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Top stories
 Can an all-island energy efficiency strategy create jobs?

Left to right: Gerald Nash, TD, Alex Attwood MLA, Minister for the Environment, Barbara Nolan, Head of the European Commission Representation in Ireland, Pat Rabbitte, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and Mairead McGuinness, MEPAll-island conference on energy efficiency and job creation concludes that it can.

At an All-Island Conference on Energy Efficiency and Job Creation, hosted today (1 September) by the European Commission Representation in Ireland, a range of experts and policy makers outlined the work underway to find innovative solutions to make the island of Ireland more energy efficient. 

Speaking at the Conference in Dundalk today, Pat Rabbitte TD, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources said that “Energy efficiency is an area of increasing investment and innovation in Ireland, providing the foundation for the best use of our energy supply, creating new opportunities for our country and ultimately contributing to economic growth through new jobs and investment.”

 EU funds to be fast-tracked for Ireland

EU funds contributed to the construction of the Youghal BypassThe European Commission has agreed to speed up delivery of Structural Funds to troubled economies in Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Romania, Latvia and Hungary.

This proposal means that Ireland will now benefit from measures earlier designed only for Greece.

Last June, Governments agreed the fast-tracking of Structural Funds in principle, but only for Greece. This proposal extends it out to the other five Member States receiving financial assistance, including Ireland.

 EU Justice Commissioner Reding welcomes Ireland's decision to join EU victims of crime proposal

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding"I welcome Ireland's decision to join the negotiations on the Commission’s proposal for a Directive on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, as well as the proposal for a Regulation on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters that we put forward in May (IP/11/585). This will allow Ireland to play its part fully in the negotiations in the Council of Ministers.

Providing minimum standards for victims of crime everywhere in Europe is a measure of necessity to strengthen confidence in the justice systems. Ireland's move will help bring the country's strong record and experience in helping victims to the rest of Europe. Irish people who travel abroad should also enjoy the same high standards for support that they receive at home.

The decision to join the proposal will help ensure that no matter where crimes occur in Europe, victims can have confidence that somebody is there to take care of them."

 Commission establishes humanitarian presence in Tripoli and boosts funding for emergency operations in Libya's capital

Map of LibyaThe European Commission's Humanitarian Aid department, ECHO, is now present in Tripoli with a multi-disciplinary team of humanitarian experts and has opened a humanitarian office in the Libyan capital. The ECHO experts are ensuring that the assistance given by the European Union is delivered expeditiously, and that new needs are identified and addressed immediately. They are working closely with the humanitarian partners present in the city, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Organisation for Migration, International Medical Corps and UNICEF.

Q&A: The European Commission’s humanitarian assistance in Libya

More ...   
News in brief
 Unemployment in the EU: July 2011

Girl looking at ads for employmentAccording to figures released yesterday by Eurostat, the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in the eurozone was 10.0% in July 2011, unchanged compared with June and down slightly on July 2010 (10.2%). For the EU as a whole the unemployment rate was 9.5% in July 2011, unchanged compared with June and again down slightly on July 2010 (9.7%).

The lowest unemployment rates were recorded in Austria (3.7%), the Netherlands (4.3%) and Luxembourg (4.6%), and the highest in Spain (21.2%), Latvia (16.2% in the first quarter of 2011) and Lithuania (15.6% in the second quarter of 2011). The unemployment rate for Ireland was above the EU and Eurozone averages at 14.5%.

 Electronic identification of bovines to further strengthen food safety and animal health in the EU

Cows in fieldThe European Commission this week adopted a proposal that will, when implemented, further enhance food safety and better safeguard animal health in the EU.

In particular, the Commission proposal provides the legal framework for the introduction, for the first time and on a voluntary basis, of an electronic identification system (EID) for bovine animals. Bovine EID is already used in several EU Member States on a private basis mainly for farm management purposes. Its implementation on a wider scale will strengthen the current traceability system for bovine animals and food products (e.g. beef) making it faster and more accurate.

 Ireland had the lowest annual rate of inflation in the EU in July 2011

Couple shoppingAccording to new figures released recently by Eurostat, in July 2011 the lowest annual inflation rates in the EU were observed in Ireland (1.0%), Slovenia (1.1%) and Sweden (1.6%), and the highest in Estonia (5.3%), Romania (4.9%) and Lithuania (4.6%). Compared with June 2011, annual inflation fell in sixteen Member States, remained stable in two and rose in nine.

The lowest 12-month average up to July 2011 was also registered in Ireland (0.3%), followed by Sweden (1.6%), the Czech Republic and the Netherlands (1.9% each), and the highest in Romania (7.6%), Estonia (4.9%) and Greece (4.3%).


Today (Thursday 1 September): All-Island Conference on Energy Efficiency and Jobs, Dundalk

Today (Thursday 1 September) – Saturday 3 September:  Informal meeting of Foreign Ministers (Gymnich, Poland)

- 15 March 2012: Irish Successes Abroad exhibition travels around the country

Monday 5 September to Friday 9 September: European Anti Poverty Network regional workshops, Limerick, Dublin and Sligo

Tuesday 6 September: Official launch of the Female Entrepreneurs Mentoring Programme, Dublin

Thursday 8 September: Governing Council of the European Central Bank, Frankfurt

Monday 12 September – Thursday, 15 September: European Parliament Plenary Session, Strasbourg

Friday, 16 September: FP7 Regions of Knowledge Information Event & Workshop, Dublin

Thursday 6 October: Ireland Wales Programme Annual Event 2011: Cross-border Partnerships: Connecting Regions & People, Dublin

Public consultations
 Public consultation on trade and development

This online consultation gives a wide range of international stakeholders the opportunity to submit their views and contribute to setting the agenda for European Trade and Development action in the coming years.

The accompanying issue paper contains useful background information, current issues and the objectives and invites contributions from stakeholders. It also contains a specific privacy policy statement in relation to the personal data protection of participants in the consultation.

 Primary schools drawing competition

Image from competition websiteTo coincide with the creation of the EU's 'Galileo' satellite navigation system, the European Commission has launched a drawing competition for primary school children aged between 9 and 11. Entrants are invited to make a drawing that represents space and satellite navigation; this includes things like stars, rockets, planets and satellites.

One winner from each of the 27 countries in the European Union will receive a model of a Galileo satellite with his or her name engraved on it and will also have his or her name given to one of the real Galileo satellites. The Irish winner will be invited to attend an awards ceremony in Dublin in January 2012.

Entries should be uploaded to the competition website between 1 September and 15 November.

 EU translation competition for students born in 1994

Young translators logo"Juvenes Translatores" is a translation competition organised by the European Commission which may be of interest to Fifth Year students. The competition is open to all secondary school students born in 1994. Entrants are asked to translate a short text using any two of the 23 official languages of the European Union - i.e. from one of the 23 languages into another (full list below).

Schools should register online no later than Thursday 20th October. 12 Irish schools will be randomly selected to participate and the competition will take place across all EU Member States on Thursday 24th November.

Full details are available on The text used in last year's competition can be viewed on this website. The theme of the 2011 competition is volunteering.

The winning translation from each EU country will be selected by translators from the European Commission Directorate-General for Translation. The winners will be invited to spend three days in Brussels where they will receive an award, meet the European Commissioner for Multilingualism and will see how professional EU translators work.  Accommodation and flights will be paid for by the European Commission.

Calls for tender/proposals
 Invitation to Submit a Quotation for a conference on European Economic Governance in Cork 2012

The European Commission Representation in Ireland invites you to submit a quotation for a conference on European Economic Governance to be held in Cork in early 2012.

The deadline for submission of quotations is 23 September 2011.

Spotlight on:
 Clarification regarding EU legislation and action on septic tanks

Septic tanks may cause significant harm to the environmentIn response to recent press reports, the European Commission this week clarified a number of points with regard to EU legislation and action on septic tanks in Ireland.

Poorly managed or controlled septic tanks may cause significant harm to the environment and human health, including through discharges containing bacteria such as E. coli and pathogens and parasites. This is a particular concern in Ireland, which has more than 400,000 septic tanks throughout the country. EU legislation sets out an effective framework to address this, however Ireland has not yet implemented it. Following a 2009 European Court of Justice ruling, and a subsequent 2010 formal notice setting out the Irish infringements, the European Commission in May 2011 referred the issue back to the Court of Justice and requested the imposition of a lump sum fine of €2.7 million and a daily penalty payment of €26,173 for as long as the infringements persist. The Commission notes that Ireland is preparing legislation but is not satisfied with the slow pace of progress in complying with EU requirements.

Approximately one third of Ireland's housing stock consists of isolated dwellings almost all of which use individual waste water systems to dispose of their waste water. In total there are more than 400,000 septic tanks throughout the territory of Ireland. In many parts of the country geological and soil conditions may make it difficult for septic tanks to function without causing pollution.

Given the scale, and if poorly managed and controlled, septic tanks may cause significant harm to the environment and human health. In particular, discharges from septic tanks contain bacteria such as E. coli and may contain pathogens or parasites that may put human health at risk because they can enter drinking water sources. In this regard, the Irish Environmental Protection Agency has reported widespread bacteriological contamination of Irish groundwater. Domestic waste water also contains nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrates that contribute to nutrient pollution of surface waters.

Under the 2006 EU Waste Framework Directive, measures must be taken to ensure that waste is recovered or disposed of without endangering human health, and without using processes or methods which could harm the environment. To ensure this, Ireland is required to introduce a system of monitoring, inspection and maintenance of individual waste water systems in the countryside. This system of inspections and its financing aspects consistent with the polluter pays principle are at the discretion of the Irish government.

In October 2009, the European Court of Justice ruled that Ireland was failing to comply with the EU Waste Framework Directive (except in County Cavan) in relation to septic tanks.

In November 2010, the European Commission sent a formal letter of notice under ongoing infringement proceedings urging Ireland to comply with the 2009 European Court of Justice ruling on septic tanks. No legal measures had been adopted to ensure that septic tanks were subject to adequate checks and inspections to protect human health and the environment. The letter noted that if Ireland failed to act, the Commission could refer the case back to the Court and request financial penalties. In May 2011, the Commission referred the issue back to the Court of Justice requesting the imposition of fines and penalties as long as these infringements persist.