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Safer roads: New EU measures to reduce #CarAccidents

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A car crash accident ©AP images/European Union-EPThe EU wants to improve road safety ©AP images/European Union-EP

Parliament is backing new measures to improve road safety and reduce road accidents. The rules would make a number of safety features compulsory in new cars.

EU roads are the safest in the world with an average of 49 road fatalities per million inhabitants, against 174 deaths per million globally. Although road fatalities in the EU have more than halved in the last two decades, the latest figures show that the decline in the fatality rate is stagnating and that further efforts are needed to improve road safety and save lives.

During the plenary session on 11-14 March, Parliament greenlighted new rules to make advanced safety equipment mandatory in all new road vehicles sold on the EU market. The proposal also aims to adapt existing legislation to take into account technological developments and social trends such as an aging population, new causes of distraction for drivers (especially the use of electronic devices while driving) and the increasing number of bicycles and pedestrians on EU roads.

What the new rules would change

All new vehicles will have to include a number of life-saving technologies:

  • Intelligent speed assistance to alert a driver exceeding the speed limit by providing haptic feedback through the accelerator pedal
  • Driver drowsiness and attention warning if alertness is insufficient
  • Distraction warning to alert the driver if the level of visual attention to the traffic situation is low
  • Emergency stop signal in the form of flashing lights to indicate to road users behind the vehicle that the driver is braking suddenly
  • Reversing detection system to avoid collisions with people and objects behind the vehicle with the help of a camera or a monitor
  • Tyre pressure monitoring system warning the driver when a loss of pressure occurs
  • Alcohol interlock installation facilitation to prevent driving with an excess of alcohol by requiring the driver to blow into an in-car breathalyser before starting the vehicle
  • Accident data recorder to register relevant data before, during, and after a road accident.

For passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, it would also be mandatory to have emergency-braking systems and lane-departure warning systems (both already compulsory for lorries). Trucks and buses would be required to include direct vision features, allowing the driver to see vulnerable road users from their seat without using mirrors or cameras, and alert systems detecting the presence of cyclists and pedestrians in the immediate vicinity of the vehicle.

Compulsory safety features should also help drivers to get used to autonomous technologies in vehicles and therefore increase public acceptance in the transition toward driverless cars.

The rules have to be negotiated with the Council before they can enter into force.

EU road safety in 2017: facts and figures
  • Between 2001 and 2017, the number of road deaths decreased 57.5%
  • Human error is involved in about 95% of all road traffic accidents
  • Car passengers accounted for 46% of the total number of fatalities.
  • Vulnerable road users accounted for another 46% (21% pedestrians, 14% motorcyclists, 8% cyclists and 3% moped riders)
  • EU countries with the best road safety scores: Sweden, UK, the Netherlands
  • Countries with the worst road safety records: Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia
  • 8% of road fatalities occurred on motorways, 55% on rural roads and 37% in urban areas
  • Almost 14% of people killed on EU roads are aged between 18 and 24, while only 8% of the European population falls within this age group
  • Due to demographic changes, the proportion of elderly fatalities (over 65) rose from 22% in 2010 to 27% in 2017
  • 76% of road fatalities are men and 24% women, under 15s account for 2%.

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EU imposes sanctions on Russians linked to Navalny poisoning and detention

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The Council today(2 March) decided to impose restrictive measures on four Russian individuals responsible for serious human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests and detentions, as well as widespread and systematic repression of freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and freedom of opinion and expression in Russia.

Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, Igor Krasnov, the Prosecutor-General, Viktor Zolotov, head of the National Guard, and Alexander Kalashnikov, head of the Federal Prison Service have been listed over their roles in the arbitrary arrest, prosecution and sentencing of Alexei Navalny, as well as the repression of peaceful protests in connection with his unlawful treatment.

This is the first time that the EU imposes sanctions in the framework of the new EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime which was established on 7 December 2020. The sanctions regime enables the EU to target those responsible for acts such as genocide, crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations or abuses such as torture, slavery, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests or detentions.

The restrictive measures that entered into force today in follow up to discussions by the Foreign Affairs Council on 22 February 2021 consist of a travel ban and asset freeze. In addition, persons and entities in the EU are forbidden from making funds available to those listed, either directly or indirectly.

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Nine EU-supported films compete in the 2021 Berlin International Film Festival

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The 71st Berlin International Film Festival began on 1 March, this year in its digital edition due to the coronavirus pandemicnine EU-supported films and series, three of which are competing for the highest prize, the Golden Bear: Memory Box by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Nebenan (Next Door) by Daniel Brühl, and Természetes fény (Natural Light) by Dénes Nagy. The EU supported the development and co-production of these nine titles with an investment of over €750 000 that was awarded through the Creative Europe MEDIA programme. Targeted to film professionals and media, the Berlinale film festival is hosting the European Film Market, where the Creative Europe MEDIA programme is active with a virtual stand as well as with the European Film Forum. The Forum that will take place online on 2 March will gather various professionals from the industry to discuss the future perspectives for the audiovisual sector in Europe. The Berlinale will run until 5 March, when the winning films will be announced. The second round of this year's festival, ‘The Summer Special', will take place in June 2021 and will open the films to the public and host the official Award Ceremony. More information is available here.

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Yemen: €95 million in EU humanitarian aid for people threatened by conflict and famine

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The European Commission is allocating €95 million in humanitarian support to address the most pressing needs of people in Yemen amid record highs of child malnutrition, an imminent threat of famine and renewed fighting. More than 2 million children as well as over 1 million pregnant women and mothers are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2021, while escalating hostilities are forcing thousands of families to leave their households.

The new funding was announced by the Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič, at the high-level pledging event for Yemen on 1 March co-hosted by the United Nations, Sweden and Switzerland. Commissioner Lenarčič said: "The EU does not forget the dire situation of people in Yemen who are once again on the brink of famine after bearing the brunt of the world's worst humanitarian crisis. New EU funding will be essential in maintaining life-saving aid for millions of people, exhausted  after a disastrous year marked by fighting, COVID-19 and further economic collapse. Parties to the conflict need to facilitate the access of humanitarian organisations to those most in need and avoid further civilian suffering. Now more than ever it is crucial that International Humanitarian Law and unrestricted access to those in need are upheld.”

In 2021, EU humanitarian aid will continue to provide food, nutrition and healthcare, financial assistance, water and sanitation, education and other lifesaving support to the conflict-displaced and those in severe need. The press release is available online.

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