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EU needs to fight disinformation at the local and regional level

​​​Local and regional politicians voice frustration with social-media platforms and call for EU to help civil society and local government identify disinformation. The European Union should "urgently" involve local and regional authorities in efforts counter disinformation, the European Committee of the Regions says in a report adopted on 5 December. The EU's assembly for local and regional politicians also urged the EU to exert greater pressure on social-media platforms to respond more quickly, effectively and appropriately to disinformation. Local and regional leaders drew up the recommendations on the EU's Action Plan on disinformation at their own initiative and the proposals therefore do not form part of the EU's formal review process. However, their unilateral decision to send their input to the EU's decision-making institutions underscores the importance they ascribe to localising the battle against disinformation, exerting more pressure on the private sector, and investing more effort and resources to fact-checking and working with civil society. The recommendations were drafted by Randel Länts (EE/PES), a councillor in the rural community of Viljandi in southern Estonia. He said: "The EU is currently working principally at the national level, but disinformation also needs to be fought at the local level. The Action Plan adopted in December 2018 takes insufficient account of the regional and local levels, although it is often there that the problems associated with this subject originate. Some of the solutions – such as educating, informing and activating citizens – also need to start in our regions and towns. But most local governments lack knowledge about how to counter disinformation, as well as money and skills. So this is an area where the EU can step in and say 'we have some money', and help efforts to build up counter-disinformation capacity, in part by developing networks of fact-checkers and compensating citizen fact-checkers who have demonstrated their accuracy." He continued: "There is also a crying need for social-media companies to get more local in their work. Their staff typically neither understand the language, the political context nor the cultural context of the disinformation campaigns being operated in the EU's regions. And, as anyone who has tried to report disinformation or hate speech knows, social-media operators offer no swift and effective feedback procedure. If they do not improve their performance voluntarily, we need to force them, through regulation. What the CoR is proposing are measures that reflect the reality of disinformation: it comes from both external and internal sources, targets our local and national identities, and is often highly localised. We have to force the internet companies to grapple with this reality in a serious way – and we need to do the same, through cooperation between all levels of government, civil society, members of the public and social-media platforms." Among recommendations related to social-media platforms, the CoR calls for the EU to oblige social-media platforms –through regulation or through self-management – to do far more outreach work to educate users on disinformation and the verification of sources, and to contextualise posts and warn users about sources of disinformation ahead of elections and during crises. Platforms would contribute to funding fact-checking networks and paying individual fact-checkers. The recommendations include principles and ideas intended to protect personal liberties, to avoid over-reaction, and to build public support. The opinion warns that "without sufficient transparency, there is a great risk that measures to counter disinformation themselves fall victim to hostile information attacks" and therefore argues for "the public having access to comprehensive information and being kept abreast of, for instance, data protection, personal data processing and financing aspects". It says "the possible spread of disinformation must be systematically and continuously monitored" – "but not all the time", suggesting that such high-intensity monitoring should be restricted to the run-up to elections and times of crisis and abrupt social change. The EU's work against disinformation has four pillars: improving detection of disinformation, coordinating responses, mobilising the private sector to take action, and raising public awareness. EU-level action to curb disinformation began in 2015, with the creation of a task-force to improve the EU's capacity to forecast, address and respond to disinformation activities, to strengthen the media environment in the EU's member states and neighbourhood, and to communicate EU policies in its eastern neighbourhood. The scope of the EU's work has since expanded and deepened, both geographically and thematically. Input from a high-level expert group in 2017 and from a public consultation fed into the adoption, in April 2018, of an EU approach to tackling online disinformation . Since then, social-media platforms have agreed to a voluntary Code of Practice , with the EU warning that regulation could follow without adequate action. The European Commission's Action Plan against disinformation was adopted in December 2018, and in March 2019 the Commission created a Rapid Alert System ahead of the European elections held in May 2019. Contact: Andrew Gardner Tel. +32 473 843 981 [email protected] Let's block ads! (Why?)

Progress of Eastern Partnership warrants extra money

​Revision of EU's strategy with its eastern neighbours should do more to stimulate social, economic, and governance reform at the local and regional level.The European Union's partnership with six countries on its eastern border, including Ukraine, should receive significantly more money in the next decade, the European Committee of the Regions said on 5 December in a set of recommendations that also called for the EU to work harder to extend the benefits of cooperation beyond national capitals. Among the many other specific proposals are a call for the creation of an academy to train civil servants in local and regional government and more support for local cross-border projects.The opinion comes at a point when the EU is deciding its 2021-27 budget and reviewing its work with the six members of the Eastern Partnership: Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. The overall opinion vindicates a decade of efforts by the EU to support tangible changes that improve governance, boost the economy, support civil society, and strengthen links. It also supports the EU's approach of investing most time, money and effort in the more reform-minded countries but argues that the EU should step up its support for reform at the local and regional level. The rapporteur – Tadeuš Andžejevski (LT/ECR), a member of Vilnius city council – said: "Over the past decade, we have seen some redistribution of power towards regional and local administrations, critically in Ukraine, and – very positively – a real appetite on the part of regions and towns for reform and for participation in bottom-up initiatives created by the EU. One example is the Global Covenant of Mayors, which is focused on climate action; another, new initiative is the Mayors for Economic Growth, created specifically for Eastern Partnership countries. With the EU's support, we are seeing sub-national governments cooperating with peers in the region, and we have successfully tested partnerships between cities and regions in the EU and the Eastern Partnerships. We need to support these grassroots changes, politically, financially and technically. Such support should include a shift in the balance in the relationship, by giving cities and regions a greater role in decision-making and management of projects in their area."He continued: "Like the European Commission, we believe a 25% increase in the budget is justified. There is clearly a huge amount that the EU can do to improve governance, boost the economy, support civil society, and strengthen links. At the local and regional level, changes in three areas in particular could have deep and long-lasting benefits. One is greater investment in good governance – through an academy to train civil servants, for example. We can stimulate economic growth, by helping to improve statistics, easing access to EU programmes, and helping small business. And, from experience in the EU, we know that increasing contacts between people and developing cross-border programmes pays rich social, cultural and economic dividends; we need to invest more in extending those models in our relationship with our eastern neighbours." He concluded: "These are ambitious but still modest proposals that are good for citizens, business, public administration, democracy and the rule of law in these six counties. They are also good for the EU's citizens, business, foreign policy and the new European Commission's wish to be more geopolitical."The CoR's opinion – entitled 'Local and regional authorities shaping the future Eastern Partnership' – will feed into inter-governmental deliberations ahead of a summit in mid-2020. The CoR has already contributed proposals to a now closed stakeholder consultation held by the EU. The current strategy focused on '20 deliverables for 2020' with four objectives: a stronger economy, stronger governance, stronger connectivity, and a stronger society. The CoR's recommendations incorporate many, more detailed ideas promoted or supported by local and regional politicians in the Eastern Partnership countries, through the Conference of Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP) created by the CoR in 2011. These include reports on local democracy, economic development, energy efficiency, cross-border cooperation, the capacity of local and regional government, and region-to-region and city-to-city partnerships. Under the CoR's recommendations, CORLEAP would be strengthened, to provide greater support for decentralisation in Eastern Partnership countries and to deepen cooperation between associations of local and regional authorities from the EU and from the Eastern Partnership countries.Contact:Andrew GardnerTel. +32 473 843 [email protected]'s block ads! (Why?)

New take on competition policy has to reflect key role of cities and regions in green and digital transformation

The members of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) discussed the European Commission's annual Competition Policy Report during their December plenary session in Brussels. The opinion drafted by Dominique Lévêque (FR/PES) calls for future legislation to account for the more complex state activity needed to unlock regions' full economic potential in the green and digital transformation. Resting on the pillars of state aid control and antitrust policy, the EU's competition policy seeks to safeguard the single market from disproportionate state interference and abuse of market power by large corporations. It aims to achieve a single market working to the benefit of EU citizens and consumers alike. The CoR opinion adopted during the plenary session acknowledges the importance of a sound competition policy, while at the same time stressing that competition as such should not be seen as an end in itself but rather as a means to achieving overarching political objectives. "The provision of public goods, infrastructure and investment has always been a distinctive feature of the European social model and will continue to play a pivotal role in the green and digital transition we face," said rapporteur Dominique Lévêque (FR/PES), Mayor of Aÿ-en-Champagne. "The main question from the perspective of the regions, therefore, is how to reconcile stringent competition policy with the need for public investment in the framework of the European Green Deal and the Digital Single Market aspirations. Any new regulatory environment has to respond to the different geographic and social requirements in the regions and eventually strike a good balance between the objectives of competition and cohesion." Overall, the CoR welcomed the Commission's latest Report on Competition Policy, which indicated among other things that the Commission had relaxed its strict assessment of whether public services and investments at local level affect trade between countries. A prime example of this modernisation of state aid rules are the recently implemented Broadband Guidelines, which give local and regional public authorities more leeway to address social and economic challenges linked to the transition to a digital economy. "Given the difficulties that policymakers in rural areas face in bridging the digital divide with urban areas via investment in broadband infrastructure, this reform is a step in the right direction," said Dominique Lévêque. With regard to the forthcoming revision of the guidelines on state aid for environmental protection and energy transition, CoR members called for any new regulatory framework channelling investments towards renewables and energy efficiency to incorporate equally ambitious measures securing affordable and reliable energy supply. In addition, members urged the Commission to investigate whether the kerosene tax exemption amounted to a distortion of competition benefitting the aviation sector, and – in view of past cases of Member States granting unfair advantages to domestic carriers by adjusting national taxation schemes – suggested coordinating potential taxation at European level. Finally, the CoR pointed out the structural nature of the housing crisis affecting urban areas across Europe, in particular the fact that housing markets increasingly fail to meet the demands of citizens with average incomes. The CoR therefore urged the Commission to clarify EU regulation of social housing and make it clear, simple and transparent. Owing to the diversity of European housing systems and the broad range of local property market constellations, revised regulations should strictly conform to the principle of subsidiarity and maintain Member States' room for manoeuvre in defining social housing access criteria and implementing specific measures. Members closed the discussion by encouraging the rapporteur of the European Parliament, Mme Stephanie Yon-Courtin (FR/Renew) to continue to advocate for the CoR's positions on competition policy in subsequent parliamentary debates. Contact: Carmen Schmidle Maximilian v. Klenze Tel. +32 (0)494 735787 +32 (0)2 282 2523 [email protected] [email protected] Let's block ads! (Why?)

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QuickTakes 12/04/2019

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Το Twitter αποθεώνει την Άννα Μαρία από το GNTM 2

Την αγάπη των χρηστών του Twitter έχει κερδίσει στο GNTM 2 η Άννα Μαρία. Το μόλις 18 ετών μοντέλo έχει εντυπωσιάσει τόσο με την ομορφιά της, όσο και με τις ατάκες της. Χθες η φωτογράφηση με την Αναστασία Περράκη δεν πήγε και τόσο καλά, με αποτέλεσμα η Άννα Μαρία να βάλει τα κλάματα και να προκαλέσει και την οργή της Βίκυς Καγιά. Το Twitter την αποθέωσε για ακόμα μια φορά. Η Άννα-Μαρία αφού κέρδισε η Άννα την δοκιμασία και τα καλλυντικά περιποίησης... «Πάλι καλά που τα κέρδισε αυτή γιατί τα χρειάζεται κιόλας.Εμείς είμαστε μπουμπουκάκια από μόνες μας.» #gntmgr #gntm — ???????????????????????????????????????? ???????????????? ???? (@vardoulee) 3 Δεκεμβρίου 2019 Η γυναίκα που δημιούργησε το ίνδαλμα ???? #gntmgr — Pol Pastras (@PolPastras) 3 Δεκεμβρίου 2019 Πείραξαν την Άννα Μαρία. Καθάρισε. #gntmgr — ΟρΧΥΔΑΙΑ ΓΙΝΕΣΑΙ. (@OrxideaCeka) 3 Δεκεμβρίου 2019 -Αννα Μαρία φαίνεσαι λίγο σαν να την πέφτεις στην Περάκη -Ειναι κακό; Η Α-ΠΟ-ΛΥ-ΤΗ #gntmgr — call_me_V (@clarastruelove) 3 Δεκεμβρίου 2019 ΔΌΞΑ ΣΕ ΌΠΟΙΟΝ ΤΟ ΕΦΤΙΑΞΕ. ΚΛΑΊΩ #gntmgr — Mimi_the_blue (@Mimi_the_blue) 3 Δεκεμβρίου 2019 Αν ισχυει οτι σε μια απο τις δοκιμασιες του τελικου οι τρεις βαλανε στη κατια 10 και ο Μπρατης 8 ενα θα πω:Εισαι ειδωλο τους αλλους τρεις τουθ θιχαινομαι #gntmgr — Stefanious Kobious (@stefkobi) 3 Δεκεμβρίου 2019 Η Άννα Μαρία σε λίγα χρόνια #gntmgr — Pumba (@Pumba_a_a) 3 Δεκεμβρίου 2019 Oταν τελειώσει το παιχνίδι η Άννα Μαρία θα έχει πάρει το #gntmgr, 1εκτ followers, 1 Champions league, 3 Όσκαρ, 2 γκραμι ΚΑΙ τη συμπάθεια του κόσμου! — Pol Pastras (@PolPastras) 3 Δεκεμβρίου 2019 Άμα θέλω να ξανά κλάψω, θα ξανά κλάψω, άμα θέλω να κερδίσω, θα κερδίσω, άμα θέλω να σας βάλω φωτιά να σας κάψω, θα σας κάψω #gntmgr — Onoma_kai_prama (@onoma_kai_prama) 3 Δεκεμβρίου 2019 Δεν με ενδιαφέρει τι ηθελε η Αναστασία εγώ διαγωνιζόμουν και όχι αυτήΔικασε το μικρό #gntmgr — ????????iγουστεριτσας⚠️ (@gousteritsas) 3 Δεκεμβρίου 2019 Εισαι ΕΙΔΩΛΟ....Τ Ε Λ Ο Σ ! #GNTMgr — ????☠ ????????????????????_???????????? ☠???? (@panos_p95) 3 Δεκεμβρίου 2019 Let's block ads! (Why?)