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Top stories
 Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy: Commissioner Maria Damanaki visits Ireland

EU Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Commissioner Maria Damanaki presenting the proposals in Brussels yesterdayThe EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki,  is in Dublin and Galway today (Thursday) and tomorrow Friday, to present and discuss with Irish stakeholders the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), proposed by the Commission in July.

The new policy aims at preserving fish stocks at sustainable levels for the benefit of current and future generations by managing fisheries in a responsible, science-based way.

Today, the Commissioner spoke at the Institute of International and European Affairs on the gains that Ireland can expect from a reformed CFP. Read her speech here.

Tomorrow, Commissioner Damanaki, together with Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, will visit the Marine Institute in Co. Galway.

 EU at the Ploughing as farmers await new CAP plans

Barbara Nolan, Head of the European Commission Representation in Ireland, with Simon Coveney TD, Minister for AgricultureAs Europe's farmers wait to see the Commission's new CAP proposals unveiled on October 21st, the EU was on hand this week at Ireland's biggest rural event, the National Ploughing Championships.

The EU stand hosted Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney TD. Later on, Mairéad McGuinness MEP dropped by to say hello. The EU programme included an expert presentation on the CAP, free consumer advice and a look at the latest EU soil research.

 Commission launches higher education reform strategy

Students at Mainz University in GermanyThe European Commission has just launched a new reform strategy for higher education. While education is a national competence, the challenges are European and closely linked with jobs and growth.

European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou, said: "Higher education is a powerful driver of economic growth and opens doors to better living standards and opportunities for people. It is also the best insurance against unemployment. Even so, too many graduates struggle to find jobs or quality work. We need to reform higher education – and vocational education – so that we equip our young people with the skills they need to reach their potential in terms of development and employability."

The proposals include an Erasmus for Masters Degrees, an impact assessment of the different funding models in use in the EU Member States and more.

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 Statement by President Barroso following the agreement on the economic governance package

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso"One year ago, the Commission presented a package of six legislative proposals to strengthen the economic governance of the European Union and of the euro area in particular. Today, an agreement has been finalised which, pending formal endorsement by the European Parliament and the Council in the coming weeks, will allow this package to enter into force. This is excellent news for Europe. 

The economic crisis presented us with two great challenges: how to mitigate its effects on individuals and businesses; and how to ensure that we never find ourselves in such a dramatic situation again. We have been working hard on both fronts, with tangible, significant results. And today, we have taken a major step forward on the second. 

This agreement gives the EU and its Member States a powerful tool – one missing until now – to avoid falling into the trap of unsustainable debt. It will also, for the first time, allow us to anticipate the development of macroeconomic imbalances that could pose a threat to the stability of the euro area. And while the emphasis will be on prevention, we will also have the capacity to take corrective action in a swifter and more decisive way than ever before, with greater automaticity in the application of sanctions.

This is a robust answer to what was a serious shortcoming in the design of the euro – and a qualitative leap forward for our economic and monetary union."

 Culture Night goes Polish at EU House

Image advertising the exhibitionPolish jazz and Polish art are on show to celebrate Culture Night 2011 at the European Commission Representation at 18 Dawson Street, Dublin 2.
The Representation, together with the Polish Embassy and Art Polonia, presents live jazz with the Dorotea Konczewska trio and an exhibition of illustrations by famous Polish graphic artist and painter Janusz Kapusta.

Open to the public from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. tomorrow, Friday 22 September

Diplomatic reception with drinks and snacks for early arrivals 6pm to 7pm.

News in brief
 Commission sets out the path to resource-efficient growth

The European Commission this week set out a 'roadmap' aimed at transforming Europe's economy into a sustainable one by 2050. The Roadmap to a resource-efficient Europe outlines how we can achieve the resource efficient growth which is essential for our future wellbeing and prosperity. It identifies the economic sectors that consume the most resources, and suggests tools and indicators to help guide action in Europe and internationally.

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 European Commission market tests IBM's commitments on mainframe maintenance and closes separate case into alleged unlawful tying

The European Commission invites comments on commitments offered by International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) to ensure the availability of certain spare parts and technical information on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms over five years.

These commitments aim to resolve concerns that IBM may have imposed unreasonable conditions for supplying competing mainframe maintenance service providers with such inputs, in breach of European Union antitrust rules prohibiting the abuse of a dominant market position in Europe.

 Copyright: Commission brokers agreement to increase the number of out-of-commerce books being made available again

Books on shelvesEvery year, hundreds of thousands of new titles enter the European book market – but only a few turn into real bestsellers. A good number of them eventually go out of commerce as publishers cannot maintain the costs of marketing and storing books in print if they do not continue to sell well. While publishers are bringing more books back into commerce through e-books and print on demand, many titles still remain in the collections and archives of Europe's libraries.

This situation is to change soon as Michel Barnier, European Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services, presided earlier this week over the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in which libraries, publishers, authors, and their collecting societies have agreed to a set of Key Principles that will give European libraries and similar cultural institutions the possibility to digitise and make available on line out-of-commerce books and learned journals which are part of their collections.

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 Research and innovation: Commission calls for partnerships to tackle societal challenges

An invitation to public and private actors to join forces at European level to apply research and innovation solutions to major challenges facing society has been issued by the European Commission this week.  The Commission Communication draws on first experience from pilot projects and outlines steps that will lead to more, and more effective, public-private and public-public partnerships. It suggests that when EU-level Partnerships are identified as necessary and useful, there is a need to make administrative arrangements simpler and more flexible.

Bottlenecks and barriers to cross-border research need to be removed, and all partners, including EU Member States and the private sector, need to make long-term financial commitments to the projects.

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 Possible change in funding for food aid

On 20 September agriculture ministers discussed the programme for distributing free food to the most deprived persons in the EU. A ruling by the European Court of Justice has declared the current practice of buying farm produce for the scheme illegal. Ministers have not reached agreement yet but the Polish Presidency is working to find a compromise.

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 Court of Justice opinion on transfer of asylum seekers to other Member States

Image of Court of JusticeThe European Court of Justice has just published the Opinions of the Advocate General in Joined Cases C-411/10 N.S. v Secretary of State for the Home Department and C-493/10 M.E. and Others v Refugee Applications Commissioner and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

According to Advocate General Trstenjak, if there is a serious risk that the fundamental rights, under the Charter of Fundamental Rights, of the asylum seeker to be transferred may be breached in the Member State having primary responsibility, the other Member States may not transfer an asylum seeker to that Member State. Rather, the other Member States are, in principle, obliged to exercise the right to assume responsibility under Regulation No 343/2003 and must themselves examine the asylum application.

More ...   

Tomorrow (Friday 23 September): Culture Night 2011, Dublin

Tomorrow (Friday 23 September): ‘Sea2Sky’ at EU Researchers' Night, Galway

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

Monday 26 - Thursday 29 September: European Parliament Plenary Session, Strasbourg

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

Thursday 29 - Friday 30 September: Competitiveness Council, Brussels

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

Monday 3 October: Eurogroup, Brussels

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

Monday 17 to Tuesday 18 October: European Council, Brussels

Spotlight on:
 European Commission promotes Cross-border Volunteering

Young volunteersThis week the European Commission announced plans to further improve the recognition and promotion of volunteering in the EU.

In the context of European Year of Volunteering 2011, the Commission's Communication on EU Policies and Volunteering outlines a range of measures that will help foster voluntary activities in the EU, including the creation of a European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps and the development of a 'European Skills Passport'.

Significantly, this is the first time the European Commission has adopted a policy document dedicated exclusively to volunteering.

Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding, in charge of Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, said: “There are 100 million volunteers in the EU today, who are helping to make Europe and the world a better place. The European Year of Volunteering 2011 highlights their achievements, encourages others to join in, and helps volunteers and volunteering organisations do even better.”


Volunteering activities directly contribute to the key objectives of EU policies such as social inclusion, employment, education, skills development and promotion of citizenship. However, there is no clear legal framework for volunteering activities and skills volunteers gain are often not sufficiently recognised. The Commission is committed to overcoming these obstacles to volunteering, particularly across borders.

In its Communication published today, the Commission outlines ways for the EU and its Member States to start fully exploiting the great potential offered by volunteering activities.

Actions to promote volunteering at EU level

The Commission has proposed to create a European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps by 2012. Preparations are already under way for a framework for assistance from European volunteers in the humanitarian aid operations of the European Union.

In addition, the Commission is also working to increase the recognition of skills gained through volunteering activities by developing a 'European Skills Passport'. This will ensure recognition of professional qualifications across borders and will also give individuals the possibility of keeping a record of the skills and competences they acquire through volunteering. The passport will be based on the existing Europass (European online CV), to allow skills to be recorded in a transparent and comparable way.

There are already a number EU-level funding schemes for volunteering, of which the best-known is perhaps the European Voluntary Service (part of the EU's Youth in Action programme), which celebrates its fifteenth anniversary this year. The Commission wants to build on these success stories and further target volunteers in other policy areas.

The Commission has also outlined concrete ways for Member States to make better use of the potential of volunteering and calls for Member States to open national schemes for fostering cross-border volunteering.

For More information:

Official website for the European Year of Volunteering 2011:
Homepage of Viviane Reding, Vice-President and Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship:
Commission announcement about the European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps: IP/10/1543
Commission announcement about 'Youth on the Move', including the European Skills Passport: IP/10/1124
Link to Europass: