ESI weakens in EU27 and Euro area while unemployment reaches 7.4% in the EU27

In January, the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) for the EU and the euro area declined again, but less sharply than in the last three months of 2008. Besides, the data released by Eurostat show an increase of unemployment up to 7.4% in the EU27 and 8.0% in the EU15 area in December 2008.

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Adoption of the EU/Australia Agreement on trade in wine

The Official Journal of the European Union has published on January, 30th 2009 a Council Decision on the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Community and Australia on trade in wine, which will replace the previous 1994 Agreement, aiming to facilitate and promote wine trade between the Community and Australia.

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Council conclusions concerning joint programming of research in Europe in response to major societal challenges

The Council of the European Union has published in the Official Journal of the European Union, OJEU on January 30th 2009, a report with its conclusions concerning joint programming of research in Europe in response to major societal challenges. These conclusions recognize the need for a common response to certain issues within an ever more global framework.

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The European Commission releases a strategic review on EU Better Regulation

The EC strategic review on Better Regulation in the European Union shows that better regulation is a core component of Europe's response to the economic and financial crisis. The review shows that citizens and companies, in particular small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), already benefit from simplified measures and administrative costs savings. Thanks to radical simplification some 1,300 acts, representing around 10 % of the acquis or 7800 pages of the Official Journal, have been proposed for removal so far.

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EC will fund with 99,5 M€ projects on ICT Policy Support

The European Commission has published on January, 29th the third Call for Proposals (CIP-ICT PSP-2009-3) under the work programme for 2009 of the Information and Communication Technologies Policy Support Programme as part of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (2007 to 2013). This Call is funded with 99,5 M€.

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Czech Presidency welcomes Commission’s Communication on climate change

The Communication from the Commission provides concrete proposals how to reach an agreement at the Copenhagen summit. It addresses three key challenges of the new international agreement – targets and actions, financing low carbon development and building an effective global carbon market.

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EU reaffirms its leading role as humanitarian aid donor in the West Bank

European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, announced further 58 M€ in humanitarian aid for vulnerable Palestinian populations as he visited the Middle East region on a two-day humanitarian mission aimed at seeing for himself the destruction in Gaza following the conflict and to witness just how difficult the living conditions are there for the 1.5 million Palestinian population.

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ECB releases its opinion on the proposal for a new EU Regulation on cross-border payments

In this opinion the ECB notes that the scope of the proposed regulation covers not only cross-border electronic payment transactions and credit transfers but also cross-border direct debits. This is in line with efforts to achieve the Internal Market for payment services and with the launch of the Single Euro Payment Area (SEPA) in particular, and is highly welcomed by the ECB. However, the proposed regulation also raises some issues which require careful consideration.

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EP highlights the pros and cons of Intelligent Transport Systems

The Transport Committee discussed on January, 22nd  legislative proposals to set up Intelligent Transport Systems, which will link travellers, vehicles and road infrastructure via new communication technology throughout Europe. Although MEPs and experts considered the benefits for sustainable transport, in terms of less congestion and fewer accidents, they also pointed out some possible problems relating to data protection.

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EC to clarify the responsibilities of UCITS depositaries

Although the UCITS regulatory framework has proved to be very resilient during the current crisis, the depositaries of 4 UCITS funds who entrusted fund assets worth 1.6bn€ to Madoff entities, have not yet been recovered. The Commission considers that it is still premature to conclude if investors will not be indemnified, but will ensure that MS have dully implemented the provision of the Directive.

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MS sign up the Neighbourhood Investment Facility Agreement

The signature of the "NIF Trust Fund Agreement" in the margins of the General Affairs and External Relations Council of January 26th 2009, will allow EU Member States to provide additional funds to the Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF), a key lever of the European Neighbourhood Policy.

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Commission launches a new call for proposals aiming to promote entrepreneurship among young people

The European Commission has launched a call for proposals under the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) Specific Work Programme SME, with the objective to promote entrepreneurial culture of young people, and entrepreneurship education. The projects funded will be part of the support given by the European Commission to the implementation of the Small Business Act.

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