EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU News: More & more EU citizens are exercising their right to live and work anywhere in the European Union, with around 8m people of voting age currently residing in an EU country other than their own.  As EU citizens, they have the right to vote or stand as a candidate in local elections in the EU country in which they live.
 
However, only around 10% currently take advantage of this right, according to a new report published by the European Commission. To make sure citizens are able to fully exercise their electoral rights, the Commission will therefore work with national, regional & local authorities to identify & resolve any remaining difficulties in effectively applying this right.  The proposal for a European Year for Citizens in 2013 provides a good opportunity to make EU citizens' rights better known.
Press release & links
 
Defra: Ongoing pressure from the UK for tougher controls to tackle the illegal trade in rhino horn has proved successful, as the European Commission announced further restrictions on the export of rhino horn across the EU last week.
 
The temporary suspension of trade in ‘artistic items’ will mean nearly all future applications for the export of rhino horn will be refused.  Licenses will only be granted if buyers & sellers meet stringent criteria.  We do not expect the suspension to be lifted until it is successful in reducing poaching and demand.   
Press release & links
 
EU News: Vice-President Siim Kallas, Commissioner for mobility & transport, announced last week the winners of the first Smart Mobility Challenge on European multi-modal journey planners. The initiative aimed to promote the development of all-in-one journey planners, going beyond national borders and offering travel options combining different transport modes.
Press release & links
 
EU News: Recently the Commission proposed new rules for more effective & widespread confiscation of funds and other property acquired through crime. This will enhance the ability of Member States to confiscate assets that have been transferred to third parties, it will make it easier to confiscate criminal assets even when the suspect has fled and will ensure that competent authorities can temporarily freeze assets that risk disappearing if no action is taken.
Press release & links
 
EU News: In adopting a new proposal on accounting of greenhouse gases emissions, the European Commission has taken a first step towards incorporating removals & emissions from forests & agriculture into the EU's climate policy.
 
Forests & agricultural lands cover more than 75% of the EU territory and naturally hold large stocks of carbon, preventing its escape into the atmosphere, which makes them important for the climate policy.  Increasing this 'trapped' carbon by just 0.1 percentage point – for example through improved forest or grassland management - would remove the annual emissions of 100m cars from the atmosphere.
Press release & links
 
EU News: The European Commission has welcomed the WTO appeal ruling in the ‘Boeing case’ which confirms that billions of dollars in US subsidies granted to Boeing are illegal under WTO rules.  The EU now expects the US to fully comply with this ruling and to implement the findings & obligations by withdrawing these injurious subsidies or their adverse effects.
Press release & links
 
EU News: The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have published the second joint EU report on antimicrobial resistance in zoonotic bacteria affecting humans, animals & food.
Press release & links
 
EU News: Following the Cohesion Policy proposals of 6 October 2011, and in order to help Member States with their preparations for the next programming period the Commission has recently presented the ‘Common Strategic Framework’ (CSF).  It is intended to help in setting clear investment priorities for the next financial planning period from 2014 until 2020 in Member States and their regions.
Press release & links
 
EU News: The European Commission has approved a UK measure, which aims at reducing the cost of finance for SMEs, until 30 June 2012.  The Commission found the National Loan Guarantee Scheme to be in line with the crisis State aid rules for banks, because it ensures that the reduced funding costs which banks will benefit from are passed on to SMEs. .  
 
The Commission also cleared a second measure, the Business Finance Partnership, aimed at increasing the credit supply to SMEs through non-bank lending.
Press release & links
 
WAG: An EU-backed project helping thousands of people into work is to be rolled out across the Heads of the Valleys following a £3.5m boost the Deputy Minister for European Programmes. 

The £13.4m QWEST (Quality Work, Employability, Skills and Training) project, led by the University of Wales, Newport, has been given the go ahead to continue for 2 more years and expand to cover Merthyr Tydfil and Rhonda Cynon Taf.  It already operates across Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen.
Press release & links
 
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is asking businesses to provide their views on the use of lactic acid to reduce microbiological surface contamination on beef carcasses, proposed in a draft EU regulation – See ‘Consultations’ section for more in formation.
 
EU News: The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the state aid criteria it proposes to use to assess Member States' film support schemes in future – See ‘Consultations’ section for more in formation.
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