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04/04/2013

Top stories
 Galway to host debate on the future of Europe

Vice President Reding speaking to the Dublin Citizens Dialogue last JanuaryA number of Connaught residents were amongst the audience of 200 citizens gathered in Dublin City Hall on 10 January last for the launch of the European Year of Citizens 2013 with the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso. The launch was followed by a Citizens’ Dialogue: an open and frank discussion between audience members and Vice-President of the European Commission, Viviane Reding and Minister of State for European Affairs, Lucinda Creighton TD. 

Following on from the enormous success of this Citizens’ Dialogue and the huge interest in this event; independent, not-for-profit organisation, European Movement Ireland are organising a series of Regional Dialogues to take place around the country over the coming months.  On Monday 8 April, one of these Dialogues will take place at lunchtime in Galway County Hall.

Taking place in association with the current Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU and as part of the European Year of Citizens 2013, this event will aim to offer people in the west of Ireland the opportunity to engage in this Presidency through a broad debate of a truly European dimension with a number of international and national experts. 

This Regional Dialogue will feature an introduction and welcome from Mayor of the County of Galway, Councillor Thomas Welby.  Following short presentations from the Minister of State for European Affairs, Lucinda Creighton TD; the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Ireland, HE Tomáš Kafka; and President of Galway Chamber of Commerce and Managing Director of the Galway Independent, Declan Dooley, the floor will then be open to members of the audience to ask questions, raise topics of discussion and voice their issues.  This event will be moderated by EM Ireland Executive Director, Noelle O Connell.

 
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 'A throw away economy cannot be competitive’

EU Environment Commissioner Janez PotočnikEnvironment Commissioner Janez Potočnik addressed a UN Environmental Programme roundtable on the "Green Economy: from labour to resource productivity"in Paris today (Thursday). During his address, the Commissioner made the case for growth through resource efficiency. He said: "Over the last decades, economic growth in Europe has been slower and slower with each new decade. It was 5.4% in the 1960s. It decreased to 3.8% in the 1970s, 3.1% in the 1980s, 2.3% in the 1990s. The decade 2000 to 2010 saw an economic growth of only 1.4% in Europe. Our resource challenge, and our demographic challenge, are not going to be solved with a quick fix. New growth can only come from new ideas, and resource efficiency adds an essential element to this equation."

The Commissioner also pointed out that: “During the 20th century the world population grew four times, its economic output 40 times. We increased our fossil fuel use 16 fold, our fishing catches by a factor of 35 and our water use 9 fold. It was called the “great acceleration”, but this can't go on and I am afraid that we might hit the wall soon.

This resource-intensive growth was not enough to deal with appalling poverty in many parts of the world, and is not sustainable enough to ensure economic prosperity and well-being in the future.

Looking forward, the 'business as usual' scenario tells us that we will need three times more resources by 2050. But already 60 % of the world’s major ecosystems on which these resources depend are degraded or are used unsustainably. So "Business as usual" is not an option. I for one cannot imagine that the world can support nine billion people consuming as Europeans do just now without serious problems resulting."

 
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 EU still the world’s leading aid donor but overall aid spending down in 2012

Aid workre distributing EU aid to refugees in The YemenThe EU and its member countries spent €55.1bn on development aid in 2012. With this amount the EU continues to be the world’s largest donor of development aid, as new figures released yesterday (Wednesday) by the OECD show. However, aid figures are dropping. EU collective development aid decreased from 0.45% to 0.43% of EU gross national income (GNI). The goal had been to reach 0.7% of GNI by 2015.

Because of the economic crisis and the resulting budgetary restraints, development aid fell in 16 of the 27 EU member countries in 2012. Ireland was one of them: it decreased its development aid in 2012 from €657m (or 0.51 of GNI) in 2011 to €629m (or 0.48% of GNI) in 2012. Overall Ireland’s spending on development has been on a downward slide since 2008 when it peaked at €921m or 0.59% of GNI.

Only 4 countries managed to increase their aid in 2012 and 7 maintained their levels of aid. As of now only four EU Member States exceed the 0.7% ODA/ GNI mark (Denmark, Luxembourg, Sweden, the Netherlands) with Luxembourg in top place having reached 1% in 2012.

 
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 Road Safety: EU transport chief calls on Ireland to lead the fight to cut serious road injuries

Vice President Siim KallasSpeaking in Dublin Castle last Thursday at the EU Presidency Road Safety Conference, EU Transport Commissioner Vice President Siim Kallas, called on Ireland to lead the fight to drive down serious injuries on Europe's roads.

European Commission Vice President Siim Kallas said: "Ireland's success in reducing road deaths is impressive, it now ranks amongst the top 5 safest countries in the EU for fatal collisions.  But even one road death is a death too many.  And fatal road accidents are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to road safety.  For every death on Europe's roads there are 10 serious injuries such as damage to the brain or spinal cord. Quite apart from the human tragedy of road accidents for those who are sadly involved and their families and loved ones, the economic cost to society is estimated at €250 billion. That's too high a price to pay.  The next major battle is to drive down the unacceptably high numbers of serious road injuries. We need Ireland, and other EU countries who are leaders in road safety, to play a pioneering role in this area." 

Road deaths in Ireland have fallen by 12% a year for two years in a row, which is significantly higher than the EU average.  Since 2011, Ireland ranks among the top five EU countries which reported the lowest number of road deaths last year. 

Europe's Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020 sets out a comprehensive mix of initiatives targeting driver behaviour, car design and infrastructure. It aims to cut road deaths by half by 2020. The EU strategy is delivering impressive results. The latest figures showed a 9% decrease in road deaths last year, compared to 2011. This represents the lowest number of EU road deaths recorded since records started to be kept in the 1960s. Currently however, there is no EU-wide target, or focused strategy, for the reduction of serious injuries. Only a few EU countries such as Austria and the Netherlands have specific serious injury targets in place.

 
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News in brief
 How do Irish people feel about research!

The European Commisson has just published a series of short online videos featuring people from all over Europe giving their views on:

  • How they see research and innovation making a difference for a better future;
  • What in their experience are the benefits of participating in EU research projects;
  • What is needed to exit the crisis and help Europe's economy to grow; and
  • What are their main concerns for the future.

This includes 22 videos from Irish people involved in research, education and industry as well as Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn. To view the videos just click on this link, then click on "search" (righthand of page) and select Ireland from the dropdown country menu.

 
 
 Statement on Cyprus by Olli Rehn European Commission Vice-President and Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF (3 April)

The Cypriot authorities have put forward a multi-annual reform programme to address the economic challenges facing the country. Its goals are to stabilize the financial system and achieve fiscal sustainability in order to lay the foundations for a recovery of economic activity and the growth potential that will preserve the longer-term prosperity of the population.

 
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 Statement by the European Commission on the capital controls imposed by the Republic of Cyprus (28 March)

The Commission takes note of temporary restrictions on the free movement of capital, including capital controls, imposed by the Republic of Cyprus as part of a series of measures to prevent the significant risk of uncontrollable outflow of deposits which would lead to the collapse of the credit institutions and to the immediate risk of complete destabilisation of the financial system of Cyprus.

As guardian of the Treaties and to safeguard the integrity of the single market, the Commission made a preliminary assessment of the Cypriot law and relevant decree under the rules on the free movement of capital set out in Articles 63 et seq. of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Member States may introduce restrictions on capital movement, including capital controls, in certain circumstances and under strict conditions on grounds of public policy or public security. In accordance with the case law of the European Court of Justice, measures may also be introduced for overriding reasons of general public interest.

 
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 EU to observe elections in Pakistan

The European Union, in response to an invitation by the Pakistani authorities, is deploying an election observation mission to observe the General Elections of 11 May.

Shortly after Election Day, the mission will issue a preliminary statement of its initial findings at a press conference in Islamabad. The mission will remain in Pakistan to observe the final counting of votes and any complaint procedures, and to prepare a full report including recommendations to improve the electoral process.

 
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 Euro area unemployment rate stable at 12.0% in February 2013

According to figures released this week by Eurostat, the euro area seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 12.0% in February 2013, stable compared with January but up from 10.9% in February 2012. The EU27 unemployment rate was 10.9%, up from 10.8% in January 2013 and up from 10.2% in February 2012.

Among the Member States, the lowest unemployment rates were recorded in Austria (4.8%), Germany (5.4%), Luxembourg (5.5%) and the Netherlands (6.2%), and the highest in Greece (26.4% in December 2012), Spain (26.3%) and Portugal (17.5%). Ireland had the fifth highest unemployment rate at 14.2% down from 15.1% in February 2012.

 
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Agenda
 Agenda

To December 2013: Exhibition: EU-Ireland at 40: Looking back over 40 years, EU House, Dublin 2 and venues around the country

To Friday 5 April: Exhibition - A European Canvas (exhibition of paintings celebrating Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of the EU by the lin Painting and Sketching Club), EU House, Dublin

Thursday 11 April at 9 a.m.: Address by Portugal's Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar on: "Adjusting in the euro area: the Portuguese case", Thomas Davis Theatre, Room 2043, Ground Floor Arts Building, Trinity College Dublin

Friday 12 to Saturday 13 April: Eurogroup meeting, Dublin Castle

Friday 12 to Saturday 13 April: Informal Meeting of ECOFIN Ministers, Dublin Castle

Friday 12 April: Screening of the film "A DARING GAME - Un gioco ardito: Twelve variations of the theme of Domenico Scarlatti", EU House, Dublin

Monday 15 to Thursday 18 April: European Parliament Plenary Session, Strasbourg

Thursday 18 April: "Euro Crisis Roundtable", Trinity Long Room Hub, TCD

Wednesday 24 April: Public lecture - "EU enlargement in Central and Eastern Europe: Happy Ever After?" by Dr Vera Sheridan and Dr Sabina Stan (DCU), Trinity Long Room Hub, TCD

Monday 29 and Tuesday 30 April: Conference: Fostering Innovation and Strengthening Synergies within the EU, TCD, Dublin

 
 
 
 
 
Public consultations
 Public consultation on how best to design a new international agreement to combat climate change

The European Commission this week adopted a consultative paper that launches a public debate on how best to design a new international agreement to combat climate change. The Consultative Communication raises key questions and invites the views of stakeholders on the new agreement, which is to be completed by the end of 2015 and to apply from 2020.

The Consultative Communication invites input from stakeholders, Member States and EU institutions on how best to design the 2015 agreement, which will lay down the international regime for fighting climate change post 2020.

The public consultation runs online until 26 June 2013. A stakeholder conference will be held on 17 April in Brussels.

 
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 Public consultation on conflict minerals

The European Commission has just launched a public consultation on so-called 'conflict minerals'.

The aim of the consultation is get interested parties' views on a potential EU initiative for responsible sourcing of minerals coming from conflict zones and high-risk areas – for example, war zones, post-war zones, and areas vulnerable to political instability or civil unrest. The Commission wants to deepen its understanding of issues such as the sourcing and security of supply of minerals, supply chain transparency and good governance.

The Commission will use the results to help it decide whether and how, in a reasonable and effective manner, to complement and to continue on-going due diligence initiatives and support for good governance in mineral mining, especially in developing countries affected by conflict.

The consultation is open until 26 June 2013.

 
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Calls to Tender
 Call for tenders for European Economic Policy seminars in Ireland

The European Commission Representation in Ireland has today (Wednesday) issued a call for tenders for 3 Regional Seminars on European Economic Policy to take place in Ireland during the second half 2013.

The estimated maximum budget attributed to this project is €18,000 (excl. VAT).

If you are interested in this tender, please ask for the tender documents by sending an email to COMM-IE-TENDERS@ec.europa.eu before 30 April 2013.

 
 
 Call for Proposals for innovative low-carbon technologies

The European Commission this week launched the second call for proposals under the NER300 programme.

This major funding programme promotes the commercial demonstration of environmentally safe carbon capture and geological storage (CCS) and innovative renewable energy (RES) technologies. It is a key instrument to combat climate change and spur green growth and jobs in the energy sector.

Member States have three months to gather proposals for funding from interested companies and submit them to the European Investment Bank.

 
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Spotlight on: Eurotrip 2013
 TalkToEU.ie Citizen X Challenge

Three teams are about to put the EU to the test

This year's Talktoeu Eurotrip teams: 1. Paul Tracey, Sarah Kearns. Team 2. Alexandra Webb, Ailbhe Kelly. Team 3 James Mitchell, Aaron O ConnorCounty Clare duo Alexandra Webb and Ailbhe Kelly and  Co.Limerick natives Sarah Kearns and Paul Tracey, and Meath and Dublin pairing James Mitchell and Aaron O'Connor are this year's participants in the “Talk To EU” Eurotrip Citizen X Challenge. Picked from a national competition, followed by an online public vote, the successful pairings had to demonstrate top notch social media skills and a can-do/no-fear attitude which will come in handy for dashing across the EU.

The teams will race across five EU cities/towns in just six days, and as if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, they will also need to complete five tasks during their trek. Each of the tasks is designed to test EU policy around citizenship as part of the 2013 European Year of Citizens - which could include anything from finding a job to getting hold of information about the EU rights of Irish citizens.

In an added twist this year, we're asking the public, via Facebook, how they'd like each task to be undertaken.

Team One, Sarah and Paul, and Team Two Alexandra and Ailbhe, will take on Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, Frankfurt, and Brussels, while Team Three, James and Aaron, will take a more local route that will see them travel from Belfast, to Newry, Dundalk, Athenry, Dublin and finally Brussels to show that the rights Irish people have locally apply in both Ireland/Northern Ireland as well as mainland Europe.

The three teams will share their findings along the way online, with daily tweeting, facebooking and youtubing, talking about the places they visit, the people they meet and how they tackled the challenges they were given. They'll be tracked on live maps as they trek across the EU so you can keep tabs on what they get up to in real time.

The participants - and their followers online - will get practical insights on what it means to be an EU citizen and what rights EU citizens have.  It will show that although despite being made up of numerous different cultures and nations, the EU offers a whole host of opportunities to young Irish people.

Eurotrip Citizen X is organised as part of the "Talk to EU" public information initiative funded by the European Commission. It is designed to communicate the benefits of EU membership to young Irish people.

The trip kicks off in Budapest and Belfast on April 8th and finishes in Brussels on April 12th.

More information: http://www.talktoeu.ie/eurotrip

 
 
 
 
 
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