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A collection of links to web sites of the European Union institutions and other European business web sites.

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Eastern Partnership 21 May 2015, 13:20 CET
The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is a joint initiative of the EU and its Eastern European partners: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. Launched in 2009 at the EU Prague Summit, it brings Eastern European partners closer to the EU. The Eastern Partnership supports and encourages reforms in the EaP countries for the benefit of their citizens. The Partnership is based on a commitment to the principles of international law and fundamental values, including democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as to a market economy, sustainable development and good governance. The Partnership is founded on mutual interests and commitments as well as shared ownership and mutual accountability.

REFIT - making EU law lighter, simpler and less costly 19 May 2015, 18:00 CET
REFIT is the European Commission's Regulatory Fitness and Performance programme. Action is taken to make EU law simpler and to reduce regulatory costs, thus contributing to a clear, stable and predictable regulatory framework supporting growth and jobs.

Better regulation - European Commission webpage 19 May 2015, 18:00 CET
Better Regulation is about designing EU policies and laws so that they achieve their objectives in the most efficient and effective way possible. It is a way of working to ensure: when preparing, implementing and reviewing policy; always informs policy-making; stakeholders are involved. To ensure that EU action is - and remains - effective, the Commission assesses the expected and actual impact of policies and legislation and other important measures at every stage – from planning to implementation, review and revision. Meanwhile, the existing body of Union legislation is being managed more actively. Initiatives will be evaluated to check their performance once sufficient time has elapsed. This will be partly done through the REFIT Programme.

EU Navfor Med 14 May 2015, 18:28 CET
The European Union is concerned with the effect of Somali-based piracy and armed robbery at sea off the Horn of Africa and in the Western Indian Ocean. Somali-based piracy is characterised by criminals taking control of vessels transiting the High Risk Area in the Region and extorting ransom money for the crew, the vessel and cargo: this bears all the features of organised crime. Crews held hostage by pirates often face a prolonged period of captivity, the average being 5 months, although some hostages have been held for almost three years. Moreover, piracy impacts on international trade and maritime security and on the economic activities and security of countries in the region. Under EU Council Joint Action 851, which is based on various UN resolutions, Operation ATALANTA: Protects vessels of the World Food Programme (WFP), African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and other vulnerable shipping. Deters and disrupts piracy and armed robbery at sea. Monitors fishing activities off the coast of Somalia. Supports other EU missions and international organisations working to strengthen maritime security and capacity in the region.

Frontex - European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union 06 May 2015, 14:08 CET
Frontex promotes, coordinates and develops European border management in line with the EU fundamental rights charter applying the concept of Integrated Border Management. Frontex helps border authorities from different EU countries work together. Frontex’s full title is the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union. The agency was set up in 2004 to reinforce and streamline cooperation between national border authorities. In pursuit of this goal, Frontex has several operational areas which are defined in the founding Frontex Regulation and a subsequent amendment.

Spring 2015 Economic Forecast: Tailwinds support the recovery 05 May 2015, 13:06 CET
Economic growth in the European Union is benefitting from positive economic tailwinds. According to the European Commission's Spring 2015 Economic Forecast, these short-term factors are boosting an otherwise mild cyclical upswing in the EU. Europe’s economies are benefiting from many supporting factors at once. Oil prices remain relatively low, global growth is steady, the euro has continued to depreciate, and economic policies in the EU are supportive.

Eurojust 25 April 2015, 14:32 CET
Eurojust stimulates and improves the coordination of investigations and prosecutions between the competent authorities in the Member States and improves the cooperation between the competent authorities of the Member States, in particular by facilitating the execution of international mutual legal assistance and the implementation of extradition requests. Eurojust supports in any way possible the competent authorities of the Member States to render their investigations and prosecutions more effective when dealing with cross-border crime.

EU register of genetically modified food and feed 22 April 2015, 16:31 CET
Search the register for products containing GMOs e.g. if you type 'cotton', you will get a list of all products containing cotton in their description. This search covers the EU GMOs register (Regulation EC 1829/2003) and the products subject to EC decisions on withdrawal from the market.

Consular protection for EU citizens 21 April 2015, 12:35 CET
When living or travelling outside the EU, you sometimes need help from your embassy/consulate - but what if your country has no diplomatic mission in that country? No problem - under EU law you're entitled to help from any other EU Member State's embassy/consulate - under the same conditions as their nationals. So exactly what help can you get in such situations?

EU Presidency 16 April 2015, 17:16 CET
The Presidency of the Council of the European Union is responsible for the functioning of the Council of the European Union, the upper house of the EU legislature. It rotates among the EU Member States every six months. The presidency is not an individual, but the position is held by a national government. The presidency's function is to chair meetings of the Council, determine its agendas, set a work programme and facilitate dialogue both at Council meetings and with other EU institutions. The current presidency (as of January 2015) is held by Latvia. Three successive presidencies, known as presidency trios, the current trio (2014–15) is made up of Italy (incumbent), Latvia (Jan-Jun 2015) and Luxembourg (Jul-Dec 2015).

ECB Survey of Professional Forecasters 16 April 2015, 12:37 CET
The Survey of Professional Forecasters (SPF) from the European Central Bank is a quarterly survey of expectations for the rates of inflation, real GDP growth and unemployment in the euro area for several horizons, together with a quantitative assessment of the uncertainty surrounding them.

European Aviation Safety Agency - EASA 04 April 2015, 23:29 CET
EASA is the European Union Authority in aviation safety. The main activities of the organisation include the strategy and safety management, the certification of aviation products and the oversight of approved organisations and EU Member States. Established in 2002, EASA enjoys over 10 years in operation. The Agency staff is composed of more than 700 aviation experts and administrators from all EU Member States. The headquarters is in Cologne (Germany) with an office in Brussels and 3 international permanent representations in Washington (USA), Montreal (Canada) and Beijing (China). EASA enjoys technical, financial and legal autonomy to ensure the highest common level of safety protection for EU citizens within the EU and worldwide, to ensure the highest common level of environmental protection, to avoid duplication in the regulatory and certification processes among Member States and to facilitate the creation of an internal EU aviation market. EASA plays a leading role within the EU External Aviation Policy: the Agency is a strong counterpart of other Aviation Authorities outside the EU (e.g. USA, Canada, Brazil) and a major contributor to the export of the EU aviation standards worldwide, in order to promote the movement of EU aeronautical products, professionals and services throughout the world.

Galileo European Satellite Navigation System 02 April 2015, 14:04 CET
The Galileo programme is Europe's initiative for a state-of-the-art global satellite navigation system, providing a highly accurate global positioning service under civilian control. The fully deployed system will consist of 30 satellites and the associated ground infrastructure. Galileo will provide Europe with independence in satellite navigation but will also be inter-operable with GPS and GLONASS, the two other global satellite navigation systems.

Digital Agenda for Europe 25 March 2015, 19:59 CET
The Digital Agenda is Europe's strategy for a flourishing digital economy by 2020. It outlines policies and actions to maximise the benefit of the Digital Revolution for all. To achieve these goals, the Commission will work closely with national governments, concerned organisations and companies. An annual Digital Assembly will bring stakeholders together to assess progress and emerging challenges.

RAPEX - EU Rapid Alert System for dangerous non-food products 23 March 2015, 16:42 CET
The Rapid Alert System for dangerous non-food products (RAPEX) allows the 31 participating countries (EU countries, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and the European Commission to exchange information on products posing a risk to health and safety of consumers and on the measures taken by these countries to do away with that risk. The system also covers products posing risk to health and safety of professional users and to other public interests protected by relevant EU legislation (e.g. environment and security). It does not cover food, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, which are covered by other mechanisms. National authorities take measures to prevent or restrict the marketing or use of those dangerous products. Both measures ordered by national authorities and measures taken 'voluntarily' by producers and distributors are reported via the system. Every Friday, based on this information provided by the national authorities, the Commission publishes a weekly overview of latest alerts.

fi-compass 20 March 2015, 15:31 CET
fi-compass is a unique platform for advisory services on financial instruments under the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) and microfinance under the Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).fi-compass is designed to meet the needs of ESIF managing authorities, EaSI microfinance providers and other interested parties, by providing practical know-how and learning tools on financial instruments. These include "how-to" manuals, factsheets for quick reference, e-learning modules, face-to-face training seminars and networking events. The fi-compass website will progressively become the knowledge hub for ESIF Financial Instruments. fi-compass is provided by the European Commission in partnership with the European Investment Bank.

EU Market Access Policy 19 March 2015, 22:10 CET
Free trade can only exist when businesses can actually access their markets. Being a promoter of open trade, the European Union wants to ensure that access to markets is facilitated for all. Accessing markets outside the EU is crucial for jobs and growth within the EU. The EU works to keep markets open and to keep trade flowing through a variety of specific trade policies.

eSkills for Jobs 2015 19 March 2015, 15:51 CET
eSkills for Jobs 2015, part of the EU eSkills strategy, is a major cross sector, multi-stakeholder campaign from the European Commission, involving more than 650 organisations across Europe including companies, associations, education and training bodies and NGOs. The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the need for citizens to improve their command of information and communication technology (ICT) skills for work. The campaign is a response to the growing demand for ICT-skilled professionals which is currently not met, despite high levels of unemployment in Europe.

Draft Calendar - Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union 13 March 2015, 13:17 CET
Provisional agendas for Council meetings during the first semester of 2015 (Latvian Presidency). The agenda includes meetings and activities to be held in Brussels, Strasbourg, Luxembourg and Athens. This is a draft programme subject to changes.

Directive on Payment Services (PSD) 10 March 2015, 18:38 CET
The Directive on Payment Services (PSD) provides the legal foundation for the creation of an EU-wide single market for payments. The PSD aims at establishing a modern and comprehensive set of rules applicable to all payment services in the European Union. The target is to make cross-border payments as easy, efficient and secure as 'national' payments within a Member State. The PSD also seeks to improve competition by opening up payment markets to new entrants, thus fostering greater efficiency and cost-reduction. At the same time the Directive provides the necessary legal platform for the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA).

How digital is your country? - Digital Economy and Society Index 25 February 2015, 18:01 CET
There are plenty of digital opportunities waiting to be unlocked to benefit European citizens and companies. From shopping or studying online, to paying bills or using public services over the Internet – the Web is the answer, if the right conditions are in place. This is the conclusion of a new Digital Economy and Society Index developed by the European Commission and released today. Data shows that the picture of how digital countries are varies across the EU and that borders remain an obstacle to a fully-fledged Digital Single Market.

Capital Markets Union 18 February 2015, 14:08 CET
The Capital Markets Union (CMU) is a plan of the European Commission that aims to create deeper and more integrated capital markets in the 28 Member States of the EU. With the CMU, the Commission will explore ways of reducing fragmentation in financial markets, diversifying financing sources, strengthening cross border capital flows and improving access to finance for businesses, particularly SMEs. The CMU is a new frontier of Europe's single market. Its creation is a key element of the Investment Plan announced by the Juncker Commission in November 2014.

Winter Economic Forecast 2015: outlook improved but risks remain 05 February 2015, 12:42 CET
Growth this year is forecast to rise to 1.7% for the EU as a whole and to 1.3% for the euro area. In 2016, economic activity should grow by 2.1% and 1.9% respectively.

Statutory minimum wage levels in Europe in 2015 - Eurofound 03 February 2015, 23:50 CET
Most EU Member States have a statutory minimum wage, which sets the lowest legal amount of pay for all employees. Some Member States also have specific lower minimum levels for certain groups of workers, mainly younger ones. During the economic crisis, minimum wage levels have been mainly frozen, with only moderate increases in some countries. However, over the past two years, the minimum wage levels have begun to increase, and this first EU wide compilation of minimum wage levels in Europe in 2015 shows a marked change in trends. This article presents the most recent data on statutory minimum wages, applicable on 1 January 2015, and an overview of the discussions leading to the final settlements made in 2014.

Regulation (EU) No 648/2012 on OTC derivatives, central counterparties and trade repositories 03 February 2015, 15:27 CET
The EMIR Regulation, which entered into force on 16 August 2012, is designed to improve the stability of the over-the-counter (OTC) derivative markets throughout the EU. The Regulation requires standard derivative contracts to be cleared through central counterparties (CCPs) and establishes stringent organisational, business conduct and prudential requirements for these CCPs. It has also introduced an obligation to report derivative contracts to trade repositories. The Regulation, directly applicable and enforceable throughout the EU, will considerably increase financial stability and safety by preventing the situation where a collapse of one financial firm can cause the collapse of other financial firms. A specific exemption in the Regulation states that ‘pension scheme arrangements’ are exempt from the clearing obligation of certain derivatives until August 2015.