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The EU in brief
EU Commission, reducing the costs of broad band
“High speed internet lies at the basis of all sectors of the economy and will be the backbone of the digital single market. Each 10% increase in broad band penetration generates an economic growth of between 1% and 1.5%” of GDP, according to the European Commission, which in recent days launched a public consultation on “how to reduce the costs of the creation of new high speed networks” at the EU level. The Commission’s aim is especially to “explore ways of reducing the costs linked to civil engineering, such as excavations on the road network for the installation of optic fibre cables, which may represent 80% of the total cost”. The aim, according to the Commission, is to reduce the cost of broad band investments by 25% and consequently the final price paid by the user. That’s why “a contribution is asked of all the public and private players involved, such as the telecommunications sector and that of public service companies, investors, public authorities and consumers”. Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the Commission and Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, has declared: “We must reduce the infrastructure costs connected with the development of broad band networks if we want to diffuse” these services throughout Europe. The Commission, in its consultation, is gathering interventions and opinions on: obstacles to investments in infrastructure for broad band, methods to improve the use of existing infrastructures, coordination of civil engineering interventions, and pre-installation in new buildings of infrastructures for high speed internet. The public consultation will remain open till 20 July.
European Parliament: social enterprises and cooperatives
“It’s time Europe gave just recognition to social entrepreneurship within the economic policies of member states”: that’s the message launched by MEP Heinz K. Becker, rapporteur for the initiative on the social enterprise to the European Parliament, who intervened during the Conference “Social cooperatives in Europe and the initiative on the social enterprise” held at the EU Economic and Social Committee on 24 April. “Cooperatives do not lay off workers, they do not outsource, they are useful for employment and welfare, and it should be stressed that during the current economic crisis they have given proof of social cohesion and development of the territory”, emphasized MEP Patrizia Toia, who brought the theme of the social economy to the parliamentary debate. “The fact that 2012 has been proclaimed by the UNO International Year of Cooperatives is important, because the awareness of public opinion and the institutions needs to be heightened on the positive role played by social enterprises within the individual states”, emphasized Nieves Fernandez Tagarro, vice-chairman of the El Yate cooperative group. An example? “In the first three months of 2012 some 25,000 businesses have gone into liquidation in Italy, whereas simultaneously a thousand new social cooperatives have been established”, pointed out Giuseppe Guerini, chairman of Federsolidarietà. The debate focused on the forthcoming challenges in the sector, which will especially be in the legislative field, given the lack of an overall regulation on social entrepreneurship.
European University Institute: “The State of the Union”
Economy, geopolitics and energy are the themes of the three panels of second edition of the “The State of the Union” Conference, organized by the European University Institute (EUI) in Palazzo Vecchio (Florence City Hall) on 9-10 May. The Conference, which “will bring together leading academics, policymakers and opinion leaders” from across Europe in the heart of the Italian city, seat of the EUI, aims “at contributing to the analysis of the European Union’s current situation, at debating EU policies and the functioning of EU institutions”, organizers explained. Among the participants are: José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission; Mario Monti, Prime Minister of Italy; Olli Rehn, Vice President, Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs; Michel Barnier, Commissioner for Internal Market and Services; Tony Barber, Europe Editor, Financial Times; Jean-François Cirelli, President, Eurogas and President, Gaz de France-Suez; Barry Eichengreen, Professor of Economics and Political Science, UC Berkeley; Anne-Marie Slaughter, Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University. The panels will focus on: ““Economic Governance for Europe”; “The EU in A New World” and “Energy Policy in the European Union”. For further information: www.eui.eu[>>].