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7.6.2017: A Europe that defends: Commission opens debate on moving towards a security and defence union

The Commission is today opening a public debate on the future direction of defence in an EU of 27.

Following the Commission’s White Paper on the Future of Europe, today’s reflection paper outlines different scenarios on how to address the growing security and defence threats facing Europe and enhance Europe’s own abilities in defence by 2025. The debate will make an important contribution to deciding on how the Union will strengthen the protection and security of European citizens, which has been at the heart of the Juncker Commission priorities. The reflection paper is complemented by concrete proposals presented today to launch a European Defence Fund which will support more efficient spending by Member States on joint defence capabilities.

High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini said: “We are moving fast and forward on security in the European Union, with the Commission accompanying and supporting the determination of Member States. Today’s Reflection Paper is the Commission’s contribution to the reflection on the future of our Union in this field, starting from the demand of a more integrated and effective defence coming from our citizens. Through the European Union, we can support Member States in developing military capabilities and investing more efficiently in defence. We have come a long way in less than one year and we are determined to keep this pace.”

EU leaders will meet in Prague on 9 June to discuss how to use the potential of the Treaties for stepping up cooperation in defence. The Commission is contributing to that discussion and to the broader EU-wide debate on defence, by setting out three possible scenarios for the future of European defence.

  • Under a “Security and Defence Cooperation” scenario, Member States would still decide on the need for security and defence cooperation on a voluntary and case-by-case basis, while the EU would continue to complement national efforts. Defence cooperation would be strengthened, but the EU’s participation in the most demanding operations would remain limited. The new European Defence Fund would help develop some new joint capabilities but Member States would still oversee the bulk of defence capabilities’ development and procurement individually. EU‒NATO cooperation would retain today’s format and structure.
  • Under a more ambitious “Shared Security and Defence” scenario, Member States would pool together certain financial and operational assets to increase solidarity in defence. The EU would also become more engaged in Europe’s protection within and beyond its borders. It would take on a greater role in areas like cyber, border protection or the fight against terrorism, and strengthen the defence and security dimension of internal EU policies like energy, health, customs or space. This would be matched by a political will to act, as well as decision-making fit for a rapidly changing context. The EU and NATO would also increase mutual cooperation and coordinate across a full spectrum of issues.
  • The most ambitious “Common Defence and Security” scenario foresees the progressive framing of a common Union defence policy, leading to common defence based on Article 42 of the EU Treaty. The existing provision allows a group of Member States to take European defence to the next level. Under this scenario, protecting Europe would become a mutually reinforcing responsibility of the EU and NATO. The EU would be able to run high-end security and defence operations, underpinned by a greater level of integration of Member States’ defence forces. The EU would support joint defence programmes with the European Defence Fund, as well as set up a dedicated European Defence Research Agency.This would also foster the creation of a genuine European defence market, able to protect its key strategic activities from external takeovers.

 

30.5.2017:European Solidarity Corps: Commission proposes more than €340 million to enable 100 000 placements by 2020

Today, the Commission has put the European Solidarity Corps on a firm footing by proposing a budget for the next three years and a dedicated legal base.

This will help consolidate the initiative and create more opportunities for young people. As well as offering volunteering, traineeships and job placements, the European Solidarity Corps will now also provide participants the opportunity to set up their own solidarity projects or to volunteer as a group.

During a first phase launched in December 2016, eight different programmes were mobilised to offer volunteering, traineeship or job opportunities under the European Solidarity Corps. More than 30,000 young people have already signed up and the first participants have now started their placements. Under the leadership of Commissioners Oettinger, Navracsics and Thyssen, the Commission is today proposing to equip the European Solidarity Corps with one single legal base, its own financing mechanism and a broader set of solidarity activities. This will help further increase its coherence, impact and cost-effectiveness. The Commission proposes to allocate €341.5 million to the European Solidarity Corps over the period 2018-2020, to enable 100,000 young Europeans to take part by the end of 2020.

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “More than just a principle, solidarity is a state of mind that goes to the very heart of what the European Union is about. The Solidarity Corps is that principle personified. I am proud of what the Corps represents and grateful to all those signing up and the organisations providing placements for our young people. Today we are giving a proper legal form to the Corps, along with the budget to sustain it. The participants on the ground are the ones giving the Corps – and European solidarity – life.”

For the next phase of the European Solidarity Corps, the following types of activities are envisaged:

  • Solidarity placements will support young people in carrying out volunteering activities for up to 12 months, traineeship placements for usually 2–6 months, and job placements in compliance with relevant national legislation for 2–12 months.
  • Volunteering teams will allow groups of 10-40 young volunteers from different countries to make an impact together, for 2 weeks to 2 months.
  • Solidarity projects will allow small groups of at least five participants to set up and implement solidarity projects at the local level on their own initiative, for 2 to 12 months.
  • Networking activities will help attract newcomers to the European Solidarity Corps, allow the exchange of good practices, provide post-placement support and establish alumni networks.

Any public or private body adhering to strict quality requirements can propose projects for the European Solidarity Corps. It will be implemented by the European Commission, the Erasmus+ National Agencies in the Member States, and the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). To improve the integration of European Solidarity Corps participants in the labour market, the active involvement of Public Employment Services, private employment services and Chambers of Commerce will be encouraged.

With today’s proposal, the Commission is delivering on its promise made when launching the European Solidarity Corps to present a legal proposal by spring 2017. The draft Regulation now needs to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council before it can enter into force. In their Joint Declaration, the EU institutions committed to delivering on the proposal by the end of this year.

 

5.5.2017: More than 1 300 Master students to benefit from Erasmus Mundus scholarships in 2017

1345 students from all over the world have just received the good news that they have been awarded an EU-funded scholarship to begin studying for an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree this autumn.

These scholarships will cover all the costs of their study programmes which will take them to two or more higher education institutions in pursuit of a joint or double Master’s degree. Most programmes last two years.

The 100 Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree programmes offering EU scholarships in 2017 cover a wide range of subjects, from astrophysics and nanotechnology to cartography and sports ethics. This year’s scholarships have been awarded to students from all six continents with the top five sending countries being Brazil (79), India (63), Iran (59), Bangladesh (58) and Mexico (49).

Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said: “Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees are great examples of universities working together across borders to offer integrated, innovative and high quality degree programmes. As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Erasmus, it is inspiring to see the international outlook that this EU funding programme has helped to foster in universities, students and staff. That is why we are delighted to be able to fund over 1 300 scholarships for students from all over the world in 2017. Within two years they will be graduating with a tailored set of knowledge and professional skills to start or boost their careers.”The newly-selected students will also be able to join and benefit from the Erasmus Mundus Student and Alumni Association, which supports and provides a network for students before, during and after their studies.

Each Master’s programme also provides EU grants to guest academics to come and contribute to the programme through teaching or research.

26.4.2017: Commission presents the European Pillar of Social Rights

Building a fairer Europe and strengthening its social dimension is a key priority for this Commission.

Today, it delivers on its promise to adopt its proposal for the European Pillar of Social Rights. The Pillar sets out 20 key principles and rights to support fair and well-functioning labour markets and welfare systems. The Pillar is designed as a compass for a renewed process of upward convergence towards better working and living conditions in Europe. It is primarily conceived for the euro area but applicable to all EU Member States wishing to be part of it.

President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said: “As Commission President, I have been seeking to put social priorities at the heart of Europe’s work, where they belong. With the European Pillar of Social Rights and the first set of initiatives that accompany it, we are delivering on our promises and we are opening a new chapter. We want to write this chapter together: Member States, EU institutions, the social partners and civil society all have to take on their responsibility. I would like to see the Pillar endorsed at the highest political level before the end of this year.”

The Pillar was prepared by the Commission, under the leadership of Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Thyssen, in close consultation with stakeholders at all levels. It reaffirms rights that are already present in the EU and international legal acquis and complements them to take account of new realities. The principles and rights enshrined in the Pillar are structured around three categories: equal opportunities and access to the labour market, fair working conditions and social protection and inclusion. They place the focus on how to tackle new developments in the world of work and society at large so as to deliver on the promise of the Treaties of a highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress.

Already today, the European Commission flanks the European Pillar of Social Rights with a number of further concrete legislative and non-legislative initiatives such as on the work-life balance of parents and carers, on the information of workers, and on access to social protection and on working time. These initiatives illustrate both the nature of the issues covered by the Pillar as well as the way in which its principles and rights can be implemented.

A social scoreboard is also established to track trends and performances across EU countries in 12 areas and to assess progress towards a social “triple A” for the EU as a whole. This analysis will feed into the European Semester of economic policy coordination.

Next Steps

The Pillar is presented today under two legal forms with identical content: as a Commission Recommendation, effective as of today, and as a proposal for a joint proclamation by the Parliament, the Council and the Commission. On this basis, the Commission will now enter into discussions with the European Parliament and the Council to work towards broad political support and high-level endorsement of the Pillar.

10.04.2017 EU Justice Scoreboard 2017: justice systems becoming more effective, but challenges remain

Today, the European Commission publishes the 2017 EU Justice Scoreboard which gives a comparative overview of the efficiency, quality and independence of justice systems in the EU Member States.

Its aim is to assist national authorities to improve the effectiveness of their justice systems. Compared to previous editions, the 2017 Scoreboard looks into new aspects of the functioning of justice systems, for example, how easily consumers can access justice and which channels they use to submit complaints against companies. For the first time, it also shows the length of criminal court proceedings relating to money laundering offences.

“The 5th edition of the EU Justice Scoreboard confirms that effective justice systems are essential to build trust in a business and investment-friendly environment in the single market” said Vĕra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality. “I encourage Member States to ensure that any justice reform respects the rule of law and judicial independence. This is key for citizens and businesses to fully enjoy their rights. An independent and well-functioning justice system is a fundamental pillar of every democracy.”

Key findings of the 2017 edition include:

  • Shorter civil and commercial court proceedings: including in a number of Member States whose justice systems are facing challenges. This improvement is clearer over the five-year period than in the short-term.
  • Analysis of consumer protection enforcement: Member States are responsible for the enforcement of EU consumer law. The Scoreboard shows that the length of administrative proceedings and judicial review in this field varies a lot depending on the country. It also shows that many consumer issues are solved directly by consumer authorities and they don’t need to go to courts.
  • Analysis of the fight against money laundering: As required by the 4th Anti-Money Laundering directive, Member States have provided for the first time data in this area. It shows a large variation in case length – from less than half a year to almost three years- for proceedings dealing with anti-money laundering offenses.
  • Limited access to justice for poorer citizens: the Scoreboard shows that in some Member States, citizens whose income is below the poverty threshold do not receive any legal aid in some types of disputes.
  • Use of ICT tools still limited in some countries: while it’s widely used for communication between courts and lawyers in half of the Member States, the use of ICT for electronic signature is very limited in over half the EU countries. New data on how lawyers use ICT when communicating with courts again underlines the importance of electronic communication for well-functioning justice systems.
  • Improved or stable perception of judicial independence among the general public: this is the case in more than two-thirds of Member States, compared to 2016. The trend is the same for businesses’ perception since 2010. Among the reasons for the perceived lack of independence of courts and judges, the interference or pressure from government and politicians was the most stated reason. The 2017 edition also presents data on the safeguards in place in the different Member States to guarantee the judicial independence of judges. This reflects the strong importance of rule of law for the EU.
  • Quality standards: Most Member States have standards fixing time limits or timeframes to avoid lengthy judicial proceedings. However, such standards are not in place in certain Member States with less efficient justice systems.

 

23.3.2017:Commission gives a boost to youth mobility in Europe

The European Commission presented today an initiative under the Erasmus+ programme which further supports learning and mobility of young Europeans. Called “Move2Learn, Learn2Move“, it will enable at least 5,000 young citizens to travel to another EU country in a sustainable manner – individually or together with their school class. The one-off initiative, which is linked to the 30th anniversary of the Erasmus programme, is consistent with two central priorities of the Commission: to put a renewed focus on Europe’s youth, and to facilitate EU citizens’ mobility, particularly low emission mobility.

Move2Learn, Learn2Move builds on an idea put forward by the European Parliament in 2016. It will be implemented through eTwinning, the world’s biggest teachers’ network. Part of Erasmus+, it enables teachers and pupils across Europe to develop projects together through an online platform.

Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, said: “Building on the success of eTwinning, this initiative will enable young people to discover and experience first-hand different countries and cultures across Europe. On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Erasmus, this will be another example of this EU success story bringing people together, helping them to develop a feeling of what it means to be European.“

Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: “Transport is not about tracks, ships or motorways; it is about people. We want to give young Europeans the chance to discover Europe. We also want to encourage them to travel in an environmentally friendly way, which is why CO2 emissions will be taken into account. I am also happy that we can count on the active participation of transport operators to help strengthen the initiative.”

The initiative will be open to school classes of students aged 16 and above taking part in eTwinning. They are invited to indicate whether they want to be considered for free travel tickets which will be awarded for the best eTwinning projects in each participating country. Social inclusion will be an important criterion in the selection of the best projects. Once the winners have been picked, they will be able to travel from August 2017 until December 2018, at a date of their choice. Students will either travel in a group as part of a school trip or individually, depending on the decision of parents and teachers.

 

 

2.3.2017:Commission calls for renewed efforts in implementing solidarity measures under the European Agenda on Migration

Ahead of next week’s European Council and in the form of three progress reports, the Commission is today making a renewed call on Member States to pick up the pace of relocation to alleviate pressure from Italy and Greece, with few having met their commitments in full.

The Commission is also calling on Member States to make good on the strong political commitment given and fill gaps in manpower and equipment by the end of March for the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. With the EU-Turkey Statement continuing, one year on, to keep irregular crossings under control but with arrivals still outpacing returns, the Commission is also calling on Greece and all Member States to keep up the momentum in implementing the Joint Action Plan to improve the situation in the islands.

Steady delivery of results in the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement

After almost one year, the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement of 18 March continues to deliver tangible results, despite the challenging circumstances. Daily crossings from Turkey to the Greek islands have gone down from 10,000 persons in a single day in October 2015 to 43 a day now. Overall, arrivals have dropped by 98%. The number of lives lost in the Aegean Sea since the Statement took effect has also substantially fallen, from 1,100 (during the same period in 2015-2016) to 70. Return operations have continued to be carried out with a total of 1,487 returns since the Statement was activated.

Progress on other areas of the Statement continues, with the Commission continuing to accelerate the delivery of funding under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, as showed in the first Annual Report on the Facility published by the Commission in parallel today. €1.5 billion out of the already allocated €2.2 billion for 2016-2017 has been contracted in record time, half of the total €3 billion budget for 2016-2017. The Commission is also continuing to work with Turkey to encourage progress on meeting the outstanding benchmarks of the Visa Liberalisation Roadmap and the Council has started its examination of the negotiating directive for upgrading the Customs Union.

Progress in making the new European Border and Coast Guard Agency fully operational

Five months after the European Border and Coast Guard was launched, joint investment and engagement in ensuring it becomes fully operational as quickly as possible are still needed, as a practical expression of the commitment by Member States to share responsibility and demonstrate solidarity.

The Agency is currently supporting Member States with around 1,350 border guards at different sections of the EU external border, complementing the existing national capacities of Member States of over 100,000 border guards. However, despite important deployments and contributions by Member States, there are gaps, both in terms of human resources and technical equipment. In particular, considerable gaps still exist regarding material contributions to the Rapid Reaction Equipment pool, deployments to ongoing joint operations and to the three new pools of forced-return monitors, forced-return escorts and return specialists.These gaps should be filled by Member States by the end of March 2017 to ensure that the Agency can provide the necessary support to Member States at the external borders. It is also necessary to carry through the vulnerability assessment process to help close potential shortcomings at the external borders before a new crisis may arise, including by prioritising the most urgent vulnerabilities.

22.2.2017:European Semester Winter Package: review of Member States’ progress towards economic and social priorities

The European Commission today publishes its annual analysis of the economic and social situation in the Member States, including an assessment of remaining imbalances.

Member States are making headway in implementing the individual policy guidance they received last year around the “virtuous triangle” of boosting investment, pursuing structural reforms and ensuring responsible fiscal policies. This assessment of Member States’ progress is part of the annual cycle of economic policy coordination at EU level and is known as the Winter Package of the European Semester. The package follows the economic forecast released last week.

Today’s 27 Country Reports (for all Member States except Greece, which is under a dedicated stability support programme) provide the annual analysis of Commission staff of the situation in the Member States’ economies, including where relevant an assessment of macroeconomic imbalances. Following the publication in November of the Annual Growth Survey 2017 and the euro area recommendations, which set the priorities for the year ahead at European level, today’s package shifts the attention to the national dimension of the European Semester, in the run-up to the Country-Specific Recommendations in spring.

The early publication of Country Reports, ahead of the presentation of National Programmes and the update of Country-Specific Recommendations, is part of the Juncker Commission’s efforts to streamline and strengthen the European Semester. It aims to allow time for a dialogue with Member States on European and national priorities and to reflect greater focus on employment and social considerations.

The analysis presented in today’s Country Reports shows that in most Member States, economic recovery has contributed to declining unemployment rates, although these are still above pre-crisis levels. The In-Depth Reviews contained in some of the reports show that large current account deficits have been corrected, and sizeable stocks of private, public and external debt have started falling as a share of Gross Domestic Product. However, a number of risks remain: high current account surpluses are only being adjusted to a limited extent, while large stocks of non-performing loans weigh on the financial sector in some Member States.

 

  • Bulgaria, France, Croatia, Italy, Portugal and Cyprus are found to be experiencing excessive economic imbalances.
  • Germany, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Sweden are experiencing economic imbalances.
  • Finland is found not to be experiencing economic imbalances.

 

Cyprus is experiencing excessive imbalances. A very high share of non-performing loans burdens the financial sector and high stock of private, public, and external debt hangs on the economy, in the context of high unemployment and weak potential growth.The current account is still negative and is not adequate to guarantee a sustainable evolution of the net external liabilities stock.Government debt is expected to have peaked, but the current relaxation of fiscal policy is foreseen to slow down the needed adjustment.Despite a major restructuring of the banking sector and improved capital positions, the stock of non-performing loans is slowly declining but remains very high. Poor contract enforcement, inefficiencies in the judicial system and bottlenecks in the implementation of the foreclosure and insolvency legislation hamper private sector deleveraging and the reduction of non-performing loans. Reform momentum has weakened since 2016 and policy gaps persist in the areas of public administration, fiscal management, the justice system, the framework for title deeds, electricity and privatisation.

8.2.2017:Relocation and Resettlement: Member States need to build on encouraging results

Today, the Commission adopted its ninth progress report on the EU’s emergency relocation and resettlement schemes, assessing actions taken since 8 December 2016.

During the reporting period, Member States have continued to increase their efforts on resettlement offering legal and safe pathways to 13,968 people so far. Regarding relocation, the overall positive trend has also been maintained with an additional 3,813 relocations taking place during the reporting period, and December seeing the highest monthly number so far (1,926). The total number of relocations now stands at 11,966. However, further efforts are still needed from Member States to sustain the progress made and reach the monthly targets set by the Commission of 1,000 relocations from Italy and 2,000 from Greece.

Relocation

During the reporting period, 3,813 additional persons have been relocated, bringing the total number to 11,966 (8,766 from Greece and 3,200 from Italy). While December marked a new record for relocations both from Italy and Greece, with 1,926 people relocated (764 from Italy and 1,162 from Greece), in January, 1,682 persons were relocated (551 from Italy and 1,131 from Greece). In December 2016, the Commission called on Member States individually to increase their efforts to meet the targets of 1,000 monthly relocations from Italy and 2,000 from Greece. Member States and Associated Countries which were already participating actively in the relocation scheme reacted positively to the Commission’s call and communicated their planned monthly pledges. Finland for example is well on track to meet its obligation for relocations from Greece (560 out of 1,299 relocated so far) and Italy (359 out of 779). However, significantly increased commitment and delivery is still needed from other Member States, in particular those who still have not started to carry out relocations at all.

The repeated calls for accelerated and steady relocation from Greece and Italy made by the Heads of State or Government of the EU’s Member States must be matched with determined action by the competent national services. Member States should build further on the results achieved so far and ensure they pledge and transfer on a stable monthly basis and according to the size of their allocation, thereby delivering on their legal obligations and applying solidarity in practice. The Commission will continue to closely monitor the situation and present its next report in March 2017.

Resettlement

Member States have continued to provide safe and legal avenues to Europe for people in need of international protection with 13,968 of the agreed 22,504 resettled so far under the EU resettlement scheme from July 2015. Since the previous report, 913 people have been resettled mainly from Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. Resettlements have taken place to 21 resettling States (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom). Sweden, the United Kingdom, Finland and Netherlands as well as associated countries Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland have already fulfilled their pledges.

The number of resettlements from Turkey under the EU-Turkey Statement, included in the overall figure of resettlements, has continued to increase and Member States are advancing well with the preparation of further resettlement operations. Since 4 April 2016, 3,098 Syrians have been resettled from Turkey to the EU, including 487 since the previous report. The Turkish authorities are delivering on their promise to step up efforts to provide larger lists of resettlement candidates. Member States should continue delivering on their resettlement commitments, including as part of the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement.

3.2.2017: President Juncker at the Malta Summit: Reaffirming European values and agreeing on measures to better manage migration and save lives along the Central Mediterranean Route

Today, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is participating in the informal Malta Summit in Valletta. The main focus of discussions will be on how to better manage migration and save lives along the Central Mediterranean route.

Leaders are expected to agree on a concrete set of short- and medium term actions which will help stabilise the Central Mediterranean route. The meeting will also provide an opportunity for the EU-27 to have a broad discussion on the future of Europe ahead of the Rome Summit on 25 March which will mark the 60th Anniversary of the Treaties of Rome. Given the new realities and old challenges facing Europe at the start of 2017, the informal Malta Summit is a time for collective action in the area of external migration but also a moment to show unity. It presents an opportunity to reaffirm European values and defend the tolerance, solidarity and openness that Europe is built on.

Following the first working session on external migration, leaders will publish the Malta Declaration setting out concrete short- and medium term actions to improve the situation along the Central Mediterranean route and on the ground in Libya and its neighbouring countries. Joint press conference by Prime Minister Muscat, President Tusk and President Juncker is currently scheduled for 16:00 CET and can be followed live via EbS.

Ahead of the Informal Malta Summit, the Commission and the High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini presented a number of measures that they consider leaders should agree to in order to stabilise the Central Mediterranean route. More facts and figures that are likely to feature in the Malta Summit discussions can be found in a factsheet and a strategic note from the European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC).

26.1.2017:New figures show record number of participants in Erasmus+

The European Commission published today new figures showing that the EU’s education and training programme, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, is more successful and open than ever.

In 2015, Erasmus+ enabled 678,000 Europeans to study, train, work and volunteer abroad, more than ever before. In the same year, the EU invested €2.1 billion in over 19,600 projects involving 69,000 organisations. These are the main findings of the Erasmus+ Annual Report for 2015 published by the European Commission today. Results also show that the programme is well on track to meet its target of supporting 4 million people between 2014 and 2020.

Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, and former Erasmus student at the University of Leicester (UK) said: “Education is vital in equipping people with the knowledge, competences, skills and ability to make the most of their potential and of the opportunities open to them. Mobility broadens our horizons and strengthens us further. Erasmus can offer both. As a former Erasmus student, I have experienced this first hand. I encourage other students and in particular teachers, trainers, youth workers and vocational education and training students to also make use of the opportunities open to them under Erasmus+”.

Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said: “Erasmus has been opening up opportunities to young people for three decades now, enabling them to develop vital skills, including social and intercultural skills, and promoting active citizenship. By connecting people and supporting them in working together, the programme plays a key role in empowering our youth to build a better society. This is the solidarity Europe needs, now more than ever. I want to ensure that Erasmus+ can support even more people from a wider range of backgrounds in the future”.

In 2015, Erasmus+ expanded even further by enabling, for the first time, higher education institutions to send and receive more than 28,000 students and staff to and from countries beyond Europe. France, Germany and Spain remain three top sending countries, while Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom receive most of the Erasmus+ participants. Feedback from participants confirms that time spent abroad with Erasmus+ is time well spent: 94% say their skills have improved and 80% feel that it has boosted their career opportunities. One in three students who do traineeships abroad through Erasmus+ is offered a position by their host company.

Today’s report also gives an overview of steps taken by the Commission to adapt Erasmus+ to help the EU and Member States tackle societal challenges, such as the integration of refugees and migrants. For instance, the programme’s Online Linguistic Support system has been extended to benefit 100,000 refugees over the next three years; €4 million have been made available for this. The aim is to enable especially young people to enter the host countries’ education systems and develop their skills.

The publication of the report coincides with the launchof the campaign marking the 30th anniversary of the Erasmus programme (called Erasmus+ since 2014 because it benefits more people through a wider range of opportunities). Events will take place throughout 2017 at European, national and local levels to highlight the positive impact of Erasmus both on individuals and society as a whole, and to give all those involved the opportunity to debate how the programme should evolve in the future. Over the past 30 years, Erasmus+ and its predecessors have supported not only more than 5 million students, apprentices and volunteers, but also staff and youth exchanges, amounting to 9 million people in total.

23.1.2017:Commission prepares next steps towards European Pillar of Social Rights

Today, the European Commission is taking a further step towards establishing a European Pillar of Social Rights with a high level conference in Brussels. Detailed proposals will follow shortly.

The European Commission also announced it would co-host an EU Social Summit with Sweden later this year.

More than 600 participants from Member State authorities, EU institutions, social partners and civil society, including more than 20 national Ministers and several Members of the College of Commissioners, are discussing the results of the public consultation on this European Pillar of Social Rights. Since the initiative’s announcement by President Juncker in September 2015, there has been a wide debate with EU authorities, Member States, social partners, civil society and citizens on the content and role of the Pillar and how to ensure fairness and social justice in Europe. Today’s discussions bring this process to an end and will help the Commission prepare its proposal on the Pillar to be expected in March. At this occasion, President Jean-Claude Juncker announced today that he will host a “Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth” together with Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven in Gothenburg on 17 November 2017.

President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “Since the start of my mandate, I have made clear that I wanted a more social Europe. We have taken important first steps to achieve that. This year will be crucial. Following the broad public consultation, it is time to establish the European Pillar of Social Rights. The Social Summit in Sweden will help us to deliver the momentum and put social priorities where they belong: at the top of Europe’s agenda.”

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said: “In these challenging times, we need to show that we can deliver results in peoples’ everyday lives. A more social Europe, with fair working conditions, effective labour markets and a strong social dialogue, should be a priority for all of us. I trust we can take important steps towards this goal at the Social Summit in November.”

Today’s conference is an opportunity to exchange with stakeholders. The Commission has organised a broad public consultation on the Pillar last year, with more than 16.000 contributions. The European Parliament has adopted a resolution yesterday. The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is set to adopt its opinion later this month. The Committee of the Regions contributed with an opinion and also European and national social partners with their reports (report of BusinessEurope, report of ETUC).

12.1.2017:President Juncker participates in the Geneva settlement talks for Cyprus

Today, President Juncker is leading the EU’s delegation to Geneva for the Cyprus settlement Conference.

He is joined by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and his Personal Representative to the UN Good Offices at the UN Protected Area in Nicosia, Pieter Van Nuffel who has been in Geneva since the start of the Conference on Monday.

On his way to Geneva, President Juncker said: “Since becoming President of the Commission, I have taken a personal interest in the unification of Cyprus. We must now seize the moment for Cyprus‘ unification. All Cypriots deserve a better European future. When it is about peace, you have to take the plane. It is risky, but when it is about peace you have to take risks. Those who are taking no risks are taking the greater risk.”

Since the start of the Juncker Commission, President Juncker has been in close contact with all key actors and has actively supported the settlement process as a matter of priority for the European Commission. A comprehensive settlement would be beneficial for Cyprus and for the EU and for a wider security and stability in the region.

A timeline on the Cyprus settlement process under the Juncker Commission and a factsheet on the Commission’s role are available here.

3.1.2017:European Capitals of Culture in 2017: Aarhus and Pafos

2017 sees the Danish and Cypriot cities hosting one of the most popular EU projects.

As of 1 January, Aarhus and Pafos will hold the title of European Capital of Culture. The cultural programme will officially begin on 21 January in Aarhus. The opening ceremony for Pafos 2017 will take place on 28 January with Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, and Nicos Anastasiades, President of Cyprus [tbc]. Commissioner Tibor Navracsics said: “The title of European Capital of Culture is a unique opportunity to bring communities together through culture and to foster strong local, European and international partnerships for the future. I wish Aarhus and Pafos every success for the coming year.“ Both cities have come up withprogrammes which showcase centuries of culture while using different art forms to address the socio-economic problems facing Europe today.

‘Rethink’ is the central theme of Aarhus 2017. The Danish city will show how arts, culture and the creative sector can help us to re-think and shape our basic social, urban, cultural and economic patterns of behaviour and find new solutions to common challenges. A rooftop Viking saga performance, an art exhibition stretching across the city and the coastline, a “Creativity World Forum” and an international children’s literary festival are just some of the many events which will bridge the past with creative ideas for the present and future.

 

The opening ceremony for Pafos 2017 is inspired by one of the themes for the year’s cultural programme: ‘Myth and Religion’. New life will be given to the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea and other narratives from the history of Pafos in a unique spectacle of music and dance. During the opening weekend on 28-29 January, the city will be converted into an Open Air Factory with numerous shows and artistic performances.

Background

Initiated in 1985 by the then Greek Minister of Culture, Melina Mercouri, the European Capital of Culture is one of the most high-profile cultural initiatives in Europe. The cities are selected on the basis of a cultural programme that must have a strong European dimension, foster the participation and active involvement of the city’s inhabitants and contribute to the long-term development of the city.

It is also an excellent opportunity for the cities to change their image, put themselves on the world map, attract more tourists and rethink their own development through culture.

The title has a long-term impact, not only on culture but also in social and economic terms, both for the city and for the surrounding region. For example, a study has shown that the number of tourists visiting a European Capital of Culture for at least one night increased by 12% on average compared with the year before the city held the title.

In 2016, Wroclaw in Poland and San Sebastian in Spain were European Capitals of Culture. Following Aarhus and Pafos in 2017, the future European Capitals of Culture will be Valletta (Malta) and Leeuwarden (Netherlands) in 2018, Plovdiv (Bulgaria) and Matera (Italy) in 2019 and Rijeka (Croatia) and Galway (Ireland) in 2020. Timisoara (Romania), Elefsina (Greece) and Novi Sad (Serbia, candidate country) were recently recommended to become the three European Capitals of Culture 2021 and are awaiting their official nomination by the relevant authorities.

For More Information

Aarhus 2017 – European Capital of Culture
Pafos 2017 – European Capital of Culture
European Capitals of Culture – Factsheet
European Capitals of Culture – Thirty years of achievements brochure

23.12.2016: The European Commission delivered equipment worth €1.8 million for the establishment of an animal by-products management system to improve public and animal health in the northern part of Cyprus

The equipment, provided by the European Commission, includes incinerators, specialized trucks, refrigerated containers, forklifts, loader and skips. It is for the safe collection, storage, transport and disposal of high risk animal by-products (ABP).  Properly managed ABP is key to reducing the risk of transmission of animal diseases and contaminants (such as veterinary drug residues) to humans, animals or to the environment. Prevention, control and eradication of animal diseases, including those that are transmitted to humans such as tuberculosis and brucellosis, cannot be achieved without a fully functioning ABP management system .

The Aid Programme, approved by Council Regulation 389/2006, aims to facilitate the reunification of Cyprus by encouraging the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community with six main objectives: promotion of social and economic development; development and restructuring of infrastructure; reconciliation and confidence building; bringing the Turkish Cypriot community closer to the EU; preparation of legal texts and preparation for the implementation of the acquis following a comprehensive settlement.

13.12.2016- Three Institutions sign Joint Declaration on the EU’s legislative priorities for 2017:

Building on the European Council’s Strategic Guidelines and the 10 priorities the European Parliament gave the Juncker Commission a mandate to deliver, the Presidents of the three European Institutions agreed on a number of proposals they will give priority treatment to in the legislative process. This will ensure that the EU delivers concrete results for its citizens and addresses the most urgent challenges Europe faces today.

The Presidents of the Parliament, Council and Commission commit to streamlining the efforts of their Institutions to ensure swift legislative progress on these priority initiatives and, where possible, delivery before the end of 2017.

Giving a new boost to jobs, growth and investment – through the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI 2.0), revamped Trade Defence Instruments, the Banking Union, the Capital Markets Union, and the improvement of waste management in the circular economy;
Addressing the social dimension of the European Union – through the Youth Employment Initiative, improved social security coordination, the European Accessibility Act and the European Solidarity Corps;
Better protecting the security of our citizens – through the Entry-Exit System, Smart Borders and the European Travel Information Authorisation System (ETIAS), the control of firearms, instruments to criminalise terrorism, money laundering and terrorist financing, and the European Criminal Records Information Systems (ECRIS);
Reforming and developing our migration policy in a spirit of responsibility and solidarity – through the reform of the Common European Asylum System (including the Dublin mechanism), the Legal Migration package and the External Investment Plan to help to address the root causes of migration by enhancing investment and job creation in partner countries;
Delivering on our commitment to implement a connected Digital Single market – through the EU telecoms and copyright reforms, the Union of the 700 MHz band, preventing unjustified geo-blocking, the Audiovisual Media Services Directive and common data protection rules;
Delivering on our objective of an ambitious Energy Union and a forward looking climate change policy – through the 2030 climate and energy framework, the Paris Agreement and the Clean Energy for all Europeans package.
In addition, the three Presidents highlight four fundamental issues which need particular attention and further progress in 2017: (i) commitment to common European values, the rule of law and fundamental rights; (ii) tackling tax fraud, evasion and avoidance; (iii) preserving the principle of free movement of workers; and (iv) contributing to stability, security and peace.

 

18.11.2016- First disbursement of EU Solidarity Fund aid to reach Cyprus after the wildfires of last summer: 

After the tragic drought and wildfire of June 2016, Cyprus requested the EU Solidarity FUnd (EUSF).Today the European Commission has decided to grant Cyprus almost €730,000 from the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF), as an advance payment

“In the wake of natural disasters, the EU Solidarity Fund is a concrete expression of European solidarity. Cyprus is set to receive a first EUSF payment following the terrible drought and forest fires of June in order to support reconstruction efforts and regenerate economic activity. This first disbursement of aid shows that we are standing side by side with Cyprus,” said Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu.

The amount of this advance was calculated on the basis of the preliminary assessment of the application received from Cyprus on 5 September, which found that the financial contribution from the EUSF was likely to amount to almost €7.3 million. In accordance with EUSF rules, the advance payment amounts to 10% of this sum. Once it has completed the assessment of the application, the Commission will propose a definitive amount of aid, to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council.

29.06.2016 – Joint statement by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn on the attack at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport

Turkey has suffered another tragic terrorist attack, this time at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport. The attack has killed at least 36 people and injured many others. We extend our sincere condolences to the families and friends of all those killed and wish a speedy recovery to the injured. The European Union reiterates once again its continuing solidarity to Turkey, its government and its people and reaffirms its commitment to work closely together to fight the global threat of terrorism in all its forms.

17.02.2016 – ‘Task Force for the Turkish Cypriot Community’ under the direct management of President Juncker and Vice-President Dombrovskis

The European Commission has decided to transfer the ‘Task Force for the Turkish Cypriot Community’, the Commission’s team in charge of the application of the EU Aid Programme for the Turkish Cypriot Community and of assisting the Turkish Cypriot to prepare for the reunification of Cyprus, to the Secretariat General’s Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS) which will coordinate all the Commission’s efforts in facilitating the process for the reunification of Cyprus. The decision takes effect immediately and underlines the Commission’s readiness to continue supporting actively the process at all levels. The ‘Task Force for the Turkish Cypriot Community’ was set up in 2004 and was part, as from 2014, of Directorate-General for Regional Policy.

08.02.2016 – EU Scholarship Programme for Turkish Cypriot Community Launched

The EU Scholarship Programme for the Turkish Cypriot Community is now open for the academic year 2016-2017! In line with the objective of bringing the Turkish Cypriot community closer to the European Union, the European Commission will award scholarship grants to Turkish Cypriot students, graduates, and professionals in the northern part of Cyprus in order to offer them additional educational opportunities by raising their knowledge and/or increasing their skills in a specific field, and to broaden their experience of studying and working in the European Union.

The deadline for applications is 28th March 2016. For further information please visit the AB Burs website.

22.01.2016 – VP Mogherini, Commissioners Hahn and Stylianides to visit Turkey

This weekend an official visit to Turkey will be made by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini,  Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, and Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides. Along with meetings in Ankara with political officials and civil society representatives which will be focused on common challenges ahead, visits will also be made to the South East of Turkey, as well as to EU-funded humanitarian aid projects assisting mainly refugees from Syria and Iraq.

08.01.2016 – Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič to Visit Cyprus

The University of Cyprus and the Representation of the European Commission in Cyprus have the pleasure of inviting you to an open citizens’ dialogue with Mr Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Energy Union.

Monday 11 January | 18:00 | Lecture hall B108, “Anastasios G. Leventis” University House, at the University Campus (1 Panepistimiou Avenue, 2109, Aglantzia)
Information: email events@ucy.ac.cy, tel. 22894305
RSVP (autoreply machine): tel. 22894333

10.12.2015 – European Parliament Office to Host Roundtable Discussion on Federalism in the EU

The European Parliament Office in Cyprus cordially invites you a roundtable discussion on “Federal States in the EU: Challenges and Opportunities”. RSVP by 16th December to epnicosia-events@europarl.europa.eu
The discussion will be held on Monday 21st December 2015, from 11:00, at the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce – Kıbrıs Türk Ticaret Odası. For more information, visit the Facebook event page here.

09.12.2015 – Two Upcoming Public Discussions at EU House

The European Commission in Cyprus and the Association for Social Reform (OPEK) invite you to two public discussions entitled “A United Cyprus is Feasible” with Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot political leaders.
Tuesday 15th December 2015 | 18:30 | EU House
Averof Neophytou, President of the Democratic Rally (DISY)
Mehmet Ali Talat, President of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP)

Thursday 14 January 2016 | 18.30 | EU House
Andros Kyprianou, Secretary General of AKEL
Cemal Özyiğit, President of the Social Democratic Party (TDP)

There will be simultaneous interpretation in Greek/Turkish/English and question and answer sessions.Space are limited, so RSVP! email: comm-rep-cy@ec.europa.eu

02.12.2015 – EC Proposes European Accessibility Act

The European Commission today proposed a European Accessibility Act, which will set common accessibility requirements for certain key products and services that will help people with disabilities at EU level to participate fully in society.
Products include ATMs and banking services, PCs, telephones and TV equipment, telephony and audiovisual services, transport, e-books and e-commerce. Read more here.

29.11.2015 – Meeting of heads of state or government with Turkey – EU-Turkey statement

Today the Leaders of the European Union met in Brussels with their Turkish counterpart. Turkey has been a candidate since 1999 and negotiating for accession since 2005. Turkey and the EU discussed the importance of overcoming the common challenges ahead. In line with the conclusions of the European Council of 15 October, they agreed that the accession process needs to be re-energized. They are committed to carry further their existing ties and solidarity and adopt result-oriented action to prepare their common future. They are determined to confront and surmount the existing risks and threats in a concerted manner to reinforce the European Project. Recalling the final declaration of the last G20 in Antalya, as well as the 2249 UNSC resolution, Turkey and the EU reaffirm that the fight against terrorism remains a priority. Read the full statement here.

18.11.2015 – European Commission Representation to hold Youth Employment Workshops

Don’t miss out on the workshops being held by the European Commission in Cyprus to improve youngsters’ chances in the job market! From 9-12 December at EU House.

Young people who are currently registered as unemployed at the RoC Public Employment Services will have the opportunity to take part in a series of 3 workshops, which will focus on one of the following topics:
1) Strengthening core employability skills, such as improving the presentation of CVs;
2) Enhancing an entrepreneurial spirit and mind set with a view to encouraging young people to start their own business and
3) Boosting digital skills and digital entrepreneurship.
Participants will also be informed about the employment schemes and opportunities available to them in Cyprus and across the EU. All workshops will be conducted in Greek. Click here for more information.

14.10.2015 – European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu to Cyprus on 15-16th October

Speaking ahead of the visit, Commissioner Crețu said: “This visit focuses on what Cohesion Policy can achieve in the Republic of Cyprus in terms of growth and job creation.”
During her visit, the Commissioner will meet Minister of Defence Christoforos Fokaides (in his capacity as Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs), Minister of Finance Harris Georgiades and Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment Nikos Kouyialis. Accompanied by the Mayor of Nicosia Constantinos Yiorkadjis, Commissioner Crețu will also tour the Taht-el-Kale area of Nicosia where extensive restoration works have taken place with EU financial support.
Commissioner Crețu is also due to meet Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı and civil society representatives from the Turkish Cypriot community. In the northern part of Nicosia, accompanied by Mr Mehmet Harmanci, the Commissioner will visit the Bedesten (St Nicholas Church) and the Bandabulya old market which have been restored with funding from the EU’s aid programme for the Turkish Cypriot community.

09.10.2015 – Take part in an EU Public Consultation on Citizen’s Rights

Want to put forward your views forward for the EU policy agenda for the next years? Interested in helping to shape the future of Europe? Take part in an EU public consultation on citizens’ rights. The consultation is available online in all official languages until 7 December 2015 here.
European citizens have a number of important rights attached to their EU citizenship status, such as the right to move and reside freely in the EU; or the right to vote and stand as a candidate in European and municipal elections in another EU country where they live, under the same conditions as citizens of that country.

1-2.10.2015 – European Commission holds Colloquium on combatting antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred

Looking ahead to the Colloquium, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “European society is going through a period of turmoil and crisis which is challenging the very values on which our Union is built…Our collective responsibility to live together in tolerance and respect is particularly important at a time when we have a moral obligation to give refuge to people of various religions and cultures who arrive on our shores. Diversity must never be seen as a threat. It is our common responsibility to create and nurture an inclusive society.”
Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová added: “This Colloquium is about sharing concrete experiences and ideas from across the EU, and deciding how we will move forward together. Hate speech has no place in our society – whether physically or online.”

17.09.2015 – Statement by Commissioner Creţu following her meeting with Fikri Toros, President of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce and Phidias Pilides, President of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Yesterday in Brussels I met with Mr Phidias Pilides, President of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Mr Fikri Toros, President of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce.
It was the occasion for me to thank them both for their active involvement in achieving a Cyprus settlement, through economic activities. As Commissioner for Regional Policy, my mandate is to encourage Turkish Cypriot economic development and to promote contacts between the communities. I want to honour what Mr Toros and Mr Pilides have done to build mutual trust and do business together beyond dividing lines.
I encouraged the Cypriot Chambers to continue working on facilitating trade across the Green Line, as I am convinced that the economy can be a driver of peace; I believe the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community is crucial for the reunification of Cyprus.
The Commission enabled the trade of products over the Green Line by putting forward the Regulation on Green Line Trade in 2004. Since then, the Commission successfully facilitated the trading of additional products over the Green Line and has been involved in helping the two Cypriot communities to remove remaining obstacles to trade.
I assured Mr Toros and Mr Pilides of both my personal support and the Commission’s support. The Commission’s Aid Programme for the Turkish Cypriot community supports the two Cypriot Chambers through a €250,000 project which aims to promote dialogue and cooperation between civil society and business over the Green Line.
Since 2006, we have made available some €370 million under this Aid Programme, in order to improve the quality of the Turkish Cypriots’ everyday life.
The programme promotes the economic and social development of the area, through the support to local entrepreneurs, farmers or students. It helps developing and restructuring vital infrastructures and prepares the Turkish Cypriot community for the implementation of the EU body of laws in the perspective of the reunification of Cyprus.
I encouraged them to continue setting the right example. On my side, I will go to Cyprus in October, in order to show my commitment to support a Cyprus settlement.

09.09.2015 – Official Inauguration of Europe Direct Nicosia

EDIC Nicosia was officially inaugurated on Wednesday 9th September 2015 with the attendance of many local community members and media representatives. Following a welcome speech by the Head of the European Commission Representation in Cyprus, Mr. Georgios Markopouliotis, there were keynote addresses from the two Mayors of Nicosia, Mr. Constantinos Yiorkadjis and Mr. Mehmet Harmancı. Following a presentation about EDIC’s services as an information centre and details about past and upcoming activities, there was a delightful performance by the Bicommunal Choir for Peace. The inauguration was concluded with a cocktail reception.

24.07.2015 – Ms. Federica Mogherini’s visit to the H4C

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, visited the Home For Cooperation, the residences of Europe Direct Nicosia, on the 24th July to meet with civil society representatives and youth. In her closing remarks, Ms. Mogherini states that: “…these exchanges give me a sense of the society you’re living in and I know the extremely valuable work you are doing to put divisions aside.”

16.07.2015 – President Juncker visits Nicosia

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will travel to Cyprus this week (Thursday 16 July and Friday 17 July) at the invitation of President Nikos Anastasiades. It will be President Juncker’s first visit official to the island since becoming President of the European Commission. The President will be accompanied by the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides.

07.07.2015 – Young Greek and Turkish Cypriot CMP scientists working together

On 1 July the European Commission organised an event to mark the important contribution by the European Union to the Committee on the Missing Persons (CMP) in Cyprus as well as to acknowledge the importance of the work carried out by the young Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot scientists working for the CMP.
The Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) was established in April 1981 by agreement between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities under the auspices of the United Nations. This bi-communal committee has the mandate to establish the fate of missing persons without attributing any responsibility for the cause of death.

In order to further improve the trust between the two communities, the project aims to increasingly involve the families of the missing persons in the implementation, adding events all over Cyprus and abroad to the information sessions already carried out in schools.

Updated information about the project can be found on the website.

13.06.2015 – Europe Day and Green Week celebrated in Selimiye Square

On Saturday the 13th June EDIC Nicosia joined NGOs and Embassies to take part in AB Bilgi Merkezi‘s Europe Day and Green Week Fair. We had a lovely day meeting local members of civil society and sharing information about EU policies, with the youngest members of the community, whom we would like to thank for their help in running the stall!

06.06.2015 – EDIC, Nicosia attends Cyprus’ 2nd Annual Pride

The European Commission in Cyprus and Europe Direct Information Centre, Nicosia were honoured to take part in the PRIDE celebrations on Saturday 6th June 2015. We were joined by many members of the public and heard from key figures.

04.06.2015 – Statements from press point after meeting between Martin Schulz and Espen Barth Eide, the UN Secretary General’s special adviser on ‪Cyprus

Martin Schulz – European Parliament President

“Our estimation for the next necessary steps and the possibilities to come to a constructive solution in the foreseeable time… I would use one word: Hope. For the first time in a long time there is hope that we will come to a solution. It is not yet done, there is still a lot to do, there are still a lot of problems ahead, but there is the option for a constructive solution. It’s the first time in a long time that there’s a real chance. Whatever the EP can do within the framework of the European institutions, we will do.”

Espen Barth Eide
“Much more important than what I think, the leaders Νίκος Αναστασιάδης (Nicos Anastasiades) and Mustafa Akıncı are working hard for a just solution. I feel on a daily basis their commitment to do so. This is the moment. We either use this moment well or there will be big disappointment again. I am here with the message of strong opportunity and strong hope. This is not only a Cyprus issue but a European issue at its very heart.” Watch it here.

03.06.2015 – Green Line Trade Remains at a Low Level

The European Commission adopted its Annual Report on the implementation of the Green Line Regulation yesterday. During 2014, the crossing of persons increased by 17%. This is a positive development. The control of the crossing points by the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus was assessed as satisfactory. Irregular migration across the Green Line continued to slightly decrease against the overall European trend. Trade across the Green Line reached around €3.5 million compared to € 3.4 million the previous year. Despite this slight increase, it remained at a low level. The Commission stays concerned by this low level and will therefore continue to seek ways to enhance trade across the Green Line since this can play a positive role towards reunification. Full report here.

20.05.2015 – AB Bilgi Merkezi to Host Film Screening of ‘Almanya – Welcome to Germany’

Europe Day celebrations continue with a film screening at the EU Infopoint on May 20th – 6:30pm. There will be also a debate session on freedom of movement with specialist Kristine Dupate, Don’t forget to reserve your seat!
LCV/RSVP: Derya Tangül email: info@abbilgi.eu Tel: 228 2577
https://www.facebook.com/events/664417627035264/

14.05.2015 – European Commission’s new Migration Agenda

“Thousands of migrants have been putting their lives in peril to cross the Mediterranean and it has become clear that no Member State can effectively address migration alone.
This Agenda thus seeks to provide a European response, using all policies and tools at our disposal by combining internal and external policies and by involving all actors: Member States, EU institutions, International Organisations, civil society, local authorities and third countries”

To read more, click here.

16.04.2015 – Europe Direct Nicosia to hold ‘Understanding the Green Line Regulation Event’

Date: Wednesday, 22nd March
Time: 16:00-17:00
Venue: Home For Cooperation

This is the first in the series of information sessions on the Green Line Regulation. These information sessions will be held with the support of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce and will be designed in accordance with the needs of individuals and companies. They will provide participants with the opportunity to ask questions. It is hoped that the sessions will provide a platform encouraging further collaboration and cooperation in regards to trade across the Green Line, and in doing so, provide a positive impact on the growth of the economy and on inter-communal relations.

The event is free and open to all. Spaces are limited so please RSVP to europedirectnicosia@home4cooperation.info.

30.03.2015 – EU AID PROGRAMME FOR THE TURKISH CYPRIOT COMMUNITY: EU Support to Innovation and Education and to the Promotion of Employability

The European Commission launched today a EUR 1,5 million call for proposals promoting innovation and change in schools and the improvement of employability in the Turkish Cypriot community.

The sixth “Innovation and Change in Education” Grant Scheme targets these objectives by:

supporting the improvement of quality and efficiency in education and training and the promotion of equity, social cohesion and active citizenship; and

promoting lifelong learning and activities enhancing entrepreneurship.

The call represents a unique opportunity for a number of organisations such as pre-primary, secondary schools and the teachers training academy in the northern-part of Cyprus to submit projects to promote innovation and change in education. These organisations can propose projects between EUR 30,000 to EUR 100,000 for a two to three years implementation period.

For the first time, the call will also be open to life long learning organisations such as chambers, associations, unions to promote entrepreneurship and skills development. Those organisations can propose projects between EUR 50,000 and EUR 200,000 for a two to three years implementation period as well.

The full guidelines for applicants and the application package are available for consultation and downloading on the following internet site under the reference EuropeAid/136955/DH/ACT/CY: https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/europeaid/online-services/index.cfm?do=publi.welcome

The deadline for submission of proposals is 24 June 2015, 16:00 Cyprus time.
A launch event for this call will be held on 24 March 2015 at 15:00 in the Bedestan in the northern part of the walled city of Nicosia. Interested stakeholders are invited to attend.

Training on project cycle management as well as a series of information sessions on the application process will be organised in April 2015.

This initiative is funded under the EU Aid Programme for the Turkish Cypriot community and implemented by the European Commission.
Contact persons for the “Innovation and Change in Education VI” Grant Scheme:
Berna Berberoglu and Caroline Enegren at REGIO-TFTCC-SCHOOLS@ec.europa.eu

24.03.2015 – Vice President Jyrki Katainen Visits Nicosia

On Monday, 23rd of March, European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness visited Cyprus as part of his roadshow to promote the European Investment Plan. Katainen met with the president of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades and Minister of Finance Harris Georgiades as well as the President of the House of Representatives Yiannakis Omirou and Members of the Cypriot Parliament. After a press conference at the EU House, he held a citizens’ dialogue with students at the University of Cyprus on the future of Europe. He also visited the Cyprus Institute, a research and post-graduate education institution with a focus on science and technology, whose vision is to help transform Cyprus into a knowledge-based economy with the support of EU funds.

20.03.2015 – Europe Direct Nicosia to hold first event: De-mistyfying Erasmus+

On Thursday, 19th March EDIC, Nicosia held its first of a series of four information sessions on EU funding opportunities. NGO Support Centre’s Nadia Karayianni gave an extremely insightful presentation on the opportunities offered by Erasmus+, as well as a highly useful step-by-step guide to the application process. The event took place in the conference room of the Home for Cooperation and was well attended by NGO representatives and individuals alike. We would like to thank everyone who participated and look forward to welcoming members of civil society to EDIC, Nicosia again soon. Details of the upcoming information sessions will be announced within the coming weeks via this website and our social network pages.

19.02.2015 – MEMO – European Commission grants €1 million of additional emergency funding to Cyprus to address the mass arrival of Syrian nationals

The European Commission has awarded an amount of €0.98 million in emergency funding from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) to Cyprus to support the country in providing accommodation, every day basic needs and medical care to the almost 400 Syrian nationals rescued in Cyprus’ territorial waters in September last year.

Visit: http://ec.europa.eu/cyprus/news/20150219_en.htm