Eu in brief

Support to small and medium enterprises in China A gateway in Beijing to increase the activity of European enterprises in China was launched on November 5. It is the “Centre for small and medium enterprises of the European Union” funded by the Commission. As explained during its presentation, the new organization will provide “information, advice, training and matchmaking opportunities for European SMEs wishing to export to or invest in the Chinese market”. Among other things the Centre is a step in the implementation of the Small Business Act, the EU’s main initiative in support of SMEs. SMEs will have the possibility of “turning to the Centre to obtain information on issues such as the procedure regarding company registrations in China, employment contracts for recruiting locally or the process of certifying technical standards”. The Barroso Executive plans to publish a “strategy for the internationalisation of European SMEs” in 2011.New data protection rules”The protection of personal data is a fundamental right. To guarantee this right, we need clear and consistent data protection rules”. EU Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding explained the guidelines of the Executive’s policy review proposal. Online public consultation is open until next January 15. In 2011 the Commission will propose legislation for a new general juridical framework on data protection that will have to be negotiated and adopted by the European Parliament and the EU Council. Five guiding principles are proposed: stepping up individual rights; enhancing the “domestic market” dimension; revising data protection rules; Ensuring high levels of protection for data transferred outside the EU; more effective enforcement of the rules by “strengthening and further harmonising the role and powers of Data Protection Authorities”.Recession causes cuts in research fundingCar maker Toyota is the world’s biggest research and development investor. A classification drawn up within a EU survey, shows that three major enterprises based in Europe rank among the first ten. These are: Volkswagen, the biggest investor based in Europe with €5.8bn, Nokia and Sanofi-Aventis. Figures were recorded in the “EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard”, which shows a fall in investment for research innovation and development caused by the economic crisis. R&D investment by top EU companies fell by 2.6% in 2009, even though sales and profits fell much more, by 10.1% and 21.0% respectively”. The fall in R&D investment by leading players in the US, at 5.1%, was twice as sharp as in the EU, “but the worldwide reduction was lower, at 1.9%”. Companies based elsewhere in Asia – China, India, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan – continued the high R&D growth seen in previous years” even in Japan investment didn’t fall despite the recession. The survey confirms that research funding is higher in certain manufacturing sectors, such as pharmaceutics, I.T., automobile industry and electronics. Development days, comparing the five continentsAccess to energy, world health policy, management of natural resources, support to the private sector, the effectiveness of aid, human rights are among the items on the agenda of the fifth European Development Days that will take place on 6 and 7 December in Brussels. The Days, promoted by the EU, bring together development practitioners, NGOs, scholars, media and civil society representatives for panel debates. EU Commission president José Manuel Barroso will deliver an opening speech to the presence of current and former Heads of State and Government from Europe, Africa and rest of the world. “Organised a few days after the Africa-EU Summit in Tripoli, in parallel to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancún, the European Development Days provide a timely and focused interface for stakeholders and governments to address global challenges in an open and often informal atmosphere” (information on the website www.eudevdays.eu).

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