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The EU in brief
EU Parliament: activities and results
European Parliament activity will resume the last week of August. The first plenary after the summer vacations is tabled for September 10-13. The themes that the Assembly is called to address include, notably, anti-crisis measures, negotiations for EU 2013 budget and for the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020. In the meantime the European Parliament has posted on its website (www.europarl.europa.eu[>>]) a summary of activities to inform citizens on the main decisions taken in the first semester of 2012. It states, for example that “after months of protests and online petitions across Member States, with a large majority vote the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), was rejected by the European Parliament”. Opponents feared the agreement favoured large firms at the expense of civil rights. The EP’s rejection means ACTA “will not be able to enter into force in the EU”. Parliament has approved and beefed up rules to improve economic governance in the EU. The “so-called six-pack of measures will help to stop debt and deficits in the member states getting out of control”. This was followed up by “a two-pack aimed at stepping up financial discipline within the eurozone”. Parliament has worked on the directive to step up credit market stability, managers bonuses, supporting the adoption of a tax on financial transactions, voiced its position for combating frauds, road transports, roaming costs reduction and issued regulations to protect crime victims.
Eurostat, ongoing unemployment
Eurostat released the latest findings on the job market trends in Europe, that refer to past June. “In the euro area (EA17) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 11.2% in June 2012, stable compared with May. It was 10.0% in June 2011”, Eurostat writes in a release. The EU271 unemployment rate was 10.4% in June 2012, also stable compared with May. It was 9.5% in June 2011”. According to Eurostat estimates, the number of unemployed in EU27 amount to 25 million 112 thousand, 18 million of whom in the euro area. “Compared with June 2011, unemployment rose by 2.165 million in the EU27”. Among the Member States, the lowest unemployment rates were recorded in Austria (4.5%), the Netherlands (5.1%), Germany and Luxembourg (both 5.4%), and the highest in Spain (24.8%) and Greece (22.5% in April 2012). “Compared with a year ago, the unemployment rate fell in seven Member States, increased in nineteen and remained stable in Sweden”. The largest falls were observed in Estonia -13.6% to 10.9%. Low unemployment rates were registered also in Lithuania and Latvia. Job market conditions further worsened in Greece, Spain and Cyprus. More than 5.472 million young persons (under 25) were unemployed in the EU27, amounting to 22,6% of the whole.
Stepping up food safety
“When food is cooking up a storm. Proven recipies for risk communication” is the title of the EU campaign for communication workers, as well as food companies, public authorities and consumers, meant to step up food safety. Notably, specific sectors and goods might pose a serious risk to citizens’ health. However, some products on the market are marked by insufficient or wrong information. The campaign promoted by the European Food Security Agency (EFSA) highlights the risk of chemicals in food, animal cloning, artificial sweeteners, food colourings, genetically modified vegetables. EFSA’s Director of Communications, Anne-Laure Gassin explains: “Communicators in public health authorities across Europe often face the daunting task of assessing what to communicate, when and how best to do so. The aim of these guidelines is to provide a framework to assist communications practitioners with this type of decision-making, looking at the different communications approaches in a wide variety of situations that can occur when assessing and communicating on food-related risks and concerns in Europe”. It is necessary to avoid useless alarmism and provide accurate information are the goals of the initiative, illustrated on www.efsa.europa.eu[>>].