Climate change: WTO Director-General warns against "spaghetti bowl" of unilateral policies

The idea of unilaterally imposing EU tariffs on non-climate-friendly imports, should there be no international accord on how to combat climate change, took centre stage at Thursday's (29th May 2008) Climate Committee hearing on competitiveness, trade, financing and sustainable employment. Compared with an international deal, such tariffs would be a distant second best, said World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Pascal Lamy.

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EC proposes major changes in fisheries management

The European Commission published, on the 30th May 2008 its annual policy statement on fishing opportunities for 2009, outlining the approach it intends to take when setting Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and fishing effort limitations for the coming year.
Despite substantial efforts, there has been no overall improvement in the status of stocks since 2003. The Commission is therefore proposing greater flexibility in changing TACs from year to year, to enable both more effective recovery measures for overexploited stocks, and greater benefit for fishers when stocks do recover. The Commission is also proposing to shift to a kilowatt-day system for managing fishing effort, which will be both easier to control and more flexible to implement. Member States and stakeholders are invited to present their views on the approach set out by 30 June.

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European strategy on e-Justice

On the 30th of May 2008 the Commission launches the Justice Forum. The objective of the Forum is to promote a dialogue between the Commission and stakeholders in the justice systems of the Member States. Representatives of all professions involved in the justice systems (judges, lawyers, prosecutors, academics, legal translators and interpreters), and delegates from NGOs, the Council of Europe, the Fundamental Rights Agency and others have been invited to take part in the Justice Forum's meetings. The Justice Forum will cover both civil and criminal justice issues, and this is reflected in its membership.

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Electronic Identity: easy access to public services across the EU

The European Commission, on the 30th May 2008, unveils a pilot project to ensure cross-border recognition of national electronic identity (eID) systems and enable easy access to public services in 13 Member States.

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Europe to be in a pole position for the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Race

The future of fuel cells and hydrogen technologies in Europe is on its way. The Council adopted, on the 30th May 2008, the regulation setting up the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking. This public-private joint technology initiative (JTI) will implement the EU target-oriented research and development to support the broad market introduction of these technologies. Founding members are the European Community and a non-profit association of European industry interests composed of a major share of Europe's fuel cells and hydrogen companies of all sizes from micro to large multinationals. The Commission is expected to fund 470 M€ from the Seventh Framework Programme for a period of six years which will be at least matched by industry contributions. The first calls for proposals are expected to be published after this summer. The official celebration of the launch will be at the JTI's first Stakeholders' General Assembly the 14 and 15 of October this year in Brussels.

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Commissioner Piebalgs welcomes the cooperation between Europe's two biggest energy spot markets

Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs welcomed, on the 30th May 2008, the EEX and Powernext joint venture as a step forward in creating a well-functioning market. In a press conference organised on the 30th May in Brussels to present the new cooperation between German and French spot markets for electricity.

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World No Tobacco Day

Less than three years after its entry into force the EU advertising ban has proven its effectiveness. This is the conclusion of the Commission report on the performance of the Tobacco Advertising Directive. Directive. On the 30th May 2008, all Member States have transposed the Directive and tobacco brand advertising in the press aimed at the general public has virtually disappeared. Direct tobacco sponsorship of cross-border sports and other events within the EU has also ceased. The key challenge in the tobacco advertising ban has shifted to the internet which is difficult to control. The Commission is working with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to strengthen advertising bans at global level, to ensure that the EU ban is not undermined from the outside.

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Euro area unemployment stable at 7.1% and EU27 stable at 6.7%

The euro area (EA15) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate stood at 7.1% in April 2008, unchanged compared with March. It was 7.5% in April 2007. The EU271 unemployment rate was 6.7% in April 2008, also unchanged compared with March. It was 7.2% in April 2007.

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Euro area inflation estimated at 3.6% May 2008

Euro area annual inflation, which is the price change between the current month and the same month of the previous year, is expected to be 3.6% in May 2008 according to a flash estimate issued by Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities. It was 3.3% in April 2008.

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Three new Calls for Proposals for the Life Long Learning Programme

The European Commission has published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ), on the 30th May, three new Calls for Proposals within the Life Long Learning framework programme with a total of 6.5 million euros budgeted. The deadline for the three calls for proposals is 13th of August 2008.

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50 years of the EESC: look into the past for future inspiration

On 28th May 2008, 50 years after the creation of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), current EU leaders, former EESC presidents and young Europeans from different European countries gathered in Brussels for a commemorative plenary session to celebrate its birthday. This special plenary session included a discussion of young Europeans and EESC members on the challenges facing the European Union and the EESC.

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Commission issues statement on the emergency in the sector

Responding to the grave difficulties currently faced by the European fisheries sector as a result of massively increased fuel costs, Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg has renewed his call for the restructuring of the sector before it is too late. The difficulties faced by the EU fisheries sector have their roots in a structural mismatch between the size of the fleet and the sustainable level of fishing possibilities. These problems have been seriously compounded by the sharp increase of fuel prices over the past few years. Marine Fuel Prices have gone beyond 0.7€/l in most European harbours, an increase of around 240% since 2004.

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