EU News & Highlights

Highlights 27th – 31st March 2017

Commission’s Chief negotiator for the Article 50 negotiations with the UK, Michel Barnier’s speech

Michel Barnier, spoke to the Committee of the Regions on 22 March, where he outlined three necessary conditions for reaching an agreement with the UK:

  • Unity of the remaining 27 EU member states;
  • Removing uncertainty, especially for EU citizens living in the UK, British citizens living in the EU and regional and local authorities benefitting from EU programmes;
  • Doing things in the right order.

He also explained that there will be no “exit bill”, no punishment, and that Brits won’t be asked to pay a single euro they have not agreed to as an EU member. He quoted Winston Churchill saying “the price of greatness is responsibility” and added “that is true for Britain and also for us”. He warned of serious consequences in the event of no deal between the EU and the UK following the two years of negotiations. He agreed with Theresa May about “a bold and ambitious free trade agreement” and said the EU and the UK can be ambitious together. He made clear nevertheless that the best relationship with the EU is to be a member of it. Full speech..

Digital EU: from super computers to cross-border consumer loans

Two different initiatives outline the EU’s ambition to make its economy fit for the digital age. Seven member states – France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain – committed to support the next generation of computing and data infrastructure, the so called high-performance computers. Separately, the European Commission is looking into how technology and online services can support a more integrated market in financial services, allowing consumers to borrow cross-borders or helping them avoid unnecessary charges in financial transactions or car rental, among others. More…


The Treaties of Rome at 60: Commission recalls Europe’s achievements and leads discussion on the future at 27

On Saturday 25 March, the 27 Heads of State or Government and the Presidents of the EU institutions will sign the Rome Declaration – in the room where exactly 60 years ago the Rome Treaties were signed. The Rome Declaration will feature the Union’s past achievements, and present the challenges it faces. All this follows the publication on 1 March of the Commission’s White Paper on the Future of Europe, which seeks to kick-start discussions on what kind of future Europeans want for the EU. More…

Highlights 20th – 24th March 2017


Erasmus+ Funding during Article 50 negotiations

The European Commission has confirmed that during negotiations under Article 50, European Union treaties and law continue to apply to the UK, and this applies to projects financed through Erasmus+. The UK Government has also confirmed that while we remain in the EU we retain all our rights and obligations as a Member State, including the right to participate in Erasmus+ More…

The Opportunity Europe Euro Quiz 2017 has now been launched for post-primary schools in Northern Ireland to enter!


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The closing date for entries is 5pm on WEDNESDAY 12 APRIL 2017 More..

Commission launches call for applications for the selection of members of the “Support to Circular Economy Financing Expert Group”

As part of the Circular Economy Finance Support Platform launched on the 26th January 2017, the European Commission has set up a group of experts.
The group’s tasks shall be to provide the Commission with advice and expertise to support the generation and financing of circular economy in the Member States. It will provide recommendations regarding concrete measures to facilitate circular economy project financing.

The Commission is calling for applications with a view to selecting members of the group other than Member States’ authorities and other public entities.

The deadline for application is 9 May 2017. More...

Highlights 13th – 17th March 2017

Plans to adapt more books for blind people backed by Legal Affairs Committee

New draft rules to make more books available in formats designed for blind and visually impaired people were approved by the Legal Affairs Committee on Thursday. The draft legislation, which brings EU law into line with the Marrakesh Treaty, provides for copyright exceptions for formats such as audiobooks and Braille.


2015 Eleven Member States already achieved their 2020 targets

In 2015, the share of energy from renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy reached 16.7% in the European Union (EU), nearly double 2004 (8.5%), the first year for which the data are available.

The target to be reached by 2020 for the EU is a share of 20% energy from renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy. However, renewables will continue to play a key role in helping the EU meet its energy needs beyond 2020. For this reason, Member States have already agreed on a new EU renewable energy target of at least 27% by 2030.



Highlights 6th – 10th March 2017

How to set campaign objectives, impact indicators and how to measure results

This is a second webinar to improve skills in designing successful communication strategies. It should assist potential beneficiaries in designing successful programmes. In addition, it can help companies and organisations from the agri-food sector to better promote their products.

This webinar focuses on how to define the objectives of a communication campaign and how to measure campaign results and impact.  More…


Commission presents White Paper on the future of Europe: Avenues for unity for the EU at 27

As announced in President Juncker’s 2016 State of the Union speech, the European Commission today presented a White Paper on the Future of Europe, which forms the Commission’s contribution to the Rome Summit of 25 March 2017.



Space: Latest Copernicus launch will improve services for farmers, fishermen and other users of land and sea maps

The latest addition to the Copernicus satellite Earth observation family will halve the time needed to provide precision land-use data to benefit farmers, builders, fishermen and anyone who needs rapid access to up-to-the-minute data on conditions on the ground.




Highlights 27 February – 3 March

EPALE is a multilingual open membership community for teachers, trainers, researchers, academics, policy makers and anyone else with a professional role in adult learning across Europe.

Community is at the heart of EPALE. It is set up around the sharing of content related to adult learning, including news, blog posts, resources, and events and courses. EPALE is funded by the European Commission, as the latest development in an ongoing commitment to improving the quality of adult learning provision in Europe. More…

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The European Professional Card (EPC) is an electronic procedure you can use to have your professional qualifications recognised in another EU country. It is easier and quicker to manage than traditional qualification recognition procedures, and more transparent: you can keep track of your application on-line and re-use already uploaded documents to start new applications for different countries.

For the moment, you can use the EPC procedure only if you are:

a nurse responsible for general care
a pharmacist
a physiotherapist
a mountain guide
a real estate agent More…


Commission presents White Paper on the future of Europe: Avenues for unity for the EU at 27

As announced in President Juncker’s 2016 State of the Union speech, the European Commission today presented a White Paper on the Future of Europe, which forms the Commission’s contribution to the Rome Summit of 25 March 2017. It presents 5 scenarios for how the EU at 27 could evolve.

Scenario 1: Carrying On
Scenario 2: Nothing but the Single Market
Scenario 3: Those Who Want More Do More
Scenario 4: Doing Less More Efficiently
Scenario 5: Doing Much More Together   More…


How much do Europeans exercise?

While almost half (49.8%) of the population aged 18 or over in the European Union (EU) did not do any sport, almost a third (29.9%) spent at least two and a half hours per week of leisure time doing physical activities in 2014. This includes cycling as a form of transportation.

The proportion of those exercising for at least two and a half hours per week is higher for men (34.5%) than for women (25.6%). While the proportion of time spent on exercise tends to decrease with age, it tends to increase with the education level of the individual. Overall in the EU, 40.5% of the highly-educated people spent at least two and a half hours per week on physical activities, compared to less than a quarter (19.2%) of those with a low education level. More…

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Travel Writing Scholarship 2017
Are you able to write a compelling travelling story? Then you can win a 10-day travel writing trip to the Balkans (Croatia, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Kosovo) and be mentored by a New York Time writer!

Write a 2500-character travel essay about one the following topics: ‘making a local connection’, ‘out of my comfort zone’ or ‘a place I’ll never forget’. Three aspiring storytellers will be selected so don’t miss the deadline: 21 March 2017. More…


The European Solidarity Corps
The European Solidarity Corps is the new European Union initiative which creates opportunities for young people to volunteer or work in projects in their own country or abroad that benefit communities and people around Europe

The European Solidarity Corps brings together two complementary strands:

The volunteering strand offers young people, through a grant, the opportunity to carry out full time voluntary service of between 2 and 12 months.

The occupational strand provides young people with the opportunity of a job, traineeship or apprenticeship in a wide range of sectors that are engaged in solidarity activities and have a demand for highly motivated and socially minded young people.  More…
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€3 million prize up for grabs in materials for clean air challenge
Horizon Prizes are challenge or inducement prizes offering a cash reward to whoever can most effectively meet a defined challenge. The aim is to stimulate innovation and come up with solutions to problems that matter to EU citizens. Recently announced, the Horizon Prize on materials for clean air will be awarded to the most affordable, sustainable and innovative design-driven material solution that can reduce the concentration of particulate matter in urban areas. More…


Applications open for RegioStars Awards 2017
The objective of RegioStars, an annual competition organised by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, is to identify good practice in regional development and to highlight original and innovative projects which could be inspiring to other regions and project managers. There are five RegioStars Award categories for 2017:

Smart specialisation for SME innovation
Energy Union: climate action
Women empowerment and active participation
Education and training        More…


Consultation on the future of CAP
A three-month public consultation on modernising and simplifying the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was launched on 2 February by the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan.

The consultation will run between 2 February and 2 May 2017 and is available in 23 EU languages. Input from the consultation will contribute to the drafting of an EU Commission Communication that will address the current performance of the CAP and potential policy options for the future. For additional information, see the related Q&As.

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The European Commission (EC) and the European Agency for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (EASME) launched the pilot project “Ready2GO” aimed to support European SMEs to internationalise and become active in five target Third-Country markets.

A project by the European Commission and developed by an international consortium led by Promos Milan in collaboration with the Enterprise Europe Network, Ready2Go is an innovative new programme in which selected SMEs will be provided with the necessary tools for guaranteed success abroad.



Highlights 20 – 25 Feb 2017

European Heritage Days (EHD) is a joint action of the Council of Europe and the European Commission. The annual programme offers opportunities to visit buildings, monuments and sites, many of which are not normally accessible to the public. This year the theme for EHOD is “Heritage and Nature: A Landscape of Possibilities” with focus to be given to Heritage and Nature including Landscape, Territory, Sustainable Development, Biodiversity, Major Hazards and Climate Change.

Every September thousands of volunteers across the country invite you to experience local history, architecture and culture. All for free.

Heritage Open Days 2017 will be 7-10 September.

Applications are now open for EHOD 2017 which will take place on Saturday 9th and 10th September. More…

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Launch of ‘LID+’ programme to promote Erasmus++ in the UK
Lid+ is a year-long programme of free services and events that Lid+will promote, inform and provide access to, not to mention support your potential involvement in the Erasmus+ Programme. More…


German Teacher Award 2017
If you know a truly outstanding German language teacher at your school – make sure that their dedication and excellence get the recognition they deserve!

The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany is pleased to invite nominations for the annual German Teacher Award, now in its 14th successful year. The winners will receive a personal prize and a certificate. The prizes will be presented at a special ceremony during the “Sommerfest der Deutschen Sprache” in early summer 2017. More…


Protect yourself from cybercriminals! Follow these 8 tips on how to stay safe & secure when shopping online.


The European Commission published its annual analysis of the economic and social situation in the Member States, including an assessment of remaining imbalances.More…

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£184 million EIB backing for Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund
The British Business Bank has today launched its £400m Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF), aimed at boosting the North of England’s economy and helping the region’s businesses realise their growth potential. The European Investment Bank will provide £184 million for the new Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund. More…

Helping pupils in secondary schools in Dungannon understand the importance of having a language at GCSE when thinking about future employment in a global market place.


EU funded astronomer Michaël Gillon & intl team discover 7 new planets!


New EU environmental standards for large poultry and pig farms
New standards on resources and emissions will help national authorities across the EU to lower the environmental impact of around 20 000 large poultry and pig farms. The new specifications stem from the review of the Best Available Techniques (BAT) Reference Document for the intensive rearing of poultry and pigs (IRPP), the so-called IRPP BREF, whose conclusions were published on 21 February 2017 in the Official Journal of the EU. More…


The Commission publishes today its first report on the implementation of the List of Actions to advance LGBTI equality.
On that occasion, the Director-General for Justice and Consumers, Tiina Astola will present the main achievements at the High Ministerial Level Conference on LGBTI Mainstreaming in Malta 23 February 2017. More..


Highlights 13 – 17 Feb 2017

Energy consumption in the EU below its 1990 level…but EU dependency on fossil fuel imports on the rise.

Largest Energy Consumers in the EU:
2. France-16%,
3. UK-12%.     read full report

Making GCSE Choices
The is an important time when pupils make their GCSE choices and we were delighted to be asked to speak about the importance of languages for future employment in St Cairans’ Ballygawley.


Registrations open for the 10th European Maritime Day “the Future of our seas” in Poole, UK, 18-19 May

At the heart of European Maritime Day is the a 2-day conference “The Future of our Seas” in Poole, UK, on 18 and 19 May. High-level sessions and stakeholder workshops attract delegates & experts from across Europe and beyond.

The programme includes more than 30 stakeholder workshops and project pitches on the following themes: 1) Innovation & Growth, 2) People & Skills, 3) Safety & Security, 4) Sustainability & Governance. More…

In 2015, there were nuclear reactors in operation in 14 EU Member States generating more than 26 % of the electricity produced in the EU.
In 2015, the largest producer of nuclear power in the EU was France with a 51 % share of the EU total, followed by Germany (11 %), the United Kingdom (8 %), Spain and Sweden (both 7 %). These five Member States account for more than 83 % of the total amount of electricity generated in nuclear facilities in the EU. More…


Highlights 6 – 10 Feb 2017

What the CE means
The letters ‘CE’ appear on many products traded on the extended Single Market in the European Economic Area (EEA). They signify that products sold in the EEA have been assessed to meet high safety, health, and environmental protection requirements. When you buy a new phone, a teddy bear, or a TV within the EEA, you can find the CE mark on them. CE marking also supports fair competition by holding all companies accountable to the same rules.

By affixing the CE marking to a product, a manufacturer declares that the product meets all the legal requirements for CE marking and can be sold throughout the EEA. This also applies to products made in other countries that are sold in the EEA.  More…


Are you a start-up trying to find finance for your project?
If you are a start up trying to find finance for your project, you can take advantage of this option and search opportunities that best suit your needs and wants. Search here


Europe Direct NI delivered a workshop in Rainey Endowed, Magherafelt school how important languages are for employment and encouraging pupils to keep a language at GCSE.

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Highlights 30 Jan – 3 Feb 2017

Delivering intercultural competence training to a Women’s Centre, Dungannon looking at how we can misunderstand different cultural behaviours.  Great discussion on cultural clashes!


Executive Agency for SMEs (ESME) is looking for experts on coastal and maritime tourism: Help us evaluate project proposals.

Experts on coastal and maritime tourism are needed to help us select project proposals for funding under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and to monitor their implementation.

Experts on coastal and maritime tourism are invited to register in the European Commission’s database of experts in maritime and fisheries policy.

From this database EASME is selecting candidates with the most suitable profile for the following activities:

Evaluating project proposals submitted in response to EMFF calls for proposals, or Monitoring the implementation of actions funded under the EMFF.

Expert evaluators are asked to examine proposals against published criteria providing comments and scores which will form the bases of the European Commission’s funding decision. The experts’ working language is English; a good ability to write and discuss in English is an essential requirement. More…


Enterprise Europe Network is organising a free B2B matchmaking event on 8th March 2017 during Ecobuild, one of the biggest event in sustainable constructionthe world for sustainable construction.

The event will consist of pre-arranged one-to-one meetings, which will enable visitors and exhibitors to the ExCel exhibition to find potential commercial and technology partners from all over Europe.

Participants can register now on

Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem that does not have a simple solution. Thanks to the overuse of antibiotics in everyday life and agriculture, strains of so-called “superbugs” have evolved that cause us harm and have no clear weaknesses. This rising threat is so serious that the UN General Assembly convened last year for a health summit – just the fourth time in its history that it has ever done so.


Researchers at Oregon State University (OSU), have found a molecule that has been synthesized that reverses the antibiotic resistance of three groups of bacteria. More…

Circular Economy Stakeholder Conference: One year after adoption, working together for the future. Brussels, 9-10 March 2017


US travel ban: MEPs to hold debate with @FedericaMog. Watch it live tomorrow from 3pm CET here →

Highlights 23 – 27 January 2017

In Coleraine with high school students running workshops to encourage them to make languages one of their GCSE choices!

‘LID+’ is a year-long programme of free services and events that will promote, inform and support your potential involvement in the Erasmus+ Programme.

Funded by the European Commission (through its representation in London) The Inside Out Programme in Claudy, Northern Ireland is responsible for delivering this programme to support young people, young leaders, youth workers interested in developing an application to the Erasmus+ programme in 2017.

The project will work specifically to target (i) those interested in Volunteering Abroad (ii) taking part in Youth Exchanges and (iii) or developing other Key Action1 Mobility Projects including planning meetings, training programmes and seminars. More…

Highlights 16 – 20 January 2017

Designing the website for Euro-Youth MediaLab project with partners Sweden,France & Bulgaria. The aim of the project is to work with young people to explore what citizenship means to them and share it with other youth involved in the project. More…

In 1 year, 700+ European Professional Cards helped people get qualifications recognised across borders. The European Professional Card (EPC) is an electronic procedure you can use to have your professional qualifications recognised in another EU country. It is easier and quicker to manage than traditional qualification recognition procedures, and more transparent: you can keep track of your application on-line and re-use already uploaded documents to start new applications for different countries. More…

Highlights 9 – 13 January 2017

Want to do a Master abroad? Have a look at the Erasmus+ Master degree loans which could help fund your dream! More…

Annual inflation up to 1.6% in the United Kingdom and up to 1.2% in the EU More…

Eurodesk UK has launched a Call for Partners to support the delivery and promotion of its services across the UK in 2017, complementing the work of the existing Partner network.

The Eurodesk network is a recognised support structure under the Erasmus+ funding programme, and works closely with the Erasmus+ UK National Agency to provide information and guidance on Erasmus+ and other opportunities to youth organisations and young people.

Applications to join the network of Eurodesk Partners are welcome from UK organisations with experience in the youth sector. For more information please refer to the briefing note and application form below. More…

Highlights 1 – 6 January 2017

Erasmus for young Entrepreneurs: The European exchange programme for Entrepreneurs
Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs is a cross-border exchange programme which gives new or aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to learn from experienced entrepreneurs running small businesses in other Participating Countries. More..

The UK’s ambassador to the EU, Sir Ivan Rogers, has resigned 3 January 2017
Sir Ivan, appointed to the job by David Cameron in 2013, had been expected to play a key role in Brexit talks expected to start within months. The government said Sir Ivan had quit early so a successor could be in place before negotiations start. Last month the BBC revealed he had privately told ministers a UK-EU trade deal might take 10 years to finalise, sparking criticism from some MPs.