European Landowners Organisation: ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT

 

imageThe European Confederation of Maize Production (CEPM), an association of European maize producers, is making its presence felt in Brussels by organising on 24th April a seminar on innovative agro-economic solutions offered by maize-growing in the framework of greening under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The seminar stimulated discussion among over 70 people, including EU Institution officials, attachés from Permanent Representations, representatives of sectoral associations and environmental NGOs (e.g. BirdLife), and journalists.
Winter cover of post-maize soil ensures the greatest possible agronomic and environmental benefits, provided it respects the required recommendations. In the absence of winter cover, there is an alternative: mulching, an agronomic technique practised since the 17th century in the valleys of great rivers such as the Garonne, the Danube and the Rhine.
Mulching involves grinding the residues of crops and incorporating them superficially into the soil. It is particularly suitable for maize crops as the stalks of maize are neither used nor exported.

Dr. Johannes Ausserladscheiter, European Court Experts

Dr. Johannes Ausserladscheiter, European Court Experts presents ELO News

Moreover, this sensible use of residues leads to excellent results in terms of return of organic material to the soil, carbon sequestration, protecting against erosion and equally reducing the risk of disease and parasites without recourse to chemical substances.
To continue being applied, mulching needs to be recognised by the Commission as an “equivalent practice” to winter cover in the framework of the CAP greening. For this purpose, Member States have to notify the Commission of their intention to grant equivalence to these practices.

Ultimately, the Commission can make the final decision.
By taking a proactive approach, the workshop clearly demonstrated the advantages of the innovative practices put forward by the maize sector for the CAP greening, keeping in mind that in the long run those solutions will have to become more widespread to anticipate future directions of the CAP in the 2020 horizon.

 

ELO: Innovative solutions for the new CAP greening

 

 

 

Washington. White House News

WASHINGTON — Reacting to a series of highly publicized rapes on college campuses, the White House on Monday released guidelines that increase the pressure on universities to more aggressively combat sexual assaults on campus.

The recommendations urge colleges, among other measures, to conduct anonymous surveys about sexual assault cases, adopt anti-assault policies that have been considered successful at other universities and to better ensure that the reports of such crimes remain confidential. The guidelines are contained in a report by a White House task force that President Obama formed early this year, and the administration is likely to ask Congress to pass measures that would enforce the recommendations and levy penalties for failing to do so. The government will also open a website, NotAlone.gov, to track enforcement and provide victims with information.

US President Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama

Stepping Up to Stop Sexual AssaultFEB. 7, 2014
Many advocates for such a crackdown may see the proposals as an inadequate response to a crisis, but the White House is hamstrung about what it can do without congressional action and has just begun its own attack on the issue.

“Colleges and universities need to face the facts about sexual assault,” Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said. “No more turning a blind eye or pretending it doesn’t exist. We need to give victims the support they need, like a confidential place to go, and we need to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

The task force says that one in five college students has been assaulted, but that just 12 percent of such attacks are reported.

Mr. Obama appointed the panel after a number of recent cases — at Yale, at Dartmouth and at Florida State — focused attention on the problem and led to accusations that college and university officials are not doing enough to police sexual crimes committed by students. The resulting furor has led to calls that Washington, where Congress and the administration are already moving to crack down on sexual assault in the military, take similar action when it comes to colleges and universities.

“The American people have kind of woken up to the fact that we’ve got a serious problem when 20 percent of coeds say they’ve been sexually assaulted,” said Representative Jackie Speier, Democrat of California.

Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, said the recommendation for mandatory sexual assault surveys “has been consistently the No. 1 request of student survivors and advocates.”

“I am pleased that the task force has recommended this important step to increasing transparency and accountability, and look forward to growing our bipartisan coalition supporting this and other much-needed reforms,” she said.

The report emphasizes that universities need to do a better job to make sure that sexual assault reports remain confidential. Sometimes fears that reports will become public can discourage victims from coming forward.

The task force further found that many assault-prevention training efforts are not effective, and it recommends that universities and colleges institute programs like those used at the University of New Hampshire and the University of Kentucky, which train bystanders on how to intervene.

Lawmakers and the White House have previously condemned the assaults on campuses, but the federal government has largely left responses up to college officials and the local authorities. Congress last year passed the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, which requires that domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking cases be disclosed in annual campus crime statistics. But victims’ advocates say that does not go far enough.

And a federal law from two decades ago that requires colleges and universities to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses, including sexual offenses, is rarely enforced, critics say.

There have been some high-profile instances in which the Department of Education has gotten involved in an effort to raise awareness by imposing fines at universities where the most egregious cases have been reported.

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Last year, the agency fined Yale University $165,000 for failing to disclose four sexual offenses involving force over several years. Eastern Michigan University paid $350,000 in 2008 for failing to sound a campus alert after a student was sexually assaulted and killed. The department also reached a settlement last year with the University of Montana at Missoula after investigating the university’s sexual-misconduct policies and finding them woefully inadequate.

Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, universities that violate student rights in sexual assault cases also risk the loss of federal funding, but the punishment has never been applied.

In the recommended “climate surveys,” participants anonymously report their experiences with unwanted physical contact, sexual assault or rape, and how their schools responded. Some lawmakers would like to see such surveys be mandatory and to possibly make federal funds like Pell grants contingent on their being carried out.

Ms. Gillibrand and Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, who both spent much of last year trying to legislatively police sexual assault in the armed forces, have now turned significant attention to such problems on the nation’s campuses.

“After a year of working hard to reform how the military handles sexual assault cases,” Ms. Gillibrand said in an email, “the stories I have heard from students are eerily similar.”

Ms. McCaskill said she planned to conduct her own survey of 350 colleges.

In all, nearly a dozen senators seeking new federal funding to battle campus sexual assaults.

World Farmers Organisation, News

imageCyprus asks for EU help after the worst drought since 1901

The Mediterranean island of Cyprus is experiencing the worst drought since 1901. The Minister of Agriculture Nicos Kouyialis will ask for assistance from the EU due to the problems caused by the scarcity of drinking water but also to support agriculture. According to experts, in the winter season 2013-2014 on the island fell only 204 millimeters of rain despite the occasional downpours. This is the worst year ever recorded since, in 1901, the weather service began keeping records of annual rainfalls. Minister Kouyialis, as it was announced to local media, will present the request for financial assistance during the work of the Council of Agriculture and Fisheries of the EU in Luxembourg. The Minister will inform the members of the Council about the situation caused by prolonged drought and report in particular the alarming low level reached by the water storage in the island.

New EU programme to strengthen land governance in ten African countries
A new programme worth €33 million to improve land governance and help improve the food and nutrition security of family farmers and vulnerable communities in Sub Saharan Africa, was announced today by Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs. This will be done, among other things, through the application, at country level, of some Voluntary Guidelines set up by the international community in 2012 to improve land governance.

Roughly 1.2 billion people worldwide live without permanent homes, land access or formal property rights, a reason which is often used for their land to be attributed to large scale land investors. Therefore, land governance issues are strongly linked to key challenges such as food scarcity, water shortages or urban and population growth.

Speaking ahead of the high level conference on land tenure, due to take place today at the European Parliament in the presence of President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso, Commissioner Piebalgs said: „I am convinced that these land tenure guidelines, which recognise farmers’ ownership and access rights, are essential to achieve efficient, sustainable and inclusive agriculture, and to promoting human rights and peace in society. This new programme will help farmers, and specially women, to make a living and feed their families, without fear of losing their property.“

Dr. Johannes Ausserladscheiter - European Court Experts, Forum for Agriculture Brussels

Dr. Johannes Ausserladscheiter – European Court Experts, Forum for Agriculture Brussels

Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloș, who will also attend today’s event, added: „Improving land tenure management is a key challenge to strengthen family farms, encourage investments in agriculture and increase food security. We need to support African countries concretely by sharing our experience in this field to make sure that guidelines and voluntary processes are translated into national legislation or into standard contracts for local governments.“

Other activities of this new programme include:

• the development of new land registration tools and digital land registry techniques for example through satellite images

• support to local organisations and civil society groups in making farmer groups (particularly women and young people) aware of their land rights so they are able to maintain them

• formalisation measures will be put in place to make land use legitimate; e.g. the provision of property deeds and relevant documentation to recognise land rights

The programme will be rolled out across ten African countries: Angola, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan and Swaziland.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) contributes to the in-country implementation of the programme: in Somalia, it will carry out an in-depth assessment on territorial rights and will set up strategies on land management. In Kenya it will review and harmonise the national strategies, policies and legislation required for strengthening of institutions and for the building up of future strategies.

Ahead of the event, Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director General of the FAO said: „Any solutions for eradicating poverty must examine the ties between rights, entitlements, opportunities and poverty, with a special emphasis on empowering the most vulnerable. Only an empowered population, with secure rights and a stake in their future can move a nation forward and transform natural assets into wealth.“

Background
The concept of this programme is to apply at country level the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT), adopted by the Committee of World Food Security (CFS) in 2012. They were seen as a major step forward by the international community to improve land governance at a global level.

imageLand governance is a particular challenge in many developing countries; particularly for smallholder farmers who often struggle to gain recognition for a communal area or agricultural investments. Many countries suffer from the lack of a transparent and effective land ownership system, with no public registration system. Fragile states are particularly volatile in terms of land tenure. Setting up a clear legislative framework for land registration and governance in this context is crucial.

The issue of land ownership will become increasingly important as the world population is expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050. Additional pressure is put on land through food and biofuel production, as well as the importance of preserving forest basins and climate change.

Today’s ‘High-Level Conference on Property Rights: Land Tenure Security, the Missing Key to Eradicating Poverty’ will be hosted by Commissioner Piebalgs and MEP Nirj Deva at the European Parliament, from 2pm-7pm. Other high level invitees included President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso, Dacian Cioloș, European Commissioner for Agriculture, HE Raymond Tshibanda, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of Congo, HE Pierre Mabiala, Minister for Land Affairs and Public Domain, The Republic of Congo, HE Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibaly, Minister of Agriculture, The Ivory Coast, Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director General FAO and Klaus Deininger, Lead Economist at the World Bank.

Today’s event marks ten years of strategic cooperation between the EU and the FAO.

Retail Investing: Short Term Concerns for Long Term Options Investing

imageRecently I presented the OICs (Options Industry Council) newest options seminar, Options Fundamentals. Options Fundamentals is part one OICs new three part series developed with retail investors in mind. This three part series is presented over three months with each section being presented one month after the previous section. Next month will be Trading and Understanding Risk and the last in the series is Option Trade Management.

Options Fundamentals covers the components of an option contract, the rights of option holders and the obligations of short option positions as well as some basic strategies such as buying calls and buying puts. I’ve been teaching options for the OIC for over 10 years now and have been in the options business since 1982. I’ve spent my career on the retail side of the business talking to and learning from Account Executives, Financial Advisors and Registered Reps for firms across the country. I’ve never traded firm money or made markets on the floor, I’ve always dealt with investors and their Registered Rep. – a role that I’ve always found enlightening and rewarding.

As the years passed, I’ve noticed large numbers of individual investors taking greater responsibility for their investments and taking a more active role in their financial futures. Many are turning to options, they have found that options are very flexible and offer solutions to short term concerns that long term investors come across from time to time. Many times investors are concerned about earnings or a new product release. This concern is short term, the investor believes in the company and may have owned the stock for years, but they may be concerned about a short-term event like bad earnings or a delayed product release. The thought process begins:

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European Court Experts, Wall Street News

What if the stock drops? What if the stock really drops? Should I sell, should I tough it out?

Here is where the protective put helps. The protective put acts like an insurance policy by establishing a short term (may be long term if a LEAP is used) possible selling price for the stock should something potentially negative occur. Sure you pay a premium for the policy and if the nothing bad happens you will lose that premium, but if it does, that protection can help minimize any loss. It is really no different than car or home insurance in many ways. Every six months I pay Joes All Star Insurance for collision and theft coverage for 2 cars and so far I haven’t collected, but I sleep better at night. The protective put acts the same way. The protection is there if you need it, but you’re happy when you don’t.

Another option strategy employed by long-term investors is the covered-write. Many times investors buy stocks hoping for a rise in the price but don’t see the rise they were expecting. Again, they believe in the stock, but could use a little additional income (can’t we all!).

Here’s where the covered-write may help. The investor can sell a call. Now a short call is an obligation to sell stock at a certain price within a certain period of time, so this position limits upside potential. However, in exchange for giving up that upside potential the investor receives a premium. That premium is his to keep no matter what happens to the stock. If the stock does not rise above the price before the options expiration date, the option expires worthless and the investor keeps the premium. If the stock falls, the investor still keeps the premium. If the stock rises high enough, the investor will be obligated to sell his shares. There are actions the investor can take to avoid selling the stock, this falls into trade management.

Wall Street, New York

Wall Street, New York

Trade management you ask? Do you like to buy and hold? Set it and forget it? If you prefer to set it and forget it then options may not be for you. Options require time, effort and some maintenance. You must be aware of stock movements and option movements; you must understand what happens if the stock goes up or goes down and what happens as time passes – all of which impact your investment.

Not every option strategy works in every situation, but they work in some situations that may apply to your needs. The flexibility offered to both short term, and long term investors is not found in any other financial product.

Once again they do require time and effort, but it’s your money and your financial future, isn’t that worth it?

Used properly options can help control risk, generate income or speculate on stock movements. Remember, options involve risk and are not for everyone. Be sure to know and understand the risks and rewards of any option strategy before entering into that strategy.

World Economic Forum: Realising the potential of Latin America

European Court Experts presents News from the European Economic Forum

European Court Experts presents News from the World Economic Forum

In the run-up to the World Economic Forum on Latin America 2014, President Ricardo Martinelli outlines Panama’s progress and invites you to participate in the discussions that will help to shape its future

It has been a privileged experience to lead this country and help chart its path of economic and social transformation over the course of the past five years. Based on a clear vision of the imperative of development and through an aggressive $20 billion investment plan focused on the areas where the country has its greatest potential, Panama has become the country with the highest economic growth in the region and presently rivals that of any other country in the world. Despite a troubled international economic environment, the rate of growth of its GDP has reached double digits for 2011 and 2012.

We can also now proudly say that Panama’s economy has become the second most competitive in Latin America, after that of Chile. We have, from the beginning, clearly appreciated that this progress must be based upon a joint effort between the local public and private sectors – securely grounded in free-market principles combined with a strong sense of social responsibility.

imageIn addition, Panama has come to stand out as one of the best places to establish business operations for multinational companies. Foreign direct investment has tripled – to $4.6 billion since 2009 – and the investment grade rating of its bonds has been maintained. As a result, Panama has achieved truly global commercial projection and is now one of the most outstanding centres of banking and other financial services in the world. And the number of tourists visiting our beautiful country is now more than 2.2 million annually.

What gives this impressive growth real meaning, however, is that it has come hand in hand with social progress. The past five years of strong economic performance has reduced the unemployment rate from 6.6% to 4.1%, inflation has been controlled, and the number of people afflicted by poverty has steadily fallen. Robust infrastructure investments in healthcare, public transportation and education have resulted in billions of dollars for new hospitals, a vastly improved and expanded transportation system, schools and other social services. Central America’s first subway system will be inaugurated in Panama City next month. Also, we are expecting that once its expansion is completed, Panama and Tocumen International Airport, which we call the “Hub of the Americas”, will become Latin America´s foremost point of connectivity.

For me, it is an honour to host the 2014 World Economic Forum on Latin America in Panama City. The Forum is a particularly prestigious organization that brings together the most important figures from government, the business community, academia and other key elements of civil society.

European Court Experts, International Relations

European Court Experts, International Relations

Panama has a wonderful story of accomplishment to tell. But even more importantly, the country now possesses the energy, dynamism and confidence to continue its trajectory in the coming years and decades – thereby contributing significantly to a hopeful regional future. The forthcoming event presents a unique opportunity for Latin America to double its efforts to achieve the bright future its peoples deserve. And we are confident that its deliberations will greatly contribute to that common objective.

Under the theme of Opening Pathways for Shared Progress, we invite you to accompany us in offering perspectives on, and thoroughly discussing, the opportunities and challenges outlined in the agenda: Driving Economic Dynamism, Innovation for Social Inclusion, and the Modernizing of Infrastructure. We Panamanians will make certain that our greatest infrastructure project – the Panama Canal and its ongoing expansion – figures prominently within that agenda, especially since this year we celebrate its 100th anniversary.

I deeply believe in the unique beauty, opportunities and potential of Panama – and Latin America as a whole. And I am most pleased to invite you all to become active participants in deliberations that will, hopefully, serve to guide the next stage of our region’s development.

European Court of Human Rights: Discours prononcé par S.A.R. le Grand-Duc lors de la Session Solennelle de la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme

Discours de Son Altesse Royale le Grand-Duc prononcé à l’occasion de la Session Solennelle de la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme, le 27 mars 2014
Monsieur le Président, Monsieur le Ministre, Mesdames et Messieurs les Juges, Excellences, Mesdames et Messieurs,
C’est avec beaucoup de gratitude que la Grande-Duchesse et moi-même avons accueilli vos paroles de bienvenue et votre initiative de nous inviter dans cette prestigieuse salle d’audience, où sont rendus la plupart des grands arrêts sur les droits de l’homme.

European Court of Human Rights

European Court of Human Rights

Notre rencontre d’aujourd’hui aurait dû avoir lieu plus tôt, il y a quelques mois. Le décès de M. Nelson Mandela l’a empêchée. J’ai regretté ce rendez-vous manqué, mais comme je me retrouve devant une haute assemblée composée de juges bienveillants, j’espère que vous nous accorderez des circonstances atténuantes pour notre désistement inopiné.
Je crois que l’hommage à Nelson Mandela auquel j’ai choisi de participer avec tant de chefs d’État le 10 décembre dernier ne pouvait vous laisser insensible, tant cette personnalité incarnait ce qui est au cœur de votre action quotidienne, c’est-à-dire la lutte pour la dignité humaine et des droits égaux entre les hommes. Cette qualité déjà insigne de M. Mandela fut encore dépassée par des valeurs morales exceptionnelles, comme la force du pardon et de la réconciliation. Quand le combat pour le droit s’allie à de telles vertus, le respect s’impose à tous. Pour dire un dernier mot du Président Mandela, je vous citerai une phrase tirée de son autobiographie que je trouve très belle: „Personne ne naît en haïssant une autre personne à cause de la couleur de sa peau, ou de son passé, ou de sa religion. Les gens doivent apprendre à haïr, et s’ils peuvent apprendre à haïr, on peut leur enseigner aussi à aimer, car l’amour naît plus naturellement dans le cœur de l’homme que son contraire“.
Monsieur le Président, Monsieur le Ministre,
Mesdames et Messieurs les Juges, Excellences,
Mesdames et Messieurs,
Le privilège qui m’est donné de m’exprimer dans cette enceinte est un motif de fierté pour les Luxembourgeois dans leur ensemble. Je voudrais naturellement rendre hommage à mon compatriote M. Dean Spielmann, qui préside cette Cour avec autorité et compétence depuis novembre 2012.
imageVotre parcours, Monsieur le Président, comme avocat spécialiste des droits de l’homme, puis votre action comme juge ici-même, vous ont valu une reconnaissance des plus enviables. L’élection par vos pairs en est la plus belle consécration.
Permettez-moi de profiter de l’occasion pour saluer également une autre compatriote en la personne de Mme Anne Brasseur, qui préside aux destinées de l’Assemblée parlementaire du Conseil de l’Europe depuis quelques semaines. Soyez rassurés, Mesdames et Messieurs, que cette situation rare, où un État membre de dimension modeste cumule de telles responsabilités au sein d’une organisation internationale de première importance n’est pas le résultat d’une volonté hégémonique du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg sur les institutions du Conseil de l’Europe.
Cette situation est bien le fruit de circonstances. Mais elle est aussi le reflet d’une appétence de mon pays pour les valeurs qui fondent la coopération au sein du Conseil de l’Europe depuis ses débuts, notamment le respect des droits de l’homme, le renforcement de la démocratie et la prééminence du droit.
Les épreuves traversées par un petit État coincé entre deux grandes puissances européennes, pire, les menaces directes pour sa survie pendant des décennies l’ont imprégné d’une sensibilité particulière à tout ce qui touche au respect du droit, qu’il concerne les États ou bien les personnes privées.
Il était naturel dès lors que le Luxembourg, un des membres fondateurs du Conseil de l’Europe, fût un allié de premier ordre de la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme dès sa naissance. Symboliquement c’est le Grand-Duché de Luxembourg qui a été le 10ème État à déposer auprès du Conseil de l’Europe l’instrument de ratification de la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme, permettant ainsi son entrée en vigueur. J’aime à rappeler que c’est ma grand-mère, la Grande-Duchesse Charlotte, qui a posé sa signature sous la loi d’approbation. Ce faisant, était exprimé l’engagement du Luxembourg pour une union des Européens „par le développement des droits de l’homme et des libertés fondamentales“.
Mesdames et Messieurs,
imageSur les relations étroites et intimes entre la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme et le Luxembourg, il y aurait tant à dire. Je me bornerai cependant à citer quelques exemples qui soulignent cette proximité. „Mir gin elo op Strossbuerg fir Recht ze kreien …“ „Nous allons maintenant à Strasbourg pour obtenir justice“ est devenue une locution si commune dans mon pays qu’elle est comprise par tous, bien au-delà des cercles initiés de la justice. Parce qu’elle sait parler d’elle-même lorsqu’elle l’estime nécessaire, la presse luxembourgeoise a donné beaucoup de relief aux recours dont elle était partie prenante, il y a une dizaine d’années.
Cette médiatisation des affaires aidant, le rôle de la Cour de Strasbourg a été maintes fois explicité à mes concitoyens. Ses arrêts ont conduit le législateur à moderniser le droit de la presse qui datait du XIXème siècle.

Même si leurs connaissances sur les modalités de saisine peuvent beaucoup varier, il demeure remarquable que les Luxembourgeois aient parfaitement conscience de ce droit de recours individuel qu’ils partagent avec 800 millions de ressortissants de 47 États membres, lorsqu’ils estiment que leurs droits sont enfreints.
L’autre exemple que je voudrais mettre en avant tient aux effets des arrêts de la Cour sur la législation ou sur les pratiques administratives et judiciaires nationales. Les rares fois où le Grand-Duché de Luxembourg a été condamné pour violation des dispositions de la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme, le gouvernement s’est empressé de répondre avec diligence aux griefs qui lui étaient adressés et surtout d’y trouver une réponse adéquate. Parfois ces réponses sont de portée fondamentale et initient des bouleversements institutionnels, comme lors de l’arrêt Procola en 1995.
J’ai des souvenirs très précis de cette période, où moi-même étant jeune membre du Conseil d’État, la séparation de ses fonctions consultatives et juridictionnelles s’imposa comme une nécessité. La refondation d’un ordre administratif séparé a constitué une des réformes institutionnelles les plus abouties au cours des dernières décennies. Chacun se félicite aujourd’hui de cette réforme de fond bien plus respectueuse de la séparation des pouvoirs.
Une autre innovation d’importance dans le cadre plus large de la protection des droits a trait à la mise en place en 2000 d’une Commission consultative des droits de l’homme, sur le modèle de la commission française créée par René Cassin. Cette commission examine, dans une sorte de contrôle ex-ante, les procédures mises en place afin de réaliser une protection effective des droits fondamentaux dans l’ordre juridique luxembourgeois. Il est important à nos yeux que chaque État membre se dote des institutions adéquates pour prévenir les violations de la Convention européenne et pour garantir la conformité de son ordre juridique aux droits fondamentaux. Cela permettra aussi de réduire le flot de recours dont votre Cour est saisi.

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European Court Experts presents European Court of Human Rights News

Monsieur le Président, Monsieur le Ministre, Mesdames et Messieurs les Juges, Excellences, Mesdames et Messieurs,
Depuis les années 1990, avec l’élargissement du Conseil de l’Europe à l’ensemble du continent, la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme a connu une évolution des plus spectaculaires. Grâce à l’introduction d’une cour permanente en 1998, elle a gagné en notoriété et en efficacité. Non seulement, elle constitue un organe de contrôle écouté, mais elle dispose aussi des moyens de pression efficaces pour faire appliquer ses jugements.
L’adhésion prochaine de l’Union européenne à la Convention des droits de l’homme, telle qu’elle est prévue par le traité de Lisbonne, annonce une nouvelle étape essentielle, même si quelques obstacles juridiques se dressent encore sur la route. La volonté politique est pourtant clairement affichée et l’importance de la Cour de Strasbourg en sera encore renforcée.
Certains commentateurs avisés ont comparé son rôle à celui de la Cour suprême des États-Unis : un corpus de droits fondamentaux intangibles interprétés par une juridiction qui vit dans son siècle et façonne par sa jurisprudence l’évolution des mentalités et la conception des droits de l’homme sur tout un continent. Lorsque l’on connaît le poids de l’institution américaine, la comparaison est des plus flatteuses.
J’ajouterai de mon côté que la pleine conscience de ce rôle invite surtout à l’humilité, parce que les droits de l’homme sont indissociables de la vie réelle et qu’ils ne peuvent donc être appréhendés uniquement de façon abstraite. Droits de l’homme et progrès vont de pair. Ils appellent de notre part à tous une démarche sans cesse renouvelée.
C’est à vous, Mesdames et Messieurs les juges, de faire en sorte que la dignité de l’homme soit respectée dans sa globalité afin que notre continent puisse vivre dans le respect des uns et des autres, conditio sine qua non d’une paix durable.

Court of Justice of the European Union

Formal sitting of the Court of Justice

imageSolemn undertaking before the Court of Justice of the European Union by seven new Members of the European Court of Auditors
Formal sitting of 10 March 2014
In accordance with the Treaties and after consulting the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, by decisions of 9 July 2013, 17 December 2013, 24 February 2014 and 27 February 2014, has appointed Mr Neven Mates (for the period from 15 July 2013 to 14 July 2019), Mr Alex Brenninkmeijer, Ms Danièle Lamarque, Messrs Nikolaos Milionis and Phil Wynn Owen (for the period from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2019) and Messrs Klaus-Heiner Lehne and Oskar Herics (for the period from 1 March 2014 to 29 February 2020) as Members of the European Court of Auditors.
Today, at noon, the Court of Justice of the European Union held a formal sitting during which the new Members of the European Court of Auditors gave the solemn undertaking provided for in the Treaties.

European Court Experts presents, Court of Justice of the European Union

European Court Experts presents, Court of Justice of the European Union

The General Court reduces the fines imposed on Innolux and LG Display for their participation in the cartel on the market for LCD panels
Innolux’s fine is reduced from €300 million to €288 million and that of LG Display from €215 million to €210 million
By decision of 8 December 20101 the Commission imposed fines totalling €648.925 million on six Korean and Taiwanese manufacturers of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels. It found that they had operated a cartel between October 2001 and February 2006. LCD panels are the main component of flat screens used in televisions and electronic notebooks.
The largest fines – €300 million and €215 million – were imposed on Innolux and LG Display respectively.
Both companies have brought actions before the General Court seeking annulment of the Commission’s decision or, failing that, reduction of the fines2.
In today’s judgments, the Court rejects most of the arguments put forward by Innolux and LG Display and upholds the substance of the Commission’s decision. It does, however, slightly reduce the fines imposed on each of the companies.
The Court observes that Innolux had made errors when it provided the Commission with the data necessary for calculating the value of relevant sales in that it had included sales relating to products other than the LCD panels subject to the cartel. The Commission confirmed before the Court that those products should not have been included in the calculation. The errors arose because Innolux had not explained the specifications of certain LCD panels to the external specialist consultants that it had chosen to compile the data to be provided to the Commission.

European Court Experts

European Court Experts

As a result, the value of sales used by the Commission in setting the fine was too high. Accordingly, the Court, in the exercise of its unlimited jurisdiction, considers it appropriate to calculate the fine on the basis of the lower, corrected, sales value, even though Innolux was negligent when it provided the Commission with inaccurate data. That failure to act with due care does not give grounds for concluding that Innolux’s breach of its obligation to cooperate was such that it must be taken into account, to the detriment of Innolux, when the fine is set. Applying the same method as that used by the Commission in the decision, the recalculated fine amounts to €288 million instead of €300 million.
As regards LG Display, the Commission made only one error in setting the fine in that it took the month of January 2006 into account when calculating the average value of sales. As the Commission had, under the Leniency Notice3, granted LG Display partial immunity in respect of January 2006 for having provided information relating to the cartel, that period should have been excluded from every stage of the calculation of the fine. Thus, if January 2006 is excluded not only from the multiplier for the duration of the infringement, but also from the calculation of the average value of relevant sales, the fine imposed on LG Display must be reduced from €215 million to €210 million.

European Commission: Satellite applications for emergency handling, traffic alerts, road safety and incident prevention

With supporting infrastructure and applications in place, SafeTRIP technology could allow automatic payment of road-user charges (such as road tolls or congestion charges) across Europe or give passengers the ability to look for hotels or restaurants and book them while on the move.

Getting from A to B on European roads could become an easier, safer and more entertaining experience thanks to a new mobile technology platform for vehicles demonstrated by the SafeTRIP project.
Satellite navigation is now a commonplace technology in road vehicles. But the main advantages of satellites – their ability to provide a uniform, reliable and quickly updated service across large geographical areas – provide opportunities for many other services.
imageThe SafeTRIP project demonstrated the possibilities for commercial services based around the S-band communication channel available via the Eutelsat 10A satellite. This channel is optimised for broadcast multimedia content delivery and two-way data communication via small mobile units that are ideal for vehicle applications.
“However, to realise these opportunities requires the demonstration of the concept and the development of a standardised platform, and that is essentially what SafeTRIP has achieved,” says Guy Frémont, coordinator of the project and Director of New Technologies for French autoroute operator Sanef. “We have defined the architecture of the system and also worked through the standardisation issues required to implement the technology.”
This business model – to develop an open standardised architecture for low-cost terminals – is the same as that used for other successful mobile devices, such as satellite navigation and GSM technologies. And the model allows third-party software developers to produce applications for download, initiating a new and valuable market for ‘apps’.
Opportunities for ‘apps’
The technology would also be of interest to insurance companies – for pay-as-you-drive cover or stolen-vehicle tracking – vehicle fleet managers and car manufacturers, allowing for software updates and remote-vehicle diagnostics to be implemented.
Safety applications are an important feature via an automatic emergency alert system that connects with roadside assistance services or a local garage in the event of an accident or breakdown. The technology is interoperable with the new European Commission eCall service but would offer enhanced features.

European Court Experts, European Commission, Mobile Broadband

European Court Experts, European Commission, Mobile Broadband

One unique feature is the ability to include video within an emergency call. “This would allow a roadside assistance company to be able to respond to an emergency call immediately and assess the urgency of the situation,” explains Frémont. The system could be used to provide breakdown assistance or advice remotely.
The same concept is useful for road traffic-management authorities. The ‘patrol with eyes’ concept enables data to be collected and transmitted from a variety of sensors on a patrol vehicle to a central control room to help traffic management or other tasks.
“The data might include the road condition, the state of its surface, or information on congestion,” says Frémont. “Or the patrol could help manage incidents, giving the control centre a real time view of the situation.”
Traffic management can also benefit from collected data flows, such as traffic volume, weather conditions or pollution indexes. Information on road conditions could be instantly broadcast to vehicles via a short message service or satellite navigation maps updated ‘on the fly’ to reflect road conditions or temporary road closures.
Mobile broadcasting
Other opportunities lie in the ‘broadcast’ capabilities of the satellite technology. “Passenger entertainment or ‘infotainment’ applications are of major interest. Future services could include live TV and digital radio or video on demand,” says Frémont.
imageThe DVB-SH standard available via the S-band on Eutelsat is optimised for mobile conditions – even at high vehicle speed – and would allow passengers to access programmes via their portable smartphone or tablet computer, for example. Or the output of the SafeTRIP box could be integrated into the vehicle’s audio-visual entertainment system. Such a system was demonstrated in both private cars and a Eurolines coach during the project.
In fact, during the project all aspects were successfully demonstrated on a variety of vehicles and across Europe. Feedback was very positive and the next step is commercial exploitation.
The project involved testing the concept using a PC platform. The next stage is to reduce the size of the on-board unit and look at cost reduction. There will also be a need to involve vehicle manufacturers and other players in the value chain. Five industrial partners involved with the SafeTRIP project are working on industrialisation and commercialisation plans.
“This will need significant further investment to become a commercial product,” concludes Frémont. “But in a few years it is possible that SafeTRIP units will be on the market.”
Safe TRIP was one of the EU projects winning the contest „Les Étoiles de l’Europe“ organised by the French Ministry of Innovation and Research on December 16, 2013.
The prize, at its first edition, awarded the 12 best French researchers and coordinators that excelled in the leading of innovative European projects in all domains.

Trade Defence Instruments

EUROPEAN COMMISSION WELCOMES EUROEPAN UNION INDUSTRY’S AGREEMENT WITH CHINA IN THE POLYSILICON ANTI-DUMPING AND ANTI-SUBSIDY CASES

Karel de Gucht, Commissioner for Trade. European Commission

Karel de Gucht, Commissioner for Trade. European Commission

After China initiated anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations on European imports of polysilicon to China in November 2012, the German polysilicon producer Wacker Chemie AG and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) have today announced that an agreement has been found to settle the proceedings through a price undertaking.

European Union Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht stated: ‘I am very satisfied that China will not impose trade defence measures on European polysilicon exports. With this agreement, our industry will be able to pursue its operations in China where there is a substantial demand for high quality polysilicon. The European Commission and the German Government have worked hand in hand over the last couple of months to strongly support Wacker Chemie AG in its negotiation for an economically viable minimum import price. I am confident the removal of this trade irritant will strengthen the EU – China bilateral relationship.’

Background

The agreement reached between Wacker Chemie AG and MOFCOM consists of a price undertaking, a solution foreseen by applicable WTO rules. The agreement involves that European exports of polysilicon are not sold below a specific minimum price in China, whereas China agreed to refrain from imposing anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on the imports.

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European Union, China. Trade Defense Instruments

China initiated the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy proceedings on imports of polysilicon from the European Union in November 2012. Polysilicon is a major input for the production of solar panels. The German producer Wacker Chemie AG accounts for practically all polysilicon exports from the EU to China which had a value of around € 700 million in 2011.

In January, China released its preliminary findings in this case claiming that EU polysilicon exports were exported at a lower price than sold in Europe, a practice called dumping, and subsidized, and that these exports caused injury to the Chinese polysilicon producers. The European Commission has consistently defended the view that the case made by the Chinese authorities was unfounded and that the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy margins provisionally determined by Chinese investigators were inflated.

The European Commission and Chinese solar panel producers reached a similar agreement in August 2013 in the context of EU’s anti-dumping and anti-subsidy proceedings on Chinese solar panels. The European Commission and the German Government fully coordinated their approach vis-à-vis China with the objective to find a similar solution for polysilicon. They advised Wacker Chemie AG inter alia on technical issues and were in constant contact with the Chinese authorities in order to ensure that Wacker’s arguments were duly taken into account.