Commission analyses results from Green Paper consultation on cultural and creative industries potential

On 24 March, the European Commission published its analysis of the 350 responses to the consultation launched by the Green Paper on cultural and creative industries. According to this analysis, the consultation confirmed that cultural and creative industries are a powerful motor for jobs, growth, export earnings, cultural diversity and social inclusion in Europe, and that they have indeed a vital contribution to make to the Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

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How to call new EU Research and Innovation Programme? Commission seeks options, 'You name it!'

The European Commission has launched a competition for researchers, engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators, students and other creative individuals to suggest a relevant, appealing and catchy name for the new EU research and innovation programme that will run post-2013. All those willing to take part in this contest can send their suggestions to the Commission by 10 May. All suggestions will be reviewed by an international jury and shortlisted ideas will be them voted online.

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Parliament and Council fail to reach an agreement on conciliation on novel food

Further to the failure of conversations between the Parliament and the Council on updating the Novel Foods Regulation on 16 March 2011, the institutions had a last change to reach an agreement on the evening of 28 March. However, in spite of the efforts made by the Hungarian Presidency, this agreement has not been possible and the EU stays with the status quo, where legislation provides that food from cloned animals is subject to a pre-market authorisation.

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Parliament calls for more control and transparency at national level by approving EC 2009 budget spending

European Parliament's Budgetary Control Committee approved on 28 March the European Commission's 2009 budget spending. This adoption, under the “budget discharge” procedure, comes after the Commission had given undertakings, inter alia to step up pressure on EU Member States to take more political responsibility for, and improve their supervision of, their national authorities' spending of EU funds.

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EU Transport 2050 Strategy to bring conventionally-fuelled cars out of cities by 2050

The European Commission has presented on 28 March EU's comprehensive Transport 2050 Strategy which aims to created a competitive transport system that will increase mobility, remove major barriers in key areas and fuel growth and employment. This strategy described in the Transport 2011 White Paper for a Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area, also contains proposals to reduce Europe's dependence on imported oil and cut carbon emissions in transport by 60% by 2050.

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Bringing ideas to market, ERC launches new "Proof of Concept" funding scheme

The European Research Council (ERC) has launched a new funding initiative under the title “Proof of Concept” which aims to stimulate innovation by providing funding to researchers already holding an ERC grant, and supporting their outstanding research projects at the frontiers of knowledge. First Proof of Concept call is expected to be published on 29 March with deadlines in June and November 2011.

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Parliament will seek agreement with the Council on Directive for online consumer protection

During the European Parliament plenary session held in Brussels between 23 and 24 March, MEPs introduced a series of amendments to Commission's proposal for a Directive protecting online consumers rights. MEPs backed a series of new rules to protect online shoppers and boost consumer confidence in buying in other Member States, and decided to postpone their final position with a view to reaching an agreement with the Council.

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Frontex extends to Sardinia Hermes Operation in Lampedusa

The European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders (FRONTEX) has announced that due to the notable increase in migratory pressure on Italy and the island of Lampedusa in particular, Frontex has widened the operational area of Joint Operation Hermes and extended its duration for five more months. This extension aims to strengthen Europe’s border control response capability in the Central Mediterranean.

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EU Council agrees on nuclear stress tests and will review safety regulatory framework

At the second part of the meeting of the Council of the European Union held in Brussels between 24 and 25 March, Heads of State and Government debated over the lessons to be drawn from the events that occurred in Japan, notably as regards nuclear safety. In this regard, the Council has recalled that the energy mix is the competence of Member States, and has agreed to make safety revisions on all nuclear plants.

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European Parliament switches lights off for Earth Hour

The European Parliament will once again mark "Earth Hour" by switching off lights in all its buildings for on Saturday 26 March from 20.30h to 21.30h. This initiative, which begun in Sydney in 2007, is a global environmental actions aimed to raise awareness of the need to take act on climate change.

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Commission proposes measures to ensure market balance in the sugar sector

The European Commission proposed on 24 March a series of measures intended to provide sugar operators in the EU with predictability for the next marketing year starting from October 2011. The package fixes a quantitative limit for the exports of out-of-quota sugar and isoglucose for the marketing year 2011/12. It also includes the opening of an import quota of 400.000 tonnes for industrial sugar. With these measures, sugar operators received a strong signal that it is attractive to grow and produce sugar.

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Council agrees on Euro Plus Pact in a Council marked by Portuguese crisis

Many important economic decisions were taken by EU Heads of State and Government at the Council Summit held on 24 March. EU leaders decided on a comprehensive package of economic measures aimed at ensuring economic stability within the European Union. The new Euro Plus Pact will provide a new quality of economic coordination. The pact will remain open for any country to join and, for the moment on, six non-euro countries have decided to join it.

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