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UK — Benefits of Investing in Cycling

October 31, 2014 Comments off

Benefits of Investing in Cycling (PDF)
Source: British Cycling

Investing in cycling will generate benefits for the whole country, not just those using a bike to get around. Eleven benefits are summarised here which can help solve a series of health, social and economic problems. This report shows how investing in cycling is good for our transport systems as a whole, for local economies, for social inclusion, and for public health.

Creating a cycling revolution in the UK requires sustained investment. In European countries with high cycling levels, levels of investment are also substantially higher than in the UK. The All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Inquiry has recommended a minimum of £10 annually per person, rising to £20, which would begin to approach the spending levels seen in high-cycling countries.

Investing in cycling will enable transport authorities to start putting in place the infrastructure we need to ensure people of all ages and abilities can choose to cycle for short everyday trips. As well as making cycle journeys more pleasant, safer and faster, it sends the signal that cycling is a normal way to travel. This is important because the perception of cycling as a marginal and minority mode is off-putting to many people.

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EU — People outside the labour market

October 29, 2014 Comments off

People outside the labour market
Source: Eurostat

This article analyses labour market participation in the European Union (EU), broken down by sex and age, on the basis of the results of the EU Labour force survey (EU-LFS). In 2013, the number of inactive persons as a percentage of the working age population in the EU-28 reached a new low of 28.0 %, continuing the downward trend of the previous years. This positive development is largely due to the increased participation of women in the labour market. The economically inactive population remains a heterogeneous group, e.g. as regards age, reasons for inactivity and the level of attachment to the labour market.

CRS — The U.S. Wine Industry and Selected Trade Issues with the European Union (July 24, 2014)

October 28, 2014 Comments off

The U.S. Wine Industry and Selected Trade Issues with the European Union (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

Global wine production totaled roughly 27 billion liters in 2012. The European Union (EU) dominates world production, accounting for nearly 60% of all wine produced each year. France, Italy, and Spain are among the principal EU wine-producing countries. The United States is the world’s second-largest wine-producing region, accounting for 10% of global production. The value of world trade in wine totaled more than $21 billion in 2013. The EU accounted for nearly 60% of the world’s export market for wine, valued at $12 billion in 2013. Other exporting nations include Australia, Chile, the United States, New Zealand, Argentina, and South Africa.

The United States is a major exporter of wine with about 7% of global exports in 2013. The U.S. wine industry has identified a range of international barriers to trade that may be limiting U.S. wine exports abroad. These include import tariffs; foreign wine producer subsidies and support; preferential market access, such as free trade agreements between the EU and other countries; incompatible foreign wine composition standards; and a range of miscellaneous non-tariff barriers, such as state or provincial government monopolies, import licensing and customs clearance requirements, and wine labeling regulations. An annual report compiled by the U.S. wine industry also highlights a range of concerns in several countries, including concerns regarding trade with several EU countries and other countries worldwide.

EU Council Library Think Tank Review — October 2014

October 27, 2014 Comments off

EU Council Library Think Tank Review — October 2014
Source: EU Council Library

In the ‘Special focus’ section, how appointments to top-ranking offices in the EU institutions continue to trigger reflections on the policy priorities for the next term and on the broad orientation of the European project; we collected several variations on the theme ‘federation’ and ‘States’, and attempts by think tanks to gauge the relative weight of institutions, or of political forces within them, in the post-2014 election scenario.

And as the October European Council approached, issues of economic and financial governance featured high on the agenda of EU think tanks, with publications on flexibility in fiscal rules, banking resolution, or the threat of deflation.

In the section on EU policies, readers will find material on energy, migration, industrial policy, food safety, gender equality, unemployment insurance and more. An equally rich variety of third countries is covered in the section on external relations.

Unleashing Metro Growth—What the U.K.’s City Growth Commission Can Teach the U.S.

October 27, 2014 Comments off

Unleashing Metro Growth—What the U.K.’s City Growth Commission Can Teach the U.S.
Source: Brookings Institution

As the United States suffers through the final weeks of a particularly bitter midterm election, something remarkable is happening in the United Kingdom. All three major parties in Britain have concluded that devolving power away from central government and toward metropolitan areas will improve economic growth and government performance. Tory, Lib-Dem, and Labour alike find themselves competing over who can articulate a more complete vision of devolution. It’s enough to make you believe in representative democracy again.

The Royal Society of the Arts’ City Growth Commission has released a well-timed report that explains the need for devolution in the U.K. and creates a blueprint for how to get it done. “The drumbeat of devolution has grown ever louder,” writes Jim O’Neill, chairman of the commission. “Over recent months, the importance of cities in driving growth and prosperity has been increasingly recognized, rising up the political agenda to the highest levels.”

These calls for devolution are long overdue in the U.K., which has one of the most centralized systems of public finance of any major OECD country. Cities lack nearly all of the powers that we take for granted in the United States—they cannot raise their own revenues, they cannot designate funding for specific projects, most don’t even have directly elected mayors. As it stands, taxes are paid overwhelmingly to central government—about 95 percent of all revenue in Britain, compared to about 65 percent in the United States, according to the OECD—and Whitehall then redistributes compartmentalized funding to all of Britain’s cities. This system prevents timely, tailored responses to pressing local issues and eliminates any incentive for innovative local policymaking.

That’s where the City Growth Commission comes in. It details two sets of recommendations: one proposing a specific process of devolution and outlining the specific powers to be devolved; the other detailing how central government can best set the stage for metropolitan success.

Social Security Programs Throughout the World: Europe, 2014

October 24, 2014 Comments off

Social Security Programs Throughout the World: Europe, 2014
Source: Social Security Administration

This first issue in the current four-volume series of Social Security Programs Throughout the World reports on the countries of Europe. The combined findings of this series, which also includes volumes on Asia and the Pacific, Africa, and the Americas, are published at six-month intervals over a two-year period. Each volume highlights features of social security programs in the particular region.

The information contained in these volumes is crucial to our efforts, and those of researchers in other countries, to review different ways of approaching social security challenges that will enable us to adapt our social security systems to the evolving needs of individuals, households, and families. These efforts are particularly important as each nation faces major demographic changes, especially the increasing number of aged persons, as well as economic and fiscal issues.

The Cost of Non-Europe in the Single Market: Free Movement of Goods

October 24, 2014 Comments off

The Cost of Non-Europe in the Single Market: Free Movement of Goods
Source: RAND Corporation

Cost of Non-Europe Reports identify the possibilities for economic or other gains and/or the realisation of a ‘public good’ through common action at EU level in specific policy areas and sectors. This Cost of Non-Europe Report seeks to analyse the costs for citizens, businesses and relevant stake-holders of remaining gaps and barriers in the European Single Market, building on and updating the 1988 Cecchini Report, which quantified its potential benefits. This particular study uses an econometric model to estimate the potential benefits of removing existing barriers to foreign direct investment and non-tariff trade barriers within the European Union. The removal of existing trade barriers could boost total intra-EU merchandise exports up to 7 per cent in the long-term. These effects will vary by Member State, and by sector of the internal market.

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