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    Spotlight on: Statement by President Barroso following yesterday's Euro Summit 

Top stories
 Statement of clarification from the European Commission concerning Ireland's application for support from the European Globalisation Fund

The EU's European Globalisation Fund is designed to give support to workers who have lost their jobs in certain circumstances.

The EGF works by complementing national measures through co-funding existing schemes and was never intended to be the only tool to help redundant workers.

To encourage a rapid reaction from Member States, EGF spending is eligible for co-financing from the announcement of job losses, up to 24 months later. Normally, spending by governments is expected to start straight away, with reimbursements following from the EGF. 

Ireland applied for support from the European Globalisation Fund (EGF) for redundant Irish construction workers in June 2010. EGF applications demand a breakdown by sector and names of companies which Ireland did not give the Commission in full until the following year – in June 2011. EGF money must also be approved by the European Parliament and Council, which brings us to October 2011.

The Commission regrets that Ireland now has only 7 months left for the period of implementation of the EGF for redundant construction workers. The Commission plans to bring together the 27 national authorities to look at best practice in implementation of the EGF in order to raise standards in this area.

 Parliament votes growth-stimulating budget for 2012

The European Parliament aimed for a 2012 budget for growth, employment and innovation in the Union and for supporting development and democracy in neighbouring countries, when it voted its position on next year's budget on Wednesday.

In general, MEPs sought to restore the draft budget proposed by the Commission, which the Council cut in July. Parliament's position implies an increase in payments of 5.2% as compared to this year's budget, resulting in a budget of €133.1 billion. The budget resolution was adopted with 431 votes in favour, 120 against and 124 abstentions.

A 21-day conciliation period starts in November, with meetings foreseen on 8 and 18 November. Furthermore, there are budget trilogues foreseen on 3, 10 and 14 November. If Parliament and Council can agree, the final budget could be approved at the December I session in Brussels.

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 Statement on main results of Euro Summit

Arriving at yesterday's summit: Silvio Berlusconi, Italian Prime Minister, on the left, Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, 2nd on the right, and José Manuel Barroso, on the rightThe euro is at the core of our European project of peace, stability and prosperity. We agreed today on a comprehensive set of measures to restore confidence and address the current tensions in financial markets. These measures reflect our unwavering determination to overcome together the current difficulties and to take all the necessary steps towards a deeper economic union commensurate with our monetary union.

Today we agreed on the following:

1. An agreement that should secure the decline of the Greek debt to GDP ratio with an objective of reaching 120% by 2020. Euro area Member States will contribute to the PSI package up to 30 bn euro. The nominal discount will be 50% on notional Greek debt held by private investors. A new EU-IMF multiannual programme financing up to 100 bn euro will be put in place by the end of the year. It will be accompanied by a strengthening of the mechanisms for the monitoring of implementation of the reforms.

2. The significant optimisation of the resources of the EFSF, without extending the guarantees underpinning the facility. The options agreed will allow the EFSF resources to be leveraged. The leverage effect of both options will vary, depending on their specific features and market conditions, but could be up to 4 or 5, which is expected to yield around 1 trillion euro (around 1.4 trillion dollar). We call on the Eurogroup to finalise the terms and conditions for the implementation of these modalities in November. In addition, further cooperation with the IMF will be sought to further enhance the EFSF resources.

3. A comprehensive set of measures to raise confidence in the banking sector by (i) facilitating access to term-funding through a coordinated approach at EU level and (ii) the increase in the capital position of banks to 9% of Core Tier 1 by the end of June 2012. National supervisors must ensure that banks' recapitalisation plans do not lead to excess deleveraging.

4. An unequivocal commitment to ensure fiscal discipline and accelerate structural reforms for growth and employment. Particular efforts are being deployed by Spain. New strong commitments on structural reforms have been made by Italy. Portugal and Ireland will continue their reform programmes with the support of our crisis mechanisms.

5. A significant strengthening of economic and fiscal coordination and surveillance. A set of very specific measures, going beyond and above the recently adopted package on economic governance, will be put in place.

6. Ten measures to improve the governance of the Euro area.

7. A mandate to the President of the European Council, in close collaboration with the President of the Commission and the President of the Eurogroup, to identify possible steps to strengthen the economic union, including exploring the possibility of limited Treaty changes. An interim report will be presented in December 2011. A report on how to implement the agreed measures will be finalised by March 2012.

 Education trends 2000-2009

Primary school childAccording to a report on trends in education over the last decade, published earlier this week by Eurostat, Ireland recorded one of the largest falls in pupil-teacher ratio in the EU between 2000 and 2009. The average number of pupils per teacher in 2000 in Ireland was 21.5 (the highest in the EU where the average was 14.8 in 2000) but by 2009 it had fallen to 15.9. However, this is still above the EU average of 14.5 in 2009.

Pupil-teacher ratios in the EU in 2009 ranged from around 10 pupils on average per teacher in Malta, Lithuania, Denmark and Poland to nearly 20 pupils per teacher in France and the United Kingdom.

The report also shows that fewer Irish childre from 4 years old to the starting age of compulsory education participated in early childhood (pre-primary) education than the EU average (73% compared to an EU average of 92%).

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 Ireland has highest share of children living with one parent: Eurostat report on living arrangements in the EU27

Mother with childAccording to Eurostat figures released today, Ireland (along with Latvia) had the highest share of children aged less than 18 years living with one parent in 2008. In Ireland 23.2% of children lived with one parent compared to an EU average of 13.6%. Children born in Greece (4.8%) were least likely to live with one parent.

The report also shows that fewer Irish children live with married or cohabiting parents: 67.8% of Irish children live with married parents compared to an EU average of 73.8% and 7.4% live with cohabiting parents compared to an EU average of 11.5%. Living with married parents was most common for children in Greece (91.8%) and Cyprus (89%) and least common for children in Estonia (54%) and Sweden (54.4%). To live with cohabiting parents was most common in Sweden (27.3%) and least common in Cyprus (0.8%) and Greece (2.1%).

The number of children living without parents in Ireland is 1.6% compared to an EU average of 1.2%. Bulgaria (3.2%) had the highest numbers of children living without parents and Luxembourg the lowest (0.2%). Children living without parents are those who live with no adult who can be considered as a parent.

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 European Commission seeks stronger EU response to fight dangerous new synthetic drugs

Pills with syringeThe European Commission earlier this week announced an overhaul of the EU rules to fight illicit drugs, particularly new psychoactive substances, which imitate the effects of dangerous drugs like ecstasy or cocaine and are a growing problem. The percentage of young people claiming to have used these drugs is highest in Ireland at 16% (the EU average is 5%).

In the next two years, the Commission will present:

  • a drugs legislative package, proposing the revision of the Framework Decision on drug trafficking and of the Council Decision on new psychoactive substances;
  • legislative proposals on drug precursors;
  • legislative proposals on fighting organised crime, including drug trafficking, through confiscation and asset recovery, and new measures against money laundering;
  • indicators to monitor drug supply, drug-related crime and drug-supply reduction to help improve the effectiveness of supply-reduction interventions;
  • minimum quality standards to improve drug prevention, treatment and harm-reduction services.
 Taxation: Commission refers Ireland to Court of Justice over fuel excise duty exemption

The Commission has decided to refer Ireland to the EU's Court of Justice for failing to correctly implement EU rules on excise duties on fuel. Until the end of 2006, Ireland was allowed to apply an exemption on fuel used by disabled people for their motor vehicles. At the end of 2006 this derogatory regime came to an end. However, Ireland continued applying this exemption. The Commission formally asked Ireland to rapidly remedy this breach of EU law in September 2008. Although the Irish authorities informed the Commission in January 2009 that they would bring their law into line with EU rules, they still have not done so.

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News in brief
 EU 'Smart Borders': Commission wants easier access and enhanced security

Passport controlThe EU needs a more modern and efficient management of traveller flows at its external borders. Today the European Commission adopted a Communication which sets out the main options for using new technologies to simplify life for foreigners frequently travelling to the EU and to better monitor third-country nationals crossing the borders. Every year more than 700 million EU citizens and third country nationals cross the EU's external borders. This number is expected to rise significantly in the future.

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 Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn addresses IBM Colloquium on Science of Cities

Commissioner Geoghegan-QuinnAs Dublin prepares for its role as City of Science 2012, European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, spoke this morning at IBM, Mulhuddart, Co Dublin as keynote speaker for IBM's Science of Cities Colloquium.

The title of the Commissioner's speech was "The role of research and innovation in building the smart cities of the future".

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 Food Safety : Report documents growing importance of the EU's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed

Food: fruit and vegetablesThe European Union's system for quick exchange of information on risks linked to food and feed - an invaluable tool especially at times of crisis - has further grown in importance during 2010, the system's annual report reveals. The 2010 annual report of the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), notes that the number of notifications in RASFF rose to 8582 last year. This is a record number and constitutes an increase of 8% compared to 2009, when the number of notifications was slightly under 8000. This growth in notifications, taking place for the third consecutive year, is largely down to rejections of consignments at EU borders in the light of the strengthening of border controls as regards food of non-animal origin.

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 Galileo: Europe launches its first satellites for smart navigation system

GalileoThe first two satellites of the EU's own global navigation system, Galileo, were launched on 20 October 2011.

The aim of Galileo is to provide accurate and guaranteed positioning for all types of civilian applications including car navigators, mobile phones, maritime, road, rail and air transport. The fully deployed system will consist of 30 satellites and the associated ground infrastructure.

 European Union joins the effort to assist survivors of earthquake in Turkey

The European Union has responded immediately to requests for assistance from Turkey with six Member States offering hundreds of tents to the region struck by an earthquake. The European Commission is coordinating the provision of European assistance to Turkey after the Turkish authorities requested the activation of the European Civil Protection Mechanism last night. Turkey has called on Europe to join the relief effort by providing family tents to help shelter the survivors of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck eastern Turkey on Sunday.

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Today (Thursday) 27 October: Seminar on Informed Public participation in Marine Resource Protection and Management, European Union House, Dublin

Today (Thursday) – Friday, 28 October: Justice and Home Affairs Council, Luxembourg

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

Tuesday 1 to Friday 25 November: Exhibition: "Sboryanovo - Nature and Monuments: Gods and People",  European Union House, Dublin (photo-exhibition depicting ancient archaeological monuments in the Sborianovo Complex in Bulgaria)

Thursday, November 3 – Friday, November 5: The EU at the G-20 summit, Cannes, France

Thursday, 3 December: Governing Council of the European Central Bank, Frankfurt

Friday 4 November: Talk on Safe Online Shopping at Waterford Europe Direct Centre

Wednesday 9 November: Talk on Safe Online Shopping at Thurles Europe Direct Centre

Monday 14 November: Information session on Marie Curie funding for Industry / Academic Partnerships, European Union House, Dublin

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

Public consultations
 Public consultation to protect EU businesses against scams and unfair practices

Small businesses around Europe are being harmed by rogue traders who use unfair practices, such as misleading advertising. The fraudsters hide behind national borders and exploit the vulnerability of companies – especially the small ones – when doing business in other EU countries. The 23 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the EU represent 99% of EU businesses and are especially vulnerable to scams. However, sometimes even large EU companies get trapped by fraudulent schemes.

To better protect them, the European Commission is launching a public consultation to gather more information from companies and others affected on the nature and scale of the unfair practices, including online scams. Following the consultation, the Commission will present in the first half of 2012 options for future EU action, which may include legislative changes.

Interested parties can submit their views here:

The public consultation will run until 16 December 2011.

Spotlight on: Statement by President Barroso following yesterday's Euro Summit
 Statement by President Barroso at the press conference following the meeting of the Heads of State or Government of the euro area

President Barroso speaking at this morning's press point"Good morning, ladies and gentlemen,

When I presented the Commission's Roadmap for Stability and Growth two weeks ago – calling for action in five essential areas – I made it very clear that Europe needed to deliver a comprehensive response to the sovereign debt crisis. And I believe that now we have a very solid way forward.

Indeed, on all five points of this Roadmap, Europe has taken important steps forward. Let me briefly outline these.

First, on Greece. Our overriding objective is to bring the country’s debt back to sustainable levels. And that is essential not only for Greece, but for the European Union as a whole. Tonight opens the door to an appropriate degree of voluntary involvement of private sector investors, which will allow work to proceed on a second financial assistance programme for Greece. We are determined to conclude this by the end of this year.

The Euro Summit has asked the Commission to play an even more active role in monitoring the implementation of this second programme. Greece must continue with its structural reforms and fiscal consolidation measures in order to transform its capacity to generate growth.

Second, we have agreed to endorse two options for leveraging the EFSF. Together, these will allow us to more effectively prevent contagion. I have long insisted on the necessity to equip the EFSF with adequate flexibility and resources, so I am particularly pleased with this decision.

Third, we are also pleased that all Member States of the European Union agreed a series of measures to restore confidence in the banking sector.

These measures address both capital and funding. Let me emphasise that our goal is to ensure banks maintain lending to the real economy. National supervisory authorities must work to make this happen, namely with the European Banking Authority (EBA). Tonight’s conclusions also make clear that "banks should be subject to constraints regarding the distribution of dividends and bonus payments” until recapitalisation is complete. Because increased responsibility and a fair contribution of the financial sector is also central to our approach.

Fourth, as you know these are exceptional measures for exceptional times. Europe must never again find itself in this situation. That is why we must further improve our economic governance, namely in the euro area. Tonight’s Euro Summit paves the way to a further strengthening of coordination and surveillance. The Commission’s central role here is reinforced. We are already working on concrete ideas that go beyond the recently agreed six pack, so the recently approved legislation and we will be presenting these in the very near future.

Lastly, we also addressed the issues of stability and growth. We discussed growth on Sunday, so I will not repeat, but just want to underline it: this is also about growth. We need to have fiscal discipline, but at the same time we need to show to our citizens that there is hope, that we can restore growth through deepening our internal market, through structural reforms, but also countries need to pursue efforts in terms of stability. That is why we particularly welcomed the announcements made by Italy.

To conclude, the package we have agreed tonight is a comprehensive package that confirms that Europe will do what it takes to safeguard financial stability. I have said it before and I will say it again: this is a marathon, not a sprint. The technical work needed to finalise certain aspects of this package will be completed by the relevant authorities in the coming weeks. And the Commission will make further proposals for a Community way out of this crisis.

Next week, we will be able to show our partners in the G20 that Europe is able to do that: an agreement to conclude measures to restore confidence in the European banking sector; ensuring the adequate firewalls; accelerating our ambitious agenda for growth; and further strengthening economic surveillance and coordination. To show are partners and our citizens that we are ready to complete our monetary union with a true economic union.

Thank you."

Address by President Barroso to the European Parliament on the conclusions of the European Council of 23 and 26 October 2011:

Euro Summit statement:

Remarks by President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, following the meeting of the Euro Summit: