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EU Today: Eco-problems; Research; The Economy; Fake Goods; That Song Contest, And A Baby

  • April 28th, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

eu-flag-reduced-larger2.pngEvents in Europe have seen a not-very-good environmental scorecard for the EU; some giant steps in research; a blitz on fake goods; new figures on a growing economy; some unprecedented backing for the Eurovision Song Contest; and the arrival of a certain small Royal personage in Denmark.
BAD ENVIRONMENTAL REPORT CARD?

Efforts by the EC on the ecology front have been given a slap on the face by ten environmental groups.

The green consortium has given it an average score of 4.3/10, on sixteen criteria.

The highest rating is 7/10 for the high importance Europe has attached to climate change, this year making it a top policy priority.

The lowest is 2/10 for marine and forest policies, considered to be too weak from the point of view of standards and enforcement.

One of the agencies, Greenpeace, said the ratings were given just before the release of a coming self-appraisal on the environment by the European Commission.

It said that the current President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, had indicated a change towards more environmental consciousness on the part of his executive:

“The past six months have seen something of a change of heart by Mr Barroso, prompted by increased media attention to the impacts of climate change on the economy, public health and global security.”

EU-TROPHICATION

Europe’s farmlands are sometimes too rich and bountiful for their own good and for general environmental health; specifically through the production of excess nutrients.

The European Union has acted to help expose the problem with the publication of an atlas showing the extent of nutrient pollution.

It’s concerned with depletion of water quality through loss of its oxygen content; in a process called eutrophication, fertilisers, other agrochemicals, animal dung or sewage encourage the growth of oxygen-depleting plant life, and this harms other organisms.

The atlas shows the problem is most severe in parts where the land can, and does sustain intensive farming and sometimes dense human populations: Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands.

It’s based on work by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.

Reference: Information on the atlas project: http://ies.jrc.ec.europa.eu/

DRIVE FOR RESEARCH

In the current drive to fund and stimulate research — a plank in its “Lisbon” strategy for productivity — the European Union has announced a strong response to the first call for proposals, by young researchers – made by the newly-established European Research Council (ERC).

A total of 9167 were put forward.

While the ERC did not identify research areas or disciplines in advance, and many were “highly interdisciplinary”, classifications were made according to the main scientific focus:-

Physical sciences and engineering 46%; life science including medicine 37%; social sciences and humanities 17%.

BLITZ ON FAKE GOODS

Another joint operation has netted a huge cache of fake products on the customs front.

The latest in the EU’s periodic blitzes, Operation Diabolo brought together staff from all 27 member countries and several international agencies including Interpol.

It focused on shipping containers being moved to Europe from ports in thirteen Asian countries including China.

Seizures of counterfeit goods or sensitive products included cigarettes and tobacco, textiles including coats, jeans caps and bags; shoes and sandals; electronics especially mobile phones, car radios and MP3 players; poultry meat; and sunglasses, watches, toys and cutlery.

The recovery value of the seizures to European authorities, disclosed on 23.4.07, was EU220-million (A$361.25-million; dcerates.com, 27.4.07) in terms of customs duties and taxes; the cost above normal budgets was EU 55 000 (A$90 300).

Reference: International customs operation “Diabolo”; European Comission, 23.4.07, MEMO/07/145

ECONOMIC PROGRESS – DOCUMENTS

The EU has received full endorsement of its current budget with an overewhelming vote in the European Parliament.

Clearance of the budget coincides with the release of information on steady growth in the European economy, announced in the official publication, European Economy News: “The EU at 50, a cause for celebration”.

Meanwhile, the survey organisation Eurobarometer has published an exhaustiuve check on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), ranging through levels of awareness of the policy among Europeans, performance oif the policy in terms of citizens’ priorities, and opinions on the implementation of changes in the policy.

The CAP is a cornerstone element in the structure of the European Union accounting for some 40% of its annual budgets.

Reference:

European Economy News; Magazine of the Directorate-general for Economic and Financial Affairs, No. 6, April 2007, European Commission, Brussels

Special Eurobarometer: Europeans, Agriculture and the Common Agricultural Policy – Fieldwork Nov-Dec 2006, Summary; European Commission, Brussels, March 2007

EUROVISION SONGS

For the first time the European Union is officially getting behind the songfest that glues millions to their television screens each year; one way or another to marvel at the new offerings from in and around the continent.

The European Year of Equal Opportunities For All – 2007, has announced its sponsorship of the event, as an official partner.

The big night, the final for the contest, is scheduled for 12.5.07.

THE NEW BABY

This month saw a small ripple in sections of the EU media in the form of a baby girl born to the wife of the Crown Prince of Denmark.

Danish law has done away with gender discrimination so it was announced that the newborn would be third in line to the throne, after her father and brother, but edging out two boy cousins.

Not to worry, but media reports tended to overlook the important fact that Princess Mary’s baby, who came a fortnight early, is half-an-Aussie.

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