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Food safety: EU to ban the use of Titanium Dioxide (E171) as a food additive in 2022

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Member states have approved the European Commission's proposal to ban the use of Titanium Dioxide (E171) as a food additive from 2022. Titanium Dioxide is used as a colorant in a number of products such as chewing gum, pastries, food supplements, soups and broths. Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said: “The safety of our food and the health of our consumers is not negotiable. Today, we act decisively with our member states, based on sound science, to remove a risk from a chemical used in food”. The Commission's proposal is based on a scientific opinion by the European Food Safety Authority, which concluded that E171 could no longer be considered as safe when used as a food additive, in particular due to the fact that concerns regarding genotoxicity cannot be ruled out. Unless an objection is adopted by the end of the year by either the Council or the European Parliament, the text will enter into force in early 2022. This will then kick-off a 6-month phasing out period after which a full ban will apply in food products. More information is available in our Q&A

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Croatia

Commission approves 2022-2027 regional aid map for Croatia

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The European Commission has approved under EU state aid rules Croatia's map for granting regional aid from 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2027 within the framework of the revised Regional aid Guidelines (‘RAG'). The revised RAG, adopted by the Commission on 19 April 2021 and entering into force on 1 January 2022, enable member states to support the least favoured European regions in catching up and to reduce disparities in terms of economic well-being, income and unemployment – cohesion objectives that are at the heart of the Union. They also provide increased possibilities for member states to support regions facing transition or structural challenges such as depopulation, to contribute fully to the green and digital transitions.

At the same time, the revised RAG maintain strong safeguards to prevent member states from using public money to trigger the relocation of jobs from one EU member state to another, which is essential for fair competition in the Single Market. Croatia's regional map defines the Croatian regions eligible for regional investment aid. The map also establishes the maximum aid intensities in the eligible regions. The aid intensity is the maximum amount of State aid that can be granted per beneficiary, expressed as a percentage of eligible investment costs. Under the revised RAG, regions covering the entire population of Croatia will be eligible for regional investment aid. A press release is available online.

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European Commission

Gender gap at education level is shrinking, but women are still under-represented in research and innovation

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The number of female students and graduates at bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels has grown steadily over the last years. However, women are still under-represented in research and innovation careers. These are some of the key findings of the European Commission's She Figures 2021 report, which since 2003 monitors the level of progress towards gender equality in research and innovation in the European Union and beyond.

Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel welcomed this year's report and said: “The latest She Figures report highlights that Europe's economy, labs and academia already depend on women. However, it also shows that we still need to do more to promote gender equality, in particular to inspire girls for a career in STEM. There is no doubt, Europe needs women's creativity and entrepreneurial potential to shape a more sustainable, green and digital future.”

The She Figures 2021 publication highlights that, on average, at bachelor's and master's levels, women outnumber men as students (54%) and graduates (59%), and there is almost gender balance at doctoral level (48%). However, disparities between study fields persist. For example, women still represent less than a quarter of doctoral graduates in the ICT field (22%), while they represent 60% or more in the fields of health & welfare and education (60% and 67% respectively). Furthermore, women represent only around one third of researchers (33%).

At the highest level of academia, women remain under-represented, holding about one-quarter of full professorship positions (26%). Women are also less likely to be employed as scientists and engineers (41%) and are under-represented among self-employed professionals in science and engineering and ICT occupations (25%). More information is available in this press release.

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Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs)

Chemicals: Commission seeks public views on simplification and digitalization of labels

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The Commission has launched a public consultation on the simplification and digitalisation of labelling of chemical products such as glues, laundry and dishwashing detergents, fertilising products. Labels accompanying products are the primary means to communicate essential information to users, including hazard and safety information and product use-instructions.

Yet, the Fitness Check of the most relevant chemicals legislation (excluding REACH) and the evaluation of the Detergents Regulation showed that label comprehension and consequently consumer protection can be further improved by avoiding that labels are overloaded with information, which is often technical. The public consultation will gather feedback on experience and opinions from consumers, professional product users, industry, civil society organisations, national authorities and any other interested parties. 

The results will feed into the Commission's considerations for proposals on a revision of the Classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures (CLP), and Detergents and Fertilising Products Regulations, expected in 2022. The public consultation is available here and is open until 16 February 2022.

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