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Top stories
 Statement by the Heads of State or Government of the Euro Area and EU Institutions

Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission at last night's press conferenceWe reaffirm our commitment to the euro and to do whatever is needed to ensure the financial stability of the euro area as a whole and its Member States. We also reaffirm our determination to reinforce convergence, competitiveness and governance in the euro area. Since the beginning of the sovereign debt crisis, important measures have been taken to stabilise the euro area, reform the rules and develop new stabilisation tools. The recovery in the euro area is well on track and the euro is based on sound economic fundamentals. But the challenges at hand have shown the need for more far reaching measures.

 Commission temporarily approves rescue aid for merged entity Educational Building Society/Allied Irish Banks

The European Commission has granted temporary approval, under EU state aid rules, to a recapitalisation worth up to €13.1 billion of AIB/EBS, an entity resulting from the merger of Allied Irish banks plc and Educational Building Society, by the Irish authorities.

In particular, the Commission found the measure to be necessary to increase the bank's solvency ratios, to enable it to resist stress situations, and to preserve stability on the Irish financial markets. The Commission will take a final decision on aid to AIB/EBS based on the new restructuring plan that Ireland committed to submit in due course to take account of this additional state support.

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 Commission wants stronger and more responsible banks in Europe

Internal Market Commissioner Michel BarnierThe European Commission yesterday brought forward proposals to change the behaviour of the 8000 banks that operate in Europe The overarching goal of this proposal is to strengthen the resilience of the EU banking sector while ensuring that banks continue to finance economic activity and growth. The Commission's proposals have three concrete goals.

  • The proposal will require banks to hold more and better capital to resist future shocks by themselves.
  • The Commission also wants to set up a new governance framework giving supervisors new powers to monitor banks more closely and take action through possible sanctions when they spot risks, for example to reduce credit when it looks like it's growing into a bubble.
  • By putting together all legislation applicable on this matter, the Commission proposes to have a Single Rule Book for banking regulation. This will improve both transparency and enforcement.
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 Up to 100,000 Irish people have no bank account

Writing a chequeThis week the European Commission said that it wants access to a basic, affordable bank account for every citizen. In Ireland, up to 100,000 people over 21 do not have access to even a basic bank payment account. Across the EU, about 30 million people have no bank account. The Commission estimates that about one-fifth of those without a bank account have requested one but were refused.

Without a bank account, it is now becoming extremely difficult for people to receive income or benefits, to pay bills or to buy certain goods and services. The Commission wants everyone to have access to at least a payment account at a reasonable charge, regardless of their country of residence or their financial circumstances.

 Only one Irish project to benefit from new LIFE+ funding

Old tyreOnly one Irish project is to receive a grant under the latest round of LIFE+ funding, the EU's environment fund. The Depotec project submitted by Erneside Engineering Ltd in Cork will receive over €1.5 million towards the design, planning and construction of a demonstration ‘ZeroWaste’ plant for the depolymerisation of end-of-life tyres. This plant will be self sustained, and new products will be created from waste with minimal energy consumption. For more about this project, click here (page 35).

In total the Commission received 748 applications in response to its last call for proposals, which closed in September 2010. Of these, 183 were selected for co-funding through the programme’s three components: LIFE+ Nature and Biodiversity, LIFE+ Environment Policy and Governance and LIFE+ Information and Communication. Fifty-five of these projects involve partners from more than one Member State. Overall, they represent a total investment of some €530 million, of which the EU will provide €244 million.

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 New EU rules to strengthen toy safety

Toy trainThere will be no more places for defective and dangerous toys in the EU market. As from yesterday (Wednesday), new EU rules for toys are in force which meet the highest safety requirements worldwide. With the entry into force of the new Toys Directive all actors involved in the production, selling and control of toys on the EU market will have greater responsibility to better protect children.

Firstly, Member States will have to ensure that market surveillance authorities perform adequate checks both at the EU's external borders and within the Union itself. This also includes on-the-spot visits to business premises and the immediate confiscation of dangerous toys.

Secondly, toy manufacturers, importers and distributors will now be obliged to carry out a safety assessment before putting a new toy on the market. They will also have to ensure traceability of the toy by indicating the name, address and number of the item.

Click here mp3 - 79 KB [79 KB] to listen to Ruth Deasy explain more.

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 Statement of Commissioners Barnier and Rehn following the publication of the results of the 2011 exercise of stress tests

"The repair of the EU banking sector is an important element of a comprehensive response to the current crisis. That is why we welcome the publication of the results of the EU wide stress test as they represent another step in this process of repair.

"The results highlight that the great majority of European banks are now much stronger and better able to resist shocks. In anticipation of the test, many banks have already taken actions to strengthen the resilience of their balance sheet though private sector measures and government financial aid.

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News in brief
 Road transport: new tachograph rules will save companies more than €500 million per year

Traffic on motorwayThe European Commission this week proposed to revise the tachograph legislation to make full use of new technological opportunities such as satellite positioning. This will make fraud more difficult and reduce the administrative burden, which is expected to save companies €515 million per year. By ensuring better compliance with rules on driving times and rest periods, drivers will be better protected, road safety increased and fair competition assured. Six million European trucks and busses are equipped with tachographs which make it possible to control the compliance of professional drivers and transport companies with road transport legislation.

 Nuclear waste: Commission welcomes adoption of radioactive waste directive

Nuclear power plantThis week, the European Council adopted the "radioactive waste and spent fuel management directive", proposed by the Commission on 3rd November 2010. With this adoption, the Directive will enter into force at the latest in September of this year, and Member States have to submit the first national programmes in 2015.

All EU Member States produce radioactive waste, generated by numerous activities, such as electricity production, medicine, research, industry and agriculture. 14 out of 27 Member States have nuclear reactors which also generate spent fuel.

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 Freedom of movement for dogs from 1 January 2012 subject to treatment for tapeworm

Fox terrierThe Commission last week adopted a regulation permitting, as from 1 January 2012, a pre-movement treatment for dogs travelling to the four Member States (Ireland, Finland, United Kingdom and Malta) which have been listed as echinococcus (tapeworm) free. Any dog travelling to one of these four countries as from 1 January 2012 will need to receive a specific treatment administered by a vet. The details of the treatment should then be added by the vet to the pet's passport and the owner can travel with his pet from 24 hours to five days (120 hours) after treatment.

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Details of all EU-related events happening in Ireland, or of interest to Ireland but happening elsewhere, as well as European institutional events and other EU-agenda activities can be found on

 – Friday 29 July: ‘24/7’ photo exhibition on the Samaritans' work in Ireland, Dublin

24 July 2011 to 15 March 2012: Irish Successes Abroad exhibition travels around Ireland

Thursday 28 to Friday 29 July: Informal Meeting of Ministers of State for European Affairs, Sopot, Poland

Thursday, 4 August: Governing Council of the European Central Bank, Frankfurt

Public consultations
 Public consultation on access to, and preservation of, digital scientific information

A public consultation on access to, and preservation of, digital scientific information was launched on 15 July by the European Commission on the initiative of European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes and Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.

European researchers, engineers and entrepreneurs must have easy and fast access to scientific information, to compete on an equal footing with their counterparts across the world. However, a number of challenges remain, such as high and rising subscription prices to scientific publications, an ever-growing volume of scientific data, and the need to select, curate and preserve research outputs. Open access, defined as free access to scholarly content over the Internet, can help address this.

Scientists, research funding organisations, universities, and other interested parties are invited to send their contributions on how to improve access to scientific information.

The consultation will run until 9 September 2011.

 European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) photo contest

Promotional image for the CompetitionGoing on holiday this summer to another EU country? Make it a safe and easy one!

Taking your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you on holiday can save you time, hassle and money if you fall ill or suffer an injury while abroad.

Enjoy your holidays and share with us photos featuring European Health Insurance Card in holiday/travel situations. You can win a fantastic trip to Mallorca!

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) photo contest runs from 14 July to 31 August 2011.

 EU Health Prize for Journalists: Deadline fast approaching

The deadline for submitting entries to the EU Health Prize for Journalists is Sunday 24 July. This prize targets health journalists from across the EU with the aim of raising awareness on health issues.

As with the previous two prizes, the theme of this year's prize is 'Europe for Patients', which from this year, includes the topic of pharmaceuticals.

The winners will receive cash prizes of €6,000 for first place, €2,500 for second place and €1,500 for third place. New this year is a special prize of €3,000 that will be awarded for an article that highlights the health dangers of tobacco.

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Calls for tender/proposals
 Fifth call for proposals for European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grants

The European Research Council (ERC) has opened its fifth call for proposals for the "ERC Starting Grants", targeted at early-career top researchers of any nationality, working - or moving to work - in host institutions in Europe. Open to all fields of research, including Social Sciences and Humanities, it will help emerging talent to pursue innovative ideas at the frontiers of knowledge. The total budget for this call amounts to €730 million, which is an increase of just over 10% from last year. The call will fund 500 to 600 talented researchers.

Proposals have to be submitted via a Host Institution (university, public or private research centre), based in one of the 27 EU Members State or one of the 13 countries associated to the seventh EU Framework Programme for Research. The selection of proposals is performed by highly recognised international peer review panels, including scientists from all over the world. Last year, the success rate of Starting Grants proposals was around 15%.

The three domain deadlines:
Physical Sciences and Engineering: 12 October 2011
Life Sciences: 9 November 2011
Social Sciences and Humanities: 24 November 2011

Spotlight on:
 €7 billion boost for research and innovation will create jobs and growth

Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn speaking at the launch of the €7 bn research funding packageCommissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn this week announced nearly €7 billion to kick-start innovation through research. The European Commission's biggest ever such funding package, under the EU's Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7), is expected to create around 174 000 jobs in the short-term and nearly 450 000 jobs and nearly €80 billion in GDP growth over 15 years. EU research funding is at the top of the political agenda and has now been placed at the centre of a coherent innovation strategy, the Innovation Union (IP/10/1288, MEMO/10/473), which Europe needs if it is to compete with large, dynamic countries like the US and China.

Grants will promote research to tackle the biggest societal challenges facing Europe and the world. Universities, research organisations and industry will be among more than 16.000 funding recipients. Special attention will be given to SMEs, including a package close to €1 billion. There will also be a new EU Prize for Women Innovators whose work has been funded by FP7 or earlier programmes.  The majority of the "calls for proposals" (invitations to bid for funds) will be published on 20 July.

"Today, Europe is again showing its commitment to putting research and innovation at the top of the political agenda for growth and jobs. EU-wide competition for these funds will bring Europe's best researchers and innovators together to tackle the biggest issues of our time, such as energy, food security, climate change and our ageing population. The Commission is proposing a significant increase in research and innovation funding for our Horizon 2020 programme post-2013 and I want to show taxpayers already with the calls we are announcing today our determination to get the best value for every euro," said Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn.

Details on the grants

The main focus of the calls is the integration of research with innovation to tackle societal challenges and create sustainable jobs and growth by giving Europe a lead in the key technology markets of the future.

This will be achieved by providing more support than ever before for activities that help bridge the gap between research and the market, for example by demonstrating that new technologies have commercial potential or can work on a sufficiently large scale to be industrially viable. This market-linked approach is also central to the European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs), set up under the Innovation Union action plan. Each EIP, including the pilot on Active and Healthy Ageing will be supported by FP7 projects.

In all, €220 million of the €656 million available for health research and €240 million of the €1.3 billion in funding for information and communication technology (ICT) will be allocated to work aimed at tackling the challenge of providing for an ageing population.
The rest of the ICT funding will go to key developments in network and service infrastructures, in nano-/micro-systems, photonics and robotics, in digital content and language technologies and for applications such as ICT for health and ICT for energy-efficiency.
The European Research Council (ERC) will award close to €1.6 billion to the best senior and young researchers working in Europe.  To help bridge the gap between frontier research results and commercialisation, a small scale “Proof of Concept” initiative has been introduced.  Another initiative is the new 'ERC Synergy Grant' to support a few small groups of researchers working together on the same project.

Around €900 million in support for researchers' mobility and careers will be provided through 'Marie Curie Actions' for around 10,000 highly-qualified researchers.  This will include €20 million for a pilot project to fund "European Industrial Doctorates", to stimulate entrepreneurship and cooperation between universities, research institutions and companies.

The €265 million reserved for environment research will help address major challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss or resource efficiency. 

In response to the increasing demand for safer, healthier food and sustainable bio-resources, the European Commission will invest over €307 million in building a strong bio-economy that will improve production methods, create new industries and provide jobs.
Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME), recognised as vital for innovation, are given special incentives to participate. In addition to newly simplified rules, the investment package of almost €1 billion for SMEs includes pilot schemes both within the Health theme and through the European Investment Bank’s 'Risk-Sharing Finance Facility for SMEs.'

€488 million for nanotechnologies will focus on areas such as factories of the future, green cars and energy efficient buildings. 
Research and innovation for cleaner, safer and more efficient transport and mobility will get €313 million.

Finally, the Commission sets aside €40 million for the "Smart Cities initiative" to help find more efficient ways to use energy and provide urban transport. 

FP7 is the largest research funding programme in the world with a budget of more than €53 billion for 2007-2013. Member States have put research and innovation at the top of the European political agenda, by adopting the Europe 2020 strategy and endorsing the Innovation Union in February this year, making it the cornerstone of plans for investment in sustainable growth and jobs.

See also MEMO/11/520and MEMO/11/521(FAQ)
Innovation Union:
Europe 2020
Digital Agenda:
Press conference: the vídeo can be watched online at: