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Top stories
 Irish car prices show third biggest drop in eurozone

Row of new carsThe European Commission’s latest car price report shows that real car prices (price change set against inflation) in Ireland fell by 5.7% in 2010. This is the third biggest drop in the eurozone and well above the -1.5% eurozone average. Car prices fell in almost every EU country in 2010.

Taking all EU countries together, the average drop in car prices is 2.5% in real terms in 2010. List prices for new cars also converged slightly. These long-term price trends support the Commission's decision last year that specific competition rules for the sale of new cars are no longer justified.

 Humanitarian Aid: new funding for famine and drought victims in the Horn of Africa

Commissioner Georgieva holding hands with a child in the Dadaab refugee campEU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva has just returned from a visit to Kenya and Somalia, where she announced new aid funding for famine and drought victims in the Horn of Africa.

The Commission is making an immediate allocation of 27.8 million euros, which comes on top of the 70 million euros already given to the region this year, in response to the worsening humanitarian situation in the region.

Kristalina Georgieva visited the Dadaab refugee camp where she met families driven from Somalia by decades of conflict and the worst drought in 60 years. She also travelled to Doolow, Somalia on Sunday, where she met with internally displaced people and visited humanitarian aid projects. Back in Kenya, the Commissioner met with the authorities in Nairobi and visited EU-funded projects in drought response and disaster risk reduction.

The new funding announced by the Commissioner will bring the total humanitarian assistance allocated by the European Commission to the region to €157.47 million. Total EU aid (Commission and Member States) currently stands at over €207 million.

 EU embassy help for travellers in trouble

Group of small children in airportOn holiday and lost your passport? Had an accident or got caught in civil unrest? If you are an EU citizen travelling outside the EU, and there is no Irish embassy, you can go to any EU embassy and be treated just the same as one of their own nationals.

The European Commission this week reminded travellers going outside the EU that they can ask for assistance from another EU country's embassy or consulate if their own country is not represented.

To increase awareness of this right, all new passports in the EU will shortly have information on consular protection printed along with the EU's special website showing where you can find help during your holidays outside the EU:

 European Commission to help businesses recover an extra €600 million in cross-border debts

SME owner doing his accounts

The European Commission this week proposed a new Europe-wide preservation order to ease the recovery of cross-border debts for both citizens and businesses.

Around 1 million small businesses in Europe face problems with cross-border debts and up to €600 million a year in debt is unnecessarily written off because businesses find it too daunting to pursue expensive, confusing lawsuits in foreign countries. Individuals can also suffer when goods bought online are never delivered or an absent parent fails to pay maintenance from abroad.

At the moment, it’s up to national law to require a bank to pay the money from a client’s bank account to a creditor. The current situation in the 27 Member States is legally complicated, time consuming and expensive.

 Ireland has highest natural population growth rate but the second highest net outflow in 2010

Couple with young childThe EU27 population stood at 502.5 million in January 2011 with over 5 million children having been born in the EU27 in 2010.

Ireland had the highest natural population growth rate (difference between births and deaths) in the EU in 2010, at 10.3%, well ahead of other countries. The birth rate at 16.5‰ was the highest in the EU and the death rate at 6.2‰ was the lowest.

However, Ireland showed the second highest net outflow of people at - 7.5%.

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News in brief
 Climate Action: Reducing CO2 emissions from cars through eco-innovation

Electric carThe automotive industry will have a greater incentive to invest in new technologies that reduce CO2 emissions from new cars, under legislation adopted by the European Commission this week. Under the regulation car manufacturers will receive recognition when they achieve CO2 savings by fitting new cars with approved "eco innovations" to reduce emissions.

EU legislation requires that by 2015, CO2 emissions from all new cars registered in the EU should not exceed 130 grams/km, around one-fifth below 2007 levels. The target will be gradually phased in: in 2012 65% of each manufacturer's newly registered cars must comply, rising to 75% in 2013, 80% in 2014 and 100% by 2015. Manufacturers whose fleet average exceeds the limit from 2012 will have to pay a penalty for each car registered.

 New EU rules proposed for pollution from leisure boats and jet-skis

Recreational craftThe European Commission this week proposed new rules that will set stricter limits for emissions from jet skis and recreational boats. Scientific studies show lakes and seashores can be seriously polluted by the concentration of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from the EU's 6 million leisure craft.

The proposed revision of the Recreational Craft Directive (RCD) sets stricter limits for NOx, hydrocarbons (HC) and particulate matters for new recreational crafts.

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 Polish Presidency calls a meeting of working groups on fighting terrorism

Following the tragic events in Norway, the Polish Presidency of the EU Council, in co-operation with Gilles de Kerchove, EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, has decided to call a meeting of working groups responsible in the Council of the European Union for co-operation of Governments within the issues of fighting terrorism.

The decision of the Polish Presidency is to invite the representatives of Norwegian authorities to take part in COTER (Committee on Terrorism) and TWG (Terrorism Working Group) meetings. Both working groups’ meetings will take place as soon as it is possible.


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

- 15 March 2012: Irish Successes Abroad exhibition travels around Ireland

Today 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

Monday 5 to Friday 9 September: European Anti Poverty Network regional workshops, Limerick, Dublin and Sligo

Public consultations
 Commission publishes report on the consultation on the revision of the Tobacco Products Directive

The European Commission's Directorate-General for Health and Consumers this week published the results of the public consultation on the upcoming revision of the Tobacco Products Directive. The public consultation generated an unprecedented 85,000 responses. The vast majority of contributions came from individual citizens, illustrating the great interest in EU tobacco control policy. Other respondents represented industry, non-governmental organisations, governments and public authorities.

Many participants provided very detailed responses, some which included new sources of information. Much of this work will be taken into account in the ongoing impact assessment addressing the economic, social and health impacts as well as the legal feasibility of different policy options. The outcome of the public consultation will provide useful input to the ongoing process of reviewing the Tobacco Products Directive.

 Discover E-volunteering competition

The ‘Discover E-volunteering’ Competition is aimed at promoting organisations that work with volunteers to help others via the Internet. The competition is open to any organisations in the EU that engage in e-volunteering. E-volunteering is conducted via the Internet. Examples include: free web counseling, forming assistance and self-help groups, promoting partnership, searching for information, or on-line language courses.

The competition is open until 31 July, 2011. The winners will receive attractive financial prizes.  

Calls for tender/proposals
 Call for tenders for the Provision of services for Public Information on the European Union - Connecting the EU online

The European Commission Representation in Ireland has launched a call for tenders for the Provision of services for Public Information on the European Union - Connecting the EU Online.

The contract notice was published in EU O.J. S141 on 26 July 2011.

Click hereto access the tender documents.

The time-limit for receipt of tenders or requests to participate is 5 September 2011(16.00 CET).

 Calls for proposals for research and innovation projects under FP7

The latest European Commission calls for proposals (invitations to bid for funding) for research and innovation projects under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7) are worth €7 billion.

The Commission adopted the 2012 work programme on 19 July with most of the calls being formally launched on 20 July. The deadlines for application are spread over the period leading up to the turn of the year and decisions on allocating the funding to individual projects will be taken in 2012.

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 Calls for proposals for information and communication actions on the Common Agricultural Policy

The European Commission's Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development has published a new call for proposals concerning "Support for information campaigns in the field of the common agricultural policy". Priority will be given to the 50th anniversary of the CAP.

The total amount available for all actions is €3,250,000.

The deadline for submission of requests is 30 September 2011.

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Spotlight on:
 Irish working week longer than British, German and French - but less time in the workplace

People going to workThe Irish working week (as laid down by formal labour agreements) is longer than in wealthier EU states such as France, Germany, Britain and Italy according to new research from Eurofound, the Dublin-based EU research agency. France has the shortest working week of all. See Figure 1.

However Ireland's work-force lags behind most other EU states when it comes to hours spent in the workplace each week. When the actual hours worked (including overtime) are taken into account, Ireland ranks 25th out the 27 Member States. See Figure 2.

In general, Eurofound[1] says that European workers spend more time at work than in previous years. However, there are important differences between the collectively agreed (i.e. formal labour agreement) weekly hours and the actual working week, which is generally longer.

Note: the data should be interpreted in conjunction with the notes in Annex 1 of the report; The annual update on working time developments 2010 is available here.

For more information, visit

Figure 1: Average collectively agreed normal weekly hours

Average collectively agreed normal weekly hours

Figure 2. Average number of actual weekly hours of work in main job, full-time employees

Average number of actual weekly hours of work in main job, full-time employees


The actual working week of full-time employees was longer than the average normal collectively agreed (i.e. by formal labour agreement) working week in almost all EU Member States in 2010, according to Eurofound’s latest annual update of working time developments.

This effectively reverses the trend, visible since 2006, of a narrowing gap between actual and collectively agreed working hours. The report also finds that average annual leave entitlements combined with public holidays in the add up to an EU average of 35 days; however, but the difference between countries at the two ends of the leave spectrum is huge – almost two-and-a-half working weeks.

Working time developments 2010 looks at a number of aspects of working time in the European Union and Norway in 2010, and it provides a general overview of the present state of play and recent developments.

Collective agreements set the working time conditions for an average of three quarters of all workers across the European Union, with large differences between countries.

‘Collective bargaining remains an important role in determining the duration of working time in most of the countries, though to a lesser or sometimes negligible extent in some of the new Member States that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007,’ says Juan Menéndez-Valdés, Eurofound’s Director.

Across the EU27, the average agreed working week was 38 hours long in 2010, an increase of 0.1 hours in relation to the 37.9 recorded in 2009, 38.6 hours in 2008 and 2007.

In the 12 new Member States (NMS), the working week remained at 39.7 hours, which means that the gap between older and newer Member States was slightly reduced from 2.2 to 2.1 hours in 2010. The average collectively agreed working week in the EU15 was 37.6 hours, an increase of 0.1 hours in relation to 2009.

The manufacturing sector recorded the longest average agreed normal working work, at 37.6 hours (metalworking), followed by public sector (local government, 37.5 hours) and the services sector (banking, 37.3 hours). The agreed working week is higher in all three sectors in the NMS than in the former EU15 Member States. The largest gap is in the banking sector, in which the normal agreed working week in the NMS is 3.1 hours longer than in the EU15. In the local government and metalworking sectors, the gap is 2.7 hours and 2.4 hours respectively.

In the EU27, the actual working week was 39.7 hours in 2010, 1.7 hours longer than the agreed working week. In the EU15 it was 39.4 hours, 1.8 hours more than the agreed hours. Meanwhile in the NMS, it was 39.9 hours, 0.2 hours longer than the agreed working week for that group of countries.

The longest actual working weeks, for full-time employees in their main jobs in 2010, were in Romania (41.3 hours), followed by Luxembourg, the UK, Poland, Germany, Bulgaria, Estonia and the Czech Republic.

The shortest actual working week was in Finland (37.8 hours). This was 3.5 hours more than in Romania, giving Romanians a working week that was longer by 9.24%. And in 2010, the actual weekly hours of male employees working full time in their main jobs continued to exceed those of their female counterparts in all countries considered.

An important factor in the overall duration of working time is the amount of paid annual leave to which workers are entitled. Across all the countries of the EU27 (and Norway) for which data are available, the average collectively agreed entitlement is 25.4 days.

Agreed annual leave entitlement in the EU15 varies from 30 days in Denmark and Germany to 25 days in Finland, France, the Netherlands (and Norway) to 24.6 days in the UK and 24 in Ireland. In the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Slovakia and Romania, the average collectively agreed paid annual leave is 24.1 days.

The number of public holidays (excluding those falling on Sundays) varied across the EU in 2010, from 14 in Spain to five in the Netherlands. The average figure for the EU27 was 9.6 public holidays, with the NMS having, on average, fewer (8.7 days) than the EU15 (9.9). The combined total of agreed annual leave and public holidays varied in the EU from 40 days in Germany and Denmark to 27 days in Romania – a difference of around 48% or two-and-a-half Romanian working weeks. The average figure for the EU27 was 34.4 days – 35.7 days in the EU15 and 29.6 days in the NMS.


 1. The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) is a tripartite EU body that provides European social policymakers with comparative data, research and recommendations.