Monday, 11/12/2017 | 6:10 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire
  • WFP Provides Emergency Food Assistance To Families In Libya’s Conflict-Hit Sabratha

    TUNIS – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has started providing vital food assistance to families who have been displaced by clashes between armed groups in western Libya’s Sabratha. The area has recently experienced an upsurge of conflict.

    Since the end of September, more than 15,000 people have moved to nearby cities and quieter areas of Sabratha city.

    “With the help of our Libyan partners on the ground, WFP is delivering enough food this week to feed 1,500 people who have been severely affected by fighting,” says WFP Libya Country Director, Richard Ragan.

    WFP is providing food assistance to almost 300 families, with each ration offering a family of five a month’s supply of rice, pasta, wheat flour, chickpeas, vegetable oil, sugar and tomato paste.

    “Because of the conflict, many of the normal systems that people depend on to meet their daily needs have ceased to function,” says Ragan. “WFPs support gives hope to those most in need and offers life-saving food assistance during a period when help is most urgently needed.”

    In 2017, WFP aims to assist 175,000 Libyans whose food insecurity means they do not know where their next meal is coming from. Priority is being given to the most vulnerable families, especially internally displaced people, returnees and refugees, as well as households headed by unemployed women.

    The humanitarian situation in Libya continues to deteriorate due to ongoing conflict, political instability, and the disruption of markets and local food production, all of which affect families’ livelihoods and their ability to meet basic needs, including food.

    WFP – dependent entirely on voluntary contributions from governments, companies and individuals – urgently requires US$9.2 million to continue its food assistance operations in Libya for the next six months.

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    WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.

    Follow us on Twitter @wfp_MENA

    For more information please contact (firstname.lastname@wfp.org):
    Flavia Brunetti, WFP/Libya, tel. +21658558309
    Dina El-Kassaby, WFP/Cairo, tel. + 201015218882

    Read more
  • WFP Provides Emergency Food Assistance To Families In Libya’s Conflict-Hit Sabratha

    TUNIS – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has started providing vital food assistance to families who have been displaced by clashes between armed groups in western Libya’s Sabratha. The area has recently experienced an upsurge of conflict.

    Since the end of September, more than 15,000 people have moved to nearby cities and quieter areas of Sabratha city.

    “With the help of our Libyan partners on the ground, WFP is delivering enough food this week to feed 1,500 people who have been severely affected by fighting,” says WFP Libya Country Director, Richard Ragan.

    WFP is providing food assistance to almost 300 families, with each ration offering a family of five a month’s supply of rice, pasta, wheat flour, chickpeas, vegetable oil, sugar and tomato paste.

    “Because of the conflict, many of the normal systems that people depend on to meet their daily needs have ceased to function,” says Ragan. “WFPs support gives hope to those most in need and offers life-saving food assistance during a period when help is most urgently needed.”

    In 2017, WFP aims to assist 175,000 Libyans whose food insecurity means they do not know where their next meal is coming from. Priority is being given to the most vulnerable families, especially internally displaced people, returnees and refugees, as well as households headed by unemployed women.

    The humanitarian situation in Libya continues to deteriorate due to ongoing conflict, political instability, and the disruption of markets and local food production, all of which affect families’ livelihoods and their ability to meet basic needs, including food.

    WFP – dependent entirely on voluntary contributions from governments, companies and individuals – urgently requires US$9.2 million to continue its food assistance operations in Libya for the next six months.

    #                              #                                 #

    WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.

    Follow us on Twitter @wfp_MENA

    For more information please contact (firstname.lastname@wfp.org):
    Flavia Brunetti, WFP/Libya, tel. +21658558309
    Dina El-Kassaby, WFP/Cairo, tel. + 201015218882

    Read more
  • European Committee of the Regions to elect new President

    Also on #CoRplenary agenda 12-13 July: Estonian EU Presidency priorities, Horizon 2020 review, CAP reform, EU clean buses initiative launch & EU energy “Winter Package”

    On 12 July after leading the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) for two-and-a-half years, Markku Markkula (FI/EPP) is expected to handover the Presidency to Karl-Heinz Lambertz (BE/PES). CoR m embers will also gather in Brussels to debate major EU policies, such as the Common Agricultural Policy after 2020 and the recent EU’s energy “Winter Package”. EU Commissioner Moedas will lead discussions on the mid-term review of the Horizon 2020 research programme and Transport Commissioner Bulc will join CoR members to discuss the future of low-emission mobility and the Connecting Europe Facility. Global action for sustainability will also be high on the agenda with ideas on how cities and regions can contribute to meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The 2018 European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) Award ceremony will take place on 12 July celebrating this year’s three new winners.

    Estonian EU Presidency sets out priorities

    Matti Maasikas , Estonian Deputy Minister of European Affairs, is due to present the priorities of the Estonian Presidency of the European Council – which include many priority areas for Europe’s regions and cities – which began on 1 July.

    Common Agricultural Policy reform after 2020

    Recommendations to reform the Common Agricultural Policy after 2020have been drafted by Guillaume Cros (FR/PES) and, together with its positionon EU Cohesion Policy adopted in May, the CoR will set out how the EU’s two largest budget items could be re-shaped in the future. Czesław Adam Siekierski, Chair of the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, will join the debate.

    Horizon 2020: future of research and innovation in Europe

    In its mid-term appraisal of Horizon 2020, the CoR will underscore the central importance of research and innovation on the long-term prospects of the European economy. Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, will debate the CoR’s recommendations, which have been prepared by Christophe Clergeau (FR/PES).

    Transport in Europe: Launch of EU-wide clean busses initiative
    EU Commissioner Violeta Bulc
    will discuss transport challenges with members of the CoR following the adoption of an opinion on ‘European strategy for low-emission mobility‘, led by József Ribányi (HU/EPP). After the debate, the Commissioner for Transport will be joined by the CoRs newly appointed President to launch an EU-wide green busses platform for regions and cities which aims to deploy at least 2,000 zero-emission buses by the end of 2019. The need to curb climate change will also be part of intense discussions when the CoR debates its three opinions on the EU’s energy “Winter Package”: clean energy, energy efficiency, and the promotion of renewable energy.

    Development: 600 local and regional leaders from across the world to gather in Brussels

    The United Nations, through the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015, has set objectives for every country in the world. In a CoR opinion entitled ‘ European action for sustainabilityFranco Iacop (IT/PES) addresses the direct and indirect challenges that the UN has set for European local and regional authorities. The European focus of his opinion will be complemented on 10-11 July by a major gathering of local and regional politicians from all across the world under the heading “Regions and Cities for Development” – “Assises de la coopération décentralisée”, co-organised by the CoR and the European Commission.

    As part of the effort to support cities in Libya, the CoR will also adopt recommendations on how to manage migration and save lives along the migration route through the central Mediterranean. The rapporteur is Hans Janssen (NL/EPP).

    Apress conferencewith the new CoR President is planned on 12 July, 16h

    Other opinions to be adopted:

    Practical information:

    Where: Paul Henri Spaak building – European Parliament, Hemicycle , 60 rue Wiertz, B – 1047 Brussels

    When: 12 July, 3pm-9pm; 13 July, 9am-1pm

    Follow us: @EU_CoR,#CoRplenary

    Contact: PresseCdr@cor.europa.eu

    Read more
  • Economic and Social Council Adopts Texts Addressing Tax Evasion, Forum on Forests, Global Geospatial Matters

    20 Million People at Serious Risk Due to Extreme Hunger, Panellists Warn

    Prior to adopting resolutions on tax evasion and the United Nations Forum on Forests, as well as a decision on geospatial information, speakers informed the Economic and Social Council that the world was facing a serious crisis, with the lives of more than 20 million people now under serious threat due to extreme hunger.

    Adopted without a vote was the resolution titled “United Nations code of conduct on cooperation in combating international tax evasion” contained in the report of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters on its twelfth and thirteenth sessions (document E/2016/45).

    The Council also adopted without a vote a resolution contained in chapter I of the “Report of the United Nations Forum on Forests on its 2017 special session” (document E/2017/10), titled “United Nations strategic plan for forests 2017-2030 and quadrennial programme of work of the United Nations Forum on Forests for the period 2017-2020”.  In addition, the Council adopted a decision titled “Report of the Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management on its sixth session and provisional agenda and dates for the seventh session of the Committee” contained in chapter I, section A, of that Committee’s report (document E/2016/46).

    As part of its continued 2017 Coordination and Management Meetings, the Council explored the nexus between food security, nutrition and climate change through panel presentations.  Hilal Elver, Special Rapporteur on the right to food emphasized that millions of people were facing famine, which was far more threatening and complex than simple hunger.  A significant number of people were dying despite the dire warning from scientists that drought was imminent due to the effects of climate change.  Famine was not simply a natural occurrence, but in fact, was man-made, she underscored.

    Famine in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen called for urgent action, stressed Marie Chatardova (Czech Republic), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council.  While saving lives was a top priority, long-term resilience could only be achieved with an integrated approach to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

    Furthermore, climate change had increased the risk of weather-related disasters, jeopardizing livelihoods, access to adequate food, clean water and sanitary conditions, all of which were essential for good nutrition, Ms. Chatardova continued.  Unless action was taken, some 35 million to 122 million people could fall into poverty.

    The resilience of food production was being challenged as a result of climate change, highlighted Amira Gornass, Permanent Representative of Sudan to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Chair of that agency’s Committee on World Food Security.  Nevertheless, climate change could also present an opportunity to revert back to the production of traditional crops, which were often more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

    Marcel Beukeboom, Climate Envoy of the Netherlands, joining the meeting via video link, pointed out that, as a climate envoy, his role was basically to “bring Paris home”; yet as soon as he began discussing climate, “too many people doze off”.  Outlining some practical steps people could take to lower their carbon footprint, Mr. Beukeboom said the public itself could seek information about where their food comes from and cook it with sustainable energy.

    Dietary changes towards more animal-based diets could increase agricultural and food greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80 per cent by 2050, warned Stineke Oenema, Coordinator at the United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition.  The focus must be on limited meat consumption, balanced energy intake, reducing food waste, choosing seafood from non-threatened stocks, and eating more plants, she suggested; continuing:  healthy and sustainable diets were those that had low environmental impacts and protected against malnutrition.

    In addition to today’s panel discussion, the Council also heard presentations on the work of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Committee on World Food Security, the United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition and the work of the United Nations Environment Assembly.

    The Council will meet again Friday, 21 April, at 10 a.m. to continue its Coordination and Management Meeting.

    Introduction of Reports

    AMIRA GORNASS, Permanent Representative of Sudan to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Chair of that agency’s Committee on World Food Security, introduced the note by the Secretary-General transmitting the Committee’s main decisions and policy recommendations (document A/72/63-E/2017/11).  The Committee’s forty-third session, held in October 2016 in Rome, had been attended by high-level United Nations officials who underscored the importance of working jointly to promote food security, improve nutrition and address climate change, among other challenges.  As the primary intergovernmental platform for global coordination and policy convergence on food security and nutrition, the Committee ensured that the voices of all stakeholders had been heard throughout the session.

    Also at the meeting, she said, the Committee had endorsed various recommendations, acknowledging that sustainable agricultural development was essential for poverty reduction, food security and nutrition.  The General Assembly, through the Economic and Social Council, had been requested to endorse and promote the wide dissemination of those recommendations to all United Nations entities.  With the commitment of all constituencies, the Committee endorsed a framework for stepping up its contribution to addressing malnutrition.  It also was reviewing global progress on food security and nutrition, for which it relied on monitoring by the United Nations.

    STINEKE OENEMA, Coordinator, United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition, underlined the Committee’s objectives, which included maximizing United Nations policy coherence and advocacy on nutrition and exploring new nutrition-related issues.  Its nine policy and discussion papers had focused on and made linkages between climate and nutrition, and school food and nutrition.  As well, several were still to be published, with a possible focus on migration and nutrition.  The Committee advocated a human-rights-based approach to nutrition and worked on all forms of malnutrition.  To that end, it had developed and updated global guidance on nutrition to be delivered by relevant United Nations agencies.  The Standing Committee was also promoting knowledge-sharing across the United Nations system through various information products and social media campaigns.  It was also active at the global level to support country-level action, particularly based on the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016‑2025).

    Panel on Climate Change

    The Council then turned to a panel discussion on “climate change and nutrition”, featuring presentations by Ms. Gornass and Ms. Oenema, as well as Marcel Beukeboom, Climate Envoy of the Netherlands, who joined the meeting via video link, and Hilal Elver, Special Rapporteur on the right to food.  Werner Obermeyer, Deputy Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Office in New York, moderated the discussion and Marie Chatardova (Czech Republic), Vice‑President of the Economic and Social Council, delivered opening remarks.

    Ms. CHATARDOVA said climate change was one of the greatest challenges facing all nations and addressing it would be no easy task, with trade-offs involved.  Climate change had increased the risk of weather-related disasters, jeopardizing livelihoods, access to adequate food, clean water and sanitary conditions, all of which were essential for good nutrition.  Unless action was taken, some 35 million to 122 million people could fall into poverty.

    Famine in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen called for urgent action, she stressed.  While saving lives was a top priority, long-term resilience could only be achieved with an integrated approach to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.  She called for invigorated political momentum in that regard and synergies between climate action and the 2030 Agenda.  Today’s panel would make the link between climate change and healthy diets, focusing on policies that promoted sustainable and healthy diets while providing climate solutions.

    Mr. OBERMEYER underscored that areas with weak health infrastructure were least capable of responding to extreme weather events and ecosystem changes that posed risks to populations.  Those areas were also prone to malnutrition and food insecurity, with women and children bearing the most severe consequences.  Nutrition and food security issues impacted communicable diseases, as well as the fast-growing burden of non-communicable diseases associated with poor diets.

    Ms. OENEMA said some 795 million people worldwide were hungry and some 2 billion were micronutrient deficient.  The global food system remained one of the main contributors to climate change and environmental degradation.  Dietary changes towards more animal-based diets could increase agricultural and food greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80 per cent by 2050.  Strengthening local food production and food processing, especially by family farmers, was critical, as was promoting the diversification of crops, including an increase of fruits and vegetables.  Improving storage, preservation and transport technologies would reduce seasonal food insecurity and food waste.

    Healthy and sustainable diets had low environmental impacts and protected against malnutrition, she continued, adding that the identification of such dietary patterns was a first step towards changing consumer behaviour and supply-and-demand chains.  The focus must be on limited meat consumption, balanced energy intake, reducing food waste, choosing seafood from non-threatened stocks, and eating more plants.  The few countries that included sustainability criteria in their food-based dietary guidelines included Sweden, Brazil, Qatar and Germany.  Sustainable healthy food systems and diets required coherent policies across all sectors, from production to consumption, she said, adding that the 2030 Agenda had provided a framework for action to nourish the world sustainably.

    Responding to a question from the moderator, Ms. Oenema noted that the study primarily examined the dynamics in higher and middle-income countries, although it did take into account low-income countries as well.  In those countries, the adaptation aspects of climate change were very important.

    Ms. GORNASS said that it was evident that food security and nutrition were severely threatened by climate change.  The resilience of food production was being challenged as a result of climate change.  However, climate change could present an opportunity to revert back to the production of traditional crops, which were often more resilient to the impacts of climate change.  Food security and healthy nutrition needed to be integrated into climate change and related policies.  In Somalia, where there was a serious drought brought on, in part, by climate change, food security and nutrition were at great risk.  In north-eastern Nigeria a famine had been declared, which was closely related to the situation around the Lake Chad Basin, which had also been greatly affected by climate change.

    Five years ago, the Committee had explored the linkages between climate change and nutrition, she continued.  In those discussions, it had become clear that projected temperature increases, changes in precipitation patterns and the frequency of extreme weather events would all result in reduced agricultural productivity.  Efforts to address the impacts of climate change must include actions to reduce food losses and waste and shift to sustainable production and consumption patterns.

    Ms. ELVER said that many people did not understand the connections between nutrition, food and climate change.  Agriculture was one of the major greenhouse gas emitters, but at the same time, climate change was negatively affecting food systems.  In a sense, agriculture was both a victim and perpetrator of climate change.  Millions of people were facing famine, which was far more threatening and complex than simple hunger.  A significant number of people were dying despite the dire warning from scientists that drought was imminent due to the effects of climate change.

    More than 20 million people were now under serious threat due to extreme hunger and in a very profound sense the world was facing a serious crisis period.  A human rights approach needed to be taken when addressing the issue of food security.  Discrimination needed to end, public participation needed to be increased and Governments needed to be held more accountable.  Famine was not simply a natural occurrence, but was, in fact, man-made.

    In responding to a question from the moderator, Ms. Elver noted that in many discussions about how to fix the current food system, the first suggestion was to improve productivity.  However, it was important to remember that increasing productivity was extremely problematic in relation to sustainability.

    Mr. BEUKEBOOM said that, as a climate envoy, his role was basically to “bring Paris home”.  However, as soon as he would discuss climate “too many people doze off”.   For that reason, it was critical to link climate to real-life issues that affected people’s lives directly.  “What can we do to go over specific sectors, themes and topics and then come to action,” he asked, underscoring the need for greater synergy and cooperation between climate and nutrition.  One example of addressing that question occurred in the Netherlands, where businesses, civil society, and local governments came together to discuss what climate change and the Paris Agreement meant to them.  Many “interesting green deals” were signed that day, all pledging to reduce carbon emission by 17 megatons.

    Once given a concrete opportunity people did act, he continued.  The best ideas usually came from the sectors themselves as they were knowledgeable with the business and where gains could be found and real efficiency accomplished.  He also emphasized the need to further research protein transition, which aimed at replacing animal protein with vegetable protein to curb emissions.  Outlining some practical steps people could take to lower their carbon footprint, he said the public itself could seek information about where their food came from and cook it with sustainable energy.  Information on the climate change nexus was still lacking, he added, calling for the discussions to continue and for partnerships to grow.

    Responding to a question on how the United Nations could support the transition from concept to action, he said that discussing concrete issues with the food industry was vital.  That industry was interested in reducing waste and energy input as it benefitted the bottom line.

    A representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said the climate change and nutrition nexus was at the cornerstone of its work.  The impact of climate change on agriculture further undermined the ability to achieve food security.  It also hindered and sometimes altogether destroyed people’s access to quality food.  Climate change’s impact on agriculture also affected the quality of nutrition, causing a lower and poorer quality of zinc, iron, and protein, and driving people to increase their starch and sugar intake.  She called for investments in improving water use and soil management, reducing food loss and waste, and increasing diet diversity.

    Ms. OENEMA emphasized that the nutrition and climate change communities must join hands.  In that regard, the Paris Agreement did open the door for greater collaboration.  Investment into diversified production would increase the global resilience to climate change.

    Ms. GORNASS said that partnerships would be extremely important for solving problems related to food security, nutrition and climate change.  Governments would not be able to solve the challenges alone and all views must be taken into account.  Issues of climate change directly affected the everyday lives of people.

    Ms. ELVER said that as evident by the outcome of the negotiations on the Paris Agreement, the right to adequate food was a matter of serious debate for Governments.  Nevertheless, many Governments were not yet ready to commit to that right.

    Mr. BEUKEBOOM said that the link between climate and agriculture was a “tough nut to crack”.  It could be beneficial to garner greater input from the private sector and gain better understanding of what it meant on a practical level to be a producer of basic commodities.

    Ms. CHATARDOVA, in closing remarks, said today’s panel provided an opportunity to explore the interlinkages between the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement in the context of nutrition.  Policies that promoted health and sustainable diets would not just reduce the overall carbon footprint of food production, but would also prevent diet-related non-communicable diseases and help save lives.  Calling for further investment and research to provide knowledge on sustainable and healthy food systems and diets, she said the 2030 Agenda provided a crucial framework for such action.

    Action

    Environment

    JAMIL AHMED, Deputy Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), updated the Council on the implementation of outcomes from the second session of the Environment Assembly.  That assembly had provided capacity development to United Nations country teams and their national counterparts for implementing the 2030 Agenda.  It had coordinated with United Nations entities to help countries build capacity in environmental statistics and data, he said, underscoring the role of regional seas conventions, and the potential for an international legally binding instrument on marine diversity.

    Further, he said, the assembly had launched an initiative to address sea litter, particularly plastics used in cosmetics and plastic bags.  Resolutions adopted during the assembly stressed the link between sustainable development and the environment.  As a follow-up to that gathering, UNEP was working with more than 100 partners, including businesses, think tanks, and youth and women’s groups, he said, stressing that cooperation would be critical in the lead-up to the assembly’s third session in Nairobi in December.

    International Cooperation in Tax Matters

    The Council then adopted a draft resolution titled “United Nations code of conduct on cooperation in combating international tax evasion” contained in the report of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters on its twelfth and thirteenth sessions (document E/2016/45).

    Geospatial Information

    Next, the Council adopted a draft decision titled “Report of the Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management on its sixth session and provisional agenda and dates for the seventh session of the Committee” contained in chapter I, section A, of that Committee’s report (document E/2016/46).

    United Nations Forum on Forests

    The Council, taking note of the document “Report of the United Nations Forum on Forests on its 2017 special session” (document E/2017/10), then adopted a draft resolution contained in that document’s chapter I, titled “United Nations strategic plan for forests 2017-2030 and quadrennial programme of work of the United Nations Forum on Forests for the period 2017-2020”.

    The representative of the United States underscored that the actions outlined under the plan were voluntary and not required under any international agreements.  The World Trade Organization was the appropriate forum for discussions of trade issues and the strategic plan did not alter any World Trade Organization agreement.

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  • Main topics and media events 3 – 16 April 2017

    Foreign Affairs Council, 3 April 2017

    The Council will discuss the situation in Syria, in Libya and in Yemen.

    Agriculture and Fisheries Council (Agriculture), 3 April 2017

    The Council will discuss the “Omnibus” regulation with a view to agreeing its position on the agricultural aspects of the proposal, and have an exchange of views on the Commission report on the implementation of Ecological Focus Areas. 

    Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria and the region, 4 and 5 April 2017

    The EU, Germany, Kuwait, Norway, Qatar, the United Kingdom and the United Nations will co-chair the Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the region, on 5 April 2017. On 4 April, thematic sessions will be organised by the EU with UN agencies and other international organisations, NGOs and civil society, focusing on various aspects of international support provided in response to the crisis in Syria and the region.

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  • Main topics and media events 25 March – 9 April 2017

    60th anniversary of the Rome treaties, Saturday 25 March

    EU heads of state or government will meet in Rome for the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties. It will be an occasion to reflect on the state of the European Union and the leaders are expected to adopt a declaration setting out a joint vision for the years to come.

    Justice and Home Affairs Council (Home Affairs), 27 March 2017

    Home affairs ministers are expected to discuss return policy and the implementation of migration policy. They are also expected to be updated on work regarding several files.

    Justice and Home Affairs Council (Justice), 28 March 2017

    The Council is expected to be updated on ongoing work on legislative proposals on the supply of digital content as well as in the field of financial crime and terrorist financing. Ministers will also come back to the topic of criminal justice in cyberspace. 

    Foreign Affairs Council, 3 April 2017

    The Council will discuss the situation in Syria, in Libya and in Yemen.

    Agriculture and Fisheries Council (Agriculture), 3 April 2017

    The Council will discuss the “Omnibus” regulation with a view to agreeing its position on the agricultural aspects of the proposal, and have an exchange of views on the Commission report on the implementation of Ecological Focus Areas. 

    Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria and the region, 4 and 5 April 2017

    The EU, Germany, Kuwait, Norway, Qatar, the United Kingdom and the United Nations will co-chair the Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the region, on 5 April 2017. On 4 April, thematic sessions will be organised by the EU with UN agencies and other international organisations, NGOs and civil society, focusing on various aspects of international support provided in response to the crisis in Syria and the region.

    Read more
  • News in Brief 27 January (PM)

    27 Jan 2017

    Listen /

    Women in Libya; UN Photo: UNSMIL

    Conference supports women’s peace efforts in Libya

    Peace cannot be achieved in Libya without the active participation of women.

    That’s one of the conclusions to emerge from a UN-sponsored conference this week which brought together 60 women from across the country to explore strategies to promote peace in their homeland.

    The four-day event, held in neighbouring Tunisia, was facilitated by the UN mission in Libya, UNSMIL, and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

    Participants shared their experiences and the challenges they have faced since developing an action plan known as the Women’s Peace Agenda in Montreux, Switzerland, in November 2015.

    They stated that “the responsibility of peace rests on all Libyans” adding that it “cannot be achieved without the active participation of women in the peace process” as “advocates and partners in peacemaking”.

    They also emphasized the need to work together to empower women to, in their words, “be an active partner in peace building and an influential element in decision-making.”

    Viral disease kills hundreds of rare Mongolian antelopes

    A livestock disease has killed almost 10 per cent of the population of a rare antelope in Mongolia, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has reported.

    Some 900 Saiga antelopes were found dead in a western province in the country and samples taken from their carcasses indicate they died from a highly fatal viral disease known by the French name Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR).

    The disease mostly affects sheep and goats.

    FAO and the World Organization for Animal Health are leading a multinational effort to eradicate the disease by 2030.

    Youth forum to address poverty eradication

    Young people’s participation in the global push to eradicate poverty will be the focus of a two-day meeting which opens on Monday at UN Headquarters in New York.

    The ECOSOC Youth Forum will provide a platform for young leaders from around the world to dialogue with policy makers.

    ECOSOC is the Economic and Social Council, one of the main organs of the UN.

    It is described as the “central platform” for fostering debate, forging consensus and coordinating efforts to achieve internationally agreed goals.

    Stéphane Dujarric is the UN Spokesperson:

    “The annual event is a critical global platform where youth ministers and other government leaders, youth delegates, representatives from civil society and youth-focused organizations can contribute to discussions on issues affecting young people, including youth employment and empowerment, gender equality and climate change.

    Dianne Penn, United Nations

    Duration: 2’39”

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  • Frequently Asked Questions

    1. Why a space strategy now?

    The EU is developing three high quality space projects: Copernicus, a leading provider of Earth observation data across the globe; Galileo, Europe’s own global navigation satellite system (GNSS); and the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS), which provides precision navigation services to aviation, maritime and land-based users over most of Europe. A total of EUR 12 billion from the EU budget will be invested in these projects and in research over 2014-2020. Now that the infrastructure of EU space programmes is well advanced, the focus needs to shift to ensuring a strong market uptake of space data and services by the public and private sector. By generating more services which respond to people’s needs and new economic opportunities, every euro spent on EU space policy is a euro well spent. This is also in line with the Commission’s Budget for Results initiative.

    The strategy also responds to a changing environment. Global competition is growing. Space activities are becoming increasingly commercial with greater private sector involvement. Major technological shifts are disrupting traditional industrial and business models in the sector. Europe needs to remain a leader in space. This requires a stable, predictable framework which stimulates investment and a strong research base, which is supported under the Horizon 2020 research programme.

    Space resources will be used more strategically to support Europe’s competitiveness and help boost jobs, growth and investment in Europe. Space technologies and information will also support key political priorities such as monitoring greenhouse gas emissions, helping secure our borders and developing our digital economy.

    2. What are the existing EU space programmes?

    The EU has three flagships programmes in the field of space:

    Copernicus , a leading provider of Earth observation data across the globe, already helps save lives at sea, improves our response to natural disasters such as earthquakes, forest fires or floods, and allows farmers to better manage their crops, collects data from earth observation satellites and ground stations, airborne and sea-borne sensors. It processes data and provides users with reliable and up-to-date information through a set of services in six thematic areas: land monitoring, marine monitoring, atmosphere monitoring, climate change, emergency management response and security. Most of these services are already operational and have been enabled by the earth observation data from the first four Copernicus Sentinel satellites, as well as a number of contribution missions from other operators. Three more satellites are to be launched next year and two more satellites by 2021.

    Galileo, Europe’s own global satellite navigation system (“the European GPS”), will soon provide more accurate and reliable positioning and timing information for autonomous and connected cars, railways, aviation and other sectors. The deployment of Galileo is on track and initial services, which are the first step toward full operational capability of Galileo in 2020, will be available soon. The Galileo Services will gradually improve as more satellites are deployed and other services (e.g. commercial services) will be made available.

    The European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) provides “safety of life” navigation services to aviation, maritime and land-based users over most of Europe. Safety of life means that the positioning information is so precise that, for example, an aircraft can safely land using it. All services provided by EGNOS are already fully operational and the number of users is growing.

    The EU is also conducting other space-related activities, such as the funding of R&D through the Horizon 2020 programme. This has already yielded great results in the form of projects which use space generated data for such things as the monitoring of agricultural sustainability (SIGMA and AGRICAB projects), analysis of the chemical composition of our oceans (OSS2015) as well as providing support to urban planners to coordinate city resources (DECUMANOS) to name but a few. In addition, the EU contributes to the space surveillance and tracking support framework (SST). Operational since July 2016, the SST services detect and warn against possible collisions in Space and monitor re-entry of space debris into the Earth atmosphere.

    3. When will we start to see EU space policy deliver in practice?

    We already do! Some examples where European space policy is already providing practical support are:

    • Removal of the Costa Concordia in July 2014: Copernicus provided the operation with mapping of sea currents and monitoring services which made the long voyage across the Mediterranean to Genoa possible in terms of minimizing risk of further pollution.
    • The eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano in March 2010: It generated a cloud of volcanic ash which caused massive disruption to air travel, forcing many European countries to close their air space. The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service produced daily forecasts of the movements of the Eyjafjallajökull ash plume based on its global modelling system.
    • Earthquakes in Ecuador in April 2016 and more recently in central Italy in August 2016: The European Commission’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre activated the EU Copernicus Emergency mapping service for damage assessment grading maps over the populated areas most affected by the quake. The maps based on satellite-imagery are produced to help understand the situation on the ground and thus help the rescue teams to find survivors in the rubble of the affected buildings. They are also able to assist in later months in the reconstruction and monitoring of recovery of the area. 
    • The European Coast and Border Guard Agency‘s missions in the Mediterranean: In 2015, 350 people were rescued after Copernicus satellites helped to spot four flimsy rubber dinghies leaving the coast of Libya. These also helped Greek authorities seize a ship smuggling 60 million cigarettes after tracking a suspect vessel in an operation coordinated through Eurosur. Spanish coastguards were able to locate a 7-metre migrant boat with engine failure which had been reported lost by Moroccan authorities, thereby rescuing 38 people, including three children.
    • Satellite navigation in farming: EGNOS is providing an important contribution to precision agriculture in the EU. Today 80 % of tractors which have GPS are also equipped with EGNOS, which allows farmers to determine crop lands with higher precision than ever before.
    • Landing of airplanes: Today 195 airports in Europe have implemented EGNOS landing procedures, on the one hand allowing them to save money on ground based landing infrastructure, and on the other hand making landing in difficult weather conditions more secure, thus avoiding delays and re-routing.

    4. Who is responsible for space issues in Europe?

    The Commission focuses on devising a space policy which fosters an innovative internal market for space-based applications for the benefit of European citizens. We also support the development of a robust European industry that can create jobs and growth and compete on the global stage. The EU is not financing any action regarding space exploration.

    The EU also fully finances, owns and manages Copernicus, Galileo and EGNOS. However, the Commission has delegated the actual operations of the space infrastructure. The European Space Agency (ESA), an intergovernmental organization undertaking space exploration activities, deploys the Galileo infrastructure. The EU Agency dedicated to Global Navigation Satellites Systems –the GSA –is the exploitation entity of Galileo and EGNOS, responsible for market uptake. Copernicus satellite operations on the other hand are managed by the ESA and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), while the services are delegated to the European Environment Agency (EEA), the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), Mercator Ocean, the EU Satellite Centre and the Joint Research Centre. The European Coast and Border Guard uses Copernicus high-resolution images, for example to track suspect vessels at sea.

    5. What new business models could emerge?

    The possibilities opened up by the huge volumes of data from space and the precision signals of Galileo will lead innovators and entrepreneurs to new solutions that we perhaps cannot even imagine today. A number of innovative start-ups are already developing cutting-edge space based information and technology services. A good indication of what future solutions may look like come from The Commission’s Copernicus and Galileo prizes has awarded innovative space-driven applications. Recent winners include solutions which help farmers receive weekly updated maps on their crop health status (FieldSenseproject),provide real-time information about buildings and construction projects all over the world (Building Radar project) or develop mobile phones that allow us to use augmented reality superimposed on our surroundings (CybEarth project).

    New services driven by space data will emerge, and as launch costs fall, for example when multiple small satellites can be launched, new technologies can be deployed to provide new products. But no one can predict exactly how things will unfold, any more than we might have tried to predict the future uses of the Internet back in 1990.

    The Commission will monitor market developments and consider how to underpin this transformation through research and innovation, by making access to space data easier, promoting more private investment for such start-ups (in particular in the context of the Investment Plan for Europe), and support the emergence of European industrial space hubs and clusters in European regions.

    6. Is space data available for free? And how can it be accessed?

    Copernicus offers free, full and open access. Anyone can access Copernicus data and information (i.e. Copernicus Sentinel data and Copernicus service products and information) at no charge at any time through the Copernicus website. The Space Strategy will encourage the dissemination and take-up of these opportunities, offering countless possibilities for businesses, scientists, and public authorities, making Copernicus a real game changer in Earth Observation. The Commission will make it easier for innovative companies and start-ups to access space data via dedicated industry-led platforms in order to develop services and applications.

    7. How will you encourage the Galileo signal uptake when there is such reliance on GPS?

    As Galileo moves into its operational phase, it will begin to deliver tangible results.  

    With additional satellites as well as due to its enhanced features, Galileo will significantly improve the precision of navigation as compared to the current GPS system. More satellites in orbit means more satellites are visible above the horizon so that more signals can be compared, giving a more precise location. Also Galileo receivers can distinguish between direct signals and reflections. This will particularly improve accuracy in cities, where a large part of the sky is obscured by buildings, which can compromise accurate positioning. In addition, Galileo will provide unprecedented timing accuracy, which is vital for the synchronisation of critical infrastructure such as telecommunication networks and electricity grids as well as for providing exact timing of financial transactions.

    Thanks to Galileo, more accurate Search & Rescue service will become available to the international COSPAS SARSAT operations. These services depend on satellites detecting a signal from a distress beacon. The current satellites may take three or more hours before passing close enough to a beacon to detect it, and can only locate it to within 10 kilometres. The Galileo service picks up the signal within 10 minutes and narrows the range down to 5km, meaning that the area to be searched is just one quarter the size of the current area. This will help save lives at sea or in the mountains.

    The Commission will also look at possible actions to introduce Galileoin mobile phones. This will build on the experience from a current project, which is already testing how Galileo signals can be used in emergencies by automatically providing the accurate location of the caller to public services.

    Other sectoral measures will be taken to introduce Galileo into specific markets or areas for example in autonomous and connected cars, railways, aviation as well as in protecting critical infrastructures using time synchronisation.

    In addition, a study will be launched to look into possible standardisation measures and putting in place a voluntary labelling and certification scheme for Galileo (and EGNOS).

    8. Will we see a growing space industry and more European launchers?

    Europe is already a major global space player. It has a strong and competitive industry, e.g. for satellites, launchers and related services/operations. The European space industry employs over 230 000 professionals and generates a value added estimated at EUR 46-54 billion. Europe manufactures one third of all the world’s satellites.

    With 18 satellites currently in orbit and over 30 planned in the next 10-15 years, the EU is also the largest institutional customer for launch services in Europe. The Commission will aggregate the launch service needs of EU programmes and act as a smart customer of European reliable and cost-effective launch solutions.

    It is crucial that Europe continues to have modern, efficient and flexible launch infrastructure facilities. In addition to measures taken by Member States and ESA, the Commission will consider ways to support such facilities within its areas of competence, for example through its contracts for launch services or other funding instruments where this corresponds to EU policy objectives or needs.

    In the future, Ariane 6 and Vega C will progressively replace the current fleet, with a substantial cost reduction for access to space foreseen. The European Union will also continue to support research and innovation efforts, in particular to ensure Europe’s ability to react and anticipate disruptive changes such as reusability and small launchers.

    9. Are Copernicus and Galileo purely civilian programmes?

    Yes. The existing GNSS, as well as Galileo and Copernicus are purely civilian programmes entirely under civilian control. Some of the services and data can be used for emergency services, police, crisis management, border management or peace-keeping operations. The use of the services is to be decided by individual Member States, including any potential military use.

    10. How can space contribute to Europes common security and defence capabilities?

    EU space-based applications can provide additional operational capacity for the implementation of the common security and defence policy, notably with regard to precision navigation (Galileo), surveillance (Copernicus), communications (Govsatcom), autonomous access to space (launchers) and situational awareness (SST), and can contribute to European strategic autonomy and non-dependence. Space and defence technologies are also closely interlinked.

    11. What is the link with upcoming European Defence Action Plan?

    Space capabilities will be considered in the European Defence Action Plan (EDAP), principally as regards satellite communications. These provide infrastructure to support a range of vital capabilities to deal with security situations such as disaster response, border and maritime surveillance and terrorist attacks. In this respect, we expect the EDAP to tackle the area of secure satellite communications which can be used by EU and national public authorities (both civil and military). The EDAP’s coverage of this area would build on and be compatible with the proposals in the European Space Strategy.

    12. What happens next?

    The Commission invites the European Parliament and the Council to discuss and support this strategy, and its implementation In 2017 the Commission should start to implement the actions outlines in this strategy and initiate a regular structured dialogue with stakeholders to ensure its effective delivery and monitor its progress.

    One of the foundations of the Space Strategy is strengthening partnerships between the Commission, Member States, ESA and GSA, together with all other relevant agencies such as EUMETSAT, stakeholders, industry, research and user communities.

    Relations between the EU and ESA will be one of the cornerstones of success. Working together, sharing resources, expertise and investing in a common future, we can push the boundaries of what is possible. An important symbol of this cooperation is the EU-ESA Joint Statement on shared vision and goals which will be signed on the day of the adoption of the Space Strategy and which will offer a common reference framework for the respective strategies of the EU and ESA in space.

    As part of the midterm review of the EU Space Programmes in 2017, the Commission will also examine the possibility to further simplify and improve the governance, transparency and accountability of EU space programmes through a single Financial Framework Partnership Agreement with ESA.

    The Commission will continue its successful collaboration with EUMETSAT given its crucial role in the delivery of Copernicus. The role of the Galileo Space Agency (GSA) will also be strengthened to better support the exploitation of Galileo and EGNOS and to increase their market uptake. The Commission will consider extending the GSA’s responsibilities in certain security-related tasks to other EU space activities.

    The Commission will also look at how EU space programmes can support the needs of various other EU agencies, such as the European Environment Agency, European Fisheries Control Agency, European Maritime Safety Agency, the European Coast and Border Guard Agency and others. It will work closely with the European External Action Service, the European Defence Agency and the European Union Satellite Centre, together with Member States and ESA to explore possible dual-use synergies in the space programmes.

    For more information

    IP/16/3530

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