Eu in brief

EU Future: Gonzales-project at the summit in June"In 2030 I would be at the very respectable age of 83 and I would rediscover your report and be able to verify, if it was right", was the unexpected remark of Herman van Rompuy, "permanent" President of the European Council upon receiving the report “Project Europe 2030 – Challenges and Opportunities” by Felipe Gonzales, chairman of the Reflection Group on the Future of Europe (www.consilium.europa.eu). The Reflection Group was set up by the European Council under the chair of Mr. González "to identify, analyse and propose solutions to the challenges the EU will be facing at the horizon 2030". It is composed of 12 members that include politicians, scholars and entrepreneurs with outstanding expertise in their field of activity who examined the following themes: strengthening and modernising the European economic and social model, competitiveness, rule of law, sustainable development, global stability, migration, energy and climate protection, and the fight against global insecurity, international crime and terrorism. The group was invited "to pay particular attention to ways of better reaching out to citizens and addressing their expectations and needs". Institutional matters were excluded from the remit of the group, as it was instructed to base its discussions on the framework designed by the Lisbon Treaty. EU27 Heads of Government and State will examine the document in June’s summit. It "lists a wide range of problems with which the EU and member states are confronted, for instance the global economic crisis and states coming to the rescue of banks, climate change and energy supply as well as the threats of terrorism and organised crime", Gonzales explained. The Reflection Group "is convinced that the EU can overcome the difficulties, if everybody – politicians and citizens – are decided to pull together and act in a decisive manner". Internet and ICTs to boost the economy"ICTs and high speed internet are as revolutionary in our lives today as the development of electricity and transport networks were over a century ago". But we need support "for further internet development so that all citizens can benefit from the digital economy". On May 17 Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes presented the report on "investment in digital economy", by the EU Commission, according to which "digital economy is growing in strength, spreading throughout all sectors of the economy" of the EU and reaching into "all areas of our lives". "Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) have driven half of the productivity growth in Europe over the past 15 years" Kroes explained. Six out of ten Europeans regularly use the internet. However, if Europe wants to fully exploit all the potential benefits" of the new tools "it must step up a gear and provide faster broadband and an internet people trust, improve citizens’ skills, and encourage even more ICT innovation". In the plenary assembly of May 17-20 the European Commission will propose specific measures in these areas with its Digital Agenda for Europe, a flagship of the Europe 2020 strategy.Human Rights in the world, the commitment of the EU "Human rights, democracy and the rule of law are the basic values on which EU foreign policy is built": on the basis of these principles on May 10 Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy presented the 2009 annual Report on EU action to promote human rights in the world (http://eeas.europa.eu). "The report documents the great range of the EU’s activities through its external policies in the field of human rights, such as the freedom of thought and the rights of women as well as the EU’s action on human rights situation in various countries". "For example, during the period of the report the EU provided over € 235 million in funding for 900 NGO projects in some 100 countries". The EU also "Spoke out for the protection and promotion of human rights at the UN and in other forums and Multiplied the number of dialogues with foreign governments devoted to human rights". At present, EU27 agreements with over 120 Countries envisage a clause on human rights "providing for the reconsideration of agreements in case of serious human rights violations". EU institutions call for the mandatory trait of such principle, which was the object of talks on relations with important Countries such as China and Russia, where basic human rights are believed to be denied or restrained.

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