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Across the board
The Executive´s commitments. A meeting with the Churches on July 12
The European Commission’s activity encompasses various areas of European life and it includes EU “governance” and legislative initiatives which directly affect citizens’ daily lives. Over the past few days - as has been the case for a long time - the Executive is committed in providing an appropriate response to the ongoing crisis (in the framework of the decisions assumed by the European Council of the end of June and by the Euro group of July 9). In the meantime in the Berlaymont building, seat of the Commissioners’ college, the focus is on the promotion of research, on stepping up security by combating cyber crime, and on the protection of the environment in the Arctic. This week’s busy agenda includes an appointment on July 12 of the EU Commission, Parliament and Council leaders with the representatives of European Churches to discuss demographic challenges and solidarity between generations.
Research project. New projects and ideas that will boost Europe’s competitiveness and tackle issues such as human health, protecting the environment quality of research are the goals of the European Commission’s call for proposal announced on July 10 under its Seventh Framework Programme 2007-2013, the last of the present multiyear financial framework. Further calls will be released the coming spring. €8.1 billion will support projects submitted by universities, research centres, public and private bodies and businesses. Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner, said: “Knowledge is the currency of the global economy. If Europe wants to continue to compete in the 21st century, we must support the research and innovation that will generate growth and jobs, now and in the future”. “The calls target both innovation and a range of societal challenges, building a bridge to Horizon 2020”, the next funding programme for EU research from 2014-2020. The Seventh Framework Programme has a total budget of €55 billion for research and innovation projects. These include innovation for SMEs, support to researchers (European and extra-EU) urban area sustainability, as well as surveys for the prevention of drug-resistant bacteria. The website for the new proposals is www.ec.europa.eu/research/fp7[>>].
Online security. The Commission continues its engagement to set up a European Cybercrime Centre, set to be operational as of January 2013. The Centre is meant “to protect Europeans and businesses against mounting cyber-threats”. Its seat will be at Europol headquarters in The Hague, whose establishment “is well under way”. It envisages the creation of around 30 full-time positions from Member States. The Centre’s activity “will focus on illegal online activities carried out by organised crime groups, especially attacks targeting e-banking and other online financial activities” and will seek “to find ways to better protect social network profiles from e-crime infiltration”. It will equally “provide information and analysis to national law enforcement authorities. This will enable them to assist in the fight against online identity theft, child sexual abuse and exploitation and cyber-attacks affecting critical infrastructure and information systems in Europe. In the meantime, discussions on the proposal of a Directive to deal with new cyber-crimes are ongoing.
Near the North pole. Climate change is advancing dramatically. The Arctic is projected to have ice-free summers within the next 30 to 40 years. Dramatic climate changes are also registered in the area around the North Pole and in bordering countries, with new economic opportunities. For these reasons the European Commission, through the EU’s High Representative and Vice-President of the Commission Catherine Ashton stated: “Climate change in the Arctic is advancing dramatically, with change visible on a yearly basis, impacting significantly on its ecosystem and the livelihood of its inhabitants”. At the same time, “rapidly retreating sea ice alongside technological progress are opening up new economic opportunities in the region such as shipping, mining, energy extraction and fishing”. While beneficial for the global economy, these activities also call for a prudent and sustainable approach”. The European Parliament and the EU Member States are now invited to submit their views on the 28 proposed actions which refer to research, environmental protection, maximizing sustainable development for the benefit of indigenous communities, resource exploitation. To this regard, the EU Executive calls for “the enhancing of bilateral dialogue on Arctic issues with Canada, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation and the United States”, which are all members of the “Arctic Council”.