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A Digital Single Market for Europe: Commission sets out 16 initiatives to make it happen

May 7, 2015 Comments off

A Digital Single Market for Europe: Commission sets out 16 initiatives to make it happen
Source: European Commission

The Internet and digital technologies are transforming our world – in every walk of life and in every line of business. Europe must embrace the digital revolution and open up digital opportunities for people and businesses. How? By using the power of the EU’s Single Market. Today, the European Commission unveiled its detailed plans to create a Digital Single Market, thereby delivering on one of its top priorities.

At present, barriers online mean citizens miss out on goods and services: only 15% shop online from another EU country; Internet companies and start-ups cannot take full advantage of growth opportunities online: only 7% of SMEs sell cross-border (see Factsheet for more figures). Finally, businesses and governments are not fully benefitting from digital tools. The aim of the Digital Single Market is to tear down regulatory walls and finally move from 28 national markets to a single one. A fully functional Digital Single Market could contribute €415 billion per year to our economy and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

The Digital Single Market Strategy adopted today includes a set of targeted actions to be delivered by the end of next year (see Annex). It is built on three pillars: (1) better access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services across Europe; (2) creating the right conditions and a level playing field for digital networks and innovative services to flourish; (3) maximising the growth potential of the digital economy.

Safeguarding biological diversity: EU policy and international agreements

April 24, 2015 Comments off

Safeguarding biological diversity: EU policy and international agreements
Source: European Parliament Think Tank

Biodiversity, the diversity of life on earth at all levels, is declining, mainly as a result of human-induced pressures such as over-exploitation of natural resources, loss of viable habitats, pollution, climate change or invasive alien species. EU biodiversity policy is based on the Birds and Habitats Directives, which served as the basis for the development of the Natura 2000 network of protected sites now covering 1 million square kilometres on land (or 18% of EU land area) and 250 000 square kilometres of marine sites. The policy is driven by the biodiversity strategy setting ambitious aims for 2020 (halting the loss of biodiversity) and 2050 (protecting and valuing biodiversity and ecosystem services), with the addition of a strategy on green infrastructure. The European Commission estimates that the Natura 2000 network delivers benefits worth between €200 and €300 billion per year, against management costs estimated at €5.8 billion per year. The LIFE Programme co-finances some measures related to biodiversity, especially as regards Natura 2000. Funding aimed at protecting biodiversity is also available under the agricultural, regional, fisheries, and research policies. The European Parliament has long been supportive of EU biodiversity protection policy. Developments in EU biodiversity policy include a process of ‘biodiversity proofing’ of the EU budget, improved monitoring, definition of priorities for the restoration of degraded ecosystems, ‘biodiversity offsetting’ of unavoidable residual impacts, and a ‘fitness check’ of EU nature legislation.

EU — Giving Citizens a Say: Commission Report on European Citizens’ Initiatives

April 10, 2015 Comments off

Giving Citizens a Say: Commission Report on European Citizens’ Initiatives
Source: European Commission

In the past three years, an estimated six million Europeans have supported European Citizens’ Initiatives (ECI) and used their voice to bring important causes directly to the attention of European policy makers. Today the European Commission publishes a Report looking at the application of this new tool since its entry into force on 1 April 2012.

The fact that two Citizens’ Initiatives have gone through the full process shows that the Regulation establishing the ECI has been fully implemented. However, the report acknowledges that there is still room to improve the process and identifies a number of possible issues for further discussion with stakeholders and institutions.

Factsheet on EU security measures in civil airliners

April 9, 2015 Comments off

Factsheet on EU security measures in civil airliners
Source: European Commission

On 27 March 2015, EASA (the European Air Safety Agency) has issued a recommendation for airlines to observe the “four-eye-rule” in the cockpit; stipulating that in the case of the Captain or First Officer leaving the cockpit, a member of the crew should be present in the cockpit with the remaining pilot.

European safety regulations require that pilots shall remain at the aircraft controls unless absence is necessary for physiological or operational safety needs.

There is no European requirement that a member of the cabin crew must enter the cockpit in the event a pilot needs to take a short break for such needs. There is however a requirement that the cockpit door can be opened from the outside in case of emergency.

EU — Report on access to law

April 8, 2015 Comments off

Report on access to law
Source: European Commission

1.European Union law covers a wide area of action, within the framework established by the Treaties. Not only does it deal with general aspects, such as determining a framework for the EU and how it operates, but it also covers other aspects of the daily life of citizens and businesses in Europe. Rules governing the recognition of divorce and decisions regarding maintenance obligations or inheritance matters are of key concern to citizens living in every Member State. Similarly, corporate law, rules on the functioning of the internal market and insolvency procedures are examples of more specific interest to businesses.

2.Thus, the matter of access to the law is pivotal. It is against this backdrop that technical discussions have been taking place within the Council’s e-Law working party. The working party is composed of representatives of the 28 Member States, the Publications Office, the Commission and the General Secretariat of the Council. Representatives of the Court of Justice of the European Union have also been contributing to its work. The working party’s specific brief is to address the need for a better dissemination of legal data and coordination of the technical means deployed, so as to ensure that it is as easy as possible to access both European law and the Member State law required for implementing European instruments.

3.This report aims to discuss major strides made in terms of access to European law and national law, as well as the possibility of offering access to the law of third countries, where that is in the interest of the European Union or the Member States.

EU — How safe are your roads? Commission road safety statistics show small improvement for 2014

March 25, 2015 Comments off

How safe are your roads? Commission road safety statistics show small improvement for 2014
Source: European Commission

Following two years of solid decreases in the number of people killed on Europe’s roads, the first reports on road deaths in 2014 are disappointing. According to the figures released today, the number of road fatalities has decreased by approximately 1% compared to 2013. This follows on the 8% decrease in 2012 and 2013. The figures reveal a total of 25 700 road deaths in 2014 across all 28 Member States of the EU. Whilst this is 5700 fewer than in 2010, it falls short of the intended target decrease.

2015 EU Justice Scoreboard: supporting Member States to improve their justice systems’ effectiveness

March 13, 2015 Comments off

2015 EU Justice Scoreboard: supporting Member States to improve their justice systems’ effectiveness
Source: European Commission

Key findings from the 2015 EU Justice Scoreboard include:

  • Improvement in the efficiency of justice systems in Member States can be observed. However, the situation varies significantly depending on the respective Member State and indicator. Reaping the rewards of justice reforms takes time.
  • Efforts to enhance the use of information and communication technology (ICT) tools for the judicial systems have continued. However, the indicators reveal gaps in a number of Member States, both for ICT tools available for the administration and management of courts and for electronic communications between courts and parties.
  • More than 20% of judges participated in continuous training on EU law or on the law of other Member States in the majority of Member States. This considerably exceeds the 5% annual target of legal practitioners who need to be trained in order to reach, by 2020, the objective of 50%.
  • The majority of Member States enable free online access to civil and commercial judgments for the general public.
  • The higher the court, the lower the share of female judges. Even if the share of female professional judges for both first and second instance shows a positive trend, for the Supreme Courts most Member States still have some way to go to reach the gender balance of 40-60%.
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