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Things we learnt in Strasbourg: Lampedusa, Sakharov Prize, smoking and extremism

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20131010PHT21920_width_600In a session marked by the tragedy off the coast of Lampedusa, Parliament held a minute of silence for the victims and then debated with the Commission how to improve how refugees are received in the EU. Political extremism was strongly condemned and new rules were approved for shale gas extraction, flight crew working time and the recognition of professional qualifications. This year’s Sakharov Prize is awarded to Malala Yousafzai for her fight for girls’ education in the face of the Taliban.

A minute's silence was held during the opening of the plenary in memory of the hundreds who lost their lives in the tragic boat accident off Lampedusa last week. President Martin Schulz said the tragedy should lead to a change in the EU's migration policy. The refugee crisis facing Europe was further debated on 9 October.
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of thought was awarded to Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot by the Taliban for her fight for young women's right to education and who is now a global activist.

On 9 October, MEPs approved new rules on tobacco products, greatly increasing the size of the health warnings on packets, regulating e-cigarettes, banning all flavourings with a short reprieve for menthols, but still allowing slim cigarettes to remain on the market. On the basis of all this, the Parliament will now negotiate with member states on the final legislation.The European Commission should investigate the activities of neo-Nazi organizations across the EU and set up a database and observatory on hate crime, said MEPs. Many also said that extremist movements should be tackled regardless of their political colour.

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Free movement should not be used as an excuse to avoid a debate about the inclusion of Roma people, according to speakers in a separate debate about Roma integration strategies.Shale gas extraction is rapidly becoming a significant business throughout the world, including Europe, and its potential consequences for the environment and public safety will have to be carefully examined before operations are licensed following Parliament’s approval of a Commission proposal.
New rules for flightcrew working time were passed on Wednesday when Parliament accepted a European Commission proposal on new safety standards that had been hotly debated in the months leading up to the vote.On 9 October, the EP approved the electronic European Professional Card, making it easier for doctors, pharmacists, architects and other professionals to work in another EU country. The rules will also help prevent medical professionals subject to disciplinary measures in one country from working in all others.Senegalese president Macky Sallwas was received in the plenary where he described the EU as a source of inspiration and hope. He expressed the wish "that Europe and Africa open a real project of peace and security".

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Awards

Honouring courage in journalism: Apply for the 2021 Lorenzo Natali Media Prize until 19 April

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Applications opened on 1 March for one of the world's leading journalism awards - the Lorenzo Natali Media Prize. Backed by the European Commission, the prize honours journalists from around the world for their courageous reporting and for their stories about people and the planet that highlight some of today's biggest challenges and inspiring solutions that address them. To mark the launch of the 2021 edition, International Partnerships Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen said: “The European Union stands for freedom of expression, in Europe and around the world. Through the Lorenzo Natali Media Prize, we recognise journalists who have dared, often at great personal risk, to report the facts and tell the stories shedding light on issues like injustice, inequality, and environmental degradation. Stories that showcase the inspiring ways in which people are responding. If you are a journalist who has told just this story in the past year, I encourage you to apply.”

The closing date for entries is 19 April 2021. The winners will be awarded with €10,000. For more details, please consult the press release and the Lorenzo Natali Media Prize website.

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Four #MEDIA films will compete for #GoldenLion at #VeniceFilmFestival

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The 76th Venice Film Festival started on 28 August, featuring 12 films supported by the MEDIA programme – the EU's programme for supporting the European film and audiovisual industries. Four of the MEDIA-supported films have additionally been shortlisted to compete for the Golden Lion: The Truth by Hirokazu Kore-eda (France, Japan), About Endlessness by Roy Andersson (Sweden, Germany, Norway), Martin Eden by Pietro Marcello (Italy, France) and The Painted Bird by Václav Marhoul (Czech Republic, Ukraine, Slovakia). The Orizzonti competition that is dedicated to latest aesthetic and expressive trends in international cinema will feature MEDIA-supported Blanco en blanco by Theo Court (Spain, Chile, France, Germany) and Madre by Rodrigo Sorogoyen (Spain, France).

The film Effetti Domino by Alessandro Rosseto (Italy) will be screened in the Sconfini section that is dedicated to art-house and genre movies, experimental and artists' films. Five more films supported by MEDIA will participate in the independent sections Giornate degli Autori as well as in the Venice International Film Critics Week held in parallel to the festival. At the sidelines of the festival, the European Commission will also organize on Saturday (31 August) the European Film Forum. Further details on the MEDIA-supported films at the Venice Film Festival are available here, the MEDIA programme here and on the European Film Forum here. More information on the Commission's support for the audiovisual and creative sectors in 2020 is available here.

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10 cities competing for the 2020 #EuropeanCapitalOfSmartTourism title

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Ten European cities have been shortlisted for the 2020 European Capital of Smart Tourism competition (presented in alphabetical order): Bratislava (Slovakia), Breda (The Netherlands), Bremerhaven (Germany), Gothenburg (Sweden), Karlsruhe (Germany), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Málaga (Spain), Nice (France), Ravenna (Italy) and Torino (Italy). The finalist cities were selected from a total of 35 applications from across 17 EU Member States.

The European Capital of Smart Tourism was proposed as a preparatory action by the European Parliament and is implemented by the European Commission. It aims to promote smart tourism in the EU, foster innovative, sustainable and inclusive tourism development, as well as spread and facilitate the exchange of best practices. This EU initiative recognises outstanding achievements by European cities as tourism destinations in four categories: Accessibility, Sustainability, Digitalisation as well as Cultural Heritage and Creativity.

Last year, Helsinki and Lyon won the inaugural competition and the two cities jointly hold the titles of European Capitals of Smart Tourism in 2019.

This is the second edition of the competition to award two cities as the European Capitals of Smart Tourism in 2020. The two winning cities will benefit from communication and branding support for a year. This will include; a promotional video, a purpose-built sculpture for their city centres, as well as bespoke promotional actions.

Moreover, four awards will also be handed out in recognition of achievements in the individual categories of the competition (Accessibility, Sustainability, Digitalisation and Cultural Heritage and Creativity).

All winning cities will be announced and awarded at an Awards Ceremony, which is taking place as part of the European Tourism Forum in Helsinki on 9-10 October 2019.

Background

In the first stage of the competition, an independent panel of experts evaluated the applications. All finalist cities demonstrated excellence across the four competition categories combined.

In the second stage, representatives of the 10 finalist cities will travel to Helsinki to present their candidatures and the programme of activities planned for 2020 in front of the European Jury. The European Jury will meet on 8 October 2019 and select two cities to become European Capitals of Smart Tourism in 2020.

The selection of the most innovative projects, ideas and initiatives, submitted by cities to the last year’s competition can be found in the Compendium of Best Practices, the go-to guide to smart tourism in the EU. For all the latest news on the European Capital of Smart Tourism, sign up to the newsletter, or follow on Facebook or Twitter.

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