« Nominate your local & regional sustainable energy practices | Main | Wind farm planning permissions »

April 30, 2010

Cities urge innovation policy rethink

The role of local authorities, particularly those in urban centres, as organisational innovators and facilitators of market-driven innovation is being needlessly overlooked by the European Commission, according to some of Europe's biggest cities. In a recent interview with the EurActiv media website, Paul Bevan, Secretary General of the EUROCITIES network of 140 large cities has spoken of the frustration his members are feeling as their ongoing efforts to innovate on the ground and their future potential are largely overlooked in favour of a narrow focus on innovation as being exclusively the domain of the commercial and research sectors.

As well as city council's roles in the provision of business support systems (e.g. cluster management, incubators for start-up firms), Bevan cited areas such as general public services, planning and development, and links with third level education as key platforms where cities provide opportunities for entrepreneurs and large firms alike. He also emphasised that local authorities' level of access to citizens is a natural conduit by which to organise and deliver grassroots social innovation - particularly in regard to the way the green agenda is driving positive change in the way people live their lives. Environmental improvement generally is seen as an area ripe for exploitation through leveraging the buying power of local public procurement.

Links with the private sector were touched upon in the interview with Bevan cautioning against the Commission and European Parliament endorsing a headlong rush towards opening up services markets to the private sector without considering whether outsourcing is actually appropriate to each city's individual situation. Nonetheless he speculated that well thought-out and relatively secure public private partnerships which availed of businesses' expertise for the public good would be a viable option as budgets continued to be put under pressure.


Posted by iroronan at April 30, 2010 07:03 PM

« Electronic Invoicing | Main | Cities urge innovation policy rethink »

April 30, 2010

Nominate your local & regional sustainable energy practices

Best practice policies and initiatives in support of sustainable energy by local and regional authorities are being sought by the Committee of the Regions (CoR) as part of a survey kick-starting an initiative to collect and disseminate interesting grassroots examples in tackling climate change.

The database highlighting areas of success in energy supply and distribution, mobility and transport, buildings, industry, agriculture, waste management, water treatment, and spatial planning will be used to improve understanding of the policy options being implemented and the challenges facing local and regional authorities. The data will be shared with all the members of the CoR Europe 2020 Monitoring platform and Covenant of Mayors signatories to allow them to learn from their peers about how best to meet their obligations to cut emissions.

Examples will also be used as illustrations of the potential of cities and regions for energy action and will be integrated into the CoR's formal contribution to the new EU Energy Action Plan - shortly due to be presented in initial draft form to national energy ministers - which will set the framework for European energy policy to 2020. They will also be used to influence the crucial May 2011 EU Council summit on energy.

Deadline: 30 June
Further details

Posted by iroronan at April 30, 2010 02:56 PM

« Debate on Future of CAP | Main | Nominate your local & regional sustainable energy practices »

April 29, 2010

Electronic Invoicing

The EU's Better Regulation Principles commits it to supporting the widespread use of electronic invoicing and other initiatives that can help to reduce red tape and speed up administrative procedures. A report drafted by European Commission experts and presented at a 27 April conference organised by the Spanish Presidency of the EU, indicates that this approach offers great potential in terms of improving competitiveness and cash-flow reducing costs, encouraging the development of the single market and benefitting the environment. Already this is being tapped into by some businesses and the public sector, although some remaining barriers are preventing its wider adoption.

To counter this, the study recommends that Member States raise awareness of the benefits; focus on the specific needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) - offering them easy-to-use solutions with reduced processing times and management costs; harmonise the European regulatory framework by giving equal treatment to paper and electronic invoices; and adopt a common standard for invoice data forms and content.

Further details>

Posted by iroronan at April 29, 2010 11:43 AM

« 2013 European Youth Capital | Main | Electronic Invoicing »

April 28, 2010

Debate on Future of CAP

In a bid to broaden discussion on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) beyond the farming and agri- sectors alone, DG Agriculture have launched a public debate focusing on CAP's objectives and principles. This is being undertaken particularly by reference to the policy's potential contribution to the Europe 2020 strategy (i.e. developing intelligent, sustainable and inclusive growth) and its response to the new economic, social, environmental, climate-related and technological challenges facing European society.

Four questions are involved:
1) why do we need a CAP?
2) citizens expectations of agriculture?
3) why reform the CAP and how to make it meet society's expectations? and
4) tools required for the CAP of tomorrow?

Input provided will inform the Communication on the future of the CAP after 2013, which the Commission is expected to publish towards the end of the year. Stakeholders, including individuals, are encouraged to post their comments online by 3 June.

Further details

Posted by iroronan at April 28, 2010 12:00 PM

« 2011 RegioStars | Main | Debate on Future of CAP »

April 26, 2010

2013 European Youth Capital

The European Youth Forum has launched a call for applications for the 2013 European Youth Capital award. This initiative in active youth empowerment and participation in society represents an opportunity for a city to showcase its youth-related cultural, social, political and economic activities and projects. Amsterdam, Turin and Antwerp have been the previous winners.

Deadline: 22 June

Posted by iroronan at April 26, 2010 03:28 PM

« New vision for EU Tourism policy | Main | 2013 European Youth Capital »

April 26, 2010

2011 RegioStars

The annual RegioStars Awards, part of the Regions for Economic Change initiative, recognise the best in innovative practices co-funded through EU cohesion policy projects (Structural Funds and Interreg).
The following themes apply:
* networking and clustering initiatives supporting regional growth and SMEs access to global markets;
* anticipating economic change;
* promoting sustainable energy in cities;
* integrated, clean urban transport; and
* promotional photography.

Deadline: 16 July.
Further details

Posted by iroronan at April 26, 2010 12:37 PM

« Innovation DG reaches out | Main | 2011 RegioStars »

April 23, 2010

New vision for EU Tourism policy

On 14 April, in advance of the Informal Ministerial meeting on tourism, the Spanish Presidency organised the European Tourism Stakeholders Conference. This event explored ways and means to strengthen the visibility of tourism at European level and discussed the actions necessary to promote a competitive EU industry, as well as how a sustainable growth in the sector can be consolidated in an updated EU policy framework.

Contributors, including some Tourism Ministers, invited the Commission to take the following points into consideration:
1) putting forward a consolidated framework for EU Tourism policy, encouraging the creating of a favourable environment for the development of the sector and promoting exchange of best practice between Member States;
2) streamlining efforts to mainstream tourism in Community policies, including an adequate coordination of various policy initiatives that impact on tourism;
3) facilitating access to holidays for disadvantaged groups;
4) raising awareness of the importance of innovation, research and ICT for the competitiveness of the industry;
5) mainstreaming sustainability in sectors related to tourism;
6) alleviating possible obstacles to opportunities for sector development; and
7) reinforcing Europe’s image and visibility in third countries.

Further details

Posted by iroronan at April 23, 2010 05:32 PM

« CoR signals Cohesion policy stance | Main | New vision for EU Tourism policy »

April 23, 2010

Innovation DG reaches out

The cross-cutting nature of innovation has been recognised by the announcement of an intention to establish a sub-group of ten EU Commissioners from different fields with a stake in and influence upon EU innovation policy. The move, formally tabled at the meeting of the College of Commissioners on 18 April having been suggested in January, is an acknowledgment that Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Maire Geogheghan-Quinn's newly-created portfolio will require the support of counterparts in various other policy areas in order to devise the new broad-based European 'Research and Innovation Plan' in time for the autumn summit of European leaders.

Under the previous Commission, innovation policy was split among numerous separate DGs. Its recent streamlining as a responsibility under DG Research brought with it a risk of becoming unresponsive to developments across a range of themes which this initiative is seeking to counter by opening itself to outside influences. The most prominent of the current Commission portfolios expected to be involved in the new committee are Industry & Entrepreneurship, Competition, Transport, Digital Agenda, and Energy and - to a lesser extent - Internal Market & Services, Regional Policy, Education, and Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion.

Commissioner Geogheghan-Quinn is also believed to want the group to shape the debate on how to reliably measure the effectiveness of EU spending on R&D as a means of assuring economic growth. This is necessary in order to allay fears at Member State level that an all-round 3% of GDP research spend (the Commission's target, agreed to in principle by national leaders at their March summit) would not represent an inefficient use of resources.

This is the largest and most advanced of the horizontal 'Commissioners' groups' proposed by Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. Others are being outlined to cover the EU's future budget (2014-2020), External Relations, Internal Market, Industrial Policy, Digital Agenda, Climate Change, Pensions, and Innovative Financial Instruments.

Posted by iroronan at April 23, 2010 11:05 AM

« Migrant Integration | Main | Innovation DG reaches out »

April 22, 2010

CoR signals Cohesion policy stance

Maintaining an ambitious regional policy at the heart of the EU's efforts to further European integration is the core message of an Outlook Opinion on cohesion policy reform adopted at its mid-April plenary session by the Committee of the Regions (CoR). The report is very much grounded in the status quo and identifies the added value of cohesion policy - beyond providing financial support - as its contribution to enabling different levels of government to pursue common objectives based on narrowing development gaps, strengthening sustainable growth and employment, and supporting social inclusion and competitiveness in specific regional contexts.

As such it endorses a continuance of the current principles of cohesion policy - multilevel governance, multiannual programme planning, partnership, focusing of effort, and indicator-based programme management and assessment.
The key recommendations of the opinion are:
1) cohesion policy should continue to be applied to all of Europe's regions;
2) the major share of resources should go to the regions in greatest need;
3) regions in transition (i.e. losing Objective One status) require special support in adjusting to a new designation;
4) the Competitiveness & Employment Objective (as with the two current Operational Programmes for the S&E and BMW regions) must continue to support all other EU regions - particularly in order to boost innovation, social cohesion and competitiveness;
5) existing support for cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation should be enhanced;
6) there should be no need to conduct a full compliance audit in each funding period as established rules for national funding should be relied on; and
7) in the interests of subsidiarity, the role of local and regional authorities should be strengthened at every stage of the programming, implementation and assessment of cohesion policy.

This is the first official stance on the future shape of cohesion policy to be presented by a European institution. Regional policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn welcomed the report and called for a balance to be struck between EU-level priorities and the manner by which these are interpreted and realised on the ground through the implementation of cohesion policy.

Outlook Opinion

Posted by iroronan at April 22, 2010 12:46 PM

« Quality of Life perceptions: Cities compared | Main | CoR signals Cohesion policy stance »

April 21, 2010

Migrant Integration

European Ministers responsible for migrant integration have stressed the crucial role of cities in particular in promoting the social inclusion of migrants. The announcement came at a ministerial meeting in Zaragoza on 16-17 April to set directions for a shared approach to migrant integration in Europe.

Ministers reached consensus on a list of common indicators to be used for evaluating and comparing national integration policies in key fields such as education, employment, and host country language teaching. The agreed indicators cover four key areas:
1) (un)employment rates;
2) educational levels and basic skills attained;
3) social inclusion and health (particularly for migrants at risk of poverty); and
4) active citizenship (including obtaining nationality and/or long-term residence).

The Declaration arising from the conference calls for mechanisms for recognition of professional qualifications acquired outside the EU and emphasises that greater immigrant integration must be achieved through inclusion in the labour market, social inclusion, anti-discrimination measures and equal opportunity.

The European Commission is shortly expected to launch a pilot project for exchanging best practices among national governments on integration policies. The possibility of EU initiatives and support measures on integration were given a legal basis by the Lisbon Treaty but, beyond creating a coordinating mechanism, binding minimum standards at EU level are not envisaged in any way.

The Commission also used the meeting to release its latest 'Handbook on Integration for policy-makers and practitioners' focussing on the role of mass media in integration, the importance of awareness-raising and migrant empowerment, dialogue platforms, acquisition of nationality and practice of active citizenship, immigrant youth, education and the labour market.

Further details
Handbook on Integration

Posted by iroronan at April 21, 2010 03:05 PM

« Procurement law for review | Main | Migrant Integration »

April 19, 2010

Quality of Life perceptions: Cities compared

The Commission has released the results of a November 2009 opinion poll looking at local citizens' perceptions of the quality of life in 75 major European cities. Responses from residents of Dublin indicate a general mid-table ranking and notable improvements on the 2006 survey.

Among the standout positives (levels of satisfaction) for the national capital are:
* 93% with cultural facilities
* 86% with green spaces
* 77% with public spaces (e.g. pedestrian areas)
* 76% with outdoor recreation
* 72% with sports facilities
* 70% with public transport - although 17% found availability of services and networks to be inadequate. Dublin's relatively long commuting times were (unusually for cities in this category) coupled with high levels of car dependency.

Less positively, in terms of health care services provided by doctors and hospitals Dublin registered lowest of Western European cities with only 57% satisfaction. In general terms, this along with lack of job creation prospects and education & training facilities were the most often cited concerns.

53% agreed that air pollution and 55% noise pollution are major and growing problems while 52% did not find the city to be clean (although 81% believed it to be a healthy place to live). While perceptions of always feeling secure in their neighbourhood are 76%, the equivalent at city level is only 41%.

Just 28% of respondents agreed that reasonably priced quality housing was adequately available (though, not surprisingly this is a huge increase on the 2006 responses).

'Perception survey on quality of life in European cities'

Posted by iroronan at April 19, 2010 07:19 PM

« Cross-border cooperation mechanisms | Main | Quality of Life perceptions: Cities compared »

April 16, 2010

Procurement law for review

The European Commission has announced its intention to review public procurement legislation. In the latest edition of its Single Market News, the Directorate-General for Internal Market & Services states that there is a need for greater flexibility in procurement rules and more speed in processing deals, given that public bodies are increasingly turning towards private investment to fund major projects.

Furthermore, the transition to electronic procurement poses new challenges at European level. While the supportive technology is now largely in place through national and regional e-procurement platforms of contracting authorities and suppliers, there is a need to ensure that the European legal and policy environment keeps pace while avoiding the emergence of a new generation of barriers to cross-border procurement based on different models, information technology systems and applications.

In the short-term the Commission is preparing initiatives in the area of concessions and is looking closely at the issue of the application of procurement legislation to cases where local or other purchasing bodies cooperate. It is also finalising an analysis of the take-up of e-procurement in which it will assess the existence of barriers to cross-border participation in electronic procurement marketplaces. Finally, it is embarking on a comprehensive evaluation of EU procurement legislation to examine the effectiveness of rules in promoting open, contestable and sound procurement. The findings will be used to inform reflection on the need for a modernisation of EU procurement rules.

Meanwhile the presentations given at a 23-24 March DG Enterprise & Industry conference on promoting innovation through procurement are now available online. The Commission has set the target to dedicate 1% of the total amount of commercial opportunities channeled through public tendering in the EU - i.e. an annual EUR20 billion - towards innovation. As well as pre-commercial, electronic and green procurement, issues related to public contracting authorities' aversion and exposure to risk, legal issues, fragmentation of demand, and Intellectual Property Rights were also discussed.

Single Market NewsPromoting Innovation through Public Procurement: Best Practice & Networking’ conference

Posted by iroronan at April 16, 2010 12:18 PM

« Social Inclusion for Roma/Travellers | Main | Procurement law for review »

April 14, 2010

Cross-border cooperation mechanisms

Since 2006 the EU has provided local and regional authorities engaged in cross-border cooperation projects with the option to form a collective 'European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation' (EGTC). This is a legal mechanism whereby members of such a partnership, having first notified their respective national authorities, can jointly implement their project in a more streamlined manner without the complications presented by differences in national administrative systems.

Next year's scheduled review of the EGTC regulation presents an opportunity to improve the concept by reference to experiences to date. To feed into this process the Committee of the Regions along with the European Commission, EU Council Presidency and Interact programme has now launched a consultation targeted at Member States' governments, participants in current and future EGTCs, and local and regional authorities.

Deadline: 20 July.

Posted by iroronan at April 14, 2010 10:19 AM

« Your final chance to influence 'Europe 2020' | Main | Cross-border cooperation mechanisms »

April 12, 2010

Social Inclusion for Roma/Travellers

A new Policy Communication adopted by the European Commission on 7 April in time for International Roma Day (8 April) represents a milestone in EU efforts in support of awareness-raising measure to encourage debate on Roma rights and inclusion, particularly in light of the European Year of Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion 2010. In EU terms 'Roma' is an umbrella term encompassing various population groups including the Traveller community.

'The social and economic integration of the Roma in Europe' is the first time the Commission has taken such a specific policy approach in relation to this target group. The document defines the main challenges ahead including segregation and racist violence and sets out an ambitious programme to help make policies for Roma inclusion more effective. It also outlines the complexity and interdependence of the problems faced by Roma in terms of discrimination, poverty, low educational achievement, labour market barriers, housing and poor health as well as suggesting possible mechanisms of EU support. Finally, it highlights progress made in the past two years at EU and national levels in Roma integration.

The Commission plans to implement the following actions over the coming years:
* Mobilising the European Social Fund to support Roma inclusion;
* Taking Roma issues into account in all relevant policy areas at national and EU level: employment, social inclusion, urban development, public health, EU expansion…;
* Harnessing the potential of Roma communities to support inclusive growth as part of the overall Europe 2020 strategy.

The Commission also suggests developing a set of model approaches for social and economic integration of Roma to increase the effectiveness of public policy. These approaches would define the most appropriate mix of instruments to deal with the specific problems of Roma communities.

'The social and economic integration of the Roma in Europe' Communication

Posted by iroronan at April 12, 2010 04:36 PM

« Workshop (27 April): 'Impact of EU Environmental Policy in Ireland' | Main | Social Inclusion for Roma/Travellers »

April 11, 2010

Your final chance to influence 'Europe 2020'

The Spring European Council is expected to ratify the broad thrust of the Europe 2020 strategy on 25-26 March -allowing work on fine-tuning its detail to get underway in advance of final adoption in June and a planned summer roll-out.

In advance of that cut-off point, some important issues relevant to local and regional authorities remain to be finalised in the text - notably their place in the design and implementation of credible and relevant national targets and initiatives; how EU funding and Cohesion Policy (Structural Funds) can contribute; how non-GDP indicators (e.g. living standards, quality of life, sustainability) might be used to monitor progress; and reaching out to involve the general public.

The Committee of the Regions has launched a follow-up consultation - Your voice on Europe 2020 - where input to a questionnaire can be made until 28April in order to feed perspectives into the final drafting process.

CoR consultation

Posted by iroronan at April 11, 2010 10:17 AM

« Local Renewables Web Portal | Main | Your final chance to influence 'Europe 2020' »

April 07, 2010

Workshop (27 April): 'Impact of EU Environmental Policy in Ireland'

The BMW Regional Assembly in association with the European Commission will host a free workshop/seminar on the 'Impact of EU Environmental Policy in Ireland'.

This will take place on Tuesday 27 April from 11.00am to 1.00pm in the BMW Assembly Chamber, Ballaghaderreen, Co. Roscommon. Lunch will follow.

Areas for discussion will include Water Quality, Waste Water, Fisheries, and the Habitats Directive

The Seminar will be addressed by a Panel of European Commission Experts and will include an open forum for Questions and Answers

Eimear Dowd
BMW Regional Assembly
The Square
Co. Roscommon
Tel: 094 9862970
Fax: 094 9862973
Email: EDowd@bmwassembly.ie

Posted by iroronan at April 7, 2010 12:10 PM

« Regional spending efficiency - Ireland scores highly | Main | Workshop (27 April): 'Impact of EU Environmental Policy in Ireland' »

April 06, 2010

Local Renewables Web Portal

ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability - in partnership with the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), has launched the Local Renewables Web Portal, a comprehensive collection of local level information and resources on renewable energy.

The partners of the initiative are aiming to enable local governments to become a driving force for innovation and investment towards a renewable energy future by providing a one-stop shop on policies, guidelines, technologies, information sources, and events, as well as providing tips on how to become a 'Local Renewables Model Community' and on integrating sustainable energy into their development strategies.


Posted by iroronan at April 6, 2010 06:31 PM

« 15 April deadline for local views on alternative indicators to GDP | Main | Local Renewables Web Portal »

April 06, 2010

Regional spending efficiency - Ireland scores highly

Almost three quarters of the EUR347 billion worth of EU regional funding remains unspent halfway into the current programming period according to a report released by the European Commission on 31 March. The 'Cohesion Policy: Strategic Reort 2010 on the implementation of the programmes 2007-2013' assesses, for the first time, the rate of progress of each country on delivering agreed EU objectives by allocating part of their Structural Funding packages to specific projects and schemes. This is part of the EU's drive for results-orientated policy.

Ireland is among the very best performing Member States with the Managing Authorities of its two Regional Programmes, the national Human Capital Investment Programme and the various Interreg programmes having already determined how 51.8% of its total allocation is to be spent on particular activities (with much of this having already been spent by the ultimate beneficiaries) up to the end of 2009. By contrast the Greek rate stands at just 11.9% - possibly exposing that country among others to the spectre of having to hand back significant amounts of funding over the coming years.

The report, based on 27 national reports supplied over recent months, serves as a monitoring instrument, identifying the investment areas where the Structural Funds have the potential to accelerate economic recovery if properly and efficiently applied. Despite the worrying figures the Commission is claiming that the practice of earmarking - targeting funds towards achieving specific goals under the EU Growth and Jobs strategy - is working reasonably well in improving the quality and focus of programming at regional level. Actions on research and development, innovation, lifelong learning and active labour market policies are cited as performing well, although concern is expressed with the need for speedier progress and better Member State prioritisation of key investments in support of energy and environment, the digital economy, social inclusion and institutional capacity building.

Ireland's contribution to the overall document - the National Strategic Report - acts as an update, in the light of the economic crisis, on the underlying factors and priorities (workforce upskilling; labour market participation; regional innovation, knowledge, and entrepreneurship; regional competitiveness, attractiveness and connectivity; environmental and sustainable development) which framed the negotiation with the Commission of the terms of the various Structural Fund programmes back in summer 2007. It includes separate chapters dealing with each of the Operational Programmes including outputs to date, challenges including the public expenditure review, plus details of any renegotiation of priorities agreed in 2009 due to the changed socio-economic circumstances.

A number of best practice ongoing Structural Funds initiatives are commended in the Irish report
* University of Limerick Incubation Centre (Southern & Eastern Regional Operational Programme);
* Gateways and Hubs Investment Scheme (shared by both BMW & S&E Regional Operational Programmes)
* National Broadband Scheme (as above);
* Development of a Centre of Excellence for training in the Biopharmaceutical and Pharmaceutical Sector (Human Capital Investment Operational Programme);
* Third Level Access Activity (as above);
* Supporting equality mainstreaming within the Irish Hospitality Sector (as above);
* The Celtic Wave project on fuel-efficient cruise itineraries involving Dublin Port and the Ports of Waterford and Cork ( Interreg 4A Ireland-Wales programme );
* An Taisce's Green Communities project (as above);
* Irish Society for Autism's 'Developing Skills for Employment and Educational Integration' project (as above).

Strategic Report

Cohesion policy: Strategic report 2010 - Ireland

Posted by iroronan at April 6, 2010 11:03 AM

« Commission adopts 2010 Work Programme | Main | Regional spending efficiency - Ireland scores highly »

April 02, 2010

15 April deadline for local views on alternative indicators to GDP

While it has long been standard practice to rely on GDP as the sole means of reflecting how areas are performing comparably, there is an increasing recognition that new indicators are necessary in order to provide a more rounded basis for policy-making. This includes allowing for target-setting, monitoring and evaluation in relation to the social and environmental aspects of sustainable development and quality of life issues as well as purely economic factors.

As part of an ongoing EU-level effort in this direction (following a 2009 Communication from the European Commission), the Committee of the Regions is currently compiling an Opinion to feed into the future policy-making process. All local and regional authorities are invited to contribute their ideas, experiences and information on this issue. A Discussion Paper raising six general points has been prepared as a starting basis and includes reference to disparities and divergence.

Contributions must be sent to analysis@cor.europa.eu by 15 April.

Discussion paper
'GDP and beyond: measuring progress in a changing world'(Commission Communication)em>

Posted by iroronan at April 2, 2010 05:26 PM

« Citizens' Initiative clarified | Main | 15 April deadline for local views on alternative indicators to GDP »

April 02, 2010

Commission adopts 2010 Work Programme

The European Commission's Work Programme (CWP) translates its annual policy strategy into concrete policy objectives and an operational programme of decisions to be adopted. It sets out the direction of the Commission's major upcoming political priorities and identifies legislative initiatives, executive and other acts that it intends to adopt in order to realise these.

The 2010 CWP, 'Time to Act', revealed on 31 March, emphasises four priorities:
* Tackling the economic crisis and sustaining Europe's social market economy;
* Building a citizens' agenda which puts people at the heart of European action;
* Developing an ambitious and coherent external agenda with global outreach;
* Modernising EU instruments and ways of working.

This CWP has several new features which distinguishes it from its predecessors. It is multiannual - providing not only an overview of the Commission's agenda for the coming year but defining the direction of its work up to the end of its mandate in 2014. This is intended to improve predictability by including a non-exhaustive list of initiatives under consideration for the coming years and should additionally facilitate cooperation with the other EU institutions. Following the experience of the financial crisis, the new Work Programme also has an increased element of flexibility, intended to allow the Commission to react rapidly if necessary. Annual updates to the CWP are programmed.

The first measures, to be presented in 2010, primarily concern the EU single market and reform of the financial sector. The Commission will also be proposing an agenda for new skills and jobs, aimed at boosting labour mobility and creating a European platform to combat poverty. Reducing barriers to international flows of trade and investment is another priority this year.

2010 Work Programme
Political Guidelines for the Next Commission

Posted by iroronan at April 2, 2010 04:49 PM

« Evaluation of 2000-2006 ERDF Structural Funds Programmes | Main | Commission adopts 2010 Work Programme »

April 02, 2010

Citizens' Initiative clarified

A fleshing out of the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) was provided by the European Commission on 31 March. This idea, introduced within the Treaty of Lisbon, will devise a procedure whereby particular initiatives of interest to a significant number of citizens who are nationals of a representative number of EU Member States can be formally brought before the Commission with a view to formulating proposals for action in areas where the EU has powers.
The proposal, building upon a Green Paper and public consultation launched in November 2009, clarifies that an initiative must be backed by at least one million citizens of voting age from at least one third of the Member States. In each country, the minimum number of signatures required would be calculated by multiplying the number of MEPs from that country by a factor of 750 (i.e. 9,000 Irish citizens).

A time limit of one year to collect signatures and four months for the Commission to examine an initiative and decide how to act on it has also been established. The Commission hopes that the Council and Parliament will reach final agreement on the ECI before the end of this year, to allow the first initiatives to be brought forward in 2011.

Further details

Posted by iroronan at April 2, 2010 04:29 PM

« Unemployed Microfinance Facility for entrepreneurs agreed | Main | Citizens' Initiative clarified »

April 02, 2010

Evaluation of 2000-2006 ERDF Structural Funds Programmes

An evaluation report bringing together the findings of a series of thematic Work Packages and studies into the application of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) during the 2000-2006 period of the Structural Funds was published by the Commission's DG REGIO in March. This covers a period where Ireland benefited from almost EUR2 billion in ERDF support for its Objective 1 Programmes.

The synthesis report is particularly intended to draw lessons from the experience in order to improve both the designand operation of Cohesion Policy from 2014 onwards.

Contact the IRO for a copy of 'Ex-post evaluation of Cohesion Policy programmes 2000-06 co-financed by the ERDF (Objective 1 & 2)'.

Posted by iroronan at April 2, 2010 12:04 PM

« Municipal waste survey - improvements by Ireland | Main | Evaluation of 2000-2006 ERDF Structural Funds Programmes »

April 01, 2010

Unemployed Microfinance Facility for entrepreneurs agreed

Following the compromise reached with the European Parliament late last year (see this previous article), the Council of Ministers for Employment and Social Affairs have now officially agreed to set up a fund providing entrepreneurial microloans to individuals and enterprises badly affected by the current economic crisis.

The EUR100 million Progress Microfinance Facility (expected to leverage 5 times that amount in credit) has been designed to provide a total of 45,000 loans from 2010-13.

The support is to be targeted at the following beneficiaries:
* Those recently made redundant or at risk of losing their job.
* Disadvantaged people, particularly those facing multiple deprivation and with no access to banking services.
* Micro-enterprises, and especially social enterprises employing people from the above groups.

It is expected to take the following forms:
* Equity investments aimed at strengthening the equity/capital base of microfinance providers and to support investments.
* Loans to microfinance institutions, to ensure they are in a position to provide loans to micro-borrowers at local level.
* Risk sharing and guarantees among several participants.

It is now expected that the first initiatives will be launched over the coming months with a budget of EUR25 million being provided for approximately 5,000 loans in 2010. It seems likely that a call for expression of interest to select local level (public or private) microfinance providers will be launched shortly. Complementary coaching, training, and mentoring opportunities are likely to be made available to loan beneficiaries through the European Social Fund (ESF) - presumably via Ireland's Human Capital Investment Operational Programme under the Structural Funds.

Further details

Posted by iroronan at April 1, 2010 03:30 PM

« Future CAP scenarios update | Main | Unemployed Microfinance Facility for entrepreneurs agreed »

April 01, 2010

Municipal waste survey - improvements by Ireland

Only Denmark (802kg) and Cyprus (770kg) among the EU27 produced more household and small business/office municipal waste per person in 2008 than Ireland's figure of 733kg according to a rnew eport by the European Environment Agency (EEA). The average amount produced was 524kg with the Czech Republic's 306kg coming in as the least wasteful - largely reflecting pronounced variations in consumer behavior patterns between Western and Eastern Europe although these figures exclude agricultural and industrial waste.

It is worth noting however, that the Irish figure represent an improved performance with a decrease of 53kg per person compared to 2007 - bucking a trend of increased waste production in 17 countries. While 62% of Irish municipal waste went to landfill (a method which has now been virtually eradicated in 6 countries), 32% was recycled with only Germany, Belgium and Sweden reporting higher rates. This equates to a fall of 2% in each of these categories -largely due to redirection of 3% to incineration in what was the first year of use in Ireland of this method, while a similar amount was composted.

Further details

Posted by iroronan at April 1, 2010 10:22 AM