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November 26, 2010

Cohesion Policy Ministerial Council

Ministers meeting at the Informal Cohesion Policy Council in Liege on 22-23 November have broadly welcomed and cautiously backed the general thrust of most of most proposals contained in the Fifth Cohesion Report from the Commission in a bid to achieve ongoing growth at regional level.

While the Report avoided giving any real pointers as to the future shape of the ESF, Ministers have recommended the strengthening of the fund’s regional dimension so as to increase its visibility.

Cohesion Policy Council of Ministers

Posted by iroronan at November 26, 2010 10:26 AM

« Cohesion Report maps out future thinking on Regional Policy | Main | Cohesion Policy Ministerial Council »

November 18, 2010

Wanted: Local Energy case studies

ManagEnergy, the technical support initiative for local authorities active in the Intelligent Energy - Europe (IEE) programme, have issued a call for case studies on activities that have demonstrated positive results in energy efficiency, sustainability and environmental impact at local or regional level.

The best such examples to have been completed in 2009 or 2010 will be displayed on the ManagEnergy website and will be included in the biennial publication 'Local Energy Action - EU Good Practice'. They will also be nominated for the ManagEnergy Local Energy Action Award, which will be held during the EU Sustainable Energy Week, 11-15 April 2011, in Brussels.

Deadline: 14 January
Further details

Posted by iroronan at November 18, 2010 01:58 PM

« NGOs influencing EU Policy and obtaining funding | Main | Wanted: Local Energy case studies »

November 16, 2010

Cohesion Report maps out future thinking on Regional Policy

Every 3 years the European Commission delivers a report to the other European institutions on the performance of EU Regional Policy in achieving economic and social cohesion through. The latest version was published on 12 November. As well as assessing progress to date, the Fifth Cohesion Report: Investing in Europe's future, suggests potential avenues for improvement of policy delivery and outlines the Commission's thinking on the future design of the policy after 2013.

The report is in the main based on the potential role of Cohesion Policy in realising the ambitions of the Europe 2020 Strategy, effectively the EU's growth-based response to the economic crisis.
For the first time, analysis of the goal of territorial cohesion - implying sustainable development and balanced regional development - is included alongside economic and social cohesion.
Among the key points proposed are:
* Eligibility for all European regions regardless of levels of income in order that they may be ''able to tailor their strategy in an integrated manner to their specific strengths and weaknesses''.
* Adoption of a Common Strategic Framework to translate the somewhat vague Europe 2020 Strategy into concrete investment priorities across all funds (ERDF, ESF, EAFRD and EFF). This would include formal 'Development Contracts' between the Commission and each Member State on the use of EU (and national co-financing) funding.
* A new intermediate category of support reflecting the particular situation of regions whose status is in transition between the current Objectives 1 and 2.
* A more concentrated (limited number of priorities) and results-orientated policy for each region focused on delivery of economic and social development (as opposed to equating spending compliance with achieving success).
* The need for flexibility in involving local actors in programme design and implementation including particular reference to the ''local development model'' (integrated, bottom-up approaches involving appropriate actors and levels of administration at functional scales).
* The wider use of alternative funding approaches to the traditional non-repayable grants. This would see a greater emphasis on ''financial engineering instruments'' (loans and venture capital) whose ''revolving fund'' investments can deliver a repeated rather than once-off impact. Likely areas to which this could be extended include urban transport, research & development, local development, lifelong learning, climate change and environment, ICT and broadband.
* ''An ambitious urban agenda'' where urban authorities would play a stronger role in designing and implementing urban development strategies.
* A review of both the co-financing (modulated in terms of activities undertaken, regional income levels etc.) and additionality (to more reliably reflect the added value of EU intervention) principles by which EU support is justified.
* Extending the territorial dimension of Member States’ Strategic Environmental Assessments and Impact Assessments to avoid imbalances in the impact of policy across the EU and to ascertain cost-benefit analyses.

A formal consultation has been launched and will run until 31 January 2011 when a Cohesion Forum will take place in Brussels. Responses received will feed into legislative proposals to be presented in spring 2011 along with the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020.

Fifth Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion

Posted by iroronan at November 16, 2010 07:20 PM

« IRO Review of 2011 European Commission Work Programme | Main | Cohesion Report maps out future thinking on Regional Policy »

November 12, 2010

NGOs influencing EU Policy and obtaining funding

In early November, staff from this office took part in a series of skills seminars for community and voluntary organisations on influencing and connecting with European policy.

The events which were held in Castlebar, Waterford and Dublin were organised by the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) Ireland and supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs as part of the Communicating Europe Initiative.

The Irish Regions Brussels Office role was to attempt to demystify EU funding concepts and to highlight possible opportunities for the particular target audience. As such not all EU funding programmes were covered.

Other contributors dealt with “Bridging the Gap between NGO’s and the EU” in policy terms, and the new ''NGO EU Connect'' website which aims to break down the barriers faced by this sector. MEPs Marian Harkin, Sean Kelly, Gay Mitchell and Proinsias De Rossa also gave of their time to contribute on the role of the European Parliament.

Presentations and video

NGO EU Connect website

Posted by iroronan at November 12, 2010 01:16 PM

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November 10, 2010

IRO Review of 2011 European Commission Work Programme

Download file

Posted by iroronan at November 10, 2010 01:45 PM

« Social services of general interest | Main | IRO Review of 2011 European Commission Work Programme »

November 08, 2010

Cluster Observatory website

The European Cluster Observatory is an on-line platform that provides a single access point to information and analysis of clusters and cluster policy in Europe. The Observatory recently launched its redesigned web site at the European Cluster Conference. It provides cluster stakeholders with a wide range of services, such as the Cluster Mapping tool, which gives access to data on clusters and regions in Europe, including framework conditions that shape regional competitiveness.

Further details

Posted by iroronan at November 8, 2010 11:14 AM

« Social Economy | Main | Cluster Observatory website »

November 06, 2010

Social services of general interest

The Belgian Presidency of the EU organised a forum for social partners, civil society and institutional representatives from the Member States to discuss the impact of European policy objectives which are increasingly based on free market approaches and social services of general interest (SSIG) upon each other on 26-27 October in Brussels.

With the participation of the relevant Commissioners for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, the Internal Market and Competition, the event provided an opportunity for a wide-ranging discussion on the role of SSIGs in Europe, particularly in relation to the economic crisis and by reference to budgetary restrictions.

Belgian minister for Social Affairs and Public Health Laurette Onkelinx, as chief organiser, expressed a wish that the market should ''contribute to social progress, with the aim of constructing a social market economy''and urged action to make the existing rules on SSIG both better known and better adapted with a view to providing greater legal security and to recognise the specific nature of these services.

As a consequence of the Forum, 15 concrete recommendations were adopted. Conclusions on this priority issue for the Belgian Presidency are to be presented to the Ministerial Council for Social Affairs on 6 December.

Further details

Posted by iroronan at November 6, 2010 04:06 PM

« 2010 Biodiversity Plan Assessment | Main | Social services of general interest »

November 04, 2010

Social Economy

A Belgian Presidency conference on October 27-28 sought to emphasise the important role the social economy should play in the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy through employment initiatives which, beyond economic development, additionally provide for the active inclusion, training and integration of marginalised and vulnerable groups.

Among the priorities flagged up by the Conference as being key to the sector’s further development beyond its current 11 million jobs across the EU were the need to facilitate access to necessary legal and financial support; fostering better links with sustainable development issues and actors; and greater efforts to ensure visibility and recognition.
The Presidency has committed to inviting Member States and EU Institutions to work for greater recognition for social economy actors and to give this sector the resources needed for its development and growth.

'The Social Economy and the Europe 2020 Strategy' conference

Posted by iroronan at November 4, 2010 04:38 PM

« Industrial Policy Flagship Initiative | Main | Social Economy »

November 04, 2010

2010 Biodiversity Plan Assessment

The 2010 report assessing implementation of the EU Biodiversity Action Plan was published in October. The Action Plan addresses the challenge of integrating biodiversity concerns into other policy sectors in a unified way through specific priority actions to be shared between EU Institutions and Member States. It also contains indicators to monitor progress.

The 2010 report reflects upon the failure to comply with the headline goal of halting biodiversity decline in Europe by this stage. This is analysed by reference to four main policy areas: biodiversity in the EU (including objectives to safeguard key habitats and species; to conserve and restore biodiversity and ecosystem services in both the wider countryside and marine environment; to reinforce compatibility of regional and territorial development with biodiversity; and to substantially reduce the impact of invasive alien species); the EU’s role in strengthening international biodiversity and ecosystem services (through governance and trade arrangements); supporting biodiversity adaptation to climate change; and strengthening the knowledge base for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

It also considers a set of supporting measures: ensuring adequate financing; strengthening EU decision making; building partnerships; and public education, awareness and participation.

The principle threats to biodiversity are characterised as changes in land use, excessive demands made on our environment, pollution, invasive species and climate change. Nonetheless, the report notes substantial progress made since the 2008 mid-term review and expresses the hope that lessons learned in the interim can be put towards general good use into the future. In that vein a separate progress report on 150 actions underway at EU level has also been compiled.

2010 Report
EU ActionsIreland performance report

Posted by iroronan at November 4, 2010 04:21 PM

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November 04, 2010

Industrial Policy Flagship Initiative

On 27 October, the Commission adopted its latest Europe 2020 flagship initiative, entitled 'An integrated industrial policy for the globalisation era: focusing on competitiveness and sustainability'.

Its aim in the first instance is to encourage the internationalisation of SMEs - a strategy on this is due in early 2011. It also aims to facilitate SMEs access to finance, and enhance the single market to ensure that it can be used to its full potential. The Commission will also produce a new policy initiative on corporate social responsibility in 2011.

Success will be measured by targets: a 1% annual increase in industry’s international competitiveness, 5 million new jobs in industry by 2020 (the majority in SMEs), a 2.5% annual increase in manufacturing output and a 5% increase in exports of manufactured goods.

Further details

Posted by iroronan at November 4, 2010 10:29 AM

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November 03, 2010

Integrated Maritime Policy package

The European Commission has recently brought forward a funding proposal to support the EU’s integrated maritime policy for the 2011-2013 period. EUR50 million will be allocated to fund pilot projects in six main areas:
* promoting integrated maritime governance;
* pinpointing the needs of European sea basins;
* developing maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal zone management;
* developing a marine knowledge infrastructure;
* developing a common information sharing environment; and
* promoting sustainable economic growth, innovation and employment in maritime sectors and coastal regions.

The proposal will require the approval of both the Council and the European Parliament.

Further details

Posted by iroronan at November 3, 2010 12:16 PM

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November 03, 2010

Wind Energy Guidelines for Natura 2000 sites

Guidelines for wind energy development in protected natural areas were published by the European Commission on 29 October. These are intended to offer greater clarity to Member States and industry regarding the undertaking of wind energy development activities in sensitive locations and to counter instances of poorly sited or designed wind farms having a negative impact on the conservation of vulnerable species and habitats.

The guidelines apply specifically to the EU-wide Natura 2000 ecological network of nearly 26,000 sites of high biodiversity value. In a bid to avoid conflict over the proper usage of such sites (which require a sustainable balance of both ecological and economic functions) and to reduce the risk of later stage delays in relation to individual proposals, the guidelines highlight the importance of strategic planning and the need for good quality assessment of new developments.

Further details

Posted by iroronan at November 3, 2010 12:10 PM

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November 01, 2010

Globalisation Fund: Progress for SR Technics application

On 26 October, the European Parliament's Committee on Budgets gave its go-ahead to a European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) compensation package for 850 workers who lost their jobs in the SR Technics aircraft maintenance firm located at Dublin Airport.

The total amount of EU funding earmarked to support guidance, retraining and entrepreneurship measures towards these workers’ reintegration into the labour market is EUR7.45 million (total package value is EUR11.5 million). The decision must be approved by the full Parliament and the Council of Ministers on 11 November although this is seen as largely a formality.

Further details

Posted by iroronan at November 1, 2010 10:39 AM