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Commission seeks feedback to improve public sector website and mobile apps accessibility

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The Commission has launched a public consultation on the review of the Web Accessibility Directive. Since 23 June 2021, all public sector websites and mobile apps in the EU have the legal obligation to be accessible to people with disabilities. The last step is now to review the application of the Directive in practice. For this purpose, today's consultation will gather feedback from citizens, especially those with disabilities, but also from businesses, online platforms, academics, public administrations and all other interested parties.

The online consultation will be itself accessible to screen readers, translated in all EU official languages, and available in a shorter easy-to-read version for people with cognitive disabilities. It will remain open until 25 October 2021. The results of the consultation will feed into the review and will help improve the impact of the directive on making public sector websites and mobile apps accessible. The findings of the review will be published in an accessible format in June 2022.

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European Commission

InvestEU: Commission appoints Investment Committee

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The European Commission on Tuesday, 27 July, appointed 12 external experts as members of the Investment Committee of the InvestEU Fund for a term of four years. The 12 members of the Investment Committee – four permanent and eight non-permanent members – were selected and appointed by the Commission at the recommendation of the InvestEU Steering Board. They represent a broad knowledge and expertise in the relevant fields and sectors covered by the InvestEU programme. The Investment Committee will be gender-balanced and include members from across the EU to ensure deep insights in geographic markets in the EU.

The appointment of the independent Investment Committee is another milestone for the implementation of the InvestEU programme, which will provide the EU with crucial long-term funding, crowding in the necessary important private investments in support of a sustainable recovery and helping build a greener, more digital and more resilient European economy. The Investment Committee decides on the granting of the EU guarantee to investment and financing operations proposed by the implementing partners under the InvestEU programme. The fully independent Committee is taking its decisions based on the guarantee request form and scoreboard provided by the implementing partners to ensure compliance with the InvestEU Regulation and the Investment Guidelines. The Investment Committee will operate in four compositions, corresponding to the four policy windows of the InvestEU programme: sustainable infrastructure; research, innovation and digitalisation; small and medium-sized companies; and social investment and skills.

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Cybersecurity: All EU member states commit to build a quantum communication infrastructure

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With the latest signature by Ireland of the political declaration to boost European capabilities in quantum technologies, cybersecurity and industrial competitiveness, all Member States have now committed to work together, along with the European Commission and the European Space Agency, to build the EuroQCI, a secure quantum communication infrastructure that will span the whole EU. Such high-performing, secure communications networks will be essential to meeting Europe's cybersecurity needs in the years to come. A Europe fit for the Digital Age Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said: “I am very happy to see all EU Member States come together to sign the EuroQCI declaration – European Quantum Communication infrastructure initiative - a very solid basis for Europe's plans to become a major player in quantum communications. As such, I encourage them all to be ambitious in their activities, as strong national networks will be the foundation of the EuroQCI.”

Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton added: “As we have recently seen, cybersecurity is more than ever a crucial component of our digital sovereignty. I am very pleased to see that all member states are now part of the EuroQCI initiative, a key component of our forthcoming secure connectivity initiative, which will allow all Europeans to have access to protected, reliable communication services.”

The EuroQCI will be part of a wider Commission action to launch a satellite-based secure connectivity system that will make high-speed broadband available everywhere in Europe. This plan will provide reliable, cost-effective connectivity services with enhanced digital security. As such, the EuroQCI will complement existing communication infrastructures with an additional layer of security based on the principles of quantum mechanics – for example, by providing services based on quantum key distribution, a highly secure form of encryption. You can find more information here.

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Fisheries: EU and Cook Islands agree to continue their sustainable fisheries partnership

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The European Union and the Cook Islands have agreed to continue their successful fisheries partnership as part of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement, for a duration of three years. The agreement allows EU fishing vessels operating in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean to continue fishing in the Cook Islands fishing grounds. Environment, Oceans and Fisheries CommissionerVirginijus Sinkevičius said: “With the renewal of this Fisheries Protocol, European Union vessels will be able to continue fishing one of the healthiest tropical tuna stocks. We are particularly proud to contribute, through our sectoral support, to the development of the Cook Islands' fisheries sector - a Small Island Developing State that has been often praised for its effective and responsible fisheries management policies. This is how the EU's Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements work in practice.”

In the framework of the new Protocol, the EU and ship owners will contribute with a total up to approximately €4 million (NZD 6.8m) for the next three years, of which €1m (NZD 1.7m) to support the Cook Islands' initiatives within the sectoral fisheries and maritime policy. Overall, next to improvements in the fishing sector, the revenue obtained from this Agreement has previously allowed the Cook Islands' government to improve its social welfare system. More information is in the news item.

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