Visa Information System (VIS) starts operations

From the morning of October 11, 2011 the so-called Visa Information System (VIS) is already in operation. The treatment of biometric data from visa holders using VIS will allow a faster exchange of information and will help to improve identification procedures. The first consular posts to be connected to the system will be those of North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia).

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President of the CoR agrees with the Commission on the importance of intermediate regions

At the celebration of the 9th edition of the Open Days, Mercedes Bresso, President of the Committee of the Regions defended the creation of a provisional intermediate category, which will be "intermediate" regions i.e. with a GDP of between 75% and 90% of the EU average, as it was proposed by the Commission.

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Commission announces winners of the 2011 European Union Prize for literature

Winners of the 2011 European Union Prize for Literature, which recognises the best new or emerging authors in the EU, were announced at the Frankfurt Book Fair. As in previous editions, each winner of the 3rd 2011 European Union Prize for literature will get 5000 euro and the opportunity to have their book translated into other languages to boost its cross-border appeal.

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Commission proposes measures to unify European contract law

Every year European companies are estimated to be loosing around 26 billion euros of because of the obstacles caused by divergent regulations in contract law applying to sales between member states. In order to overcome some of these problems, the Commission has proposed common rules in sales law that will provide higher level of protection and facilitate transactions between member states.

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New Commission proposals aim to better protect patients by improving information about prescription medicines

According to the proposals adopted by the European Commission, the pharmaceutical industry would have to be more clear and concise with the information it provides to the public with regard to prescription-only medicines. These proposals include a series of requirements related to the kind of information that would be allowed, the communication channels, as well as quality criteria and pharmacovigilance issues.

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Agricultural holdings in the European Union fell by 20% between 2003 and 2010

According to the last data released by the Statistical Office of the European Union there is a tendency in the European Union for larger holdings, as the average size of EU holdings which in 2003 was of 12 ha. per holding was by the end of 2010 of 14 ha. These figures are part of the preliminary results of the Agricultural census 2010.

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Council encourages the Commission to present the 7th EU Environment Action Programme early 2012

Among the main results of the Environment Council held in Luxembourg on 10 October, EU Ministers the conclusions on Commission's assessment of the EU's 6th Environment Action Programme (EAP) 2002-2012. EU Ministers in charge for the Environment discussed how to improve EU action in this field as well as to ensure synergies between the 7th EAP and the Roadmap to a resource-efficient Europe.

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Commission wants to accelerate the commercial deployment of pan-European Mobile Satellite Services (MSS)

The European Commission adopted a decision in order to push for an effective deployment of pan-European mobile satellite services. This decision aims to make it easier for Member States, following a coordinated approach, to decide on potential breaches identified by a competent national authority, as well as ensuring consistent remedies and sanctions if required.

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EU funds help to discover a connection between healthy ageing and neurodegenerative disorders

A research partially funded by the EU has uncovered new information linking healthy ageing and neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's disease.

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EU institutions reaffirmed its opposition to the death penalty

On the World Day against the Death Penalty, the European Union and the Council of Europe reaffirm its united opposition to the death penalty, and their commitment to its worldwide abolition in a joint declaration signed by Catherine Ashton, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe. Jerzy Buzek, the President of the European Parliament also expressed Parliament's opposition.

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The European external borders agency, Frontex, strengthens its capacities

The Council adopted new rules to strengthen Frontex, the European Agency for the management of operational cooperation at the external borders of the EU. Among the new changes, Frontex will now have the possibility to buy or lease its own equipment (cars, vessels, helicopters, etc.) or to buy such equipment in co-ownership with a Member State. In addition, a mechanism for member states to second national border guards and make available equipment to the agency.

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Council adopted a regulation for monitoring energy markets

The Council adopted a new framework for monitoring of energy markets. The monitoring wholesale energy markets will be done in order to effectively detect and deter market abuse and manipulation, thereby ensuring the integrity and transparency of those markets.

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