€20 million additional European funds for victims of Pakistan's floods and conflicts

The European Commission announced the allocation of €20 million in additional funding to assist victims of 2011's monsoon floods in Pakistan and people displaced by recent military interventions. The European Union's total assistance for Pakistan (including the contributions of the Commission and those of Member States) amounts to €2,458 billion for the period 2009 -2013.

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The SMEs' access to bank loans continued to deteriorate in 2012, according to a report

The results of the ECB survey shows that euro area SMEs’ external financing needs increased between October 2011 and March 2012. At the same time, the survey results show that access to bank loans continued to deteriorate.

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In 2011 it was detected new drugs at the rate of around one per week in the EU

The EMCDDA–Europol 2011 annual report on new psychoactive substances showed that a total of 49 new psychoactive substances were officially notified for the first time in 2011 via the EU early-warning system (EWS). The report highlights the increasing number and diversity of synthetic cannabinoids (e.g. found in ‘Spice’-like products), of which five new chemical families were detected.

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Eurofound published a report that states the likelihood that the EU is already in a double-dip recession

According to the latest European Restructuring Monitor (ERM) published by Eurofound, for every three jobs lost in the European Union in large-scale restructurings, two new ones were created during the first quarter of 2012. In addition, the report also reveals a weakening EU economy with an increasing likelihood that the Union is already in a double-dip recession.

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The right to be informed in criminal proceedings, regulated under a new European law

The Council gave its green light to the Directive on the right to information in criminal proceedings, that establishes that suspects of a criminal offence will be informed of their rights in a language they understand. This measure has been taken in order to ensure defendants' right to information during criminal proceedings in the EU.

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The report on EU nuclear stress test identified four main areas of improvement to be considered

The Commission presented the report on EU nuclear stress test carried out in the EU. Among of the areas to be improved, the report identifies the lack of consistency in the assessment of natural hazards or the need for regular assessments and implementations of known safety measures. In fact, the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group and the EU Commission have agreed to continue with safety improvements of nuclear power plants and do a follow up to cover additional safety aspects.

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Commission consults on how reduce costs to roll out high speed internet

The European Commission launched a public consultation on how to cut the costs of setting up new networks for high speed internet in the EU. According to the Commission data, for every 10% increase in the broadband penetration the economy grows by 1 to 1.5%. The European institution also believes it could cut the cost of broadband investments by a quarter.

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Education Committee calls on Member States to introduce a European Skills Passport

MEPs at the Culture and Education Committee voted a report that calls on Member States for a "European Skills Passport" which could certify official recognition of skills, acquired or demonstrated through volunteering, both for professional and learning purposes. MEPs also ask Member States to create an appropriate legal framework and national strategies to this end.

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The Council agreed on a general approach for the establishment of a EU PNR system

The Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting ended with an agreement on the general approach on a draft directive on the use of flight passenger data for protection against terrorist offences and serious crime, the so-called EU PNR system. In addition, Ministers approved an action paper intended to ensure a coherent EU response to continued migratory pressures.

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MEPs support a financial transaction tax even if only some Member States opt for it

The Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee approved a resolution which proposes a better design for the financial transaction tax in order to capture more traders and to make evading it unprofitable. The text also says that if it is not possible to establish the tax EU wide at the outset, enhanced cooperation should be envisaged.

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Member States broadly supported the need to better target CAP payments to young and small farmers

The Agriculture and Fisheries Council held a debate on the CAP reform which mostly focused on direct payments. If most delegations supported to better target payments to young and small farmers, they are divided on the issue to know if the small farmers should fulfil or not the greening or cross-compliance provisions. They do not agree on the definition of active farmer either.

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Commission asks to six countries to notify their measures to apply the latest Directive on e-money

The European Commission sent to Belgium, Spain, France, Cyprus, Poland and Portugal a easoned opinion which asks to those countries to notify within the next two months the measures they are taking to update their national legislation in conformity with the latest Directive on e-money. Electronic money is a digital equivalent of cash, stored on an electronic device or remotely at a server.

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