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Friday, April 17, 2009

Business in Europe-patents and agriculture, 03, 2009

Today:
  1. Business leaders want 'European Skills Pact'
  2. Patent litigation reform to cut costs for SMEs
  3. Lawmaker seeks Chinese funds for European SMEs
  4. Europe warned about looming food import surge
  5. Commission wants to scrap 'throw-away' culture
Quote of the day: "We should start exporting angry french farmers for Russia's Far East!" (4)

Business leaders want 'European Skills Pact'

27 March 2009

A key report launched yesterday (26 March) at the European Business Summit urges governments to pay to train workers who would otherwise be laid off, in an effort to address the yawning skills gap that is opening up across Europe.

Under the proposed plan, companies considering lay-offs or putting staff on shorter working weeks can apply for public funds to boost the skills of their staff.

The report on skills and innovation, conducted by business school INSEAD, shows Europe faring well in basic skills and literacy but paints a grim picture of Europeans' ability to compete in the "global knowledge economy".

The study stressed that high levels of education alone are no guarantee of sustainable competitiveness.

The report, calls for a 'European Skills Pact' between Europe's educators, employers, investors, policymakers and citizens and sets out six priority actions which should be taken immediately:

  • Launch a Europe-wide private-public alliance to ensure the re-skilling of excess labour in times of crisis;
  • Re-focus the European Structural Funds earmarked for training and re-training in 2007-2013 towards the sectors most likely to contribute to Europe's competitiveness in post-crisis times;
  • Identify and scale-up successful public-private initiatives and partnerships (such as JetNet) aimed at stimulating young people's interest in mathematics, science and careers in engineering, information and communications technologies and environmental protection;
  • Enhance and develop high-level business-university partnerships to generate the 'Global Knowledge Economy' skills which Europe needs to realise the benefits of its Lisbon strategy and be a leader in innovation;
  • Encourage skills mobility within Europe, as well as between Europe and other parts of the world, and;
  • Foster innovative approaches to education, including through e-learning and distance learning, competition and innovation.source

My comment: Not too much to say. Obviously they are right and these things are important. But in the end, if those workers who would be fired don't have money for basic products, they won't be very good students. In fact, they won't care about studying. So I think much more should be done for guaranteeing the living needs of people and then we must try to educate them further. Actually, much better might be, those workers to be educated not in schools, but in another companies-this way the country might help companies to diversify their employees while keeping their production, to educate people and still, to provide people with enough money to survive. Which in the end would mean that the state will pay for example half the salary of those people.

Patent litigation reform to cut costs for SMEs

25 March 2009

The European Commission is seeking powers from EU member states to conclude an agreement on a Unified Patent Litigation System (UPLS), which would establish a court with jurisdiction for existing European patents and the future Community patent system.

The move has been presented as a boost for SMEs and private inventors, for whom the current system can be complex and costly.

According to the Commission, the UPLS will increase legal certainty, reduce costs and improve access to patent litigation for businesses.

In a statement , the Commission added that the proposed court system would support growth and innovation by allowing prompt settlement of disputes over intellectual property.

At present, patent holders seeking to protect their inventions throughout Europe may have to pursue parallel litigation in all countries where their patent is valid. This has led to considerable legal uncertainty in cases where courts in different member states issue contradictory judgements.

Under the UPLS, the ECJ would rule on preliminary questions raised by patent courts regarding the interpretation of EC law and regarding the validity and interpretation of acts from the Community institutions. The Commission will have to ensure that the rules of any draft agreement are consistent with the creation of a Community patent . source

My comment: Lovely. But until done, it's only a good idea. Anyway, I've said so much on patents. I just hope that this new court will really help small enterprises and inventors and not big companies. Because so far, Bigs are the only one to profit from patents.

Lawmaker seeks Chinese funds for European SMEs

24 March 2009

Irish MEP Gay Mitchell (EPP-ED) has called on the European Investment Bank (EIB) to persuade China to invest billions of euro in the bank, which would then be repaid through additional customs duties collected from increased trade.

Mitchell, who is the European Parliament's rapporteur on a joint report regarding the EIB and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), said such a move would ease the pressure on member states struggling to adhere to the terms of the Stability and Growth Pact due to rising levels of borrowing.

Presenting his report in Strasbourg today (March 24), he called for a 'Marshall Plan' to help boost SMEs, adding that the EIB was well placed to kick-start economic recovery by releasing funds to small businesses.

He said EU inward investment in China was €7.1 billion in 2007, while China's inward investment in the EU was just €0.6 billion. Increased trade would benefit both, he added.

Mitchell welcomed the EIB's decision to boost lending to SMEs, which he said would help member states work their way through the financial crisis and highlighted the €310 million being made available at low interest rates to Irish businesses. source

My comment: That's quite interesting because we know that China is the biggest lender to USA. So from one side-this MEP obviously want China to lend also to Europe-something that I oppose-we don't need more fictional money we need more value to our production. On the other hand, if Europe invest so much in China, it's because they sell the production back to the EU. So, if the EU gives them back the money from duties, then, this is a fine way to support European companies! Fun, right?

Europe warned about looming food import surge

24 March 2009

Former EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler last week called on Europe to significantly contribute to world food security by fulfilling its "production potential", as the continent moves from being a net exporter of foodstuffs to become a net importer.

"Europe's role as provider of food to the world is diminishing," and as 2015 approaches, the EU is expected to move from being a net exporter to a net importer of wheat, oilseeds and other commodities, said Franz Fischler, chairman of the Forum on the Future for Agriculture, last week.

This means that "the EU capacity to help fight world starvation will be reduced at a time in which food production will decline predominantly in those countries which already record increasing food import needs," Fischler added.

However, he predicted that Europe will become a "more secure production location" in comparison to other parts of the world, where higher food prices are driving deforestation. "Consequently, Europe has to take responsibility to significantly contribute to world food security and also to combat global warming by utilising its production potential," Fischler argued, adding that there is good potential new land to be cultivated in Eastern Europe, for example.

Indeed, one of the main challenges threatening global food supply is the lack of quality soil, which is under growing stress due to increasing populations, accelerated urbanisation and diversion of irrigated water towards cities.

Meanwhile, Fischler said "new land is insufficient" due to potentially polluted soil, doubtful property rights, government mismanagement, lack of adequate transportation infrasturucture to get food to market or simply urbanisation. In order to meet world food demand, "the necessary production growth will to a large extent have to be met by a rise in the productivity of the land already being farmed today," he added.

Increased productivity should, however, go hand-in-hand with increased environmental protection as the climate, environmental and food crisis are interconnected, Fischler went on.

Fischler welcomed in advance the Commission's upcoming White Paper on adaptation to climate change and its annexed working paper on agriculture, which "apparently advocates strengthening the CAP to discourage unsustainable practices" and "deals with crops with existing varieties as well as biotechnology products, heat-tolerant livestock breeds and modifications in animal diet patterns". source

My comment: Those White Papers are kind of a disease :) They are everywhere! Anyway, I can't see the use of Europe being a net exporter of food. Especially when there is so much more arable land outside Europe. Think Russia for example. True, they never were agricultue country, but there is so much space on the East. Why not use it?! I suggest exporting angy french farmers to Russia's Far East. Think how beneficial would be for everyone-Russia gets European population to the China's dream-land, Europe gets rid of the angry farmers, and we can set a joint-venture with Russia to sell the production. And when the farmers get too naughty, they'll annoy mr. Putin :) Sometimes, I'm so smart, I scare myself!

Commission wants to scrap 'throw-away' culture

27 March 2009

The European Commission urged European business leaders gathered at a summit in Brussels yesterday (26 March) to empower Europeans to consume more sustainably by offering them affordable and recyclable products.

Speaking at the European Business Summit in Brussels, Jivka Staneva, a member of EU Consumer Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva's cabinet, made the case for sustainable consumption and production (SCP).

Introducing sustainable manufacturing and consumtion patterns "takes a long time," but Europe cannot afford to adopt a 'wait-and-see' attitude, Staneva stressed during a session on SCP and greening the supply chain.

Businesses need to design durable and recyclable products and communicate on the eco-benefits of their products to empower consumers to consume differently and to get rid of the current "throw-away" culture, Staneva said. Changing consumer behaviour is part of "modern consumer policy" and more sustainable general behaviour, she added.

"It is important to make the sustainable choice an easy choice," she underlined. Easy choices need clear and comparable product information and must be affordable, and sustainable choices should in no way be a "luxury option", Staneva insisted. source

My comment:Yeah, they probably should have started this initiative back home, where we have a garbage crisis in Sofia. And I didn't see even one official getting out and saying to people, "please, try to consume in a way you'll trow away the least, because we REALLY can't deal with the garbage now!". Fat chance! Anyway, I support with all my hand and legs the idea, because if you think how much garbage with produce-why wasting all those left-overs, when we can re-use them in thousands of ways!

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