreg NWE Call for Proposals

Interreg NWE
The 5th Call for Proposals, is open to traditional applications across all four programme priorities as well as ‘strategic initiatives’ in response to a series of identified major territorial challenges to and weaknesses of the programme area including. the territorial structure and demographic characteristics. A budget of €184 million currently remains to be allocated.

Deadline: 7 October

Posted by iroronan at September 9, 2009 03:23 PM

« Local Renewable Energy trends report | Main | Interreg NWE Call for Proposals »

September 07, 2009

Innovation Challenges for SMEs conference, 2 October, Trim

The 10th Annual Conference of the Southern & Eastern Regional Assembly takes place on Friday 2nd October at Knightsbrook Hotel, Trim, Co. Meath on the theme of the Innovation Challenges for SMEs.

Building the knowledge base and innovation capacity of the Region are vital components in ensuring greater competitiveness and ultimately, continued growth and prosperity . These objectives are firmly set out in the Lisbon Community Programme and are reinforced in the ERDF co-funded Southern & Eastern Regional Operational Programme 2007-2103. By bringing together the Region's strong educational assets and its enterprise developments agencies and through the use of targeted financial instruments to address the needs of business, particularly small indigenous firms, these objectives can be achieved.

Admission is free of charge, but booking is essential as places are limited

The Annual Conference will be formally opened by Mr. Conor Lenihan, T.D., Minister for Science, Technology, Innovation and Natural Resources.

For further details please contact Karen Coughlan or Oonagh Hearne on + 353 51 860700
Email addresses: kcoughlan@seregassembly.ie and ohearne@seregassembly.ie

Posted by iroronan at September 7, 2009 12:54 PM

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September 04, 2009

Local Renewable Energy trends report

REN21 - Renewable Energy Networks for the 21st Century - have published this year's update to the Renewables Global Status Report, which tracks renewable energy investment, deployment, and policy developments. For a year (2008) where global power capacity from new renewable energy sources (excluding large hydro) increased by 16%, the report provides a useful overview on city and local government activities pursuing renewable energy policies as part of their climate strategies.

Among the emerging renewables trends highlighted as being widely adopted by local governments in 2008 are f'eed-in' policies to accelerate deployment; an expansion of collective actions by groupings of cities and local governments; and the increasing effect of regional/national policies on local government policy action and initiative.

Download the report Report

Posted by iroronan at September 4, 2009 04:33 PM