The third evaluation of the Code of Conduct on countering illegal online hate speech carried out by NGOs and public bodies released today shows that IT companies removed on average 70% of illegal hate speech notified to them.
Since May 2016, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft have committed to combatting the spread of such content in Europe through the Code of Conduct. The third monitoring round shows that the companies are now increasingly fulfilling their commitment to remove the majority of illegal hate speech within 24 hours. However, some further challenges still remain, in particular the lack of systematic feedback to users.
The European Commission has today proposed new rules to give Member States more flexibility to set Value Added Tax (VAT) rates and to create a better tax environment to help SMEs flourish. Today's proposals are the final steps of the Commission's overhaul of VAT rules, with the creation of a single EU VAT area to dramatically reduce the €50 billion lost to VAT fraud each year in the EU, while supporting business and securing government revenues.
According to the latest Eurostat figures, Ireland (+12%) recorded the second highest annual rise in house prices in the EU in the third quarter of 2017 after the Czech Republic (12.3%). On average during the same period, house prices rose by 4.1% in the euro area and by 4.6% in the EU. Italy (-0.9%) was the only country to record a fall.
The Commission today adopted a new Digital Education Plan setting out a series of initiatives to support people and organisations in dealing with rapid digital change. The Action Plan focuses on the development of digital skills (skills, knowledge and attitudes) for work and participation in society more widely, the effective use of technology in education and the use of data and foresight to improve education systems. Measures will include supporting schools with high-speed broadband connections, scaling up SELFIE, a new self-assessment tool developed by the Commission to help schools better use technology for teaching and learning and a public awareness campaign on online safety, cyber hygiene and media literacy.
The first-ever Europe-wide strategy on plastics, adopted today, is a part of the transition towards a more circular economy.
It will protect the environment from plastic pollution whilst fostering growth and innovation, turning a challenge into a positive agenda for the Future of Europe. There is a strong business case for transforming the way products are designed, produced, used, and recycled in the EU and by taking the lead in this transition, we will create new investment opportunities and jobs. Under the new plans, all plastic packaging on the EU market will be recyclable by 2030, the consumption of single-use plastics will be reduced and the intentional use of microplastics will be restricted.
The European Commission has today launched the calls for proposals for programmes to promote European agricultural products throughout the world and within the EU. A total of €169 million is available to co-finance the programmes, up from €142 million in 2017. Programmes can cover a wide range of issues from general campaigns on healthy eating to specific market sectors.
European consumers will be able to reap the full benefits of paying online for goods and services, thanks to new rules that will it make it cheaper, easier and safer to make electronic payments.
The revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2), which will apply as of 13 January 2018, aims to modernise Europe's payment services to the benefit of both consumers and businesses, so as to keep pace with this rapidly evolving market.
Peter Sutherland, a former European Commissioner and the first Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, has died. Born in Dublin in 1946, he became Ireland’s youngest Attorney General in 1981.
Four years later he became European Commissioner for Competition, at the age of 38, serving from 1985-1989 in the first Delors Commission.
Later, he chaired the committee that led to the Sutherland Report, which outlined ways of completing the single market.
In 1993, he was appointed Director-General of the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), bringing the Uruguay Round of trade talks to a successful conclusion, and ushering in the GATT's replacement, the World Trade Organisation. He remained as Director-General of the WTO until 1995.
In 2006, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed him UN Special Representative for Migration, a role he carried out until March last year.
Following the guidelines adopted by the European Council (Art 50) on 15 December, the European Commission has today sent a Recommendation to the Council (Art 50) to begin discussions on the next phase of the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.
80% of Irish people (up 3 percentage points since a survey carried out in April) are optimistic for the future of the European Union, ahead of Luxembourg at 72%, according to the newly released Standard Autumn Eurobarometer poll. On average 57% (up 1 pp since April) of Europeans were optimistic about the future of the EU with optimism levels lowest in the UK (44%, up 5 pp since April) and Greece (37%, up 8 pp since April).
The survey also shows that Irish people were the most likely to have a positive image of the EU at 59% while people in Greece were least (23%). A further 30% of Irish people have a neutral image of the EU while only 9% have a negative image. Across the EU, 40% have a positive image while 37% have a neutral image and 21% have a negative image.