Secure Energy Supplies At Home And Abroad And Reform Programme For Higher Education
Secure Energy Supplies At Home And Abroad
The Parliamentary Information Office of the Parliamentary Yearbook is currently gathering news items for major features on environment, energy and climate change in the next edition
Improved coordination among governments will strengthen the EU's hand when negotiating with international energy suppliers.
The EU's reliance on imported energy is growing, and a clear strategy is required to promote its energy interests abroad. Competition for overseas oil, gas and coal supplies and disruptions lead to high and volatile energy prices at the pump and for heating homes.
A new Commission proposal would establish a way for EU countries to join forces when bargaining with suppliers and negotiating international agreements. The plan would help secure supplies for everyone at competitive prices.
A common position would also help promote strong energy partnerships with key neighbours. International cooperation is needed to respond to the common challenges facing the EU and most other countries - such as climate change.
The proposal is part of the EU's Energy 2020 plan, which promotes cutting consumption, increasing energy efficiency, securing supplies, preventing shortages and supporting economic growth.
Measures to secure supplies would include:
• promoting transparency - EU countries would exchange information on their international energy agreements
• helping coordinate approaches toward partner countries and defining common positions to be taken in international organisations
• developing comprehensive energy partnerships with key partner countries.
Working with partner countries
Increased market transparency and more sustainable energy policies will stimulate investment and make markets less vulnerable to supply shocks. This should help avoid disruptions like those that affected Eastern Europe in 2009.
Among the priorities for the EU are an agreement with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan on the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline and a new partnership on renewable energy projects with the Southern Mediterranean countries.
The approach would also include a greater emphasis on improving access to sustainable energy for delevoping countries.
The strategy will be implemented over the next few years, with EU countries expected to start using the new information exchange system on energy agreements in 2012.
This was submitted by the Parliamentary Information Office.
Reform Programme For Higher Education
The Parliamentary Information Office of the Parliamentary Yearbook is currently gathering news items for major features on education, research and adult learning in the next edition
The EU can help national governments raise the quality of higher education, make curricula more relevant to market needs and open access to students from a wider variety of backgrounds.
Europe is home to about 4 000 universities and other higher education institutions, some of which rank among the best in the world. But some have not kept pace with economic and social change.
According to a recent forecast, 35% of jobs in the EU are likely to require a higher education qualification by 2020. But today, only 26% of the workforce holds a degree, far below the levels in the US, Japan and Canada.
A new strategy to modernise higher education pinpoints the reforms EU governments need to make so enough people graduate with the skills needed to contribute to innovation, economic growth and job creation.
The reforms would also help young people get the education they desire and find the jobs best suited to their achievements.
They aim at:
• boosting the number of graduates to 40% by 2020 (the current EU average is about 34%)
• enabling young people from a broader cross-section of society to attend university and reducing the number of drop outs
• improving the quality and relevance of university courses to meet the needs of individuals and labour markets
• stimulating and rewarding excellence in teaching and research
• providing more opportunities for students to gain additional skills through studying or training abroad
• training more researchers so Europe has the talent available to meet future needs
• strengthening the links between education, research and business
• ensuring that funding is efficient and achieves its aims.
While national governments are responsible for education, the EU can do a lot to support their modernisation programmes.
This support includes establishing an EU-wide system to rank universities and provide students with information on the most appropriate place of study for them – wherever it is in Europe. A new loan guarantee scheme would help students get access to finance when taking a Masters course in another EU country.