The transfer of competences from national authorities to the European Rail Agency was discussed by the Council

EU ministers on Transport held a debate on the fourth railway package which mainly focused on the proposal for a recast of the 2008 directive on the interoperability of the EU rail system. According to the Council, ministers broadly acknowledged the need to increase the efficiency of the authorisation process. However, misgivings were expressed about the transfer of competences from national authorities to the European Rail Agency as proposed by the Commission.

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Council reaches an agreement on customs enforcement against counterfeited and pirated goods

Ministers meeting at the General Affairs Council reached a political agreement on the draft regulation aimed at strengthen the conditions and procedures for action by customs authorities in the EU in order to protect intellectual property rights. Among other measures, the draft regulation provides for a simplified procedure that will to facilitate the destruction of counterfeited and pirated goods seized by customs authorities.

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Enters into force the EU ban on animal testing for cosmetics

From 11 March, it enters into force the last deadline to phase out animal testing for cosmetic products in Europe, which consist in that cosmetics tested on animals cannot be marketed any more in the EU.

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Participants in an EESC conference came out in favour of industry self-regulation to a better Internet

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) conference on "Towards a more responsible use of the internet: The European civil society perspective" was organised to discuss if and how a balance can be struck between online freedom of expression and the protection of personal dignity and privacy. At the conference, many participants came out in favour of industry self-regulation, which they argued was better-suited for ensuring the protection of users online than stringent, binding regulations.

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The potential of new quantum developments to boost growth and jobs in the EU, stressed in a roundtable

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) hosted a round table on the potential applications of quantum science and the development of new technologies in the areas of computation, simulation, communication, metrology and sensing. Dominique Ristori, JRC Director-General, stressed the potential of new quantum developments to boost growth and jobs in the EU.

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The Commission consults on the impacts of plastic waste and define a European strategy to mitigate them

The European Commission published a Green Paper in which invites the stakeholders to contribute with their views on whether, and how, existing legislation should be adapted to deal with plastic waste and promote re-use, recycling and recovery of plastic waste over landfilling.

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The Commission proposed new measures to keep Europe's space industry competitive

The European Commission proposed a new industrial policy for the European space sector, and to set up a European satellite collision avoidance system. With these measures, it intends to face the increasing competition from emerging industrial actors in countries such as China and India - competition posing a challenge to the further development of the EU's industry.

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MEPs backed the proposal to suspend temporarily the EU CO2 Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) for intercontinental flights

The Environment Committee at the European Parliament backed a proposal to suspend temporarily the EU CO2 Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) for intercontinental flights, so as to enable International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to agree worldwide measures. The ETS will continue to apply to flights between EU airports.

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Permanent Representatives Committee of the Council endorsed the compromise text on safety of offshore operations

The informal agreement reached between the Council and the European Parliament on safety of offshore oil and gas operations was backed by the Permanent Representatives Committee of the Council. To enter into force it still needs to be formally approved by the Parliament and by the Council - after the plenary vote in the Parliament.

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New rules proposed to improve workers' protection from exposure to harmful chemicals

The European Commission has proposed to amend five existing EU health and safety Directives on protection of workers from exposure to harmful chemicals to align them with the latest rules on classification, labelling and packaging of chemicals.

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€50 million from the EU funds for research to deliver 5G mobile technology by 2020

European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes announces new EU research grants in 2013 to develop '5G' technology, with the aim to put Europe back in the lead of the global mobile industry. Overall, from 2007 to 2013 EU investments amount to more than €700 million for research on future networks.

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Report stressed the lack of harmonised reporting on oil and gas offshore accidents across the EU

The latest report published by the Joint Research Centre highlights the lack of harmonised reporting on oil and gas offshore accidents across the EU, and the poor access of information for researchers, consultants and the public. The statistical analysis also reveals that offshore accidents with severe and long-lasting consequences are not extremely rare events as initially thought, at least concerning failures, causes and chain of events.

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