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April 2018
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EDITO
Friday, 20 April 2018
At an important juncture for EU research policy, this month saw the inauguration of the UK Presidency’s R&D (Research & Development) and innovation portal. Top billing on the Union’s research agenda during Britain’s six-month stint at the helm goes to the forthcoming Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7).
The Commission’s proposal for FP7 was launched during the Luxembourg presidency, which has mediated the initial discussion among Member States. According to the proposal, FP7 is set to become bigger and more ambitious than its predecessor, the current FP6 (2002-2006).
If given the green light by Member States, FP7 will have nearly €65 billion at its disposal. The proposed budget is double the current annual spending in FP6.
FP7 revolves around four specific programmes: co-operation, ideas, people and capacities; and nine themes. It places more of an emphasis on research that enhances European competitiveness – through technology platforms and other public-private partnerships – and on themes rather than instruments. FP7 would represent a tenth of total public R&D spending across the EU, and should help inch the Union closer to its target of investing 3% of its gross domestic product (GDP) in research. The UK Presidency’s R&D and Innovation Information Service – which came on-line on 1 July with the hand-over of the EU presidency – was developed jointly by the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry and CORDIS, one of the EU’s research and innovation information services.
The website provides insight into the Presidency’s research and innovation priorities, as well as the UK’s own R&D and innovation policies. This portal also contains a wealth of links to other important web resources, both at national and Union level. The European Commission is also organising a number of R&D-related events over the next six months, including a major conference on the knowledge-based bio-economy on 15-16 September 2005, and an international conference on communicating European research on 14-15 November 2005.
A French and German proposal to introduce a voluntary tax on airline tickets to finance development aid has found support from the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. The idea - first floated by French President Jacques Chirac - to introduce a tax on air tickets to fight global poverty "seems to be taking hold," Annan told the Financial Times as the G8 prepares to discuss the issue on 7 July.
The proposal was endorsed by EU finance ministers at their meeting in May (EurActiv, 17 May 2005). They requested the Commission to come up with a proposal but the EU executive has since made its opposition to the plan known.
Instead of a concrete proposal, it prepared an analytical study which will be presented to economic and finance ministers at their meeting on 12 July.
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The European Parliament has rejected a controversial measure that would have legalised software patents in the European Union. Out of 729 members of the European Parliament 648 voted Wednesday to reject the proposal, called the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive, which would have widened the extent to which software could be patented. The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure, or FFII, described the decision as a 'great victory for those who have campaigned to ensure that European innovation and competitiveness is protected from monopolisation of software functionalities and business methods'. While many software developers have spoken out against the directive from the start, large companies have lobbied in its favour, often via campaign groups such as the Business Software Alliance, CompTIA and the Campaign for Creativity.
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Friday, 08 July 2005
- What is Aid for Trade?
Multilateral trade liberalization has the potential to generate significant economic opportunities that could lift many people out of poverty. But developing countries need to build their institutional capacity so they can translate market access into an ability to seize new trade opportunities.
In general terms, trade related assistance can cover: infrastructure improvements for roads and waterways; schemes to enable traders to meet international trading standards, like sanitary and health standards; assistance with WTO negotiations, (from funding think tanks to providing IT training for trade analysis); projects to modernise customs and border procedures, like outdated port handling facilities which can waste large amounts of time and money in transition economies hampering business and holding back economic development; support for fair trade projects, including support for developing micro businesses with business planning, market analysis and marketing , projects to fight fraud and corruption, providing technical and practical assistance to customs and tax authorities .; There are many more examples, but all the projects have one thing in common, they aim at helping developing countries to benefit from trade.
- The Current Situation
The EU is already the largest donor of trade related assistance. The actual average EU commitment for trade related assistance in the strict sense since 2001 (trade policy and trade development, not infrastructure) has been above €700 million per year. This fluctuates, as the priorities for the type of aid provided each year are set in agreement with development partners, countries, regions, institutions.
- The proposals
Today’s pledge refocuses more EU development funds to significantly increase the funding for aid for trade to €1 billion per year. This is another significant step in the drive to increase overall EU development aid and make it more coherent and effective.
With the commitments on development spending agreed at the European Council last month, today’s announcement should guarantee the increased the €1 billion figure for aid for trade spending for 2007-2013. This is in addition to EU Member States who have committed on average around €250 mlllion per year of trade assistance. At the European summit last month, European leaders reached a groundbreaking agreement which will put the European Union on track to double its aid by 2015. The European Union’s Overseas Development Aid for 2005 will be €46 billion - making the European Union the biggest donor of overseas aid in the world. The summit agreement sets a new intermediate target for development aid of 0.56 per cent of gross national income by 2010 - which would put Europe on course to reach, by 2015, the UN’s 0.7 per cent target. In practical terms the new proposals would increase EU development aid to €66 billion in 2010, rising to more than 90 billion Europe in 2015. The plans will also improve the coherence and quality of EU development policies, and make Africa a priority for all EU aid actions. The EU agreement on aid is the single biggest commitment in the run up to the G8 summit.
- How significant is the announcement today?
Many of the smaller vulnerable least developed African countries, like Mozambique, Ghana, Uganda have access to markets but are still effectively bi-passed by globalisation, because they cannot compete. For those countries, aid for trade is indispensable and it must be provided in a coordinated and sustainable manner. For those least developed African countries, today’s decision to boost aid for trade is very significant. It will make them stronger, more able to seize the opportunities of the global market, it is critical in terms of unlocking their trade potential.
- Key facts on EU trade
Since 1980 trade between the EU and developing countries has more than tripled and one fifth of all developing country exports now go to the EU.
The EU absorbed 63% of Least Developed Countries (LDC) exports to the “Quad” of Japan, the US Canada and the EU in 2003 and nearly 70% of their agricultural exports. 79% of all developing country exports to the EU enter either duty free or at reduced rates of duty – an increase of 8 % since 1999. 97% of Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries exports to the EU enter duty free and tariff escalation is virtually non existent.
All goods imported from the world’s poorest economies (Least Developed Countries, LDCs) can enter the European Union completely free from tariffs and quotas.
Speaking today at a press conference in Gleneagles in Scotland before the opening of the G8 Summit, José Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, pledged 1 billion Euro per year to support the trading capacity of developing countries. EU aid for trade helps poor countries make use of the export opportunities provided by market opening. President Barroso is representing the EU at the G8 summit along with the UK presidency. Multilateral trade liberalization has the potential to generate significant economic opportunities that could lift many people out of poverty. But many developing countries are ill-equipped to take advantage of new export opportunities. President Barroso, who attends the G8 summit as the “9th man at the G8 table”, announced details of the aid for trade deal and set out his key demands for the G8 summit. He has just returned from visiting South Africa, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Libya where he and Kofi Annan addressed the African Union Summit.
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