Europe speeds up industrial research in Micro-Computers

The European Commission launched on the 22nd February 2008 in Brussels, a major Joint Technology Initiative (JTI) called ARTEMIS. With an unprecedented investment of € 2.5 billion, this initiative, that has been endorsed by the Council of Ministers and by the European Parliament at the end of 2007, addresses embedded computer systems that – while running almost unnoticed by users – improve the performance of all kinds of machines: from cars, planes and phones, to factories, washing machines and televisions. The Governing Boards of ARTEMIS – where public and private stakeholders take decisions jointly – met for the first time in Brussels on the 22nd February 2008.

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2008 internet safer day

On 12th February 2008, 100 organisations in over 50 countries worldwide celebrate Safer Internet Day. In Brussels a first ever pan-European Youth Forum on Safer Internet is organised by the European Commission with the participation of Meglena Kuneva, the EU's Consumer Commissioner. The purpose is to increase dialogue between children and decision makers on safer Internet issues and to raise awareness of the best ways for protecting minors online. Safer Internet Day is organised under the patronage of the EU's Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding.

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EC welcomes EU postal directive

The European Parliament adopted the new Postal Directive, giving its final political approval to EU postal reform. The vote confirms the broad political consensus on the way forward for opening EU postal markets to full competition. The Commission will assist Member States in implementing the new Directive and will take an active role in monitoring closely market developments to make sure that EU citizens and businesses obtain the benefits from high quality postal services foreseen by the Directive.

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Legal protection of computer programmess

The commission of the European Communities published on 28th January 2008 the COM(2008) 23 final 2008/0019 (COD) related to the Proposal for a directive…/…/EC of the European parliament and the council on the legal protection of computer programmes. The function of a computer program is to communicate and work together with other components of a computer system and with users and, for this purpose, a logical and, where appropriate, physical interconnection and interaction is required to permit all elements of software and hardware to work with other software and hardware and with users in all the ways in which they are intended to function. The parts of the program which provide for such interconnection and interaction between elements of software and hardware are generally known as “interfaces”. This functional interconnection and interaction is generally known as “interoperability”; such interoperability can be defined as the ability to exchange information and mutually to use the information which has been exchanged.

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Sustainable Energy Cities lead climate change

On 29th January 2008  the European Commission launched the Covenant of Mayors, the most ambitious initiative to date involving the citizens in the fight against global warming. It comes after an informal consultation with numerous cities across Europe, whose Mayors will join the Commission in launching the Covenant. The Covenant consists of the formal commitment of the adhering cities to go beyond the objectives of the EU in terms of reducing their CO2 emissions through energy efficiency and renewable energy actions. Almost 100 cities throughout Europe, including 15 capital cities, have expressed their early support for the Covenant.

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European Commission recognizes outstanding sustainable energy projects

On 29 January six winning projects from four EU member states - Italy, Austria, Hungary and France - were awarded trophies at the Sustainable Energy Europe Awards ceremony taking place under the umbrella of the second European Sustainable Energy Week. The European Commission initiative aims to raise public awareness on the use of renewable energy sources and energy-efficient methods. The winners were awarded for the exceptional work they have already accomplished but, above all, for the commitment they have made to the sustainable future.

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Equal prices for music downloads in Europe

The European Commission welcomes Apple's announcement to equalise prices for downloads of songs from its iTunes online store in Europe within the next six months. This puts an end to the different treatment of UK consumers who currently have to pay higher prices for downloads. The different treatment to UK consumers was a major concern for Which?, a UK consumer protection organisation, who filed a formal complaint with the Commission. The Commission’s antitrust proceedings have also clarified that it is not agreements between Apple and the major record companies which determine how the iTunes store is organised in Europe. Consequently, the Commission does not intend to take further action in this case.

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Single Market for Online Music, Films and Games in Europe

The European Commission  decided January 3rd 2008 to give a new boost to Europe's on-line content sector. EU citizens should be able to enjoy easier and faster access to a rich variety of music, TV programmes, films or games via the Internet, mobile phones or other devices. The Commission therefore encourages the content industry, telecoms companies and Internet service providers to work closely together to make available more content on-line, while at the same time ensuring a robust protection of intellectual property rights. The Commission also wants to facilitate copyright licences for on-line content covering the territory of several or all of the EU Member States. According to Commission studies, a truly Single Market without borders for Creative On-line Content could strengthen considerably the competitiveness of Europe's music, film and games industry and allow retail revenues of the sector to quadruple by 2010 if clear and consumer-friendly measures are taken by industry and public authorities.

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Major opportunities for Information Society

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) issued  his Opinion on the 20th December 2007 concerning the Commission's communication on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) in Europe that was released in March 2007. The Opinion deals with the growing use of RFID chips in consumer products and other new applications affecting individuals.

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EC welcomes new era for Europe's audiovisual media

The European Parliament, on the 29th November 2007, formally approved without amendments the Council's common position on the new Audiovisual Media Services without frontiers Directive. The Directive modernises the rules for Europe's audiovisual industry and offers a comprehensive legal framework that covers all audiovisual media services – including on-demand services. Less detailed, more flexible and future-oriented rules on TV advertising will allow audiovisual content to be better financed. Member States now have two years to make the Directive national law.

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