Agriculture

 

All is not well beneath the surface of the global fertilizer industry

Amidst undulating prices and mixed newspaper headlines, 2019 has seen a number of shocks to the globally important but under-scrutinised fertilizer sector.  The industry has been hit by what is seen as mismanagement and poor decision making and has emerged as a target for questionable large-scale international practices. These developments have blighted the reputation of…

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EU Bans Neurotoxic Pesticides

Representatives from the European Member States in the EU Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (SCOPAFF) have voted to ban the neurotoxic pesticides chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl from the EU market, a historic move that has been applauded by health and environment groups. Genon K. Jensen, Executive Director of the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL),…

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New Plant Health Rules Come Into Effect

New rules on plant health, designed to stop diseases spreading or jumping borders, will become effective on Saturday. The EU Regulation 2016/2031 on protective measures against plant pests was steered through the European Parliament by UK member Anthea McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands. It became law in December 2016 and is directly applicable…

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Digital Market

 

Open Knowledge Foundation welcomes digital strategy

Commenting on the EU’s blueprint on shaping Europe’s digital future, published last week by the European Commission, Catherine Stihler chief executive of the Open Knowledge Foundation, said: “This long-awaited blueprint for Europe’s digital landscape is very welcome and a giant step forward for a fair, free and open future.”  “This is the greatest opportunity and…

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EU Digital Transformation

The Commission has taken the wraps off its plans for a digital transformation that works for all, reflecting the best of Europe: open, fair, diverse, democratic and confident.  It presents a European society powered by digital solutions that put people first, opens up new opportunities for businesses, and boosts the development of trustworthy technology to foster an open…

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EPP Calls for Single Standard for Charging Cables

The EPP Group in the European Parliament has advocated for more than a decade for a single common charger for all electronic devices such as mobile phones, tablets, e-book readers, smart cameras, wearable electronics and other small electronics.  The aim is to protect the environment and make people’s lives easier. Andreas Schwab MEP, EPP Group…

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Economy

 

EESC Argues for Sustainable Growth

Future economic policy must be in line with the European Green Deal, says the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).  The Committee urges EU Member States to make sustainable economic growth the top priority for European and national economic policies in 2020 and beyond and recommends complementing the current accommodative monetary policy of the European…

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Micro-Finance for SMEs

In order to stimulate small business financing in the Baltic States, non-bank business lender Noviti Finance, and the European Investment Fund (EIF), have signed a cooperation agreement to give micro businesses and farmers better access to funding of up to €25,000.  The guarantee is funded by the Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) programme of the…

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Lebanon’s central bank is “a stable point in a country in convulsion”

Leading French economist Nicolas Bouzou, director of the economic research company Asterès, wrote in today’s Les Echos about what the West can learn Lebanon’s current economic situation.  According to Bouzou, we can look at the deterioration in Lebanon to understand what can happen when a country accumulates decades of non-existing or failing public policies. Bouzou also singles out…

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Energy

 

Vision of Mohammed VI Polytechnic University

Located in Ben Guerir in Morocco’s central Rehamna Province, the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University’s modern campus houses some 1400 students, of whom 200 are studying for a Master’s Degree. About 120 undergraduates and postgraduates come from neighbouring African countries, with a particular interest in agricultural studies. Although it is only 3 years old, the University…

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EU moves away from coal

Presenting their Report on “The European Power sector in 2019” today at the Brussels Press Club, the Berlin based consultancy “Agora” together with the UK-based climate think-tank “Sandbag” highlighted that the EU electricity sector emitted 12% less CO2 in 2019 than in the previous year. Renewables in electricity production in the EU rose to 35%,…

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The Sun Also Rises For Moroccan Solar

Ouarzazate in Morocco is known as the Hollywood of Africa, and famous for the filming of classics like David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia. But in the modern era of climate change it has also gained fame and importance as the location of the world’s largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant and a centre of excellence…

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Environment

 

Plan To Prevent Extinction

A draft global plan to halt the collapse of nature will not protect vulnerable communities or stop the Earth’s sixth mass extinction, claims Friends of the Earth. The call comes as governments meet in Rome for the first time today to work on a “Paris-style” United Nations agreement that will eventually be agreed in October. …

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EESC Argues for Sustainable Growth

Future economic policy must be in line with the European Green Deal, says the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).  The Committee urges EU Member States to make sustainable economic growth the top priority for European and national economic policies in 2020 and beyond and recommends complementing the current accommodative monetary policy of the European…

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CFP Needs to Include Angling

Anglers made the case at the European Parliament that a full recognition of the recreational fisheries sector in the Common Fisheries Policy is needed in order to properly manage public access to fish and to put in place a fair and sustainable management of fish stocks.MEP Niclas Herbst, new Chair of the Forum on Recreational…

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Healthcare

 

Open Society Foundations Donate to Milan

The Open Society Foundations today announced a donation of $1 million euros to the city of Milan, to help Italy’s financial capital rebuild in the wake of COVID-19. The pandemic has hit especially hard in Italy. According to the latest figures, the country has more than 97,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, second only to…

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Psy-ops and disinformation campaign in Italy amid crisis

This article first appeared on the website IGTDS The Institute for Global Threats and Democracy Studies, and is reproduced with permission from the authors. A group of Russian military arrived in Italy exactly at the same moment as an active campaign was launched across social networks, calling for the country’s withdrawal from the EU. The…

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Lessons from Taiwan?

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the globe and with over three billion people worldwide currently living under lockdown, many are asking the question: is there an alternative method that doesn’t entail such draconian measures? Sitting in self-isolation in my garden in Belgium, where I shall be spending at least another 3 weeks…

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Investment

 

Micro-Finance for SMEs

In order to stimulate small business financing in the Baltic States, non-bank business lender Noviti Finance, and the European Investment Fund (EIF), have signed a cooperation agreement to give micro businesses and farmers better access to funding of up to €25,000.  The guarantee is funded by the Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) programme of the…

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Modernisation of Grupo Ruiz

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is set to finance the modernisation of Grupo Ruiz’s bus fleet by facilitating €27.5 million for the introduction of 173 safer, less polluting and more modern vehicles.  EIB Vice-President Emma Navarro and Grupo Ruiz CEO Gregorio Ruiz signed the agreement in Madrid. The project is supported by the European Fund…

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EU Business Pessimistic about Economic Outlook

European firms are becoming increasingly pessimistic about the economic outlook according to the new EIB report. The report also finds that investment in climate change mitigation is lower than that of major economies like the US and China.  Infrastructure investment is stuck at 1.6% of EU GDP, the lowest in 15 years and Europe is…

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Law and Justice

 

Dealing With Moscow’s Propaganda Machine

It can be expected that during the Hague District Court international tribunal trial of the MH17 case which starts on Monday 9 March, Russia’s propaganda machine will be rolled out to play the usual tricks designed to divert public attention. The Kremlin information manipulators will also try to influence the position of the Netherlands using…

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European Day for Victims of Crime

Today 22 February marks European Day for Victims of Crime. Vice-President Jourová and Commissioner Reynders issued the following statement: “This year marks the 30th anniversary of the European Day for Victims of Crime. Still, every year 75 million people across Europe continue to fall victims of crime. Only yesterday, we mourned the victims of yet another heinous act, this time…

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Spanish Authorities Harass Kokorev Despite His Worsening Health

Respected businessman Vladimir Kokorev has been kept in “abusively” long pretrial detention and, though finally released, is still summoned to court every week despite repeated emergency hospitalization. Since his release in 2018 from nearly 2.5 years of pretrial detention in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Canary Islands), the health of the retired 65-year old Spanish…

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Trade

 

OLAF Busts Smugglers

One of the biggest seizures in the EU involving fake spirits took place just two days before Christmas, it has emerged. A well-coordinated action in the Netherlands between OLAF and the Dutch customs authorities led to the seizure of more than 147,000 bottles of counterfeit rum, an equivalent of 10 containers.  The final destination of…

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Protecting the EU’s IP

The European Commission published today the latest report on protection and enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in third countries. While developments have taken place since the publication of the previous report, concerns persist and a number of areas for improvement and action remain to be addressed. Intellectual property rights infringements worldwide cost European firms…

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Wealth Effects of WTO Membership

A new report says that the USA, China and Germany are the countries that benefit the most worldwide from their accession to the WTO. They achieve by far the largest income gains, which are directly attributable to their membership in the trade organization.  For the United States, income gains amount to about 87 billion US…

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Transport

 

Geert Pauwels Wins 2020 European Railways Award

The 2020 European Railway Award was presented today (18 February) to Geert Pauwels, for successfully developing a strategy making rail freight a profitable business, thereby boosting the attractiveness of rail freight and encouraging a modal shift from road to rail. The Award was handed over to Pauwels by Libor Lochman, CER Executive Director, and Philippe Citroën,…

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Impact of Longevity on Society and Transport

A new report launched today by the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC), supported by LV= General Insurance, argues that advances in automated driving, electric vehicles and ridesharing could enable older people to maintain their social connections for longer. Since the widespread adoption of private cars in the second half of the twentieth century, driving has…

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Italy Asked to Excuse Taiwan from Flight Ban

Taiwan has requested the Italian authorities to excuse the island from a three-month flight ban imposed last Sunday on all flights from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan to Italy. The decision of the Italian Health Authorities is intended to halt the spread of coronavirus to Italy, and is based on advice from the WHO that…

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Technology

 

Psy-ops and disinformation campaign in Italy amid crisis

This article first appeared on the website IGTDS The Institute for Global Threats and Democracy Studies, and is reproduced with permission from the authors. A group of Russian military arrived in Italy exactly at the same moment as an active campaign was launched across social networks, calling for the country’s withdrawal from the EU. The…

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Taiwan Leads Scientific Fight Against COVID-19

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) originated from Wuhan, China and now commands the attention of the world. Not because of the fatality rates of the victims who catch it, but because of the highly infectious nature of the virus and its rapid transmission across the world.  This epidemic has claimed over 4,000 lives, it has infected…

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Open Knowledge Foundation welcomes digital strategy

Commenting on the EU’s blueprint on shaping Europe’s digital future, published last week by the European Commission, Catherine Stihler chief executive of the Open Knowledge Foundation, said: “This long-awaited blueprint for Europe’s digital landscape is very welcome and a giant step forward for a fair, free and open future.”  “This is the greatest opportunity and…

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