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Spreading information on the risks of drug use: a European challenge

August 29, 2014 Comments off

Spreading information on the risks of drug use: a European challenge
Source: Eurobarometer

Young Europeans are less informed about the effects and risks of drugs than just a few years ago. While they widely use the Internet to gather knowledge, a new Eurobarometer survey shows that compared to 2011, respondents are less likely to have received such information from most sources, in particular from media campaigns and school prevention programmes.

More than one quarter of young people (29%) say they have not been informed at all in the past year about the effects and risks of so-called legal highs – currently legal substances that imitate the effects of illegal drugs. This comes at a time when the number of young people saying they have used ‘legal highs’ has risen to 8%, from 5% in 2011.

More than 13,000 citizens aged 15-24 were interviewed for the Eurobarometer “Young People and Drugs” across the EU. Drug use and drug-related problems continue to be a major concern for EU citizens. They are also a significant public health and public safety issue. According to studies by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), drug experimentation often starts in the school years, and it is estimated that one in four 15-16 year-olds have used an illicit drug. In recent years, the use of ‘legal-highs’ has become increasingly popular, and the European Commission is working to strengthen the EU’s ability to protect young people by reducing the availability of harmful substances, as part of an overall drug policy regulatory framework

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Self-employed workers in the UK – 2014

August 29, 2014 Comments off

Self-employed workers in the UK – 2014
Source: Office for National Statistics

Key Points

  • Self-employment higher than at any point over past 40 years
  • Rise in total employment since 2008 predominantly among the self-employed
  • Rise predominately down to fewer people leaving self-employment than in the past
  • The number of over 65s who are self-employed has more than doubled in the past 5 years to reach nearly half a million
  • Self-employed workers tend to be older than employees and are more likely to work higher (over 45) or lower (8 or less) hours
  • The number of women in self-employment is increasing at a faster rate than the number of men (although men still dominate self employment)
  • The most common roles are working in construction and taxi driving and in recent years there have been increases in management consultants
  • Average income from self-employment fallen by 22% since 2008/09
  • Across the European Union the UK has had the third largest percentage rise in self-employment since 2009

Unexplained Deaths in Infancy: England and Wales, 2012

August 28, 2014 Comments off

Unexplained Deaths in Infancy: England and Wales, 2012
Source: Office for National Statistics

Key Points

  • 221 unexplained infant deaths occurred in England and Wales in 2012, a rate of 0.30 deaths per 1,000 live births.
  • Almost three-quarters (71%) of these unexplained deaths were recorded as sudden infant deaths, and 29% were recorded as unascertained.
  • Unexplained infant deaths accounted for 8% of all infant deaths occurring in 2012.
  • Eight out of ten unexplained infant deaths occurred in the post-neonatal period (between 28 days and 1 year).
  • Almost two-thirds (64%) of unexplained infant deaths were boys in 2012 (141 deaths).
  • The rate of unexplained infant death was three times higher among low birthweight babies (less than 2,500g) than babies with a normal birthweight (2,500g and over).

EU — Organic production and labelling of organic products

August 27, 2014 Comments off

Organic production and labelling of organic products
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission’s Impact Assessment (IA) accompanying the above proposal which was adopted on 24 March 2014.

The general problem identified is that the overall objective of the current EU political and legislative framework to ensure the sustainable development of organic production, is not being met. Over the last ten years, the organic market has been characterised by dynamic development driven by strong growth in demand. The global market for organic food expanded fourfold between 1999 and 2011, yet the area under organic production in the EU only doubled in the decade 2000-2010. According to the IA, neither internal supply, nor the legislative framework, has kept up with this market expansion, resulting in lost opportunities for EU producers. Moreover, the IA considers that the continued growth of the organic market might itself be at threat from possible erosion of consumer confidence, due to the watering down of some EU organic production rules, with excessive use of exceptions, and cases of fraud in the control system and the import regime. In addition, the development of private schemes has led to confusion, with a multiplication of logos competing with the EU organic logo. The entire regulatory framework is extremely complex and difficult to understand for operators, producers, consumers and public authorities, and will become more so with the foreseen implementation of a compliance regime for control bodies in non-recognised third countries from 2014. There is significant administrative burden linked notably to the management of the exceptions by national administrations and to the control of business operators.

Adapting the EU copyright rules to the digital transformation

August 25, 2014 Comments off

Adapting the EU copyright rules to the digital transformation
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

The initiative to modernise the EU copyright framework was launched in May 2011 in the European Commission’s strategy on “A Single Market for Intellectual Property Rights” and pursuant to actions in the Commission’s Digital Agenda for Europe. In December 2012, the Commission then published a “Communication on Content in the Digital Single Market” in which it aims to complete the review in 2014, followed by legislative reform proposals, as appropriate. Although two new Directives in specific areas of copyright – on orphan works (2012) and on the collective management of copyright (2014) – have since been adopted, a White Paper is now expected, and should be accompanied by an ‘Impact Assessment’, which will in fact be a presentation of detailed policy orientations and options in advance of decisions on specific Commission initiatives (legislative and non-legislative). According to the CWP 2014, its Annexes, and the 2013 Roadmap, the review seeks to achieve a modern framework that fosters innovative practices, creativity, cultural diversity, new business models, guarantees effective recognition and remuneration of rights holders, and enhances legal offers for end users while tackling piracy more effectively.

The Prevalence of Apprenticeships in Germany and the United States

August 22, 2014 Comments off

The Prevalence of Apprenticeships in Germany and the United States (PDF)
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

The educational systems and labor markets of Germany and the United States take different approaches to preparing young people for the workforce. One feature of Germany’s workforce development model that has been of interest to policymakers in the United States is the important role played by employer-financed apprenticeships. The United States instead relies mainly on comprehensive general education, with career training largely taking place in community colleges and other postsecondary institutions. Research has pointed to several factors that may foster apprenticeships in Germany to a greater extent than in the United States, including labor-market conditions, social norms, and other circumstances.

EU — Security of the Internet, including e-Government, cloud computing and social networks

August 21, 2014 Comments off

Security of the Internet, including e-Government, cloud computing and social networks
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

As we become increasingly dependent on the internet for all aspects of our lives, how can Europe on the web work best while ensuring that everyone can trust online services?

STOA has examined the latest technological advances with regard to the internet and information technologies in Europe. STOA is the Science and Technology Options Assessment body,which provides independent scientific advice to the European Parliament.

Technology could help foster a European civil society and political sphere, particularly if the European institutions widened their e-participation efforts. This was the conclusion of the 2011 STOA study on ‘E-public, e-participation and e-voting in Europe’. The study did not currently recommend e-voting. However, technology could start addressing the perceived ‘democratic deficit’ in the European Union. The European institutions could broaden e-participation, involving citizens more in the legislative process and creating an ‘e-public’, a European political sphere, perhaps a basis for a shared sense of European citizenship.

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