Selection of EU News

With an EU referendum in 2017 now ‘certain’, we provide a selection of recent EU news that will directly impact on the UK:

EU News:  Unaccompanied minors’ asylum applications - EU asylum applications for unaccompanied minors should be processed in the EU country where the child is present, even if this is not where the child first applied, said Civil Liberties Committee MEPs.  The amendments aim to clarify Dublin Regulation rules.

Automatic emergency call devices in all new car models from spring 2018 - Emergency call devices that automatically alert rescue services to car crashes (eCall) will have to be fitted to all new models of cars & light vans by 31 March 2018 under rules voted by EP.

MEPs clamp down on wasteful use of plastic carrier bags - EU countries will be required to reduce the use of the commonest & most polluting plastic bags drastically under new rules voted by Parliament on Tuesday. 

EU member states will be able to choose:

  • either to take measures to reduce annual average consumption of plastic bags to 90 lightweight bags per citizen by the end of 2019 and 40 by the end of 2025
  • or ensure that by the end of 2018, no more light plastic bags are handed over free of charge to shoppers.

Alcoholic drinks should state calorie content, say MEPs - Plans for labelling the calorie content of alcoholic beverages should be tabled by the EC at the latest in 2016, said MEPs on Wednesday. The resolution calls for a new EU Alcohol Strategy focusing on alcohol consumption by minors and EU-wide labelling to discourage drink driving & drinking while pregnant.

Experts to discuss the EU diaspora & mobility issues at the high-level event in Riga - Taking into account the fact that in recent years Latvia has experienced the voluntary emigration of an unprecedented number of citizens, the Latvian EU Presidency will organise a conference on diverse aspects of intra-EU mobility and the free movement of persons, as well as the role of European diasporas, at the same time addressing new challenges that EU Member States encounter.

Tax rulings: “We need a common corporate tax base”, says Commissioner - Why did the EU Commission take so long to launch investigations into member states’ tax rulings?  Is its strategy to go only after small countries, such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Ireland? Will the instruments available to it suffice?  And if not, what would it take to do away with unfair tax competition? These questions were raised by MEPs in Tuesday’s Special Tax Rulings Committee debate with competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

Package holiday protection: MEPs strike a deal with Council - Travellers putting together their own package holidays online will get the same protection as those buying from traditional travel agents under a provisional deal struck by MEPs and Council negotiators on Tuesday. The deal also strengthens holidaymakers’ rights, by enabling them to cancel a package deal contract if its price rises by more than 8%, get help if they encounter difficulties or get transport home if a tour operator goes bust.

Fair trials: MEPs strengthen EU-wide standards for legal aid - People who are suspected or accused of a crime, or are named in a European Arrest Warrant, but cannot afford a lawyer or court proceedings, should have access to EU member state funding & assistance for both ‘provisional’ and ‘ordinary’ legal aid, say Civil Liberties MEPs in amendments, voted on Wednesday, to a proposed EU directive on fair trial rights.

Give shareholders more say on directors’ pay, urge Legal Affairs Committee - A draft law empowering shareholders to vote on directors’ remuneration, so as to ensure proper transparency and tie their pay more closely to their performance, was backed by Legal Affairs Committee MEPs last week.  

** With just over 2 years to go to the EU Referendum, you can keep up-to-date by checking out the EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc section of the WGPlus newsletter each week, or by adding the EU News channel to your WiredGov profile.

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Meeting Local Government Workforce Management Challenges – New White Paper

The National Audit Office has outlined the cost savings achieved already by local authorities through efficiency improvements, cuts to services, reductions in staff numbers and changes to infrastructure. However, further budget cuts are planned, which means local authorities need to find additional ways to improve efficiency and control costs - if services and staff numbers are to be maintained. 

This new white paper explains how the latest workforce management solutions are enabling local authorities to:

  • Save as much as 1.4% of your annual payroll costs by reducing payroll errors
  • Improve service levels by 27%
  • Reduce employee absence rates
  • Reduce unapproved overtime by 33%
  • Increase labour productivity

Simply click here to download your free copy now.

Everyone needs a ‘home’
The most fundamental reform to homelessness legislation in over 30 years has come into force across Wales.  The main objective of the law is to ensure people who are homeless or facing homelessness receive help as early as possible.  The legislation places a duty on local authorities to work with people who are at risk of losing their home within 56 days to help find a solution to their problems.  It is hoped the new provisions will prevent 3 out of 4 people at risk of homelessness from losing their home.
Researched Links:

WAG:  New law to reduce homelessness comes into force

£8.4m to give Wales’ most vulnerable a helping hand

First recipients of £10m capital fund to tackle poverty announced

Minister speaks about key role housing plays in tackling poverty

CAB - Protection from eviction good for 4m

Wales has ‘big plans’ to make a real difference to vulnerable people

New drive to get hard to reach groups online

Minister calls on supported housing sector to deliver more

Trustees Appointed to Start Work on Building Communities

Wales carves out new direction on homelessness

Moving forward, changing lives: New employment programme to help Wales’ hardest to reach young people

Housing ‘fundamental’ to achieving our goals, says Huw Lewis launching White Paper

Huw Lewis pleased with CanDo attitude

Homelessness & improving private rented sector to feature Wales’ Housing Bill, says Minister

CLG:  The problem is that it is so often not just a problem of ‘housing’ for these individuals (3rd item)

The Government has reduced the NEET numbers, can they do the same for the homeless?

Opportunities, but also Risks
techUK welcome MEPs recognition of the opportunities big data can offer Europe and discussion regarding big data's role in driving economic growth, innovation and job creation.  Big data offers some of the greatest opportunities for innovation in the new digital world, but also presents potential risks & challenges to be addressed by industry & government working together.  Addressing concerns relating to the privacy & security of big data will be crucial to ensuring organisations, both in the public & private sector, and consumers have trust & confidence in big data.
Researched Links:

techUK:  MEPs discuss risks & opportunities of big data

Socitm:  Towards the digital council: progress report

BCS  Education on the benefits & perils of big data is essential

Opening up a world of information

Single Digital Market must tackle Europe's digital divide to unleash a revolution

CDE Innovation Network event: 24 June 2015, London

Big Data & Analytics - Programme Update Monthly roundup of news and events

Big data paves the way for big building & engineering projects

New report highlights UK tech growth

'Governance gap' in use of biometric data must be fixed

Chancellor visits STFC Hartree Centre to see latest North West Big Data investment in action

Boosting UK competitiveness using cognitive computing & big data

Big data finds 70,000 'hidden' companies in the UK’s Information Economy industries - NIESR

STFC and IBM form Big Data Innovation Hub for small businesses

The Digital Catapult launches 3 local centres to generate thousands of new jobs and stimulate digital growth across the UK

EC and data industry launch €2.5bn partnership to master big data

EU-funded tool to help our brain deal with big data

Big data ‘not a game played by different rules’, says regulator

EC urges governments to embrace potential of Big Data

UK science community to benefit from major cloud computing and storage upgrade

Eternal Vigilance is price of democracy
The Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government has proposed additional intervention powers for the commissioners to order Tower Hamlets to take any actions needed to safeguard good governance throughout the council until a new mayor and top officer team are in place and fully bedded in.
Researched Links:

CLG:  Further intervention in London borough of Tower Hamlets

Media statement on removal of Tower Hamlets First from the Electoral Commission’s register of political parties

Has it happened elsewhere in the UK and can it happen again?

Don’t forget to ask the bill payer

Ofcom has announced changes that will make the cost of entering phone-ins, competitions and votes on TV and radio programmes simpler to understand.  Broadcasters often invite people to interact with shows in this way using phone numbers starting 084, 087 and 09.  From 1 July 2015, the cost of calling those numbers will be made up of two parts: an ‘access charge’ going to the caller’s phone company, and a ‘service charge’ set by the broadcaster.

All TV & radio programmes using the numbers - from talent shows to quizzes, phone-ins and entertainment programmes offering a prize - will include the service charge for calling.  Clear prices are important because the cost of interacting with programmes varies considerably. Some calls may cost a few pence, but others may cost more than £2 per minute.

Researched Links:

Ofcom:  Lines are now open… but how much will it cost?

A ‘bucket’ full of thanks
The deadline for entries for the Kate Granger Compassionate Care Awards is now less than 3 weeks away.  The awards, which will be staged for second successive year at the Health and Innovation Expo 2015, will close to submissions of 29 May 2015.  The awards are named after Kate Granger, the terminally ill doctor who has worked tirelessly to raise awareness around compassion in the NHS through her #hellomynameis social media campaign.
Researched Links:

Get your entries in for the Kate Granger Awards

Drive Plastic only
From 8 June 2015, the paper counterpart to the photocard driving licence will not be valid and will no longer be issued by DVLA.  It was introduced to display driving licence details that could not be included on the photocard.  These details include some vehicle categories you are entitled to drive & any endorsement/penalty points.  This does not affect photocard licences issued by DVA in Northern Ireland.
Researched Links:

DVLA:  Driving licence changes

Digital goings on in local councils
Council communication teams can learn about the cutting-edge digital work going on across local government thanks to a newly-launched online resource.  The LGA and Comms2point0 have launched Digital Councils, a hub for local government on all things social media.
Researched Links:

LGA:  New web resource provides digital hub for councils

NCA prevents significant rise in UK’s GDP-based contribution to EU
More than 3 tonnes of cocaine has now been recovered from an ocean going tug intercepted following a joint NCA, Border Force & Royal Navy operation in the North Sea.

Researched Links:

NCA:  Record haul of cocaine recovered from tug intercepted in the North Sea

The Guardian:  Paying for bad habits - sex work and drugs lift UK's EU bill

NCA:  Criminal assets no longer safe overseas following landmark judgement


 More contributions to the UK constitutional debate

More news, opinions, documents, claims & counter-claims;

Researched Links:

LGA:  UK council leaders unite in devolution call

WAG:  Ground-breaking Acts receive Royal Assent

Wales Audit:  New Act sees Auditor General look to the future


Normal Service Resumed…...With the General Election ‘purdah’ now concluded the newsletter will be back to its normal weekly schedule as from next week.

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New on the Network
If given the chance NHS middle managers can improve elderly care

If given the chance NHS middle managers can improve elderly care
Voices of middle managers are often ignored in hospital settings when they offer suggestions for change, writes Graeme Currie

Mental health charities can help people where the NHS cannot

Mental health charities can help people where the NHS cannot
When it comes to supporting people with mental health problems, the third sector can bridge the gap between commissioners and local communities, says Lisa Weaks

My job in patient transport is tough and unglamorous but I wouldn't change it

My job in patient transport is tough and unglamorous but I wouldn't change it
I’m one of 330 local staff who carry out 1,500 daily journeys, increasing to 1,800 on a busy day, explains Eric Ackroyd