EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: The EU Youth Report published last week calls for youth employment, social inclusion, health and the well-being of young people to be top priorities in Europe's youth policy. The report, which is produced every 3 years by the Commission, underlines that the EU & Member States must do more to support young people, who have borne the brunt of the economic crisis.
EU News: The cost of higher education for students varies dramatically in Europe, according to a new report issued by the European Commission last week. Tuition fees are highest in England, where students pay up to £9,000 per academic year, while 9 countries (Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Malta, Norway, UK (Scotland) & Sweden) do not charge fees in most cases. The Nordic countries tend to be the most generous, although Finland and Sweden recently joined Denmark in introducing fees for international students. All countries, except Iceland and Norway, now charge non-European students.
EU News: Stricter limits on the sulphur content of shipping fuels are set to improve air quality along European coastlines and reduce the estimated 50,000 premature deaths caused each year by air pollution from ships. Parliament has approved legislation agreed with member states, which requires new general limits to be in place by 2020.
EU News: EU member states must investigate whether there were secret prisons or facilities on their territory where people were held under the CIA's secret rendition programme in the early years of this century, says a non-binding resolution adopted last Tuesday. Lithuania, Poland and Romania, in particular, are encouraged to open, or resume, independent investigations.
MEPs also call on Finland, Denmark, Portugal, Italy, the UK, Germany, Spain, Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, Romania and Poland to disclose all information on suspect planes associated with the CIA and their territory.
EU News: ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain and EIB Vice President Philippe de Fontaine Vive Curtaz, have, signed an agreement called ‘Space for Mediterranean Initiative’ (abbr. ‘Space for Med’). The two organisations will work together so that satellite-based services can bridge the digital divide and bring economic growth to the Mediterranean region.
EU News: Mandatory energy-saving measures, including renovating public buildings, energy-saving schemes for utilities, and energy audits for all large firms, will be required by an EU energy efficiency directive approved in plenary last week. Cutting energy consumption by 20% could save the EU €50bn per year.
EU News: Relocation of internationally-protected persons within the EU should take account of their best interests and the need for solidarity between member states, says a resolution adopted by Parliament last week. MEPs also call for more money for asylum policy, joint processing of asylum applications and a stronger role for the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), to promote closer cooperation among EU countries.
EU News: EU firms will get swifter access to standard solutions to technical problems, enabling them to cut production costs, help spread best practice, boost competitiveness and drive growth under a new deal, endorsed by MEPs last week, to modernise the development process for EU standards.
The new regulation aims in particular to enhance the use of standards in the service sector and speed up the development process for information & technology (ITC) standards, to encourage the rapid spread of best practice & innovation. The new rules will apply directly in all member states when they enter into force on 1 January 2013..