Theresa May will be back in Brussels to discuss Brexit this week

Theresa May will be back in Brussels to discuss Brexit this week

On Sunday, the British Prime Minister Theresa May said she would be back in Brussels to discuss Brexit this week. The draft Brexit deal she has negotiated with the European Union has been harshly criticised. After what she herself described as a “difficult week”, Theresa May says the next seven days will be “crucial”. This week has seen several MPs defect from her government because of disagreements over the current proposed compromise. “More negotiations are underway and nothing is set in stone until that’s over and done with”, she said…

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New interactive website enables Europeans to see what the EU does for them

New interactive website enables Europeans to see what the EU does for them

“What Europe does for me” is an interactive site launched on Wednesday by the European Parliament to enable citizens to see the contribution made by the European Union (EU) in their respective areas, for their professions or for their favourite pastimes. On the multilingual site, www.what-europe-does-for-me.eu/en/home , citizens can click on their regions on a map and see how Europe is present there. More than 1,400 localities are covered. In Marche-en-Famenne, for example, the Internet user can see that the EU has co-financed the construction of the Novalis Business Centre,…

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How to increase turnout in next European Elections

How to increase turnout in next European Elections

The European Parliament elections in 2014 showed a low turnout of 42.6%. In six countries it was below 30%. The challenge of stimulating interest in next elections was discussed last week in Brussels at a public-communications conference at the European Committee of the Regions. In a direct vote on 23-26 May 2019, citizens from 27 EU member states (E27) will elect 705 MEPs to form the new parliament. According to recent opinion polls (Eurobarometers) interest in the European elections has increased by 10 percentage points since April 2018 and is…

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High demand for EU vouchers for WiFI hotspots in public spaces

High demand for EU vouchers for WiFI hotspots in public spaces

The European Commission is launching a call for applications for the scheme WiFi4EU. The call opens on 7 November at 13:00 (CET) and will be open only until 9 November afternoon. Under the call, municipalities in EU member states can apply on-line for a voucher worth €15,000 to set up a Wi-Fi hotspot in public spaces, including town halls, public libraries, museums, public parks or squares. The hotspots are intended for digital public services such as eGovernment, eHealth, and eTourism. In total €120 million will be available for up to…

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Spain gets most EU funding to innovative companies

Spain gets most EU funding to innovative companies

The European Commission announced this week the results of the latest round for funding to innovative small and medium-sized companies in member states and associated countries. A total of 246 companies from 24 countries were selected for funding from the SME instrument, a funding mechanism under the EU’s research and innovation programme Horizon 2020. In Phase 1 of the funding scheme each company will benefit from a lump sum of €50,000 to create a business plan to commercialize their innovations and bring them faster to the market. They will also…

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110 flights cancelled at Brussels Airport Monday

110 flights cancelled at Brussels Airport Monday

110 out of 630 flights scheduled to depart Monday from Brussels airport have been cancelled, due to strike actions carried out by baggage handler Aviapartner, according to the airports spokes-person. Aviapartner’s management will have meetings with the unions during the day. Brussels Airport’s spokes-person says that passengers have not asked if they could spend the night at the airport. “We have not been informed of any such requests, and have therefore not set up any temporary beds, but of course passengers may have spent the night on their own initiative,”…

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Global trend towards smaller families

Global trend towards smaller families

UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, published last week a report on reproductive rights and the demographic transition in the world. The report explains a global trend towards smaller families as a reflection of people making choices to have as few or as many children as they want. “Choice can change the world,” said Sietske Steneker, director of UNFPA Brussels Office, at a press briefing (17 October). “When people lack choice, it can have a long-term impact on fertility rates, often making them higher or lower than…

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Combating misinformation: Facebook, Twitter and EC put forward their road map

Combating misinformation: Facebook, Twitter and EC put forward their road map

Threatened by the European Commission as to the imposition of new rules to intensify the fight against online misinformation, the main social media platforms (Google, Facebook, Mozilla and Twitter) on Tuesday set out self-regulatory measures. They did so with next May’s European election campaign in mind. These measures include transparency tools to indicate the political nature of some advertisements, and training in Internet security for the European Parliament’s political groups and the authorities responsible for organizing the elections. Other strengthened cooperation with fact-checking organizations is also proposed. The Net giants,…

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Legal status of EU payment mechanism for trade with Iran still unclear

Legal status of EU payment mechanism for trade with Iran still unclear

The EU and Iran agreed to continue trade after the us withdraws from the nuclear deal. To circumvent US sanctions they recently announced a plan for maintaining payment channels outside the banking system which could be targeted by the sanctions. Whether it is legally and practically feasible is still an open question. Following a ministerial meeting on 24 September in New York, the participants welcomed an EU initiative to establish a so-called Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to facilitate payments related to Iran’s exports (including oil) and imports. The US waiver…

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700 European entrepreneurs demand a “business-friendly’’ EU

700 European entrepreneurs demand a “business-friendly’’ EU

“The business world is open to Europe, but Europe must also be open to the business world,’’ warned 700 European entrepreneurs gathered in Brussels on Wednesday. These business leaders — including thirty Belgians — sat, debated and voted in the European Parliament on Wednesday, taking the place of MEPs for a day in the Chamber. During the fifth edition of the “European Parliament of Enterprises” (EPE), 700 EU entrepreneurs were asked to position themselves on trade, the single market at the time of Brexit, and on the future of Europe….

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