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ISSUE 65 page 8

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EU’s new horizon:  research and innovation

THE EU COMMISSION HAS LAUNCHED ITS BIGGEST EVER research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, before that year nearly €80 billion will be dispensed to try to stimulate new products and companies in the fields of electronics, photonics, robotics, high performance computing, 5G communications technology and ‘factories of the future’. €15 million will be specially dedicated to young people with €5 million going to schools and universities to encourage risk-taking and entrepreneurship through summer camps and competitions. The remaining €10 million will be open for application by existing ‘start-up’ companies in the web and mobile app fields who want to expand and succeed as viable businesses. Neelie Kroes, Commission Vice-President responsible for the Digital Agenda commented ‘We need to support the entrepreneurs who will launch innovative online businesses which will change the world, and create jobs for our young people, and this Horizon 2020 funding will go a long way to help’. The bulk of the
Kroes, N.
fund will go to Public-Private partnerships; for instance in electronics it is estimated that the total investment stimulated by EU money will amount to €100 billion leading to the creation of 250,000 new jobs. Under the heading ‘Factories of the Future’ the programme intends to recover World leadership for Europe in manufacturing which still accounts for 32 million employees, 17% of GDP, 80% of innovations and 75% of EU exports. Specific objectives include more personalised mass-production, shorter lags between having an idea and bringing it to market and a ‘greening’ of the whole production process in its use of resources, materials and energy. The first ‘calls’ for applications for funding have recently gone out and will close in April. According to Commissioner Kroes ‘Horizon 2020 will be a great way to support European leadership and excellence, stimulate European growth, and address the problems of our society’.

Commissioner Neelie Kroes launches the ‘Future Factories’ fund



 Web sites mentioned in this issue are available at:
Social partners’ involvement in pension reform in the EU
 ECHA public consultation on Dinotefuran
 Healthy Workplaces Campaign 2014-2015: Managing stress and psychosocial risks at work

‘ECHA-term’ untangles chemical alphabetti-spaghetti

Blind web users pin hopes on Greeks

THE AIM OF TESTING AND REGULATING chemicals used by industry in the EU may sound straightforward,  even if the numbers (over 100,000) are daunting, but specialist terminology and acronyms can easily multiply until their meaning is lost. Since 2009 the European Chemicals Agency ECHA has come to the rescue with an online search and translation facility. ECHA-term operates in twenty-three languages and can retrieve definitions of about 1,200 terms related to the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), the Classification, Labelling and Packaging of substances (CLP) and the new Biocides regulation. As well as translating from one language to another the web site  mentions acronyms in use and provides links to the text of relevant legislation.
According to Nerija Jukniute, ECHA's translation coordinator the web page gets ‘around 3,200 online visits per month and 300 search queries every day. Most active users come from Germany, Luxembourg, Finland and France’. The chemicals industry leads the way with the next biggest user groups being translators and government authorities. A feedback button allows users to correct translations that they think are inaccurate and about one hundred new terms are added every year. The site is free and can be used without registering.

THE NEW PRESIDENCY OF THE EU, Greece took on the six-month brief at the start of the year, carries the hopes of blind and partially-sighted people that an effective law on accessible web sites will finally be passed. The European Commission proposed a directive in December 2012 that would ensure that public sector web pages met similar standards to those of the voluntary Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).  Not much progress has been made since then and the European Blind Union (EBU) wants Greece both to revive and strengthen it. As it stands several important sectors, such as banking, transport and schools are exempted. The new presidency has confirmed that the measure will be discussed but said that its progress depends on ‘implementation cost and the existence of relative technical standards’. It is thought the European Parliament intends to adopt the law in February but the largest party, the centre-right EPP is against including banking. The EBU commented ’Blind and partially sighted people use assistive technology … to access the Internet. For this to work they rely on websites being designed in an accessible manner, according to recognised web accessibility standards … Unfortunately, the proposal … by the European Commission … falls considerably short of this commitment’.

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