The access to EU funds will be faster and simpler after the 1 January 2013

The European Commission informed that following the recent entry into force of the new Financial Regulation, has adopted its new detailed Rules of application. As of 1 January 2013 thanks to simplified procedures, the delivery of EU funds to businesses, NGOs, researchers, students, municipalities and other recipients will be improved.

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The Commission proposes to streamline legislation on environmental impact assessments

The European Commission presented a new proposal which is intended to lighten administrative burdens and make it easier to assess the potential impacts of major projects, without weakening existing environmental safeguards.

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In Spain, the challenges to parts of the banking sector remain very acute and warrant decisive policy action

The European Commission and the European Central Bank published the results of the first review mission of the financial-assistance programme for Spain. The results highlighted that while the overall financial market conditions in this country have improved since the start of the programme and funding strains have been reduced, the challenges to parts of the banking sector remain very acute and warrant decisive policy action.

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The target for research funding to SMEs set by the beginning of FP7 programme has been reached

According to Commission's ninth report on SME participation in FP7, the target initially set by the European Parliament and the Council on research funding granted to European SMEs has been reached. The report highlights that SMEs have received around €2.9 billion from Cooperation Program.

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Commission's servers host a European Citizens' Initiative collection system for the first time

The use of collection procedures to support European citizen initiatives require certified on-line solutions which may bring the required guarantees to the process. Given the difficulties reported by some organizations to have this type of on-line collection systems, the European Commission offered the possibility to host them in its own servers. Fraternité 2020 is the first initiative to enjoy this solution in Commission's servers.

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European Parliament backs the initiative to improve consular protection of EU citizens abroad

The European Parliament adopted in plenary session a position which calls on the diplomatic services of member states and the European Union delegations dependent of the European External Action Service, to ensure an effective protection of any EU citizen abroad. Recent emergencies have highlighted the need to strengthen this consular protection.

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European regions call for a credible budget for the Connecting Europe Facility

The president of the Committee of the Regions, Ramon Luis Valcarcel, expressed the Committee's support to the demands made by the Commission in regard to the need to increase the budget allocated to the European Union Connecting Europe Facility. It also stressed the key role of the Facility and the actions developed as drivers for growth.

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MEPs blame member states on the delay to fully apply the single market

The European Parliament adopted a resolution which points out that citizens and companies still do not benefit fully from the single market. According to MEPs, member states are reluctant to implement EU rules swiftly, coordinate with each other and inform citizens of their rights.

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Acquisition of media products in digital format increased, but industries only saw their revenues rise slightly

According to a report published the Joint Research Centre, digital spending - the acquisition of media products in digital format - tripled from 2006 to 2010 worldwide. However, worldwide, industries only saw their revenues rise slightly up until 2010. The digital success of the music sector contrasts other media and content industries, which are moving at a slower pace towards digital with distribution.

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Public consultation from the Commission on concrete measures to make sustainable development a reality

The European Commission launched a public consultation which intends to gather views on how to follow up the renewed political commitment to sustainable development reached at the United Nations Rio+20 world summit, held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012. In particular, the Commission seeks to develop specific actions and concrete measures to make sustainable development a reality. The consultation is open until 15 January 2013.

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New European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan concluded between the EU and the Palestinian Authority

The Action Plan which sets out the objectives of European Union and the Palestinian Authority bilateral relations for the next five years, was agreed in Jerusalem on 24 October. Catherine Ashton, stressed that this Plan will mark a new phase in the EU privileged bilateral partnership with the Palestinian Authority.

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The Commission takes the preliminary view that Microsoft has failed to comply with browser choice commitments

The European Commission sent a statement of objections which does not prejudge the final outcome of the investigation, informing Microsoft of its preliminary view that Microsoft has failed to comply with its commitments to offer users a choice screen enabling them to easily choose their preferred web browser.

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