Eu in Brief

EU 27 Economy and Sustainability Summit EU27 heads of Government and State are due to convene in Brussels on February 11 for an “informal” summit meant to address a series of items. These include the first draft of a common strategy to step up “the economy of knowledge”, its “sustainability” and the capacity of producing employment. It is a question of finding – also to the light of the ongoing recession – joint projects for 2020 Europe, as Commission President José Manuel Barroso underlined on several occasions, starting from the modest outcomes of the previous Lisbon Strategy. But the summit is being called in a delicate moment, since several countries, (notably Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain) are experiencing serious difficulties in public finances which, according to experts, risk undermining euro area stability. The problem of public finances is on the agenda of the summit, chaired for the first time by the new ‘stable’ president of the Council Herman Van Rompuy. The latter announced the opening of the summit, and underlined that “Greater economic growth is needed to promote our social model on sound bases”.Research and the “code” against cancerPrevention, population-based screening, early detection, treatment and care: last week, on the occasion of the World Cancer Day, the EU launched a series of initiatives and “dictum” for combating tumor, the major cause of death after heart disease, since each year some 3.2 million people are diagnosed with cancer. The EU is set to “bring down the cancer rate” by “15% by the year 2020”. For this purpose, the EU financially supports dozens of research project, prevention and treatment measures, training and refresher courses for medical staff and public-awareness campaigns. “An EU-funded research team has developed a biosensor that can identify immune system cells that actively suppress tumor growth. This biosensor can help patients use their immune systems to fight cancer”. “Other researches aim at identifying the cause of tumors. One of these projects seeks to establish the long-term effects of environmental pollution on health”. The EU launched the “European Code Against Cancer” that is being promoted via health systems which present also preventive measures: do not smoke; avoid obesity; undertake daily physical activity; increase the daily intake of fruit and vegetables… While public health systems are asked to step up prevention programs and screening.Professional qualifications, Europe lags behind “At present, one in three Europeans of working age has few or no formal qualifications, making them 40% less likely to be employed than those with medium level qualification”. It is one of the remarks made in the report presented a few days ago by the EU Commission. The employment rate for those with high skill levels across the EU as a whole is 84%, for medium skill levels 70%, and for low skill levels it stands at 49%. Or: “Those with low qualifications are also much less likely to upgrade their skills and follow lifelong learning”. The survey presents suggestions and guidelines, which include, “To provide better incentives for employers and individuals to up-skill”, and “Open up the worlds of education and training by making education and training institutions more innovative and responsive to both learners’ and employers’ needs”.New logo for organic products in the EU The Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Mariann Fischer Boel won her historical battle, her last one in these capacities. The Commissioner launched anEU organic logo competition. On February 8 the EU Commission announced the winning logo that will be stamped on organic products in the European Union starting next July 1st. “The winning design shows the EU stars in the shape of a leaf against a green background. It is a very straightforward sign containing two clear messages: Nature and Europe”. Some 130,000 people have voted online to choose the best of 3,500 submitted logo designs. The “Euro-leaf” is by Dusan Milenkovic, a student from Germany. Other private, regional or national logos will be allowed to appear alongside the EU label. The logos submitted for the contest and the winning design were uploaded on the website www.ec.europa.eu/organic-logo.

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