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The EU in brief
Commission: which future for EU industry?
“Which are the major policy priorities facing European industry today? How can businesses themselves better respond to these issues? What can policymakers do to address the issues at Member state, local or regional level?” These are some of the questions contained in the public consultation on the future of industry in Europe, launched by the Commission to “provide new impetus to the growth potential” of the EU’s manufacturing industry, in the framework of the international crisis. The consultation, which runs until August 7, through the website of the Commission (www.ec.europa.eu[>>]), “is meant to provide input for the mid-term review of the industrial policy communication planned for September 2012”, of industrial policy strategy. The initiative was presented on May 29 in the framework of a conference in Brussels titled “Conference "Mission Growth: Europe at the Lead of the New Industrial Revolution”.
Single market and consumer protection
“Illegal business practices persist” (misleading publicity, deceptive, or even fraudulent offers). While e-commerce continues to grow, “it remains largely domestic” few citizens are aware of their legal rights as consumers. Many consumers businesses are not aware of their legal obligations towards consumers. These are some of the results that emerge from the spring edition of the “Consumer Conditions Scoreboard” released by the EU Commission, that records “improvements in many EU countries”. According to the report, “consumers enjoy best conditions in Luxembourg, UK, Denmark, Austria, Ireland, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France and Sweden” (Member States above the EU average). Consumer conditions are measured e.g. by consumer trust in authorities, retailers and consumer organisations, in the safety of products, the effectiveness of solving disputes. The new EU Consumer Agenda 2014-2020 “aims to empower consumers and build their awareness and confidence by giving them the tools to participate actively in the market, to make it work for them, to exercise their power of choice and to have their rights properly enforced”. The agenda protects consumer interests in essential areas like food, energy, financial products, transport and e-commerce.
Youth and European citizenship: a seminar in London
To strengthen the sense of European citizenship of under-30 population of the old continent; to promote the knowledge of European integration process; to create the grounds for greater democratic participation. These are some of the aims of the seminar co-promoted by the Council of Europe and the British Council, scheduled to take place in London next June 27-28 (for information log on: www.salto-youth.net[>>]). The event is proposed to youth from 47 Council of Europe countries “in preparation for the European Year of Citizens (2013)”. The two-day initiative is addressed to youth involved in volunteer work, social or political activity, as well as educators, teachers, and coordinators of national youth policies. Participants will consider initiatives in youth democracy from different European countries, and link examples of good practice in Youth in Action and other programmes to policy developments nationally and internationally. Notably, youths are expected to arrive from Armenia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldavia and Ukraine.
Ombudsman: annual report of the “civic defender”
“As well as helping thousands of European citizens find solutions to their individual problems” vis a vis EU institutions, the Ombudsman inquiries also contribute “to the improvement of the quality and responsiveness of the EU administration. “A few days ago European Ombudsman – also described as the “civic defender” in other European the languages - P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, presented his 2011 annual report in Brussels. Diamandouros, a Greek jurist, helped more than 22,000 European citizens, companies, NGOs, and associations, either by investigating complaints, answering information requests, or giving advice via his online interactive guide. The Ombudsman received 2,510 complaints; he opened a record number of 396 investigations into alleged maladministration by the EU administration. Most of the inquiries concerned the European Commission, followed by the EU Agencies taken together, the European Personnel Selection Office, and the European Parliament. In 2011, Spain, with 361 complaints, overtook Germany (308) with the greatest number of complaints, followed by Poland and Belgium. “In 66% of all inquiries closed in 2011, the Ombudsman was able to achieve a positive outcome”, providing positive answers to citizens’ requests.