Tag Archives: Action plan

Action plan on animal welfare 2006-2010

Action plan on animal welfare 2006-2010

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Action plan on animal welfare 2006-2010

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Food safety > Animal welfare

Action plan on animal welfare 2006-2010

For the period 2006-2010, the EU is planning general measures aimed at ensuring animal welfare and protection. The measures will focus on improving standards, developing research and indicators, informing professionals and consumers and taking action at international level.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 23 January 2006 on a Community Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of animals 2006-2010 [COM(2006) 13 – Official Journal C 49 of 28.02.2006].

Summary

The action plan describes the measures the Commission intends to implement between 2006 and 2010 with the aim of developing and guaranteeing animal welfare and protection within the European Union (EU) and in other parts of the world. Its objective is to clarify Community legislation and make provisions for proposals in areas where it is insufficient.

The Commission would like to achieve the following objectives:

  • define more clearly EU action on animal welfare;
  • continue to promote high standards in this field;
  • provide greater coordination of resource;
  • support research and promote alternatives to animal testing;
  • ensure the coherence and coordination of all EU policies on animal welfare;

The action plan defines five main fields of interlinked action with the aim of achieving the stated objectives:

  • upgrading minimum standards
  • promoting research and substitute methods for animal testing;
  • introducing welfare indicators ;
  • ensuring that professionals and the general public are better informed;
  • supporting international initiatives for animal protection.

In terms of minimum standards, the action plan would reinforce the existing Community regulation in line with latest scientific knowledge, practical experience and progress in international fora.It also suggests that the minimum standards should be extended to cover species and issues currently not adequately provided for under EU legislation. Emphasis will inter alia be put on the respect of animal welfare by means of other policies, especially the Common Agricultural Policy (conditions for assistance, possible help in rural development policy).

The action plan recommends encouraging research projects that fill in the gaps and provide a sound scientific framework upon which future developments of EU policy on animal protection and welfare can be based. In addition, it proposes the creation of a European centre or laboratory, whose mission would be to collect, coordinate and exchange information on research and activities. The plan also emphasises the application of the 3Rs Declaration (replacement, reduction and refinement) defined at European level with regard to animal testing.

The action plan is hoping to introduce standardised animal welfare indicators. These indicators would guarantee that the minimum standards or stricter standards have been respected. The action plan also suggests that a Community label be created in order to promote products elaborated under higher animal welfare standards.

The action plan underlines the importance of training professionals, especially in order to disseminate good practice, and of informing consumers to enable them to make more enlightened choices on their purchases.

Under the action plan, the EU will continue to promote animal welfare standards within international fora such as the International Office of Epizootics (IOE) and the European Council. The plan advocates promoting the recognition and importance of these standards within the World Trade Organisation. Closer cooperation is also envisaged between the EU and countries that apply high standards and with developing countries.

The measures foreseen in the action plan will be assessed regularly in order to evaluate the progress made and to program complementary action after 2010.

Context

The action plan responds to the principles laid down in the protocol on animal welfare and protection annexed to the Treaty establishing the European Community (EC Treaty). This protocol recognises that animals are sentient beings and that full regard should be paid to animal welfare concerns when formulating or implementing policies relating to agriculture, transport, research and the internal market.

The impact study accompanying the action plan takes stock of the anticipated benefits of the action plan, of the existing legislation and of the research undertaken.

Since 1974, European legislation has been developed with a view to protecting animals and ensuring their well-being on farm holdings, during transport and at the time of slaughter.

Related Acts

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Options for animal welfare labelling and the establishment of a European Network of Reference Centres for the protection and welfare of animals [COM(2009) 584 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

The Commission wishes to improve information for European consumers on animal welfare matters. In order to do this, it is launching a debate on the labelling of consumer products. By enabling consumers to identify and choose animal welfare-friendly products, the Commission hopes to encourage producers to improve their practices in order to satisfy demand.
This Report should enable the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions to conduct this debate, specifically in the following areas:

  • consumer awareness of animal welfare;
  • animal welfare-friendly products;
  • the terms used on products;
  • third country producers’ access to voluntary certification systems, in compliance with the principles of the World Trade Organisation (WTO);
  • indicators and methods of measuring animal welfare;
  • coordinating centres of scientific research.

Special partnership with Cape Verde

Special partnership with Cape Verde

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Special partnership with Cape Verde

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Development > African Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP)

Special partnership with Cape Verde

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 24 October 2007 on the future of relations between the European Union and the Republic of Cape Verde [COM(2007) 641 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Republic of Cape Verde and the EU are united by historical, human, religious, linguistic and cultural ties. They share fundamental socio-political values such as democracy and human rights and the promotion of good governance, peace, security and the fight against terrorism and crime. Specifically, they share a number of priorities as regards the fight against drug trafficking and illegal immigration, as a result of which Cape Verde is expected to intensify police and judicial cooperation with the EU.

The EU-Cape Verde special partnership

In view of the increasing interest of Cape Verde in approaching the EU, its outermost regions (ORs) of the North Atlantic (Azores, Madeira and the Canaries) in particular, and in order to respond to the mutual interests of the EU and Cape Verde as regards security and development, the Commission proposes a special partnership. This partnership is intended to strengthen dialogue and policy convergence between the two parties, in the context of the implementation of the Cotonou agreement.

The partnership considered is characterised by:

  • strengthening of political dialogue between the two parties, on the basis of an action plan covering the priorities for the development process of the special partnership and including the cooperation instruments provided for in the Cotonou agreement;
  • a search for forms of complementary cooperation to add to the traditional measures implemented under the Cotonou agreement;
  • promotion of an evolving process, based on a flexible action plan that can be adapted to the development of the country and of its relations with the EU and third countries;
  • pursuit of further progress in the area of good governance in Cape Verde;
  • support for closer ties with the ORs and the rest of the EU by intensifying relations with the West Africa region and within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS);
  • promotion of convergence on European norms and standards, in order to strengthen the country’s comparative advantages.

The partnership will offer new perspectives. In particular, it will:

  • strengthen cooperation between the two parties at a political, economic, commercial, administrative and judicial level;
  • ensure convergence between legislation on economic and technical standards;
  • offer Cape Verde, within the framework of closer links with the ORs, access to the EU’s internal market and the possibility to participate gradually in a number of EU policies and programmes;
  • promote activities aimed at bringing Cape Verde closer to the Community acquis in the areas covered by the action plan.

The partnership action plan, which represents the overall strategic framework, is based on the following pillars:

  • The good governance policy pursued by Cape Verde, and especially the consolidation of democracy, the rule of law and the participation of civil society. The partnership will also focus on the rights of children and women, the integration of immigrants, the fight against domestic violence and also the reform of the justice and public finance sectors.
  • Security and stability, through actions implemented on a cross-border and regional basis in particular, in the areas of the fight against transnational organised crime, efficient management of migration flows and maritime security.
  • Regional integration, both at OR level (through the country’s participation in the transnational Madeira, Azores, Canaries (MAC) cooperation programme for the period 2007-2013 and the cooperation mechanisms within the outermost regions) and at West Africa level (by taking into account the specificity of Cape Verde within the Economic Partnership Agreement and the use of the resources of the European Development Fund (EDF) regional indicative programmes).
  • Convergence of technology and standards policies in the sectors covered by the action plan.
  • Progress towards a “knowledge-based society” by encouraging economic, social and cultural development though education, research and information and communication technologies.
  • The fight against poverty, in particular through environmental protection, the protection of natural resources, the preservation of the marine environment and closer cooperation in the area of fisheries.

The implementation of the action plan will be funded mainly by the EDF and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) within the framework of the MAC programme for the period 2007-2013. Moreover, the European Community’s general budget will support specific activities, in particular thematic programmes funded by the development cooperation instrument, and also activities financed by the stability instrument, the instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights and the humanitarian aid instrument. This funding will be added to the resources of the Cape Verde government.

The action plan will be of indefinite duration and will be reviewed periodically. The EU troika will ensure its follow-up and its implementation at political and technical level.

Related Acts

Council conclusions on the future of relations between the European Union and the Republic of Cape Verde. General Affairs and External Relations Council– 19 November 2007 [Not published in the Official Journal].

Ageing well in the Information Society: Action Plan on Information and Communication Technologies and Ageing

Ageing well in the Information Society: Action Plan on Information and Communication Technologies and Ageing

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Ageing well in the Information Society: Action Plan on Information and Communication Technologies and Ageing

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Information society > Digital Strategy i2010 Strategy eEurope Action Plan Digital Strategy Programmes

Ageing well in the Information Society: Action Plan on Information and Communication Technologies and Ageing

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 14 June 2007: Ageing well in the Information Society – An i2010 initiative – Action Plan on Information and Communication Technologies and Ageing [COM(2007) 332 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The ageing of Europe’s population poses a challenge to the European market for employment, social services systems and health care. But it also provides an economic and social opportunity: Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) will give rise to new, more accessible products and services satisfying the needs of older people.

The action plan seeks to promote and coordinate the development of ICTs associated with services for older people in the European Union (EU), to enable them to:

  • prolong their working life, while maintaining a work-life balance;
  • stay socially active and creative, through networking and access to public and commercial services. This would reduce the social isolation of older people, particularly in rural areas;
  • age well at home: ICTs must encourage a higher quality of life and degree of independence.

Europe must adopt ICT for ageing well *. These technologies may indeed become a driver for jobs and growth, as well as a successful lead market.

For the moment, the market for services associated with ageing remains fragmented. Furthermore, none of the stakeholders (older people, industry, public authorities) have an overview of the problems and the solutions needed. Market development is hampered by the lack of exchange of experience and good practice. Standards, procedures, reimbursement schemes and provisions related to disability vary from one Member State to another. Finally, technical barriers stand in the way: older people do not necessarily have the technological tools and know-how needed.

In order to rationalise this system the Commission is encouraging stakeholders to place users at the centre of their thinking.

The objectives of the Commission’s action plan are therefore aimed as much at citizens as at businesses and public authorities. The objectives are:

  • for citizens, a better quality of life and better health;
  • for companies, increased market size and market opportunities in the internal market for ICT and ageing, better skilled and productive workforce and a stronger position in the growing markets worldwide;
  • for public authorities, cost reductions, increased efficiency and better overall quality of health and social care systems.

The action plan is structured around four areas:

  • removing legal and technical barriers to development of the market, by assessing the markets and facilitating the exchange of good practices between Member States. The Commission proposes assessing the technological possibilities and identifying guidance and target dates. This is with a view to removing legal and technical barriers to the uptake of ICTs for independent living. The Member States should, in parallel, strengthen the implementation of current legal requirements for e-Accessibility;
  • raising awareness and building consensus through the cooperation and development of partnerships between the different stakeholders. ICT for ageing well will be a key contribution to the European e-Inclusion Initiative in 2008. The launch of an internet portal for ICT and ageing is also planned.
  • accelerating take-up of technologies, for example, through a set of pilot projects and a European award scheme for smart homes and independent living applications;
  • stimulating research and innovation, through immediate support for shared research agendas between the public and private sectors, dedicated to “Ambient Assisted Living”. This agenda seeks to encourage the emergence of innovative ICT-based products, services and systems for the benefit of Europe’s ageing population.

The Commission seeks to improve ICT-based research for older people in the 7th framework programme (FP7) for research, technological development and demonstration activities. Other initiatives are being launched within the context of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme. These will be accompanied by a new European Shared Research Programme. In total, the programmes will increase investment in ICT research and innovation to over EUR 1 billion.

In the future, better coordination between Member States is necessary to stimulate market-oriented research in this field. To achieve these objectives, a common research initiative “Ageing well in the Information Society” will be set up. Furthermore, businesses, industry, service providers, etc. will be encouraged to establish dialogue, particularly through technology platforms, to allow for more rapid emergence of innovative products, services and systems.

Background

This action plan forms an integral part of the European Union i2010 initiative – An information society for growth and jobs. The Commission had previously adopted a strategy on accessibility of online products and services in 2005, and in 2006 the Member States reached agreement in Riga on a policy agenda  for an accessible information society based on inclusion.

Ageing in Europe is an important economic and social challenge: in 2020, a quarter of Europe’s population will be over 65, while expenditure on retirement and health care will have tripled by 2050. However, older people are also consumers that should not be discounted, with global wealth in excess of EUR 3 000 billion.

Key terms used in the act
  • ICT for ageing well: Information and Communication Technologies dedicated to services to persons, aimed at making these services more accessible and effective for an ageing population, particularly in terms of health.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 1 June 2005: “i2010 – A European Information Society for growth and employment” [COM(2005) 229 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 8 November 2007: “European i2010 initiative on e-Inclusion – To be part of the information society”. [COM(2007) 694 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

White Paper on sport

White Paper on sport

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about White Paper on sport

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Education training youth sport > Sport

White Paper on sport

Document or Iniciative

White Paper on Sport of 11 July 2007, presented by the European Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee [COM(2007) 391 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This White Paper is the Commission’s main contribution to the theme of sport and its role in the daily lives of European citizens.

It recognises the impact which sport can have on all European policies.

It also identifies the needs and specific characteristics of the world of sport.

Lastly, it opens up future prospects for sport at European level, while respecting the principle of subsidiarity, the independence of sport organisations and Community law.

Objectives

The main objectives of the White Paper on Sport are to:

  • set strategic guidelines;
  • encourage debate on specific problems;
  • increase the visibility of sport in the EU decision-making process;
  • highlight the needs and specific characteristics of the sector;
  • identify the appropriate level of government for future action.

More specifically, the Commission intends to use this White Paper to:

  • ensure that the sport dimension is fully reflected in all areas of European policy;
  • increase legal clarity as regards the application of the acquis communautaire in the field of sport and thereby help to improve sport governance in Europe.

Thematic structure

Three themes are covered by the White Paper:

  • the “societal role of sport”, i.e. what sport represents as a social phenomenon;
  • the “economic dimension of sport”, i.e. the contribution of sport to growth and the creation of jobs in Europe;
  • the “organisation of sport”, i.e. the role of each stakeholder (public or private, economic or sporting) in the governance of the sports movement.

Action Plan

An Action Plan bearing the name of Pierre de Coubertin, in tribute to the father of the modern Olympic Games, completes this White Paper.

In this Action Plan, the Commission proposes a range of specific actions relating to the societal and economic aspects of sport, such as health, social inclusion, voluntary work, education or external relations.

The Action Plan includes the following proposals:

  • the development of guidelines on physical activity and the establishment of a European network for the promotion of sport as a health-enhancing activity;
  • greater coordination in the fight against doping at European level;
  • the award of a European label to schools which encourage involvement in physical activities;
  • the launch of a study on volunteer work in sport;
  • the improvement of social inclusion and integration through sport using European programmes and resources;
  • the promotion of the exchange of information, experiences and good practices between law-enforcement services and sport organisations for the prevention of racism and violence;
  • the promotion of the use of sport as a tool in European development policy;
  • the creation of statistics to quantify the economic impact of sport;
  • a study on public and private financing of sport;
  • an impact assessment on the activities of players’ agents and an evaluation of the value-added of possible Community intervention in this field;
  • better structuring of dialogue on sport at Community level, in particular through the organisation of an annual forum on sport;
  • intensification of intergovernmental cooperation in the field of sport;
  • promoting the creation of European social dialogue committees in the sport sector, and support for employers and employees.

Monitoring

The Commission will monitor the initiatives presented in this White Paper through a structured dialogue involving all the stakeholders in the world of sport:

  • European sport federations;
  • European umbrella organisations for sport, such as the European Olympic Committees (EOC), the European Paralympic Committee (EPC) and European non-governmental sport organisations;
  • national umbrella organisations for sport and national Olympic and Paralympic Committees;
  • other stakeholders in the field of sport represented at European level, including the social partners;
  • other European and international organisations (bodies of the Council of Europe and the United Nations, UNESCO, WHO, etc.).

Background

Sport, as a social and economic phenomenon, contributes to the achievement of the European Union’s strategic objectives of solidarity and prosperity. It conveys the concepts of peace, tolerance, mutual understanding and education, in line with the European ideal.

Today, sport is confronted with new problems, such as commercial pressure, trafficking in human beings, doping, racism, violence, corruption and money laundering.

The European Council recognised the essential role of sport in its Declaration of December 2000. The European Council of June 2007 set a mandate for the Intergovernmental Conference, according to which a provision in the future Treaty will be devoted to sport.

This White Paper stems from wide-ranging consultations started in 2005 of, in particular, the Olympic Committees, sport federations and the Member States.

 

Action Plan 2004-2005

Action Plan 2004-2005

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Action Plan 2004-2005

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Fight against fraud > Protecting the European Union’s financial interests

Action Plan 2004-2005

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 9 August 2004 on Protecting the Communities’ financial interests – Fight against fraud – Action Plan for 2004-2005 [COM(2004) 544 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The 2004-2005 action plan corresponds to the second stage of implementation of the overall strategic approach adopted in June 2000. It testifies to the Commission’s ongoing commitment to the fight against fraud and constitutes one of its responses to the new challenges linked to the development of the Union in 2004 and 2005.

The action plan draws its legitimacy from Article 280 EC introduced by the Amsterdam Treaty. On that basis, on 15 May 2001 the Commission adopted a first action plan that saw a highly satisfactory rate of implementation.

Over the period 2001-2003, the legal framework for protecting the Community’s financial interests and fighting fraud and all other illegal activities adversely affecting those interests was supplemented in order to enable effective action to be taken in the fields of fraud prevention and fraud-proofing of legislation, protecting the euro, making public procurement procedures more secure and setting up coordination structures in the ten new Member States and the candidate countries. Cooperation between the relevant administrations was enhanced, thanks in particular to the capacity for analysis of fraud and irregularities and the magistrates unit set up within the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF); such cooperation is assessed each year in the report provided for by Article 280 of the EC Treaty. In addition to various measures to prevent and counter corruption, the Commission performed an evaluation of OLAF’s activities and put forward seventeen recommendations for reinforcing its structure and operations, while the Court of Justice confirmed on several occasions the legality and consistency of the inter-institutional framework for internal investigations. The criminal-law protection of the Community’s financial interests was strengthened with the entry into force in October 2002 of the first Convention instruments for the fight against fraud. Major steps were also taken towards setting up a European Public Prosecutor’s Office, and the objective was written into the constitutional treaty.

The new action plan follows the four main lines of action laid down in 2000 for the ensuing five years:

  • an overall anti-fraud legislative policy: making regulations more effective and consistent;
  • a new culture of cooperation: full participation of and collaboration between national and Community authorities;
  • an inter-institutional approach to preventing and fighting corruption: making the European institutions more credible;
  • strengthening the criminal-law dimension: adapting the legal and judicial framework for the protection of the financial interests of the European Union.

It also takes into account the new guidelines set out in the progress report on the activities of OLAF and the measures announced in the State of the Union Address delivered by the Commission President before the European Parliament on 18 November 2003.

In the context of an overall anti-fraud legislative policy, the action plan provides for the development of a culture of prevention and the tightening-up of legal texts through the following measures:

  • defining OLAF’s objectives and reinforcing its legal framework in order to consolidate its structure;
  • stepping up cooperation with the Member States, with special reference to money laundering and VAT fraud;
  • assessing the black list mechanism in the EAGGF Guarantee Section;
  • definitively setting up the European Technical and Scientific Centre (ETSC) for protecting the euro against counterfeiting;
  • continuing and adapting the Pericles programme.

Still within the same context, the aim is also to strengthen means of detection, controls and sanctions. To that end, the Commission plans to:

  • clarify fraud investigation powers at Community level, particularly in the area of direct expenditure;
  • extend the administrative penalty system, in particular to the areas of customs, the Structural Funds, direct expenditure and OLAF investigations;
  • issue technical guidelines to national authorities wishing to supervise the authentification of euro coins in their territory.

Lastly, the plan is aimed at ensuring more effective management of administrative and financial follow-up, and thus provides for the following action:

  • proposing amendments to the Regulation on the financing of the CAP in order to improve the recovery of sums wrongly paid under the EAGGF Guarantee Section;
  • clearing the backlog of cases concerning irregularities reported before 1999.

As part of the second line of approach, which focuses on a new culture of cooperation, the intention is to enhance the use and analysis of information (“intelligence”). The Commission aims to establish better operational cooperation between customs administrations and to simplify the procedure for notifying irregularities in the areas of the Structural Funds, the Cohesion Funds and the EAGGF Guarantee Section.

In addition, to develop a closer partnership with Member States and non-member countries, the Commission plans to:

  • strengthen relations with Member States by updating the Decision establishing the Advisory Committee for the Coordination of Fraud Prevention (COCOLAF);
  • improve information from Member States on the follow-up given to OLAF’s investigations;
  • enhance synergy by drawing up an inventory of the services that the Commission and OLAF can provide to the institutions and Member States and implementing the multidisciplinary service platform;
  • help the new Member States to reinforce their capacity for fighting fraud;
  • reinforce anti-fraud coordination services in candidate countries;
  • conclude negotiations with Switzerland on the fight against fraud;
  • negotiate international agreements on mutual assistance in customs matters with non-member countries;
  • include anti-counterfeiting clauses in cooperation and association agreements.

Rounding off this second line of approach, the Commission will evaluate anti-fraud measures on an ongoing basis through an inventory of new measures at Community and Member State level.

The third line of action, an inter-institutional approach to prevent and combat corruption, includes the following measures aimed at developing a culture of cooperation at all levels:

  • examining the usefulness of adopting a memorandum of understanding between OLAF and the Commission and between the Commission and the other institutions;
  • re-examining the memorandum of understanding between OLAF and the Investigation and Disciplinary Office (IDOC);
  • setting up a high-level interdepartmental group to improve transparency and the flow of information between OLAF and other directorates-general.

To improve the legal framework for administrative investigations, the Commission intends to amend certain provisions in the interests of clarity and harmonisation.

The fourth and last line of approach focuses on enhancing the criminal-law judicial dimension. Here, the Commission plans to:

  • draft a White Paper on strengthening the effectiveness of criminal prosecutions by establishing a European Public Prosecutor ;
  • bring out a report on implementation of the Convention on the protection of the European Community’s financial interests by the Member States;
  • conclude a protocol with Europol;
  • draw up with the Member States a practical guide for cooperation with criminal prosecution authorities.

To sum up, the new action plan highlights three top-priority objectives:

  • reinforcing the regulatory framework of May 1999 for OLAF’s activities and competencies;
  • improving the flow of information between the Member States and the Commission;
  • developing the criminal-law protection of the Community’s financial interests with the Member States, following the proposal to create a European Public Prosecutor with competence for protecting the financial interests of the Union.

The measures planned for the period 2004-2005 take into account the findings of the progress report on the activities of OLAF and comprise actions that were not completed in the previous period as well as measures designed to respond to specific needs and reinforce OLAF’s legal framework, in particular in the light of the weaknesses revealed by the Eurostat case.

In the document, the Commission also assesses the overall results of the 2001-2003 action plan, which can be regarded as positive.

 

Action plan

Action plan

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Action plan

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Other

Action plan

1) Objective

To create an area of freedom, security and justice as provided for in the Treaty of Amsterdam.

2) Community Measures

Council and Commission Action Plan of 3 December 1998 on how best to implement the provisions of the Treaty of Amsterdam on the creation of an area of freedom, security and justice.

3) Contents

Part 1: Introduction

The Action Plan, which was called for by the Heads of State and Government at the Cardiff European Council (June 1998), was adopted by the Council on 3 December then submitted to the Vienna European Council a few days later. The Commission made an initial contribution in its communication of 14 July 1998 [COM(98)459 final], which dealt with the concepts of freedom, security and justice and outlined the approaches to be followed. The Action Plan gives substance to these concepts by defining the priority objectives for the next five years and setting out a timetable of measures necessary for achieving the area of freedom, security and justice envisaged by the Treaty of Amsterdam. Based on Title IV of the EC Treaty, Title VI of the Treaty on European Union and the Schengen acquis incorporated in these Treaties, the Plan provides a coherent framework for the development of EU action, while guaranteeing tighter judicial and democratic review by the Court of Justice and the European Parliament respectively. Its purpose is to ensure the free movement of persons whilst at the same time guaranteeing their security by combating crime. It should promote cooperation in the field of justice and home affairs, not only within the EU but also in the countries applying to join it.

“An area of freedom”: this means not only ensuring the free movement of persons, according to the Schengen model, but also protecting fundamental rights and combating all forms of discrimination. Similarly, respect for private life and, in particular, the protection of personal data, must be guaranteed. As regards asylum and immigration, most of the instruments adopted in the past were not binding. Since these areas are now covered by the EC Treaty, Community instruments can be adopted and a genuine European policy defined.

“An area of security”: this includes combating crime, in particular terrorism, trade in human beings, crimes against children, drug trafficking, arms trafficking, corruption and fraud. A special action plan on crime was adopted in June 1997 at the Amsterdam European Council; another action plan against drugs is to be implemented in the period 2000-2004. The central role of Europol is emphasised, as an essential instrument for increased cooperation between the Member States, particularly at operational level.

“An area of justice”: despite differences between the Member States, the Union’s objective is to guarantee European citizens equal access to justice and to promote cooperation between the judicial authorities. On civil matters, judicial cooperation should be aimed at simplifying the environment of European citizens. On criminal matters, it should strengthen the coordination of prosecution and provide a common sense of justice by defining minimum common rules for criminal acts, procedures and penalties. Emphasis is also placed on the specific case of cross-border disputes.

EU relations with non-member countries and international organisations will also develop following the changes made by the Treaty of Amsterdam. Since the question of asylum, immigration and judicial cooperation in civil matters now pertains to the first pillar, the Community has new areas of external competence which give it influence at international level in these fields.

The working structures of the Council in the field of justice and home affairs must adapt to the changes made by the Amsterdam Treaty and manage measures relating to both the first and third pillars and the Schengen acquis. This means setting up a system which provides good overall coordination, prevents overlap and provides the expertise necessary for decision-making.

Part 2: Priorities and measures

The Treaty lays down that an area of freedom, security and justice should be established in five years. To define common priorities and the detailed measures to be taken both in the short term (two years) and the longer term (five years), the following criteria were taken into account: the guidelines already laid down by the Treaty of Amsterdam, the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, operational effectiveness, the limits set by the Treaties (the Member States have sole competence regarding their internal security) and a realistic approach regarding the time and resources available.

As regards asylum, it is planned to establish common standards for procedures concerning refugees and the reception of asylum-seekers, to implement the Eurodac Convention, which will allow asylum seekers’ fingerprints to be compared, and to spread the financial burden of receiving asylum-seekers between the Member States. An overall strategy on migration is planned.

In the field of immigration, common provisions have to be drawn up for the conditions of entry, residence and return, more effective measures have to be taken against illegal immigration and the rights of nationals of non-member countries are to be defined as regards free movement within the Union. A standard visa will be adopted.

Judicial cooperation in civil matters is of fundamental importance to the “area of justice”. The rules on conflicts of law or jurisdiction should therefore be amended, particularly as regards contractual and non-contractual obligations, divorce, matrimonial regimes and inheritance, and mediation should be developed, particularly for family conflicts. The possibility of establishing a judicial network on civil matters to increase Europe-wide contacts between professionals in the field will be examined.

The main purpose of police cooperation is to guarantee European citizens a high level of protection. To achieve this, the cooperation emerging between the police and the judicial authorities must be developed. Europol must extend its operational capabilities and its areas of competence (e.g. combating the counterfeiting of the euro), and its priorities must include the fight against illegal immigration networks and terrorism. Relations between judicial authorities and Europol must be defined and a framework set for joint investigations. Arrangements for the intervention of the law enforcement authorities of one Member State in another should be examined, using the Schengen agreements as a model.

As regards judicial cooperation in criminal matters, measures will be taken to simplify mutual assistance between national authorities, extradition between Member States and the mutual recognition of decisions and enforcement of judgments, and to strengthen action against money laundering. The harmonisation of criminal law is also looked into.

For the latter two areas, the exchange, collection and storage of data will be developed to increase the effectiveness of the measures taken. They may concern dubious financial transactions, criminal records, cross-border crime or on-going investigations.

4) Deadline For Implementation Of The Legislation In The Member States.

Not applicable.

5) Date Of Entry Into Force (If Different From The Above)

6) References

Official Journal C 19 of 23 January 1999

7) Follow-Up Work

Commission communication of 24 March 2000:to review progress on the creation of an area of “Freedom, Security and Justice” in the European Union [COM(2000) 167 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

8) Commission Implementing Measures

European Union forest action plan

European Union forest action plan

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Union forest action plan

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Agriculture > Environment

European Union forest action plan

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 15 June 2006 on an EU Forest Action Plan [COM(2006) 302 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Forests are an important sphere for the European Union (EU): they cover 37.8 % of European territory and provide a living for 3.4 million people (forestry and forest-based industries). Moreover, the EU is the second-largest producer of industrial round timber after the United States and produces approximately 80 % of the world’s cork. In the context of climate change, forests also play an important role – not only as regards trapping carbon, but also through the production of biomass *, and their potential in terms of renewable forms of energy. Lastly, forests are socially and culturally important: attractive to city dwellers, they provide opportunities for recreational and healthy activities and represent a not inconsiderable cultural heritage.

The European Commission has therefore set four main objectives to be implemented in order to optimise the sustainable management and multifunctional role of the EU’s forests:

  • improving long-term competitiveness;
  • improving and protecting the environment;
  • contributing to a better quality of life;
  • fostering communication and coordination in order to increase consistency and cooperation at various levels.

These objectives translate into a series of 18 key actions, which the European Commission and the Member States will implement jointly. The action plan also provides for additional measures, which the Member States can implement depending on their specific characteristics and their priorities, in some cases with the aid of existing Community instruments.

Improving long-term competitiveness

The competitiveness of forestry is essential. The sector has great potential to develop new products and services of high quality in response to growing demand as a source of renewable raw material. The Commission proposes five key actions for this objective:

  • Key action 1: The Commission will carry out a study on the effects of globalisation on the competitiveness of EU forestry in order to identify the main factors influencing developments in the EU forest sector and to underpin discussions on further action to be taken to enhance the competitiveness and economic viability of the sector;
  • Key action 2: Encourage research and technological development to enhance the competitiveness of the forest sector (including through the 7th Research Framework Programme);
  • Key action 3: Exchange and assess experiences on the valuation and marketing of non-wood forest goods and services: the aim is to quantify the total value of forests and their functions, in order to introduce instruments to compensate for non-marketed goods and services;
  • Key action 4: Promote the use of forest biomass for energy generation;
  • Key action 5: Foster cooperation between forest owners and enhance education and training in forestry.

Improving and protecting the environment

The overall objective is to maintain and appropriately enhance biodiversity, carbon sequestration, integrity, health and resilience of forest ecosystems at various geographical scales. In this regard, the Commission proposes the following key actions:

  • Key action 6: Facilitate EU Member States’ compliance with the obligations on climate change mitigation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol and encourage adaptation to the effects of climate change;
  • Key action 7: Contribute towards achieving the revised Community biodiversity objectives for 2010 and beyond;
  • Key action 8: Work towards a European Forest Monitoring System, following completion of the Forest Focus monitoring scheme;
  • Key action 9: Enhance the protection of EU forests.

In addition, Member States may – with the support of the EAFRD and the instrument Life+ – promote measures in favour of forests (Natura 2000), agri-forestry systems, support restoration of forests damaged by natural disasters and fire, support studies on the causes of forest fires, awareness-raising campaigns.

Contributing to a better quality of life

The Commission considers it important to preserve and support the cultural and social dimension of forests. To do so, it has identified the following key actions:

  • Key action 10: Encourage environmental education and information;
  • Key action 11: Maintain and enhance the protective functions of forests;
  • Key action 12: Explore the potential of urban and peri-urban forests.

In addition, Member States may – with support from the ERDF – enhance investment and sustainable management of forests for better prevention of natural disasters.

Fostering coordination and communication

While forest policy is a matter for the Member States, many initiatives with an impact on forest management are carried out at European level. This therefore requires improved coherence and cross-sectoral cooperation in order to balance economic, environmental and socio-cultural objectives at different organisational and institutional levels.

  • Key action 13: Strengthen the role of the Standing Forestry Committee *;
  • Key action 14: Strengthen coordination between policy areas in forest-related matters;
  • Key action 15: Apply the open method of coordination to national forest programmes;
  • Key action 16: Strengthen the EU profile in international forest-related processes;
  • Key action 17: Encourage the use of wood and other forest products from sustainably managed forests;
  • Key action 18: Improve information exchange and communication. Inter alia, the European Commission will develop a website devoted to forest management at the Europa Internet site.

In addition, the Member States are encouraged to organise visibility events, such as a “Forest Week” or “Forest Day”, to raise awareness of the benefits of sustainable forest management.

The Commission will carry out a mid-term evaluation of the action plan in 2009 and an overall evaluation in 2012.

Context

In December 1998 the Council adopted a resolution on a forestry strategy for the European Union. The Commission then submitted a report on the implementation of this strategy over five years and proposed inter alia launching an EU action plan on sustainable forest management. In May 2005 the Council meeting on agriculture and fisheries asked the Commission to draw up that action plan.

Key terms of the act
  • Biomass: all the organic plant and animal products used for energy (or agronomic) purposes.
  • Standing Forestry Committee (SFC): set up in 1989, it represents the EU Member States’ forestry authorities. It has 27 members (designated by the governments of the Member States) and is chaired by the European Commission. Its role is threefold: consultation and management in respect of specific forestry measures, ad hoc consultation forum providing an expert opinion when forestry measures are being devised within the framework of various Community policies, a place for the exchange of information between the Member States and the Commission. The SFC will be the body for coordination between the Commission and the Member States to enable implementation of the action plan.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 10 March 2005 – Reporting on the implementation of the EU Forestry Strategy [COM(2005) 84 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Environment and Health Action Plan 2004-2010

Environment and Health Action Plan 2004-2010

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Environment and Health Action Plan 2004-2010

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Public health > Health determinants: environment

Environment and Health Action Plan 2004-2010

Document or Iniciative

Communication of 9 June 2004 from the Commission: “The European Environment & Health Action Plan 2004-2010” [COM(2004) 416 – Official Journal C 49, 28.02.2006].

Summary

Covering the first cycle of the European Environment and Health Strategy, i.e. the period from 2004 to 2010, this Action Plan aims, on the one hand, to provide the EU with the scientifically grounded information needed to help Member States reduce the adverse health impacts of certain environmental factors and, on the other hand, to step up cooperation between stakeholders in the environment, health and research fields, whether these are public authorities in Member States, European bodies or institutions, or civil society.

In line with the European Environment and Health Strategy, the Action Plan focuses particularly on the links between environmental factors and respiratory diseases, neuro-developmental disorders, cancer and endocrine disrupting effects.

The Action Plan is based on three main themes, each covering a number of actions:

  • improving the information chain by developing integrated environment and health information to understand the links between sources of pollutants and health effects:
    Action 1: Develop environmental health indicators;
    Action 2: Develop integrated monitoring of the environment, including food, to allow the determination of relevant human exposure;
    Action 3: Develop a coherent approach to biomonitoring in Europe;
    Action 4: Enhance coordination and joint activities on environment and health;
  • filling the knowledge gap by strengthening research on environment and health and identifying emerging issues:
    Action 5: Integrate and strengthen European environment and health research;
    Action 6: Target research on diseases, disorders and exposures;
    Action 7: Develop methodological systems to analyse interactions between environment and health;
    Action 8: Ensure that potential hazards on environment and health are identified and addressed;
  • reviewing policies and improving communication by developing awareness raising, risk communication, training and education to give citizens the information they need to make better health choices, and to make sure that professionals in each field are alert to environment and health interactions:
    Action 9: Develop public health activities and networking on environmental health determinants through the public health programme;
    Action 10: Promote training of professionals and improve organisational capacity in environment and health by reviewing and adjusting risk reduction policy;
    Action 11: Coordinate ongoing risk reduction measures and focus on the priority diseases;
    Action 12: Improve indoor air quality;
    Action 13: Follow developments regarding electromagnetic fields.

Member States, the Commission, international organisations and stakeholder groups (industries and civil society, for example) will share responsibility for implementing the Action Plan.

The Commission will play a major role and will continue to engage with all the main stakeholders and promote cooperation at EU level, within its areas of competence, and liaise with the European Environment Agency, the European Food Safety Agency and other relevant bodies. It will implement the actions through existing initiatives and programmes which already have allocated resources, notably the Public Health Programme and the Sixth Framework Programme for Research, and through the operational budgets of the services concerned.

Stakeholders will be fully involved in the implementation process through the Consultative Group, comprising Member States, stakeholders and international organisations. Relevant scientific committees and working groups will also be consulted.

In 2007 the Commission will conduct a mid-term review of the implementation of the Action Plan.

Background

The Action Plan serves as the Commission’s contribution to the Fourth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health, organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Budapest in June 2004.

Related Acts

Communication of 11 June 2007 from the Commission: “Mid Term Review of the European Environment and Health Action Plan 2004-2010” [COM(2007) 314 final – Official Journal C 191, 17.08.2007].
In this communication the Commission notes the growing links between environment policy and health policy, and especially the development of information systems, the priority given to research into environment and health interactions, the closer cooperation between environment, research and health, and the concentration on emerging issues such as nanotechnology. In addition, several initiatives have been launched since the Action Plan got under way, such as the Water Information System for Europe (WISE), and measures on air quality and chemicals.

European Job Mobility Action Plan

European Job Mobility Action Plan

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Job Mobility Action Plan

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Living and working in the internal market

European Job Mobility Action Plan (2007-2010)

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 6 December 2007 – Mobility, an instrument for more and better jobs: The European Job Mobility Action Plan (2007-2010) [COM(2007) 773 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Although European workers seem more willing to be mobile than before, job mobility rates are increasing relatively slowly in the European Union (EU). Uncertainty as to the advantages of mobility and the numerous administrative and legal barriers present are among the reasons for this. It is thus essential to implement new actions to encourage mobility. This is why the Commission proposes, with a view to tackling the new challenges of mobility, an action plan consisting of four strands.

Action Plan 2007-2010

Improving existing legislation and administrative practices is the first objective. Four actions are proposed in this field:

  • examining whether Community legislation needs to be amended to allow workers to move freely, according to the new mobility patterns, without losing their social protection;
  • legally strengthening the role of the TRESS network of independent experts in the area of social security coordination at European level (dissemination of knowledge, reports and expert advice). Consultation with stakeholders and an impact assessment should determine whether administrative practices or regulatory provisions need to be amended;
  • further simplifying national cooperation and administration practices (exchange and consultation of information electronically, launching an electronic version of the European health insurance card, etc.) in order to accelerate and facilitate the reimbursement of migrant workers’ social security expenditure;
  • concluding the proposals on the portability of supplementary pension rights in order to improve the acquisition and preservation of supplementary pension rights.

Moreover, combining flexibility and mobility (flexicurity ()) should contribute to the Lisbon Strategy, by making it possible for more workers to find more and better jobs.

Ensuring that the national, regional and local authorities promote mobility at their respective levels is the second objective. In this respect, the Member States should:

  • make mobility a priority objective of their national strategy for employment and lifelong learning ;
  • learn from best practices through mutual learning programmes which may receive EU Cohesion Policy funding. In this context, an inventory of such programmes will be carried out and the possibility of developing European mobility programmes will be examined;
  • use the European Qualifications Framework, promote Europass and develop the European Credit Transfer System for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET).

In addition, regional and local authorities, education and training centres and civil society will be encouraged to remove practical obstacles and to promote ‘fair mobility’, which respects labour standards and legal provisions.

Moreover, several actions are proposed to extend the scope and quality of the services provided byEURES in the area of worker mobility, namely:

  • increasing the provision of information and raising awareness on the principle of equal treatment and respect for labour standards within European markets;
  • stepping up the collection of strategic information in order to strengthen its analytical capacity;
  • enhancing the assistance provided to mobile workers in the EU, in particular with regard to specific categories of workers;
  • extending, in certain cases, some of these services to third-country nationals.

Action is planned on three fronts in order to increase citizens’ awareness on mobility:

  • organising annual ‘European Job Days’ not only to better inform citizens about their rights and the benefits of mobility but also to step up exchanges among the different stakeholders;
  • launching a ‘European Job Mobility Partnership’, and setting up a network to promote mobility;
  • incorporating into the PROGRESS programme support for the funding of pilot activities, the exchange of best practice, the dissemination of results on new developments and the emergence of innovative programmes.

Background

Job mobility must make it possible to confront the new challenges related to an ageing society and a constantly changing market, all the more so if one considers the new opportunities for both workers and employers following EU enlargement. The Lisbon Strategy and the European Employment Strategy have, furthermore, officially recognised increased geographical and occupational mobility as essential means of adapting in the context of rapidly changing labour markets. This Communication is intended to build on the series of initiatives to promote mobility. The Commission wishes to learn from the experience gained through the 2002 Action Plan for Skills and Mobility and the 2006 European Year of Workers’ Mobility.


Another Normative about European Job Mobility Action Plan

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic

Employment and social policy > European Strategy for Growth > Growth and jobs

European Job Mobility Action Plan (2007-2010)

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 6 December 2007 – Mobility, an instrument for more and better jobs: The European Job Mobility Action Plan (2007-2010) [COM(2007) 773 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Although European workers seem more willing to be mobile than before, job mobility rates are increasing relatively slowly in the European Union (EU). Uncertainty as to the advantages of mobility and the numerous administrative and legal barriers present are among the reasons for this. It is thus essential to implement new actions to encourage mobility. This is why the Commission proposes, with a view to tackling the new challenges of mobility, an action plan consisting of four strands.

Action Plan 2007-2010

Improving existing legislation and administrative practices is the first objective. Four actions are proposed in this field:

  • examining whether Community legislation needs to be amended to allow workers to move freely, according to the new mobility patterns, without losing their social protection;
  • legally strengthening the role of the TRESS network of independent experts in the area of social security coordination at European level (dissemination of knowledge, reports and expert advice). Consultation with stakeholders and an impact assessment should determine whether administrative practices or regulatory provisions need to be amended;
  • further simplifying national cooperation and administration practices (exchange and consultation of information electronically, launching an electronic version of the European health insurance card, etc.) in order to accelerate and facilitate the reimbursement of migrant workers’ social security expenditure;
  • concluding the proposals on the portability of supplementary pension rights in order to improve the acquisition and preservation of supplementary pension rights.

Moreover, combining flexibility and mobility (flexicurity ( src=”../../../../scadplus/images/lang_high_es.gif” alt=”castellano” height=”13″ lang=”es” width=”18/”>

src=”../../../../scadplus/images/lang_high_fr.gif” alt=”français” height=”13″ lang=”fr” width=”18/”>
)) should contribute to the Lisbon Strategy, by making it possible for more workers to find more and better jobs.

Ensuring that the national, regional and local authorities promote mobility at their respective levels is the second objective. In this respect, the Member States should:

  • make mobility a priority objective of their national strategy for employment and lifelong learning ;
  • learn from best practices through mutual learning programmes which may receive EU Cohesion Policy funding. In this context, an inventory of such programmes will be carried out and the possibility of developing European mobility programmes will be examined;
  • use the European Qualifications Framework, promote Europass and develop the European Credit Transfer System for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET).

In addition, regional and local authorities, education and training centres and civil society will be encouraged to remove practical obstacles and to promote ‘fair mobility’, which respects labour standards and legal provisions.

Moreover, several actions are proposed to extend the scope and quality of the services provided by

EURES
in the area of worker mobility, namely:

  • increasing the provision of information and raising awareness on the principle of equal treatment and respect for labour standards within European markets;
  • stepping up the collection of strategic information in order to strengthen its analytical capacity;
  • enhancing the assistance provided to mobile workers in the EU, in particular with regard to specific categories of workers;
  • extending, in certain cases, some of these services to third-country nationals.

Action is planned on three fronts in order to increase citizens’ awareness on mobility:

  • organising annual ‘European Job Days’ not only to better inform citizens about their rights and the benefits of mobility but also to step up exchanges among the different stakeholders;
  • launching a ‘European Job Mobility Partnership’, and setting up a network to promote mobility;
  • incorporating into the PROGRESS programme support for the funding of pilot activities, the exchange of best practice, the dissemination of results on new developments and the emergence of innovative programmes.

Background

Job mobility must make it possible to confront the new challenges related to an ageing society and a constantly changing market, all the more so if one considers the new opportunities for both workers and employers following EU enlargement. The Lisbon Strategy and the European Employment Strategy have, furthermore, officially recognised increased geographical and occupational mobility as essential means of adapting in the context of rapidly changing labour markets. This Communication is intended to build on the series of initiatives to promote mobility. The Commission wishes to learn from the experience gained through the 2002 Action Plan for Skills and Mobility and the 2006 European Year of Workers’ Mobility.

Life sciences and biotechnology

Life sciences and biotechnology

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Life sciences and biotechnology

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > European Strategy for Growth > Growth and jobs

Life sciences and biotechnology

Helping the European Union to harness the life sciences and biotechnology in many areas such as health care, agriculture, food, industrial uses and the environment in order to create a sustainable, knowledge-based economy. This is the aim of the various acts in this field adopted by the European Commission over the last few years. For Europe, life sciences and biotechnology represent both a challenge and a major potential to be harnessed. A potential which the Commission aims to develop by means of a European strategy. This document summarises the main aspects of that strategy (the basic idea, the challenges, the action planned, ethical aspects, etc).

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 23 January 2002: “Life sciences and biotechnology – A Strategy for Europe” [COM(2002) 27 final – Official Journal C 55 of 2.3.2002].

Summary

Biotechnology is a technique which, by means of genetic manipulation, produces biological molecules or transgenic organisms for industrial, agricultural, pharmaceutical or chemical applications, etc.

The life sciences raise important policy and social issues and have prompted wide public debate. A revolution is taking place in the biotechnology knowledge-base, opening the way to new applications in the areas of health care, agriculture, food production and environmental protection.

Major scientific and technological advances have been made in life sciences and biotechnology over the last few years. In response, in January 2002 the European Commission adopted a strategy for Europe to devise sustainable and responsible policies to deal with the following three major issues:

  • life sciences and biotechnology offer opportunities to address many of the world’s needs as regards health, ageing, food, the environment and sustainable development;
  • broad public support is essential, and ethical and social implications and concerns must be addressed;
  • the scientific and technological revolution is a global reality which creates new opportunities and challenges for all countries of the world.

The strategy is divided into two sections:

  • general policy outlines;
  • a thirty-point plan to flesh out these outlines and measures.

It reflects the importance which the European Council attaches to the life sciences. It proposes a comprehensive roadmap up to 2010 and puts the sector at the forefront of those frontier technologies which are helping the European Union to meet the Lisbon objectives.

The potential of life sciences and biotechnology

Life sciences and biotechnology are widely regarded as being among the most promising frontier technologies for the coming decades.

In the health care sector, biotechnology already permits safer and more ethical production of an increasing number of drugs and medical services. Stem cell research offers the prospect of replacement tissues and organs to treat degenerative diseases, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, etc. It also opens up prospects for quality-of-life improvement through innovative medical applications.

In the agri-food sector, biotechnology has the potential to improve the quality of foodstuffs and animal feed to help prevent disease and reduce health risks. Plant genome research is a key area. In this context, the size of the world’s area under genetically modified crops (GMOs) has nearly doubled.

In the case of non-food uses for crops, biotechnology helps to improve the use of industrial raw materials for the energy transformation industry and the pharmaceutical industry. The modifications under development include alterations to carbohydrates, oils, fats, proteins and fibres. Similarly, biomass could provide alternative sources of energy, with both liquid and solid biofuels such as biodiesel and bioethanol.

From an environmental point of view, biotechnology offers new ways to protect and improve the environment, especially air, soil, water and waste. Research focuses on the development of cleaner industrial products and processes and on more sustainable agricultural practices.

In the context of the revised Lisbon strategy, the life sciences and biotechnology sector should have a role to play. As the latest progress report points out, over the coming decades it should:

  • strengthen Europe’s position on the world high-technology market;
  • become a leading area of science, industry and employment;
  • increase prosperity by creating higher-quality jobs;
  • contribute to the modernisation of European industry.

Harnessing the potential

The European strategy for the life sciences and biotechnology identifies the following strategic priorities:

  • launching a knowledge-based economy by means of greater investment in research and development and education and training;
  • translating that knowledge into concrete scientific and technological applications (new products, processes and services);
  • strengthening governance in terms of drafting and implementing policies and actions;
  • widening Europe’s international dimension;
  • promoting dialogue, coherence and cooperation as regards the implementation of current and future action.

Europe’s competitiveness should be enhanced through three main pillars for action:

  • Strengthening the resource base
    The objective is to place the emphasis on life science education (lifelong learning for scientists, general awareness of the public, etc.). The key to advances in biotechnology is access to detailed and up-to-date bioinformatics databases.
  • Networking Europe’s biotechnology communities
    There is a need to facilitate open access to knowledge, skills and best practice and to create a close community of the people and institutions involved in biotechnology.
  • A proactive role for public authorities
    The aim is to anticipate emerging issues and proactively adapt policies.

Biotechnology focuses on solving specific problems. The strategy pays special attention to building up the competitiveness of European industry by improving the potential to create small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) whose activity is based on research and the spirit of enterprise. These new industries, founded on scientific knowledge, are a source of industrial competitiveness, technological innovation, investment opportunities and job creation.

Ethical and social implications

The development and application of life sciences and biotechnology raise fundamental ethical questions such as the definition and the nature of human beings and the use and supervision of genetic information.

In addition, the life sciences and biotechnology have attracted much attention from the general public and prompted serious debate. The dialogue should be open, in-depth, well-informed and structured in order to provide better information and promote mutual understanding. It is therefore of key importance to promote information and dialogue to help the public and stakeholders to better understand and appreciate these complex issues and to develop methods and criteria for weighing the benefits against disadvantages or risks.

The public authorities, economic operators and the scientific community should strive to communicate the relevant facts and facilitate an understanding of the key questions in a context of international cooperation.

Steps to be taken: action plan

The objective of the action plan is to set up a coherent policy framework aimed at promoting the creation of conditions favourable to the development of biotechnology in Europe and to collaboration between the Member States and private individuals or organisations. There are four types of action:

  • action intended to support research, to establish a European intellectual property system, etc.;
  • action aimed at establishing dialogue on the ethical, legal and social implications;
  • action in the area of international cooperation, particularly with the developing countries;
  • action to pursue the development of a European biotechnology policy.

Progress reports and outlook

To take stock of the progress being made under this strategy at regular intervals, the Commission has adopted three progress reports since 2002. In these, the Commission reviews not just the progress made but also the hold-ups encountered in some areas. The three reports set out the results achieved in terms of policy development and implementation on the ground, and address new emerging issues. Where possible, they also look into the areas covered by the roadmap.

For the mid-term review of current strategy (at the European Council meeting in spring 2007), the European Commission has made an in-depth evaluation of the progress achieved since 2002 and looked at the overall role of life sciences and biotechnology in European society. These two initiatives are based in particular on:

  • public consultation;
  • an independent study carried out by the Joint Research Centre (JRC);
  • a report on the competitiveness of European industry and research in the field of biotechnology.

Background

The EU has a substantial research potential in the area of biotechnology. Society needs to reap the expected benefits in terms of growth and job creation. The Fifth (1998-2002) and Sixth (2002-2006) Framework Programmes provided researchers, businessmen, industrialists and financiers with the means. Life sciences and biotechnology are also a global reality and are vital for generating knowledge-based dynamic and innovative economies. The success of any knowledge-based economy also rests upon the generation, dissemination and application of new knowledge. However, European investment in research and development is lagging behind that of the United States. The Commission aims to restore European leadership in the life sciences and biotechnology. The Sixth Framework Programme for research (2002-2006) makes this area a priority, providing a solid platform for constructing a European research area in collaboration with the Member States.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the mid-term review of the Strategy on Life Sciences and Biotechnology [COM(2007) 175 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

In this document the Commission underlines the effectiveness of the life science and biotechnology strategy, which it intends to complete as scheduled (2011).

The main results highlighted for the period ended (2002-2006) are:

  • the regional integration of clusters;
  • inspiring national action plans;
  • the adoption of a new legal framework on GMOs.

By contrast, the results as regards promotion and development of innovation in biotechnology are less striking. In this sector, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are still suffering from the lack of a Community framework (patents), low investment levels and poor cooperation between the academic world and finance.

The Commission identifies five priority areas of action for the strategy:

  • promoting research and market development for life science and biotechnology applications;
  • fostering competitiveness, knowledge transfer and innovation from the science base to industry;
  • encouraging debate on the benefits and risks of life sciences and biotechnology;
  • improving implementation of the legislation and optimising its impact on competitiveness;
  • ensuring a sustainable contribution of modern biotechnology to agriculture.

The document also describes a number of modern life science and biotechnology applications, with information on their impact in areas such as industry, the economy, the environment and healthcare.

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee of 29 June 2005 “Life sciences and biotechnology – A strategy for Europe” Third progress report and future orientations [COM(2005) 286 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee of 7 April 2004 “Life sciences and biotechnology – A strategy for Europe” Second progress report and future orientations [COM(2004) 250 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee of 5 March 2003 “Life sciences and biotechnology – A strategy for Europe” Progress report and future orientations [COM(2003) 96 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 4 December 2001 “Science and Society – Action Plan” [COM(2001) 714 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission of 4 September 2001 “Towards a strategic vision of life sciences and biotechnology – Consultation document” [COM(2001) 454 final – Not published in the Official Journal].