Archive for the ‘European Commission’ Category

Life expectancy and healthy life years in the European Union, 2008-2010

April 25, 2012 Comments off
Source:  European Commission (European Community Health Indicators; via EurekAlert!)
The HLY (Healthy Life Years) indicates how long people can expect to live without disability. It has been computed annually for each Member State of the European Union since 2005. These figures are released in the framework of the first annual meeting of the European Joint Action on Healthy Life Years (EHLEIS), organized in Paris on April 19, 2012 (ASIEM, 6 rue Albert de Lapparent, from 1:30pm) by the French Ministry of Health. The European Joint Action on Healthy Life Years (EHLEIS) is led by FRANCE, and coordinated by the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM).
In 2009 men in the European Union (EU27) could expect 61.3 Healthy Life Years (HLY), representing almost 80% of their life expectancy (LE) at birth of 76.7 years. Women could expect 62 HLY, 75% of their life expectancy (LE) at birth of 82.6 years in 2009.

+ Country Reports

Improving the Effectiveness of the Organ Trade Prohibition in Europe

April 16, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Living Organ Donation in Europe (European Commission)
The first successful non-regenerative organ transplantation took place in 1954 when Dr. Joseph E. Murray transplanted a kidney from Ronald Herrick to Mr. Herrick’s identical twin Richard, who had been diagnosed with end-stage kidney failure. That time the initial ethical dilemma was whether a healthy donor can be operated in order to save the life of the sick brother. That time it was a miracle that without the use of immunosuppressive drugs, Richard survived with his transplanted kidney for more than eight years. Since then transplantation has become a gradually developing technology. The type and number of transplantable organs have increased, especially since the last decade of the 20th century. By the twenty first century in developed countries the number of available organs, infrastructural, and budgetary means could not keep pace with the increased technological capacity for transplantation. National waiting lists have become full and long, and the number of people who died while waiting in the line has also increased. The other important element that created tension between developed and less developed countries is the globalization, Europeanization and mobilization. Patients no longer feel bound to the capacity of one health care sector. It is easier to travel and it is no longer regarded as an exceptional luxury to seek health care beyond the national frontiers. At the EU level, the European Commission has urged of addressing ethical and legal issues concerning organ transplantation. One of the most important legal instruments was adopted in 2010, the Directive 2010/45/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 July 2010 on standards of quality and safety of human organs intended for transplantation. During this short term project in our work package we attempted to map and to analyze laws, practices, cases, problems with regard the violation of organ transplantation laws. From the minor violation of selecting donor for the recipient to major and severe forms of violation of human rights, such as organ trafficking cases were collected and analyzed. In our small group of this half of the work package we also examined selected laws and practices in order to de-velop some recommendation which may serve for legislation, ethics committees and further research. Our principle methods to this study were legal methods of analysis which were ac-companied with policy analysis, field work, interviews and finally recommendations. We presented our ideas in several conferences, at the workshops of the EULOD Project held in Rot-terdam, Sofia, Munich and in Berlin. We are grateful for the comments that helped us to re-fine methods and arguments.
This report is written by researchers working under the Coordination Action on ‘Living Organ Donation in Europe’ (EULOD), funded under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) of the European Commission. The first section of this report explores the existing international legal framework to fight against organ trade and trafficking, discussing legal concepts and definitions. The second part analyzes the adopted legislative measures in some selected European countries: Hungary, Moldova, the Netherlands, Romania, and Serbia. The third section presents case studies on illegal organ trade and trafficking. The fourth and final part presents recommendations to improve the effectiveness of efforts to halt organ trade and trafficking.

EU at risk on missing targets on early school leaving and graduate education

February 10, 2012 Comments off

EU at risk on missing targets on early school leaving and graduate education
Source: European Commission

The European Union is at risk of missing its 2020 targets to reduce the number of early-school leavers and increase the share of students completing tertiary education, according to a report which will be discussed by Ministers at the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport (EYCS) Council on Friday (10 February).

The crisis is severely affecting young people, with youth unemployment above 40% in some Member States. The joint EU Council-Commission report, entitled “Education and Training in a smart, sustainable and inclusive Europe” shows that quality education is a key factor in preventing unemployment, by providing young people with the skills and qualifications needed to find a job. Higher education and academic excellence have a vital role to play in increasing Europe’s competitiveness and enabling it to emerge stronger from the crisis.

“Young people have been hit disproportionally hard by the crisis. We have to invest efficiently in education and training to ensure that they have the skills and adaptability required to succeed in a competitive world. The Commission’s proposed new programme for education, training and youth, Erasmus for All, responds to this need by opening up more opportunities for young people and teachers to increase their personal development and skills,” said Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.

The joint report finds that Member States are making slow progress towards achieving their Europe 2020 target of reducing school drop-out rates below 10%. In 2010, the early school leaving rate averaged 14.1% across the EU compared to 14.4% the year before. There are considerable differences between the Member States, with Malta (virtually unchanged at 36.9%), Portugal (28.7%) and Spain (28.4%) having the highest rates, although both Portugal and Spain have improved on their 2009 figures (31.2% in both cases). The best performers continue to be Slovakia (4.7%), the Czech Republic (4.9%) and Slovenia (5%).

If current trends continue, the report states that the 2020 target will not be met.

+ Full Report (PDF)

Treaty Establishing the European Stability Mechanism

February 8, 2012 Comments off

Treaty Establishing the European Stability Mechanism
Source: European Commission


BETWEEN The Kingdom of Belgium, THE Federal Republic of Germany,
THE Kingdom of Spain, THE French Republic,
THE Italian Republic, THE Republic of Cyprus,
THE Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Malta,
THE Kingdom of the Netherlands, THE Republic of Austria,
THE Portuguese Republic, THe Republic of Slovenia,
THE Slovak Republic, THE Republic of Finland

THE CONTRACTING PARTIES, the Kingdom of Belgium, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Republic of Estonia, Ireland, the Hellenic Republic, the Kingdom of Spain, the French Republic, the Italian Republic, the Republic of Cyprus, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Malta, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Republic of Austria, the Portuguese Republic, the Republic of Slovenia, the Slovak Republic and the Republic of Finland (the “euro area Member States” or “ESM Members”);

COMMITTED TO ensuring the financial stability of the euro area;

Euro coin counterfeiting in 2011

January 30, 2012 Comments off

Euro coin counterfeiting in 2011
Source: European Commission

he number of counterfeit euro coins removed from circulation has decreased by 15%, down to 157 000 coins compared to 186 000 the year before. The 2-euro denomination remains by far the most counterfeited euro coin, representing almost two thirds of all counterfeit euro coins detected. The low levels of counterfeit euro coins are the result of the combined efforts of the Member States, the Commission/OLAF (the EU’s anti-fraud office) and the other European institutions.

The overall number of counterfeit coins is very small by comparison to the total number of around 16 billion genuine euro coins put into circulation of the three highest denominations (50c, 1€, 2€). This corresponds to 1 counterfeit for every 100 000 genuine coins.

Algirdas Šemeta, EU Commissioner responsible for Anti-Fraud said: “Shopkeepers, small businesses and citizens are particularly at risk of receiving fake coins and notes. Fighting counterfeit money is therefore crucial to protect honest taxpayers. I am very happy that the euro is well protected through the work of OLAF. We will continue our efforts to detect illegal money and root out these illegal activities across Europe.”

+ About the protection of the €uro

New analysis shows employment and social policies key to Europe’s job-rich recovery

January 5, 2012 Comments off
Source:  European Commission

The first annual review of Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE) published today by the European Commission underlines that a mix of employment and social policies is necessary to ensure a long-term job-rich recovery in the current climate of fiscal consolidation and bleak economic outlook. Its findings show how the economic crisis has aggravated Europe’s structural weaknesses like income inequality and the disappearance of medium-paid jobs, especially in manufacturing and construction. Poverty remains high with 115 million Europeans (23 % of the EU population) at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2010. The review also analyses labour mobility within Europe, reviews active ageing policies and draws attention to the problem of in-work poverty.

Full Report (PDF)

The EU’s response to the ‘Arab Spring’

December 29, 2011 Comments off
Source:  European Commission

Since the first demonstrations in Tunisia in December 2010, a wave of popular discontent has shaken the Arab world, with people calling for dignity, democracy, and social justice. Despite the unexpected magnitude of these uprisings, the EU has been quick to recognise the challenges of the political and economic transition faced by the region as a whole. It has also recognised the need to adopt a new approach to relations with its Southern neighbours.

The EU has engaged politically with a wide range of government, opposition, parliamentary and civil society interlocutors in the region through visits from the President of the Commission, the President of Parliament, the HR/VP and several Commissioners.

The EU’s strategic response to the Arab Spring came as early as 8 March 2011, with the joint communication of the High Representative/Vice President (HR/VP) Catherine Ashton and the Commission proposing “A partnership for democracy and shared prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean”. This communication stresses the need for the EU to support wholeheartedly the demand for political participation, dignity, freedom and employment opportunities, and sets out an approach based on the respect of universal values and shared interests. It also proposes the “more for more” principle, under which increased support in terms of financial assistance, enhanced mobility, and access to the EU Single Market is to be made available, on the basis of mutual accountability, to those partner countries most advanced in the consolidation of reforms. This approach was further elaborated in another joint communication on 25 May which initiated the launch of “a new response to a changing Neighbourhood”.

The EU is committed both in the short and long term to help its partners address in particular two main challenges:

  • First, to build “deep democracy”, i.e. not only writing democratic constitutions and conducting free and fair elections, but creating and sustaining an independent judiciary, a thriving free press, a dynamic civil society and all other characteristics of a mature functioning democracy.
  • Second, to ensure inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development, without which democracy will not take root. A particular challenge is to ensure strong job creation.

While recognising a number of challenges that are common to all partner countries, the EU will support each country on a differentiated basis, thus ensuring individual needs and priorities are accounted for. EU support focuses on the “3 Ms”: Money, Mobility and Markets.

See also:  Erasmus Mundus: funding boost for Arab Spring countries

Euro notes and coins – 10 years on

December 28, 2011 Comments off
Source:  European Commission

1 January 2002 marked the introduction of euro notes and coins in the European Union, ushering in an unprecedented alignment of monetary policies and closer cooperation between countries of the euro area. Whilst the euro and Economic and Monetary Union provided a sound basis for economic progress, the banking crisis of 2008 and its consequences have tested the system to the full. The success of the euro has proven to be dependent on sound and sustainable public finances and robust macroeconomic policies. The basis for recovery already exists with the recently strengthened EU rules on economic governance and surveillance. It is being further reinforced through a ‘Fiscal Compact’ agreed by EU leaders in the pursuit of budgetary discipline and reinforced economic policy coordination and governance throughout the eurozone.

In the pre-crisis period, the euro area as a whole benefitted from macroeconomic stability with stable inflation, low interest rates, an exceptionally long period of economic growth and a stronger internal market. The 332 million people who use the euro no longer have to pay extra costs to exchange currencies and there is more transparency in cross-border transactions, enabling consumers to compare prices between one eurozone country and another.

European Commission Vice-President for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro, Olli Rehn, said, “against the backdrop of today’s economic fragility, this is an opportune moment to recall the fundamental principles on which the euro was built and bring about a return to a Europe of strength and opportunity. We have the bricks and mortar; we have the manpower. We now look forward to political will, strong determination and swift action to restore economic growth, and create more jobs and restore confidence in investors and the public.”


Employment and Social Developments in Europe 2011

December 21, 2011 Comments off

Employment and Social Developments in Europe 2011
Source: European Commission

Employment and Social Developments in Europe 2011

The economic, financial and sovereign debt crises and subsequent austerity measures underline the need for a more integrated approach to employment and social policy. This review merges two previous European Commission reports on these areas. It begins with an overview of the current European employment and social situation before looking at recent shifts in Europe’s job structure and in income inequality. The review then examines patterns of poverty and social exclusion in Europe and the phenomenon of in-work poverty. Issues of active ageing, intra-EU labour mobility and the impact of enlargement are also covered. The review is available in English only.

+ Full Report (PDF)

EU — “Better Airports” Package Launched

December 5, 2011 Comments off

“Better Airports” Package Launched
Source: European Union

The European Commission today announced a comprehensive package of measures to help increase the capacity of Europe’s airports, reduce delays and improve the quality of services offered to passengers. The measures address the quality of services passengers and airlines receive on the ground before they take off and after they land (for example, baggage handling, check-in, refuelling), the transparency of decisions on airport noise, as well as the efficiency of the complex network of take-off and landing slots that make up every journey.

Vice President Siim Kallas, European Commissioner responsible for Transport said: ‘Europe’s airports are facing a capacity crunch. If business and the travelling public are to take best advantage of the air network, we have to act now. 70% of all delays to flights are already caused by problems on the ground not in the air. On present trends, nineteen key European airports will be full to bursting by 2030. The resulting congestion could mean delays for half of all flights across the network. The status quo is not an option for airports in Europe. Faced with intense global competition, if we do not change the way we do business, we may not be doing business at all.”

The package consists of a policy summary document and three legislative measures, on slots, ground-handling and noise.

Report shows overall positive impact of mobility of Bulgarian and Romanian workers on EU economy

November 14, 2011 Comments off

Report shows overall positive impact of mobility of Bulgarian and Romanian workers on EU economy
Source: European Commission

A new report published today by the European Commission highlights the overall positive role that mobile workers from Bulgaria and Romania (EU-2) have played in receiving countries’ economies. These workers have contributed to the skills mix as well as filling vacancies in sectors and jobs with labour shortages such as in construction and the domestic and food services sectors. Estimates also show a positive impact of the free movement of Romanian and Bulgarian workers on the EU’s long-term GDP with an increase by about 0.3% for EU-27 (0.4% for eu-15). Studies show too that there has been no significant impact on unemployment or wages of local workers in receiving countries: in the EU-15 studies show wages are on average only 0.28% lower they would have been without mobility of the EU-2. The report also highlights that there is no evidence of a disproportionate use of benefits by intra-EU mobile EU citizens and that the impact of recent flows on national public finances is negligible or positive.

Speaking to journalists in the margins of a conference in Vienna, László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion underlined the positive impact of mobility saying “Moving between countries offers real opportunities and economic benefits for both the host countries and the EU as a whole. We see that geographical mobility very much depends on the trends of the economy and where the jobs are”. He also expressed his strong desire to see all labour market restrictions lifted adding: “Restricting the free movement of workers in Europe is not the answer to high unemployment. What we need to do is really to focus our efforts on creating new job opportunities”.

Post-enlargement mobility may have had some economic and social costs for the receiving countries as well as for the sending countries that lose productive capacity. However, the Commission believes that while a part of these costs might be temporarily reduced by restricting labour mobility, in the longer term, labour market imbalances need to be addressed through specific policies. Evidence shows that the transitional measures have had a limited effect on the distribution of EU mobility and that flows are influenced more by factors like labour demand or language skills. The experience of the 2004 enlargement has also shown that restricting the free movement of workers can have negative effects, such as a rise in undeclared work.

The main destination for movers form Bulgaria and Romania was to Italy and Spain and data suggest that, at the end of 2010, twice as many Bulgarians and Romanians (2.9 million) were residing in the EU-25 compared to 2006. At the same time, in relative terms, EU-2 nationals resident in an EU-25 Member State only represent 0.6 % of the total EU-25 population. The highest share is in Cyprus (4.1%), Spain (2.2 %) and Italy (1.8 %). In addition, the EU-2 employment rate (63%) is close to that of the EU-25 (65%). However, since the economic downturn, recently arrived EU-2 nationals have found it more difficult to find a job: around 16% were out of work in 2010, compared to 9% in 2007. What is clear is that recent EU-2 movers have played a very minor role in the labour market crisis which is a direct consequence of the financial and economic crisis, as well as structural labour market problems.

+ Full Report (PDF)

EU Budget 2014-2020: Commission unveils new and ambitious Health and Consumer Programmes

November 10, 2011 Comments off

EU Budget 2014-2020: Commission unveils new and ambitious Health and Consumer Programmes
Source: European Commission

Today, the European Commission adopted proposals for the new Health for Growth and Consumer Programmes. The two programmes aim to foster a Europe of healthy, active, informed and empowered citizens, who can contribute to economic growth.

These new programmes will run from 2014-2020 with a budget of €446 million for the Health for Growth Programme and €197 million for the Consumer Programme. Focus will be on fewer concrete actions that offer clear EU added-value.

The Health for Growth Programme aims to support and complement the work of Member States to achieve the following four objectives:

  • Developing innovative and sustainable health systems;
  • Increasing access to better and safer healthcare for citizens;
  • Promoting health and preventing disease; and
  • Protecting citizens from cross-border health threats.
  • The Consumer Programme will support EU consumer policy in the years to come. Its objective is to place consumers at the centre of the Single Market and empower them to participate actively in the market and make it work for them, particularly by:
    • Enhancing product safety through effective market surveillance;
    • Improving consumers’ information, education and awareness of their rights;
    • Consolidating consumer rights and strengthening effective redress, especially through alternative dispute resolution;
    • Strengthening enforcement of rights cross-border.
  • + Q&A: Health and Consumer Programmes 2014-2020

    New EU study shows significant economic benefits from a Doha deal

    November 4, 2011 Comments off

    New EU study shows significant economic benefits from a Doha deal
    Source: European Commission

    A study published today shows that the economic benefits arising from the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations in the World Trade Organisation amount to an increase of world exports of $359 billion on an annual basis from a deal on the liberalisation of industrial goods, agriculture, services and on the removal of red tape. If an agreement on sectoral liberalisation of industrial goods (chemicals, machinery, electronics) could be reached, world exports would increase by a further $146 billion, totalling $505 billion annually, according to the study.

    In terms of capturing the global benefits of the Doha Round, this timely analysis manages to grasp the complexity of the negotiating proposals currently on the table in Geneva at most detailed level, offering policy makers a thorough analytical basis for an informed decision on the importance of a successful DDA Agreement for the world economy.

    + Economic impact of potential outcome of the DDA II (PDF)

    2011 Report ‘Tax reforms in EU Member States’: EU Member States face challenges in tax policies

    October 11, 2011 Comments off

    2011 Report ‘Tax reforms in EU Member States’: EU Member States face challenges in tax policies
    Source: European Commission

    The consequences of the financial and economic crisis are deeply reflected in Member States’ government revenues. Having implemented a wide range of tax stimulus measures from 2008 to 2010, the focus of tax policy has now clearly shifted towards a much needed consolidation of public finances in Member States. This is even more necessary in light of the difficulties currently faced by some Member States in refinancing their sovereign debt.

    The 2011 report ‘Tax reforms in EU Member States: Tax policy challenges for economic growth and fiscal sustainability’ takes a look at recent trends in tax revenues and tax reforms implemented in Member States. In view of future tax reforms Member States may implement the report analyses the issue of quality of taxation and identifies challenges for tax policy in euro-area Member States.

    “Member States with an unsustainable budgetary situation and clear room for tax revenue increases might have to consider using taxation to contribute to the consolidation of public finances, in addition to the necessary expenditure control. At the current conjuncture it is particularly important to make tax structures more growth-friendly and to enhance the design of individual types of tax. Taxation is an important element in the integrated economic policy coordination within the EU,” said Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner, Olli Rehn.

    Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, emphasised: “Paying attention to the quality of taxation will help addressing current policy challenges and meeting the objectives of our growth strategy. Well-designed tax reforms promoting employment and growth can go hand in hand with social equity. Finally, effective tax policy coordination in the EU would deliver better outcomes, at lower economic costs. This report will help Member States facing their tax policy challenges.”

    The report points to three types of potential challenges in the area of taxation and tax policy faced by EU Member States:

    • the potential need to address severe fiscal consolidation challenges also by measures on the revenue side;
    • the potential to make the tax structure more growth friendly;
    • ways to improve the design of the tax system for individual types of taxes.

    + Full Report

    Online shopping: cross-border deliveries found reliable but few traders sell abroad in the EU

    October 7, 2011 Comments off

    Online shopping: cross-border deliveries found reliable but few traders sell abroad in the EU
    Source: European Commission

    Have you been tempted by a cheaper online offer from another EU country but wondering how reliable it is to shop from abroad? ‘Mystery shoppers’ from the EU-supported European Consumer Centres’ Network have checked just that. Their report (State of the e-Union) shows the results of 305 purchases in 28 countries. Delivery from abroad has turned out to be reliable overall, with 94% of orders delivered (up from 66% in 2003) and only 1% of the products found to be faulty. But shoppers had more problems when returning the goods (as part of the EU-wide cancellation rights), for example with getting the full costs reimbursed. Also, 60% of websites initially selected for the check as friendly to cross-border sales actually presented problems (e.g. withdelivery, payment and language options) which made them unsuitable for online shoppers from other EU countries. The exercise confirms the European Commission’s own earlier findings. Before the end of 2011, the Commission will outline its vision and action plan on how to help EU consumers make the most of e-commerce opportunities.

    Health and Consumer Commissioner John Dalli said: “It is important for consumers that, once they place an order, the delivery of the products bought online from another EU country is reliable and that, when things go wrong, consumers have easy access to effective redress across Europe. There are still barriers that limit consumers’ choice and undermine confidence in the Single Market. I am determined to continue the work to abolish them”

    Key findings

    Mystery shoppers in 17 European Consumer Centres1 made a total of 305 online purchases from foreign EU-based traders in 28 countries. The products were then returned in line with ’cooling-off’ rules (which allow online shoppers to send the product back without giving any particular reason and get a full refund). A summary of key findings is below:

    • Delivery: 94% of the products were delivered, up from 66% in 2003 (when ECC-Net last did a similar exercise). This confirms the Commission’s March 2011 findings (see IP/11/280) suggesting that delivery for cross-border purchases within the EU is as reliable as for domestic ones or even more (with the product not arriving in 5% of cross-border cases compared with 6% of domestic orders).
    • Products: only 1% of products were faulty (e.g. a book with a damaged cover) or different from what was ordered (e.g. wrong colour).
    • Returning products and reimbursements: When shoppers returned the products under the ‘cooling-off’ rules, the product cost was reimbursed in 90% cases. However, 57% of shoppers had problems getting reimbursed for the original delivery costs, as required under EU rules. Also, some tradersplaced illegal restrictions on returning the goods (e.g. by telling the shoppers that they had no such right). Under EU rules, consumers can cancel an online order for any reason within at least 7 days from receiving it (more in some countries), and send it back to the seller (though they may have to pay the cost of shipping the product back).
    • Website friendliness to cross-border sales. The foreign websites were originally preselected based on a set of minimum criteria for ‘cross-border friendliness’ (such as the willingness to sell abroad as well as payment and language options). But in practice 60% of these sites presented difficulties which made them unsuitable for online shoppers from other countries (e.g. because the delivery to the consumer’s country was not in fact possible). A 2009 EU Commission study (see IP/09/1564) also found that 60% of cross-border online orders were refused.

    + Full Report (PDF)

    EU — An effective and humane return policy: 8 Member States have yet to comply with the Return Directive

    September 30, 2011 Comments off

    An effective and humane return policy: 8 Member States have yet to comply with the Return Directive
    Source: European Commission

    Today the European Commission asked 8 Member States to ensure full compliance with EU rules on the return or removal of irregular migrants. So far Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden and The Netherlands have not notified the Commission of national measures implementing the 2008 ‘Return’ Directive. Member States were required to transpose the provisions of the Directive by 24 December 2010 and their failure to do so is jeopardizing the efficiency and fairness of the common return procedure and undermining the EU’s migration policy.

    Despite letters sent by the Commission on 27 January 2011, the 8 Member States mentioned have still not informed the Commission of having adopted the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to entirely comply with the Directive. The Commission therefore decided to send them reasoned opinions (in accordance with Article 258 of the TFEU). In the absence of a satisfactory response within two months, the Commission may refer the Member States concerned to the EU’s Court of Justice and request that the Court impose financial sanctions.

    The Return Directive provides for clear, transparent and fair common rules concerning return, removal, detention and re-entry, which take into full account the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of the persons concerned. In the past, Member States’ legislation and practice in the field of return have differed widely. The Return Directive lays down a binding common legal frame for a European return policy and guarantees that all returns are carried out in a humane and dignified manner.

    This also is the first EU legal instrument to provide for a common catalogue of specific rights for irregular migrants. Notably, the Return Directive extends the right to non-refoulement to any illegally staying person, where before this right was only guaranteed for asylum seekers.

    The Directive is one element of a comprehensive and balanced EU migration policy, which also includes measures for organising legal migration and for combating those who engage in trafficking in human beings and economic exploitation of migrants.

    + EU law: Commission acts to ensure that European legislation is fully and properly implemented

    Higher education must open up to make the best use of Europe’s talent – Commission report

    September 19, 2011 Comments off

    Higher education must open up to make the best use of Europe’s talent – Commission report
    Source: European Commission

    Europe urgently needs to address the social dimension of higher education more forcefully and coherently, particularly in view of the economic downturn. This is the conclusion of a new Commission report looking at national policies on access to higher education, funding and student support. The report, covering EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Turkey, provides input for the Commission’s new strategy for the modernisation of higher education, to be launched on 20 September.

    According to today’s report, countries need to adapt their higher education systems to meet the challenges resulting from rapid societal change. In particular, they need to open up opportunities for more people to benefit from higher education, matching this objective with coherent measures, funding and monitoring to evaluate their impact.

    Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said: “We are failing to make the most of the talent available to us in Europe. Unless we change path, we will fall behind our global competitors. We need to widen access to higher education to the largest proportion of citizens possible, and it is vital that this objective is at the heart of our education goals.”

    European leaders have set a target for 40% of 30-34 year olds to have a higher education qualification by 2020 – an increase from just over 33% today. The study, produced for the Commission by the Eurydice network, focuses on three key topics: policies to widen participation in higher education; funding trends; and the impact of student fee and support systems.

    It reveals that approaches to meet shared European objectives vary greatly between countries and have different impacts on the performance of higher education. For example, there seems to be an East-West divide regarding routes to higher education for non-traditional candidates such as adult learners and people entering university on the basis of skills gained in the workplace rather than school qualifications.

    The report highlights changes in higher education spending in response to the crisis. Over the past academic year (2010/11 compared to 2009/10) budgets were most increased in Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Austria, France, Finland and Malta, while the deepest cuts were made in Greece, Ireland, Iceland, (8-10% decrease), as well as in Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic and Slovakia (up to 3% decrease).

    The report also shows the tuition fees and grants which apply in each country. However, it does not single out any particular approach as the best option because what works well in one country does not always work in another.

    + Highlights (PDF)
    + Full Report (PDF)

    Digital Agenda: EU funded project aims to make self-service terminals more accessible for all

    September 2, 2011 Comments off

    Digital Agenda: EU funded project aims to make self-service terminals more accessible for all
    Source: European Commission

    An EU-funded project is aiming to make self-service terminals, such as public transport ticket vending machines or public information kiosks and cash dispensers, more accessible for the one in six Europeans who have a disability or the 87 million Europeans aged 65 and over. According to an EU study, only 38% of bank cash machines (automated teller machines or ATMs) across the EU provide voice capabilities to customers with disabilities, far behind the US (61%) and Canada (nearly all ATMs). The European Commission is contributing €3.41 million, half of the overall budget, to the “APSIS4All” project which aims to design and validate personalised interfaces, including contactless cards, to help overcome existing accessibility barriers. Trials will begin in cash dispensers in Barcelona, Spain from September 2011 and at ticket vending machines in Paderborn, Germany from January 2012, and will run for three years.

    + APSIS4all
    + Fact SHeet — APSIS4all: Accessible Personalised Services In PDTS for all
    + Monitoring eAccessibility

    2010 report on European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF): FAQ

    August 24, 2011 Comments off

    2010 report on European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF): FAQ
    Source: European Commission

    Why does the Commission present an annual report on the EGF?
    The EGF Regulation which set up the Fund requires an annual report on the EGF. The fourth annual report describes the activities of the EGF during 2010 and it also describes the outcomes of four EGF contributions granted in previous years and how it complements actions funded by other EU funds.

    What are the objectives of the EGF?
    The EGF, an initiative first proposed by President Barroso to provide help for people who lose their jobs due to the impact of globalisation, was established by the European Parliament and the Council at the end of 2006.

    It was designed as a means of reconciling the overall long-term benefits of open trade in terms of growth and employment with the short-term adverse effects which globalisation may have, particularly on the employment of the most vulnerable and lowest-skilled workers. In June 2009, the EGF rules were revised to strengthen the role of the EGF as a crisis intervention instrument forming part of Europe’s response to the financial and economic crisis.

    As part of its proposal for the next Multi-annual Financial Framework beyond 2013, the Commission has proposed that the EU should continue to express solidarity with redundant workers and the affected regions through the EGF also in the future.

    + Full Report (PDF)

    What has the EU been doing to support the Libyan people?

    August 24, 2011 Comments off

    What has the EU been doing to support the Libyan people?
    Source: European Commission

    After six months of conflict, events in Libya reached a decisive moment over the weekend of 20-21 August with the rebels’ entry into Tripoli. The European Commission has been preparing intensively for this moment – and for the challenges that lie ahead – since the beginning of the Libyan uprising. Below is an overview of some of the key milestones in the Commission’s efforts to support the Libyan people, as well as the broader Southern Mediterranean area, at this time of momentous change.


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