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 Live YouTube/Euronews Interview with President Barroso

European Commission President José Manuel BarrosoAs part of the YouTube World View series of interviews with world leaders President Barroso participated today (Thursday) in a live Interview, broadcast in 11 languages. Economic issues dominated the top questions. The most popular question was about what went wrong in Greece and how to boost the Greek economy. President Barroso answered that "One country – like one family or like one company – cannot live for a long time above its means. And Greece was doing precisely that."

He also underlined that in the future there will be more integration of national budget and economic plans and also sanctions for those who do not comply with the rules. The President once again reiterated that we need a financial transaction tax so banks make a fair contribution to the costs of the crisis and indicated that revenue from the tax could be used to fund development aid.

The interview was live transmitted on , Europe by Satellite and Euronews TV

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 €35 million for Irish construction workers from Globalisation Fund

Construction workersThe European Commission this week proposed to provide Ireland with €35m from the European Globalisation adjustment Fund (EGF) to help 5,987 redundant construction workers across Ireland back into employment. The money, requested by the Irish authorities through three applications, will cover ex-workers from 3,348 mostly small enterprises. The proposal now goes to the European Parliament and the EU's Council of Ministers for their approval.

The Irish applications relate to a total of 9,089 redundancies from small and medium sized enterprises operating in the construction sector. The dismissals were a direct consequence of the financial and economic crisis.

 Irish SMEs among the least successful in accessing credit

Irish SMEs are among the least successful in the EU in accessing credit a new survey has found. The economic crisis has made it more difficult for small and medium-sized enterprises to access banking credit. The proportion of unsuccessful loan applications rose between 2007 and 2010 in 19 of the 20 Member States for which data are available. The largest increases in unsuccessful loan applications were observed in Bulgaria (from 3% in 2007 to 36% in 2010), Ireland (from 1% to 27%) and Latvia (from 4% to 26%). Unsuccessful applications fell only in Sweden (from 9% to 6%).

These figures were issued by Eurostat and are based on a survey covering 25,000 businesses across the EU. The data was released in connection with European SME week 2011, which takes place from 3 to 9 October in 37 European countries, including Ireland.

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 Irish SMEs harder hit by recession than large enterprises

Example of an SME - bakerAlso to mark European SME Week, the European Commission presented its 2010 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) report "Are EU SMEs recovering from the crisis?" - including surveys on each EU Member State (the SBA Fact Sheets).

The report confirms that SMEs remain the EU's economic backbone. In 2010, there were almost 20.8 million SMEs in the EU non-financial business economy of which 19.2 million were micro-firms with less than 10 employees. Altogether SMEs provided more than two-thirds (87.5 million) of all employment opportunities in the private sector in the EU and 58.4% of the total gross value-added, compared to the 43 000 large businesses representing only the 0.2% of the EU enterprises. The number of SMEs is expected to rise by 0.9% in 2011 and their gross value-added by 3.9%. The number of SMEs' employees are expected to increase by 0.4% after a two year slump.

The report also shows that Ireland has a relatively higher concentrations of small, medium-sized and large businesses than the EU average. Ireland was also the first country to feel the effects of the financial crisis with SMEs being particularly vulnerable. The SMEs sector’s contribution to the economy, as measured by its gross value added, fell by 5%, from 53 % to 48% between 2007-2010, suggesting that small and medium sized enterprises were hit hardest by the economic downturn. From 2007 to 2010, the SME sector in Ireland lost 15 % of its total workforce and produced 18 % less final output (gross value added). By comparison, large enterprises lost 9% of their work force and only 6% of their gross value added.

 Eurobarometer on vocational education and training

Vocational educationThe European Commission last week published a Eurobarometer survey on "Attitudes towards vocational education and training". The survey was conducted through face-to-face interviews with 27,000 people across the EU with 1,016 people interviewed in Ireland between 4 and 17 June 2011.

The report shows that Irish people were less likely to think that vocational education and training leads to professions which are highly demanded on the labour market (66% compared to an EU average of 73%).

But they are more likely to agree that vocational education and training leads to jobs which are well paid (64% compared to an EU average of 55%). And they are also more likely to think that vocational education and training offers good career opportunities (77% compared to an EU average of 72%). Furthermore they were less likely to agree with the statement that vocational education and training leads to jobs which are not well regarded in society (25% compared to an EU average of 38%). 

The report also shows that Irish people were less likely to have been or to be enrolled in vocational education and training than the EU average (31% compared to 47%) although they had a more positive view of it than the EU average (76% compared to 71%).

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 Irish broadly in favour of future CAP proposals

Cows in fieldJust ahead of the upcoming Commission proposal to reform the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) a new Eurobarometer poll on Agriculture shows wide support for key elements of the package.

The results, collected in May 2011, show that Irish people favour an upper limit on the level of direct EU payments to farmers (43% pro, 25% con) saying that bigger farms don’t need unlimited payments but can still benefit from these subsidies.

Irish people were however less supportive of making public the names and amounts paid to beneficiaries of CAP payments. Nevertheless even though Ireland came second from the bottom in the EU for this question, almost half of respondents (48%) supported it (EU average of 62%).

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 Public procurement: Commission issues guidance on how public authorities can cooperate to fulfil their public tasks

Public authorities in the EU can choose to perform their public interest tasks using their own resources and in cooperation with other authorities. For example, several cities can decide to provide transport services in their territory through a jointly held and controlled transport company. Alternatively, two municipalities may decide to share waste treatment and divide up the relevant tasks between them, with one undertaking waste collection and the other incineration. Under certain circumstances, such cooperation does not fall under EU public procurement law and so does not have to be subject to an open, competitive tendering procedure.

As contracting authorities do not always know whether and under which conditions EU public procurement law applies, the Commission has issued guidance based on case law of the EU's Court of Justice clarifying the rules applicable to different types of cooperation.

The guidance paper provides an overview of the relevant Court case law and draws some conclusions from it, allowing for a better understanding and application of the existing legal framework. Cooperation between municipal authorities is also one of the issues under consideration in the ongoing reform process of the EU Public Procurement Directives, which currently do not include explicit provisions on public-public cooperation.

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News in brief
 European Court Ruling on licenses for broadcasting of football matches

FootballerIn a judgement issued earlier this week, the European Court of Justice ruled that a system of licences for the broadcasting of football matches which grants broadcasters territorial exclusivity on a Member State basis and which prohibits television viewers from watching the broadcasts with a decoder card in other Member States is contrary to EU law.

 Máire Geoghegan-Quinn welcomes Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for EU-funded researchers

The award of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Jules A. Hoffman and Ralph M. Steinman, along with Bruce A. Beutler, has been welcomed by European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.

Both Professors Hoffman and Steinman were aided in their work by funding from the European Union. Unfortunately, the news was accompanied by the sad announcement that Professor Steinman passed away on 30 September.

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 Irish artist wins European Border Breaker Award

Ebba logo 2012James Vincent McMorrow was one of the ten winners of the 2012 European Border Breakers Awards, which were announced last night in Brussels. He won the award for his album "Early In The Morning".

The awards celebrate the top new talents in European pop music. To be eligible, artists must have enjoyed border-breaking success with their first international release in Europe between 1 August 2010 and 31 July 2011. The winners will receive their awards in a televised ceremony hosted by TV personality and musician Jools Holland at Eurosonic Noorderslag in Groningen, Netherlands, on 11 January 2012

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 Online shopping abroad: still room for improvements

Screengrab from Report coverHave you ever been tempted by a cheaper online offer from another EU country but wondered how reliable it was to shop abroad? 'Mystery shoppers' from the EU-supported European Consumer Centres' Network have checked just that.

Their report 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.

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 Budgets Committee votes on EU Budget 2012

After two days of negotiations and voting, on Wednesday the Budgets Committee finalised its position on the EU budget for 2012. In general, MEPs sought to restore the draft budget proposed by the Commission, after cuts by the Council in July.

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

Today (6 October): Transport, Telecommunications & Energy (Transport) Council, Luxembourg

Monday 10 October: Foreign Affairs Council, Luxembourg

Monday 10 October: Environment Council, Luxembourg

Tuesday 11 October: General Affairs Council, Luxembourg

Monday 17 to Tuesday 18 October: European Council, Brussels

Thursday 20 – Friday, October 21: Agriculture and Fisheries Council, Luxembourg

- Tuesday 1 November: Irish Successes Abroad exhibition visits Waterford Europe Direct Centre

Public consultations
 Public consultations on access to telecoms networks

The European Commission launched on 3 October two public consultations related to access for alternative operators to the fixed telephone and broadband networks of established operators.

The first consultation concerns non-discriminatory access for alternative operators to the infrastructure and services of dominant telecom operators.

The second concerns the way national regulators calculate prices that operators have to pay for this wholesale access (cost-orientation remedies).

The results will help the Commission to draft Recommendations for a consistent, investment-friendly application of non-discrimination and price control remedies.

Both consultations are open to telecoms operators, consumer organisations, national regulators, Member States and other interested parties until 28 November 2011.

 Europe 2020 Online Short Film Competition

Attention all budding filmmakers! Make a short film on Europe 2020 and have your work screened at this year's Darklight Film Festival.

The European Commission Representation in Ireland and the Darklight Film Festival invite you to make a short online film on the theme of 'Europe 2020' - and what it means to you.

What will Europe look like in 2020? Is yours a dystopian or Utopian vision for the future? Will the issues around Climate Change have been tackled? Will unemployment / poverty be a thing of the past? Or has the Global Recession worsened? Will we all have flying cars or will have everyone have reverted to a bicycle? Will the Information Age have ended and will we enter a new previously unimagined Age? We want to know your thoughts.

Make a short film, one inspired by the notion of 'Europe 2020'. Go on... It doesn't matter if you record it on your mobile phone, a state of the art digital video camera, or create your own DIY animation – the idea’s the thing. Make it a comedy, a tragedy, a documentary, an animation – whatever takes your fancy. It's about self-expression. And if it gets people thinking, even better.

The winning entry will win a state of the art HD Digital camera worth €1200 and have their work screened this October at the 2011 Darklight Film Festival.  There are also runners up prizes for highly commended entries.

Entries must be submitted by email by the 14th of October.

Spotlight on:
 Structural funds after 2013: Commission bids for new budget

The Commission today (Thursday) set out its stall for the future of the Cohesion Policy that brings Structural and other Funds to Member States and accounts for one third of the EU budget.

The final allocations by Member State, and lists of eligible regions by category, will only be decided after the final adoption of the package by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers.

The package envisages several important changes e.g. support from the European Globalisation adjustment Fund (EGF) for new categories such as farmers and the self-employed, minimum amounts to be spent on energy efficiency and social inclusion, new co-funding percentages and a simplification of the rules.

For more detailed concrete information, see MEMO/11/663

This is the first stage in the negotiations for this part of the new EU budget and the Parliament and Council of Ministers will now examine the proposals with a view to adoption by the end of 2012.

Note: In the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) in June 2011, the Commission proposed to allocate €376 billion to cohesion policy with the following breakdown:


Proposed budget 2014-2020

EUR billion

Less developed regions

Transition regions

More developed regions

Territorial cooperation

Cohesion fund

Extra allocation for outermost and sparsely populated regions







Connecting Europe Facility for transport, energy and Information and Communication Technologies

EUR 40 billion (with an additional EUR 10 billion ring fenced inside the Cohesion Fund)

European Social Fund

At least EUR 84 billion (within the above allocations for less developed, transition, and more developed regions)

 *All figures in constant 2011 prices

The full press release is available here.