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The EU in brief
EU Parliament: protecting biodiversity with the CAP
Redirecting the common agricultural policy (CAP) to environmental protection; promoting the granting of European funding to farmers that sustain the respect of biodiversity: the request is contained in a non legislative resolution for the protection of ecosystems, adopted by the European Parliament in the closing session of the plenary meeting in Strasburg, from April 17 -20. “Biodiversity conservation should be built into key EU policies” MEPs said. “Environmentally harmful CAP subsidies should be named and phased out”, they added. MEPs point to recent studies showing “a steady loss of biodiversity” in EU27, which "leads to devastating economic costs to society. Rapporteur Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, (NL), underlined that “according to economists, each year we lose 3% of GDP due to the loss of biodiversity”. “The services that nature provides us with, like clean water, clean air, fertile soil, food, are not only crucial for the well-being of human kind, they also represent an astronomical economic value”. Thus the request to investing €5.8 billion per year in Natura 2000, aimed the protection of biodiversity.
Air passengers’ data: Parliament is divided
The European Parliament approved a new agreement on the transfer of EU air passengers’ personal data to the US authorities during the latest plenary session. The Justice and Home Affairs Ministers will formally approve the agreement on 26 April. The deal will replace the 2007 text and will apply for 7 years. Under the new agreement, US authorities will keep 19 Passenger Name Records (PNR) data in an active database for anti-terrorism purposes. The agreement was adopted with 409 votes in favour, 226 against and 33 abstentions. A significant minority of MEPs voted against the deal due to concerns over data protection safeguards of EU citizens, including rapporteur Sophie in’T Veld (NL), who withdrew her name from the report. Data will be kept for 15 years and will be used by US justice and police authorities in specific cases. Sensitive data (such as those revealing the ethnic origin, religious beliefs, physical or mental health or sexual orientation of a passenger) collected by airlines flying to and from the United States are transferred to US authorities and will be used to “to prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute terrorism and serious transnational crimes”.
Eurostat: decreasing deficit, increasing public debt
The government deficit decreases, while public debt increases across all of Europe, according to the findings of a Eurostat survey released on April 23, regarding the last months of 2011. “Government deficit decreased in absolute terms compared with 2010, while the government debt rose both the euro area and the EU27”, underlines the statistical office of the European Commission. In the euro area the government deficit to GDP ratio decreased from 6.2% in 20103 to 4.1% in 2011, and in the EU27 from 6.5% to 4.5%. The main problems regard indebtedness, severely affected by the economic and financial crisis. “In the euro area the government debt to GDP ratio increased from 85.3% at the end of 2010 to 87.2% at the end of 2011”, and in the EU27 from 80.0% to 82.5%. Figures are all the more negative if compared to 2008, when the crisis hit Europe government debt in the euro area was at 70,1% and in EU27 as little as 62.5%. The document presented by Eurostat shows that the highest deficit was recorded in Ireland: 13.1% on GDP, followed by Greece (9.1%), Spain (8,5), the United Kingdom (8.3). As regards government debt the worst figures are registered in Greece - 165,3% on GDP, followed by Italy (120.1%).
Commission: promoting youth traineeships abroad
“In 2012 at least 130 000 young people will receive support for a traineeship in a workplace abroad. This figure should rise to 150 000 next year”: the figures were released by the European Commission that launched the “We Mean Business” campaign, which aims “to encourage companies to create more trainee placements to boost young people’s skills and employability”. “Traineeships can help young people make a smooth transition from education and training to a first good job”, said the Commission, and boost the knowledge of foreign languages and professional skills. In 2012-2013, the Commission will provide funding support for a total of 280 000 placements through its Leonardo da Vinci and Erasmus schemes for vocational and higher education students. The webpage of the campaign is http://we-mean-business.europa.eu[>>].