The EU in brief

European Council: next summit after the vote Once again the European Council had to review its working agenda owing to current events. The meeting had been scheduled for March 20-21 to discuss the future of the industry, energy policies, climate change. But the summit of the heads of State and Government of EU 28 countries focused on the situation in Ukraine, Crimea and Russia (with the adoption of new sanctions against Moscow and the cancelling of the planned EU-Russian Federation bilateral meeting), thereby signing the political chapters of the association agreement with Kiev during the meeting. The final document of the summit underlines that the Council has again tackled the knots related to overcoming the economic crisis, welcoming the agreement reached by EU institutions on a single resolution mechanism for managing bank crises that paves the way to Banking Union. The summits with USA (March 26) and Africa (April 2-3) were also drawn up. The 28 leaders attended the latest ordinary meeting before the elections for the renewal of the European Parliament May 22-25. They thus decided to meet on May 27 for an evaluation of the outcomes of the vote and for the definition of ensuing political steps (the start of the new European Parliament, the appointment of the Commission and the of other offices in Brussels). The “scourge” of undeclared work across the continent Undeclared employment is a “scourge” spread across EU countries, characterizing certain economic areas in Eastern and Southern Europe, compared to Central and Northern Europe. These are the findings of a Eurobarometer survey published March 24 that shows that for example, 11% of European citizens “admits having purchased good or services involving undeclared work in the previous year”, while “while 4% concede that they have themselves received undeclared pay in return for work.” Furthermore, one in 30 (3%) was paid partly in cash by his or her employer (‘envelope wages’).” “Undeclared work not only exposes workers to dangerous working conditions and lower earnings but also deprives governments of revenue and undermines our social protection systems”, said Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Commissioner László Andor. For Andor, Member states “need to implement policies to discourage undeclared work or encourage its transformation into regular work, and to work more closely together to combat this scourge.” The Commissioner announced that “in April the European Commission will propose to launch a European platform on the prevention and deterrence of undeclared work.” The Eurobarometer survey carried out in 28 EU Countries with interviews to 26,563 respondents, shows that 60% indicate lower prices as the main reason for purchasing undeclared goods or services, and 22% mention doing favours to friends.” The findings show that Europeans spend a median yearly amount of €200 on undeclared goods or services, while “home repairs and renovations (29%), car repairs (22%), home cleaning (15%) and food (12%) are the most demanded undeclared goods or services.”EU future: a debate between citizens and institutions “The future is not a question of fortune. It is a question of choices.” Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, explained the reasons that prompted her to organize a Pan- European dialogue – ahead of May elections – scheduled to take place in Brussels March 27, in the Charlemagne Building with the participation of over 150 citizens from EU 28 countries. The Dialogue marks the conclusion of a set of 50 dialogues that took place over a one-and-a-half year period in EU countries on the future of integration. In dedicated workshops held throughout the day participants will discuss themes within the competence of the EU – ranging from economy to the environment, from research to training of the young, from agriculture to trade. Panel speakers include EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Reding, nine Commissioners and several MEPs, “regardless of their political affiliation”. For Commissioner Reding, “people just want Europe to fix their problems.” The Day can be watched live via webstream by logging on www.europa.eu. Citizens can get involved in the debate on Facebook and Twitter by using the hashtag #EUdeb8.

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