Other available languages: FR
Brussels, Friday 26 November 2010
Top News from the European Commission
Background notes from the Spokespersons' service for journalists.
Monday 29 - Tuesday 30 November: 3rd Africa-EU Summit in Tripolis, Libya 1
Wednesday 1 December: Commission opens public consultation on the future of the Value Added Tax system 4
Thursday 2 December: Media launch of the European Year of Volunteering 2011 5
Monday 6 and Tuesday 7 December: European Development Days in Brussels 6
Tuesday 7 December: Action plan for vocational education and training 2011-2020 8
Wednesday 8 December: Preventing abuse in wholesale energy markets 9
Thursday 9 December: Agricultural product quality policy 10
Thursday 9 December: Presentation of EU Strategy for the Danube Region 11
Thursday 9 December: Marie Curie Actions funds its 50 000th researcher 13
Friday 10 December: Human Rights Day 15
Friday 10 December: And the "Single Market Award" goes to…. 16
Tuesday 14 December: Cutting costs and red tape for citizens and businesses in recognising court rulings and civil status documents 17
Wednesday 15 December: Launch of the eGovernment Action Plan for better online services to citizens and businesses 19
Monday 29 - Tuesday 30 November: 3rd Africa-EU Summit in Tripolis, Libya
Africa and the EU will hold their 3rd Summit in Tripoli (Libya) on 29-30 November 2010. 80 African and European Heads of State and Government are expected, and some 50 observers from third countries and international organisations are invited. Under the overarching Summit theme "Investment, Economic Growth and Job Creation", leaders will discuss concrete ways to stimulate inclusive growth, to create employment opportunities, and to use sustainable development as a driver for growth. They will further review the achievements of the Strategic Partnership between the two continents, and agree on future priorities for cooperation in light of global challenges and opportunities. The summit is expected to adopt a joint statement with main conclusions and commitments, together with an Action Plan for 2011-13 that translates the Summit themes into concrete priorities and actions.
Participants will include:
President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso
President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy
Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs
EU-Africa Business Forum: On the eve of the Summit, the 4th EU-Africa Business Forum will be held in Tripoli. Vice-President Antonio Tajani will speak at the opening on 26 November and Commissioner Andris Piebalgs will speak at the closing ceremony on 27 November.
Furthermore, a CEOs Round Table for Africa will take place during the event on 28 November. It will gather a limited number of CEOs from Europe and Africa to discuss the involvement of the private sector in a broader Africa-EU Strategy. President Jose Manuel Barroso, Commissioner Andris Piebalgs will participate in the debate.
At their Lisbon Summit in 2007, Africa and the EU decided to move the Africa-EU relationship to a new level. Both sides agreed to pursue common interests and strategic objectives together, beyond the focus of traditional development policy. The two continents started cooperating as equal partners by creating the "Joint Africa EU Strategy", and 8 Partnerships. Since then, successive Action Plans have reinforced the intercontinental dialogue and led to concrete action in eight key areas of common concern: Peace and security; Democratic governance and human rights; Trade, regional integration and infrastructure; Millennium development goals (MDGs); Energy; Climate change; Migration, mobility and employment; Science, information society and space.
The programme of the Summit currently foresees the formal meeting to begin in the morning of 29 November and to end in the early afternoon of 30 November, with a joint press conference. (TBC)
Journalists who wish to attend the Summit should consult the website of the African Union Commission, where a media advisory note can be found:
Background information on the Partnership and its eight thematic areas can be found at:
Website of DG Development:
Website of President Barroso:
Website of Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs:
Catherine Ray +32 2 296 9921 email@example.com
Wojtek Talko +32 2 297 85 51 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday 1 December: Commission opens public consultation on the future of the Value Added Tax system
On 1 December, the European Commission will launch a public consultation on the future of the Value Added Tax (VAT) system. The aim is to see how the current VAT system can be updated, simplified and improved to better meet the needs of EU citizens and businesses.
The current VAT system dates back to the 1960s. The Commission believes that a simpler VAT system would greatly help businesses, taxpayers and tax administrations to reduce the costs implied and operate in today’s market-place.
The Commission will adopt a Green Paper "On the future of VAT – Towards a simpler, more robust and efficient VAT system". All stakeholders will be invited to submit their contributions to the questions raised in this Green Paper by 31 May 2011.
IP and MEMO will be available on the day.
For information on the key VAT documents please see:
The document of the public consultation will be made available on:
Emer Traynor: +32 2 292 15 48 Emer.Traynor@ec.europa.eu
Maud Scelo: +32 2 298 15 21 Maud.Scelo@ec.europa.eu
Thursday 2 December: Media launch of the European Year of Volunteering 2011
The European Commission will launch the communication campaign for the European Year of Volunteering 2011 with the slogan "Volunteer! Make a difference." The event also sees the inauguration of the Year's official website: http://www.europa.eu/volunteering. The EU is emphasizing the importance of voluntary work as a means of promoting social cohesion and solidarity across Europe in an increasingly competitive and globalised world economy.
Hundreds of activities and projects will be highlighted, promoted and disseminated during this Year. At the EU level, these include: (1) the EYV2011 tour - EU countries will be toured over a one-year period and each step of the tour will be a good chance for volunteers to showcase their work and engage with policy makers and the public; (2) the EYV2011 relay – 27 “Relay Reporters” will follow the work of 54 volunteering organisations and produce audio, video and written reports to be broadcasted by the media.
Since 1983, European Years have raised awareness about a variety of key issues and created a momentum for policy development. The European Year of Volunteering in 2011 has four main objectives: to lower obstacles to volunteering in the EU; to improve the quality of volunteering; to reward and recognise volunteering activities; and to raise awareness of the value and importance of volunteering to the economy, society and the individual.
Media Launch — Press Conference (at the VIP Corner) with Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, Mr Jean-Marc Delizee, Belgium's federal Secretary of State for Social Affairs, and Ms Marian Harkin MEP, at 12.30 at the VIP corner. The Relay Reporters and representatives of the National Coordinating Bodies will also attend the event.
Website of the European Year of Volunteering (launch on 2 December)
The Alliance's web site:
Vice-President Viviane Reding's website:
Monday 6 and Tuesday 7 December: European Development Days in Brussels
On 6 and 7 December, the European Commission will organise the 5th edition of the European Development Days (EDD) in Brussels, in cooperation with the Belgian Presidency of the European Union. President José Manuel Barroso will deliver a keynote speech at the opening of this major political discussion forum which brings together current and former Heads of State and Government from Europe, Africa and rest of the world; high-level representatives of governments, international organisations as well as development practitioners, NGOs, media and civil society. Full list of participants and programme are available online: http://www.eudevdays.eu/ .
Organised a few days after the Africa-EU Summit in Tripoli, in parallel to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancún, the European Development Days provide a timely and focused interface for stakeholders and governments to address global challenges in an open and often informal atmosphere.
European Development Days was launched in 2006 as a vehicle for aid effectiveness and an opportunity to strengthen the European Consensus on development cooperation. The four previous editions have featured 31 Heads of State, 44 Heads of Government or ministers and 6 Nobel Prize winners. The last edition in 2009 in Stockholm attracted a total of 6000 participants.
Under the leadership of President José Manuel Barroso and Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs, the 2010 edition of EDD will feature 15 high level panels, and 30 seminars on subjects as sensitive as the place of development in the institutional setup prescribed by the Lisbon Treaty, governance, reflection on the future of development cooperation, access to energy, the “Global Health Policy”, the management of natural resources, support to the private sector, the effectiveness of aid, human rights, etc. The EDD will be accompanied by numerous side-events, and launch of Prizes and reports. A highlight among these will be the award ceremony of this year's Lorenzo Natali Journalism Prize in the Town Hall of Brussels and the award ceremony of the winners of the Music Against Poverty contest. (The full programme is available online: http://eudevdays.eu/download/EDD_2010_Full_Draft_Programme.pdf).
7 December 2010: Press conference with Commissioner Piebalgs and Minister Michel on behalf of Belgian Presidency
Venue: Silver Hall, Square Brussels Meeting Centre, rue Mont des Arts, 1000 Brussels
Any media interested to attend the European Development please contact Wojtek Talko at Wojtek.Talko@ec.europa.eu.
In addition, to provide everybody a possibility to follow events and debates, this year the EDD website – www.eudevdays.eu – will provide comprehensive web-based resources. Web-streaming, daily audiovisual summaries, a quote service, access to a camera crew and TV & Radio sets and many other facilities will be available to facilitate work of journalists and media representatives. A full list of provided service is available in the "Guide for Media" (see the link below).
Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/eudevdays
And join our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/European-Development-Days/
IP/10/461 - EU Commissioner Piebalgs in Washington to relaunch the Development dialogue with the USA and to attend the World Bank Development Committee Meeting
The EDD Guide for media:
The EDD draft programme:
Website of the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs:
Catherine Ray +32 2 296 99 21 email@example.com
Wojtek Talko +32 2 297 85 51 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday 7 December: Action plan for vocational education and training 2011-2020
The Ministers of Education of 33 European countries will meet with the European Commission and representatives of employers and unions ('social partners') to discuss and confirm their shared objectives for vocational education and training in 2011-2020, as well as to agree an action plan with concrete measures at national level and support at European level. The package of objectives and actions will be known as the Bruges Communiqué.
The Bruges Communiqué is the latest revision of the Copenhagen Process which was launched in 2002 with the aim of encouraging European countries to develop innovative policies and actions in the field of vocational training. The idea is to attract more people to vocational education by improving the quality and relevance of courses.
The Copenhagen Process has been reviewed by the Commission, Ministers and social partners every two years since its launch.
Informal EU Education Ministerial Council, 7 December 2010, Bruges, Provinciaal Hof
13:15-14:00 Launch of Bruges Communiqué and press point.
European Commission's website on vocational education and training:
European Commission's website on the Copenhagen Process:
Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou's website:
Dennis Abbott +32.2.295.92.58 email@example.com
Wednesday 8 December: Preventing abuse in wholesale energy markets
The European Commission will propose a Regulation on energy market integrity and transparency. This will create standards for energy market behaviour and oversight mechanisms to detect and deter market misconduct on Europe's wholesale energy markets.
Wholesale energy markets are where gas and electricity utilities including banks and specialised trading companies exchange energy in bulk and where energy retailers, the companies that sell us our gas and electricity source their energy
Currently, important segments of wholesale energy markets are not covered by clear rules prohibiting market abuse that makes prices higher than they should be.
The abuse targeted by this proposal is insider trading and market manipulation, e.g. artificially causing prices to be higher than justified by the availability, production cost or capacity to store or transport energy.
IP, Memo and the Commission's legislative proposal on the day as well as a technical briefing off the record (tbc).
Website of DG Energy:
Commissioner Oettinger's website:
Marlene Holzner +32 2 296 0196 Marlene.Holzner@ec.europa.eu
Nicole Bockstaller +32 2 295 2589 Nicole.Bockstaller@ec.europa.eu
Thursday 9 December: Agricultural product quality policy
Quality is an issue for every farmer and buyer, whether dealing with commodities produced to basic standards or with the high-end quality products in which Europe excels. EU farmers must build on high quality reputation to sustain competitiveness and profitability.
The quality package to be adopted by the Commission is a follow-up to the Communication on agricultural product quality policy which set out strategic orientations for a comprehensive agricultural product quality policy.
In May 2009 the Commission adopted a Communication on agricultural product quality policy. The Communication was drawn up based on the 560 contributions received in response to the Commission's Green Paper on quality from October 2008 and input from the High level conference organized by the Czech Presidency in March 2009.
In this Communication, the Commission stated its intention to:
recast the legislation on geographical indications.
examine the feasibility of laying down specific optional reserved terms such as ‘product of mountain farming’ and ‘traditional product’
consider laying down a general basic marketing standard and consider appropriate labelling indicating place of farming within marketing standards for agricultural products
facilitate direct sales and consider a new logo for "product of my farm"
develop guidelines for certification schemes on agricultural products and foodstuffs;
develop guidelines for using GIs as ingredients;
The Commission now puts forward a package of legislative measures.
Press conference by Commissioner Dacian Cioloş in the Berlaymont press room
IP/09/842: Food and Drink: Commission proposes actions to get the most out of marketing and quality schemes.
IP/08/1503 Getting the most out of EU-quality food and drink: Commission launches a consultation on agricultural product quality
European Commission's website on EU agricultural product quality policy
Commissioner Cioloş's website:
Roger Waite +32 2 296 1404 firstname.lastname@example.org
Johan Reyniers +32 2 295 6728 email@example.com
Thursday 9 December: Presentation of EU Strategy for the Danube Region
Commissioner Hahn will present the proposal for an EU Strategy for the Danube Region on 9 December 2010. The aim of the Danube Strategy is to coordinate action by Member States, regions, financing institutions, and non-governmental bodies, to promote a more coherent use of resources to develop the region , avoiding duplication of effort by Member States. Setting out to improve the prosperity and quality of life for the 115 million people who live in the wider Danube Region, this Strategy represents a new form of cooperation for the region, and is only the second initiative of its kind in the EU (after the Baltic Sea Strategy).
The Danube region covers eight EU countries - Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany (Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria), Hungary, Romania, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia - as well as Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine (the regions along the Danube). The Danube Basin has huge economic, environmental and social potential. However, the region is facing a variety of challenges:
ecological threats (water pollution, floods, climate change);
untapped navigation potential and need to improve transport and energy connections;
uneven socio-economic development – partly due to failure to exploit the full opportunities of the Single Market;
uncoordinated education, research and innovation systems;
shortcomings in safety and security.
Given the linked nature of many of the challenges, cooperation within a 'macro-regional' framework will be more effective in tackling the region's challenges. . This approach - a new working method initiated with the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region launched in June 2009 - does not imply new laws or institutions but rather strengthens links between different policies and those of a wide range of stakeholders. It also provides an opportunity to make the existing funding from EU sources, including the structural funds (circa €100 billion) work harder for the citizens of the Danube basin.
The Commission has been asked to facilitate this cooperation. A series of stakeholder consultation events have only been held throughout the course of 2010. This adoption marks the end of the consultation process. The implementation of the Strategy will start in 2011 (an action plan covering 11 priority areas and flagship projects are included in the Strategy).
EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, will present the proposal for an EU Strategy for the Danube Region on 9 December in the Berlaymont press room (time tbc). A series of information sessions with expert speakers from DG Regional Policy will also take place after this date in each Commission Representation of those countries covered by the Strategy from beginning of 2011 (dates to be confirmed). These will be open to both the media and stakeholders.
More information on the EU Strategy for the Danube Region available at:
Website of Commissioner Johannes Hahn:
Marie-Pierre Jouglain +32 2 29 84449 firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday 9 December: Marie Curie Actions funds its 50 000th researcher
The number of researchers funded by the European Commission's Marie Curie Actions since the programme's 1996 launch has just reached 50.000. To celebrate this milestone and take stock of the programme's success, a conference on "Marie Curie Actions for an Innovative Europe" will take place on 9-10 December in Brussels.
26 researchers will represent the 50.000th Marie Curie research fellow at the conference and each will receive a special memento. They and 250 other participants, including MEPs, policy makers, stakeholders and fellow scientists, will discuss some of the recent outstanding research carried out by Marie Curie fellows in the areas of cancer, cardiology, fertility, climate change, renewable energy, art conservation, safety of transport infrastructure and others. They will also discuss how the programme should evolve in the years to come and how it can contribute to the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy.
The conference will be opened by President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, together with Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, who has overall responsibility for the Marie Curie programme.
In order to achieve an innovative Union, Europe needs world-class researchers who are able to tackle both current and future challenges. The European Union is committed to inspiring, motivating, training and retaining its highly-skilled researchers.
The Marie Curie Actions programme is part of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme for research and technology development, which has a budget of € 4.7 billion between 2007 and 2013.
By supporting the mobility of researchers across a wide range of disciplines, both in industry and academia, the Marie Curie Actions contribute to the European Union's objective to create a strong labour market for highly-skilled, creative and entrepreneurial researchers.
The event will take place on 9 & 10 December 2010 at: Autoworld, Parc du Cinquantenaire, 11, Brussels, Belgium.
Official opening session on 9 December: 9.30 – 10.30.
The conference is open to the press. Journalists are invited to register in advance by sending an e-mail to: email@example.com
Press point with Commissioner Vassiliou on 9 December at 11:30 tbc (Berlaymont Press Room)
European Commission's website on Marie Curie Actions
Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou's website:
Marie Curie Conference website:
Dennis Abbott +32.2.295.92.58 firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday 10 December: Human Rights Day
Human Rights Day will be celebrated worldwide on 10 December 2010.
The principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law are inherent to the European integration process. Adherence to these principles constitutes the prerequisite for peace, development and security in any society
The EU fosters the universality and indivisibility of all human rights – civil, political, economic, social and cultural – as stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirmed by the World Conference on Human Rights (Vienna, 1993). The Treaty on European Union (article 11) defines that one of the objectives of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy is the development and consolidation of democracy, and the rule of law, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The EU has made human rights and a central aspect of its external relations: in the political dialogues it holds with third countries; through its development policy and assistance; or through its action in multilateral fora such as the United Nations.
Celebration of Human Rights Day
IP/09/1901 - 10 December 2009 – Human Rights Day
Human rights in the world
Diversity & Non-discrimination
European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights
Maja Kocijancic +32 2 298 6570 email@example.com
Darren Ennis +32 2 296 3293 firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday 10 December: And the "Single Market Award" goes to….
At a prize-giving ceremony in Brussels, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Michel Barnier and Belgian Minister for Economic Affairs Vincent Van Quickenborne and, will announce the grand winner of the 2010 Single Market Award.
Then aim of the Single Market Award is to highlight the importance of the single market and to demonstrate and raise awareness of the opportunities associated with the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital within the EU. The Award also calls attention to the problems that may arise when the single market’s rules do not work in practice.
Upon criteria such as "European spirit", problem complexity, originality and effect of the proposed solution, the SOLVIT and Enterprise Europe Network networks presented their candidates to an independent jury comprised by the European Commission and the Belgian Presidency that will choose the grand prize winner.
The prize was successfully launched jointly in 2009 by the Swedish Presidency of the EU and by the European Commission to reward companies, citizens or organisations that are contributing in a significant way to the development of the single market.
The Portuguese citizen Aurora de Freitas won the 2009 Single Market Award.
16:00: Parallel to the European Competitiveness Council in Brussels, the Prize-giving ceremony will take place in the Justus Lipsius building. Available on EbS
IP and MEMO available on the day
Website of the Belgian EU Presidency
Single Market Award 2009
Chantal Hughes +32 2 296 44 50 email@example.com
Carmel Dunne +32 2 299 88 94 firstname.lastname@example.org
Catherine Bunyan +32 2 299 65 12 email@example.com
Tuesday 14 December: Cutting costs and red tape for citizens and businesses in recognising court rulings and civil status documents
The European Commission will present two new measures to cut legal and administrative red tape and make life easier for citizens and business when travelling and operating across the EU.
First, the Commission will propose to improve judicial cooperation between Member States in civil and commercial matters with a revision of the so-called "Brussels I Regulation." This measure is fundamental to cross-border litigation because it allows for court judgements in one Member State to be fully recognised in another country. However, companies still have to pay on average €2000 in additional legal costs when they want to have a legal judgement recognised in another EU country. This costly and cumbersome process – known as exequatur – burdens companies without providing any additional legal security. In more than 90 percent of cases, this procedure is a pure formality. The new regulation will improve the current legal framework, notably by abolishing the exequatur while maintaining procedural safeguards.
Second, the Commission will launch a consultation on reducing red tape in administrative procedures related to documents for citizens living, working and travelling in other EU countries. The consultation is the first stage in a process to make sure that public documents – such as a contract or deed to a property – circulate without the need for additional procedures, and that civil status documents – such as a birth or marriage certificate – are recognised wherever citizens are in the EU.
The Brussels I Regulation facilitates civil judicial cooperation in the European Union by identifying the most appropriate jurisdiction for solving a cross-border dispute and ensuring the smooth recognition and enforcement of judgments issued in another Member State. This, in turn, helps the Single Market function properly. Eight years after the original Regulation came into force, the Commission’s revision is now making it more efficient.
Smooth circulation of public documents and recognition of civil status documents concerning main “life events” (such as birth, adoption, marriage or registered partnership) are essential for citizens who move to another EU country. Member States' registries and administrative systems vary considerably, causing cumbersome and costly formalities (translation, additional proof of authenticity of documents). These problems make it difficult for citizens to fully enjoy their rights within the EU. According to a recent Eurobarometer survey, 73% of Europeans believe that measures should be taken to improve the circulation of public documents between EU countries.
Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, will hold a press conference on both issues on 14 December at 15.00 in Strasbourg.
European Commission adopts plan to bring concrete benefits to EU citizens on the move MEMO/10/525
European Commission sets out plans to strengthen the Single Market with measures to boost growth and enhance citizens’ rights IP/10/1390
Homepage of Viviane Reding:
Wednesday 15 December: Launch of the eGovernment Action Plan for better online services to citizens and businesses
Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, will present the eGovernment Action Plan 2011-2015 - 'Harnessing ICTs to promote smart, sustainable and innovative eGovernment' - at the eGovernment Conference in Brussels, on 15 December 2010. The eGovernment Action Plan will help the EU achieve the commitment in the Digital Agenda to deliver innovative online public services to citizens and businesses and increase the take-up of these services. Only 38% of EU citizens use the internet to access eGovernment services, compared to 72% of businesses. The European Commission aims to increase the take-up to 50% of EU citizens and to 80% of EU businesses by 2015.
In times of economic constraints, public administrations must deliver more with less. The use of efficient and cost-effective ICTs can help provide services tailored to the real needs of EU citizens and businesses. Most public online services for instance do not work across borders. The eGovernment Action Plan will address this problem by making it easier for companies to set up and run a business and for citizens to study, work, reside, receive health care and retire anywhere in the EU.
The eGovernment Action Plan for 2011-2015 is the European Commission's response to the call of Member States for a shared eGovernment policy in the EU. This is in line with the priorities identified by Ministers and the Commission in the Malmö Ministerial Declaration on eGovernment (2009) (IP/09/1738).The Action Plan also builds on the results of cross-border services piloted by the ongoing EU Large Scale Pilot projects (STORK, PEPPOL, SPOCS and epSOS) with the aim to make it easier for citizens and businesses to access online services across the EU.
The eGovernment Conference 'Lift Off Towards Open Government', 15-16 December 2010, Brussels
The event is organised by the Belgian Presidency of the EU with the support of the European Commission. With more than 700 participants expected and 50 exhibitors, the conference will provide a forum for discussion on achievements so far, their impact on citizens and industry and on the future of online public services.
Key-note speakers include: Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda; Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council; and Vincent Van Quickenborne, Belgian Minister for Enterprise and Administrative Simplification.
The programme includes:
A 'battle of CEOs' which will bring together CEOs from the telecoms, IT, software and internet sectors to discuss their views on eGovernment in future markets;
An exhibition with leading IT companies and the EU Large Scale Pilots presenting live demonstrations of online services.
A pre-conference will be held in Ghent on 14 December. It will focus on the role of local authorities in eGovernment.
Jonathan Todd +32 2 29 941 07 Jonathan.Todd@ec.europa.eu
Linda Cain +32 2 29 990 19 Linda.Cain@ec.europa.eu