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Mapping the European ICT Poles of Excellence: The Atlas of ICT Activity in Europe

April 18, 2014 Comments off

Mapping the European ICT Poles of Excellence: The Atlas of ICT Activity in Europe
Source: European Commission

The EIPE Atlas presents the results of the empirical mapping of ICT activity in Europe and the ranking of the top European NUTS 3 regions based on their performance in EIPE Composite Indicator (EIPE CI), together with the ranks for the individual 42 indicators which contributed to the building of the EIPE composite indicators. The report offers a snapshot of the performance of regions that are identified as the main locations of ICT activity in Europe. It is meant to provide a comprehensive picture of how ICT activity is distributed across Europe and where its main locations are. This information is expected to give a better overview of the European ICT landscape, activity and actors in each location and to reveal their strengths and weaknesses.

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Frequently Asked Questions — Responsible sourcing of minerals originating conflict-affected and high-risk areas: towards an integrated EU approach

March 13, 2014 Comments off

Responsible sourcing of minerals originating conflict-affected and high-risk areas: towards an integrated EU approach
Source: European Commission

Profits from the extraction of and trade in minerals sourced from unstable regions affected by armed conflict can play a role in intensifying and perpetuating violent conflict. This can take various forms including where armed groups or their affiliates illegally control mines and mineral trading routes, use forced labour or commit other human rights abuses, or tax or extort money or minerals.

As a result, armed groups and security forces in conflict regions can finance their activities from the proceeds of mining and trading of minerals which later enter the global supply chain. Companies further down the production chain run the risk of supporting armed activities and have an interest in sourcing from such regions responsibly.

The best documented and known case relates to the problems in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where the United Nations frequently reports on the devastating instability created by foreign and national armed groups generating revenues through their control over natural resources. The Heidelberg Institute for International Research estimates that, together, natural resources and conflict account for roughly 20% of global conflicts.

Under the US Dodd-Frank Act, section 1502, ‘conflict minerals’ are defined as minerals containing tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold originating in the DRC and the adjoining countries. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Due Diligence guidance is based on the same four minerals but is not geographically specific. The EU proposal uses the same basis as OECD.

Questions and Answers: What has the EU done for women? 50 years of EU action on Gender Equality for One Continent

March 10, 2014 Comments off

Questions and Answers: What has the EU done for women? 50 years of EU action on Gender Equality for One Continent
Source: European Commission

The Treaty of Rome in 1957 already included the principle of equal pay for equal work. (Article 119 EEC, then 141 EC, now Article 157 TFEU). The background to this provision was mainly economic: Member States and in particular France wanted to eliminate distortion of competition between businesses established in different Member States. As some EU countries (for example France) had adopted national provisions on equal pay for men and women much earlier, these countries were afraid that a cheap female workforce in other countries (for example from Germany) could put national businesses and the economy at a competitive disadvantage owing to lower labour costs.

In 1976, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decided in the Defrenne case that Article 119 EEC had not only an economic but also a social aim. This judgment paved the way for modern European gender equality law. It has been followed by an impressive amount of case law.

With the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1999, the promotion of equality between men and women became one of the essential tasks of the European Community (Article 2 EC). Since 1999, the EU has had the competence to take further action to combat discrimination based on gender (Article 13(1) EC, now 19(1) TFEU). This Article provided a legal basis for the Directive on the principle of equal treatment between men and women in access to and the supply of goods and services (Directive 2004/113/EC).

EU gender equality is also an integral part of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which prohibits discrimination on any grounds, including sex, (Article 21) and recognises the right to gender equality in all areas and the necessity of positive action for its promotion (Article 23).

Think Tank Review — December 2013

December 20, 2013 Comments off

Think Tank Review — December 2013 (PDF)
Source: Central Library of the General Secretariat of the EU Council

While EU leaders come to Brussels for the last European Council of the year, to discuss inter alia the Common Security and Defence Policy, contractual arrangements and solidarity mechanisms, voices in the think tank community turn again to the issue of differentiated integration and its impact on European governance and social model.

Our selection this month echoes the progress towards the Banking Union, with several papers in the Special Focus on aspects of resolution and deposit guarantee. It equally reflects an ongoing concern in think tanks on migration and asylum, and their relationship with the free movement of EU citizens. The planned discussion of defence at the European Council is reflected in several papers from Brussels, Spain, Finland, the UK and others on defence policy and the defence industry.

In our external relations sections, we feature several papers on EU-China relations, published in November in the aftermath of the Beijing summit. The Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius predictably attracted a lot of think tank attention from the region and overseas, as did the negotiations with Turkey.

Think Tank Review — November 2013

December 5, 2013 Comments off

Think Tank Review — November 2013 (PDF)
Source: Central Library of the General Secretariat of the EU Council

Welcome to issue 8 of the Think Tank Review compiled by the Council Library. It references papers published in October 2013. As usual, we provide the link to the full text and a short abstract.

What does the Commission mean by secure Cloud computing services in Europe?

October 15, 2013 Comments off

What does the Commission mean by secure Cloud computing services in Europe?
Source: European Commission

Europe should aim to be the world’s leading ‘trusted cloud region’.

Widespread adoption of cloud computing is essential for improving productivity levels in the European economy; but the spread of cloud could slow in light of recent revelations about PRISM and other surveillance programmes. These surveillance revelations have also led to calls for national or regional cloud computing initiatives.

This challenge must be addressed and also turned into a Europe-wide opportunity: for companies operating in Europe to offer the trusted cloud services that more and more users are demanding globally.

The Commission is strongly against a “Fortress Europe” approach to cloud computing. We need instead a single market for cloud computing. For example the proposal for the data protection regulation will provide a uniform legal base for the protection of personal data in Europe. The fundamental principle at stake is the need to look beyond borders when it comes to cloud computing. Separate initiatives or a Fortress Europe approach is not going to work.

Achieving this ambition is not a task for the European Commission alone, it begins the cloud providers themselves and includes all stakeholders: Member States, industry and individual users.

The Potential of Digital Games for Empowerment and Social Inclusion of Groups at Risk of Social and Economic Exclusion: Evidence and Opportunity for Policy

October 9, 2013 Comments off

The Potential of Digital Games for Empowerment and Social Inclusion of Groups at Risk of Social and Economic Exclusion: Evidence and Opportunity for Policy (PDF)
Source: European Commission (Joint Research Center, Institute for Prospective Technology Studies)

This report addresses the potential of digital games to support social inclusion and empowerment (DGEI). It is based on a range of theoretical and empirical data, brought together for the first time in this and associated reports. The aim of the report, commissioned by DG CNECT, is to provide a better understanding of the industrial, market, social opportunities and limitations of digital games for empowerment and as a tool for socio-economic inclusion of people at risk of exclusion (such as youth at risk, migrants, elderly people, the unemployed, and the low-educated). A review of the literature, 12 original short case studies, workshops, and contributions from experts and stakeholders were used to identify both opportunities and challenges for deployment of digital games and gaming in fields such as wellness and aging, education and employability of poor learners, improved quality of training and skill development in industry, and civic participation. It concludes that there is sufficient evidence and activity to foresee positive impacts in terms of social inclusion, public service improvement, and employment and growth, but significant activity is still required in research, innovation, and especially in practice, before clear conclusions on large scale impact could be drawn. The report finishes by suggesting a range of actions related to the video game and ‘serious game and gamification” industry, research, skills, and application sectors that could be taken by stakeholders and policy makers in order to exploit the opportunities of DGEI.

EU — Pilot and crew fatigue — frequently asked questions

October 4, 2013 Comments off

Pilot and crew fatigue — frequently asked questions
Source: European Commission

Europe has built up an impressive safety record over recent years, and last year became the safest region in the world to fly – with the lowest accident rate ever. This safety record is built on a combination of EU and national safety rules, including rules covering pilot and crew fatigue.

The EU current safety rules on pilot and crew fatigue were established in 2006 under Regulation (EC) No 1899/2006 (EU-OPS). These mandatory EU flight duty limitations and rest requirements (or “FTL”) for aircrew are usually referred to as “Subpart Q”). The aim is to ensure that flight and cabin crew members perform safety functions on board of aircraft at a proper level of alertness.

In a nutshell, the current EU rules require Member States, airlines and aircrew to ensure safe duty rosters. They cover, among other issues, flight duty limits per day, week, month and year, in addition to minimum rest per day and month depending on previous duties. The current rules leave a number of specific aspects of FTL to Member State discretion and most Member States have adopted national rules to address them.

The EU has one single aviation market, logically it should be governed by one common set of safety rules applicable to all operators. This work, to set EU-wide safety rules has been on-going since 2003, including for FTL.

EU Report: Trade protectionism still on rise across the world

September 5, 2013 Comments off

EU Report: Trade protectionism still on rise across the world
Source: European Commission

Main conclusions of the Report

  • There has been a sharp increase in the use of measures applied directly at the border, especially in the form of import duty hikes. Brazil, Argentina, Russia and Ukraine stand out for having applied the heaviest tariff increases.
  • Measures forcing the use of domestic goods and relocation of businesses have continued to spread, especially in government procurement markets. Brazil accounted for more than one-third of restrictions related to government procurement, followed by Argentina and India.
  • The EU’s partners have also continued applying stimulus measures, in particular supporting exports. Some of them took form of comprehensive, long-term and highly competition-distorting policy packages.
  • Some countries continue to shield some of their domestic industries from foreign competition to the disadvantage of their consumers and other industry sectors. Brazil and Indonesia provide the most striking examples of this approach.

Europeans seek ever more mobile bandwidth, but they worry about cost

August 13, 2013 Comments off

Europeans seek ever more mobile bandwidth, but they worry about cost
Source: European Commission

Europeans are increasingly eager for new technologies as shown by the latest EU-wide survey. While Europeans are open to the opportunities offered by new tools & services, as illustrated by the figures for new internet subscriptions and use of the internet for making voice calls, they still think twice before picking up the phone or going online because of the cost of these services.

Results of this survey were previewed earlier in July (see IP/13/660) in particular highlighting the fact that Internet speed is emerging as a top issue for internet users. 45% of European internet users would be willing to upgrade or change their internet packages for higher speed.

European Encyclopedia on National Education Systems – EURYPEDIA

August 1, 2013 Comments off

European Encyclopedia on National Education Systems – EURYPEDIA
Source: European Commission

Are you looking for understanding a specific education system or for analysing an education issue at European level?

Eurypedia is a new Eurydice product and aims at presenting the most accurate picture of national education systems across Europe by providing you with information on 38 school and university systems.

For more data on education in Europe, you can also read the Key data on education in Europe 2012 publication.

EU Energy Policy — Think Tank Review

July 9, 2013 Comments off

EU Energy Policy — Think Tank Review
Source: European Commission

Issue 5 of the Selective bibliography by the Library of the European Council is now available online

The special focus of this issue is EU energy policy – from the global energy markets to energy efficiency.

EU — Digital Music Consumption on the Internet: Evidence from Clickstream Data

July 8, 2013 Comments off

Digital Music Consumption on the Internet: Evidence from Clickstream Data
Source: European Commission (Institute for Prospective Technological Studies)

This paper analyses the behaviour of digital music consumers on the Internet. Using clickstream data on a panel of more than 16,000 European consumers, we estimate the effects of illegal downloading and legal streaming on the legal purchases of digital music. Our results suggest that Internet users do not view illegal downloading as a substitute for legal digital music. Although positive and significant, our estimated elasticities are essentially zero: a 10% increase in clicks on illegal downloading websites leads to a 0.2% increase in clicks on legal purchase websites. Online music streaming services are found to have a somewhat larger (but still small) effect on the purchases of digital sound recordings, suggesting complementarities between these two modes of music consumption. According to our results, a 10% increase in clicks on legal streaming websites leads to up to a 0.7% increase in clicks on legal digital purchase websites. We find important cross country differences in these effects.

EU — eGovernment improving but citizens ask for more

May 28, 2013 Comments off

eGovernment improving but citizens ask for more

Source: European Commission

Almost half of EU citizens (46%) now go online to look for a job, use the public library, file a tax return, register a birth, apply for a passport or use other eGovernment services. 80% say online public services save them time, 76% like the flexibility and 62% say they save money. But these users are more satisfied with online banking (8.5 satisfaction rating on a scale of 0 to 10), and online shopping (7.6) than with public services online (6.5).

European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes responded to the results saying: "These are promising trends for eGovernment in Europe. However, when users are more satisified with online banking than online public services, it shows that public administrations must do better at designing eGovernment services around users’ needs. And we have to do more to make eGovernment work across borders."

The Digital Agenda for Europe aims to increase the use of eGovernment services to 50% of EU citizens by 2015.

No more costly and bureaucratic stamps for public documents – European Commission acts to slash red tape in al l Member States

April 25, 2013 Comments off

No more costly and bureaucratic stamps for public documents – European Commission acts to slash red tape in all Member States

Source: European Commission

Today the European Commission is proposing to slash red tape for citizens and businesses by doing away with bureaucratic rubber-stamping exercises currently required to get public documents like your birth certificate recognised as authentic in another EU Member State. Currently, citizens who move to another Member State have to spend a lot of time and money in order to demonstrate that their public documents (such as birth or marriage certificates) issued by their Member State of origin are authentic. This involves the so-called ‘Apostille’ certificate which is used by public authorities in other states as proof that public documents, or the signatures of national officials on documents, are genuine. Businesses operating across EU borders in the EU’s Single Market are also affected. For instance, they will often be required to produce a number of certified public documents in order to prove their legal status when operating cross-border. These requirements date from an era when countries would only trust a public document if it came from the foreign office of another country. However, just as we trust in each other’s court judgements, we should be able to trust a Member State’s Registry Office issuing birth certificates, without needing their foreign office, justice ministry, or other authorities to vouch for them. Today, the European Commission is therefore proposing to scrap the ‘Apostille’ stamp and a further series of arcane administrative requirements for certifying public documents for people living and working in other Member States.

Under the Commission’s proposals, adopted today, citizens and businesses would no longer have to provide costly ‘legalised’ versions or ‘certified’ translations of official documents when, for example, registering a house or company, getting married, or requesting a residence card. Twelve categories of public documents1 would automatically be exempted from formalities such as ‘Apostille’ and ‘legalisation’ – which are currently required for around 1.4 million documents within the EU each year. Abolishing these requirements will save citizens and businesses in the EU up to 330 million euro, not counting the saved time and inconvenience that is avoided.

The new rules will not, however, have any impact on the recognition of the content or the effects of the documents concerned. The new rules will only help prove the authenticity of the public document, for example whether a signature is authentic and the capacity in which the public office holder is signing. This will have to be mutually accepted between Member States without any additional certification requirements.

The Commission is also proposing a further simplification tool: optional multilingual standardised forms in all EU official languages that citizens and businesses could request instead of and under the same conditions as national public documents concerning birth, death, marriage, registered partnership and legal status and representation of a company or other undertaking (see Annex for examples). This would particularly help to save on translation costs, since the attraction of such an option is that it frees citizens and businesses from having to worry about translations. The design of these forms has taken inspiration from specific international conventions2.

The proposal also provides for safeguards against fraud. If a national authority has reasonable doubt about a particular document, Member States will be able to check its authenticity with the issuing authorities through the existing Internal Market Information System (IMI).

Commission moves forward on climate and energy towards 2030

April 3, 2013 Comments off

Commission moves forward on climate and energy towards 2030

Source: European Commission

The European Commission today took the first step towards developing a 2030 framework for EU climate change and energy policies. It adopted a Green Paper which launches a public consultation on the content of the 2030 framework. The Commission also published a Consultative Communication on the future of carbon capture and storage (CCS) in Europe, aimed at initiating a debate on the options available to ensure its timely development. Finally, the Commission adopted a report assessing Member States’ progress towards their 2020 renewable energy targets and reports on the sustainability of biofuels and bioliquids consumed in the EU.

EU: Speech: Opening up Scientific Data

March 19, 2013 Comments off

Speech: Opening up Scientific Data

Source: European Commission

First, the EU is supporting open science. Because I know that we can advance these goals through our policies and platforms. And because I know that our society and our future are best served through science that is faster, better and more open.

Second, while we can offer support from the EU, the tools to make science more open and effective don’t lie with us: they lie in your hands, with scientists themselves.

My third point is that this needs to have a global dimension.

EU reports on progress in fight against protectionism

March 18, 2013 Comments off

EU reports on progress in fight against protectionism

Source: European Commission

The Commission is today able to report about some success in its strategy to fight global trade barriers. The efforts of the European Commission to fight protectionism over the last year bear fruit and could create better trade and investment conditions for EU companies. Yet the struggle against protectionism continues. The resistance of Europe’s strategic partners to the plea for open markets comes into the limelight in the European Commission’s third annual Trade and Investment Barriers Report published today. In particular, China, India, Mercosur and Russia do not escape criticism.

According to the report, the European Commission in 2012 achieved progress towards eliminating some of the most trade distortive barriers hindering global activities of EU companies:

  • The EU victory in the WTO case against China on access to raw materials brings to an end a fundamental disadvantage affecting the competitiveness of the European industries;
  • Many years of difficult negotiations over the Russian accession to the WTO resulted last year in the significant lowering of import duties;
  • EU trade diplomacy made progress toward the opening of the Indian market to EU telecommunication equipment, tyres and steel products. The bilateral discussions conducted with Japan are making it easier for EU producers of liquor, beef meat and processed foods to respond to the Japanese appetite.

Yet not all of the 25 key trade and investment barriers identified by the European Commission last year could be satisfactorily addressed. Several long-standing obstacles, together with a number of new trade-distortive measures taken by our partners in 2012, still stand in the way of European companies looking for markets outside the EU.

Improved safety for motorcycles: European Commission welcomes Council approval

December 10, 2012 Comments off

Improved safety for motorcycles: European Commission welcomes Council approval

Source: European Commission

The European Commission welcomes the final approval by the EU’s Council of Ministers of new rules for motorcycles and other light vehicles. The fitting of advanced braking systems will now become obligatory for two-wheel motorcycles and automatic "switching-on" of headlamps will be mandatory for all light vehicles. L-category vehicle is the family name for such light vehicles and they include engine powered bicycles, mopeds, motorcycles with and without a side-car, tricycles, quads and quadri-mobile vehicles. The Regulation also sets ambitious emission lowering requirements for these vehicles.

By introducing enhanced market surveillance requirements, a level playing field will be created for all L-category vehicle manufacturers in a sector where presence of non-compliant products may cause significant safety risks and environmental threats. In addition, the Commission proposes to radically simplify its current set of laws for light vehicles and reduce them from fifteen Directives to five Regulations. The entire package would be applicable as of 1 January 2016, offering sufficient lead-time for the industry to adapt to the new set of rules.

Although EU leads in energy efficiency and foreign investment, Industrial performance across Member States is not balanced

October 10, 2012 Comments off

Although EU leads in energy efficiency and foreign investment, Industrial performance across Member States is not balanced

Source: European Commission

Today the European Commission released a substantial set of proposals to boost industry. It consists of the following three documents: an Industry Communication calling for short term focussed investment in key industry sectors with high growth prospects; the 2012 Scoreboard on the Member States industrial competitiveness performance; and also the 2012 European Competitiveness Report, which identifies opportunities to make European industries more competitive.

According to the scoreboard, several Member States have made good progress in strengthening industry’s sustainability, improving support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and reforming public administration. The scoreboard highlights a continued shift towards a more knowledge-based economy, with increased labour productivity and highly-skilled labour. Most of the countries have engaged in reforms to improve business prospects and strengthen their competitiveness.

However, convergence between more and less innovative countries seems to have slowed down in recent years. The innovation gap between Member States risks widening due to the different ways they have responded to the economic crisis. Significant challenges remain in promoting private research and enhancing competition in network industries (energy, telecommunication, and transport). Access to finance has worsened in the majority of Member States, particularly for SMEs.

The annual European Competitiveness Report is designed to contribute to the analysis underpinning the EU’s promotion of competitiveness. Among its key finding, the drop in domestic demand which cannot be fully offset by demand from third counties, the EU leadership in Energy efficiency and in capacity to attract foreign direct investment.

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