Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

July 2018
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Sunday, 22 July 2018
Soil performs a multitude of environmental, economic, social and cultural functions and thus plays a vital role in conserving biodiversity and supporting global environmental systems. It is a living system and once destroyed it is lost forever. Erosion, contamination, decline of organic matter content, sealing due to factors such as housing and infrastructure, landslides and flooding all contribute to the degradation of a resource that is fundamental to our survival. The European Commission has therefore created the first Soil Atlas of Europe, designed to describe and explain the threats to our soil, and raise awareness of its diversity and its importance to our lives. The Atlas will contribute to future actions to protect Europe’s soil, such as a proposal for a Thematic Strategy on soil protection, scheduled to be put forward by the Commission before the end of 2005.
The European Union's relationship with non-governmental organisations has grown in scope and importance over the years. However, there is a risk of a serious deterioration in the relationship, as a result of the increasingly onerous financial procedures and controls being imposed by the EU, especially the Commission, on NGOs with negative impacts on efficiency and transparency. This report, by an independent expert commissioned by Concord, the European Women's Lobby, the Open Society-Brussels, the Platform of European Social NGOs and SOLIDAR, proposes detailed changes in the current financial regulations and implementing rules. The report was launched at a meeting organised by the European Policy Center on 26 April. Participants called on the Commission to engage in a dialogue with the NGO community on the reform of the existing financial regulation in order to avoid repeating the errors of the past. The role of the European Parliament in facilitating this process was recognised as essential.
Friday, 29 April 2005
In a stand against a deal struck by five of the world's top libraries and Google to digitize millions of books, 19 European libraries have agreed to back a similar European project to safeguard literature.Nineteen European national libraries have joined forces against a planned communications revolution by Internet search giant Google to create a global virtual library, organizers said Wednesday. The 19 libraries are backing instead a multi-million euro counter-offensive by European nations to put European literature online.
"The leaders of the undersigned national libraries wish to support the initiative of Europe's leaders aimed at a large and organized digitization of the works belonging to our continent's heritage," a statement said. "Such a move needs a tight coordination of national ambitions at EU level to decide on the selection of works," it added.

The statement was signed by national libraries in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden. The British National Library has given its implicit support to the move, without signing the motion, while Cyprus and Malta have agreed verbally to the text. Portugal is also set to approve it.
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Thursday, 28 April 2005
One feature of the Schengen agreements on the free movement of people is that citizens of many third countries are able to visit any country in the Schengen area without a visa. The reverse should also be true, but in some cases, third countries require nationals of certain Member States to have a visa, which leaves the situation unbalanced. This is the case for Greek citizens travelling to the United States, for example, or Portuguese nationals heading from Brunei. In 2001, the Council adopted a mechanism for a joint EU response in such circumstances, but this has never been used, mainly because it was too inflexible, focusing on retaliation without considering the political risks that might entail. The Commission is now seeking to improve the mechanism to make it more realistic and more likely to be used.

MEPs are now due to debate the changes, based on a consultative report by Henrik LAX (ALDE, FI) for the Civil Liberties Committee. The report proposes making a number of amendments to the Commission's plan, notably aimed at increasing (from 10 to 90 days) the time available to a Member State to negotiate on a bilateral basis with the third country concerned, and at broadening the definition of reciprocity to cover procedural changes by a third country the effect of which is substantially to limit the movement of nationals of a Member State. MEPs in the Committee also want Parliament to have a more prominent role in the proposed process for reinstating visa requirements for third countries.
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The European Commission adopted today a Programme for Action to strengthen Europe’s support to confront HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis outside the EU’s borders. It proposes a menu of concrete actions to address the dramatic situation, with over 6 million people dying every year. The initiative follows the promise made by Commissioner Louis Michel, in charge of Development and Humanitarian Aid, to do better, do more and quicker in delivering on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).