New European Capitals for the Culture

As we enter the year 2010, the new European Capitals of Culture – Essen for the Ruhr in Germany, Pécs in Hungary and Istanbul in Turkey – will officially start a year of music, theatre, dance, film and literature events for local residents and visitors . Essen/Ruhr will hold its opening ceremony for the European Capital of Culture 2010 on the 9 and 10 January, Pécs on the 10th, and Istanbul on the 16th.

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More than 5,5 million euros for EU-US Cooperation in Higher Education and Vocational Training

The European Commission has issued a call for proposals in the Official Journal of the European Union of December 31st, 2009, to fund actions for Transatlantic Links and Academic Networks in Training and Integrated Studies in the framework of Atlantis programme for EU-US Cooperation in Higher Education and Vocational Training.

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Euro area external trade surplus 8.8 bn euro

The first estimate for the euro area (EA16) trade balance with the rest of the world in October 2009 gave a 8.8 bn euro surplus, compared with -1.2 bn in October 2008. The September 2009 balance was +0.9 bn, compared with -6.0 bn in September 2008. In October 2009 compared with September 2009, seasonally adjusted exports fell by 0.2% and imports by 2.2%.

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More than 20.4 million euros to promote active citizenship in Europe

On 30 December 2009 the European Commission has published in the Official Journal of the EU a call for proposals under the programme Europe for Citizens (2007-2013) for the implementation of Actions 1, 2 and 4 " Active citizens for Europe "," Active civil society in Europe "and" Active European Remembrance ". To accomplish this, the call has a budget of more than 20 million.

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Council encourages member states to boost vaccination against seasonal influenza

The Official Journal of the European Union of December 29 publishes a Council recomendation on seasonal influeza vaccination, which calls member states to develop action plan or policies to boost vaccination against influenza among all the risk groups.

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Madrid will host the launch of European Year for combating Poverty and Social Exclusion

2010 will be the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion - a one-year programme aimed at raising awareness on poverty and social exclusion. It will be implemented in all EU Member States as well as in Iceland and Norway, with a total budget of €17 million (to be complemented by national co-financing), covering activities at European as well at national level.

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EESC warns about the need of urgent action in maritime sector

Immediate action must be taken to address the critical challenges facing maritime transport; otherwise European shipping may for ever lose its position as the world leader, warns the EESC in its opinion on the future of the maritime sector.

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Council calls for a stronger protection against chemicals

There is growing concern that combined exposure to chemicals from different sources used for example in agriculture and industry may have adverse effects on human health, even if each individual substance is below its own risk limit. The Environment Council has adopted conclusions on these combination effects.

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EU project develops tools to aid in evidence-based policymaking

EU-funded researchers have released a set of tools designed to help policymakers ensure that their decisions are informed by the best research evidence available.

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Three EU agencies sign a cooperation agreement in Maritime Surveillance

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) based in Lisbon, the European Agency for the Management of Operational Co-operation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (Frontex) based in Warsaw and the Community Fisheries Control Agency (CFCA), based in Vigo, Spain, have concluded an agreement to cooperate, in accordance with their respective mandates, in the field of maritime surveillance in a way that will be mutually beneficial for the three agencies

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European Commission and European Investment Bank launch European Local Energy Assistance facility

The European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB), the bank of the EU Member States, have launched a grant aid initiative to help local and regional authorities make investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy. The global fight against climate change is a top priority for the European Union and it is acknowledged that local actors will play a significant role in meeting this challenge. The ELENA facility is designed to help cities and regions, through the provision of technical assistance, structure and implement projects in the most efficient way so they can attract outside finance.

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After Copenhagen: a positive step but not nearly ambitious enough for EU

Commission president José Manuel Barroso expressed disappointment with the 11th-hour accord eked out at the Copenhagen climate conference, saying it fell “far short” of the EU’s expectations. The pact lacks elements the EU considers crucial, including collective targets for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. Not only does it fail to set a 2010 deadline for concluding a treaty, it does not even mention the need for a legally binding agreement.

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