Bulgaria and Romania are closer to join Schengen area

The European Parliament approved during the plenary session that Bulgaria and Romania join the Schengen border check-free area. However, the MEPs asked to kept informed of additional measures taken in the Bulgaria-Turkey-Greece area to cope with a possible surge in migration pressure.

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European Court of Auditors concluded that the EU added value of the SME Guarantee facility is not demonstrated

The European Court of Auditor’s (ECA) has published the results of its audit on the effectiveness of the Small and Medium Enterprise Guarantee facility, in terms of the effectiveness of its design and planning. Among the conclusions the ECA found that the framework for the management of the daily operations was considered appropriate, but no scoring standards and no minimum requirements were set for the selection of financial intermediaries.

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The EC presents its country-specific recommendations on growth and jobs

In order to help Member States gear up their economic and social policies to deliver on growth, jobs and public finances, the European Commission has adopted 27 sets of country-specific recommendations, plus one for the euro area as a whole. This should help each country to focus on strategic levers in the next 12 to 18 months, and thus boost EU economy as a whole.

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European Commission opens a consultation on access to EU's public procurement markets

As announced in the Single Market Act, the European Commission is consulting stakeholders in all EU Member States for their views on a new policy on access to the EU's public procurement markets. The EU has shown strong advocacy for an ambitious opening of international public procurement markets, through international commitments, such as the WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) and trade agreements concluded with third countries or regions.

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More consumer protection on shooping online agreed between the EP and the Council

MEPs and Council agreed provisionally in an EU-wide right for consumers to change their minds about purchase decisions within two weeks and clearer pricing rules for internet sales. The MEP responsible for the Parliament's report, Andreas Schwab, stated that more safety for consumers shopping on line and common rules for businesses will improve the Consumer Rights Directive.

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The “Eurovignette” will charge heavy-duty vehicles for air and noise pollution

A directive approved by the European Parliament will ensure that revenue from these charges is used to improve the performance of transport systems and cut pollution. On average, 3 to 4 euro cents per vehicle/km may be added to charges for using transport infrastructure to cover the external costs of road haulage. The directive will cover not only trans-European transport (TEN-T) networks, but all motorways, and will apply to vehicles of over 3.5 tonnes.

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Italy and Spain complain to the European Court of Justice on the EU patent proposal

The proposal on the creation of a unitary patent protection system, which has been introduced by the enhanced cooperation procedure, has now to deal with the complaint lodged by Italy and Spain to the European Court of Justice before pass to the Council and European Parliament final approval.

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European Banking Authority's more transparency is welcomed by the Ombudsman

The inquiry opened against the Committee of European Banking Supervisors (CEBS) has been closed by the European Ombudsman after its successor, the European Banking Authority (EBA), published a list of participants in a public hearing about remuneration policies for the European financial sector.

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According to the European Consumer Centres' 2010 annual report, one in three complaints concerned transport

In 2010, the European Consumer Centres' network (ECC-Net) provided free help and advice in over 71,000 consumer cases, up by 15% compared to 2009, according to the network's 2010 annual report. One in three complaints concerned transport, of which almost 60% were about air travel (partly due to the volcanic ash crisis). More than half of the complaints handled concerned online purchases.

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Commission clears acquisition of Sanex by Colgate

The European Commission approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of sole control of Unilever's Sanex business (Sanex) by Colgate-Palmolive.

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Record number of Erasmus students in 2009/10 academic year

More than 213,000 students received 'Erasmus' grants, the EU grants for study and training abroad, during the 2009/10 academic year. This means a new record and 7.4% increase on the previous year's figure. Erasmus is the world's most successful student exchange programme and, on current trends, the EU will reach its target of supporting 3 million European students by 2012/13 since the programme's launch in 1987.

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The Commission presents measures for fighting corruption

Corruption is estimated to cost the economy of the EU €120 billion per year. Therefore, the Commission sets up a new mechanism, the EU Anti-Corruption Report, to monitor and assess Member States' efforts against corruption and encourage more political engagement. This will help Member States to better enforce legislation and fully implement their international commitments, as well as to improve the coherence of their anti-corruption policies and actions.

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