Environment Council endorses EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020

This Strategy adopted at the Environment Council held in Luxembourg on June 21st 2011 is considered by EU ministers as a key instrument to enable the EU to reach its overall 2020 headline target. Ministers also underlined that further discussion over the actions to ensure the effective and coherent implementation of the Strategy should still be put in place.

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New EU rules will facilitate the enforcement of maintenance payments obligations

According to the new EU Regulation in matters related to maintenance obligation in cross-border situations, applicable from June 18th 2011, children and families across the European Union will benefit from speedier maintenance payments when families split up. Thanks to a new EU-wide system, absent parents will no longer be able to evade their obligations.

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"Horizon 2020" will be the new name for EU funding programme for research and innovation

Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn announced on June 21st the outcome of the competition "You Name it" launched to name the future EU funding programme for research and innovation. This name was suggested both by a Czech student, Marcela Endlova and a Polish teacher, Beata Zyngier.

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EU-funded project develops a new efficient batterie for electric vehicles

A team of EU-funded researchers is leading the development of a unique type of sustainable zinc-based rechargeable battery for electric vehicles (EV) and hybrid EVs (HEVs). This resulting battery device will have the energy and power density necessary to compete with alternative battery technologies in the HEV and EV markets. Furthermore, the project will also construct prototype battery units for industry standard testing.

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The Commission proposed a regulation to protect better the consumers when buying specialised food products

The draft regulation proposed by the Commission strengthens and clarifies provisions for foods intended for vulnerable groups of the population who need particular protection. The proposal establishes a single EU list of substances that can be added to these foods. The substances covered in the list include, among others, minerals and vitamins.

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Sharp reduction on the funds for the 2012 'most deprived person programme'

€113 million is the total quantity allocated for the 2012 programme for the supply of food for the most deprived persons in the European Union. In recent years, €500 million was granted but a ruling by the Court of Justice in April stating that the current regulation requires the food covered by this scheme to come from EU public stocks. This is the reason why the 2012 scheme is exclusively based on all the available existing intervention stocks.

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The Eurogroup asks to Greece for a national unity as a prerequisite for success in the reforms

Ministers agreed that the required additional funding has to be financed through both official and private sources and welcomed the pursuit of voluntary private sector involvement in the form of informal and voluntary roll-overs of existing Greek debt. They also underlined the prerequisite of national unity for success given the length, magnitude and nature of required reforms in Greece.

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Most of Europeans think that using natural resources more efficiently can boost economic growth in the EU

A large majority of Europeans agree that using natural resources more efficiently and protecting the environment can boost economic growth in the EU. 90% of respondents in every single Member State to the latest survey by the European Commission shows that the environment is an important personal concern. They also believe that despite the economic crisis, almost nine in ten Europeans think EU funding should be allocated to support environmentally friendly activities.

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MEP responsible on maternity leave report regrets that Council did not reach an agreement

After a discussion in the Council on 17 June showed diverging views between ministers, with some even proposing to stop trying to reach a deal, the MEP responsible on maternity leave report, Edite Estrela, criticised the lack of progress by Member States on plans to modernise existing legislation on the subject.

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European Commission gave awards to the "Best children's online content"

The awards to the creators of the best online content, intelligent games, interactive online magazines or websites aimed at under 12 year olds, were given by Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda. In total, the Commission, together with Safer Internet Centres from 14 countries, received 780 projects in response to the "Best children's online content" competition, designed to encourage the creation of quality content and to highlight the existing potential for kids online.

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MEPs welcomed Croatia's progress but warned Serbia's path to the EU is still long

EP Foreign Affairs Committee welcomed Serbia's arrest of Ratko Mladić but warned that its path to the EU is still long, stressing that another Serb leader indicted for war crimes, Goran Hadžić, was still on the run. Also, MEPs praised the Hungarian Presidency's efforts to complete EU enlargement negotiations with Croatia by end of June.

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The European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid is closer to reality

The pilot phase of the European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid, the European Volunteers Corp was launched in Budapest, at a conference organised by the European Commission and the Hungarian Presidency of the European Union. The European Commission is now starting the practical implementation of the initiative by selecting, training and deploying the first team of European humanitarian volunteers.

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