Commission presents eGovernment Action Plan for public services across the EU

The key action lines regarding eGoverment put forward by the European Commission include forty specific measures to be implemented over the next five years to enable citizens and businesses to use online services for their interaction with administrations. This Action Plan highlights the benefits that promoting eGovernment can have in helping boost Europe's competitiveness and allow public authorities to offer improved services more cost-effectively at a time of budget constraints.

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2011 EU budget adoption clarifies the future funding for major EU initiatives and programmes

The European Parliament has adopted the 2011 EU budget at its Plenary Session in Strasbourg on 15 December. This final vote closes a process which was marked by the blockage of negotiations between the Parliament and the Council due to their differences over issues such as the future financial framework and own resources. This adoption avoids a “provisional twelfths” scenario and clarifies future funding for initiatives in areas such as lifelong learning, Daphne programme on violence against women and child, the ICP or the ITER initiative.

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Parliament approves tougher rules to combat trafficking in human beings

Traffickers in human beings are to face tougher penalties for their crime and victims will be entitled to better protection and assistance, under a new EU law approved by the European Parliament. The new rules will apply to trafficking in the sex industry or labour exploitation in, for example, construction work, farming or domestic service.

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EP rejects draft Directive on residence and work single permit

Following the debate held at the Plenary Session of the European Parliament on 14 December, MEPs rejected the draft Directive providing for the introduction of a single residence and work permit for legal immigrants. Commission must now decide whether to withdraw the proposal ans present a new one or to maintain it, in which case it would return to the Plenary in the coming months.

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Experts call for a pan-European open data portal to fully enjoy the benefits of oGov initiatives across Europe

On the 3 November 2010 the European Commission organised in Luxembourg a technical workshop on the goals and requirements for a possible pan-European data portal. Experts with practical experience in their respective countries were invited to share their experiences and ideas and concluded that such a portal would add value to existing regional and national initiatives by improving transparency on issues of EU-wide interest.

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EU health strategy should draw on local and regional experience

The Committee of the Regions brought attention during the Plenary Session held at the beginning of December to the fact Europe's regions have a wealth of experience in developing and implementing health strategies that remains untapped at the European level. The Committee also highlighted that the failure to fully involve sub-national authorities as legitimate partners in the development of future initiatives will undermine the European Commission's efforts to improve the quality of healthcare and health services across the EU.

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Parliament backs European Protection Order for victims

The European Parliament has voted in the Plenary session on 14 December and approved the European Protection Order which seeks to ensure that victims of crimes including violence, harassment, homophobia or white slavery receive the same level of protection against their aggressors in all EU countries. While an agreement with the Belgian Presidency has already been reached, it must still be confirmed by a qualified majority of Member States in the Council.

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Commission consults how to facilitate citizens the recognition of public documents

The European Commission is firmly committed to removing the obstacles faced by citizens who do not live in their country of origin. As part of its concern, the Commission has presented a policy paper with several options on easing the free circulation of documents that are relevant for citizens, such as birth certificates or property deeds, and has launched a consultation on this matter which will be opened until 30 April 2011.

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Council gives green light to the compromise on European citizens' initiative

The Council endorsed on 14 December the agreement reached within the EU trilogue with the European Parliament and the Commission on a draft regulation aimed at making it possible for EU citizens to call for legislative proposals to be made on a specific issue. The compromise is expected to be approved in first reading by European Parliament on 15 December.

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Sakharov Prize 2010 will probably not be awarded in person to Guillermo Fariñas

The award ceremony of the Sahkarov Prize for Freedom of Thought 2010 will most likely take lace with an empty chair, on Wednesday 15 December, in Strasbourg. President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek has expressed his deep regrets that Mr Fariñas has not been given permission to leave Cuba in order to receive the prize in person.

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Creative industries are an increasing source of growth in the EU

Creative industries account for 3.3 % of total EU GDP and 3 % of employment, and are  among the most dynamic sectors in the EU. This is one of the main conclusions issued from the European Competitiveness Report 2010 which follows up on the elements proposed by the Communication on “An integrated industrial policy for the globalisation era”.

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Migrants sent 7% less money home in 2009

According to the data released by the European Statistical Office (Eurostat), total workers' remittances sent to their country of origin amounted in 2009 to 30.3 billion Euro, representing a decrease of about 7% towards previous year. These figures show a shift in the positive trends this economic indicator showed over the last years.

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