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Da Brussels, 19/07/2016 (Agence Europe)

(AE) EDUCATION: Half of EU's secondary students following vocational courses
Brussels, 19/07/2016 (Agence Europe) - Almost half of students in upper secondary schools in the EU are following vocational courses, a new survey published by Eurostat, the EU's statistical office, on Monday 18 July has revealed.
Upper secondary school nominally provides preparation for high education, generally from the age of 14 or 16. The Eurostat survey reveals that, of the 22 million upper secondary students in the European Union in 2014, almost half (48%) were enrolled in vocational courses. The highest rates were in the Czech Republic (73%), Croatia (71%), and Austria and Finland (70% each). At the opposite end of the scale, rates of less than one third were recorded in Malta (13%), Cyprus (15%), Hungary (25%), Lithuania (27%) and Greece (31%).
Of the upper secondary students following vocational courses (that is, where skills and knowledge relevant to a specific occupation are taught), the majority were boys in all member states with the exceptions of Belgium (52% girls), Finland and the United Kingdom (51% each) and Sweden, where the genders were balanced. (Original version in French by Sophie Petitjean)

Da Brussels, 19/07/2016 (Agence Europe)

(AE) INTERNAL MARKET: Face, Munich attack could have been avoided if the Commission had reacted sooner
Brussels, 25/07/2016 (Agence Europe) - The Munich attack could have been avoided if the European Commission had acted in 2008 in line with the review of the EU directive on the purchase and ownership of weapons, said Filippo Segato, secretary general of FACE, an association representing huntsmen at European level, on Monday 25 July when contacted by this newsletter.
The 12 July Munich gunman bought his gun, a de-activated Glock 17, online using the 'dark web,' in other words on the illegal online market, and was able to re-activate it. Under the revised EU directive currently in force, the Commission should have laid down common guidelines in 2008 on ensuring that 'neutralised' firearms are 'irreversibly unusable' (Annex I, Part III), which the FACE secretary general said it didn't do until December 2015 (EUROPE 11443).
The revised directive, the interinstitutional negotiations for which are due to begin at the end of September (EUROPE 11593, 11570), would only be able to partially avoid a similar tragedy in the future, commented Segato. The directive certainly foresees the irreversible neutralisation of firearms, but makes no mention of illegal sales. Moreover, Segato criticises the European Parliament's proposal to require a psychological profiling of the owners of firearms, pointing out that Germany already does this and the measures were clearly unable to prevent the Munich tragedy.
In terms of the interinstitutional negotiations, the shooting may lead to an acceleration of the interinstitutional talks on the directive in question, explained a diplomatic source. German finance minister Sigma Gabriel said recently on German media station Funke Mediengruppe that he wanted to do all he could to restrict access to lethal firearms and introduce strict controls. Likewise, German interior minister Thomas de Maizière called for a very detailed examination to identify gaps and deadends in the legislation. Statements which might have an impact on the inter-institutional agreement since Germany is an influential player at the Council, said Segato.
Another observer says on the contrary that recent events would not necessarily have any real bearing on the contents of the agreement in that the negotiating mandate of the Presidency of the Council of the EU has already been laid down. The Slovak Presidency would therefore have to request changes to its negotiating mandate, which would then need to be validated by the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER II). (Original version in French by Pascal Hansens)


DA: AGENCE EUROPE - 11/05/2016

JHA: New residence rules for non-EU researchers and students

MEPs in Strasbourg on Wednesday 11 May approved new harmonised EU entry and residence rules to make it easier and more attractive for people from third countries to study or do research at European universities.
The new rules clarify and improve conditions for non-EU trainees, volunteers, school pupils and au pairs. They merge two existing directives (one on students and one on researchers), as the Commission proposed in 2014.
The new rules ensure, inter alia, that students and researchers can stay at least nine months after finishing their studies or research in order to look for a job or to set up a business, which should also ensure that Europe benefits from their skills. Students and researchers will be able to move more easily within the EU during their stay and will not need to file a new visa application, but will have simply to notify the member state to which they are moving, for example, to do a one-semester exchange. Researchers, too, will be able to move for longer periods than are currently allowed.
Researchers will have the right to bring their family members with them and these family members will be entitled to work during their stay in Europe. The new directive will give students the right to work at least 15 hours a week. It also contains optional provisions for other volunteers, school pupils and third-country au pairs within the European volunteer scheme.
The directive, which was approved by the Council on 10 March, will have to be transposed within two years of its publication in the Official Journal. (Original version in French by Solenn Paulic)


DA: AGENCE EUROPE - 04/04/2016

EDUCATION: Europe doing well in global university rankings

A new study published on Monday 4 April shows that US universities are excelling in the research area, whilst their European counterparts are mainly differentiating themselves by their level of collaboration. This is the conclusion in the "U-Multirank" ratings that is partly funded by Erasmus + (4 million between 2013-17).
Project leader Frans van Vught explained that "U-Multirank again demonstrates that there are different ways in which a university can excel. Research is obviously an important aspect but the diversity of aims is crucial for the success of higher education as a whole".
U-Multirank was launched in 2014 to compare the performances of 1300 education establishments in the world (including universities, specialist colleges and academies). This third edition covers more than 3250 faculties and 1700 study programmes. It focuses on five performance criteria: research; the transfer of skills; international orientation; regional engagement, and teaching and learning. Compared to 2015, there are also six new subjects: biology, chemistry, mathematics, history, sociology and work and social well-being.
The ranking illustrates that US universities were more successful in the number of publications they produced between 2011-14. On the other hand, European universities were at the top of the ranking in respect of interdisciplinary research (14/25), joint publications with industrial partners (16/25), joint international publications (10/25), regional engagement (21/25) and continued professional development (18/25), student mobility (21/25) and student training (13/16). The EU is at the top of the ranking in terms of mobility and student training, whilst Germany has been particularly successful in terms of its publications with industrial partners (Reutlingen UAS, Nuremberg IoT & Munich UAS in the top 3).
The 4th U-multirank will be published in March 2017. The U-multirank 2016 can be consulted at: (Original version in French by Sophie Petitjean)


DA: Agence Europe - 24/02/2016

EDUCATION: Ministers highlight “transversal” skills

European Education Ministers are eagerly awaiting the new European Commission strategy for new skills in Europe. This feeling was expressed during the debate the Ministers held on Wednesday 24 February and in the resolution regarding the role of skills and qualifications that they subsequently adopted.
“Almost 40% of companies are experiencing difficulties in recruiting staff with appropriate skills, including digital skills. At the same time, it is estimated that around 25% of highly skilled young workers are overqualified for the posts they occupy”. It is on the basis of this astounding observation that the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the EU began the Education Council. The Council was attended by Commissioner Marianne Thyssen (Employment) and Tibor Navracsics (Education), who announced the forthcoming publication of their strategy.
At the opening of the session, Commissioner Navracsics indicated “We need to raise the level of basic skills in numeracy, literacy and information technology. Qualifications should not, however, be subject to a reductionist definition and we do not require a sectoral approach. Good qualifications are, for example, a spirit of enterprise, creativity, resilience, languages and communication, etc.”. The Norwegian Minister for Education and Research, Torbjorn Roe Isaksen, shared his experiences with his European counterparts by focusing on the importance of a “multidisciplinary approach” by way of meetings with employers and workers' representatives, as well as a flexibility that is not restricted to one specific approach that could prove inappropriate in a few years time.
Ministers then expressed their points of view and shared experiences on the basis of a working document prepared by the Dutch Presidency. They were asked to give their views about the need to redefine study programmes and teaching methods, the need to develop partnerships with enterprise and the possible use of EU (improved) instruments. Germany welcomed the Commission approach to “transcend employability and target excellence from the very beginning”. It also called on the next President of the Council to map out the formal and informal skills required in the current period leading up to 2018. Finland called on the European Union to make the Bologna certification system more binding. France believes that EU tools such as the Europass and European learning credits system for education and vocational training should be optimised. A significant number of member states also highlighted the appropriateness of so-called transversal skills.
Ministers concluded their debate on skills by adopting a resolution on the promotion throughout the EU of socioeconomic development and inclusion through education. This text constitutes the 2016 contribution from the education and training sector to the budgetary process in the “European Semester” (see other article) and also calls for targeted reforms in the education systems, as a means of improving their performance and learning results. It also calls for investment in education and training, whilst clarifying that “This does not mean increasing budgets in all cases but rather, improving the targeting of spending and planning effective incentives that are likely to improve quality”.
It should be pointed out that the “strategy for new skills in Europe” will be presented by the Commission in May and is expected to examine skills development and deficits, as well as emphasise employability, mobility, competitiveness and fair and balanced growth. It will also particularly examine the skills needed at all levels, in an effort to tackle the challenges that arise and maximise the use of the latest innovations, particularly in the digital arena and to ensure that everyone is able to develop and improve their skills so that they can keep up with the constant developments on the labour market and in society. The strategy will propose specific EU action areas and support the concerted efforts made by the member states to promote the active participation of the actors involved in education and training sectors and on the labour market. (Original version in French by Sophie Petitjean)


DA: Europaeum Bulletin - August 2015

*UK Universities warn on Brexit*

British universities – including Oxford – stand to lose more than €6 billion from a possible UK exit from the European Union in the forthcoming 'in-out' referendum. This warning comes from UK Universities, which represents British university heads (vice-chancellors). According to official statistics provided by the /Research and Development Balance of Competences Review/, the UK does exceptionally well in securing EU research, development and<> innovation funding. It received a total of €6.1 billion or 15.4% of the funds allocated in the EU's 2007-2013 research *Framework Programme 7* (FP7). Only Germany scored better, receiving 16.1% of the funds. The UK benefits directly from £1.2 billion annually in European research funding, while over 80% of the UK's internationally co-authored papers are written with EU partners. *Oxford* is one of 24 major research-intensive universities in the UK, the so-called Russell Group, that host 52,000 students and over 18,500 staff from other EU countries. Furthermore, almost half UK students participating in the Erasmus mobility programme in 2012-13 were from Russell Group universities. With such benefits and opportunities are now at risk. UK universities are gearing up for battle in the forthcoming referendum, expected late next year or in 2017.
Colleagues from *the Graduate Institute* in Switzerland know very well what is at stake when a country falls outside of the EU umbrella. The Europaeum will continue to support a series of serious debates through the *EUK@Ox* network, the *EU and UK at Oxford*, over the coming year, More information will follow.


Two initiatives to help start ups grow

16 Sep 2014. Social studies and humanities marginalised in Horizon 2020

Brussels, 16/09/2014 (Agence Europe) - The sidelining and marginalisation of the human and social sciences and particularly humanities, as an area of research, in the first work programme
(2014-2015) of the new EU research and innovation framework programme for 2014-2020 (Horizon 2020) is the main reproach formulated by the Science Europe scientific committee for the humanities in a report published at the beginning of September in response to the choices made by the European Commission.
After closely scrutinising the Horizon 2020 work programme for 2014 and 2015, which the Commission presented in December last year (see EUROPE 10983), the Science Europe report (The Human Factor in the 2014-2015 Work Programme of the Horizon 2020 Societal Challenges), drafted by a collective of 15 University and research institute lecturers (Denmark, Hungary, Britain, France, Sweden, Ireland, Iceland, Switzerland, Spain, Finland, Belgium and the Netherlands) delivers a harsh criticism: “We conclude that the actual role of the humanities in the 2014-2015 Work Programme is marginal in quantity as well as quality”. This role in the programme is also too often “simplified” because it is perceived as being secondary to other research areas.
The analysis carried out by these researchers focused on one of the three pillars in Horizon 2020, “Societal Challenges”, which has received a 38.53% allocation from the total framework programme budget, which is around €80 billion. This pillar comprises the following themes: health; agriculture, maritime activities and the bio-economy; energy; transport; climate action, the environment, rational use of resources and raw materials; reflective societies and security. At the time, the committee welcomed it being set up but the final results are far from satisfactory. In this pillar, as devised by the first work programme, just 26.7% of themes clearly open the way to contributions from the social sciences and humanities. Humanities, which cover disciplines such as philosophy, history and linguistics, are even more marginalised and only account for 10% of these themes.
From a qualitative point of view the report issues a similar criticism:
“Finally, the Work Programme hardly refers at all to cultural and historical dimensions” because the majority of themes chosen constitute the variation of one and the same thematic geared towards technologies, particularly information and communication technologies (ICT). The omission of these two dimensions, according to the report, is the equivalent of failing to find “radically new approaches to the development and application of technological or social processes” that are needed to “better understand the changes they bring to people's behaviour, pervasive values, cultures of practice and modes of communication”. By failing to take into account historic and cultural perspectives, is to ultimately reject analyses on pre-conditions of human behaviour, even though analysis of human behaviour and how to influence it are the most pervasive areas of research in the work programme or at least in areas where social sciences and humanities are still called on to make a contribution. (JK)


9 Sep 2014. OECD report backs Commissiojn objectives

Brussels, 09/09/2014 (Agence Europe) - On Tuesday 9 September, the European Commission welcomed the publication of the new OECD report 2014, Education at a Glance, which assesses the education systems of the OECD countries and the challenges facing them. Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, said that the report constitutes “a major source of knowledge and evidence for policy-makers… It also shows that there are still big differences between EU member states in the level of skills among both recent graduates and older age groups”. She added that the OECD has reached the same conclusion as the Commission: increasing the quality of education and raising skills levels is a smart investment and a powerful way of combating inequalities in our societies
The report covers the 34 OECD member countries, including 21 EU member states. The main findings in the report are as follows:
Educational opportunities continue to expand significantly in Europe. The percentage of the adult population holding a tertiary education diploma has steadily increased in most EU countries during the past decade (to 29%), although the EU still lags behind the OECD average (33%). The percentage of pupils with upper secondary qualifications has remained stable, while the percentage of those with less than upper secondary education has decreased. The report confirms the Commission's analysis that, if current trends continue, the Europe 2020 targets of at least 40% of young people completing tertiary education and less than 10% leaving school before completing upper secondary education are within reach.
High levels of education and skills pay off for both individuals and society. A higher education graduate with the highest literacy skills earns 45% more on average than a similarly educated adult with the lowest literacy level. In general, in all OECD countries, people with higher education levels are more likely to be employed. Society at large also gains through reduced public spending on welfare and through taxes.
Similar levels of educational attainment do not always mean similar levels of skills. There are significant differences in the EU between the skills levels of people with similar qualifications: recent upper secondary graduates in some countries score similarly or higher in literacy skills than higher education graduates from others.
The right skills matter during the transition from education to work. Professional expertise is paramount but interpersonal skills, such as communication and teamwork, are becoming more important and work experience during studies is a plus for the employability of higher education graduates.
The teacher population is ageing. On average in EU countries 37% of secondary school teachers are aged at least 50. This underlines the importance of maintaining or increasing the attractiveness of the teaching profession.
Private investment in tertiary education is growing. Private expenditure in tertiary education has risen from 14% in 2000 to 21% in 2012 in EU countries. This is still significantly below the 31% OECD average, and there are large differences between EU countries. (IL)
(AE) EDUCATION: Students and universities up in arms at new skills project
Brussels, 09/09/2014 (Agence Europe) - The European University Association (EUA), European Students Union (ESU) and the Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions (OBESSU) have sharply criticised the project for new skills planned by the new commissioner for education and training.
In the projects from the Junker Commission organigram leaked to the press, the English term “education” has been replaced by “skills”, a term that is clearly much more limited, according to the EUA and ESU. The EUA pointed out that, “in times of economic and also geopolitical crisis, Europe will more than ever have to rely not only on skills, but also on education, in order to build a strong knowledge society”. The EUA denounced the “lack of ambition” and reminded the European Commission that it had placed education at the centre of its Europe 2020 strategy. The ESU is also “outraged” by the fact that this proposal does not correspond to the vision students have for education and indicated that “students consider education to be much more than simply training or skills”. Education also involves personal development and active citizenship. The president of the ESU, Elizabeth Gehrke, stressed that “this is a terrible mistake that does not recognise the multifaceted role of education”. European student unions have backed the ESU position and added that, if the proposal were maintained, “education will become a side product seen through the lens of skills, when it should be considered as a vital instrument in creating a better future for Europe”. (IL)


9 Sep 2014. Start of 2014 Heritage Days

Brussels, 09/09/2014 (Agence Europe) - In partnership with the Council of Europe, the European Commission has opened the European Heritage Days 2014. As in previous years, millions of people will be able to visit sites and monuments that are usually closed to the public, throughout September in 50 different countries. Launched in 1985, the European Heritage Days have receives €200,000 from the EU's “Creative Europe” programme and €200,000 from the Council of Europe. They also receive national and regional financial support. The complete Heritage Days programme is available at: (IL)

8 Sep 2014. Presidency outlines priorities to EP

Brussels, 04/09/2014 (Agence Europe) - On 3-4 September, four Italian ministers outlined their priorities in the areas of education, culture, audiovisual and youth for the European Parliament's culture committee.
Education: the minister for education, universities and research, Stefania Giannini, outlined the following priorities in her portfolio:
the importance of education in underpinning growth in the examination of the Europe 2020 strategy; new technologies in education programmes (“Opening up Education”); discussion of the new Erasmus+ programme; emphasis on innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship; well-being and security at school, and the promotion of multilingualism from the earliest age. Entrepreneurship provoked a number of questions. Therese Comodini Cachia (EPP, Malta) underlined the difficulty for young entrepreneurs in taking risks with significant barriers to accessing finance, a concern shared by Marlene Mizzi (S&D, Malta) and Julie Ward (S&D, United Kingdom). Ward believed that incorporating culture and the arts into entrepreneurship would be a positive thing. Petra Kammerevert (S&D, Germany) praised the dual training model in Germany, where financial responsibility for training is also borne by companies and not just the state. She also spoke of the difficulties of mutual recognition of diplomas promoted by the Bologna Process. Krystyna Maria Lybacka (S&D, Poland) supported practical as well as theoretical learning, “so that mobility does not become a dead letter”. Michaela Sojdrova (EPP, Czech Republic) expressed concern about a possible revision of the key objectives in education, which she insisted were good. The importance of new technologies in education system also produced a number of questions, particularly from Mizzi, Kammerevert and Ward.
Culture/Audiovisual: the minister in charge of heritage and cultural activities, Dario Franceschini, said that defence of the European cultural exception, in the context of protecting heritage and the TTIP negotiations, constituted the main priority of the Italian Ppresidency in the cultural arena. An agreement between European countries is expected to be reached, so that the cultural exception can become a long-term strategy for Europe, he said. Italy also intends to take matters forward, so as to promote Creative Europe in the revision of the Europe 2020 strategy. The minister referred to developments in new technology and underlined the challenges posed in the area of copyright.
Italy will also continue with work to develop the digital Europeana library. Other important points on the agenda include: the mobility of artists and cultural works (with an Erasmus kind of initiative to promote exchanges). Antonello Giacomelli, Secretary of State for Communications, asserted that free access for all to online content represented a priority in the audiovisual field. He also said that the internet should be an open network and area for free exchanges and should not be dominated by the US internet giants. He rejected a purely commercial vision of audiovisual goods and shared the idea of the cultural exception, as argued by Fransceschini. Kammerevert was happy to hear that the ministers defended the cultural exception and deplored the less robust attitude displayed by the European Commission on this point.
She also highlighted the importance of defending internet neutrality, a pre-requisite for media diversity, just when negotiations with the Council (on the Connected Continent) are proving “very complicated” on this point. In the area of copyright in the digital environment, Lybacka emphasised the importance of developing cultural awareness among young people so that they became “culturally conscious consumers”. Curzio Maltese (GUE, Italy) called for further reflection to guarantee better working conditions for artists and Bogdan Brunon Wenta (EPP, Poland) called for cultural diversity to be protected and guaranteed access to culture for young people.
Youth: with regard to youth affairs, Secretary of State Luigi Bobba stated that the employability and mobility of young people was essential. He supports the inter-sectoral dimension for youth policy and argues for youth rights in all other policies to be taken into account.
In the sporting arena, he called for match fixing to be tackled. Bogdan Andrzej Zdrojewski (EPP, Poland) welcomed the continuity of the Italian work programme with previous presidencies. He said that very long-term initiatives pursued testified to a responsible and coherent policy. He encouraged the Presidency to seize all opportunities for raising member states' awareness about youth policy. Luigi Morgano (S&D, Italy) also congratulated the Presidency on its choice of continuing with existing initiatives in youth policy. In reply to Isabella Adinolfi (EFDD, Italy), who felt that the youth guarantee had not delivered the results that have been hoped for, Bobba said that the initiative had only been operating a few months and that it would not be before the end of the year that an initial assessment can be made. (IL)


4 Feb, 2014. Two initiatives to help start ups grow

Brussels, 23/01/2014 (Agence Europe) - At the World Economic Forum in Davos on 23 January, Commissioner for the Digital Strategy Neelie Kroes, presented two new initiatives to support the development and growth of start-ups in Europe. The Commissioner stated: “Europe needs thriving start-ups and global internet companies to become a global growth centre again”. The first initiative is a new accelerator - the Start-up Europe Partnership - and the second is a new think tank - the European Digital Forum. Founding partners of these projects are: Telefonica, Orange, BBVA, European Investment Bank, Cambridge University, IE Business School, Humboldt University, the Lisbon Council, Nesta and Mind the Bridge Foundation. The commissioner welcomed this commitment and noted that “politicians don't create jobs, entrepreneurs do. We're going to support that mindset and push European start-ups beyond their comfort zone. And then we're going to get out of the way. Sometimes the best thing a political leader can do is get out of the way”;

The Start-Up Europe Partnership (SEP) seeks to help start-ups break through their national glass ceiling into global maturity. The SEP will build bridges between Europe's startups, corporate and investment communities to help EU start-ups raise funds and beat language barriers to reach maturity as global champions. The vision is that European corporations - large and middle size - as well as European universities have to be active key players in this process. They can both help the growth process of start-ups (business partnerships and strategic corporate investments) and have access to the best technologies and talents (acquisition and acqui-hiring). Its secretariat will be led by the Mind the Bridge Foundation, a non-profit corporation and Nesta, the UK's innovation foundation. The European Digital Forum will give entrepreneurs a voice in policy debates and aims to become Europe's leading think tank and policy network on digital entrepreneurship. It will give a stronger voice to the Europe tech scene by placing its achievements and challenges in their proper overall economic context, rather than in a niche. Designed as an “open church”, the Forum will be open to all industries, companies and stakeholders. It will also produce an annual Digital Economy Index to measure how friendly Europe is to the mind-set required to succeed in the digital era. Its secretariat will be led by the Lisbon Council in collaboration with Nesta. The Start-up Partnership and Digital Forum are the Commission's first concrete initiatives to deliver new business conditions in Europe following delivery of a Manifesto by the Start-up Europe Leaders Club to Europe's Prime Ministers and Presidents in October 2013.


3 Feb, 2014. Atto Camera dei Deputati, interrogazione in risposta a commissione 5-01984

Rome, 24/1/2014. Presentato da Simona Flavia Malpezzi. Testo di Malpezzi, Rotta, Madia e Decaro. Al ministro dell'istruzione, dell'università e della ricerca. Il programma Futuro in ricerca (FIRB) di base rappresenta il principale canale di finanziamento dei giovani ricercatori non strutturati all'interno del sistema universitario italiano che, come noto, è poco rinnovato nell'accesso dei giovani ai ruoli dell'insegnamento e della ricerca e spesso oggetto di forti polemiche sulle modalità di reclutamento; 
lo stanziamento FIRB per il programma 2010 è stato pari a 50 milioni, mentre il bando 2013 ha visto lo stanziamento di 30 milioni e 440.000 euro; 
il finanziamento dei giovani ricercatori under 40 avviene attraverso un meccanismo fortemente competitivo strutturato su più livelli d'esame, con la presenza di commissari d'esame non italiani; 
i vincitori, inquadrati come ricercatori a tempo determinato, sono responsabili di unità di ricerca spesso articolate in più atenei nonché responsabili scientifici per i finanziamenti; 
risulta agli interroganti che, pur avendo non solo emesso il nuovo bando ma concluso i lavori per l'attribuzione dei vincitori del concorso 2013, il Ministero non abbia ancora versato completamente il finanziamento dovuto ai programmi vincitori del bando 2010; 
per fare un esempio basti solo considerare che il progetto con capofila Sapienza università di Roma intitolato L'Europa di Versailles (1919-1939). I nuovi equilibri europei tra le due guerre nelle fonti dell'Archivio dell'Ufficio storico dello Stato maggiore esercito, finanziato dal Ministero dell'istruzione, dell'università e della ricerca per 271.000 euro (in collaborazione con l'università di Teramo) ha ricevuto finora circa 81.000 euro e l'erogazione del finanziamento residuo (189.000 euro) è in ritardo di 13 mesi; 
nella stessa università il progetto intitolato Biochimica e biologia molecolare delle vie di segnalazione del di-gmp ciclico e del quorum sensing in pseudomonas aeruginosa finanziato dal Ministero dell'istruzione, dell'università e della ricerca per 453.000 euro (in collaborazione con l'università di Roma Tre) ha ricevuto finora solo 83.000 euro e l'erogazione del finanziamento residuo (370.000) è in ritardo di 13 mesi; 
all'università di Bari il progetto intitolato Spazi sacri e percorsi identitari. Testi di fondazione, iconografia, culto e tradizioni nei santuari cristiani italiani fra Tarda antichità e Medioevo è stato finanziato dal Ministero dell'istruzione, dell'università e della ricerca per 300.131 mentre l'erogazione finora ricevuta si attesta sui 90.039; 
nella medesima situazione si trovano decine di altri progetti in ogni settore scientifico disciplinare; l'interruzione dell'erogazione del finanziamento ha interrotto le ricerche e messo in difficoltà le amministrazioni, i docenti collaboratori delle unità e i giovani ricercatori capofila delle ricerche –: 
se il Ministro interrogato non ritenga opportuno provvedere alla liquidazione del finanziamento concesso con il bando 2010 prima di dare attuazione al decreto del 14 novembre 2013 di ammissione al finanziamento per i vincitori 2013; 
quanta sia la percentuale di erogazione a favore dei progetti vincitori del bando 2010 e quando il Ministero intenda ottemperare versando quanto dovuto alle unità di ricerca FIRB. 


20 Dec, 2013. Council says online learning still hazy

Brussels, 25/11/2013 (Agence Europe) - The rapid appearance and rise of digital distance learning tools - like free teaching resources and online courses open to all - offer considerable prospects as regards access to learning but also pose enormous challenges in terms of quality, recognition of qualifications, copyright and language knowledge, said education ministers at a public debate at the Council on 25 November. The delegations spoke about the problems for a harmonious roll-out of online teaching methods - not enough IT infrastructure in some of the more geographically isolated regions, the lack of knowledge among teachers and heads of school about these new education techniques, the lack of any regulatory framework enabling quality assurance of these online courses, and the need - especially in small countries - to know foreign languages in order to have access to online courses. “Things are still not very clear. The work must continue” with the Greek Presidency and successive presidencies, said Lithuania's Education and Science Minister Dainius Pavalkis. The European Commission will follow up on the discussions. In the view of European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou, it is important for universities to adapt to the new online teaching methods and to be able to combine these with traditional learning methods.

Uschi Schreiber, a specialist from Ernst & Young in global government and the public sector, was invited to take part in the debate and advised member states to become informed about the practices implemented by the US and Australia as regards the regulation of online learning, as these countries are already well advanced on the issue. In her opinion, when it comes to setting up a regulatory framework the watchword should be simplicity. Schreiber also highlighted the complementarity between online courses and courses given at universities - with added value being brought by one type of course to the other. “Progress must be made quickly - but together. We can't simply regulate, we must also encourage, and learn the lessons at the European level as regards coordination and good practices”, said Vassiliou. In terms of the recognition of training followed online, “there's a lot of work to do” (our translation throughout). The existing framework needs to be re-examined as regards validation of learning outcomes by broadening out to online learning, Vassiliou said. She also said that she very much supports the multilingualism favoured by online learning - as several ministers highlighted during the debate. (IL/transl.fl)Cultural sector in Top 10 most active industries in France. A study by auditors Ernst&Young shows that in France, the world of culture (in the broad sense) weighs more heavily than vehicles - be it at the level of GDP or of its contribution to employment. The study reveals the results achieved by nine industries - music, live shows, cinema, television, radio, video games, books, press, and graphic art - and calculates their economic weight. In total, all these industries have a turnover of nearly €75 billion, in other words 2.8% of GDP, and they represent over 1.2 million jobs (5% of employment in France). In conclusion, culture carries more weight than luxury goods, vehicles or telecommunications. Taking only its direct impact into account (€61 billion in turnover), the culture industry comes eighth economically - between vehicles (€59 billion) and chemicals (€62 billion). (IL/transl.fl)


20 Dec, 2013. First sites named for European Heritage Label

Brussels, 29/11/2013 (Agence Europe) - The first sites to receive the new European Heritage Label (EHL) were named on 28 November by an independent selection panel, the European Commission has announced. The four sites are: Carnuntum Archaeological Park, a Roman reconstructed city quarter in Bad Deutsch-Altenburg (Austria); the medieval Great Guild Hall in Tallinn (Estonia), the 100-year-old Peace Palace in The Hague, and Camp Westerbork, a World War II Nazi transit camp at Hooghalen, also in the Netherlands. “I congratulate the first sites to receive the new European Heritage Label. I believe that this initiative has the potential to be one of the most successful and popular schemes organised by the EU. It has a strong educational angle, especially for young people who will be able to better understand the European Union's history through its association with symbolic sites. We look forward to receiving further outstanding applications in the coming years”, said Androulla Vassiliou, Culture Commissioner. Recommendation on the EHL, adopted in 2011, is intended to draw attention to the sites that have played an essential role in history, culture and the development of the European Union, and to shed light on their European dimension through information and educational activities. The ultimate aim of the EHL is to heighten citizens' feeling of belonging to the EU. The Commission will officially nominate the sites in January 2014. (IL/transl.jl)


6 Dec, 2013. Cinema communication - cultural sector heaves sigh of relief

Brussels, 20/11/2013 (Agence Europe) - The European Coalitions for Cultural Diversity (CEDC) are satisfied - and relieved - by the positive progress made on the new text of the communication on new rules applicable to state aid for cinematographic and audiovisual works, which was adopted by the European Commission on 14 November and which lays down the criteria for the validity of aid to audiovisual and the cinema under European rules. Despite the Commission's initial preference to limit the principle of territoriality and to ban restrictions on the origin of goods and services, the text voted on by the College of Commissioners overall keeps in place the current system of aid to the cinema in the European countries, the CEDC is pleased to note. This means that the text adopted will still allow the states or regions to make aid conditional on a particular part of the budget of a film being spent on their territory. The CEDC approves the general economy of the text, which has managed to take account of the specific nature of audiovisual and cultural works, as recognised by the European Treaties and the UNESCO Convention of 2005 promoting the diversity of cultural expressions. However, it laments the fact that "so much time and energy" has had to be spent on safeguarding a positive model for supporting creativity, which the coalitions feel has been unjustly called into question.

More generally, the European Coalitions for Cultural Diversity hope that this change of stance, which will not end up fragmenting policies in favour of the cinema, will herald a new round of relations with the Commission, which should and must make defending cultural diversity one of its priorities.

The cinema communication, which has applied only to state aid granted to cinematographic production since 2001, now includes all stages of an audiovisual work, from conception to public distribution, including writing and cinema exhibition. This means that cinemas will have the possibility of receiving increased support, particularly for the digitalisation of cinemas. The Commission has also broadly kept in place the option of territorialisation of aid, so that the states will be able to continue to make their support conditional upon local expenditure, subject to certain rules .



6 Dec, 2013. Final adoption of Horizon 2020 package

Brussels, 21/11/2013 (Agence Europe) - On Thursday 21 November, the European Parliament approved the five regulations which form the legislative package of the framework programme of the EU for research and innovation for the years 2014-2020 (Horizon 2020), thereby enshrining the inter-institutional agreements. The Council of the EU will in turn confirm this package in early December, making it possible for Horizon 2020 to be launched in January 2014.

Commissioner for Science and Research Maire Geoghegan-Quinn immediately welcomed the outcome of the vote: “This is a vote of confidence in the power of EU research and innovation funding. It paved the way for more investment in knowledge and competitiveness in Europe. The European Parliament's support for and input to Horizon 2020 has been very important”, she said. “Horizon 2020 is not only the broadest funding programme for research and development there is, but it is also the most ambitious one the EU has ever had”, added MEP Christian Ehler (EPP, Germany), one of the parliamentary rapporteurs.

This legislative package consists of five regulations: on the establishment of the framework programme (adopted by 533 votes to 29, with 22 abstentions); the specific implementing programme (559 to 24, with 19 abstentions); the rules on participation and dissemination of results (506 to 81, with 9 abstentions); the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (516 to 22, with 62 abstentions); the strategic innovation programme of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (523 to 16 against, with 58 abstentions).

This new framework programme brings in many innovations, but stands out from its predecessor (seventh framework programme 2007-2013) and other programmes and funds dealt with in the negotiations for the forthcoming multi-annual financial framework (MFF) mainly on two points. First of all, it is one of the very few budget lines which will considerably increase for the years 2014-2020, from a total of €53 billion to €70.2 billion (in 2011 price terms), even though the EU is having to tighten its belt over the next few years. Secondly, as all interested parties agree, Horizon 2020 will respond to the greatest criticism made of its predecessor, which was often described as a mastodon of red tape and operational complexities. The keyword in the design of Horizon 2020 has therefore been, from start to finish but not without a few problems, “simplification”.

This “simplification” has been achieved on several levels, but with one and the same objective of making the framework programme as attractive as possible to participants, particularly SMEs. The FP7 and IET programmes have been brought together, with five new knowledge and innovation communities (KICs). Horizon 2020 is also based on a single legal document. Its overall architecture has moved on to include three major pillars: reinforcing scientific excellence (31.73% of the total budget); developing industrial leadership (22.09%); responding to societal challenges (38.53%). However, the greatest change refers to the rules of participation, which have become one and the same for all programmes. The introduction of a single fixed rate for indirect costs constitutes the most radical change. This gives a reimbursement formula of 100/25 (100% of direct costs and 25% of indirect costs).

Many other innovations were brought in over the course of the inter-institutional negotiations. These include: a specific instrument for SMEs, with a budget of €3 billion; the fast track to innovation, to be piloted in 2015 and which aims to get innovative products to market more quickly; the option to pass the indirect costs of broad infrastructures on to direct costs; in order to tackle the brain drain phenomenon, a bonus of €8,000 a year per researcher and per project has been brought in, together with a special budget line of 1.06% to promote groupings of research projects in less innovative regions; a greater proportion of the budget for green energy.

Although the total budget for Horizon 2020 has been increased considerably, it is less than the European Commission originally hoped for and even less than the Parliament wanted. Ehler repeated his disappointment, stating that the budget “does not live up to its ambitious goals”. “We could say that the money we have obtained will be better spent, but €70.2 billion is far from the 100 billion the Parliament had initially called for and it will not be sufficient to ensure Europe's competitiveness in a global economy that runs on innovation”, he warned.



22 Nov, 2013, Stop ai filibustieri

Roma, 22/10/2013 (Lo Zio d'America) - Giornata storica ieri a Washington, dove al Senato è passata una riforma del regolamento che pone nuovi, più stringenti limiti all’ostruzionismo in aula,filibustering in inglese. La riforma incide esclusivamente sulle nomine presidenziali, almeno sulla maggior parte di esse (specificatamente ad esclusione di quelle per la Corte Suprema), ma rappresenta lo stesso una svolta dal notevole significato politico, molto probabilmente gravida di conseguenze. Si tratta della cossiddetta nuclear option, a lungo ventilata per sbloccare lo stallo istituzionale che ormai da tempo affligge la vita politica americana. L’approfondimento è quindi d’obbligo per i cultori della materia.Oltre all’ottima sintesi di Maurizio Molinari sulla svolta storica al Senato, dallaStampa, segnalo anche i seguenti articoli in lingua inglese: In Landmark Vote, Senate Limits Use of Filibuster e Partisan Fever in Senate Likely to Rise, sul New York Times;Reid, Democrats Trigger "Nuclear" Optione e Nine Reasons the Filibuster Change is a Huge Deal, sul Washington Post; Filibuster Vote Raises Stakes for 2014 e Filibuster Change Could Expand Field of Future Nominees, su Politico; The Filibuster Had to be Killed e The Senate's Nuclear (Power) Option, rispettivamente su Slate e New Yorker.


29 Oct, 2013, YOUTH: Youth rights at heart of youth policy

Brussels, 29/10/2013 (Agence Europe) - Youth organisations are demanding that European leaders adopt a real rights-based approach to youth policy. On 28 October, around 30 youth organisations and representatives from the Council of Europe attended the roundtable event, “The promotion of Youth Rights in Europe”. The event was aimed at discussing various measures that can improve the access young people have to their rights including the introduction of innovative legal and non-legal instruments as well as a better use of the existing international legal tools. The roundtable also provided an opportunity to review best practices and lessons learned from the regional examples of youth rights-based legal instruments (the Ibero-American Convention on the Rights of Youth and the African Youth Charter). Peter Matjasic, President of the European Youth Forum, stated that “the debate and discussions aimed at adopting a real rights-based approach are needed. However, we must push for action. International organisations and governments must adopt this approach in order to foster young people's autonomy!”


EUROPEAN LIBRARY. JEAN-GUY GIRAUD, LUCAS BULTHION: 2014: amorcer la réforme de l'Union. Catalogue pour un débat. Presse fédéraliste (Maison de l'Europe et des Européens, 242 rue Duguesclin, F-69003 Lyons. Internet: 2013, 45 pp.
Political forces are subtly starting to mobilise for the next European elections in May 2014, as is shown by this memorandum of the French federalist movement. Jean-Guy Giraud ended his career as director of the European Parliament bureau after working elsewhere in the European institutions, but this did not dampen his ardour as an activist and one-time president of the French section of the Union of European Federalists. Along with a young man who has followed a similar path and is now at the College of Europe in Bruges, being vice-president of the association Jeunes Européens de France, Jean-Guy Giraud is publishing this memorandum to get the voice of federalists heard before the election campaigns become saturated with communication from the traditional political formations.
The crisis that has been endured now for five long years is always bitterly revealing the yawning gaps left by the Maastricht Treaty when it comes to economic and monetary affairs, followed by what the authors describe as 'shortcomings' in the Lisbon Treaty, and they say it is time to put an end to over-hasty recourse to palliative legislative measures, inter-governmental cooperation and extra-Community treaties. The European Union clearly needs a revision of the treaties as a matter of urgency! The authors are firmly convinced of this and have therefore prepared this paper to open people's minds ready for a public debate on the matter when the new European Parliament and European Commission have been set up. The authors set out a four-part catalogue of reforms. In the first section on treaties and accession, the authors suggest for example that any draft review of the treaties should be deemed adopted as soon as it gets the vote of four-fifths of member states representing four-fifths of the EU population, and ratification should be endorsed in the same manner. Giraud and Bulthion also suggest introducing a withdrawal mechanism in the interests of the European Union, if only as a deterrent, so that the EU can protect itself from a member state acting in a way that is damaging to the Union as a whole.
In the second section, looking at common policies, it will come as no surprise that the authors recommend (and give justifications for) the setting up of a European Treasury and a European Bond Issuing Agency, along with the obligation on all eurozone nations to participate in these in the same way that they are part of the Single Market. Arguing for a Communitarisation of justice and homes affairs, they feel that gradual Communitarisation should also apply (with set staging posts) to foreign and defence policy, with 'reinforced majority' requirements potentially being set for various strategic decisions, with each member state having the right to take part in them - or not - as long as they don't stand in the way. For the budget, the authors recommend the scrapping of the cap on resources, which they say has no real constitutional or democratic basis, and for all the EU's budget to be financed by 'own resources.' The own resources and multiannual financial framework should be set jointly by the Council of Minsters (or even the European Summit) and the European Parliament, with greater EU scrutiny of expenditure and, last but not least, the setting up of a 'budgetary cross-subsidy fund' at the service of inter-regional cohesion.
This particular food for thought may not be so easily digestible, but there is plenty more to discover in the two final sections, on legislative and executive powers on the one hand and the 'foundations' of the European venture on the other. But are these proposals really more difficult and out of place than those being made by some countries and parties that want to start to pick Europe apart at the seams?
Michel Theys


18 Oct, 2013 SOCIAL: Race for €6 billion in youth funding
Brussels, 18/10/2013 (Agence Europe) - Integrating some 14.6 million young people who are not in employment, education of training (the so-called NEETs) will be one of the issues once again broached by EU heads of state and/or government when they meet in Brussels on Thursday 24 and Friday 25 October. According to the draft European Council conclusions (see EUROPE 10944), which devote a relatively short paragraph to this issue, it will be for the member states to implement the youth employment initiative and above all the youth guarantee, from January 2014. Prior work being needed, the European Commission invited each member state to submit an implementation plan setting out how national arrangements would work in practice and how they would be financed, so that the €6 billion set aside for this purpose can be allocated.
This is no longer the time for reflection on how to tackle youth employment which, although it has stabilised, remains at a historically very high level (over 23% in the 28 member states), but to put already made decisions, particularly those taken by the European Councils in February and June 2013 (see EUROPE 10877) into practice. Thus next week's Council is expected to take stock of preparations for the launch in the first few weeks of 2014 of the youth employment initiative. It will call on those states concerned (those which have regions with youth unemployment levels above 25%) to put in place this year again appropriate implementation plans.
The Commission recently indicated what it expects to find in these plans. National authorities should identify: (1) the roles of public education and employment authorities, youth organisations, employees' and employers' representatives; (2) the structural reforms and other initiatives which will be launched in order to set up the youth guarantee; (3) how the youth guarantee will be financed, in particular through the support of the youth employment initiative and the European social fund (ESF); (4) a timetable for implementation and monitoring progress. For the moment, only the Czech Republic, Croatia and Poland have submitted their plans to the Commission.

The youth employment initiative will have a budget of €6 billion, €3 billion of which will come from a special budget line and the rest from the ESF, focusing on 2014 and 2015. Negotiations between the EU Council and the European Parliament on the ESF have been concluded. The agreement has not yet been approved: in Parliament, two committees are in dispute over the outcome achieved, particularly with regard to the amount of the cohesion policy budget to be allocated to the ESF (the trilogue compromise provided for 23.1%, the employment and social affairs committees are demanding 25%). To this must be added the lack of inter-institutional agreements on the next multiannual financial framework and cohesion policy. The result is that the states which have already submitted implementation plans have had to remain vague on points such as the numbers of young people affected and the amount needed, according to a European source. The inter-institutional compromise on the ESF has already somewhat altered the scope of the initiative: the target group remains the NEETs aged 15-24 (numbering 7.8 million) but the member states which wish to will be able to apply it to those aged up to 30 (a total of 14.6 million people in Europe).


17 Oct, 2013 YOUTH: Young people call for European election pledges

Brussels, 17/10/2013 (Agence Europe) - The European Youth Forum launched its European Election campaign with a Panel Debate on “Youth and the European Elections” held at the European Parliament on 15 October. The debate featured contributions from Doris Pack (EPP, Germany), chair of the European Parliament's culture and education committee and Jo Leinen (S&D, Germany), President of the European Movement International. The Forum's Election campaign is based around “Pledges to Youth” which MEP candidates are invited to sign. The panel discussion highlighted areas such as young people's attitudes to Europe and what the EU can do to invest in young people and overcome unemployment. The Youth Forum campaign, “LoveYouthFuture”, highlights solutions for Europe in many of these areas. “The LoveYouthFuture Pledges demonstrate how the EU can engage with young people through, for example, more youth rights, protections for young people, quality education and a more ambitious youth guarantee. We urge all MEP candidates and parties to make their Pledge to Youth”, stated Youth Forum President Peter Matjasic. MEP candidates can sign the Pledges online at

17 Oct, 2013 DIGITAL: 100% basic broadband coverage thanks to satellite
Brussels, 17/10/2013 (Agence Europe) - One of the objectives set by the Europe 2020 strategy as regards digital policy provided for basic broadband access for all citizens of the European Union by 2013. This has now been achieved - two months ahead of the 31 December deadline - the European Commission was pleased to announce on 17 October. This objective was achieved thanks to the satellite connections that are now available in all EU member states and that have enabled coverage for the 3 million households (0.6% of EU homes) that did not have access to basic broadband. “My motto is Every European Digital - now every European genuinely has the opportunity (…) Thanks to the extra coverage provided by satellite broadband, we have achieved our 2013 target of broadband for all. That's a great result for European citizens”, said European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes. While Kroes is delighted about the digital safety network, the European Commission underlines, however, that the essential objective to be achieved is the deployment of fast broadband.

25 Sep, 2013 MULTILINGUALISM: Conference on European languages - 25-26 September

Brussels, 25/9/2013 (Agence Europe)- In Vilnius on 25 and 26 September, the European Commission is organising a conference on European languages as part of the celebration of European Language Day on 26 September. The conference will examine how to protect the diversity of languages and cultures in Europe, the creation of new digital and technological language resources and new teaching methods, and will provide a showcase for all the languages of Europe. Based on a new scientific approach, the conference participants will discuss the changing role of languages in the EU and how they contribute to economic efficiency, better organisation of work and synergistic multilingualism. The conference will be attended by more than 340 experts from across the member states. (IL/transl.fl)


25 Sep, 2013, COMPETITIVENESS: Europe not a spent force

Brussels,25/09/2013 (Agence Europe) EU member states may have made progress in improving the business and export climate but their industrial competitiveness is struggling because of high energy prices, poor investment and difficulty in accessing funding. Worse, convergence is at a standstill. The manufacturing sector, which the Commission would like to see account for 20% of GDP by 2020, currently contributes only 15.1%.The two annual reports (2013 editions) on EU competitiveness - one on European industrial competitiveness and the other on the performance of each member state - published by the Commission on Wednesday 25 September present a very mixed picture, acknowledged Commissioner Antonio Tajani.While industrial performance has stabilised, industry's share in Europe's GDP has declined, from 15.5% to 15.1% in a year. Concerned at this relative decline of the role of industry in EU GDP, Tajani proposed in the autumn of 2012, as part of an updating of Community industrial policy, which is not really a policy as it is not an area exclusively reserved to the EU, urgent measures to take the share of the secondary sector in EU GDP from under 16% to 20% by 2020. Wednesday's figures make it clear that the EU has a long way still to go.

For European industry, there are worrying developments in two essential areas: productivity and employment. EU productivity performance is again deteriorating compared with the United States, while unemployment continues to be an everyday reality for 11% of Europe's workforce. Industry has been particularly hard hit, having lost over 3.8 million jobs since 2008.

For a year, recovery in the manufacturing sector has been very uneven. The member states and industrial sectors have been recovering at different rates from the deepest post-was crisis. Only a few countries have managed to return to pre-crisis production levels (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia), most are still well below previous levels. With the exception of the sectors producing basic necessities and a few high tech sectors, most areas of industry are still struggling to recover. Domestic demand remains weak, recovery has been largely stimulated by external demand (in particular, for pharmaceutical products, metallic minerals and transport equipment). More worrying still is that EU manufacturing output is losing ground globally, while China's is gaining.

While highlighting improvement in the business climate and the skills base in most member states, an increase in exports which has boosted industrial activity (with a trade surplus of €365 billion in 2012, the EU is doing better than the United States and Japan) and improvement in innovation and sustainability performances since 2008, the reports make clear that the EU's industrial competitiveness faces serious problems.

Energy prices, rising in virtually every member state, are a major problem for industry, contributing to the relative decline. Investment has not improved with the measures adopted by the EU since the start of the crisis in 2008. Access to funding has become more difficult in several member states. And the effectiveness and efficiency of public administrations could still be improved.

Convergence between countries is at a standstill. Based on their performances in a number of key areas (innovation and sustainability, business climate, services and infrastructure, public administrations, finance and investment, and skills), the competitiveness scoreboard ranks member states in three groups which appear fixed: those which perform well in all areas of competitiveness (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom); those which perform well in some competitiveness areas but face difficulties and deterioration in others (Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Slovenia); and those which face significant challenges in many areas, but are quickly improving (Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia).

The Commission continues to argue for a strong industrial base, despite industry's falling contribution to GDP, because manufacturing has strong spill-over effects on the rest of the economy and especially on overall productivity. Each euro of added final demand in manufacturing generates around 50 cents of additional final demand in other sectors of the economy.

Among its priorities, the Commission places “significantly” improving the performance of public administration, strengthening links between education and business, putting more into encouraging innovation and commercialisation of its results, facilitating day-to-day business activities, reducing production costs (energy and raw materials), improving access for companies, both large and small, to financial markets and capital and to non-EU markets, and facilitating investment in new technologies and innovation corresponding to the needs of the 21st century economy. In other words, nothing particularly new


13 Sep, 2013, EDUCATION: ERASMUS+ helps Eastern Partnership students

Brussels, 17/09/2013 (Agence Europe) On 13 September, while in Yerevan (Armenia), Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, responsible for education, culture, youth and multilingualism, highlighted the new opportunities created by the new Erasmus+ programme in education, training, youth and sport for Eastern Partnership students who intend to do part of their advanced studies in a European Union university. Additional funding will be injected in order to support mobility. Vassiliou said: “Our existing Tempus and Erasmus Mundus programmes have been a great success since their launch in the Eastern Partnership region and I am delighted that we will be able to support even more student exchanges under Erasmus+. Quality education is fundamental to the prosperity and stability of our societies; without well-performing education systems, there can be neither growth nor development”.The commissioner accompanied Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle and the deputy secretary general of the European External Action Service, Helga Schmid, to Armenia on the occasion of the third informal dialogue of the Eastern Partnership. On that occasion, Vassiliou met the education ministers of the Eastern Partnership countries in order to discuss questions of education and opportunities for enlarging partnership in the field of education. In the education sector, the Commission plans to make an annual allocation of €400 million for third-country partners for mobility opportunities and cooperation under Erasmus+. Capacity building projects, presently funded under the Tempus programme, will also receive additional funding from Erasmus+. Students from Eastern Partnership countries will, moreover, be able to benefit from scholarships for joint Master programmes. Doctoral fellowships will be financed under the renamed “Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions”, which are part of the new Horizon 2020 programme. Erasmus+ will replace seven existing mobility programmes including Erasmus Mundus and Tempus, and is due to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council later this autumn. It will be launched in January 2014 and is expected to have a total budget of around €14.5 billion


Brussels, 03/09/2013 (Agence Europe) SOCIAL: Commission inspired by US unemployment insurance system- Although the unemployment insurance project for the Eurozone was not ultimately included in the European Commission communication on the social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union (see EUROPE 10934), the theoretical premise of such a system was briefly tackled in this communication. It is distinctly Keynesian on this point, insofar as the Commission has drawn direct inspiration from the US unemployment insurance system, created a few years after the 1929 stock market crash, to illustrate its vision of a future euro zone with its own budget. The president of the Commission, José Manuel Barroso, explained that this vision no longer remained a very realistic option because substantial changes to the treaty would be needed.

Similarly to Europe, US unemployment insurance cover is managed by the authorities of the state. Since 1935, however, a federal programme has been in place to support the authorities through the collection of local and federal taxes. Federal bodies are able to take out loans if necessary. In cases of severe recession, the US Congress can put in place temporary programmes for extending allocations, as was the case in 2002 and 2008. This allows the unemployed to continue to receive unemployment allocations even beyond the legal period, which corresponds on average, to 26 weeks in the US. In these circumstances, the federal budget funds up to 50% of these temporary measures. This two-level structure provides the US with a flexible automatic stabilisation instrument when crises strike.

The Commission was directly inspired by this system and referred to it in its communication on the social dimension of the EMU. Unemployment insurance, however, is only included as an illustration of the possibilities that a Eurozone with its own budget capacity could provide. The Commission explains that, “the central budget would provide for an EMU-level stabilisation tool to support adjustment to asymmetric shocks, increase economic integration and convergence and avoid setting-up long-term transfer flows”. Two options have subsequently been proposed: a stabilisation scheme based on conventional or “European” social security systems; or a scheme that is similar to the assistance capacity provided by the US federal government. In the first case, “this a stabilisation scheme to absorb asymmetric shocks could require monetary net payments that are negative in good times and positive in bad times”. In such a scheme, net contributions/payments would be worked out, “by countries as a function of their output gap (relative to the average). Such a system would need to be financially neutral in the medium term for each country, and it would also depend on country size”.

The second option proposes greater flexibility. Financial contributions from states would not be permanent because the stability scheme would be based, “on earmarking payments from the fund for a defined purpose, with counter-cyclical effects”. Specific EMU support to one or several states could be done in respect of unemployment insurance but not exclusively so. What would it cost? The Commission has not made a lot of progress with its estimates in this regard simply because by using the example of complementary unemployment insurance at the euro zone level, everything would depend on the amount of net contributions and fixed objectives (who will benefit from it, for how long and in what circumstances).

The Commission therefore, ultimately, did not seek to venture on to ground that was fraught with both political and legal dangers. As Barroso pointed out a few hours after the presentation of the communication on the social dimension of the EMU by Commissioner Laszlo Andor (Employment and Social Affairs), “there is currently no legal basis to put forward proposals on mechanisms in the framework of a budgetary union, particularly because fighting against asymmetrical shocks through unemployment insurance systems would imply the transfer of resources for a harmonisation mechanism, which is not allowed in the treaties” and particularly highlighted by Article 149 of the TFEU. The flexibility clause provided in Article 352 cannot be applied either because, as explained in the communication, “the establishment of macroeconomic stabilisation systems would exceed the general framework of the current Treaties and thus amount to amending the Treaties without following the requisite procedures”.

According to Barroso, even if such a proposal were put on the table, there is no probability at all of it being approved because the majority of governments in Europe would immediately oppose it. In a small meeting with journalists, he explained that in a personal capacity, he would be in favour of doing much more on this issue but that he had to be frank, “none of his predecessors, not even Jacques Delors, who created a social agenda, had gone against the treaties”.


26 Sep, 2013, EDUCATION: Juvenes translatores competition launched
Brussels, 02/09/2013 (Agence Europe) - Secondary schools may now submit applications to the European Commission for their students to take part in the annual Juvenes Translatores competition. Applications can be submitted between now and 20 October at the website and the registration form is available in all of the official languages of the EU including - for the first time - Croatian. The competition, now in its seventh year, will take place on 28 November at the same time in all schools selected. (IL/transl.fl)

26 Sep, 2013, EDUCATION: Making Europe more attractive to foreign talent
Brussels, 02/09/2013 (Agence Europe) - The European Union needs to be a leader in employment and immigration through the development of strategies to attract qualified workers to Europe, to meet the likely shortfall of qualified workforce in the future.

On the initiative of the Bertelsmann Stiftung, experts met in Salzburg on 29 August to discuss the issue, at a meeting entitled Europe needs to be more attractive to international talent. The session, which was attended by, amongst others, the commissioner responsible for justice and fundamental rights issues, Viviane Reding, and Director General of the World Trade Association Pascal Lamy, came up with a raft of recommendations to help Europe succeed.

The European Union is staring down the barrel of a gun in terms of the tough employment challenge ahead: whilst the member states are experiencing alarming unemployment rates, the employment market is concerned at the lack of qualified workers to fill vacant jobs, particularly in sectors with high rates of expansion, such as the new information and communication technologies. This is the situation currently facing all developed economies in the world. At the same time, the European Union has the necessary assets to attract qualified foreign workers, as long as it can develop an intelligent employment and immigration strategy, respecting the rights of foreign workers. At the end of the conference, the experts established a raft of recommendations for the European Commission, the Council of Ministers and the member states, in order to meet the challenge. These are: 1) creating a solid talent pool at EU level by pursuing a fair treatment for talent policy, taking account of the interests of the countries of origin as well as of the host countries; 2) holding an annual talent summit to monitor the developments and needs of the global employment market as closely as possible; this summit should also be attended by third countries; 3) adopting fair and balanced immigration policies at member state level, promoting social inclusion and including the right to permanent residency; 4) developing educational and learning models which allow all workers to go on learning throughout their lives, irrespective of borders; 5) granting employment permits to migrants who have successfully completed their studies in Europe; 6) making the most of female talent by adopting initiatives to allow women to balance work with their family responsibilities. (IL/transl.fl)


12 Sep, 2013, Start of European Heritage Days on 30 August
Brussels, 29/08/2013 (Agence Europe) - The official launch of the European Heritage Days 2013 will take place in Yerevan (Armenia) on 30 August. Thanks to this event, members of the public will, throughout the month of September, be able to visit thousands of historical and cultural sites that are normally rarely accessible. The European Heritage Days is a fantastic initiative, which can be enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds. This year we expect more than 20 million adults and children to take advantage of this special opportunity to visit sites which are normally closed to the public, said European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou. A new interactive website will also be inaugurated on 30 August. It will provide details on the sites that are open to the public, as well as information on special events organised by the different participating countries. Started in 1985, the European Heritage Days have been jointly organised by the European Commission and the Council of Europe since 1999. The 50 countries that have signed up to the European Cultural Convention will be participating in this event.

21 Jan, 2013, JHA: European Year of Citizens kicks off
Brussels, 07/01/2013 (Agence Europe) - The European Year of Citizens 2013 was officially launched on 1 January and will be inaugurated in Dublin on 10 January by the European Commission and the Irish Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers, a press release states. This European Year marks the 20thanniversary of EU citizenship, introduced by the Maastricht Treaty in 1993. It also paves the way for European Parliament elections in 2014. With European citizenship, citizens may vote in and stand for municipal (and European) elections in the country where they reside. Citizenship gives Europeans a whole range of rights, freedom of movement in particular. According to a study dating back to 2010, only 43% of respondents know the true meaning of European Union citizenship and nearly half of all European citizens (48%) feel they are not well informed about their rights. (SP/transl.jl)

21 Jan, 2013, CULTURE: European Capitals of Culture 2013 begin on 12 January
Brussels, 07/01/2013 (Agence Europe) - The French town of Marseilles, European Capital of Culture for 2013, will officially begin festivities on 12 January and, just one week later, on 19 January, the Slovakian town of Kosice will follow suit. This is the moment that Marseilles and Kosice have been preparing for - and waiting for (). The opening events will mark the beginning of what will be a tremendous year of cultural activities, aimed not only at local people from the city and surrounding region but also at those coming from much further afield, Culture Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou was pleased to say. European Commission President Jos Manuel Barroso will be in Marseilles for the opening ceremony. (IL/transl.jl)

28 Nov, 2012, Ue: Soddisfazione del Ministro Terzi per sentenza Corte di Giustizia UE su parit linguistica
Roma 27 Novembre 2012

Una sentenza che l Italia accoglie con grandissima soddisfazione. E il commento del titolare della Farnesina, Giulio Terzi, alla sentenza della Corte di Giustizia dellUnione Europea, pubblicata oggi, che ha stabilito che la pubblicazione in tre lingue (inglese, francese e tedesco) dei bandi di concorso dell Unione e lobbligo di sostenere le prove di selezione in una di quelle tre lingue costituiscono una discriminazione.

Si tratta di una pronuncia di fondamentale importanza - prosegue Terzi - poich dimostra che la determinazione con la quale, da parte italiana, si difeso il principio di non discriminazione linguistica in seno all Unione Europea, non un nostro arbitrio nazionalistico, ma, come abbiamo sempre sostenuto, un elemento sostanziale per la stessa ragion dessere dell Unione, e per la sua legittimit istituzionale. E sulla base di questo stesso convincimento - si sottolinea alla Farnesina - che il Ministro Terzi si fortemente impegnato nelle scorse settimane affinch venisse assicurato il pieno interpretariato in italiano in tutti i Gruppi di Lavoro del Consiglio dell UE.

LUnione Europea - afferma il Ministro Terzi - non assimilabile a una qualsiasi Organizzazione Internazionale, ma rappresenta un livello di Governo condiviso da 27 Stati membri, le cui norme producono effetti diretti su mezzo miliardo di persone.

In un momento -sostiene il capo della diplomazia italiana - in cui l Unione Europea impegnata a ribadire con sempre maggiore forza, e con una nuova visione di prospettiva, le radici della sua legittimit, il tema della pari dignit linguistica acquisisce un rilievo assolutamente centrale. E questa sentenza - conclude Terzi - costituisce un grande riconoscimento della linea che lItalia ha da sempre sostenuto, con il pieno sostegno di tutte le forze parlamentari (Ag. Farnesina nel mondo per lItalia).

05 Jun, 2012, Intervista ad Antonello Biagini sulle elezioni regionali in Germania e sulla crisi economica dell'Ue

(realizzata il 14 maggio, durata 28')

e con link

dove si puo' vedere l'audio-video della Giornata inaugurale delle attivita' di NoiSapienza Associazione Alumni, tenutosi lunedi' 28 maggio nell'Aula Magna del Rettorato, P.le Aldo Moro 5, Roma

24 May, 2012, Charlemagne first prize goes to Europe on the Ground"
Brussels, 15/05/2012 (Agence Europe) - The Greek project, Europe on the Ground, was awarded first prize at the 2012 Charlemagne Youth Prize ceremony. Second prize goes to Europe Meets School, a Czech exchange programme for Erasmus students; and the third prize goes to Cycle Me Home, a Hungarian documentary road-movie. The ceremony for awarding the prizes was held on Tuesday 15 May at Aix-la-Chapelle (Germany). EP President Martin Schulz awarded the first prize, while one of his predecessors, Hans-Gert Pttering, awarded the second, and the mayor of Aix-la-Chapelle, Marcel Philipp, awarded the third. The president of the Charlemagne Prize Foundation, Michael Jansen, attended. The Europe on the Ground project, Schulz said, makes cultural diversity in Europe tangible, promotes multilingualism and encourages the emergence of a European public.

The innovative youth media project, Europe on the Ground, sends multicultural teams of over 50 young citizen journalists and amateur photographers to ten European capitals each year. The young participants are given four days to write articles and produce photo galleries on subjects related to European culture and society. All contributions are then edited by professional journalists and published in six languages on the European online magazine The project aims to improve understanding between the people of Europe by making Europe more concrete for young citizens and by using innovative forms of European journalism.

The Charlemagne prize rewards youth projects by young persons of 16 to 30 years of age, in order to promote the development of a feeling of European identity. The winning projects must serve as models for young Europeans and provide concrete examples of the lives of Europeans living within one and the same community. Youth exchange programmes, artistic projects and projects linked to the internet, which all had a European dimension, were among the projects selected this year. The three best projects will receive funding of 5,000, 3,000 and 2,000 respectively. Their representatives will visit the EP in coming months

22 May, 2012, Sonia Alfano eletta a presiedere la Commissione speciale "Criminalit organizzata, corruzione e riciclaggio di denaro,"
Brussels, 19/04/2012 (Agence Europe)

La Parlamentare Europea Sonia Alfano stata eletta a capo della nuova commissione speciale, istituita dal Parlamento Europeo, per combattere criminalit organizzata, corruzione e ricilaggio di denaro, che inizier l'attivit da met marzo.
I membri del comitato hanno eletto anche quattro vice-presidenti: Rosario Crocetta (S&D, Italia), Rui Tavares (Verdi-EFA, Portogallo), Timothy Kirkhope (ECR, UK), Soren Bo Sondergaard (GUE/NGL, Danimarca). Salvatore Iacolino (EPP, Italia) stato nominato relatore.

22 May, 2012, Tavola rotonda: Russa e Europa prospettive di un dialogo
Roma, 24 maggio 2012
ore 10.30 13.00
II piano
Commissione europea - Rappresentanza in Italia Via IV Novembre, 149

Con il patrocinio di
Commissione europea - Rappresentanza in Italia
In collaborazione con
Fondazione Russkiy mir
IDC - Istituto di Democrazia e Cooperazione di Parigi
INION RAS, Accademia delle Scienze di Federazione Russa
EURISPES Istituto di Studi Politici, Economici e Sociali
IsAG - Istituto di Alti Studi in Geopolitica e Scienze Ausiliarie

02 May, 2012, TZVETAN TODOROV: Les ennemis intimes de la dmocratie. Robert Laffont / Versilio (24 av. Marceau, F-75381 Paris cedex 8. Tel: (33-1) 53671400. Internet: 2012, 259 pp, 20-30. ISBN 978-2-221-12952-4.
Author and philosopher Tzvetan Todorov writes in this book that democracy is also characterised by the way power is exercised. The key word here is pluralism and the ideas inherent in the very idea of democracy arise from the isolation and favouring of just one of its ingredients. Todorov says that the grand democratic principles are the power of the people, faith in progress, civil liberties, the market economy, natural rights and regarding the human being as sacred. In his view, the democracy's main enemy is simplification, which reduces pluralism to a single unit, thus paving the way for excess. In this book, he shows that the great dangers to democracy today do not come from rivals like fascism, communism or terrorism, but rather from more mundane enemies secreted by democracy itself, which gnaw away at its organs like cancerous growths. Democracy is not free from the toxins so active in other political regimes which, encouraged by a messianic feeling, feed several negative 'isms.' The messianic feeling rots contemporary societies from within and can been seen in the debate in the media about Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, the rising power of populism, the effects of neoliberalism, multiculturalism and so on. To illustrate the dangers and contemporary expressions of this danger, the author takes us back to the recurrent resurgence of the debate between Pelagio and Saint Augustine about original sin in the fourth and fifth centuries AD.

The author compares communism and neoliberalism in an interesting manner. He grew up in Bulgaria, and explains that the secret common parenthood of communism and neoliberalism is why the second ideology was imposed so easily in Eastern Europe upon the collapse of the Iron Curtain, pointing out that ultraliberalism is not only an enemy of totalitarianism, but is in fact, in some ways at least, the brother of totalitarianism; a reverse, yet symmetrical, mirror image of it. It goes from one extreme to the other, from nothing but a totalitarian state to nothing but ultraliberal individualism, from a regime that kills freedom to another that kills society. They are both voluntarist systems, one being collectively voluntarist and the other individually voluntarist.

Todorov explains that he wants to help readers gain a better understanding of modern times and fights against a dehumanisation that he sees sliding insidiously into modern habitats. This is felt in his criticisms of demagogy and the role played by the modern media. The author writes that the press barons are not trying to persuade people these days, but rather to manipulate them. At the end of the day, power is in the hands of money, rather than the people of democracy. Other poignant pages look at what he calls 'Toyotaism,' and a bitter commentary on the practice of governance, which he describes as a way of standardising behaviour not with fixed rules, but by conditioning that will lead to the same results. In another troubled epoch, the 1930s, Swiss author Denis de Rougemont wrote that any renaissance seems to take wing from noticing something wrong, but the wrong could only be revealed by knowledge of a new good, a good which does not cause problems, but does give orders, power and the joy of accomplishment. Observant and pessimistic critics of the decline of modern society and culture only precipitate the path of evil, seeming to have no other role than making us feel guilty. Is Todorov one of these? It is regrettable that he does not give more details about how what he desires could come about, spending most of his time analysing the things that do not work. One cannot fail to praise his expression of faith in European countries' power of resistance and the chances of 'tortoise Europe' winning the race against the new hare countries

Lieven Taillie

02 May, 2012, EDUCATION: Bologna Process progress report
Brussels, 26/04/2012 (Agence Europe) - At the biennial meeting of the education ministers of the 47 countries taking part in the Bologna Process, in Bucharest on 26-27 April (see EUROPE 10602), the Eurydice network, the statistical office Eurostat and Eurostudent published a report on progress made by the Process. A broad range of issues are covered: the demographic and funding context for higher education, degree structures and qualifications, quality assurance, the social dimension of higher education, outcomes and employability, and lifelong learning and mobility. In these crisis-hit times, it is above all the funding of higher education that grabs the attention. While some governments have been imposing severe budgetary restrictions on the higher education sector since 2008, others - unfortunately, not the majority, the report says - have opted to follow the opposite course and increase spending on the sector.

Since its inception in June 1999, the Bologna Process has changed the face of higher education in the participant countries: structures have been changed, quality assurance systems developed, mechanisms to encourage mobility created and the parameters of the social dimension of education identified. Yet the reforms do not go far enough. The report notes that there are still persistent problems over the recognition of qualifications from one country to another. On quality assurance, several countries still do not allow their universities to be assessed by non-national agencies. The situation with regard to the social dimension and assistance for students varies widely, with some countries not charging tuition fees and even granting financial aid to students, when others charge fees while giving very little aid. Finally, while several countries have identified the obstacles to mobility, for the most part they have not adopted a strategy to overcome them. At the ministerial meeting in Louvain in 2009, ministers established four priority objectives to be achieved over the coming decade. The Bucharest meeting will re-assess these objectives: (1) finalising the structural reform and deepening its implementation process; (2) putting in place quality higher education, connected with research and lifelong learning and promoting employability; (3) making the social dimension a reality by ensuring that the higher education student population reflects the diverse student body of Europe's populations; (4) ensuring that at least 20% of those graduating from the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) have had a study or training period abroad. (IL/transl.rt)

02 May, 2012, EDUCATION: Bologna Process - Need to pursue reforms
Brussels, 25/04/2012 (Agence Europe) - On 26-27 April, higher education ministers from 47 countries are meeting in Bucharest (Romania) to organise reforms for modernising their higher education systems and opening up the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). The conference will be held at the same time as the Bologna Policy Forum, which brings together countries from outside the EHEA, reflecting the interest around the world of the Bologna reforms. Against the backdrop of the crisis and its social impact, ministers have agreed that reforms need to concentrate on developing the underexploited capacity of higher education to contribute to growth and employability - a message that is also central to the European Commission's Agenda for Modernising Higher Education Systems in Europe. European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou told European countries that they need to urgently modernise their higher education systems and remove barriers to a fully functioning EHEA. She also said: Our target is a fully functioning EHEA which provides top-class education and employable skills for all, which stimulates innovation and ensures proper recognition of academic qualifications.

The ministerial conference will establish the priorities for the next stage of the Bologna Process (2012-2015) for the EHEA countries. Ministers will adopt the Bologna Mobility Strategy which states that, by 2020, 20% of European higher education graduates will have spent part of their studies abroad, in line with the European benchmark for higher education mobility. The Eurydice network, Eurostat and Eurostudent have published a report for this meeting, with the assistance of the Commission, on the state of progress in implementation of the Bologna Process. The report concludes that all countries have made significant changes that have enabled the EHEA to develop. However, progress is uneven, against a backdrop of declining public expenditure on higher education and practical problems persist. Too many students drop out from higher education or graduate without employable skills. Some face barriers in having their academic qualifications recognised in another country and it is taking time for institutions to shift to student-centred learning - where educational programmes are tailored to what students need, and clearly set out what they should understand and be able to do as a result of their studies (learning outcomes). In general, higher education is not yet delivering on its potential to stimulate growth. (IL/transl.fl)

02 May, 2012, EDUCATION: Plenary - moves to modernisation of higher education
Brussels, 23/04/2012 (Agence Europe) - On 20 April in Strasbourg, the European Parliament adopted the resolution of Lszlo Tks (EPP, Romania) by 464 votes in favour, 34 against and 33 abstentions, on the modernisation of higher education systems in Europe. MEPs urged EU member states to ensure that higher education institutions are better funded, that people from all social backgrounds can study at them, and that more students can study abroad. University courses need to be constantly adapted to labour market needs in order to make Europe's higher education more competitive, they add. In the debate preceding the vote, rapporteur Tks stressed the importance of higher education in achieving the aims of the EU 2020 strategy, and expressed the hope that modern education would help to ensure that our young people can have a bright future.

To help universities and other institutions to contribute to competitiveness the Europe, Parliament asks national, regional and local authorities to ensure that their funding is adequate. In this context MEPs deplore the cuts in education budgets made by some member states, and remind them of their duty to ensure that at least 2% of GDP is invested in the education sector. Grants and other financial aid for university-level mobility programmes can help to improve employability and growth in Europe, say MEPs. In this perspective, the Parliament fully supports the Commission initiative to create a system of loans for students wishing to take a master's degree abroad. Student mobility, mutual recognition of diplomas and qualifications earned abroad, and joint university study or research programmes are essential to high-quality teaching, MEPs say. If the EU is to meet its target of ensuring that 35% of all workers are highly qualified by 2020, its higher education system must meet the challenge of adapting its courses and working methods to the needs both of the labour market and of an increasingly diverse student population. (IL/transl.fl)





















Pagina modificata Wednesday 10 August 2016