EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU News: The number of Europeans aged 65+ is expected to increase by 45% between 2008 & 2030, and even further to over 30% of the population by 2060.  This major challenge needs to be tackled at EU level to help older Europeans enjoy an active & healthy life.

Meeting in Brussels for the first time last week, an EU-led Steering Group discussed how to improve the health & quality of life of older people, increase sustainability of healthcare systems and create new growth & market opportunities for Europe.  The strategy will form an integral part of Europe 2020's Innovation Unionand Digital Agenda flagships.
Press release & links
 
EU News: The first phase of a €600m public-private partnership on the Internet of the Future (FI-PPP) was launched last week by EC Vice-President Neelie Kroes.  The partnership will support innovation in Europe and help businesses & governments to develop internet solutions that will be capable of managing the exponential increase in online data.
 
Whilst so far we have experienced the Internet of connected computers, and connected people, the Internet is now going mobile and it will connect a whole range of machines and objects.  The partnership will explore 8 areas where this data revolution could spur innovation & jobs in the mobile, software and service industries.
Press release & links
 
EU News: An expert group established by the EC has delivered a feasibility study on a future initiative on European contract law.  The study covers the most relevant practical issues in a contractual relationship, such as legal rights for faulty goods and rules on which contract terms may be unfair.  Following last week’s publication, interested parties can send their feedback on the individual articles drafted by the expert group until 1 July 2011.
Press release & links
 
EU News: The EC’s announcement that it is considering a temporary reintroduction of checks at the EU's internal borders, at the request of Italy & France, prompted concern among Civil Liberties Committee MEPs last Monday.  MEPs say that Schengen must not be weakened and that all internal border checks should be strictly justified.  

According to the Commission, reintroducing checks at internal borders is a measure of last resort, "but it can happen", as is sometimes the case with major sports events.
Press release & links ~ Schengen Agreement ~ BBC: EU moves to tighten border controls in Schengen zone
 
EU News: The EC last week presented a new strategy to ‘protect & improve the state of Europe's biodiversity over the next decade’.  The strategy includes six targets which address the main drivers of biodiversity loss, and which will ‘reduce the main pressures on nature and ecosystem services in the EU by anchoring biodiversity objectives in key sectoral policies’.
 
The global aspects of biodiversity loss are also addressed, ensuring that the EU contributes to combating biodiversity loss around the world.  The strategy is in line with the commitments made by the EU in Nagoya, Japan, last year.
 Press release & links
 
EU News: Six research projects selected to compete for 2 top spots in the area of research into future & emerging technologies (FET) have been announced by the European Commission at the FET11 conference & exhibition in Budapest.  The 6 contenders will receive around €1.5m each to refine their proposal for one year, after which only 2 will be selected.

The aim of these flagship initiatives will be to deliver major breakthroughs in information & communication technologies (ICT), with the potential to provide solutions to some of society's biggest challenges.  The 2 initiatives selected for long-term funding will run for 10 years, each with a total budget of up to €100m per year.
Press release & links
 
EU News: EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding announced last week the first 2 companies which signed up to the ‘Women on the Board Pledge for Europecommitting to improve the gender balance in boardrooms.  Guerlain (a major perfumes & cosmetics firm) and FES Consulting Empresarial (a Spanish business consultancy) have made a voluntary commitment to increase women’s presence on their corporate boards to 30% by 2015 and to 40% by 2020.
 
Only 12% of board members at Europe's largest companies are women and in 97% of cases the board is chaired by a man.  Progress over the past years has been very slow: the share of female board members in the EU has increased by just over half a percentage point per year over the last 7 years.  

At this rate, unless action is taken, it will take another 50 years before there is a reasonable balance (at least 40% of each sex) on company boards.  In the meantime, publicly-listed firms in the EU keep losing out on female talent.
Press release & links ~ See also Newswire – FRC item in ‘Consultations’ section.
 
EU News: Last week, the Commission presented initiatives for a more structured, comprehensive, rapid-response approach from the EU to the challenges & opportunities of migration, not least in view of the current developments in the Mediterranean.
 
The initiatives cover various aspects of migration, including strengthened border control and Schengen governance, completion of the Common European Asylum System, more targeted legal migration, exchange of best practices for successful integration of migrants, and a strategic approach for relations with third countries on migration.  

These initiatives come in addition to the urgent short-term measures already taken by the Commission to deal with the migration situation in the Mediterranean and migration pressures on frontline Member States.
Press release & links
 
EU News: Researchers & entrepreneurs across the EU ‘welcome the Commission's concept of a Common Strategic Framework for future EU research & innovation funding’.  This is the interim conclusion based on over 470 responses received so far to the consultation launched by the Commission with its February 2011 Green Paper – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
 
EU News: The European Commission has adopted a new regulation (Telematics Applications for Passenger Services) to facilitate pan European rail journey planning & ticketing, by forcing a standardisation of rail passenger data on fares & timetables.  

This means that key reservation & ticketing information will be inter-operable and can be exchanged between rail companies throughout the EU, as well as ticket vendors – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
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