Wednesday, 27th July 2011
Cultural organisations including drama, dance and other artistic groups are being encouraged to avail of EU grants worth up to €30,000 before a deadline of September 1st.
The European Cultural Foundation allocates "collaboration grants" averaging at €15,000 to projects by independent groups working together across borders and disciplines. In order to qualify for a grant, the principal applicant must be a cultural group based in any EU country, although partner applicants can work in sectors outside the cultural field, such as local authorities.
Munster MEP Sean Kelly, a member of the European Parliament's Culture and Education Committee, has urged cultural groups to grasp the funding opportunity with both hands. "Ireland has a wonderful, thriving cultural heritage and this scheme represents another chance to expand the reach of cross-border projects," said the Fine Gael MEP.
MEPs in bad Moody's over US rating agencies
Irish MEPs have joined the growing chorus of criticism throughout Europe against US credit rating agencies, after they downgraded Irish and Portuguese debt to "junk" status earlier this month alongside that of the most embattled eurozone economy, Greece.
Fine Gael MEP Jim Higgins urged the President of the European Commission to confirm whether he will set up an EU ratings agency to more accurately assess the economic performance of each country without adding unnecessarily to destabilising market jitters. Commission President José Manuel Barroso was to the forefront of the EU-wide attack on ratings agency Moody's, claiming the decision to downgrade Portugal and Ireland was "incomprehensible" and suggested an "anti-European bias".
However Mr Higgins has now called on Mr Barroso to follow through on his words and put a swift end to the activities of US rating agencies in Europe. "They are anonymous companies with vested interests and they make their money by betting against particular economies and then hoping there will be a market swell against them," said the Fine Gael MEP.
Last year, the EU's Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier announced plans to put North American credit rating agencies under the thumb of an EU agency, and a more detailed proposal on this is expected before the end of the year. In the meantime, Mr Barnier has vowed to consider the option of suspending ratings on EU member countries receiving bailouts, including Portugal, Ireland and Greece.
The three largest US rating agencies Moody's, Standard and Poor's and Fitch have already been widely blamed for their role in the financial meltdown, by fuelling the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the States. They are also accused of conflict of interest as they are paid as consultants by the same banks whose debt they rate.
EU wants to halve food waste by 2025
Catering firms that agree to redistribute their unused or unsold food items to charitable groups for free could be awarded lucrative public contracts, under a new plan being considered by MEPs in Brussels.
A report entitled "Avoiding Food Waste" recommends changing public procurement rules across Europe so that companies are rewarded for reducing the amount of food waste they generate. The proposal is one of a number of measures aimed at halving the amount of food waste produced in the EU, which currently stands at 90 million tonnes a year. In Ireland alone, an estimated one million tonnes of food waste is created annually, mostly by the manufacturing sector.
Irish MEP Liam Aylward, who is helping to draft the report for the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee, says redistributing unused food within State service providers would deliver immediate cost-saving results. "The majority of people think of food waste as the food and leftovers that go in the rubbish bin at the end of the meal, however it's clear that food waste occurs in unacceptable quantities at each stage of the food supply chain, and wastage by consumers is only the tip of the iceberg," said the Fianna Fáil MEP.
Irish research will benefit from EU funding boost
Irish third level colleges, research organisations and private sector industries are being urged to make the most of the EU's biggest ever research funding programme launched in Brussels this week.
Ireland's European Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn announced a €7 billion package, to be made available in 2012 under the EU's Seventh Framework Programme for Research, known as FP7. A further €11 billion will be available in 2013.
Irish MEP in Kazakhstan, but not on holidays
Socialist MEP Paul Murphy hit the international headlines this week during a trip to Kazakhstan, when he took issue with reports in the Kazakhstan national press that he was only visiting the country "in a personal capacity".
The 27 year old Dubliner dismissed the release as "an attempt to undermine the purpose of my visit" which was to investigate ongoing workers' rights abuses in the country as part of a delegation of MEPs.
Mr Murphy's political grouping within the European Parliament, the European United Left/Nordic Green Left Group, also rushed to his defence, issuing a press release to confirm that the Irish MEP was on an official delegation to meet with Kazakh trade union representatives and activists.
Mr Murphy also found himself in hot water over a report in the United Press International where he was alleged to have claimed that 4,000 Kazakhstan oil workers were on strike. The oil company in question claimed that Mr Murphy's statement "did not conform to reality" as only 850 people had failed to report for work out of staff total of over 9,000 people". Labour disputes within Kazakhstan's booming oil industry are spreading rapidly despite a repressive regime, with many workers complaining that they are paid a fraction of the salaries of their Western colleagues.
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Google AlertWhen a company which has it's European Headquarters here in Ireland is called 'evil' and 'immoral' by M.P.s in The House of Commons you tend to sit up and take notice. The particular company that was being referred to was Google and the reason it had enraged M.P.s in London was because even though it has a big operation there and conducts a lot of business there it pays no corporate tax. It does this by having all of its financial transactions finished here in Ireland. And the company here is …
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