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September 29, 2010

Launch of Senior Enterprise project: 5-6 October, Druid's Glen, Wicklow

Anyone interested in strengthening enterprise and entrepreneurship through harnessing the talent, experience and resources of those aged 50+ may be interested in the launch of 'Senior Enterprise', a transnational project supported by the EU INTERREG IVB North West Europe programme.

The project is designed to challenge the conventional wisdom about the role older people can play in society by reference to the business world. It is setting out to constructively address the challenges posed by an ageing population, and the need to increase productivity, competitiveness and entrepreneurial activity across the EU by tapping into the resource offered by senior citizens. This will lead to more emphasis on older people providing the benefit of their business acumen as advisors in new and developing firms and on creating the conditions to encourage 'grey' investment in promising start-ups.

Senior Enterprise is led by the Mid-East Regional Authority with partners and observers from Ireland, the UK, France, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

The launch conference 5 and 6 October in Druids Glen Resort Hotel, Co Wicklow provides an opportunity to gain insights and to identify potential opportunities for collaborative activities and policy implementation. Keynote speakers include:
* Dick Roche, TD, Minister for State at the Department of Foreign Affairs with special responsibility for European Affairs
* Batt O'Keefe, TD, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation
* Sven Matzke, Policy Officer, European Commission Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities
* Pat Cox, President, European Movement International
* Dr. Colm O'Gorman, Professor of Entrepreneurship, Dublin City University
* John Byrne, Lead Partner and Director of the Mid East Regional Authority
* Paula Fitzsimons, Senior Enterprise Project Coordinator, and a recognised expert on entrepreneurship

The conference will also showcase SENIOR ENTERPRISE ROLE MODELS, people who have made Senior Enterprise a reality through their actions, for example Dr. Pat Loughrey, Entrepreneur/Co-founder of Cuisine de France.

Workshops will also take place on how to TRANSLATE IDEAS INTO TANGIBLE ACTIONS:
* Successfully engaging those over 50+ with enterprise: Lessons from the coal face
* Active employment opportunities for older people: Challenges and the search for solutions

Booking details are available on http://seniorenterprise.ie/events.php
Please contact Mary Grehan, Mid East Regional Authority for further information. Email info@seniorenterprise.ie Telephone +353 (0) 404 66058

Posted by iroronan at September 29, 2010 04:18 PM

« Event on Integrated Maritime Policy, 29 October, Wexford | Main | Launch of Senior Enterprise project: 5-6 October, Druid's Glen, Wicklow »

September 27, 2010

How to access our monthly EU Bulletins

Please note: Due to technical issues beyond our control, it has not been possible to upload the IRO's monthly EU Bulletins to this website since May. .

These are circulated towards the end of each month. Please contact ronan.gingles@iro.ie to ensure you receive a copy.

Posted by iroronan at September 27, 2010 04:55 PM

« CAP reform discussions: scope widens beyond farming | Main | How to access our monthly EU Bulletins »

September 27, 2010

Event on Integrated Maritime Policy, 29 October, Wexford

As part of the EU 'Open Days 2010' season of events in Europe's cities and regions, the Association of Irish Regions is organising a workshop entitled 'EU Integrated Maritime Policy - the Irish Regional Dimensions'.

Three years after the European Commission launched its blue paper on European Integrated Maritime Policy, this event will assess the state-of-play of implementation, the impacts and implications for Ireland and future potential for Ireland and its regions.

The workshop will have a particular focus on the evolving debate on an Integrated Strategy for the Atlantic Area, but also the possible application of this approach to sea basins, such as the Irish Sea, and the discussion on Marine Spatial Planning and the contribution that maritime policy can play generally for future economic growth - blue growth and jobs. The workshop will hear from practitioners and will use case studies to illustrate best practice.

The event takes place in Wexford on Friday 29 October and is targeted at policy makers, officials and other interested stakeholders at national, regional and local levels in Ireland..

Contact dir@sera.ie

Posted by iroronan at September 27, 2010 04:33 PM

« Territorial Pacts to deliver 'Europe 2020'? | Main | Event on Integrated Maritime Policy, 29 October, Wexford »

September 27, 2010

CAP reform discussions: scope widens beyond farming

Ambitions to radically adapt the next generation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) from its traditional farming emphasis to additionally encompass a new set of responsibilities would seem to be gaining momentum. This is tied up in a thinking that the spending of 40% of the total EU budget needs to better contribute as part of the EU's response to wider challenges - principally by corresponding with the overarching 'Europe 2020' Strategy to deliver growth and employment according to intelligent, sustainable and socially inclusive approaches.

Over time the focus of CAP has expanded from its original aims of ensuring food productivity and supply; market stability; and supporting farming incomes while keeping consumer prices low to also address food safety, animal welfare, environmental stewardship, and rural development. A July conference organised by DG Agriculture & Rural Development after undertaking a consultation among stakeholders and the wider public debated the opportunities to further move European agriculture from an intensive production model towards an approach that places more value on the environment as well as rural economic diversification and local product specificities.

Of late, the two new areas of focus most spoken of are management of public (environmental) goods and ''green growth'' measures to assist the wider rural economy. This would entail a much greater emphasis on direct payments to farmers (CAP pillar 1) being contingent on efforts to maintain the availability and quality of natural resources of great societal and economic benefit through sustainable long-term and resource-efficient management practices such as through less polluting production processes. Issues around which activities relating to ''public goods'' connected to agriculture might be expected include landscapes; farmland biodiversity; water quality and availability; soil functionality; greenhouse gas emissions; air quality; and flood resilience.

This development of synergies between EU agriculture and environmental practices would greatly extend previous CAP reform attempts to make European farming both more competitive and sustainable. These ambitions are allied with the issue of using CAP resources to unlock the off-farm economic potential of rural areas (e.g. tourism, development of bio-energy resources) as part of a general overhaul of rural development policy.

Consultation summary report
Further details

Posted by iroronan at September 27, 2010 03:40 PM

« Youth employment package unveiled | Main | CAP reform discussions: scope widens beyond farming »

September 24, 2010

Territorial Pacts to deliver 'Europe 2020'?

How can the local and regional levels be properly involved in the delivery of 'Europe 2020' - the overarching EU strategy for smart, sustainable and socially inclusive growth? In a bid to ensure that there is no repeat of the recognised failure to make much of the intentions behind the previous Lisbon Strategy take effect beyond the drawing board, the Committee of the Regions (CoR) is proposing that a partnership approach involving all levels of governance presents the best way forward.

This 'Territorial Pacts' approach would institute a formalised arrangement to better integrate the approaches of national, regional and local authorities in policy areas of immediate relevance to the strategy in order to assure the appropriate design and implementation of its key objectives and 'flagship initiatives'. According to its instigators, this heightened level of participation would not only ensure a much-needed sense of ownership of the new strategy but also tap into the added value that cities and regions could provide towards meeting its various economic and social development targets and the EU's goals in education, climate change and the fight against poverty.

Under the Lisbon Treaty, the three main EU institutions are now duty bound to incorporate local and regional perspectives (through the CoR) into EU decision-making processes for policy fields having an evident regional impact. The treaty also introduced the concept of ''territorial cohesion'' - maximising local potential on themes such as sustainable development and access to services by deploying integrated place-based approaches (reconciling competing sectoral policies) which are informed by local circumstances and based on the use of partnership arrangements within and between regions.

By 12 November, Member States must present draft National Reform Programmes on the national policy measures and targets required to achieve key Europe 2020 objectives and flagship initiatives. The final versions are to be adopted in April 2011. If agreed to, incorporating a sub-national dimension into this process could possibly entail more tailored setting of priorities and performance targets based on the realities of local and regional communities' needs and capacities; territorial impact assessments of key future sectoral policy proposals; and ongoing monitoring of how the strategy is being implemented regionally as well as nationally including use of specific non-GDP indicators.

Further details from this office

Posted by iroronan at September 24, 2010 06:24 PM

« Sport reaches EU agenda | Main | Territorial Pacts to deliver 'Europe 2020'? »

September 21, 2010

Youth employment package unveiled

The European Commission's flagship initiative to enhance the performance of education systems and to facilitate the entry of young people to the labour market was launched with a 15 September Communication. 'Youth on the Move' (part of the 'Europe 2020' Strategy which set a number of targets for educational access and participation) is intended to provide for coordinated actions among Member States to tackle the common challenges of youth unemployment by enabling young people to improve their skills and job prospects. This is the EU's first effort to integrate youth and employment policies.

The initiative bring together new and existing measures at EU level and in the Member States with the aim of creating a more effective package of support for young people. Although concrete implementation details have not yet been revealed, there are to be 28 key policy actions and measures across three strands:
* modernising youth education and training to make it more relevant and attractive to young people and employers - actions will target schools, apprentices and better recognition for informal skills.
* facilitating transnational mobility periods for students and trainee workers through a new generation of EU funding programmes for education, training and employment; a revamped EURES job portal; and the removal of existing obstacles.
* a set of measures to provide a new policy framework for youth employment including recommendations to Member States on labour market reform and reinforcement of public employment services.

Additional funding is to be made available for two new actions directly accessible to young people: The''Your first EURES job'' scheme should help link young people with companies looking for qualified workers and will be launched in 2011 while the 'European Progress Microfinance Facility' (See April's Bulletin) will provide young unemployed entrepreneurs with access to credit.

Some possible further elements which have been spoken about by interested parties outside the process include the targeting of measures towards those with lower levels of education; more effective incorporation of the various EU exchanges programmes into national education and training systems; the use of Structural Funds to improve national education infrastructure; providing incentives to hire young people; and improved protection and standards for interns and placement workers.

Further details

Posted by iroronan at September 21, 2010 11:28 AM

« Commission further boosts cities' prospects of funding role | Main | Youth employment package unveiled »

September 20, 2010

Sport reaches EU agenda

On 16 September, the new EU competence for sport - particularly as a means of promoting physical wellbeing, social inclusion and volunteerism - was officially begun with the inaugural meeting of the retitled Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council of Ministers.

This comes ahead of a Commission Communication, scheduled for mid-November, outlining draft plans for a new EU Sports Programme from 2012 onwards and following a 'Preparatory Action' to fund pilot sport initiatives last year. With this in mind, earlier this month a group of 5 MEPs from across the political spectrum, including Sean Kelly, formulated a joint written Declaration for the attention of the Commission, Member States and their own parliamentary colleagues on what they see as the priority need to secure EU funding to allow hard-pressed grassroots sport to flourish.

MEPs' declaration

Posted by iroronan at September 20, 2010 12:44 PM

« Agreement on late payments to SMEs | Main | Sport reaches EU agenda »

September 16, 2010

Commission further boosts cities' prospects of funding role

The campaign to grant cities and urban issues and their functional areas a key role in the design and delivery of the next generation of Cohesion Policy continues to gain strength. A 14 September EUROCITIES conference saw Regional Commissioner Johannes Hahn speak of an ambition to better deploy the grassroots assets and potential of cities and to prioritise the influence of the EU urban agenda in order to ''close the policy gap by involving city administrators who best know the needs of the people''.

If realised, these ambitions would entail a clearer earmarking of a portion of the next generation of structural funds for use within cities across the EU and a greater emphasis on devising programmes to deal with the challenges of specific cities. It is estimated that currently just 10% of the funds are channelled towards urban issues.

Another key area of EU policy as reflected in its prominence within the 'Europe 2020' Strategy, achieving growth through sustainability by integrating economic, social and environmental actions, was also singled out by the Commissioner as a ''smart investmenT'' approach which can best be delivered by city authorities in order to achieve informed and long-term positive impacts. The EU Belgian Presidency and the influential European Parliament Urban Intergroup have also come out in favour of granting cities a greater role in determining future Cohesion Policy.

Hahn comments

Posted by iroronan at September 16, 2010 05:55 PM

« Commissioners call for fund streamlining | Main | Commission further boosts cities' prospects of funding role »

September 16, 2010

Agreement on late payments to SMEs

On 13 September negotiators from the European Parliament and the Council reached agreement on how to reform the Late Payments Directive. The main objective of this undertaking is to improve the cash flow of European businesses, particularly SMEs based on a commitment in the Small Business Act (2008).

The recent discussions have overturned a discrepancy in the conditions to be applied to public body and business-to-business SME transaction payments for goods and services. A defined 30 day standard grace period is now to be allowed for both sectors, with a possibility to extend it up to 60 days only in exceptional circumstances (including for the healthcare sector). The initial draft proposal from the Commission had been for an open-ended period to be agreed between the parties. Where payment is delayed, the interest charge will be (a reduced) 8% of invoice value while the proposed additional lump sum compensation has now been removed. A simplified fixed EUR40 amount will be applied for associated recovery costs. Parliament’s October plenary session will be asked to ratify the agreement.

Further details

Posted by iroronan at September 16, 2010 10:36 AM

« New EUR115 million fund for local energy efficiency | Main | Agreement on late payments to SMEs »

September 07, 2010

Commissioners call for fund streamlining

Four EU Commissioners have written to European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, calling for a streamlining of the administration of major EU funds from 2014 onwards. The letter, signed by Commissioners Johannes Hahn (Regional Policy), Laszlo Andor (Employment and Social Affairs), Dacian Ciolos (Agriculture and Rural Development) and Maria Damanaki (Fisheries) argues that bringing the funds associated with their portfolios - the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Cohesion Fund, European Social Fund (ESF), European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), and European Fisheries Fund (EFF) - under a common strategic framework.

The arguments in favour of this approach are that it would theoretically lead to more consistent rules and procedures for project implementation, improve efficiencies, and promote much greater overall coherence between the different elements of EU-funded activity for delivery at national, regional and local level within Member States. This would most probably create the conditions for better territorial evaluation of the impacts of planned projects for integrated local and regional development. The European Parliament has previously indicated support for such a change, citing a need for greater synergies to be achieved between the various policies underpinning the funding instruments.

Posted by iroronan at September 7, 2010 11:18 AM

« Life+: 2 new Irish approvals | Main | Commissioners call for fund streamlining »

September 05, 2010

New EUR115 million fund for local energy efficiency

On 2 September, MEPs voted to redirect approximately EUR115 million set to remain unspent under the EUR4 billion 2010 allocation to energy by the European Economic Recovery Plan (EERP) towards green investment projects to be delivered at local and regional level. The Commission proposal was unanimously approved by the European Parliament's Industry, Research and Energy committee and will go before the Plenary session in October.

MEPs had been critical of the recovery plan's emphasis on long-term carbon capture and storage ahead of more immediately deliverable investments in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energies. That emphasis had in fact represented a major row-back on the original proposal to provide EUR500 million for local 'smart cities' energy actions which were ultimately deemed to lack European added value.

The money will be used to create a dedicated 'Sustainable Energy Financing Initiative' to support local and regional projects which will need to be able to contribute significantly and in a measurable way towards economic recovery, boosting energy security and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Innovative green projects relating to combined heat and power and district heating networks, intelligent public lighting systems, urban public transport and electric vehicles, linking decentralised renewable production into grids, electricity storage, and smart energy-use metering are among the topics likely to be eligible for support.

Further details

Posted by iroronan at September 5, 2010 03:40 PM