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Karolinska Intitutet Sweden: A University of Medicine

Europe is made of countries: Åland Islands, Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands,Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy. Jan Mayen, Jersey, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Svalbard, Sweden, Switzerland, Transnistria, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Vatican City:Holy See. 
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Housing Costs Have Exacerbated Income Inequality in Germany: Or How the Rich Gets Richer and Poor Poorer: Ratio: 27>39:16<14=12:02: Or Poor Gets 12% Poorer While the Rich Gets 02% Richer

 

 

 

|| October 24: 2018: UCL News || ά. Changes in housing costs have dramatically exacerbated the rise in income inequality in Germany since the mid-1990s, according to new UCL research. It found that 20 per cent of those with the lowest incomes, the bottom fifth, saw their share of household income spent on housing rise from 27 per cent in 1993 to 39 per cent in 2013. In contrast, 20 per cent of those with the highest incomes, the top fifth, experienced a decline in housing costs from 16 per cent in 1993 to 14 per cent in 2013.

The study was led by Professor Christian Dustmann, UCL Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration with Professors Bernd Fitzenberger and Markus Zimmermann, Humboldt University Berlin. The researchers found that the rise in income inequality was aggravated when real disposable income, after housing costs, is taken into account. Inequality between the net household income of those on middle incomes compared to the bottom ten per cent, 50:10 ratio, increased by 22 percentage point between 1993 and 2013 before housing costs were deducted. However, this increased threefold to 62 per cent after housing costs were deducted.

The main reason is a steep increase in housing expenditure for those, who rent property, which stands in contrast to the favourable development of mortgage rates, that benefited homeowners. This has exacerbated the increase in income inequality because homeowners are mainly located at the upper part of the distribution and those, who rent are concentrated further down.

Other factors, that contribute to these trends are changes in household structure, the rising number of single households and residential mobility toward larger cities. Rising housing costs in conjunction with declining real incomes at the lower end of the income distribution result in a particular strong decline in consumption and savings possibilities among low-income households.

The research, also, shows that younger birth cohorts spend more on housing and save less than older birth cohorts did at the same age. Professor Dustmann said, “In comparison to the US and the UK, developments in housing expenditures in Germany are relatively modest but the strong rise in inequality of after-housing disposable income has worrying consequences for savings rates, which fell for those 20 percent with the lowest incomes from 02 per cent in 1993 to -01 per cent in 2013.”

Professor Fitzenberger said, ‘’It is concerning that a large and growing share of low-income individuals does not save, in particular as Germany’s strict mortgage regulations reduce the possibility of wealth accumulation through housing property for the less well-off. Rising inequality in savings is, therefore, even, more likely to contribute to higher wealth inequality in the future.”:::ω.

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IEA Praises Finland’s Strong Climate Policies and Ambitious Targets Relating to Phasing Out Coal and Halving the Oil Demands
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

|| October 23: 2018 || ά. The International Energy Agency:IEA states in its in-depth review that Finland has adopted strong climate policies and ambitious 2030 targets for halving oil demand and phasing out coal use, among others actions. However, the IEA reminds the Finnish Government of the need to focus on cost-effective measures to achieve this goal. Finland targets, for example, that 30% of transport fuels come from renewable sources.

This means that, as a leader in advanced bio-fuels, Finland needs to ensure that the new bio-fuels obligation can be met with sustainable feedstocks. It should, also, encourage investments in the production of new bio-fuels for long-distance transport, such as, freight, shipping and aviation. “Finland aims at reducing car ownership by fostering a shift from personally-owned modes of transportation towards mobility solutions, that are consumed as a service. This is commendable but should not come at the expense of an increase of total transport emissions.

Taking a holistic approach to the decarbonisation of the transport sector will require higher efficiency of vehicles and of the transport system as a whole, as well as, more zero-emission mobility.” said the IEA Deputy Executive Director Mr Paul Simons as he presented the report in Tampere today, October 23 as part the World Energy Council’s Energy Day and the Energy 2018 event.

“The IEA review delivers, once again, an in-depth assessment of Finland’s energy policy and gives us recommendations, that will play a key role, when we prepare measures to mitigate climate change and tackle the challenges of energy security.” says Mr Kimmo Tiilikainen, Finland’s Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing, commenting on the IEA recommendations.

“Finland will continue to search for ways to tackle long-term climate challenges in the energy sector, at the same time, bearing in mind our goals regarding environmental sustainability, security of energy supply and competitiveness.” he said.

“The IEA recommends that we adopt determined efforts to reach our energy and climate targets for 2050, review our taxation and support schemes for transport and combined heat and power production, promote the energy efficiency of vehicles, zero-transmission mobility and new fiscal instruments in the transport sector and foster dialogue with our Nordic and Baltic neighbours. In many respects, we have already initiated measures corresponding with these recommendations and there will be more initiatives in the future,” said Mr Tiilikainen.

The IEA reviews its member countries’ energy policies every five years and gives recommendations for new policy measures. The emphasis of the 2018 in-depth review of Finland’s energy policy was on emissions reductions in sectors not included in the EU Emissions Trading System, especially, transport and the sustainable use of forest bio-mass and the future of combined heat and power production as part of the electricity sector’s transformation.

IEA’s In-depth Review: Finland 2018

Inquiries:

Vilhartti Hanhilahti: Special Adviser to the Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing: Tele: +358 40 836 4823

Riku Huttunen: Director General: Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment: Tele:  +358 50 3431 6519

Katja Tuokko: Senior Adviser: Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment: Tele: +358 50 465 5533 :::ω.

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Huge Variations Between Countries in Time for Reimbursement Decisions on New Cancer Drugs: This State of Affairs Is Not Acceptable While Those Waiting for These Medicines are Suffering and Paying the Price

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

|| October 21: 2018 || ά. Some European countries take more than twice as long as others to reach health technology assessment:HTA decisions to reimburse new cancer drugs following their approval by the European Medicines Agency:EMA. The average decision time is longer than one year in some countries, according to a study to be reported at the European Society for Medical Oncology:ESMO 2018 Congress, taking place in Munich, Germany. Once the EMA has approved a new treatment, many countries evaluate its benefit and cost-effectiveness through a systematic health technology assessment process as part of making a decision on whether to reimburse use of the treatment for routine patient care.

Researchers identified all new cancer drugs approved for solid tumours by the EMA between January 2007 and December 2016. They, then, tracked the time between EMA approval for each of the drugs and HTA decisions being taken by health authorities in four European countries: England, France, Germany and Scotland. Results for 47 drugs approved for 77 solid tumour indications showed that the median time from EMA approval to HTA decisions was two to three times longer in England, 405 days and Scotland, 384 days compared to Germany, 209 days and France, 118 days.

“In contrast to the centralised approval of anti-cancer drugs by the EMA, the time to HTA decisions remains a national responsibility.” said Study Co-author Dr Kerstin Vokinger, Senior Research Scientist at the University Hospital of Zurich, Switzerland, and an Affiliated Researcher at Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA. “Among other things, the different amount of resources invested in such assessments and different national regulations regarding HTA systems, may, lead to variation in the time from EMA approval to HTA decisions in different countries.”

Commenting on the findings, Dr Bettina Ryll, the Founder of Melanoma Patient Network Europe and the Chair of the ESMO Patient Advocacy Working Group, said, “We, in melanoma, still mourn the lives we lost due to the tardy and inconsistent introduction of approved innovative therapies. It is a country's responsibility to ensure sufficient administrative capacity so that processes like HTA, that were put in place for the benefit of society, do not start harming citizens. And we need more pragmatic approaches to reducing uncertainty, simply letting patients die while waiting for data to mature is not a civilised option.”

The Study found that health authorities, generally, made decisions much more quickly for drugs ranked as being of ‘highest benefit’ on the ESMO Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale:ESMO-MCBS compared to those with less clinical benefit. However, the variation in time from EMA approval to HTA decisions remained between different countries for these ‘highest benefit’ drugs.

The ESMO Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale uses a rational, structured and consistent approach to grade the magnitude of clinical benefit, that can be expected from anti-cancer treatments. ‘Lowest benefit’ refers, for example, to drugs increasing median progression-free survival by a few weeks, whereas the category of ‘highest benefit’ is given to drugs improving long-term survival in the neo-adjuvant setting.

In France, the median time to an HTA decision on ‘highest benefit’ drugs was 154 days compared to 198 days for drugs of less benefit. Faster HTA decisions for ‘highest benefit’ cancer drugs were, also, made in Germany and England but the time to HTA decisions was much longer in England, median 302 days, than in France or Germany, 203 days.

Further analysis showed that, nearly, all cancer drugs ranked as being of ‘highest benefit’ on the ESMO-MCBS were approved for reimbursement by all four countries: Germany, 100%, Scotland, 95%, England, 92% and France, 90%. In addition, the researchers found high concordance between ESMO-MCBS and scores health regulators gave in HTA procedures for cancer drugs of ‘highest benefit’.

“Our study shows that there is a high concordance between ESMO Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale and HTA scores for the categorisation of ‘highest benefit’. Therefore, the ESMO Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale could serve different countries as a helpful tool to assess the clinical value of anticancer drugs.” suggested Dr Vokinger.

Commenting on the findings for ESMO, Professor Elisabeth de Vries, Medical Oncologist at the University Medical Cenre Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands, the Chair of the ESMO-MCBS Working Group, said, “It is reassuring that in the countries studied, anti-cancer drugs with greatest clinical benefit on ESMO-MCBS, version 1.1, are associated with faster times to HTA decisions and, nearly, all are approved for reimbursement.”

Noting the variation in times to final decisions, she suggested, “Hopefully, this information can be helpful to raise the interest of HTA agencies in their performance and timeframes.”

“Data were analysed only for England, France, Germany and Scotland. This means data for HTA procedures and reimbursement decisions were reported for only part of Europe, with no countries included from Southern or Eastern Europe. Insights into these procedures in other European countries, might be, of interest.” said Professor Elisabeth de Vries.

Dr Vokinger said that the research group now planned to expand research in this area. “Among other things, we plan to include more countries for assessing HTA decisions and to explore access to new cancer medicines by individual patients.”

About the European Society for Medical Oncology:ESMO: ESMO is the leading professional organisation for medical oncology. With 18,000 members representing oncology professionals from over 150 countries worldwide, ESMO is the society of reference for oncology education and information. ESMO is committed to offer the best care to people with cancer, through fostering integrated cancer care, supporting oncologists in their professional development, and advocating for sustainable cancer care worldwide. :::ω.

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Unhealthy Food Marketing to Children: Policies to Limit Junk Food Advertisements Aimed at Children Fall Short: New Report Finds

 

 

 

|| October 18: 2018: University of Liverpool News || ά. A new Report finds that many existing policies and regulations aimed at tackling food marketing to children are markedly insufficient, meaning children continue to be exposed to commercial messages promoting foods high in fats, salt and sugar. The Report, prepared by researchers from the University of Liverpool and the Open University in collaboration with the World Health Organisation:WHO, Europe, found that around half of the 53 countries in the Region have taken some steps to limit marketing of high fat, salt and sugar:HFSS foods to children.

A few countries have adopted legally binding rules, which, specifically, restrict HFSS food marketing in certain media, at certain times. Others are attempting to address the challenge of digital marketing. However, many countries still report no action and an overwhelming preference for self-regulation by the food and advertising industries remains, an approach, that is, often, found wanting by independent review. In addition, the evidence suggests that the impact of existing policies on reducing children’s exposure to HFSS food marketing has been limited, something, that is exacerbated by changing media usage and the increasingly integrated nature of marketing across a number of different media and platforms.

In May 2010, the World Health Assembly unanimously adopted the set of recommendations on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children. These recommendations urge countries to reduce the impact on children of the marketing of energy-dense, highly processed HFSS foods and beverages. However, the Report finds that implementation of the set of recommendations continues to be patchy, despite unequivocal evidence that HFSS food marketing has a harmful impact on children’s eating behaviours and body weight and repeated commitments made by countries to halt the rise of childhood obesity by 2025.

The Report identifies existing loopholes in policies, ongoing challenges and factors, that countries need to consider in order to effectively limit the harmful impact that HFSS food marketing has on children’s health and rights.

Drawing on the most authoritative evidence, the Report offers guidance to help countries formulate policies in line with the set of recommendations. In particular, the Report encourages countries to consider the following points:

:: Most existing action focuses on broadcast advertising only, despite clear evidence that children are exposed to marketing through many other avenues: in the digital sphere, via product display and through packaging and sponsorship of HFSS foods. Countries, therefore, need to adopt a more comprehensive approach to HFSS food marketing regulation.

:: Existing regulations, typically, limit their scope to child-oriented programming and focus, primarily, on advertising, leaving a broad range of programmes, media and marketing techniques to which children are exposed, unregulated. Countries should, therefore, ensure that they focus on establishing policies to, effectively, reduce children’s actual exposure to HFSS food marketing rather than policies based on the classification of content or media.

:: Existing rules, typically, only seek to protect children up to a certain age, typically, 12 or 13 years, even, though, a growing body of evidence suggests that adolescents are, also, negatively affected by HFSS food marketing. The scope of rules should be extended to protect all children

:: Countries have not always adopted effective food categorisation systems to determine what foods should not be marketed to children. They should ensure that they use existing or develop new, evidence-based nutrient-profiling systems, that, effectively, identify unhealthy food according to nutritional quality

:: Countries have failed to, effectively, regulate cross-border marketing at a regional level; they should reflect on how better co-operation and harmonisation could avoid weakening national HFSS food marketing restrictions and could strengthen efforts to address the global issue of food marketing in digital media.

Dr Emma Boyland, who conducted the research on behalf of the University of Liverpool, said, “The evidence is clear that children are exposed to a lot of food marketing and that exposure negatively affects their food choices and consumption. Given the high levels of childhood overweight and obesity across Europe, it is crucial that governments follow the WHO guidelines and enact regulations, that will, meaningfully, restrict the volume of persuasive food marketing, that children see.”

Read the Report:::ω.

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Financial Impacts of Cancer Found to Intensify Disease Burden Among German Patients

 

 

 

|| October 16: 2018 || ά. A study, conducted in Germany, draws attention to the fact that the socio-economic burden of cancer is real in Europe too and not only in the context of the US healthcare system, where it has been associated with higher morbidity and mortality. The results to be presented at the ESMO 2018 Congress in Munich show that income loss is the main source of perceived financial hardship and that this is associated with adverse psychological effects in patients.

The work, also, highlights the absence of clear definitions and valid instruments with which to examine this issue. Professor Eva Winkler, the Study Author, a Medical Oncologist at the National Centre for Tumour Diseases:NCT in Heidelberg, explained the background, “We conducted a systematic literature review of the tools used to measure the subjective financial burden of cancer patients: of the 39 studies we found, most, came from the USA and the instruments they used were either not transferable to the German context or not sufficiently focused on the subject.”

Study Co-author Dr Katja Mehlis from the NCT said, “We were, however, able to identify three broad dimensions, through which subjective financial burden could be assessed: material aspects, psychological effects and behavioural changes, such as, support seeking and coping strategies. Based on this, we developed our own, yet,  non-validated set of questions covering income, cancer-related out of pocket costs, distress and lifestyle changes.”

A total of 247 patients, 122 diagnosed with neuro-endocrine tumours and 125 treated for colorectal cancer, responded to the survey between November 2016 and March 2017. The results brought to light financial impacts in a significant proportion of patients: 80.6% of respondents stated that they faced higher out of pocket costs related to their illness.

Although, most medical costs in Germany are covered by a person’s health insurance, patients do have to contribute co-payments for prescription drugs. Cancer patients, may, additionally, face travel expenses to get to the hospital or medical centre, as well as, potentially, having to pay for care, housekeeping or childcare. For over three quarters of the patients, who responded to the survey, disease-related out of pocket costs amounted to less than 200 euros monthly.

Cancer-related income loss was reported by 37.2% of survey participants. “In our study, this effect was more serious than out of pocket costs, as the suffered losses exceeded 800 euros per month in, almost, half of cases. They were, mainly, due to patients being unable to work or forced to reduce their working hours.” said Dr Mehlis.

The analysis further showed that high financial loss relative to income was significantly associated with a lower estimation of patients’ quality of life and more distress. “The financial impacts, that a majority of these patients experienced seem to have contributed to the burden of their disease: the bigger the loss was in proportion to their previous income level, the more negatively they rated their personal situation.” Professor Winkler observed.

“More research is needed to determine what actions are necessary at the system level, for example, an extension of the period of eligibility for sickness benefits or at the individual level, like targeted consulting and support services.” she said. “To do this, we will need a valid instrument to measure ‘subjective financial burden’ in the German context, based on a precise definition of the concept.” 

Dr. Dirk Arnold of Asklepios Tumorzentrum in Hamburg, Germany, ESMO, said, “There have been efforts in Germany, including, by national entities like the Federal Joint Committee and the Robert Koch Institute, to look at the costs of oncology treatment for cancer patients but they have focused only on drug and procedure-related expenses. With this new study, we can see not just that the financial implications of a cancer diagnosis are much broader but, also, that the monetary losses associated with this disease have significant psychosocial consequences.

We should draw lessons from these findings: just as cancer patients receive consultations about lifestyle issues, like nutrition, so too, should the financial aspect, somehow, be integrated into the social counselling programmes we offer them.

The fact that medical expenses for patients in Germany and Europe, more generally, are relatively low compared to other parts of the world, should not lead us to underestimate the importance of their perceived financial burden and leave them alone with it. It would be interesting to see, if, assessments of this burden in other European countries produce similar results.

Alleviating the financial burden of cancer: is one of ESMO’s key commitments: earlier this year, ESMO issued a paper on this subject in the context of the implementation of the 2017 World Health Assembly Resolution on Cancer prevention and control.”

This paper is the first to articulate the response and commitment oncologists to advance global cancer control through the framework of the 2017 WHA Cancer Resolution and Universal Health Coverage. It addresses key topics like cancer prevention, timely access to treatment and care, palliative and survivorship care, as well as, comprehensive data collection through robust cancer registries. The authors, also, offer a concrete set of actions and policy recommendations for improving patient care.

ESMO’s commitment to lessening the burden of cancer is not new: sustainable cancer care is one of the three pillars of the Society’s 2020 Vision, and various initiatives have been launched in this field over the years. Among other things, ESMO contributed in 2016 to the revision of the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, the list of vital medicines, that should be available to patients everywhere for free or at affordable prices and added 16 anti-cancer drugs, including, targeted therapies. With the introduction of its own classification tool, the ESMO Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale, the Society provided a standardised, evidence-based approach to evaluating cancer medicines, thus helping to guide health systems in their decision-making and resource allocation. In collaboration with the Economist Intelligence Unit:EIU, ESMO also published in 2017 a report on the shortage of inexpensive cancer medicines in Europe, raising awareness for a critical issue that has immediate consequences for patient care and treatment outcomes.

The Paper: Financial toxicity in German cancer patients. How does a chronic disease impact the economic situation?’ was presented by Professor Eva Winkler during the Poster Display Session on Monday, October 22, 12:45 to 13:45, CEST in the Poster Area Networking Hub, Hall A3. Annals of Oncology, Volume 29 Supplement 8 October 2018.

About the European Society for Medical Oncology:ESMO: ESMO is the leading professional organisation for medical oncology. With 18,000 members representing oncology professionals from over 150 countries worldwide, ESMO is the society of reference for oncology education and information. ESMO is committed to offer the best care to people with cancer, through fostering integrated cancer care, supporting oncologists in their professional development, and advocating for sustainable cancer care worldwide.::ω.

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Europeans Accept Climate Change is Happening But are Not Very Worried About It: But Pro-Green Policy-Measures Have Strong Support: Public Awareness of the Science of Climate Change Must Not Be Taken for Granted and Public Bodies Must Take on This Task of Public Education

 

 

 

|| September 26: 2018 || ά. A majority of Europeans think that climate change is happening but do not have strong concern about the issue, according to the latest European Social Survey:ESS. The results show that, while most Europeans think the consequences of climate change will be bad, many only feel a moderate responsibility to reduce climate change and think that personal efforts will not be very effective.

However, support for renewable energy sources and energy efficiency regulation are high across Europe, with a majority in all countries, who want that a large amount electricity is generated from renewable sources. The Report, ‘European Attitudes Towards Climate Change and Energy’ was authored by a team of external academics, led by Professor Wouter Poortinga from Cardiff University and fielded in 23 countries during 2016:17.

A great majority of respondents in each country think that the world’s climate is changing, that this is, at least, partly due to human activity and that the consequences of climate change will be bad. However, just over a quarter, 28%, of respondents across Europe stated that they were very or extremely worried about climate change. Concern was highest in Portugal, 51% and Spain, 48% and lowest in Russia, 14%, Poland, 15% and Estonia, 15%.

Perhaps, unsurprisingly, people indicated more concern over the affordability of energy, with 40% across Europe claiming to be very or extremely worried. Concern about the affordability of energy is, particularly, widespread in Spain, 70% and Portugal, 68%, the two countries, that, also, have the highest levels of concern about climate change. Conversely, fewer than 15% of respondents in Sweden, Iceland, Switzerland and Norway indicated concern over the cost of energy.

Looking at personal responsibility to reduce climate change on a scale of 0-10, where 0 represents no responsibility and 10 means a great deal responsibility, the mean score was only slightly above the scale mid-point of 05. Feelings of personal responsibility to mitigate climate change were highest in France and Switzerland with mean scores close to 07 on a 0-10 scale and lowest in the Czech Republic and Russia, both with a mean score lower than 04.

When asked whether they could reduce their energy use, many respondents did not feel very confident that they could do so, especially, those in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Russia. And it, also, appears that people do not think that it is highly likely that limiting their energy use would help to reduce climate change. 

The authors found that people, who feel personally responsible to help reduce climate change, also, feel more confident that they could save energy and think that doing so would be effective in reducing climate change. Respondents were asked how much electricity should be generated from a number of fossil, nuclear and renewable energy sources.

The vast majority of respondents in the European Union and European Free Trade Association area indicated support for renewable energy sources. Around three-quarters think that a large or very large amount should be generated from wind and solar power. In contrast, coal and nuclear are highly unpopular sources of electricity generation, with only around 10% of respondents thinking a large or very large amount of electricity should be generated from them.

The European Social Survey, also, assessed support for different environmental policies to reduce climate change. The results show that the use of public money to subsidise renewable energy is, particularly, popular, with 76% of respondents favouring this policy. More than half of those surveyed are in favour of a ban on sales of the least energy-efficient household appliances, while only one in five are against this policy.

In contrast, only 30% of respondents are in favour of increasing fossil fuel taxes, while 40% are somewhat or strongly against this policy.

The Report: European attitudes to climate change and energy was authored by Wouter Poortinga: Cardiff University, Stephen Fisher: University of Oxford, Gisela Böhm: University of Bergen, Linda Steg: University of Groningen, Lorraine Whitmarsh: Cardiff University and Charles Ogunbode: University of Bergen. :::ω. 

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Finland’s Priorities in the European Union: On Jean-Claude Juncker’s State of the Union Address

 

 

 

|| September 13: 2018: Juha Sipilä: Finland’s Prime Minister: Writing || ά. Today we heard a speech on the State of the Union, when President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker delivered the last annual State of the Union address of his mandate. Juncker listed major EU challenges and presented concrete proposals. His speech was very good in many respects.

One small but ordinary point made by President Juncker was that a final decision on the changing of clocks twice a year is forthcoming. This is a victory for Finland. The initiative came from us and it has been promoted by our ministers and Members of Parliament.

Juncker’s speech was significant from the viewpoint of Finland’s Presidency of the EU Council. He raised points that Finland has worked hard for over a long period of time. Last week I sent President Juncker a letter related to these matters. I’d like to highlight six key points in Juncker’s speech:

01: A clear champion of multilateralism and of free and open trade, where the EU is a major global player. Juncker, also, advocates the single market and digitisation. These are key issues for Finland. They are points that I, also, addressed in my letter to Juncker.

02: The EU must strive for more ambitious climate targets, for example, for reducing CO2 emissions. Legislation needs to encourage less use of plastics. This way we can take steps towards climate leadership in the EU, which is something I have called for before.

03: Stronger and safer EU. The Commission is pursuing its work to create a more responsible and autonomous defence policy. It is only this way that we can protect our citizens against internal and external threats.

04: United Europe and speaking with one voice. We need this in trade policy, foreign relations and climate policy. Without unanimity among the Member States, we can not compete for global leadership.

05: Comprehensive management of migration. I deem it important for the EU to take concrete steps to improve border security and to make the return processes more effective. Everything should be underpinned by a humane approach. The EU must find a way that takes into account solidarity among the Member States and new, legal migration pathways. The views presented by Juncker are ones, that Finland has advocated for a long time. Now we have to make sure that changes will take place.

06: Stronger EU partnership with Africa. Concrete investment in Africa to create new jobs and to boost investments are a tangible future task for the EU. The openings presented by Juncker take it a step further. This is a good thing.

Work related to these questions will continue already next week in the informal European Council in Austria.:::ω.

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Heritage Against Hatred and Violence: Experts Gather in Krakow to Rescue Jewish Heritage for Future Generations: Let It Not Rain in Krakow But the Light: Let the Light Rise and Break in Fountains for the Sanctity of Life and Affirmation of Human Oneness: Conference 2018: September 03-07

 

 

 

|| September 01: 2018: University of Birmingham News || ά. Heritage experts from around the world will gather in Poland to find new ways of protecting and reviving historic Jewish buildings at risk in towns and cities across Europe. The University of Birmingham is co-hosting with the London-based Foundation for Jewish Heritage, a major global Conference in Krakow on September 03-07, where experts will discuss how new and sensitive uses can be found for neglected Jewish heritage sites in European towns and cities.

Working in partnership with Villa Decius and the City of Krakow, the Conference will welcome over 130 delegates from over 40 countries to the event which is being supported by the City of Krakow and the Villa Decius Association. Part of the European Year of Cultural Heritage, the Conference has attracted speakers from Austria, Australia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain, UK and USA. The Conference will examine the challenges faced by often forgotten or neglected Jewish heritage in towns and cities across Europe and how this can be protected, preserved and sensitively re-vitalised so as to tell the story of Jewish culture and contribute to the diversity of urban heritage.

The event will map out a blueprint that could help to preserve decaying synagogues and Jewish cultural sites across Europe. Professor Mike Robinson, the Director of the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage, said, “Over the centuries, cities across Europe and around the world have been hugely influenced by their Jewish communities but, if, we are not careful we will lose the remaining tangible reminders of this history and the cultural diversity it represents. We must identify new thinking to preserve and sustainably manage Jewish heritage.

As a global ‘civic’ university, we have a responsibility to enrich the life of the wider world. The University of Birmingham is proud to join our partners in welcoming our international delegates from many disciplines and from the heritage sector to help us protect Jewish heritage at risk of being lost forever.”

Professor Robinson will open the Conference alongside Mr Michael Mail, the Executive Director of the Foundation for Jewish Heritage; Mr Michael Schudrich, the Chief Rabbi of Poland and Dame Helen Hyde DBE, the Chair of the Foundation for Jewish Heritage.

Mr Michael Mail said, “Sites of Jewish heritage are repositories of Jewish life, art and customs with unique, beautifully constructed buildings of real architectural and artistic achievement. They are testimony to the remarkable Jewish contribution to world civilisation. However, the story of Jewish people in the 20th century is one of transition, population loss and displacement. Without an active community of users, Jewish cultural heritage has been under attack, through neglect, natural forces and human actions and today is in crisis.”

Professor Daniel Walkowitz, from New York University, will give a keynote speech on his upcoming book ‘Remembered and Forgotten Jewish World: Jewish Heritage in Europe and the United States’. There will also be a special European Commission workshop on ‘Jewish Heritage and the European Ideal’ with Mr Tibor Navracsics, the Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sports and Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska, the EU Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.

The Conference will feature a strong mix of academic papers and sessions led by representatives from European towns and cities, museum professionals and practitioners involved with conservation and development of Jewish heritage in urban areas.

Opening at the Tempel Synagogue in the historical Jewish district of Krakow, the Conference will move to the Villa Decius, outside the City Centre. ω.

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Measles Cases Reach Record High in the European Region

 

 

|| August 20: 2018 || ά. Over 41,000 children and adults in the WHO European Region have been infected with measles in the first six months of 2018. The total number for this period far exceeds the 12-month totals reported for every other year this decade. So far, the highest annual total for measles cases between 2010 and 2017 was 23,927 for 2017 and the lowest was 5,273 for 2016. Monthly country reports, also, indicate that, at least, 37 people have died due to measles so far this year.

“Following the decade’s lowest number of cases in 2016, we are seeing a dramatic increase in infections and extended outbreaks.” says Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “We call on all countries to, immediately, implement broad, context-appropriate measures to stop further spread of this disease. Good health for all starts with immunisation, and as long as this disease is not eliminated we are failing to live up to our Sustainable Development Goal commitments.”

Seven countries in the Region have seen over 1,000 infections in children and adults this year, France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, the Russian Federation, Serbia and Ukraine. Ukraine has been the hardest hit, with over 23,000 people affected; this accounts for over half of the regional total. Measles-related deaths have been reported in all of these countries, with Serbia reporting the highest number of 14.

According to the latest assessment by the European Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination:RVC, released today, 43 of the Region’s 53 Member States have interrupted the endemic spread of measles and 42 have interrupted rubella, based on 2017 reporting.

At the same time, the RVC expressed concerns about inadequate disease surveillance and low immunisation coverage in some countries. It, also, concluded that chains of measles transmission continued for more than 12 months in some countries, that had interrupted the endemic spread of the disease, reverting their status back to endemic.

“This partial setback demonstrates that every person, who is not immune, remains vulnerable, no matter where they live and every country must keep pushing to increase coverage and close immunity gaps, even, after, achieving interrupted or eliminated status.” says Dr Nedret Emiroglu, Director of the Division of Health Emergencies and Communicable Diseases at the WHO Regional Office for Europe.

The measles virus is exceptionally contagious and spreads easily among susceptible individuals. To prevent outbreaks, at least 95% immunisation coverage with two doses of measles-containing vaccine is needed every year in every community, as well as, efforts to reach children, adolescents and adults, who missed routine vaccination in the past. 

While immunisation coverage with two doses of measles-containing vaccine increased from 88% of eligible children in the Region in 2016 to 90% in 2017, large disparities at the local level persist: some communities report over 95% coverage and others below 70%.

WHO is working closely with Member States currently facing outbreaks to implement response measures, including, enhanced routine and supplemental immunisation, as well as, heightened surveillance to quickly detect cases. WHO is, also, working with other countries to attain the 95% threshold.

“At this mid-term juncture for the European Vaccine Action Plan, we must celebrate our achievements while not losing sight of those, who are still vulnerable and whose protection requires our urgent and ongoing attention.” says Dr Jakab. “We can stop this deadly disease. But we will not succeed unless everyone plays their part: to immunise their children, themselves, their patients, their populations and, also, to remind others that vaccination saves lives.”

All 53 countries in the Region will review mid-term progress towards the goals of the European Vaccine Action Plan at the 68th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, taking place in Rome, Italy on September 17-20 this year.:::ω.

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Update on the Fire Situation in Algarve Portugal From the Tourism Region of Algarve

 

 

|| August 07: 2018 || ά. The Tourism Region of Algarve has said that there’s no tourist is at risk in the rural fire, that has been active since 13.32 on August 03 in the Monchique mountain range, in the interior of the Algarve. The fire situation is now more favourable, with the forecast of lowering temperatures and increasing humidity in the next few days. As a precaution and for the comfort of the local inhabitants, several roads have been closed and several locations evacuated, including, two hotels, whose guests were moved to alternative hotels along the coast.

"The highest standards of safety and protection of residents and tourists is being guaranteed and there is full confidence in the personnel mobilised to fight the fire, who have already dominated 95 percent of its perimeter., said Mr João Fernandes, the President of the Tourism Region of Algarve. Mr Fernandes earlier this morning met with the President of the District Civil Protection Commission of the Algarve, the Operational Commander of the Algarve Civil Protection, the Secretary of State for Civil Protection and other entities involved in the operation.

During the meeting, a decision was taken not to activate additional measures beyond those already taken by the Civil Protection. It was reiterated that the Algarve is a safe region for residents and tourists, who should always follow the instructions of the Portuguese authorities, who can be contacted on 800 246 246, or +351 21 424 7247, for those using overseas registered devices or through the website prociv.pt/en-us

The Algarve Tourism Region expresses solidarity with all those affected by this fire and thanks all civil protection agents and cooperating entities for their commitment to the rapid extinction of the fire.:::ω.

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New Research Shows the Benefits of Investment in Energy Efficiency for All EU Countries
 

 

 

|| August 01: 2018 || ά. Several new research projects at the University of Manchester’s Urban Institute have shown how improvements in the efficiency of household energy use can result in benefits for human health and well-being, economic productivity, environmental quality and urban development. The recently-completed Calculating and Operationalising the Multiple Benefits of Energy Efficiency in Europe’ or the COMBI Project, funded by Horizon 2020, has shown that energy efficiency improvements in homes in the EU could avoid up to 27,500 premature deaths from indoor cold between now and 2030.

The economic value of these changes could be up to €02.5 billion due to premature mortality from indoor cold, and up to €02.9 billion due to asthma morbidity from indoor dampness. The complementary Energy Vulnerability and Urban Transitions in Europe’ or the EVALUATE Project, funded by the European Research Council, found that energy efficiency is a key factor in determining levels of thermal comfort. The project identified warm weather space cooling as a significant challenge across the Global North, in light of climate change pressures.

The project recommended the establishment of a minimum standard for housing across Europe and the banning of disconnections for consumers, such measures are clear win-win solutions in the case of fuel poverty. Given the major social and geographical differences in the incidence of fuel poverty across Europe, the project argued that many policies are best delivered at the regional level.

The researchers are now embarking on several new projects in the area. One of these is Using Living Labs to roll out Sustainable Strategies for Energy Poor Individuals or STEP-IN, also, supported by Horizon 2020, where the University of Manchester will work with Greater Manchester Combined Authority to improve the circumstances of vulnerable households in several areas.

These results will inform the design of information technology solutions to address pressing social challenges in the energy domain. Another new initiative is European Energy Poverty: Agenda Co-Creation and Knowledge Innovation: ENGAGER, a research network funded via the European Co-operation in Science and Technology:COST scheme. This brings together over 100 experts from more than 30 countries to find innovative ways of connecting energy efficiency delivery with urban planning, among other things.

“Through this array of activities, we are showing that investing in the energy efficiency of residential dwellings can address the pressing challenge of climate change in many unexpected ways, beyond reducing energy demand and CO2 emissions.” said Professor Stefan Bouzarovski from the Manchester Urban Institute.

“We hav, also, identified the policy channels through which energy efficiency measures can reach vulnerable households; many of these involve working with local authorities and transnational bodies at the same time.”

Energy is one of The University of Manchester’s research beacons, examples of pioneering discoveries, interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships that are tackling some of the biggest questions facing the planet.

About the University of Manchester: The University of Manchester, a member of the prestigious Russell Group, is the UK’s largest single-site university with 39,700 students and is consistently ranked among the world’s elite for graduate employability. The University is also one of the country’s major research institutions, rated fifth in the UK in terms of ‘research power’. World-class research is carried out across a diverse range of fields including cancer, advanced materials, addressing global inequalities, energy and industrial biotechnology. No fewer than 25 Nobel laureates have either worked or studied here.

It is the only UK university to have social responsibility among its core strategic objectives, with staff and students alike dedicated to making a positive difference in communities around the world. Manchester is ranked 29th in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2018 and 6th in the UK.:::ω.

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Finland States for the Record: The Comments Made by the Russian Minister of Defence Sergei Shoygu on Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO Co-operation are Inaccurate

 

 

 

|| July 26: 2018: || ά. In a statement issued by the Finland Government said that the recent comments made by the Russian Minister of Defence, Mr Sergei Shoygu, in Moscow on Tuesday with regard to Finland's and Sweden's co-operation with NATO contain a number of inaccuracies and factual errors.

The statement went onto say: ‘’Finland has not set up any cyber-operation centre with the assistance of the United States, as Shoygu indicates. Instead, Finland hosts a multinational European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, which was established in 2017. In his speech, Shoygu, also, refers to a treaty signed between Finland, Sweden and NATO in May. There is in fact no such treaty. In May 2018, Finland, Sweden and NATO signed a Trilateral Statement of Intent on defence co-operation.’’

The Finnish Government said further that Finland did not participate fully in NATO exercises nor did it have full access to NATO's command-and-control system, contrary to what Mr Shoygu claimed.

‘’Moreover, NATO does not have unrestricted access to Finland's airspace and territorial waters. Any foreign vessels or aircraft wishing to enter Finland's territory must have authorisation from the relevant authority, which in Finland is the Defence Forces. Such authorisation is always case-specific and subject to national discretion.’’ The statement said.

It added that Mr Shoygu was incorrect in saying that Finland was being pulled into NATO. ‘’Finland's position on its military non-alignment is clear and Finland makes its security policy choices independently.’’ the statement ended. ::ω.

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The Greens in Europe Launch Report on Alternatives to Glyphosate as Monsanto Face Lawsuits Over Carcinogenic Weed Killer

 

 

|| July 11: 2018 || ά. A Report, commissioned by the Greens in Europe, on alternatives to Glyphosate has been published today. The Report by the Pesticide Action Network:PAN details different methods of weed control to using herbicides. The launch of this Report comes as a federal judge in the US has ruled that Monsanto, which was recently bought out by German giant Bayer, will have to face hundreds of lawsuits by cancer victims and their families over the potentially carcinogenic affects of Glyphosate, which is used in the company’s Roundup weedkiller.

The PAN Report highlights studies, that have shown farm workers exposed to Glyphosate had a higher incidence of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, a rare form of cancer, compared to those, who had not used Glyphosate and to the World Health Organisation:WHO, has concluded that Glyphosate is ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’. Responding the Report Dr Molly Scott Cato, who sits on the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, said, “We can and we must weed out the poisons from Europe’s food and farming sector.

Glyphosate might be hugely profitable for global corporates like Monsanto but its continued use is highly dubious, given its effects on health and the environment. The use of chemicals in farming has huge costs for society and as Monsanto is discovering in the US, costs to the agri-corporates themselves through lawsuits.

Farmers need support in adapting to viable and affordable alternatives to chemical farming. These methods exist and are being showcased by many farmers, particularly, those working in the rapidly expanding organic sector. This report makes a valuable contribution to farmers and food producers, who want to move towards chemical-free farming methods.”

Dr Molly Scott Cato is Green MEP for the South West of England and Gibraltar and is one of 50 Green:EFA MEPs in the European Parliament. She sits on the Economics and Monetary Affairs Committee, Special Committee on Tax investigating financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance and the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. Molly is Green Party speaker on Exiting the European Union. :::ω.

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Finland Begins the Chairship of the Baltic Sea Protection Commission

 

|| July 03: 2018 || ά. Finland’s Chairship of the Baltic Sea Protection Commission or the Helsinki Commission or Helcom has begun from this month. The key task for Finland of the two-year Chairship of the Commission is to update the Baltic Sea Action Plan launched in 2007. Measures should be included, that enable the Commission to achieve a good environmental status for the Baltic Sea by 2030.

On the Finnish initiative Helcom will prepare a regional nutrient recycling strategy for the Baltic Sea. The aim of the strategy is that valuable nutrients are in efficient use and prevent them from being lost to waters. Practical measures will be included in the Action Plan to reduce nutrient inputs. Climate change will maintain or, even, increase, eutrophication in the Baltic Sea. It will, also have impacts on the distribution of living organisms and attaining the objectives set for the protection.

The work of Helcom must be further strengthened to understand the impacts and minimise harm and damage. Climate change and adaptation will be one of the key issues in updating the Action Plan. Helcom activities are to be linked to a wider context for work on sustainable development, i.e, implementing of the goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

“We still have a long way to go to achieve a good status for the Baltic Sea and this will be the key focus during our Chairmanship. We will update the Baltic Sea Action Plan and our particular aim is to reduce nutrient inputs, that cause eutrophication.

Climate change brings additional challenges to the protection of the Baltic Sea and more information is needed on the impacts to be expected.” says Mr Kimmo Tiilikainen, Finland’s Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing.

During Finland’s term Helcom will be chaired by Ms Saara Bäck, Environment Counsellor at the Ministry of the Environment.

The Baltic Sea Protection Commission or the Helsinki Commission Helcom is an intergovernmental organisation, established by the signatory states to the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area and the European Union. Helcom promotes the implementation of the Convention and gives recommendations to the governments of the signatory states.

All coastal countries around the Baltic Sea and the European Commission participate in the work of Helcom. A number of international organisations participate in the work as observers. The Helcom Chairship rotates among the contracting parties.

Inquiries: Tarja Haaranen, Helcom Vice-Chair, Environment Counsellor: Tele: +358 295 250 282: email: firstname.lastname at ym.fi:::ω.

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EU Needs an Ambitious Long-term Climate Strategy: Zero Emissions by 2050 as the Target: Finland

 

|| June 25: 2018 || ά. ”The EU must aim for zero emissions by 2050 and our target to 2030 must be on the path towards this. This should form the basis for the Long-term Climate Strategy and preparations of the EU for the Katowice Climate Change Conference.” Said Mr Kimmo Tiilikainen, Finland’s Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing, in Luxembourg on Monday.

The EU Environment Ministers met at the Environment Council in Luxembourg today. The EU climate policy was one of topics on the agenda. During the meeting Finland, together with 14 other Member States, gave a declaration for a more ambitious climate policy, that is based on the 01.5 degrees report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC.

The EU, must, also, review the greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for 2030 on the basis of the reductions already achieved in different sectors and consider whether the inputs made for the Paris Agreement should be updated already in 2020.

The European Commission will give the proposal for the Long-term Climate Strategy in November, well in time before the UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland.
”The EU must give a strong message that we are committed to bearing our responsibility and leading the international climate efforts by our own example.” Mr Tiilikainen said.

At the meeting the ministers discussed the emission standards for new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles for 2025 and 2030. Finland, together with other more ambitious Member States, calls for a stricter policy in the Commission proposal.

“We have ambitious emission reduction targets for the non-emission trading sector, which is why stricter emission standards are needed for automobile manufacturers. How can the consumers buy low-emission vehicles, if, this is not what the manufacturers must produce.” Mr Tiilikainen said.

As the next step Austria, which is to take over the EU Presidency in July, will give a compromise proposal on the emission standards and the general approach of the Environment Council should be ready by the October meeting. The aim is to reach an agreement between the Council, European Parliament and Commission by the end of this year.

The Ministers talked about the Drinking Water Directive and started the discussion on the Commission proposal concerning single-use plastics.

”The initiative concerning single-use plastic is highly urgent. The key issue is to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics and prevent plastic litter from ending up in the environment. The recycling of plastics must be significantly increased and, where possible, bio-based materials must be used to substitute for plastics. Finland has strong expertise in this as well.”

Inquiries: Taru Savolainen, Special Adviser, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 40 535 8622: email: firstname.lastname at ym.fi.

Eleonoora Eilittä, Senior Officer, Ministry of Transport and Communications, tel. +358 295 34 2089: email: firstname.lastname at lvm. :::ω.

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Thank You for Your Custom: Finland Conducts Methodical Efforts to Stop the Spread of African Swine Fever in the European Union: With the Specialist Help From All-Intelligent Aino




|| June 15: 2018 || ά. The authorities in Finland are introducing new actions to prevent dangerous animal diseases, including, African Swine Fever, from spreading to Finland. The first Finnish customs dog, that sniffs out foodstuffs started at the Vaalimaa border crossing on June 14. The dog searches unauthorised foods of animal origin, that travellers, may have, with them. New large information boards, guides and posters have been placed at the Vaalimaa border crossing, as well as, food waste containers, where passengers, may, leave foods of animal origin.

African Swine Fever is a serious threat to the Finnish and European pig-meat production. The disease is fatal to porcine animals and it is found, e.g, in the eastern parts of the European Union, all Baltic states and the eastern neighbours of the European Union. It is spread through careless actions by humans, as well as, by animals. Among the transmission agents are pork and wild boar meat products brought as snacks or packed meals or as souvenirs.

For example, the disease is suspected to have spread to the Czech Republic and Hungary via packed meals or food waste. Because of the risk of spreading animal diseases, the EU legislation prohibits the import of meat, meat products, milk and milk products to the EU territory, whether brought by travellers or send by post to private individuals.

Now, there are food waste containers for foodstuffs of animal origin at the Vaalimaa border crossing, where people can voluntarily put these products. During the piloting stage, the Finnish Customs will pay special attention to the control of imported souvenirs at all border crossings along the eastern border and at the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. The food sniffer dog of the Finnish Customs will be used nationwide for these control tasks. This is a collaborative effort of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Finnish Food Safety Authority, Finnish Customs and Finnish Border Guard. “The new measures to be launched to combat African Swine Fever are an excellent example of good collaboration between the authorities.

Every effort needs to be made in Finland and the whole EU to prevent the disease from spreading to new areas. Swine Fever has serious consequences for pig husbandry, exports and people’s lives in areas, where the disease is found. This is a very serious matter, which is why each and every traveller must understand their responsibility when coming to Finland.” says Mr Jari Leppä, Finland’s Minister of Agriculture and Forestry.

To further improve the border controls, the Finnish Customs has trained a detection dog specialised in sniffing out foodstuffs. A little over one year old Golden Retriever, named, Aino is the first food sniffer dog in Finland. ‘ Her training was co-ordinated by the Customs Dog Training Centre and those consulted about the training process included the Heathrow Airport in London.

Aino, mainly, works at the eastern border but she can, also, be used nationwide at airports and ports, as well as, to assist the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira in carrying out its official duties. The food odours Aino is already able to detect include pork, beef, chicken meat, wild boar meat, sausages and cheese.

Aino detects fresh and processed foodstuffs in different types of packages, and she is very eager to look for them. “It is remarkable to have a dog at the Finnish Customs specifically trained to carry out this important task. Through her expertise Aino provides important support to the other collaborative efforts by the public authorities.” says Ms Jaana Husu-Kallio, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry during her visit at Vaalimaa.

The new measures at the Vaalimaa border crossing are among the efforts by the EU to intensify the prevention of African Swine Fever so that it does not spread to areas, that are still free from the disease, including, Finland and other countries in Western Europe. :::ω.

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Finland Ranks the Best in WHO Air Quality Statistics

 


|| April 22: 2018 || ά. A delegation of directors and experts from the International Renewable Energy Agency:IRENA will visit Helsinki this week, April 26-27. They will meet with Ms Anne-Mari Virolainen, Finland's Minister for Foreign Trade and Development and Mr Kimmo Tiilikainen, Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing . The themes of the visit will be the global energy transition and Finland’s responses to it by means of research, innovation and the products and services of companies.

IRENA is an intergovernmental organisation, founded in 2009. Since then it has rapidly risen to become one of the leading organisations promoting international renewable energy use. Mr Sakari Oksanen from Finland has been IRENA’s Deputy Director-General since 2015. On the morning of Thursday, April 26, Business Finland will host a workshop for companies, where the focus will be on the opportunities offered by the co-operation between Finland and IRENA. Ms Anne-Mari Virolainen will open the event and Mr Sakari Oksanen, Deputy Director-General  and other members of IRENA’s delegation will explain what kinds of services IRENA offers to companies regarding technological co-operation and renewable energy innovation, among others.

Finnish companies will have the opportunity to describe their special expertise in sustainable forestry, biomass handling and circular economy promotion. In the afternoon, Aalto University will host a Smart Energy Transition Seminar, that will seek answers to how to manage the seasonality in the clean energy system during cold winter weeks and how Finland can benefit from the ongoing global energy transition.

The seminar will be attended by Mr Kimmo Tiilikainen, IRENA’s Director of Innovation and Technology Mr Dolf Gielen and Professor Armi Temmes from Aalto University, among others. The seminar is organised by the Smart Energy Transition project of Finland’s Strategic Research Council together with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and Business Finland.

On the morning of Friday, April 27, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs will host an information sharing event focusing on Finland’s role in the global energy transition. After a presentation by IRENA’s representatives, Finnish responses to the global energy transition will be described by Ms Satu Santala from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Mr Petteri Kuuva from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Ms Tiina Koljonen from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Mr Armi Temmes from Aalto University and Ms Helena Sarén from Business Finland.

IRENA visiting Helsinki

International Renewable Energy Agency:IRENA

Inquiries: Pekka Orpana, Senior Adviser, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 50 465 8215: Toivo Martikainen, Desk Officer, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. + 358 50 326 8633: Kati Veijonen, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 504 7170: Helena Sarén, Programme Director, Business Finland, +35840 343 3324: Karoliina Auvinen, Stakeholder Relations Director, Aalto University, +358 50 462 4727 ::: ω.

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The European Court of Justice Rules in Favour of the Bialowieza Forest and Against the Polish Government That Was Breaking the EU Laws by Excessive Logging

 



|| May 07: 2018 || ά. Air quality in Finland is the best in the world, according to data released by the World Health Organisation:WHO. The level of airborne particles in Finland is an average 06 µg:m3, which is the lowest level for any individual country. The air in Estonia, Sweden, Canada, Norway, and Iceland showed particle concentrations, that were nearly as low. The information comes from an extensive body of material published by WHO containing airborne particle measurements from 2,500 locations in nearly 100 different countries between 2008 and 2016.

The highest particle concentrations, in other words, the countries with the worst air quality, are located in the Middle East and Far East, as well as, in Africa. The levels of particle concentrations in these countries are more than tenfold in comparison with the best levels in the report. In large cities in India 
annual concentrations have even exceeded 100 µg:m. "With respect to the results we need to take into consideration that the measurements of developing countries contain considerable uncertainty, as the quality of the measurements is not necessarily very reliable and the number of measurements is small, so regional representation ends up being weak." observes Ms Pia Anttila, Senior Research Scientist at the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

The report raises the issue of the considerable air quality problems faced by developing countries. The WHO guideline value is 10 µg:m3. "This level was exceeded in more than 2,000 cities. The number of people exposed to air pollution in cities with millions of inhabitants in Asia and Africa is massive." Ms Pia Anttila points out. 

Included in the report were the monitoring stations of 11 cities and towns in Finland: Lohja, Espoo, Oulu, Vantaa, Harjavalta, Lahti, Raahe, Tampere, Vaasa, Lappeenranta and Helsinki, as well as, the monitoring stations of the Finnish Meteorological Institute in Utö and Virolahti.

Ambient Air Pollution Database, WHO, May 2016

For further information contact: Senior Research Scientist Pia Anttila: tel. +358 50 368 6420: pia.anttila at fmi.fi 

Air quality in Finland can be followed in real time here: ilmatieteenlaitos.fi/ilmanlaatu ::: ω.

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EU Data Protection Regulation Brings New Personal Data Rights for Citizens
 
 



|| May 17: 2018 || ά. The application of the European Union General Data Protection Regulation will begin on May 25. The basic principles governing the processing of personal data and data subjects’ rights will mainly remain unchanged. Data subjects will, also, in future have the right to access the personal data concerning themselves and to request rectification of inaccurate data and erasure of unnecessary data. The reform will, also, bring new rights for data subjects. Data subjects will in future have the right to obtain their personal data from the controller by electronic means and the right to data portability, which means an easier transfer of data from one system to another.

The data protection reform concerns all EU Member States. This means that the same rights apply, even, when making purchases in an online store operating in some other EU country, for example. A company, entity or authority processing personal data must rectify inaccurate personal data and erase personal data, that has become unnecessary or outdated, for example. Rectifications must be made without undue delay, normally, within a month from the receipt of the request for rectification or erasure. In the case of a personal data breach, the controller, must, no later than 72 hours after having become aware of it, notify the breach to the Data Protection Ombudsman, if, the breach is likely to result in a risk to the rights and freedoms of natural persons.

In certain cases, the personal data breach, must, also, be notified to the data subject. In accordance with the so-called one-stop shop principle, companies carrying out cross-border activities will, only, have to deal with one data protection authority in the future, even, if, they operate in several Member States. The same applies to citizens wishing to lodge a complaint on the activities of a company operating in another EU country, for example.

A Finnih government proposal for a Data Protection Act is currently being considered by Parliament. The Act would complement and specify the provisions of the EU General Data Protection Regulation. According to the proposal, information society services could be provided directly to a child, onl, if, he or she has reached the age of 13. In respect of children younger than this, the controller would have to verify that a child has received consent from his or her parents to the use of social media services, for example.

The Data Protection Act would, also, lay down provisions on derogations from the Data Protection Regulation in certain questions and on the centralisation of official duties related to data protection to the Data Protection Ombudsman.

The Data Protection Act will enter into force as soon as possible after the bill has been passed in Parliament and has been approved. ::: ω.

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It is Time to Be Green: IRENA Will Focus Minds in Helsinki on Renewable Energy: April 26–27
 



|| April 17: 2018 || ά. The European Court of Justice has ruled today that increased logging in Poland's Bialowieza Forest violates EU law. The ruling comes into force immediately, so the Polish Environment Minister, must, urgently, reverse the decisions, that allowed logging. If, he fails to do this, the government risks a minimum fine of €04.3 million and up to tens of millions of euros. This is a good day for both the environment in general and for the Polish people in particular, that shows, even, such a government as the current Polish government, must, abide by the laws of the European Union, regardless of what desperate political agenda they, might, pursue in their own 'political domain'.

Bialowieza Forest is a World Heritage site and one of the last primeval forests in Europe. The world expects all states and governments of the world and Europe, including, the Polish government to treat these sites with the respect and due care they must always receive. On this ruling, Client Earth Chief Executive Mr James Thornton, said, “This is a huge victory for all defenders of Bialowieza Forest. Hundreds of people were heavily engaged in saving this unique, ancient woodland from unthinkable destruction. We warned that the increased logging would breach EU law, even, before the minister officially authorised it.

From a legal perspective, the case has been as clear as day from the beginning; it was very obvious that the law was being broken. This is not the end of our fight. The ruling is just on paper for now: we need to see concrete action.

First, the decisions, that allowed logging must be withdrawn. Then, the Polish government should, also, consider enlarging the national park so it encompasses the whole of Bialowieza Forest. This is the only way to guarantee that devastation of the forest will not happen again. We believe that this World Heritage site and one of the last primeval forests in Europe deserves it.”

The story began back in March 2016, when Mr Jan Szyszko, then Minister for Environment, dismissed last month because of this case, tripled the logging limits in Bialowieza Forest, despite warnings from scientists all over Europe that this would be very harmful for the forest.

Client Earth, together with six other organisations, filed a complaint to the European Commission. The Commission acted very quickly and in July 2017 the case was already at the Court of Justice of the EU.

The judgment is final and the Polish side can not appeal it. The verdict is valid from today, so government will have to adjust to it as soon as possible. Otherwise, the Commission will launch a legal case over non-compliance, which could result in hefty fines. The minimum penalty is €04.3 million but, usually, in such cases,  the fines are much higher, potentially, reaching tens of millions of euros.'' :::: ω.

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Finland to Ban Coal in 2029: But Incentives Package to Encourage Faster Phase-Out by 2025
 
 


|| April 16: 2018 || ά. The Finnish Government has decided that the use of coal in energy production will be prohibited by law in 2029. The Government will, also, prepare an incentives package, amounting to EUR 90 million, for district heating companies, that commit to phasing out coal use earlier than the target year, by 2025. “We must accelerate our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change. By phasing out coal-based energy production, we can, significantly, reduce the emissions from heating.,” says Mr Tiilikainen, Finland's Minister of Agriculture and Environment.

“The incentives package, designed for cities, who phase out coal already by 2025, will support investments in energy technologies to replace coal. Half of the package will be reserved for renewable combined heat and power:CHP generation and the other half for other, new technologies needed in the conversion from coal. Support to renewable CHP will, also, help to ensure a sufficient level of electricity production capacity in peak load conditions.” Mr Tiilikainen says. The incentives package will comply with the EU state aid rules.

“The incentives package will be financed by lowering the required annual production level, proposed for the tendering scheme for renewable electricity, from 02 TWh to 01.4 TWh. Redirecting support from renewable electricity to renewable heating is justified on the grounds that, while nearly 80 per cent of electricity production is, already, emission-free, only, 36 per cent of district heating uses renewable energy sources.” says Mr Tiilikainen.

These readjustments will not require any changes to the Government proposal, already submitted to Parliament, that includes a premium scheme for renewable energy, that is based on competitive tendering. The Government intends to submit its legislative proposal to ban coal use for energy to Parliament during the autumn session.

Inquiries:Taru Savolainen, Special Adviser to Minister Tiilikainen, tel. +358 40 535 8622:  Riku Huttunen, Director-General, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 50 431 6518 :::: ω.
 

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MEPs Vote to End EU Subsidies Being Used to Raise Bulls for Bullfighting : It is by Working Together Across Borders That We Can continue to Do the Most Good for the Most Animals in Europe: Keith Taylor MEP




| May 31: 2018: || ά Mr Keith Taylor MEP, the Green Party's Animals Spokesperson, joined a majority of MEPs in voting to end EU subsidies being used to raise bulls for bullfighting. In Strasbourg, on Wednesday, May 30, the European Parliament voted on the future of food and farming in the European Union. During the votes, MEPs supported, 358 to 291, an amendment demanding the end of the controversial Common Agricultural Policy bullfighting subsidy.

Mr Taylor, a member of the European Parliament's Environment Committee and Animal Welfare Intergroup, said, "The vote is just the latest example of what the Greens have said all along: the EU isn't perfect but we are fighting and winning on reform. It is by working together across borders that we can do the most good for the most animals in Europe. Bull-fighting is an outdated and barbaric industry; this vote to remove EU funding should, hopefully, see it collapse entirely.’’

The vote, also, coincided with the Green Party's Animals Spokesperson being awarded 'Parliamentarian of the Month' alongside the rest of the Animal Welfare Intergroup, for his work to promote a global ban on cosmetics testing on animals.

The accolade was awarded by the animal welfare campaign group Cruelty Free International.

In response, Mr Taylor said, ‘’I'm delighted to receive this award for the support Greens and animal welfare advocates in the European Parliament have mobilised behind Cruelty Free International's campaign for a global ban on cosmetics testing on animals.

A global ban will ensure cosmetics companies stop animal testing and although companies could do that now an,  some have, already, stopped, we know from experience that laws are needed to push bigger companies to do the right thing. A global ban would mean there is no advantage for companies wanting to test on animals: they can all stop together.

I want to see the EU promote the global ban at the UN. The EU has led the way on ending cosmetics animal testing: we need to continue that work by making the ban global.”

Mr. Taylor further said that he was disappointed the UK Government had not committed to the campaign. “Greens called on the UK Government to back the campaign earlier this year. The disappointing response, in true Tory-style, was full of warm words, recognising the EU’s leading role in pushing for positive animal welfare action, but stopped far short of supporting the campaign to put an end to this cruelty worldwide.” ::: ω.

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Year Gamma Arkive 2017-18

Year Beta Arkive 2016-17

Year Alpha Arkive 2015-16

 
|| April 06: 2018 || ά. The Humanion was first published on September 24, 2015 and has been run, since that day, on a complete voluntary basis without any 'formal' or 'constituted' manner or form and, it was run on as a Human Enterprise, which is an idea of Humanics, in which, ownership is replaced by belongingship and, thus, in a Humanical Society, no one owns anything but everyone belongs to the whole as the whole belongs to everyone lawfully and equally and, it neither believes in nor makes money but human utilities, needs, aspirations, creativity, imagination and dreams are served without money, where everyone works and creates for all others as all others create and work for all others, thus, bringing in meaning and purpose to life along with it come natural justice, equality and liberty, that establish a true civilisation within the Rule of Law. And in one word, this system of human affairs management is called, Humanics and a society that runs itself in humanics is called a humanical society. Today, we have begun the process of 'constituting' this Human Enterprise, which does not exist in the current system, but the next closest thing to it, that exists in the UK Law is Social Enterprise. Therefore, today, Friday, April 06, 2018, we are beginning Regine Humanics Foundation, that is the 'Agency', that will lead, run, manage and develop everything, that The Humanion has been trying to do.

Regine Humanics Foundation is established by the Thinker, Author, Poet, Novelist, Playwright, Editor of The Humanion, Festival Director of London Poetry Festival and a Humanicsxian: hu: maa: neek: tian: One, that believes in, lives and exists by Humanics, Mr Munayem Mayenin, of London, England, United Kingdom. Mr Mayenin says, ''Humanics is a vision; people, may, call it, utopia, we, call it our Humanicsovicsopia; Humanics. Humanics is our philosophy, our faith, our conviction, our resolution, our way of existing, thinking, being and doing: to seek and try to do so in the determination that all we must do and be is to exist to advance the human condition. People, readers and agencies and organisations, from all across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the whole of the United Kingdom and Australasia, Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America, from all walks and strata of life, have supported our endeavours, supported The Humanion and The Humanion Team, who volunteered their time to run things, since the beginning of The Humanion and long before that, when other things, that are now part of The Foundation, were developing. Nothing has changed in terms of the nature and value of what we have been seeking to do.''

''But the founding of The Foundation brings it all in a solid foundation so that we can keep on building this 'vision' so that it keeps on going regardless of who come to take the vision-mission of The Foundation forward. The Foundation runs along with time and along with the flowing humanity. This is the dream, this is the vision, this the hope in founding this Foundation. And, in this, we hope and invite all our readers, supporters, well wishers and all agencies and organisations to support our endeavours to build something, a Human Enterprise, which we are in the process of registering as a Social Enterprise, as a Community Interest Company, working for the common good of the one and common humanity. No one makes or takes profit out of The Foundation, which now runs The Humanion and everything else, that is part of it. The Foundation, once registered, will have an Asset Lock, which means that in any event, should The Foundation dissolve itself, all its existing assets shall go to a similar Social Enterprise. Therefore, we invite everyone to support The Foundation, support The Humanion in whatever way they can. And, there are endless number of ways people and organisations can support The Foundation and The Humanion.'' ::: ω.

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The Colesium, Rome August 2016: Ohie Mayenin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life's Laurel Is You In One-Line-Poetry A Heaven-Bound Propagated Ray Of Light Off The Eye Of The Book Of Life: Love For You Are Only Once

 

 

Life: You Are The Law The Flow The Glow: In Joys In Hurts You Are The Vine-Songs On The Light-Trellis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

|| All copyrights @ The Humanion: London: England: United Kingdom || Contact: The Humanion: editor at thehumanion.com || Regine Humanics Foundation Ltd: reginehumanics at reginehumanicsfoundation.com || Editor: Munayem Mayenin || First Published: September 24: 2015 ||
|| Regine Humanics Foundation Ltd: A Human Enterprise: Registered as a Not For Profit Social Enterprise in England and Wales: Company No: 11346648 ||