Brussels to Belfast

jim-nicholson-business-breakfast Nicholson promotes R&D

Opportunities for businesses, universities, colleges and voluntary groups to gain R&D funding have been highlighted at a business breakfast hosted by Jim Nicholson in Belfast. He was joined by English MEP Malcolm Harbour (who chairs the European Parliament’s Internal Market Committee) and David Harmon, a senior advisor to Research Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.

The EU has an €80 billion budget for R&D up to 2020. Nicholson commented: “Applying for this funding may seem like a minefield at first but there is lots of advice and support available and the Commission’s door is always open, as is mine, to those who wish to explore these opportunities.”

Member states should spend 3 per cent of their GDP on research, innovation and science, according to the Europe 2020 strategy. Provisional figures for 2009 show a 1.87 per cent rate for the UK and 1.77 per cent for the Republic; Northern Ireland’s rate was 1.0 per cent of gross value added. Finland had the highest rate in the EU (3.96 per cent).

Sovereignty at risk: SF

Sinn Féin will fight “against any further erosion of Irish fiscal sovereignty” and further austerity, TD Pearse Doherty has warned as turbulence continues in the euro zone. Doherty, the party’s southern Finance Spokesman, said that centralising fiscal power in the unelected European Commission and European Central Bank was “undemocratic” and would damage the economy of Ireland and other states on the EU periphery.

He repeated his call for banks to help shoulder the debt burden, which would involve an “orderly default” on portions of toxic debt. Public money, Doherty added, should not be invested in bailouts but used for social and economic recovery. The party holds the UK Government responsible for cuts implemented through the Northern Ireland Executive.

Norway condolences

Northern Ireland’s sympathy with Norway following the summer’s terrorist attacks was expressed by Diane Dodds in the European Parliament on 14 September.

“Sadly, in Northern Ireland, we know the horror of terrorism only too well. That this terrorism should be directed at young people is particularly horrifying,” she told MEPs in Strasbourg. Dodds quoted the words of a young survivor: “We are just ordinary people. We are involved in politics. We want to make the world a better place.”

Dodds told agendaNi that it was a “very great honour” to be chosen to speak.

The Parliament observed a minute’s silence.

Raise your voice

Any citizen or group in the EU can influence European Commission policy by sending in their views during a consultation. The Commission’s consultation documents are listed online at the Your Voice in Europe website: www.ec.europa.eu/yourvoice

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