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Top stories
  EU interim forecast: Recovery stalls amid financial market crisis

Commissioner Rehn speaking at this morning's press conferenceEconomic growth in the EU is slowing down. After growing strongly in the first quarter of 2011, GDP expanded less in the second quarter. GDP growth is now expected to remain subdued in the second half of the year, coming close to standstill at year-end.

The soft patch predicted in the spring forecast is now likely to deepen but will not result in a double dip. On account of the stronger-than-expected performance in the first quarter, annual growth is still projected at 1.6% in the euro area and 1.7% in the EU.

However, growth forecasts for the second half of the year have been revised down considerably, by ½ percentage point for the euro area as well as the EU compared to the Commission's spring forecast. Moreover, the current outlook is uncertain, and the balance of risks to this forecast is to the downside.

 Commission proposes better financial terms for EU loans to Ireland and Portugal

Two proposals were adopted by the European Commission this week, suggesting reduced interest rate margins and extended maturities for loans granted by the European Union (EU) to Ireland and Portugal. The loans are provided by the EU under the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM) as part of financial assistance packages to the two countries.

[Note: this is separate from the rate reductions agreed on July 21st by euro-zone governments on their contribution which comes from the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF).]

Sources in Brussels estimate the savings to Ireland to be at least €5 billion over the life of the programme.

The improved terms are expected to enhance liquidity and contribute to the sustainability of both countries in support of their strong economic and reform programmes.

 Commission President Barroso calls for democratically agreed deeper integration of euro zone as solution to the crisis

President Barroso addressing the European Parliament on 14 SeptemberSpeech by President Barroso to the European Parliament during the debate on the economic crises and the euro

Mr. President, Mr. President of the Council, Honourable Members,

I welcome this opportunity to debate the measures that are urgently needed to respond to the turmoil in the euro area and on the global markets.

We are confronted with the most serious challenge of a generation. This is a fight for the jobs and prosperity of families in all our member states. This is a fight for the economic and political future of Europe. This is a fight for what Europe represents in the world. This is a fight for European integration itself.

 15 September EU Food Safety Day - top tips to cut food waste

Selection of fresh vegetablesIn Europe about 89 million tonnes of food is wasted every year along the entire food chain. That's 179 kg per person! Without any prevention measures it is expected that the total annual amount of wasted food will reach 126 million tonnes by the end of this decade.

The Commission has declared 15 September Food Safety Day, and it hopes to raise awareness about what gets wasted and how to prevent it, as well as cutting down on packaging without compromising food safety and hygiene standards.

TOP TIPS to cut food waste: Follow these tips to help you reduce food waste, save money and protect the environment: 

  • Prepare for shopping trips by preparing a meal plan for the week
  • Check the dates and take items with longest "use by" date
  • Remember your budget: Wasting food means wasting money. 
  • Keep a healthy fridge: Food needs to be stored between 1 and 5 degrees Celsius. 
  • Rotate the food in your cupboard to bring older items to the front 
  • Use up your leftovers in soups, smoothies and next day's dinners
  • Small servings and come back for more if you want
  • Freeze bread and take out slices as you need them.
  • Compost food waste for your garden
More ...   
 Commission Task Force on Greece starts work in Athens

Image of the Greek ParliamentThe Commission Task Force on Greece has started its work, co-ordinating technical assistance to support Greece's growth, investment and employment, in particular through a better and more effective use of EU structural funds.

Mr Horst Reichenbach – head of the Task Force - is visiting Athens on 13 – 15 September to set out the strategy for the work to be done and together with the Greek authorities to identify the priorities for the delivery of the technical assistance Greece needs as well as joint work on accelerating use of the structural funds in view of jobs and growth in Greece.

(Note: The Task Force is separate from the troika Programme Review team. The troika team checks on implementation of the Programme - the Task Force is giving technical support and expertise on how to deliver on the Programme.)

More ...   
 Young Irish researchers win grants from European Research Council

Young researcherThe European Research Council (ERC) is supporting six Irish early-career researchers over the coming five years with grants worth up to €2 million each.

In this fourth 'ERC Starting Grant' competition, just over €670 million is being allocated to top talent around Europe to carry out their pioneering research in any domain.

Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn commented: "ERC grants are now highly coveted in the research community, not least among younger researchers who often struggle to find funding. I am committed to ensuring that the ERC can continue funding the "cream of the crop". This helps make Europe more competitive on the world stage and contributes to making the Innovation Union a reality."

More ...   
News in brief
 EU Employment figures: Employment figures stable in Ireland in second quarter of 2011

Employment agencyThe number of persons employed in Ireland remained stable in the second quarter of 2011 compared with the previous quarter according to national accounts estimates published by Eurostat today. For the 17 member euro area, numbers employed increased by 0.3% and for the EU as a whole by 0.2% in the second quarter of 2011 compared with the previous quarter.

In the first quarter of 2011, employment decreased by 0.4% in Ireland and increased by 0.1% in both the euro area and the EU27.  These figures are seasonally adjusted.

Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, employment in Ireland fell by 2% but grew by 0.4% in the euro area and 0.3% in the EU27 in the second quarter of 2011.

Eurostat estimates that, in the second quarter of 2011, 223.4 million men and women were employed in the EU27, of which 147.0 million were in the euro area.

 Education trends report – Ireland is best performing EU country for tertiary graduation rates

ClassroomThe European Commission this week welcomed the launch of 'Education at a Glance 2011', a new report which gathers statistical data on investment in education, student-teacher ratios, teaching hours, graduate numbers and results.

The report shows that Ireland has the highest percentage of 25-34 year olds with university-level qualifications in the EU. It also shows that annual expenditure per third level student in Ireland was well above the EU and OECD averages.

Furthermore, more pupils graduate from upper secondary education in Ireland than the EU and OECD averages - 91% compared to 85% for the EU and 82% for the OECD.  However, when it comes to literacy levels of students aged 15, Irish students are only slightly above the OECD average but well below countries like Finland or Korea.

 Digital Agenda: further action needed to safeguard children – Commission report

How Member States are implementing EU Recommendations ensuring children can enjoy the digital world confidently and safely are reviewed by the European Commission in a report presented this week. The report shows that EU countries are not responding adequately, or have varying approaches to tackling and reporting illegal or harmful content, ensuring children access age-appropriate content, making social networks safer for children and protecting children from harmful video games.

More ...   

Friday, 15 September – Saturday, 17 September: Informal Economic and Financial Affairs Council - ECOFIN, Wroclaw, Poland

Until Friday 22 September: The European Commission Representation in Ireland is hosting the Focus Ireland "Ending Homelessness" exhibition, Dublin

Friday 16 September: Regions of Knowledge Workshop (presentations and advice on applying to the FP7 Regions of Knowledge Call), Dublin

Tuesday 20 to Friday 23 September: Ballinsloe Europe Direct Centre: European Mobility Week Display and Exhibition
Tuesday, 20 September – Thursday, 22 September: EU Stand at the National Ploughing Championships, Athy, Co. Kildare

Tuesday, 20 September: Agriculture & Fisheries Council, Brussels

Thursday, September 22 – Friday, September 23: Justice & Home Affairs Council, Brussels

Friday 23 September: Waterford Europe Direct Centre - John Grenham Talk on “Tracing Your Irish Ancestors”

Monday 26 September: Blanchardstown Europe Direct Centre - Arts, Crafts & Language Activity—European Day of Languages

Tuesday 27 September: Killarney Europe Direct Information Centre - Open day on Volunteering

Friday 30 September: Letterkenny Europe Direct Centre - Volunteer Information Stands and lunch

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

Public consultations
 Public consultation on how to improve the European research environment

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn speaking at the launch of the consultation in Brussels earlier this weekThe European Commission launched on 13 September a public consultation to find out how the European research environment can be radically improved. Some of the questions the European Commission wants to tackle:

  • are researchers looking for new opportunities, but finding themselves locked behind national borders?
  • are scientists in need of new research infrastructures to perform and test ideas?
  • does the research community need more opportunities to share views, realise new projects and create new products and services?

The goal is to achieve the European Research Area (ERA) by 2014, creating a genuine single market for knowledge, research and innovation. This will enable researchers, research institutions and businesses to circulate, compete, and co-operate across borders, increasing growth potential.

The consultation runs until 30 November 2011.

Job opportunities
 Competitions for development aid, archiving and ICT experts to work in the EU institutions

The European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) launched on 14 September its annual specialist selection procedure.

This year, the EU is looking for experts to work in the fields of

  • development aid,
  • archiving
  • information and communication technology.

Applicants will need several years' experience in their chosen field, as well as general skills such as problem-solving and decision-making. They will also need to have a thorough knowledge of either English, French or German.

Registration closes at mid-day CET (11 a.m. Irish time) on 18 October 2011.

More information can be found on

 EU Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Awards 2012

Each year, Europa Nostra and the European Union reward the best of cultural heritage achievements. The awards celebrate exemplary restorations and initiatives of the many facets of Europe’s cultural heritage in  4 categories, described below. Every year, up to six monetary awards of €10,000 each are awarded to the top laureates in the various categories.
Criteria for the assessment of entries include excellence in the work executed and preliminary research conducted, as well as respect for artistic, cultural and social value, setting, authenticity and integrity. Special attention will also be paid to sustainability, interpretation and presentation, educational work, funding and management, and social responsibility. Entries can be on a scale ranging from small to large, local to international, and should display a standard of work considered outstanding in a European context.

The closing date for submission of entries is 1 October 2011.

Spotlight on:
 EU stand at the National Ploughing Championships, Cardenton, Athy

Image of last year's marquee at the National Ploughing ChampionshipsThe European Commission Representation in Ireland will host a marquee (No. 223H) at this year's National Ploughing Champions in Cardenton, Athy.

The marquee will be open to all visitors. It will be stocked with promotional items as well as specific publications for children, colouring books and pencils, quizzes and interesting maps not to mention a variety of specialised publications on the Common Agriculture Policy and other specific farming topics. In addition, European Commission experts will be available to answer technical questions from farmers, the agricultural industry and anybody interested in EU matters. Specific advice and support will also be provided in the field of consumer rights.

Staff from the Joint Research Centre (JRC) will also be present to showcase the scientific research it carries out to meet both European and global challenges related to agriculture. Special features will include soil, farmland biodiversity, forests and forest fires as well as food/feed safety, nutrition and consumer protection. Informative slideshows, videos, interactive activities including games and friendly staff make this a must.

Programme of events

Tuesday, 20th September

11.30 – 12.00  “Your Consumer Rights in Europe” – European Consumer Centre
12.15 – 12.45  Volunteering and Making a Difference - Agnes Rowley, volunteer with Aware
13.00 – 13.30   Presentation by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre
13.30 – 14.00  Ruairí Ó Conchúir from the EC funded LIFE+ project - MulkearLIFE presents ‘Becoming A Conservation Volunteer: Volunteering for Nature’
14.00 – 14.45  Get Active with Go for Life – Patricia Dawson from Age & Opportunity’s Go for Life programme leads some welly friendly physical activity.
15.30 – 17.00  Music Session for All – The Big Jig
Wednesday, 21st September
11.00 – 11.30  Betty Lee, Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, European Commission
11.45 – 12.30  Get Active with Go for Life – Paul McCabe from Age & Opportunity’s Go for Life programme leads some welly friendly physical activity.
12.45 – 13.15  Presentation by European Commission’s Joint Research Centre
14.15 – 14.45  My Journey through Depression – Agnes Rowley, volunteer with Aware
15.00 – 15.30  Betty Lee Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, European Commission
15.30 – 16.00  Mairead McGuinness MEP
16.00 – 16.30  Your Consumer Rights in Europe – European Consumer Centre
16.30 – 17.45  Music Session for All – The Big Jig

Thursday, 22nd September

11.00 – 11.30  Betty Lee, Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, European Commission
11.30 – 12.30  Get Active with Go for Life – Patricia Dawson from Age & Opportunity’s Go for Life programme leads some welly friendly physical activity.
12.30 – 13.00  Your Consumer Rights in Europe – European Consumer Centre
14.00 – 14.45  Developing Resilience – Dr Claire Hayes, Aware
15.00 – 15.30  Presentation by European Commission’s Joint Research Centre
15.30 – 17.00  Music Session for All – The Big Jig

JRC Interactive screens will deal with the following themes:
(1) Soil,
(2) Farmland Biodiversity,
(3) Forests and Forest Fires,
(4) Land Parcel Identification System and
(5) GMOs and Mycotoxins