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The European Commission has for the second year running called all EU institutions to rigorous choices in drafting their expenditure estimates for 2013. At a moment of painful cuts for many national governments – Commissioner for Budget Jarusz Lewandowski has reminded in a letter – the EU institutional machine itself needs to lead by example containing its administrative expenditure, which currently amounts to around 5,8% of the total EU budget.

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Just when European governments are struggling to cope with the occupational emergency hitting the youngsters – an issue which will be at the forefront of the debate in today’s EU summit – a conference opens up in Brussels celebrating the 25 years of Erasmus, one of the most “visionary” and popular programme developed by the European Union. Launched in 1987 by the Commission chaired by Jacques Delors, and named after the great Dutch scholar, Erasmus has allowed almost three millions young Europeans to study and grow in a different European country over the last quarter of century. Building on that success, both the Parliament and the Commission hope to see even more students having the opportunity to enjoy such experience within the next Financial Framework, starting in 2014.

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Many obstacles and resistances still lie on the way to the implementation of a strong, united and attractive European Research Area (ERA), one of the key objectives of the Lisbon Strategy. The stakeholders, consulted by the Commission in the framework of an enquiry, have mentioned a number of problems to be solved in order to make Europe an attractive destination for research, including the lack of transparent recruitment procedures, the difficulties in cross-border mobility and cooperation, infrastructure deficiencies and question marks over career prospects and knowledge transfer. “With Europe crying out for growth, the ERA cannot wait any longer” – Commissioner for Research Màire Geoghegan-Quinn has underlined, committing to relaunch a strong partnership for its implementation.

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In the framework of the recently-launched European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations, the European Commission has launched a pilot initiative to support health ageing in Europe. A part of the broader “Innovation Union” flagship initiative, this Partnership seeks to enable EU citizens to lead healthy, active and independent lives while ageing, improve the sustainability and efficiency of social and health care systems as well as boost the competitiveness of the markets for innovative products and services in this sector. Working closely with national governments and other stakeholders, the Commission thus aims at to increase by 2 years the average number of healthy life years in the EU by 2020.

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In its monthly package of infringement decisions, the European Commission has notified its concern for the non-compliance to different pieces of legislation to all 27 member States. As for Italy, Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik has reiterated in an official letter to the government its worries about the implementation of legislation on environmental liability. Under the relevant directive, a legal framework is established on the basis of the “polluter pays principle” aiming at preventing and remedying environmental damage. Italy has now two months to comply with the shortcomings indicated, or the Commission may refer the case to the European Court of Justice.