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Top stories
 European Parliament approves aid worth €35.7m for redundant workers in Ireland

Aid worth €42.3 million from the EU Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) to help find new jobs for redundant workers in Ireland, Austria and Greece was approved by the European Parliament yesterday (Wednesday).

Ireland had made three applications for a total of €35.7 million to help find new jobs for close to 6,000 workers made redundant by almost 3,300 construction, architecture, engineering and technical testing firms across Ireland. The applications were approved by the European Commission on 5 October 2011.

EGF aid helps find new jobs for workers made redundant due to major structural changes in world trade patterns caused by globalisation or the financial crisis. Its annual ceiling is €500 million. EGF aid needs to be approved by both the Parliament and the Council. The Council approved the applications from Ireland on 14 November. 

 Action Plan against antimicrobial resistance: Commission unveils 12 concrete actions for the next five years

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn with Commissioner John DalliWith about 25,000 patients dying per year in the EU from infections caused by drug resistant bacteria and related costs of over 1.5 billion euros in healthcare expenses and productivity losses, antimicrobial resistance is a growing health problem in the EU.

Today (Thursday), on the eve of European Antibiotic Awareness Day, the European Commission has tabled a comprehensive Action Plan on Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) which unveils12 concrete actions to be implemented in close cooperation with the Member States. 

European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Máire Geoghegan Quinn, added: "Finding the next generation of antibiotics is crucial if we are to stay ahead of the curve in the face of bacteria and other pathogens which are resistant to drugs. Investment in research and innovation will mean the best possible care for patients, and the Commission is working with industry and EU Member States to make this a priority. This commitment will continue under Horizon 2020, our future funding programme for research and innovation".

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 Commission wants better quality credit ratings

Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier explaining the proposals in Brussels earlier this weekCredit rating agencies (CRAs) are major players in today's financial markets, with rating actions having a direct impact on the actions of investors, borrowers, issuers and governments. For example, a corporate downgrade can have consequences on the capital a bank must hold and a downgrade of sovereign debt makes a country's borrowing more expensive.

Despite the adoption of European legislation on credit rating agencies in 2009 and 2010, recent developments in the context of the euro debt crisis have shown our existing regulatory framework is not good enough. So, this week the Commission has put forward proposals to toughen that framework further and deal with outstanding weaknesses.

The four main goals of the proposed draft Directive and draft Regulation are:

  1. To ensure that financial institutions do not blindly rely only on credit ratings for their investments.
  2. More transparent and more frequent sovereign debt ratings.
  3. More diversity and stricter independence of credit rating agencies to eliminate conflicts of interest.
  4. To make CRAs more accountable for the ratings they provide.
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 Ireland has most users of heroin in EU

Syringe and pillsEU Commission figures out this week show that Ireland has the highest documented use of problem opioid use (mainly heroin) in the EU. According to estimates, opioid use in Ireland is about 8 cases per 1,000 population aged 15 to 64, compared to an EU average of around 4 cases.

The estimated mortality rate among Irish adults (aged 15-64 years) due to drug-induced deaths is second highest in the EU at almost 70 deaths per million as against an EU average death rate of 21 per million (2009).
Ireland has the third highest rate of cocaine use among young adults aged 15-34 in the EU (after the UK and Spain). In 2010, 3.1% of young Irish adults used cocaine compared to an EU average of just over 2%.

 TalktoEU jobs app launch

Promotional image for appYou don't have to go to Australia to get a job!

You can now download a handy free App for your iPhone or Android Smartphone with all the info you need to start working in another EU country.

As an EU citizen you have 26 countries on your door step where you can find work with limited or no visa restrictions and still be close to home.

Simply download the Talk to EU App and select the country you'd like to work in. You'll find links for all the best job search websites, info on accommodation, social welfare and studying abroad as well as helpful tips onliving and working in your chosen country.

Just follow the link below and scan the QR code there, or search for "talktoEu" in the Apple App Store or Android Market.

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 European Parliament seals ban on sovereign debt speculation and short selling limitations

TraderOn Tuesday the European Parliament voted into law a regulation to curb short selling and trading in credit default swaps (CDS), a financial product for insuring against default. The rules will impose much more transparency and virtually ban certain CDS trades, thereby making speculation on a country's default more difficult.

This is one of the key regulations pushed through by the Commission to tackle the financial crisis. Both short selling and CDS trading are accused of having fuelled market volatility, with CDS trades moreover having been widely blamed for potentially aggravating Greece's troubles.

The new regulation must be formally approved by the Council in the coming weeks, and will enter into force in November 2012.

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 Fair trial rights: EU governments agree on the right to information in criminal proceedings

EU Member State representatives yesterday (Wednesday) agreed on a draft law that will ensure defendants’ right to information in criminal proceedings wherever they are in the EU.

Under the new law, suspects of a criminal offence will have to be informed of their rights in a language they understand. The measure will ensure that EU countries will give anyone arrested – or the subject of a European Arrest Warrant – a Letter of Rights listing their basic rights during criminal proceedings. The Commission has provided Member States with a model letter, which will be translated in all 23 EU languages. Along with the right to translation and interpretation, the right to information in criminal proceedings is part of a series of fair trial measures that aims to boost confidence in the EU’s single area of justice.

The proposed Directive on the right to information in criminal proceedings will now pass to the European Parliament for adoption in the coming weeks, before final adoption by ministers meeting in the Council.

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News in brief
 First quarterly report of Commission's Task Force for Greece shows cautious optimism

The first quarterly report of the Task Force for Greece describes the technical assistance provided to the Greek authorities to sustain economic activity by ensuring the best use of cohesion policy programmes; strengthening tax administration and sound public finance management; and implementing the structural reforms needed to improve the prospects for sustainable growth and job-creation.

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 Consumers: EU move to reduce cigarette ignited fires to save hundreds of lives each year

Cigarette buttsCigarettes left unattended are one of the leading causes of fatal fires in Europe. Evidence shows that the number of fatalities can be reduced by over 40% with the introduction of 'Reduced Ignition Propensity' (RIP) cigarettes. This means cigarettes which self extinguish when left unattended and which are thus less likely to cause fire. This safety measure is already in place in some countries globally (US, Canada, Australia), and, in the EU, in Finland since April 2010.

As from today, 17 November 2011, once the new safety standards  are published in the EU Official Journal all cigarettes sold in Europe will have to comply with these measures. It will be the role of the national authorities to enforce this new fire safety measure. 

 Food: new legislation to make the use of additives in the EU safer and more transparent

Man checking his food for additives - image from promotional videoThe use of additives in food will soon become even safer and more transparent than it currently is thanks to two pieces of legislation adopted by the European Commission earlier this week.

The two regulations establish two new lists:

The first concerns additives in foodstuff and it will come into application in June 2013. This list, which is also available in a database online, will allow consumers, food business operators and control authorities to easily identify which additives are authorised in a particular foodstuff.

The second list regards additives in food ingredients, such as other additives, enzymes, flavourings and nutrients and it will apply 20 days after its publication in the EU's Official Journal.

 Commissioner CioloĊŸ' Statement on the Aid for the needy scheme following the Agriculture Council on the 14 of November 2011

EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos"I am extremely happy that Member States have resolved the problems that were blocking the Aid for the Needy scheme in 2012 and 2013. I have now asked my services to make the necessary changes in order to ensure the continuation of the scheme this winter. As we have shown in recent weeks, the European Commission wants to remain a committed partner for the charities involved in the scheme."

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 Taxation: More efficient cooperation in collecting excise duties

New rules on administrative cooperation in the field of excise duties, which would speed up the collection of the duties and improve Member States' controls on the revenue, were proposed by the Commission earlier this week.

The new Regulation would replace the existing rules, to better reflect the introduction of the computerised Excise Movement and Control System (EMCS) in April 2010. Currently, part of the information exchange between Member States on the movement of excise products (alcohol, tobacco and energy products) is still done manually. Computerising this exchange will make it easier and faster to collect the excise duties that are due.

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Friday 25 November: Exhibition: "Sboryanovo - Nature and Monuments: Gods and People", European Union House

Today (Thursday 17 November): Governing Council of the European Central Bank, Frankfurt

Thursday 24 November: Briefing on proposals for two new EU programmes: 'Erasmus for all' and 'Creative Europe', European Union House, Dublin

Thursday 24 November: Transport, Telecommunications & Energy Council, Brussels

Monday 28 to Friday 2 December: Exhibition "We Volunteer!", European Union House, Dublin

Wednesday 30 November: Seminar on "European Economic Policy - What's in it for Ireland", Waterford

Monday 28 – Tuesday 29 November: Education, Youth, Culture & Sport Council, Brussels

Public consultations
 Consultation on the right to family reunification of third-country nationals living in the EU

The European Commission launched on 15 November a public consultation on the right to family reunification of third-country nationals living in the EU. Depending on the outcome of the consultation, the Commission will decide whether any policy follow-up is necessary – such as  setting up clear guidelines, modifying the current rules or leaving the legislation as it is.

Since 2003, common EU rules  specify the conditions under which family members of a non-EU citizen, legally resident in a Member State, are allowed to enter and reside in the EU.

All stakeholders and the general public are now invited to reply – before 1 March 2012 - to questions such as:

  • To whom the directive should apply: How to best define the migrants who benefit from the EU rules; whether the right to family reunification should be extended to other family members, outside than the core family; the problems experienced with forced marriages;
  • The conditions for family reunification: Whether the integration measures that Member States are allowed to introduce need to be further specified; whether safeguards should be foreseen to ensure that such measures really foster integration and are not used as barriers to family reunification;
  • Ways of tackling possible fraud and marriages of convenience;
  • The functioning of certain obligations for Member States, such as taking the best interest of children into account when examining an application.
Job opportunities
 Open Competition (EPSO/AST/117/11) for Secretaries (AST 1) having English, or Irish as a main language

An open competition for secretaries having Greek, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, Irish, Hungarian or Italian as a main language will be published by the European Personnel Selection Office in Official Journal C 336 A on 17 November 2011.

The closing date for online registration is 20 December 2011.

The following qualifications are required:

  • A level of education which corresponds to post-secondary education attested by a diploma in the secretarial field.


  • A level of secondary education attested by a diploma giving access to post-secondary education, followed by at least three years' professional experience in the secretarial field with tasks that are in the main directly related to the secretarial duties described in Section IT of the notice of competition.
 Vacancy for Director of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) in Thessaloniki, Greece

The Governing Board of Cedefop invites applications for the post of Director (Grade AD 14 temporary contract) of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training.

Established in 1975, the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training is a European agency that helps promote and develop vocational education and training in the European Union (EU). It is the EU's reference centre for vocational education and training.

Cedefop's head office is in Thessaloniki, Greece. It has approximately 130 staff and a budget of 17,400,000 euro. Cedefop’s working language is English.

The deadline for applications is 9 January 2012, at 23:59 Central European Time (date of post registration).

Applications sent by door to door courier service must be delivered before 16.30 on 9 January 2012.

Spotlight on: Female mentors to help women entrepreneurs to get started
 Spotlight on: Female mentors to help women entrepreneurs to get started

A new European network of mentors to promote female entrepreneurship through the sharing of know-how and experience has been launched by the European Commission. Women only account for 34.4% of the self-employed in Europe. To raise this share, successful businesswomen will assist women entrepreneurs who established a new enterprise two to four years ago.

The mentors will give these new entrepreneurs concrete advice on how to run and grow their enterprises in this early, critical phase of the businesses as well as help them to develop the necessary soft skills and coach them. The network will cover 17 European countries; 170 mentors will participate in it.

Entrepreneurship fits well with women's life choices in particular giving them flexibility regarding the reconciliation of private and professional life, specifically concerning the time and place of work. Further, due to the economic crisis, many women that became unemployed could use their skills and knowledge, start-up their own company and create their own job.

Selection of mentors

Mentors will be selected among businesswomen (or businessmen) who have personal experience of owning and managing a SME successfully for at least five years and are aware of specific challenges that women entrepreneurs face and are ready and willing to share their knowledge and know-how with their mentorees on a volunteering basis (i.e., without remuneration), are available to meet them regularly for a minimum of one year and are willing to engage with at least two mentorees.

The mentors shall meet with their mentorees regularly and discuss with them current as well as strategic issues of the management of the mentorees' companies, helping them to build / acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and confidence/mindset. To avoid conflicts of interest, mentors are not allowed to take any economic interest in their mentorees' companies.

The potential of women entrepreneurs in creating economic growth and new jobs:

  • In the USA the Women Presidents’ Organisations (WPOs) released the latest figures of the 50 fastest growing women-owned/led companies in North America. The Top 50 generated a combined $4.1 billion in 2010 revenues (mean of $82.7 million) and collectively employed 24,650 in 2010 (projected average for 2011 is 557 employees per company).
  • The UK government in its WES (The European network to promote women's enterpreneurship) 2008 report mentions that women are the largest underrepresented group in terms of participation in enterprise. Only 15% of the 4.7 million UK enterprises are majority women-led and if women started businesses at the same rate as men there would be 150,000 extra start-ups each year in the UK. If the UK matched US levels of female entrepreneurship there would be 900,000 more businesses in the UK.
  • In Sweden in 2008 more than 131 000 companies were run by women having more than € 35 billion in total turn-over, employing around 358 000 people and paying their employees more than 6 billion Euros in salaries.

Women enterprise differently than men, therefore women-specific support measures are needed:

  • Firstly, women attach more importance to family circumstances when considering setting up a business (61% versus 49% in the case of men). They will think very carefully about probabilities of success and examine every potential source of failure in detail before they use the family house as collateral and/or family savings as capital to start-up their business.
  • Secondly, in most cases, when women decide to start up a new company, they keep their former jobs and carry out both activities in parallel for some time: in this respect, one can say that women are more cautious than men and their awareness of risk of failure is more developed. 
  • Thirdly, women take over existing businesses after a longer testing period than men, once they are familiar with the companies’ activities (because of heritage, separation or divorce from a business partner, etc.). 
  • The fourth particularity is financing: women's start-ups use less capital than men's and have less equity. 
  • Finally, women entrepreneurs have compared to men a lower but steadier growth. This often means less risk for failure.

The European Network of Mentors for Women Entrepreneurs is one of the actions proposed in the 2011 Review of the Small Business Act for Europe. It will cover 17 countries (Albania, Belgium, Cyprus, FYROM, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom).

For more information: