In 2009, the Work Foundation led a partnership with RAND Europe and Aston Business School undertaking the research and analysis to support the Boorman review. RAND Europe led the study on whether health workplace interventions could be useful to mitigate health risk factors and to reduce the work-related costs associated with poor health and wellbeing in British workplaces and the NHS in England. This report, prepared for the Department of Health, presents the main findings of the research.
Country Analysis Brief: Norway
Source: Energy Information Administration
+ Norway is Europe’s largest oil producer, the world’s second largest natural gas exporter, and is an important supplier of both oil and natural gas to other European countries.
+ Norway is the largest oil producer and exporter in Western Europe.
+ Norway is the second largest exporter of natural gas after Russia, and ranks fourth in world natural gas production.
Customs action to tackle fakes – Frequently Asked Questions
Source: European Commission
What measures are in place at EU level to protect IPR?
Customs enforcement: in May 2011 the Commission proposed a new regulation that strengthens the provisions concerning the customs enforcement of IPR. This proposal was part of a comprehensive package of IPR measures aimed at modernising the legal framework in which IPR operate today (see IP 11/630, MEMO 11/327).
Patent protection: the Commission already launched proposals in April for a unitary patent protection under enhanced cooperation (see IP/11/470), so that innovators can protect their inventions at an affordable cost with a single patent covering the entire EU territory with minimum translation costs and without needing to validate that patent at a national level as they currently have to do. Today, obtaining a patent in Europe costs ten times more than one in the US. This situation discourages research, development and innovation, and undermines Europe’s competitiveness. Meanwhile, work continues on the creation of a unified and specialised patent court for the classical European patents and the future European patents with unitary effect. This would considerably reduce litigation costs and the time it takes to resolve patent disputes. It would also increase legal certainty for business. At the European Council, the issue of the seat of the central division of the patent court was finally agreed, but the terms of the informal trialogue agreement with the EP were unfortunately altered. The Commission hopes that a deal can finally be reached early in the autumn.
Trade marks: trade mark registration in the EU has been harmonised in Member States for almost 20 years and the Community trade mark was established 15 years ago. However, there is an increasing demand for more streamlined, effective and consistent registration systems. The Commission intends to present proposals in 2012 to modernise the trade mark system both at EU and national levels and adapt it to the internet era.
IPR violations: the Commission is set to intensify its efforts in this area. Firstly, the Commission has reinforced the European Observatory on Counterfeiting and Piracy, which it launched in 2009, by entrusting its tasks to the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM). This allows the Observatory to benefit from OHIM’s intellectual property expertise and strong record of delivery in trademarks and designs. Secondly, there is an on-going assessment of the IPR Enforcement Directive (see IP/04/540), to help improve the current enforcement system in the EU. The Directive provides for civil law measures allowing right holders to enforce their intellectual property rights.
In addition to these measures, the Commission supports businesses in the protection and enforcement of their IPR: With projects like the Transatlantic IPR Portal or support offered directly to EU SMEs so they know about IPR challenges before they expand their business (China IPR SME Helpdesk, EU IPR Helpdesk).
Report for BIS that analyses the impact of anti-dumping investigations and procedures on UK business. Based on a survey of UK companies. See also URN 12/1021AN for a graphical representations of the data collected in the report.
A European Commission report published today shows that thanks to the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) many food safety risks have been averted or mitigated and safety controls ensure our food is safe. RASFF plays a key role in ensuring safety from “farm to fork”, by triggering a rapid reaction when a food safety risk is detected. All members of the RASFF system1 are swiftly informed of serious risks found in food or feed so that together they can react to food safety threats in a coordinated way to protect the health of EU citizens.John Dalli, Commissioner in charge of Health and Consumer Policy, said: “European consumers enjoy the highest food safety standards in the world. The EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed is a key tool as it allows risks to be identified and removed from the European market. RASFF reinforces the confidence of our consumers in our food and feed safety system. In 2011, we dealt with a number of important crises such as the effects of the Fukushima nuclear incident, the dioxin and the E. coli crisis. The EU managed to tackle them and the lessons we all learnt will no doubt guide us to do even better in the future.”
The LIBOR Scandal The Fix Is In—the Bank of England Did It!
Source: Levy Economics Institute at Bard College
As the results of the various official investigations spread, it becomes more and more apparent that a large majority of financial institutions engaged in fraudulent manipulation of the benchmark London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) to their own advantage, and that bank management and regulators were unable to effectively monitor the activity of institutions because they were too big to manage and too big to regulate. However, instead of drawing the obvious conclusion—that structural changes are needed to reduce banks to a size that can be effectively regulated, as proposed on numerous occasions by the Levy Economics Institute—discussion in the media and political circles has turned to whether the problem was the result of the failure of central bank officials and government regulators to respond to repeated suggestions of manipulation, and to stop the fraudulent behavior.
Just as the “hedging” losses at JPMorgan Chase have been characterized as the result of misbehavior on the part of some misguided individual traders, leaving top bank management without culpability, politicians and the media are now questioning whether government officials condoned, or even encouraged, manipulation of the LIBOR rate, virtually ignoring the banks’ blatant abuse of principles of good banking practice. Just as in the case of JPMorgan, the only response has been to remove the responsible individuals, rather than questioning the structure and size of the financial institutions that made managing and policing this activity so difficult. Again, the rotten apples have been removed without anyone noticing that it is the barrel that is the cause of the problem. But in the current scandal, the ad hominem culpability has been extended to central bank officials in the UK and the United States.
Living arrangements, intergenerational support types and older adult loneliness in Eastern and Western Europe
Living arrangements, intergenerational support types and older adult loneliness in Eastern and Western Europe
Source: Demographic Research
Previous research has shown that living arrangements (independent households of those living alone or as a couple, versus coresident households encompassing adult children) are important determinants of older adults’ loneliness. However, little is known about intergenerational support exchanges in these living arrangements and their associations with loneliness.
Our aim is to contribute to the knowledge on associations between living arrangements and loneliness, by taking into account and differentiating intergenerational support types.
Using data from the Generations and Gender Surveys of three countries in Eastern Europe and two countries in Western Europe, Latent Class Analyses was applied to develop intergenerational support types for (a) co-residing respondents in Eastern Europe, (b) respondents in independent households in Eastern Europe, and (c) respondents in independent households in Western Europe, respectively. Six types resulted, distinguishing patterns of upward support, downward support and get-togethers. Subsequently, we used linear regression analyses to examine differences in loneliness by region, living arrangements and intergenerational support type.
Findings show higher levels of loneliness in Eastern than in Western Europe. Older adults living alone are most lonely, older adults living with a partner are least lonely. Coresidence provides protection, but not to the same degree as a partner. In both co-resident and independent households there is a greater likelihood of being involved in support given to adult children than in support received from adult children. In both East and West European countries, older adults who are primarily on the receiving side are most lonely.
A better explanation of older adult loneliness is obtained if the direction of supportive exchanges with adult children is considered than if only living arrangements are considered.
Source: Migration Policy Institute
Formerly the largest US immigrant group, European-born immigrants have seen their numbers decline in the United States over the past 50 years (notwithstanding a period of growth after the collapse of the Soviet Union). Though the number of these immigrants fell by only several million in numerical terms, the share of all European immigrants in the United States plummeted from nearly 75 percent in 1960 to 12 percent in 2010. At the same time, Eastern European immigrants have represented a larger share of that smaller pie during the past two decades.
Compared to the overall foreign-born population, European immigrants in the United States in 2010 were more likely as a group to be elderly, proficient in English, and naturalized US citizens as well as having higher levels of education. They also tended to work in higher-skilled occupations and were less likely to live in poverty.
This Spotlight focuses on European immigrants residing in the United States, examining the population’s size, geographic distribution, admission categories, and demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. Data are from the US Census Bureau’s 2010 American Community Survey (ACS), the 2000 Decennial Census (as well as earlier censuses), and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS).
How Does Medical Device Regulation Perform in the United States and the European Union? A Systematic Review
Policymakers and regulators in the United States (US) and the European Union (EU) are weighing reforms to their medical device approval and post-market surveillance systems. Data may be available that identify strengths and weakness of the approaches to medical device regulation in these settings.
Methods and Findings
We performed a systematic review to find empirical studies evaluating medical device regulation in the US or EU. We searched Medline using two nested categories that included medical devices and glossary terms attributable to the US Food and Drug Administration and the EU, following PRISMA guidelines for systematic reviews. We supplemented this search with a review of the US Government Accountability Office online database for reports on US Food and Drug Administration device regulation, consultations with local experts in the field, manual reference mining of selected articles, and Google searches using the same key terms used in the Medline search. We found studies of premarket evaluation and timing (n = 9), studies of device recalls (n = 8), and surveys of device manufacturers (n = 3). These studies provide evidence of quality problems in pre-market submissions in the US, provide conflicting views of device safety based largely on recall data, and relay perceptions of some industry leaders from self-surveys.
Few studies have quantitatively assessed medical device regulation in either the US or EU. Existing studies of US and EU device approval and post-market evaluation performance suggest that policy reforms are necessary for both systems, including improving classification of devices in the US and promoting transparency and post-market oversight in the EU. Assessment of regulatory performance in both settings is limited by lack of data on post-approval safety outcomes. Changes to these device approval and post-marketing systems must be accompanied by ongoing research to ensure that there is better assessment of what works in either setting.
Grandparenting and mothers’ labour force participation: A comparative analysis using the Generations and Gender Survey
It is well known that the provision of public childcare plays an important role for women labour force participation and its availability varies tremendously across countries. In many countries, informal childcare is also important and typically provided by the grandparents, but its role on mothers’ employment is not yet well understood. Understanding the relationship between labour supply decisions and grandparental childcare is complex. While the provision of grandparental childcare is clearly a function of the social and institutional context of a country, it also depends on family preferences, which are typically unobserved in surveys.OBJECTIVEWe analyze the role of informal childcare provided by grandparents on mothers’ labour force participation keeping unobserved preferences into account.METHODSBivariate probit models with instrumental variables are estimated on data from seven countries (Bulgaria, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Russia and The Netherlands) drawn from the Generations and Gender Survey.RESULTSWe find that only in some countries mothers’ employment is positively and significantly associated with grandparents providing childcare. In other countries, once we control for unobserved preferences, we do not find this effect.CONCLUSIONSThe role of grandparents is an important element to reconcile work and family for women in some countries. Our results show the importance of considering family preferences and country differences when studying the relationship between grandparental childcare and mothers’ labour supply.COMMENTSOur results are consistent with previous research on this topic. However, differently from previous studies, we conduct separate analyses by country and show that the effect of grandparental childcare varies considerably. The fact that we also include in the analyses Bulgaria, Hungary, Russia and Georgia is an important novelty as there are no studies on this issue for these countries.
Europe’s New Fiscal Rules
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Europe is putting in place a new system of fiscal rules following the euro area sovereign debt crisis and decades of rising government to debt-to-GDP ratios. These include the so-called “six pack” to upgrade the Stability and Growth Pact to a new Treaty incorporating the “fiscal compact”. Much of the discussion about the new rules has been procedural or theoretical. This paper shows what the rules will mean in practice under a realistic mediumterm scenario developed by the OECD. In the short term, fiscal consolidation will largely be driven by the current wave of Excessive Deficit Procedures. Only once these commitments are fulfilled will the new system of rules come into action. Although the rules are complex, the central pillar of the new fiscal rules will be the requirement to balance budgets in structural terms. These imply a tight fiscal stance over the coming years for many European countries by comparison with the performance achieved in past decades: almost all countries will have to be as disciplined as the few countries that managed to make meaningful progress in tackling high debt levels in the past. A further tightening of budgetary Medium-Term Objectives is likely in 2012, which will in many cases make the required fiscal stance even tighter. Over the very long term, the rules imply very low levels of debt. The requirements can thus not be considered to be a permanent approach. The methodology to calculate the structural balance has a number of weaknesses and discretion will be needed in implementing the rules.
EU — Antitrust: Commission opens proceedings against Microsoft to investigate possible non-compliance with browser choice commitments
The European Commission has opened proceedings against Microsoft in order to investigate whether the company has failed to comply with its 2009 commitments to offer users a choice screen enabling them to easily choose their preferred web browser.
On the basis of information it has received, the Commission believes that Microsoft may have failed to roll out the choice screen with Windows 7 Service Pack 1, which was released in February 2011. This is despite the fact that, in December 2011, Microsoft indicated in its annual compliance report to the Commission that it was in compliance with its commitments. From February 2011 until today, millions of Windows users in the EU may have not seen the choice screen. Microsoft has recently acknowledged that the choice screen was not displayed during that period.
“We take compliance with our decisions very seriously. And I trusted the company’s reports were accurate. But it seems that was not the case, so we have immediately taken action. If following our investigation, the infringement is confirmed, Microsoft should expect sanctions”, said Joaquín Almunia, Vice President of the Commission in charge of competition policy.
Source: Transportation Research Board
A featured article in the May-June 2012 issue of the TR News provides an overview of cycling and walking trends and policies in Western Europe and draws lessons for programs that might succeed in the United States. Highlights include improvements in the transportation infrastructure, with a focus on safety; traffic calming in residential neighborhoods; coordinating walking and cycling with public transport; compact, mixed-use development; and other importable, foundational features.
The fourth work-life balance employee survey (PDF)
Source: Department for Business Innovation & Skills
Provides findings on the fourth work-life balance employees’ survey conducted in early 2011. It benchmarks key policy changes since the 2006 survey (URN 07/714X), including the Work and Families Act 2006, that is the extension of the ‘right to request’ flexible working to parents of children under the age of 17 (2009) and to co-resident carers (2007).