A liberal regulatory framework and active policy strategy geared at fostering structural change have promoted very rapid growth of the telecommunications sector. A traditionally open and competitive framework in the field of communications has contributed to the low price level of telecommunication services and to the rapid spread of information technology. The rates of domestic long-distance calls are now only one sixth of the level of mid-1980s and tariffs of cross- border operations have been more than halved. Finland is a leading country in terms of the number of mobile phones and internet connections. This is part of the general policy of the Government to promote the information society. Related to that, the share of R&D expenditure in GDP- the bulk of which is from private sources- is expected to reach 3 percent this year. At the same time, during the 1990s, the number of jobs in the manufacturing of telecommunication equipment has doubled. This has also contributed to the diversification of the Finnish economy and these industries now account for one fifth of total manufacturing exports.
At the summit in Luxembourg in December 1998 the European Council endorsed a new strategy for the preparation of applicant countries for enlargement. It made available substantial additional financial resources to assist membership. On 26 March 1999, at the Berlin European Council, the Heads of Government or States concluded a political agreement on Agenda 2000. Agenda 2000 is an action programme whose main objectives are to strengthen Community policies and to give the European Union a new financial framework for the period 2000-06 with a view to enlargement. In May 1999, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission reached a new institutional agreement which commits them to respect the spending ceilings. These initiatives laid the foundation for the financial framework for the pre-accession instruments which limit the pre-accession aid to applicant countries to € 3,120 million a year for the 2000-6 period (1999 prices). The “Instrument for Structural Policies for Pre-Accession”, ISPA, is the European Community’s financial instrument designed to assist the ten Central and Eastern European beneficiary countries meet EC requirements in the fields of environment and transport.
Overall Finland showed good progress in implementing its country-specific recommendations. For example, income tax cuts have reduced the overall tax burden on labour and more are planned. Some market-oriented procedures are being tested in the municipalities, hospitals and education. However there have been no concrete measures to give the national authorities powers to enforce Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty even though the government has the intention of reviewing its national competition legislation as the corresponding projects (Commission white paper on modernising competition policy) proceed at Community level. As regards the long-term sustainability of the pension system, even though promising measures agreed with the social partners to extend the effective retirement age have been put into force, these measure will probably not be sufficient to cause the 2-3 years increase in the average age of leaving the labour market which the government is aiming at.
3 Cf., for example; COM(2001) 388, Proposal for a Council Directive relating to the conditions in which third-country nationals shall have the freedom to travel in the territory of the Member States for periods not exceeding three months, introducing a specific travel authorisation and determining the conditions of entry and movement for periods not exceeding six months - OJ C270E of 25.9.2001. It is worth noting that, for the purposes of achieving the objectives set out in Title VI of the TEU on “police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters”, the Community may, under Article 61 of the TEC, propose measures for preventing and combating crime “in accordance with the provisions of Article 31(e) of the TEU”:
Internationally, the Macao SAR has been active in its own right, in conformity with the Basic Law. For example, Macao obtained its own radio frequencies from the International Telecommunications Union and participated in the activities of the Universal Postal Union. Macao concluded a legal co-operation agreement and an investments protection agreement with Portugal and a civil aviation agreement with Pakistan. Macao also submitted, through the appropriate authorities in Beijing, its report on the implementation of the "International Convention on the Removal of any Form of Racial Discrimination".
The project aimed at studying the situation with regard to racism and discrimina- tion in rural areas in the European Community and its Member States. The study, initiated by Members of the European Parliament, presents an inventory of research findings, analyses vulnerable groups and gives examples of government initiatives to combat racism and discrimination in rural areas. Already existing research sug- gests that there exists a special form of racism in rural areas and that migrants encounter racism as a result of more conservative, traditionalistic and nationalis- tic views in rural as opposed to urban areas. Racism takes more aggressive and violent forms. Perpetrators are often organised neo-nazi organisation members. Especially vulnerable are Roma, Africans, Muslims and Jewish people in rural areas. At the same time, anti-racist activities have been documented and the impor- tant role of civil society highlighted. The study was finalised at the end of 2002. As a result of the study, the EUMC will make recommendations to the EU Member States, the European Parliament and the European Commission regarding neces- sary steps to be taken to improve the situation for migrants and minorities living and working in rural areas of Europe.
In 2001, despite a significant improvement in the budgetary position of general government as compared with 2000, the budgetary target of the 2000 stability programme was not reached. The government deficit fell from 0.8% of GDP in 2000 to 0.4% of GDP in 2001, or a small surplus of 0.1% of GDP including the receipts of the UMTS claims. The stability programme projected a surplus of 0.5% of GDP in 2001. Missing the budgetary objective was the result of lower budget revenues, in particular tax revenues, due to slower than expected growth in real GDP, and to an overrun in current primary expenditure, partly offset by significantly higher non-tax revenues, mainly non-budgeted receipts from the sale of mobile phone licenses (UMTS), which amounted to around 0.5% of GDP. The primary surplus reached 6.3% of GDP. The debt-to-GDP ratio fell further, from 102.8% of GDP in 2000 to 99.7% of GDP in 2001.
In the Russian Federation, the armed conflict in Chechnya has led to large displacements of people in the Northern Caucasus creating significant humanitarian needs. With € 23.2 million ECHO is by far the largest donor to that crisis, contributing significantly to international relief efforts by funding, e.g., a UNHCR project providing not only food aid to 70,000 IDPs but also to more than 8,000 host families in Ingushetia who had generously accommodated IDPs from Chechnya. However, efforts by the international aid community to help cover those needs have often been thwarted by extremely difficult working conditions, notably in Chechnya itself. Aid organisations intending to work in Chechnya had to cope with a lengthy "access and work permit system" and insufficient security guarantees. The Commission and the organisations providing aid have pleaded and continue to plead for a more cooperative attitude from Russian authorities.
In line with the Amsterdam Treaty, at the Luxembourg Summit in November 1997 the Heads of State and Government agreed a framework for action based on the commitment from Member States to establish a set of common objectives and targets for employment policy based on four pillars: employability, entrepreneurship, adaptability and equal opportunities. The so-called Luxembourg process comprises several components: the Employment Guidelines for Member States’ employment policies, Member States’ National Action Plans, the Joint Employment Report and country-specific recommendations. In this way, the Luxembourg process is a rolling programme of yearly planning, monitoring, examination and re-adjustment. The NAPs provide an important occasion for reporting on the links between the work of the Structural Funds and employment strategy. It emerged from the NAPs for 2000 that some initial adjustments for the 1994-99 programming period had been made by reallocations towards preventive action and other EES priorities within the target groups identified for ESF support. In 2000-06, all the Member States will be using the European Social Fund to underpin the European Employment Strategy.
The complainant, a lawyer, wanted to be given access to CO2 emission quota allocation plans that had already been approved at a time when certain plans were still awaiting approval. The Commission refused access (on the basis of the exceptions relating to the protection of the decision-making process and ongoing investigations) as long as all the plans had not been approved, but sent them to the applicant after they had been approved. The Ombudsman took the view that the Commission had not applied the Regulation correctly and closed the case with a critical remark.
6.1 Assessment of the Country Support Strategy (CSS) and Programming Process The CSS programming process in Zimbabwe started in September 2000 and was completed and agreed upon by both the Commission and GOZ in July 2001. It was characterised by intensive dialogue between the Commission and the NAO and with the EC Member States and other major donors in Harare. The participation of non-state actors in the process was a new feature introduced under the Cotonou agreement and this was successfully introduced in the Zimbabwean process. The Commission consulted Non-State Actors at the key stages of the process. Its main contact was the Non-State Actors Forum (NSAF), which includes local NGOs, civil society organisations, local government bodies, churches and trades unions. Apex business organisations were also consulted alongside the NSAF. The consultation stages are described below.
The primary function of this report is to present and summarise the achievements of the Department over the past year in pursuance of our high level goals and objectives. While a considerable amount has been achieved in recent years, the period ahead is one of further challenges and opportunities. The Department’s Strategy Statement for 2001-2004, which is rooted in Government policy priorities, sets an ambitious agenda for innovative action and reform, in order to meet the diverse needs of the education system across all sectors. I believe that we will successfully meet these challenges.
• The Commission will undertake an in-depth and more systematic examination of what instrument should be used to achieve different objectives, in accordance with the Protocol on application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. However, in appropriate cases, and more especially when it comes to the adoption of detailed technical norms requiring uniform application in the Member States, it will opt for regulations, which have immediate and uniform effect, in preference to directives, which need 15 countries to separately enact national transposing legislation. The Commission will give reasons for its choice.
In Germany the pension reform of 2001 is a substantial systemic change bringing the pen- sion formula for the statutory scheme better in line with demographic developments, im- plying a slight reduction of the replacement rate in the long run, while strengthening the in practice voluntary funded occupational system, and introducing a private pillar scheme benefiting from substantial subsidies. The budgetary effect is likely to imply a modest net reduction of future expenditure increases associated with ageing. A legally binding com- mitment has been given to act if the mandatory contribution rate is to increase beyond 20/22 per cent in 2020 and 2030 respectively (presently 19 per cent), the nature and budg- etary effects of which is not decided. The 2001 reform also applies to the civil service pen- sions scheme, thus contributing to reducing the expected future expenditure increases. A number of other countries (including A, EL, FIN and NL) are currently discussing pen- sion reforms, typically following lengthy consultation with social partners. Also, a long im- plementation phase is often envisioned. However, timely reform is essential in order to exploit the opportunity provided by the relatively low – and in some cases even decreasing – demographic pressure over the next 5-10 years.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge the support and leadership provided by the Ceann Comhairle, Mr. Seamus Pattison, TD, and his fellow Commissioners, on both the Civil Service and the Local Appointments side. I would also like to thank the Steering Group, chaired by Mr. Frank Murray, for their work in overseeing the implementation of the Strategic Review Report on Public Sector Recruitment. The collective contributions of Commissioners and the Steering Group have been of immense importance to us during what has been, and will continue to be, a period of major change and renewal for this organisation.
1.1. The proposal for a recast of the Regulation, submitted by the Commission on 30 April 2008, is still at first reading. The Parliament voted a report with amendments on 11 March 2009 but postponed the vote on the legislative resolution. After the June 2009 elections, the new Parliament has resumed work on the Commission proposal. The committees for Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) and for Petitions (PETI) adopted their opinions on 30 November 2010 and 1 December 2010 respectively. The Civil Liberties committee (LIBE) has not yet voted on a new draft report. In the Council, the proposal has been examined at the working group level.
5.2. The number of cases where, following a confirmatory application, the Commission reversed the position taken by its services by fully disclosing previously refused documents, remained fairly stable (14.58% against 15.57% in 2010). However, there were less cases in which a refusal was fully confirmed and significantly more cases where wider access was granted following a confirmatory application.