Air passenger records gradually recovering from the effects of the crisis

According to the last data released by the European Statistical Office (Eurostat), the total number of passengers transported by air fell by 6% in the European Union in 2009 compared with 2008 reaching 751 million passengers. Although this is the first fall recorded since 2002, total figures also show gradual recovery by the end of the year leading to positive figures by the beginning of year 2010.

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Commission presents a Plan to tackle early school leaving

Helping member states in achieving that the more than six million young people in the EU who leave education and training with no more than secondary level qualifications, stay in school and improve their labour chances, is one of the key objectives that the Commission aims to achieve with its new action plan to reduce early school leaving. This action plan puts forward some concrete strategies aimed at reducing EU average rate of early school leavers to under 10% by the end of the decade, from the current level of 14.4%.

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Commission issues criteria for efficient services of general interest and socially responsible procurement

With these two new Guidelines, the European Commission aims at clarifying the European rules applicable to the organisation and financing of services of general interest as well as applying socially responsible criteria in public procurement. The Commission will thus help public authorities, especially at local level, to provide high quality and efficient services in line with the EU rules.

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EU households real disposable income decreased in the third quarter of 2010

According to the last data released by Eurostat and the ECB, the seasonally adjusted household saving rate continued to decrease, while the household investment rate remained unchanged at a low level. On the other hand, in the third quarter of 2010, business investment rate remained nearly stable at 20.5% in the euro area and at 20.0% in the European Union as a whole. On the other hand, in both areas.

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Europe celebrates Data Protection Day

As the exchange of information across the globe grows and becomes faster and faster, issues related to data protection affect all citizens in the most varied areas of their life, including  their cross-border dimension. Working, dealing with public authorities, buying goods or services, travelling or surfing the internet, are activities which create an ever growing information flow. By celebrating the Data Protection Day on 28 January, the Council of Europe and the European Commission are joining forces to promote the fundamental right to data protection.

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Enhanced cooperation on EU patent protection goes ahead at JURI EP Committee

Plans to use the enhanced co-operation procedure to create a unitary patent system in the EU, as requested by 12 Member States last year, were approved by the Legal Affairs Committee on 27 January. If Parliament as a whole and Council authorise this use of enhanced cooperation, the Commission will have to table two legislative proposals: one on the language regime and the other establishing the single patent.

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CoR pushes for simpler cross-border cooperation rules and launches EGTC support platform

At the Committee of the Regions plenary session in Brussels, mayors and regional presidents urged EU lawmakers to simplify the rules for delivering cross-border infrastructures and public services to citizens, and set out ways to improve a key legal tool, the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC). Representatives also launched a platform for public authorities setting up and running such cross-border bodies.

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EU-funded research develops tools to enhance safety and efficiency in road transport

EU-funded scientists have successfully demonstrated a road train technology that could boost road safety and driver comfort while cutting congestion and carbon emissions. In the system, the driver of the lead vehicle of a convoy controls the other vehicles, allowing their drivers to safely engage in other activities.

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EC to modernise EU procurement rules to cut red tape and allow access to SME

Aiming to provide public authorities and their suppliers with more effective and flexible instruments to make contract awards more transparent and competitive processes, the European Commission has launched a public consultation seeking for interested parties opinions. This public debate, which will open until 18 April 2011, will focus on the modernisation of the rules, the tools and methods for public procurement to deliver better on these goals.

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One more step towards a real EU Single Market for services

The lack of dynamism of European Single Market for services not affects the possibility for consumers to choose, but also prevents small and innovative businesses to grow, develop their activities and become more competitive. For that reason, the European Commission has adopted a set of targeted actions to tackle remaining problems and allow to fully enjoy the benefits Single Market for services.

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Europe commits to prevention in research against Alzheimer disease

2011 has been declared by some EU organizations as International Year for Research on Alzheimer and neurodegenerative diseases. Within this context, the European Parliament has adopted in plenary session a report which calls for enhanced cooperation among members to improve early diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer and other dementias. These initiatives are additional supports to the  firm commitment shown by the Commission in this area, as well as various research projects funded by the European Union.

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Croatia faces the challenge to gain public support for the European project

Members of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee consider that EU membership negotiations with Croatia can be completed in the first half of 2011 provided its reforms stay on the right track. The biggest challenge remains, however, in obtaining support from the population, who is still skeptical about the benefits of EU membership.

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