The European Commission is reviewing its impact assessment guidelines amid accusations that science is becoming increasingly politicised and scientists manipulated by policymakers and powerful interest groups.
Rising levels of cancers and fertility problems have attracted scientists’ attention to endocrine disrupting chemicals, with some calling for strict regulation of the substances, in line with the precautionary principle. Others meanwhile, stress the worthiness of those chemicals in everyday products such as plastics and warn that the foundations of science risk being turned upside down if precautionary measures are taken.
The European Union put down the last piece of the bloc's 2020 climate and energy policy puzzle by adopting an Energy Efficiency Directive. The directive is a game-changer for energy companies, which are now required to achieve 1.5% energy savings every year among their final clients. The EU law is also expected to trigger the largest revamp of Europe's existing building stock to date and set new standards for public procurement and energy audits.
Five years after its adoption, the European Commission is preparing to review the controversial REACH regulation, which for the first time required chemical manufacturers to justify that their products are safe for consumers before placing them on the market.
The cohesion policy (or regional policy) of the European Union provides a framework for financing a wide range of projects and investments with the aim of encouraging economic growth in EU member states and their regions. The policy is reviewed by the EU institutions once every seven years. The next round of programmes is to be launched in 2014.
EU regional policy is designed to level out economic and social disparities in the 27 member states. At the halfway point of its current regional budgetary period (2007-2013), the European Commission conducted a review assessing how well each EU country is faring in its use of cohesion funds.
Communicating with EU citizens has long been a primary concern of the European Commission, with the need to boost popular trust in the European project becoming more important following the rejection of the EU constitution by French and Dutch voters and more recently rejection of the Lisbon Treaty by the Irish.
European policymakers face a difficult choice when authorising new technologies such as GMOs, as they often find themselves caught between conflicting expert safety advice and calls to respect the precautionary principle when scientific evidence is insufficient.
The European Union is seeking to promote clusters of large companies, SMEs, researchers, and other economic actors to help foster innovation, bring together a critical mass of commercial and R&D expertise and get maximum value from investment.
As the world's population approaches ten billion, issues like climate change, growing scarcity of oil and availability of quality land and water are challenging the planet's capacity to produce enough food for everyone - a paradigm shift that could potentially pave the way for a new global 'food crunch'.
Following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009, the EU is starting major preparations to successfully implement Europe's new competence on sport and develop the bloc's first sports programme, to be launched in 2012.