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Hong Kong: one country, two systems?

October 23, 2014 Comments off

Hong Kong: one country, two systems?
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

The on-going heated debate about the introduction of universal suffrage for the election of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive has turned into widespread protests on the territory’s streets. Hopes that the public would be able to nominate candidates were dashed by China’s decision to allow only committee-based nomination of candidates in the 2017 election. The Occupy Central protests, widely known as the Umbrella Revolution, kicked off on 28 September. Agreement to talks, scheduled for 10 October, saw tensions lowered, but after those talks were cancelled by the authorities, organisers called for protesters to return to the streets. With numbers not reaching earlier heights, the authorities appear to have concluded that the protests’ momentum is going.

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Reinvigorating the EU Single Market

October 20, 2014 Comments off

Reinvigorating the EU Single Market
Source: OECD

The EU Single Market remains fragmented by complex and heterogeneous rules at the EU and national levels affecting trade, capital, including foreign direct investment, and labour mobility. Further development of the Single Market and removing barriers to external trade would bring substantial growth and employment gains by enhancing resource allocation in Europe, by generating economies of scale and by strengthening competition and hence incentives to innovate. Reforming regulation and other implicit barriers can also yield a double dividend: it would stimulate cross-border activities and support the necessary reallocation process within countries. Such reallocation can cause hardships, especially for the less-skilled workers who may not be able to compete. To deal with such problems, it is important to enhance active labour market policies and training. The Single Market would also benefit from better networks between countries that can be supported by a well-targeted infrastructure policy. New digital networks can be promoted by an appropriate regulatory framework to strengthen confidence and to promote fair competition. Regarding external trade, the first-best solution is clearly multilateral trade negotiations, but short of that external trade and investment barriers can be reduced with Free Trade Agreement negotiations with the United States and other partners. This Working Paper relates to the 2014 OECD Economic Survey of the European Union (www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/economic-survey-european-union.htm).

Employment: report shows worker mobility key to tackle EU demographic and skills challenges

October 17, 2014 Comments off

Employment: report shows worker mobility key to tackle EU demographic and skills challenges
Source: European Commission/OECD

To address the effects of population ageing, the EU will need to close the gender gap and increase the participation of young and older workers in the labour market, but mobility and migration also have a key role to play. This is the main finding of the joint Commission-OECD report on Matching Economic Migration with Labour Market Needs published today.

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor commented “This joint report with the OECD offers valuable guidance on the serious demographic challenges ahead. Ensuring fair labour mobility within the EU, improving training to close skills gaps, ensuring decent working conditions to workers and better integration of non-EU workers can be part of the solution to population ageing and future skill shortages in the European labour market”.

ECB report details structural changes in the euro area banking sector

October 16, 2014 Comments off

ECB report details structural changes in the euro area banking sector
Source: European Central Bank

The European Central Bank has today published the Banking Structures Report 2014, which reviews the main structural developments in the euro area banking sector to the end of 2013. The report makes use of a number of publicly available data sources, notably aggregate annual banking sector statistics which are published by the ECB.

The report shows that the on-going consolidation of the euro area banking system continued in 2013. The rationalisation process suggests that overall efficiency of the system continues to be enhanced. The total number of credit institutions decreased further to 5,948 in 2013, down from 6,100 in 2012 and 6,690 in 2008.

Total assets of the euro area banking sector declined to €26.8 trillion, down from €29.6 trillion in 2012 and from €33.5 trillion in 2008, largely driven by developments regarding large banks, with the reduction in derivative positions accounting for around half the total balance sheet shrinkage. This is largely reflective of the on-going balance sheet repair and related deleveraging of non-core assets. The banking sectors of those euro area countries most strongly affected by the financial crisis generally also experienced the most pronounced structural changes.

+ Full Report (PDF)

Erasmus Impact Study confirms EU student exchange scheme boosts employability and job mobility

October 15, 2014 Comments off

Erasmus Impact Study confirms EU student exchange scheme boosts employability and job mobility
Source: European Commission

Young people who study or train abroad not only gain knowledge in specific disciplines, but also strengthen key transversal skills which are highly valued by employers. A new study on the impact of the European Union’s Erasmus student exchange programme shows that graduates with international experience fare much better on the job market. They are half as likely to experience long-term unemployment compared with those who have not studied or trained abroad and, five years after graduation, their unemployment rate is 23% lower. The study, compiled by independent experts, is the largest of its kind and received feedback from nearly 80 000 respondents including students and businesses.

Eurostat regional yearbook 2014

October 14, 2014 Comments off

Eurostat regional yearbook 2014
Source: Eurostat

Statistical information is an important tool for understanding and quantifying the impact of political decisions in a specific territory or region. The Eurostat regional yearbook 2014 gives a detailed picture relating to a broad range of statistical topics across the regions of the Member States of the European Union (EU), as well as the regions of EFTA and candidate countries. Each chapter presents statistical information in maps, figures and tables, accompanied by a description of the policy context, main findings and data sources. These regional indicators are presented for the following 11 subjects: population, health, education, the labour market, the economy, structural business statistics, research and innovation, the information society, tourism, transport, and agriculture. In addition, four special focus chapters are included in this edition: these look at the environment, land cover and land use, European cities, and regional competitiveness.

The Statistical Atlas is an interactive map viewer, which contains statistical maps from the Eurostat regional yearbook and provides the possibility to download these maps as high-resolution PDFs.

The most recent version of the Eurostat regional yearbook is available in Statistics Explained, which also contains translations of all of the articles in German and French as well as three articles in the 18 official Community languages.

EU — Photonics: An industry moving at the speed of light

October 9, 2014 Comments off

Photonics: An industry moving at the speed of light
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

Photonics is all around us; it is an integral part of modern human society, contributing to our daily lives. The science of photonics is the study an utilisation of light or photons. Consequently due to its interdisciplinary nature it crosses the fields of physics, chemistry and electrical engineering.

The majority of society is unaware if the collective study of phonics or its importance to industry. Instead of seeing devices that are produced by, or that use photonics, we simply see electronics. Unaware of the amazing technology within, it’s extensive nature or its complexities. Yet photonics is a sector that is increasingly vital to our economic growth and standard of living.it is driving innovation forward faster than ever before and revolutionising our lives, and altering the way we view and experience the world around us.

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