The European Union and its 27 Member States remained the world's largest aid donor in 2012

The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) published the figures confirming that the European Union and its 27 member states remained the world's largest donor in 2012, providing more than half of the Official Development Assistance (ODA) reported by Development Assistance Committee (DAC). In 2012, the EU collective ODA decreased to €55.1 billion from €56.2 billion in 2011.

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Commission proposes unique methods to evaluate the environmental footprint of products and organizations

Rating different products and production processes in terms of their environmental performance is currently quite a complex process. The existence of different methods either promoted by public authorities or put forward by private operators forces companies to choose between these options, increasing their costs and making it more difficult for consumers to access reliable and comparable information.

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The Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament proposes to strengthen visa reciprocity requirements

Members of the Civil Liberties Committee of the Parliament have approved an amendment to the proposed revision of the visa regulation in order to strengthen the mechanisms aimed at ensuring reciprocity on visa requirements. The principle of reciprocity entails that a third country whose citizens benefit from a visa waiver must give equal treatment to citizens from all EU Member states.

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Mayors of EU capital cities welcomed Commission's initiative to open a direct dialogue with the capital cities

In a declaration endorsed by mayors of EU capital cities, they welcomed the initiative of the European Commission to open a direct dialogue with the capital cities and to give EU cities a higher profile as direct partners for the EU. Mayors agreed that capital cities are the laboratories where solutions to the EU's social and economic problems must be found.

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EESC calls on the Commission to take steps to end to food waste in the EU

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted in its latest plenary session an opinion that calls on the European Commission to take steps to counter this dramatic trend aggravated by the economic crisis which is the food waste in the EU. Food waste amounts to 89 million tonnes a year in the EU, while 79 million EU citizens live below the poverty line.

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Commission stresses that departing from the adjustment plan would aggravate the difficulties in Portugal

The European Commission has backed the Portuguese government decision to continue with the adjustment plan further to the Constitutional Court ruling which declared unconstitutional the Portuguese budget for year 2013. The Commission stressed that not continuing with the adjustment plan could increase the difficulties in the Portuguese recovery process.

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A report shows that air pollutant emissions were above legal limits in eight member states in 2011

The data reported by the European Environment Agency (EEA) shows that air pollutant emissions were above legal limits in eight member states in 2011, while 12 member states exceeded these limits in 2010. The report also confirms that the most serious air pollutants are particulate matter, ozone and nitrogen dioxide.

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Committee of the Regions and the EESC join forces to build a Europe of the people and for the people

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), Staffan Nilson, invited Ramon Valcárcel Siso, president of the Committee of the Regions, to attend the latest plenary session of the EESC in order to look at ways of developing political cooperation between the two Committees. The main aim of this action was to join forces in building a Europe "of the people and for the people".

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Female researchers still struggle to reach decision-making positions in the EU

A report published by the European Commission shows that women are still under-represented in EU research. According to this report, women represent only 33% of European researchers, 20% of full professors and 15.5 % of heads of institutions in the Higher Education sector.

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The volume of retail trade decreased by 0.3% in euro area in February 2013 compared with January 2013

Eurostat published that in February 2013 compared with January 2013, the volume of retail trade fell by 0.3% in the euro area and remained stable in the EU. The largest decreases were registered in Estonia (-2.6%), France (-2.2%) and Slovenia (-2.0%), and the highest increases in Luxembourg (+4.1%), Denmark and Malta (both +1.5%).

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An EU-funded project that combines the efficient use of renewable energy technologies with water electrolysis for energy …

The European Commission presented the four year H2SusBuild project that aims at developing an energy self-sustainable and zero-CO2-emission building by integrating a hybrid energy system, where the storage of hydrogen provides the energy supply in instances where renewable sources are lacking.

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The Governing Council decided to keep the key ECB interest rates unchanged

Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, reported in a statement that the Governing Council of this European institution decided that the interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain unchanged at 0.75%, 1.50% and 0.00% respectively.

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