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European Union Delegation to New Zealand: Newsletter 315

European Union Delegation to New Zealand: Newsletter 315

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

Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response has just returned from her 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.

"This unprecedented crisis in the Horn of Africa calls for an unprecedented response," said the Commissioner. "This is why, on top of the new funding of €27.8 million, I have started the process to mobilise another €60 million to alleviate the suffering of so many people. This will bring our response to nearly €158 million." She added: "Europeans have responded generously to this crisis but the situation is getting worse, especially in Somalia. Every day more than 3,000 Somalis are fleeing across their country's borders to seek food and security in Ethiopia and Kenya. So we must all do more to help not just those families who through no fault of their own have been forced to become refugees but also those victims who are still suffering today in Somalia."

This new aid package will provide food and nutrition to the most vulnerable households. [read more]

Terrorist attack in Norway

Following the tragic events in Norway on 22 July 2011, the Council of the European Union convened a joint meeting of the two Council working groups on terrorism. Representatives of the Norwegian authorities informed the meeting about the events and the ongoing investigation. Experts from EU member states, representatives of several EU bodies and institutions (Europol, European External Action Service, European Commission) as well as the office of the EU Counterterrorism coordinator, agreed that in confronting the threat of a terrorist attack, regardless of its underlying motivation, the effective exchange of information is vital. [read more]

European Commission President Barroso, on hearing news of the killings in Norway, sent the following message to Mr. Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Norway: "It is with the utmost shock that I have observed the events unfolding in Oslo this afternoon. An attack of this magnitude is not something one would expect in Norway, famously associated with peace at home and peace-making abroad. I would like to express my deepest condolences to the victims of this despicable attack and their families. I would also like to convey my deepest sympathies to you, Prime Minister, and to all Norwegians. My thoughts will remain with you."

Catherine Ashton, EU Representative for Foreign and Security Policy also expressed her deep condolences to the families and friends of the victims. President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, condemned the "acts of cowardice for which there is no justification" and sent messages of condolence and solidarity from the European Union to the Prime Minister and the people of Norway.

Migrants enrich the EU economically and culturally

On 20 July the European Commission adopted a 'European Agenda for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals' to enhance the economic, social and cultural benefits of migration in Europe. The Agenda puts the emphasis on migrants' full participation in all aspects of collective life and highlights the key role of local authorities.

Cecilia Malmström, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, said: "Successful integration implies that migrants are given the opportunity to participate fully in their new communities. Learning the language of the receiving country, getting access to employment and education and having the socio-economic capacity to support themselves are crucial elements for a successful integration. To date, integration of migrants in Europe has not been very successful. We must all do more – for the sake of the people coming here, but also since well-integrated migrants are an asset for the EU, as they enrich our societies culturally and economically." [read more]

More than 5 million children born in the European Union in 2010

On 1 January 2011, the population of the EU27 was estimated at 502.5 million, compared with 501.1 million on 1 January 2010. The population of the EU27 grew by 1.4 million in 2010, an annual rate of +2.7 per 1000 inhabitants, due to a natural increase of 0.5 million (+1.0‰) and net migration of 0.9 million (+1.7‰). The population of the euro area (EA17) was estimated at 332.0 million on 1 January 2011, compared with 330.9 million on 1 January 2010. The population of the euro area grew by 1.0 million in 2010, an annual rate of +3.1‰, due to a natural increase of 0.3 million (+1.0‰) and net migration of 0.7 million (+2.1‰). Highest natural growth rates in Ireland, Cyprus, France, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom In 2010, 5.4 million children were born in the EU27.
EU 2012 budget to be trimmed

On 25 July, the Council adopted its position on the 2012 budget of the European Union. It takes due account of the difficult economic situation in many EU countries which have taken serious austerity measures. The Council reduced the expenditure increase of 4.9 per cent proposed by the Commission to 2.02 per cent compared to 2011. With an expected inflation rate of 2 per cent, this amounts to a budget freeze in real terms. After thorough examination of past budget implementation, the Council decreased payments by a total of 3.65 billion euros. In spite of this strengthened approach, the Council gives much importance to the financing of the EU's priorities, such as measures to tackle the effects of the crisis and to promote jobs and growth as well as rural development. The Council wants to limit increases in total EU administrative spending (buildings, maintenance, meetings, salaries) to 0.5 per cent. At the same time, the Council cut its own administrative expenditure by 5.45 per cent compared to the current financial year. Total EU administrative expenditure represents about 6 per cent of the EU budget. [read more]

€7 billion boost for research and innovation

The European Union currently funds the largest single research programme on the planet – the Seventh Framework Programme - with a budget of more than €53 billion for the period 2007-2013. EU Member States have put research and innovation at the top of the European political agenda. On 19 July, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, 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. In order to build on the success of the current Seventh Framework Programme for Research, the Commission proposed on 29 June a 46% increase in research and innovation funding under the 2014-2020 Multi-annual Financial Framework, and intends to further streamline and simplifying research and innovation funding under the new Horizon 2020 programme which will begin in 2014. [read more]

Assessing Higher Education Performance: Initiatives and Implications

Research and innovation are at the heart of the European Union’s social and economic development strategies, as is ensuring the excellence of research performance. An example of the latter is the UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), arguably the most well established research outcome assessment initiative in the world, and the precursor of similar initiatives in many other countries, including Australia and New Zealand. [read more]

Cars, boats and biofuels

The automotive industry in Europe will now have a greater incentive to invest in new technologies that reduce CO2 emissions from new cars, under legislation adopted by the European Commission on 25 July. The Regulation enables motor manufacturers to receive recognition for CO2 savings achieved by fitting new cars with approved "eco-innovations" which reduce emissions. These savings will help the industry meet the European target of limiting CO2 emissions from new cars to an average of 130 grams/km by 2015. The European Commission proposed new legislation that will make the use of jet skis and sailing boats less harmful for European waters. Scientific studies show lakes and seashores can be seriously polluted by the concentration of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions resulting from some six million jet skis and motor and sailing boats cruising in the EU. The proposed revision of the Recreational Craft Directive (RCD) sets stricter limits for NOx, hydrocarbons (HC) and particulate matters for new recreational crafts. Biofuels can represent an environmentally-friendly replacement of fossil fuels. However, tropical forests and carbon rich peatlands should not be turned into oil palm or sugarcane plantations, and compared to fossil fuels biofuels must deliver tangible greenhouse gas savings. The EU has set itself an objective to achieve a minimum share of 10% renewable energy in transport by 2020. Where biofuels are used to achieve this target, these must meet a set of sustainability requirements. This means that biofuels cannot be produced from areas which have a high biodiversity value, such as protected areas, or from areas that store a high amount of carbon, such as forests or peatlands.

Global Development in Cinema

The sixth edition of European Development Days (EDD) will take place on 15-16 December 2011 in Warsaw, Poland. In association with EDD, the International Documentary Film Festival Global Development in Cinema intends to create a platform for filmmakers interested in global development to screen their products and to promote the public view, debate and meaningful action. Productions from around the world will feature, with the Pacific having a strong presence. http://festival.humandoc.net/en/

Academic news and events

Current activities of International Cooperation - 7th Framework Programme. Calls for proposals and a prize under the 2011 and 2012 work programmes of the Seventh Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities [read more]

Call for Papers: European Dilemmas: Internal and External issues facing the European Union, December 7-8, 2011, University of Waikato, New Zealand. This is a multidisciplinary conference to investigate the broad phenomena which currently impact greatly on the EU, whether internally or externally. In the first instance we are calling for abstracts from potential presenters. Abstracts of 300 words should be submitted online by 1 August 2011. Please go to www.eucnetwork.org.nz

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