The government deficit of both the euro area and the EU decreased in 2011 compared with 2010

The government deficit to GDP ratio decreased from 6.2% in 2010 to 4.1% in 2011 in the euro area, and in the EU from 6.5% to 4.4%. In the euro area the government debt to GDP ratio increased from 85.4% at the end of 2010 to 87.3% at the end of 2011, and in the EU from 80.0% to 82.5%. In 2011 the lowest government deficits relative to GDP were recorded in Luxembourg, Finland and Germany while seventeen Member States had deficits higher than 3% of GDP. Among them, the highest were recorded in Ireland (-13.4%), Greece and Spain (both -9.4%), and the United Kingdom (-7.8%).

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EU SMEs can now use a new online risk assessment tool for workplaces

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) launched a free online software to give micro and small businesses across Europe the means of carrying out risk assessments in workplaces in a straightforward and cost-effective way.

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Pollutants emissions need to be even further reduced in the EU to protect health and the environment

Despite reduction successes, it becomes clear that emissions need to be even further reduced to protect health and the environment. This is the main conclusion drawn from the European Environment Agency (EEA) report ‘Evaluation of progress under the EU National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive’ that considers whether the EU has successfully addressed environmental and health objectives set out when the Directive was adopted in 2001.

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The Commission announced the winners of the European Border Breakers Awards

The winners of the 2013 European Border Breakers Awards, the top new talents in European pop music who have achieved success beyond their home country with their first international release, were announced by the European Commission.

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The Commission agreed to decrease by €25.1 million its draft budget for 2013

The European Commission decided to reduces 2013 draft EU budget by €25.1 million compared with its proposal presented in April 2012. The reason follows the usual autumn update of EU funding needs in agriculture, and reflects the international fisheries negotiations.

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New international portal launched to exchange information about unsafe products that have been taken off the market

The EU and OECD countries jointly launched the ‘Global Recalls Portal’ which allow authorities across the world to exchange information about unsafe products that have been taken off the market. According to the European Commission, the Portal will contribute to boosting consumer safety across the world and will enhance consumers' awareness and confidence in buying global.

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Austerity measures across Europe have a negative impact on the most vulnerable groups in society

Eurofound contributed to a conference celebrated by the Cyprus EU Presidency with research findings from projects that have looked at employment developments in childcare services for school-age children, company initiatives for workers with care responsibilities for disabled children or adults, and parenting support in Europe. Eurofound found that the proportion of people reporting difficulties in accessing childcare services are among the highest on all counts in Greece.

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The Council agreed that establishing a Single Supervisory Mechanism is a priority for the Union

The European Council met on 18 October to discuss several aspects of a possible banking union. European leaders agreed that in order to break the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns, the urgent element needed is a Single Supervisory Mechanism, to prevent banking risks and cross-border contagion from emerging.

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Active involvement of social partners needed to implement national reform plans and EU governance

The European social partners stressed the need for the active involvement of social partners in the implementation of national reform plans and in EU governance as a whole in the Tripartite Social Summit held in Brussels on 18th October ahead of the autumn European Council.

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MEPs call for policies that affect developing countries more consistent

At the European Development Days high-level panel, MEPs debated on the ways to ensure that the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals drives inclusive growth. They stressed that the EU must make policies that affect developing countries more consistent, focus on the neediest, and set timetables for achieving measurable sustainable development goals.

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New guidelines to assist the inland navigation sector and nature protection in the EU

The European Commission published new guidelines explaining how best to ensure that activities related to inland navigation are compatible with EU environmental policy in general and nature legislation in particular. The guidelines are aimed at showing how to apply EU environmental legislation on inland navigation and nature protection.

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20 years providing nuclear forensics support by the Joint Research Centre

An event celebrated last 12 October in Karlsruhe marked the celebration of 20 years providing nuclear forensics support by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission. Nuclear forensics provides information for the prosecution of nuclear smugglers and enables the identification of the origin of the intercepted material, thus providing essential information for improving preventive measures.

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