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EXME 13 / 04.11
04 / 11 / 13
Significant new EU funding of €5 billion is expected to be unveiled today for the Sahel region (Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Chad) for the period 2014 and 2020. The announcement will be made as EU Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, travels to the region with UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, World Bank President, Dr Jim Yong Kim, and other high level development partners (the visit starts tonight). The new pledge shows the commitment of the EU in putting in place a comprehensive approach in the Sahel region. Commissioner Piebalgs said: "The Sahel is a priority for the EU. Our approach is built on the principle that security is a pre-requisite for growth – there can be no development without it."
Today the European Commission adopted a Proposal to reduce the use of lightweight plastic bags. Every year, more than 8 billion plastic bags end up as litter in Europe, causing enormous environmental damage particularly to fish and birds that end up swallowing particles of plastic. Some Member States have already achieved great results in terms of reducing their use of plastic bags. If others followed suit we could reduce today's overall consumption in the European Union by as much as 80%. The Commission proposal gives Member States the flexibility to themselves choose how best to achieve the reduction needed. Measures could include economic instruments such as charges, marketing restrictions such as a ban, or national reduction targets.
Commission proposes exemption from customs duties for jet fuel
Today, the Commission has proposed an exemption of jet fuel imports from customs duties from 1 January 2014. The aim of the proposal is to ensure that the 0% customs tariff, which has been applied to jet fuel for many years, can continue. Currently, the vast majority of the EU's jet fuel imports originate in countries that benefit from the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP). However, due to changes in the GSP rules next year, imports of jet fuel may no longer benefit from preferential treatment under EU trade rules. In order to give time to the EU airline industry to adjust as well as provide certainty for traders, the Commission has therefore decided to propose exemption of all jet fuel imports from customs duties, regardless of their country of origin. The proposed Regulation will now have to be adopted by Council before it enters into force. For full proposal, see: http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/index_en.htm
Almost nine out of ten Europeans believe that biodiversity loss – the decline and possible extinction of animal species, flora and fauna, natural habitats and ecosystems in Europe – is a problem, according to a new survey. Almost four in ten respondents (38 %) to the Flash Eurobarometer survey say that they already make a personal effort to protect biodiversity, a proportion that has increased slightly compared with 2007 (34 %). Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "It's good to see that public opinion is increasingly aware of how important biodiversity is. I hope political leaders will translate this concern into tangible action to deliver what we have agreed in the EU Biodiversity Strategy."
Androulla Vassiliou, Commissaire européenne à l’éducation, à la culture, au multilinguisme et à la jeunesse, se rend à Marseille du 5 au 7 novembre 2013. Ce déplacement est l'occasion de participer les 6 et 7 novembre à la Semaine économique de la Méditerranée, dont la 7e édition est entièrement consacrée à la culture en tant que facteur de développement économique. Cette édition permettra entre autres de tirer un premier bilan de Marseille-Provence, Capitale européenne de la culture 2013.
The winners of the first @diversity Awards, which recognise outstanding examples of ICT innovation to promote culture, were announced by Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, at the European Culture Forum in Brussels today. The Forum, which gathers 1 200 culture practitioners and policymakers, was opened by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso. Šarūnas Birutis, the Lithuanian Minister of Culture, and Czech economist and author Tomáš Sedláček are also participating in the event.
Is Europe becoming a less cultural continent? The findings of a new Eurobarometer survey on cultural access and participation – the first on the topic since 2007 – suggest this may be the case. Although there are marked differences between Member States, in general fewer Europeans are engaging in cultural activities, as performers or spectators. Only 38% actively took part in a cultural activity, such as singing, dancing or photography, in the past year. In terms of 'passive' participation, the number describing their cultural engagement as high or very high is down to 18%, compared with 21% in 2007. The decline in participation has affected all cultural activities except cinema, with 52% saying they went to the movies in the past year (+1%). The main reasons cited for not engaging in culture are lack of time (44% give this reason for not reading a book), lack of interest (50% say this is why they have not seen a ballet, dance performance or opera), lack of money (25% give this reason for not attending a concert), and lack of choice (10% on average). The survey showed that over half of Europeans use the internet for cultural purposes, with nearly a third doing so at least once a week.
A new report published today lays out the progress by the EU and its Member States in ensuring that their action in areas such as trade, agriculture, security or migration is in line with the goal of overcoming poverty in developing countries (which is known as Policy Coherence for Development (PCD)). The European Commission report highlights, among other things, that the EU has increased the transparency of payments made by European companies in the exploitation of natural resources in developing countries, thereby supporting the fight against tax evasion and corruption. Europe also helps to make more safe and nutritious food available in developing countries and facilitates improved access to EU markets for their producers, which creates jobs and growth.
What Commissioners said
This morning European Commission President Barroso participated at the opening of the 3rd edition of the European Culture Forum at the BOZAR Art in Brussels. In his keynote speech he underlined that "culture is the cement that binds Europe together. It is an essential part of the very foundations of our European project and must remain firmly entrenched in our ideals if we are to succeed in achieving a more united, stronger and open Europe."