EU strengthens relationship with Ethiopia and signs 13.7 million euro climate change project

European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs met the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and other members of the national government in Addis Ababa by the end of January, in a round of meetings which provided an opportunity to further strengthen EU development cooperation with Ethiopia, an important regional partner to the EU and recipient of the single largest share of EU aid. In his visit to the country Commissioner Piebalgs explored ways to support the government's five-year "Growth and transformation" national strategy and signed an agreement for the implementation of the Global Climate Change Alliance in Ethiopia.

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EU still lagging behind US and Japan on innovation performance

According to the results of the first edition of the new Innovation Union Scoreboard, the European Union is failing to close the innovation performance gap with its main international competitors, the US and Japan. Although the trends in most EU Member States are promising despite the economic crisis, progress is not fast enough and the Union will need to intensify efforts to bridge this gap, specially when it comes to support private sector and facilitate the exploitation of results from innovation.

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EU unemployment rate ends 2010 stuck at 10%

According to the last data published by Eurostat seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for the euro area has remained at 10.0% in December 2010, unchanged compared with November. Figures for the European Union as a whole also remained unchanged towards previous month at 9.6% in December 2010.

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A group of experts appointed by the Commission will analyse how to tackle illiteracy

One in five 15-year-olds in Europe have reading and writing difficulties and lack basic skills, difficulties which are then dragged on by adults and in many cases make it harder for them to find a job and put them at risk of social exclusion. In order to tackle this problem, the European Commission has set up a Group of Experts in Literacy who will work to identify ways of raising literacy levels.

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Europe calls for free and fair elections in Egypt

Foreign Affairs ministers meeting in Brussels on 31 January in the Council chaired by High Representative Catherine Ashton, analysed the situation in Egypt after the considerable loss of life during demonstrations over the last few days. Ministers in charge of Foreign Affairs recognised the legitimate democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people and urged the Egyptian authorities to embark on an orderly transition to a process of genuine democratic reform and take  urgent, concrete and decisive measures.

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