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How digital is your country? New figures reveal progress needed towards a digital Europe

February 26, 2015 Comments off

How digital is your country? New figures reveal progress needed towards a digital Europe
Source: European Commission

There are plenty of digital opportunities waiting to be unlocked to benefit European citizens and companies. From shopping or studying online, to paying bills or using public services over the Internet – the Web is the answer, if the right conditions are in place. This is the conclusion of a new Digital Economy and Society Index developed by the European Commission and released today. Data shows that the picture of how digital countries are varies across the EU and that borders remain an obstacle to a fully-fledged Digital Single Market – one of the top priorities of the Juncker Commission.

The new tool presented today gives snapshots, per country, of connectivity (how widespread, fast and affordable broadband is), Internet skills, the use of online activities from news to shopping, how key digital technologies (e-invoices, cloud services, e-commerce, etc) and digital public services such as e-government and e-health are developed. The data is mostly from 2013 and 2014 and gives an overview of how digital Europe is, including rankings of the top digital performers.

Questions and Answers: Smuggling of Migrants in Europe and the EU response

February 10, 2015 Comments off

Questions and Answers: Smuggling of Migrants in Europe and the EU response
Source: European Commission

Smuggling of migrants is commonly understood as the intentional organisation or facilitation of the irregular movement of persons across state borders, which is provided in return for financial gain (or other gain) by the migrants to the smugglers. [1] Smuggling of migrants generally takes place with the consent of the person willing to move. However, the act of smuggling itself is often dangerous and violent, forcing people to unsafe and inhumane travelling conditions.

This is nevertheless distinct from trafficking in human beings, which does not require crossing of international borders, involves physical or psychological violence, coercion, exploitation of position of vulnerability, and is aimed at the exploitation of the victim.

The distinction between these two types of crimes can however become blurred in practice because smuggled people can also become victims of violence or some form of exploitation.

Commission identifies the infrastructure priorities and investment needs for the Trans-European Transport Network until 2030

January 21, 2015 Comments off

Commission identifies the infrastructure priorities and investment needs for the Trans-European Transport Network until 2030
Source: European Commission

The European Commission has published nine studies on the state of play and the development needs of the TEN-T core network corridors. The studies have identified infrastructure development needs which represent approximately €700 billion of financial investment until 2030. They highlight the importance of optimising the use of infrastructure along the corridors, notably through intelligent transport systems, efficient management and the promotion of future-oriented clean transport solutions. This is the first time that tens of thousands kilometres of rail, road, inland waterway connections, ports, airports and other transport terminals have been studied in such a comprehensive way and with a common methodology.

Fighting terrorism at EU level, an overview of Commission’s actions, measures and initiatives

January 14, 2015 Comments off

Fighting terrorism at EU level, an overview of Commission’s actions, measures and initiatives
Source: European Commission

In 2010 the European Commission adopted an Internal Security Strategy for the period from 2010 to 2014. In the coming months, a European Agenda on Security will be adopted, as foreseen in the Commission working programme for 2015.
The fight against terrorism is principally a national competence. However, the European Union supports Member States’ efforts in the following ways:

  • Creating a legal environment and framework for cooperation;
  • Developing common capabilities and systems such as the Schengen Information System (SIS) or the Civil Protection Mechanism;
  • Supporting, notably financially, the establishment of concrete and operational cooperation between practitioners and front line actors via, for example, the Radicalisation Awareness Network, ATLAS (network of the rapid intervention forces), Airpol (network of airports’ police) in the fight against terrorism and working together with Member States and stakeholders e.g. in Chemical Biological, Radiological and Nuclear and explosives expert groups or the standing committee on precursors;
  • Ensuring that security and fundamental rights are built by design into all relevant EU level policies such as transport, energy, etc.
  • The Internal Security fund also provides financing to Member States in the field of internal security, including fight against terrorism.

Global trade increasingly obstructed, EU Report says

December 18, 2014 Comments off

Global trade increasingly obstructed, EU Report says
Source: European Commission

The tendency to impose trade-restricting measures remains strong among the EU’s commercial partners, fuelling continuing uncertainty in the world economy. These are the main findings of the European Commission’s annual report on protectionism published today 17 November.

In the 13 months covered by the report, G20 members and other key EU trading partners adopted a total of 170 new trade-unfriendly measures. The countries that have adopted the most such measures were Russia, China, India and Indonesia. At the same time, only 12 pre-existing trade barriers have been removed. This means that hundreds of protectionist measures adopted since the beginning of the economic downturn continue to hamper world trade, despite the G20 commitment.

The number of measures applied at the border and quickly obstructing trade –already high last year – continued to rise, with Russia applying the highest number of individual measures affecting imports. The number of new exports restrictions has also risen, a trend that is particularly worrying. All countries depend on each other’s natural resources and such practices can have detrimental consequences for global commodity markets and value chains.

Countries also resorted more frequently to discriminatory internal taxation, technical regulations or localisation requirements to shield their markets from foreign competition. China introduced the highest number of such measures.

Investors and service providers also continue to be affected by limitations in access to foreign markets. Finally, the tendency to restrict participation of foreign companies in public tenders remains strong, in particular in the United States.

EU — World trends in R&D private investment. Facts and figures

December 11, 2014 Comments off

World trends in R&D private investment. Facts and figures
Source: European Commission

The European Commission published today its 2014 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard. The Scoreboard is based on a sample of 2500 companies, the world’s top investors in Research and Development (R&D) and equivalent to about 90% of the total expenditure on R&D by businesses worldwide. Top world R&D investors continued to increase their R&D investments by 4.9% in 2013, a figure well above their net sales growth (2.7%). The 633 EU companies among the top world R&D investors increased R&D investment by 2.6% while showing a decrease in sales (-1.9%) and operating profits (-6.6%).

EU — Trafficking in human beings 2010-2014: eradicating the slave trade

November 12, 2014 Comments off

Trafficking in human beings 2010-2014: eradicating the slave trade
Source: European Commission

During the years 2010-2012, EU Member States registered 30 146 victims of trafficking in human beings. Behind this number are human tragedies, broken hopes and destroyed plans for a better life. During the same period, 8 551 prosecutions against traffickers were reported across the EU. 80 percent of victims of trafficking were female, and over 1 000 child victims were registered as trafficked for sexual exploitation. This data is part of a statistical report on victims and perpetrators of trafficking released today by the European Commission. A report also shows that many concrete measures against this severe human rights violation have been undertaken during 2010-2014, such as better cooperation with civil society, and guidelines issued to border authorities and other stakeholders on how to better identify victims.

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