EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU News: EU Transport Commissioner, Siim Kallas welcomed the vote by European Parliament last week, giving its final approval to proposals for new EU rules to allow Member States to charge heavy lorries, not only for the costs of infrastructure which is currently the case, but also to levy an additional charge to cover the cost or air and noise pollution.
 
 The revision of the current ‘Eurovignette Directive’ will also enable Member States to better manage problems of congestion, with a new flexibility to vary the charge for heavy lorries (by up to 175%) at different times of the day. The vote also provides for ‘earmarking’ so new charging revenues are set aside for investment to improve transport infrastructure (TEN-T) projects.
Press release & links
 
EU News: The Commission has adopted 27 sets of country-specific recommendations – plus one for the euro area as a whole – to help Member States gear up their economic & social policies to deliver on growth, jobs and public finances.
 
Earlier this year, Member States and the Commission agreed on 10 key priorities to face the current crisis while paving the way for a more sustainable economy.  As situations vary from one country to another, the Commission is recommending targeted measures for each Member State.  This should help each country to focus on strategic levers in the next 12 to 18 months, and thus boost EU economy as a whole.
Press release & links ~ Country-specific Recommendations 2011
 
EU NewsA 22-year-old man went on holiday abroad to attend a football match. Following the game, he went to a bar with his friends. A riot broke out and he was arrested. The police then questioned him for several hours without a lawyer being present.  Under a European Commission measure proposed last week, all suspects – no matter where they are in the European Union – would be guaranteed the right to speak with a lawyer from the moment they are held by police until the conclusion of proceedings.  
 
Access to a lawyer rights are essential for building confidence in the European Union’s single area of justice, especially when suspects are arrested as a result of a European Arrest Warrant (IP/11/454).  The proposed right of access to a lawyer is the third Directive in a series of proposals to guarantee minimum rights to a fair trial anywhere in the European Union.
 
The others are the right to translation & interpretation and the right to information in criminal proceedings.  These measures aim to establish clear rights across the EU and safeguard people's fundamental rights to a fair trial and the right of defence.  The proposals need approval by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers before becoming law.
Press release & links
 
EU News: On World IPv6 Day the European Commission made its Europa website accessible for Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) users (as well as IPv4 users).  The Internet operates by transferring data in small packets that are independently routed across networks, as specified by an international communications protocol known as the Internet Protocol.

In 1984 over 4bn addresses were made available on Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) but due to increasing demand for new Internet services, the last remaining IPv4 address was assigned in February 2011.  The uptake of IPv6 will make available a practically unlimited amount of Internet addresses to support the explosive growth of new services in the future.
 
By making its website IPv6 accessible, the European Commission is setting an example and hopes to encourage other public sectors to persuade European companies and manufacturers to make their new smart devices and servers IPv6 compatible.  Deploying IPv6 is a key action under the Digital Agenda for Europe.
Press release & links
 
EU News: The EU27 population is projected to increase from 501m on 1 January 2010 to 525m in 2035, to peak at 526m around 2040, and thereafter gradually decline to 517m in 2060.  The EU27 population is also projected to continue to grow older, with the share of the population aged 65 years and over rising from 17% in 2010 to 30% in 2060, and those aged 80 and over rising from 5% to 12% over the same period.
Press release & links
 
EU News: The European Parliament, in a vote of its 736 members plenary last week, with an overwhelming majority (521 in favour, 145 against, 8 abstentions) backed optional EU-wide rules for businesses & consumers who are concluding contracts in the Single Market.  The vote by Parliament follows a recent policy announcement by European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding that she is considering proposing such an optional European contract law in the autumn.  Press release & links
 
EU News: The EU's innovation performance needs major improvements in many areas if the Europe 2020 strategy is to deliver smart sustainable growth, concludes the European Commission's 2011 Innovation Union Competitiveness Report.
Press release & links
 
EU News: The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published its fast track risk assessment on consumer exposure to STEC/VTEC (Shiga toxin or verotoxin producing E.coli) through the consumption of raw vegetables and provided advice on options to mitigate the risks of possible food contamination and human infection.  – See ‘Guidance Notes & Best Practice Guides’ section for more information.
 
EU News: The European Commission is consulting stakeholders in all EU Member States for their views on a new policy on access to the EU's public procurement markets as announced in the Single Market Act of April 2011 – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
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