Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

November 2017
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EDITO
Monday, 20 November 2017
Achieving innovation in Europe depends on retaining and attracting more researchers. Among other objectives, this means improving European researchers’ work conditions and encouraging more professional mobility – strong reasons behind the Commission’s new recommendation for a Charter and Code of Conduct for Researchers.Unveiled on 11 March by Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potoznik, the European Charter for Researchers and accompanying Code of Conduct for recruiting researchers create a blueprint for improving Europe’s research network, the quality of research and development and the conditions under which researchers will deliver the best results.

It is not just a question of spending more on research but also improving scientists’ work facilities, mobility, employment conditions and their opportunities to branch out into related areas of activity. It is crucial to address the status of researchers, said Commissioner Potoznik, adding that Europe must ensure that, wherever they work, “researchers are treated with the respect and esteem they deserve.”

Europe needs to produce an additional 700 000 research-related jobs, the estimated minimum needed to help the EU reach its Lisbon and Barcelona targets – to be the world’s knowledge powerhouse by 2010 and for Member States to spend 3% of gross domestic product on research to achieve this.

It has made some progress in recent years, but still lags the United States and Japan in terms of the number of researchers in the general workforce. Effort is needed to cut red tape and to address the lack of mobility, the poor gender balance, the problem of overworked and underpaid personnel and the rigidities of tenure systems at institutions and universities that discourage risk-taking or unorthodox career moves, the Charter stresses.
Tuesday, 05 April 2005
In March, the Policy Working Group of CONCORD (Task force on the Development Policy Statement) issued the position paper "Review of the EU development policy statement: Europe must send a strong positive signal to the developing world". The document is the CONCORD contribution to the electronic consultation on the future of the EC development policy (conducted by the EC between January 18 and March 19, 2005). It questions that an internet consultation is the appropriate way to discuss the future of development policy and urges all actors involved to start serious debate on the future development statement in governments, parliaments and civil society constituencies. The policy paper is intended to serve as a first general CONCORD position on the important issues at stake.
The European Commission wants to know how genetically modified (GMO) crops might affect human and animal health in the longer term, eight years after the EU first allowed biotech crops, a document showed on Tuesday. In a tender published on its website, the Commission's environment unit has advertised for interested parties to study the "potential cumulative long-term effects" of individual groups of GMO crops, and say where more research is required. Only a handful of GMO crops may be grown commercially on EU territory, mostly maize types. These crop approvals were issued in 1997 and 1998, before the bloc began a six-year moratorium on new GMO authorisations that ended in May 2004. This task should be prioritised to take account of the types of GM plants released within the Community at the present time and those predicted in the near future, the notice said. Last week the Commission held its first debate on GMO policy in more than a year, vowing to press ahead with authorising more gene-altered crops and foods even if EU governments could not break years of deadlock over the issue. While new approvals are trickling in, they have so far related to imported GMOs for use in food, animal feed and industrial processing. No GMO crop has been won EU approval for planting since 1998.
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Freedom of movement is one of the most basic rights for citizens of the EU, but the Member States have so far failed to reach a real common policy on migration and managing EU borders. Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee held a public hearing on Wednesday to discuss proposals for a common Code of rules to control both external and internal EU borders. The measures come under the co-decision procedure, with a first reading debate due at the June plenary.The EP rapporteur Michael CASHMAN (PES, UK) said he supported the creation of a common policy on managing external borders, but stressed the need to develop a more human approach to third country nationals: "Freedom of movement is an essential human right," he said. "Third country nationals should have the right to enter the EU if all the entry conditions are met... First and second line checks should be done in a respectful and dignified manner by the border guards." He said national authorities should inform those rejected of the reasons for refusal, where possible in their own language. In 2003, the Commission proposed the creation of a European Agency for External Borders to encourage cooperation between national border surveillance agencies. This was to have started work in January 2005, but the representative of the Council presidency, Raoul UEBERECKEN, said this had been delayed as the Council could not agree on where the agency should be established - Budapest, Warsaw, Ljubljana, Valetta or Tallinn. A common visa system
Integrated management of external borders is only possible if Europe sets up a common visa system. Sarah Ludford (ALDE, UK) is the rapporteur on a proposal to establish a common EU database with information on all issued visas, known as the Visa Information System (VIS). She supported the Commission's objective of consular cooperation and exchange of information between Member States to achieve a common visa policy. But any new regulation should strictly respect the principle of personal data protection. "The security threat has to be the top priority", she said, "but this doesn't justify the use of data for purposes other than the verification of visas." She asked whether such identification should be done by introducing a chip with biometric elements, such as fingerprint information, in passports or rather by using the new VIS database. For the Commission, Mr De Ceuster said that the creation of such chips was posing many technical difficulties and the Commission might abandon the idea of using them in passports.
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Friday, 01 April 2005
The basis of Parliament’s negotiations on the 2007-2013 Financial Perspective became clear on Wednesday afternoon, when, after detailed consideration of the Commission’s proposal for the next Financial Perspective, the Temporary Committee on Policy Challenges and Budgetary Means of the Enlarged Union 2007-2013, set up in October 2004, made its first examination of the draft report by Reimer BÖGE (EPP-ED, DE).

The rapporteur explained that Parliament must give thought to the policies that the European Union has to finance, and not just to gross figures’. He went on to list a series of priorities: Cohesion policy is fundamental and must be allocated 0.41% of the EU’s gross national income (GNI) and 4% of the new Member States’ GNIfor the next Financial Perspective period. Also 3% of the EU’s GNI must be allocated to R&D funding by 2010. EUR 21 billion must be earmarked for the Natura 2000 programme and there should be more ambitious financing of rural development. There was also a need to increase the level of funding for external actions, to enable the EU to become ‘a real global partner’.
There appeared to be consensus that the next Financial Perspective should cover five years (2006-2010 inclusive), so it would run parallel with the next parliamentary term and the next Commission. Likewise, the debate on the Financial Perspective must be linked to the question of own resources.
The vote on the Böge report will be held at the June part-session in Strasbourg.