EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU NewsThe European Commission has published new guidelines to clarify rules for extractive industries in protected natural areas.  As demand for precious raw materials grows, access to land available for mineral extraction in the EU is becoming ever more important.  Some minerals are found on land within Natura 2000 (the EU's network of protected natural areas) and the new guidelines explain the procedures to be followed in such cases.

These guidelines relate to Non-Energy Extractive Industry and the potential impacts of extraction activities on nature & biodiversity.  They examine how these can best be minimised (or avoided altogether) and highlight the importance of strategic planning, the appropriate assessment of new developments and the need for adequate mitigation measures.  

The guidelines contain many examples of best practice and show how some extraction projects are ultimately beneficial to biodiversity, as they can provide highly quality ecological niches.
Press release ~ Habitats Directive and Guidance on Non-Energy Extractive Industry (NEEI) and Natura 2000 ~ EC Biodiversity Policy ~ EC: Raw materials policy ~ IP/10/752: Report forecasts shortages of 14 critical mineral raw materials
 
EU News: The European Commission's ‘Innovation Union’, tabled last week, sets out ‘a strategic approach to innovation, driven by the highest political level’.
 
The Innovation Union will focus Europe's efforts – and co-operation with third countries - on challenges like climate change, energy & food security, health and an ageing population.  It will use public sector intervention to stimulate the private sector and to remove bottlenecks which stop ideas reaching the market.  

These include lack of finance, fragmented research systems and markets, under-use of public procurement for innovation and slow standard setting.  The Innovation Union is a ‘flagship’ in the Europe 2020 Strategy.
Press release ~ Q&As ~ EC: Innovation Union ~ EC: Innovation ~ The cost of a non-innovative Europe ~ Europe 2020 Strategy
 
EU News: Smaller companies all too often endure severe financial problems due to the late payment of bills.  For over a year the European Parliament has pushed to secure stricter & clear-cut rules on payment periods, including a general 30-day deadline.  Last week, the Internal Market Committee voted to endorse the deal struck with Council on 13 September 2010.
 
The agreement with Council now needs to be approved by the full Parliament and is scheduled for a vote at the October II Plenary. The new directive enters into force 20 days after its publication in the EU Official Journal and Member States will then have 2 years to implement the new measures.
Press release ~ Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee
 
EU NewsNon-EU nationals and their families who are legally resident in one EU Member State, but staying or working in another, will be entitled to social security benefits in the same way as EU nationals under new EU rules approved in plenary session last Thursday. Denmark and the United Kingdom have opted out of the new coordination arrangements for third country nationals.
Press release ~ Draft EP resolution ~ Adopted text will be available here (click on 7 October)
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