The Commission launches the second phase of the Neighbourhood Civil Society Facility

The Neighbourhood Civil Society Facility that was first set up by the European Commission in 2011 with the aim to reinforce capacities of civil society organisations (CSOs) in the Neighbourhood region, starts its second phase. The Facility will receive a new budget allocation of €45.3 million for 2012-2013.

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New programme for SMEs was beefed up by MEPs with a view to negotiations with the Council

MEPs adopted a resolution on the new programme for SMEs (known as COSME) which explicitly sets as goals to reduce the number of days to set up a new SME to three, cutting start-up costs to €100 and having a one-stop shop for business start-ups in all member states.

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The unemployment rate in the euro area and in the EU increased in October 2012 in comparison with September

The euro area seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 11.7% in October 2012, up from 11.6% in September. The EU unemployment rate in October 2012 was 10.7%, higher than September. In October 2012, the lowest unemployment rates were recorded in Austria, Luxembourg, Germany and the Netherlands, and the highest in Spain and Greece.

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The Blueprint for a deep and genuine Economic and Monetary Union presented by the Commission

The European Commission presented a Blueprint for a 'deep and genuine' Economic and Monetary Union. According to the Commission, implementing this Blueprint will mean that all major economic and fiscal policy choices by Member States would be subject to deeper coordination, endorsement and surveillance at the European level.

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New Commission's proposal for an Environment Action Programme to guide this policy up to 2020

The European Commission presented a proposal for an Environment Action Programme (EAP) which is aimed at protecting nature, stimulating sustainable growth, creating new jobs and setting Europe on a path to prosperity and health within the limits of the planet.

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MEPs stressed that investment in research and innovation should reflect the EU's future challenges

The Industry, Research and Energy Committee broadly supported six draft laws on the EU's framework research programme, Horizon 2020, to be financed under the new long-term budget for 2014 to 2020. According to MEPs, Europe needs further investment in research and innovation.

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Over €1.2 billion to fund key Trans-European Transport Network projects

The European Commission published a set of Calls for Proposals under the 2012 Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) multi-annual and annual programmes, making €1.265 billion available to finance European transport infrastructure projects in all transport modes in all EU Member States.

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The Commission consults on the delivery system to boost e-commerce in the EU

According to the European Commission, an efficient delivery and return system is key to facilitating further growth in e-commerce and therefore consumer choice and convenience. It has therefore launched a public consultation to gather opinions to boost the transnational delivery system on the e-commerce in the EU.

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A large number of member states opposed the end of the sugar quota regime

The reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP) was the main subject to discuss during the first day of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting held on 28 November. Ministers focused the discussions in particular in direct payments, the single CMO and rural development.

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Five priorities presented to help Member States to achieve a renewed growth

The European Commission presented its Annual Growth Survey for 2013 in which sets out five priorities designed to guide Member States through the crisis to renewed growth. The Survey also shows that tough EU policies are beginning to show results, continued reform is needed to generate sustainable growth and jobs.

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A new portal brings access to information and data on the Trans-European Transport Network

The European Commission has launched a new web portal to display updated information about the state of the projects and development of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). The site includes satellite-based dynamic maps, as well as data, statistics and other interactive elements.

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The European Commission endorses restructuring plans of the four Spanish State-owned banks

The European Commission has approved to the restructuring plans of the Spanish banks BFA-Bankia, Banco Novagalicia, Catalunya Banc and Banco de Valencia, thus allowing these entities to receive aid from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). In order to receive this aid each bank will have to reduce its balance sheet more than 60% by 2017 compared to 2010.

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