"Think Small First": A Small Business Act for Europe

Most jobs in the EU are provided for by Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs), companies of 250 employees or less. They have a crucial importance for the future development, but very often face enormous bureaucratic hurdles and obstacles. European SMEs deserve to be better assisted to fully unlock their potential of long term sustainable growth and of more job creation. To achieve this goal, the European Commission has unveiled the Small Business Act for Europe (SBA), based on ten guiding principles and proposes policy actions to be undertaken by both the Commission and Member States.

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Commission launches debate on relations with Overseas Countries and Territories

The Commission, on the 25th June 2008, tabled a Green Paper on the future relation with Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT), aimed at launching a broad debate on the EU-OCT relations. Following the public consultation, the Commission will propose a new partnership that takes better account of the special characteristics and present economic situation in the 21 islands.

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EC publishes guidelines for Member States on how to make public procurement more SME-friendly

In the context of the Small Business Act (SBA), the European Commission has published a set of practical examples and guidelines which will enable Member States and public authorities to make their public procurement rules and practices more friendly for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Public procurement in the EU, the purchases of goods, services and public works by governments and public utilities, is a vast market, worth 1,800 € billion in 2006 and estimated at about 16% of GDP.

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ESPON survey now online

On 24th June 2008 The European Spatial Planning Observatory Network (ESPON 2013 Programme) is inviting stakeholders to take part in a survey which aims to gather views from interested parties on identifying future ESPON applied research themes. This is to respond to requests for evidence and knowledge about cities and regions across the European Union.

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Reform at national level the key to improving growth rates, MEPs hear


Ten years of Economic and Monetary Union have been a major success, but improving growth rates is largely up to national governments implementing economic reform, MEPs were told at an Economics Committee hearing on Tuesday. Strengthening the international representation of the eurozone was also a key goal.

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Public support, good neighbourhood policy and greater institutional efficiency needed for continued success in EU …

The Foreign Affairs Committee reiterates its “firm commitment to all candidate countries and to those which have been given clear membership prospects,” but also notes that "future enlargements will require more stable democratic support from the EU’s population," in a report it approved on Tuesday. It also says that more substantive policies are needed to bridge the gap between the Union’s neighbourhood and enlargement policies.

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global harmonisation of GMO control organised by JRC

500 representatives of scientific and academic communities, regulators and industry from across the globe have come together today to share knowledge and promote international collaboration in the testing of food and animal feed for the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

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Erasmus Mundus II: MEPs seek to facilitate access and sharpen focus on languages

To help enhance the quality of university teaching and attract the best foreign students and academics to Europe, MEPs are fine-tuning phase two of the EU's Erasmus Mundus university co-operation and student mobility programme (2009-13). A report adopted by the Education and Culture Committee on Tuesday says it should be made easier for Erasmus students from third countries to obtain visas, and that tuition fees should not be imposed in countries that do not currently charge them. In the previous programme, 4,424 scholarships were granted from 2004-2008 to students from third countries and 323 universities took part, 265 of them in Europe.

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Further steps in the constructive EU-OPEC Energy Dialogue

The fifth ministerial-level meeting of the Energy Dialogue between the European Union (EU) and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) took place in Brussels, on the 24th June 2008.

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EC unleashes €600m for development of new digital solutions for the elderly

By 2020, 25% of the EU's population will be over 65. To respond to this growing demographic challenge, the Council of Ministers approved today a Commission plan to make Europe a hub for developing digital technologies designed to help older people to continue living independently at home. The proposal, presented by the Commission on 14 June 2007, will provide some additional €150 million funding to a new European Joint Research Programme, resulting in a total investment of over €600 million.

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Commission goes to court over damages suffered from elevators cartel

The European Commission has filed cases with the Tribunal de Commerce in Brussels seeking compensation from four lifts companies for damages suffered from inflated prices for the installation and maintenance of lifts and escalators. In 2007 these companies were found by the Commission to have operated illegal cartels in several countries, in breach of EC Treaty rules on cartels and restrictive business practices. No final amount of the damage can yet be calculated, given the complexity and variety of contractual relations, but it is expected that expert assessments in the context of the court cases will help identify the total amount of overpayment suffered. The Commission's action covers claims for its own buildings and those of other EU institutions, both in Brussels and Luxembourg.

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Eurobarometer 69 results for Spring 2008

Standard Eurobarometer 69, Spring 2008: Inflation and unemployment are major concerns for European citizens. Levels of trust in the EU Institutions remains stable, as does support for membership of the EU.

Margot Wallström, Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy, said: "These results reflect the current economic difficulties and show the need for the EU to continue with its policy agenda aimed at improving the quality of people's daily lives. Nonetheless, I am reassured that the level of trust in the EU remains high."

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