Historic New Partnership on Organic Trade reached by the European Union and the United States

From 1 June of 2012, organic products certified in Europe or in the United States may be sold as organic in either region. The new agreement announced by the European Commission implies the creation of a strong foundation from which to promote organic agriculture, benefiting the growing organic industry and supporting jobs and businesses on a global scale.

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€1.6 million from EU Globalisation Fund to support Spanish construction workers

The European Commission has proposed to help 1,138 redundant construction workers back into employment in Spain, with €1.6m from the European Globalisation adjustment Fund (EGF). The proposal now goes to the European Parliament and the EU's Council of Ministers for their approval.

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The Commission sets out a plan to make EU the world leader in High-Performance Computing

The plan for the EU presented by the Commission seeks to reverse its relative decline in High-Performance Computing (HPC) use and capabilities. Thus, the EU will double its investment in HPC and become home to computers that can perform 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 (i.e. 1018) operations per second before 2020. Half of the investment would be for development and training and for new centres of excellence, creating thousands of jobs.

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The European Parliament approves the rules to simplify the cross-border payments

MEPs adopted the single Euro payments area (SEPA) regulation which lays down common rules and standards for euro credit and direct debit transactions among banks. According to them, thanks to this new regulation cross-border bank transfers should become faster, cheaper and safer for EU citizens.

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The Council discussed the regulatory aspects of the proposal on trans-European energy infrastructure

The Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council meeting discussed on the 14 of February two aspects of the Commission's proposal on the draft regulation on trans-European energy infrastructure: regional groups and regulatory measures. In addition, Ministers also held a debate on the main obstacles to the achievement of the Europe 2020 energy objectives.

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The macroeconomic situation of 12 EU Member States needs to be analysed more in depth

The first Alert Mechanism Report published by the Commission on the EU's new rules on economic governance considers that the macroeconomic situation in the following countries needs to be investigated further: Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Hungary, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

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MEPs have given green light for more flexible use of new vaccines to treat Bluetongue disease

The new rules to enable new bluetongue vaccines to be used more efficiently, and thus make farmers' lives easier have been approved by the European Parliament. This decision is aimed to combat several epidemic waves of disease have hit many EU Member States since the early 2000s, causing significant losses of livestock.

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The European Research Council helps to spur innovation with the Proof of Concept grants

The European Research Council (ERC) announced the conclusion of its competition for Proof of Concept funding. In this call, a total of 52 grants have now been awarded. Worth up to €150,000 each, these 'top up' grants are designed to help ERC-funded 'blue sky' research maximise value.

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Public consultation opened on state aid rules for the maritime sector

The European Commission has launched a public consultation in order to get stakeholders' views on the application of the 2004 EU Guidelines on state aid to maritime transport. In light of the comments received, the Commission will decide afterwards whether the Guidelines need to be revised. Contributions can be made until 14 May 2012.

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Youth unemployment remains very worrying in the EU according to a Commission's report

The European Commission published its figures for the unemployment in December 2011 which show that the number of unemployed people in the EU stood at 23.8 million, i.e. 1.1 million more than in March 2011, when the declining trend in unemployment was reversed. Moreover, youth unemployment rate did not rise further in December 2011 compared to November; it stands at 22.1%.

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The Commission seeks an economy more innovative and more sustainable for Europe

The strategy and action plan proposed by the European Commission is addressed to shift the European economy towards greater and more sustainable use of renewable resources. According to the Commission, this plan will help to get renewable biological resources for secure and healthy food and feed, as well as for materials, energy, and other products.

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The European Commission clears acquisition of Motorola Mobility by Google

The European Commission approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Motorola Mobility, a developer of smartphones and tablets, by Google, the world's largest internet search and search advertising company and developer of Android.

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