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| AIRBUS FLIGHT ACADEMY EUROPE UPGRADES TRAINING FLEET WITH MORE SUSTAINABLE AIRCRAFT

© AIRBUS

Airbus Flight Academy Europe, a 100% subsidiary of Airbus providing civil and military pilot training, has received its first batch of more fuel efficient, quieter Elixir training aircraft as part of its sustainable development strategy.

The first four aircraft, out of a total of eight to be delivered, are equipped with a cockpit specially designed for the Airbus Flight Academy, including two Electronic Flight Instrument Systems (EFIS), to prepare cadet pilots for the technologies in today’s most advanced commercial aircraft.

“We are delighted to announce that, following the delivery of our very first Elixir aircraft, our cadets will now be flying this quieter, more fuel-efficient aircraft during the first flight phases of their training. This is a first step towards the gradual modernisation of the training fleet to reduce the environmental impact of our academy, says Jean Longobardi, Airbus Flight Academy Europe CEO & President”

Airbus Flight Academy Europe was established in 2006 to provide training facilities and services to support the initial, basic and advanced training of civil and military pilots. Airbus Flight Academy Europe has developed its own pilot training capabilities and has been delivering the Airbus Pilot Cadet Training Pme since 2019. Located in Angoulême, south-west France, the training centre offers all the necessary training facilities and assets to provide the best training conditions for our cadets.

The Airbus Pilot Cadet Training Programme is open to high school graduates over 18 years old worldwide. Candidates will undergo online and on-site screening tests before being eligible for training which will include 800+ hours of ground school, and 200 hours of practical (flight and simulator) training. Around 80 cadets are trained at the Airbus Flight Academy Europe each year.

Airbus Flight Academy Europe owns a fleet of Diamond DA42, Cirrus SR20, Grob 120 A-F and now four Elixir aircraft, all dedicated to the cadet training. In addition, Airbus Flight Academy Europe operates on its site and customer sites a fleet of two FNPT II qualified simulators to offer the best training solutions to student pilots.

About Elixir aircraft

Elixir Aircraft, a company based in La Rochelle with more than 80 employees, was created in 2015 to meet the challenges of the French light aviation sector. The objective of the French SME: to make safer, more economical, more environment-friendly  and more versatile aircraft. Complexity is the current reason why older generation aircraft suffer from failures (technical or human) and are expensive to operate (fuel consumption and maintenance). Elixir Aircraft employs a technology from the world of competitive sailing, the Oneshot Carbon, to simplify the structures. More simplicity means fewer failures, therefore more safety, but also fewer maintenance, and lower costs (estimates of 40€/h of fuel and maintenance). At the end of 2021, Elixir Aircraft opened a new production site in order to internalize the entire production of carbon parts.

| A FORGOTTEN BOTTICELLI PAINTING RECOVERED

Members of the Italian police’s cultural heritage team with a painting by Botticelli © Carabinieri for the Protection of Cultural Heritage

A painting by Sandro Botticelli that was thought to have been lost for almost 50 years has been found at a family house close to Naples.

The artwork, which is thought to be worth over €100 million and dates to the 15th century, was first preserved in a church in Santa Maria la Carità. Later, it was given to a local family, who maintained it at a private home for several generations.

The picture, one of the final works, Primavera and The Birth of Venus, by the Italian Renaissance master known for Primavera and The Birth of Venus, for unknown reasons suddenly disappeared from the Italian cultural authority’s awareness, leading some to believe it had vanished completely.

Massimiliano Croce, the head of the carabinieri department who oversees the safeguarding of Naples’ cultural legacy, told the press that the last time the authorities had looked into the private home where the Botticelli painting was stored was more than 50 years ago.

The artwork that was badly damaged, with several abrasions and chromatic changes brought on by varnish oxidation will be handed over to Italian specialists to be restored.

The authorities must determine if the family who kept the painting for over a century is the owner of the painting. If not, it will become a state’s property and eventually put on display in an Italian museum.

A spokesman for the Italian Ministry of Culture told CNN that there is an official decree on file that entrusts the painting to the family, clearing the family from any criminal investigation.

The value of the painting is estimated around €100m.

| HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS FOUND IN MANY CONSUMER PRODUCTS

© echa.europa.eu

An EU-wide enforcement project of the ECHA Forum found excessive levels of hazardous chemicals, such as lead and phthalates, in products that are sold to consumers. In total 18 % of the inspected products breached the EU laws.

The national enforcement authorities in 26 EU countries checked over 2 400 products, most of them intended for consumers, and found more than 400 of them breaching the EU’s chemicals laws.

The most common product types breaching the laws were:

  • Electrical devices such as electrical toys, chargers, cables, headphones. 52 % of these products were found non-compliant, mostly due to lead found in solders, phthalates in soft plastic parts, or cadmium in circuit boards.
  • Sports equipment like yoga mats, bicycle gloves, balls or rubber handles of sport equipment. 18 % of these products were found to be non-compliant mostly due to SCCPs and phthalates in soft plastic and PAH in rubber.
  • Toys like bathing/aquatic toys, dolls, costumes, play mats, plastic figures, fidget toys, outdoor toys, slime and childcare articles. 16 % of non-electric toys were found to be non-compliant, mostly due to phthalates found in soft plastic parts, but also other restricted substances such as PAHs, nickel, boron or nitrosamines.
  • Fashion products such as bags, jewellery, belts, shoes and clothes. 15 % of these products were found non-compliant due to the phthalates, lead and cadmium they contained.

In cases where non-compliant products were found, inspectors have taken enforcement measures, with most of them resulting in the withdrawal of such products from the market.

The non-compliance rate was higher in products which originated from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or whose origin was not known.

Background

This enforcement project checked if different types of products that are sold to consumers and professional users on the EEA market comply with the EU chemical regulations.

The project covered REACH restrictions, duties applicable to substances in articles under REACH, POPs restrictions and restrictions derived from the Toys and the RoHS Directives. The checks were carried out by the national enforcement authorities in 26 countries during 2022.

| COUNCIL AND EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AGREE ON RULES ON FREEZING AND CONFISCATING CRIMINAL MONEY

Félix Bolaños, Spanish minister of Justice © Europa.eu

Spanish presidency and European Parliament negotiators have reached a political agreement on an EU law on asset recovery and confiscation. The new directive sets out EU-wide minimum rules on the tracing, identification, freezing, confiscation and management of criminal property. It will boost member states’ capacities to fight organised crime.

« The gains from criminal activities are staggering. Only if governments have the means to claw back these profits do they stand a chance of fighting organised crime » said Félix Bolaños, Spanish minister of Justice.

The directive will apply to a wide range of crimes, such as organised crime, terrorism, trafficking in human beings and drug trafficking. It also comes with obligations for member states to ensure that the authorities involved in tracing, freezing and managing criminal money have qualified staff and appropriate financial, technical and technological resources.

Violation of restrictive measures

The proposed rules will also apply to the violation of sanctions once a still pending directive on the definition of criminal offences and penalties for the violation of EU restrictive measures has been adopted. As a result, people and companies profiting from circumventing sanctions will see their yields being seized in the same way as those of traffickers in human beings or drug cartels.

More powerful asset recovery offices

Member states will be required to reinforce asset recovery offices, whose role will be to facilitate cross-border cooperation in relation to asset tracing investigations.

The asset recovery offices will also be tasked with tracing and identifying criminal money, in support of asset tracing investigations carried out by national authorities and the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. They will also carry out tracing and confiscation tasks for proceeds that are the subject of a freezing or confiscation order issued by a body in another member state.

In order to enable the asset recovery offices to perform their tasks, member states’ governments will have to make sure to give them access to the relevant national databases and registers. In some cases, access should be immediate and direct.

Freezing and confiscation

According to the text agreed on today, member states need to take measures to enable the freezing of property in order to ensure an eventual confiscation and to ensure, in the event of a final conviction, the confiscation of instrumentalities and proceeds stemming from a criminal offence.

However, member states will not only be obliged to ensure the confiscation of criminal money. They will also have to adopt rules which allow them to confiscate property of a value corresponding to the criminal yield.

Where criminal assets or property of equal value are transferred to a third party, it must also be possible to confiscate them, but only if the third party knew or should have known that the purpose of the transfer or acquisition was to avoid confiscation.

In some cases, the confiscation of criminal profits will also become possible where criminal proceedings have been initiated but cannot be continued.

Confiscation of unexplained wealth

In a first for many member states, a new rule on the confiscation of unexplained wealth will, under certain conditions, allow the confiscation of property identified in the context of an investigation in relation to criminal offences, provided that a national court is satisfied that the identified property is derived from criminal activities committed within the framework of a criminal organisation and that those activities give rise to substantial economic benefit. The agreement pays special attention to procedural safeguards.

Asset management

Member states will be required to designate authorities (asset management offices) to manage the frozen or confiscated property, either through direct management or through the provision of support and expertise to other bodies responsible for the management of frozen and confiscated property. Member states will also be required to enable the sale of frozen property, even before final confiscation, under certain conditions – for instance, if the property is perishable.

| ECB PUBLISHES STUDY ON ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF EURO BANKNOTES

BANQUE NATIONALE.IMPRIMERIE.EURO CONTROLE DE QUALITE 04/09/2001 REF DIG

Environmental footprint of a person’s yearly use of euro banknotes equivalent to driving 8 km by car

Eurosystem committed to further reducing environmental impact of banknotes, while ensuring cash is widely available and accepted

The European Central Bank (ECB) has published an environmental footprint study of euro banknotes as a payment instrument. It shows that the average environmental footprint for payments with banknotes was 101 micropoints (µPt) per euro area citizen in 2019. This is equivalent to driving a car for 8 km, or 0.01% of the total environmental impact of a European citizen’s annual consumption activities.

The study measures the potential environmental impact of all activities in a full cycle of euro banknotes – from raw material acquisition, manufacturing, distribution and circulation, to disposal by euro area national central banks (NCBs). It is based on the European Commission’s Product Environmental Footprint methodology and builds on the work begun in the life cycle assessment of the first series of euro banknotes in 2004.

The main factors contributing to the environmental footprint of euro banknotes as a means of payment are the energy consumption of automated teller machines (ATMs) and transportation, followed by processing by NCBs, paper manufacturing and the authentication of banknotes in shops. The long lifespan of banknotes and the fact that they are used for many payments means that the impact of banknote production is lower than that of transportation and distribution.

“The Eurosystem is committed to making euro banknotes as environmentally friendly as possible, while ensuring cash is widely available and accepted,” said ECB Executive Board member Piero Cipollone.

Since 2004 the Eurosystem has made efforts to reduce the environmental footprint of euro banknotes, for example by using only 100% sustainable cotton and banning the disposal of banknote waste in landfill.

In addition, ATM manufacturers and banks have made progress in reducing the environmental impact of their machines. The study published today shows that improvements in the energy efficiency of ATMs contributed to a 35% decrease in their environmental footprint between 2004 and 2019.

Extensive research and development is being conducted to make future euro banknotes even more environmentally friendly at all stages of their life cycle. For instance, the ECB is exploring alternative waste disposal methods for banknotes, such as recycling and the reusing of waste material, and possible improvements to material and components used in the printing process.

These actions are also part of the ECB’s broader commitment to tackling climate change within its mandate and to reducing its own environmental footprint in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the European Union’s climate neutrality objectives.

| TRANSPORT: EUR 7 BILLION AVAILABLE FOR INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS ACROSS THE EUROPEAN UNION

© ec.europa.eu

Calls for proposals launched under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for Transport

programme make EUR 7 billion available for projects targeting new and improved European transport infrastructure. 

Projects funded under these calls will help to increase the sustainability of the trans-European transport network, putting the EU on track to meet the European Green Deal objective of cutting transport emissions by 90% by 2050.

A sustainable and smart mobility for the future

The calls support the European Commission’s vision of a future sustainable transport system, with smart and resilient solutions implemented to interconnect Europe.

The EU needs an efficient and interconnected multimodal transport system for both passengers and freight. This includes an affordable, reliable and performing rail network, an enhanced inland waterways navigation and infrastructure in maritime ports, a balanced interconnection between transport modes and an increased automation and interoperability for greater efficiency and safety of the transport network.

The calls cover the Core and Comprehensive TEN-T networks in the following areas:

  • railways
  • inland waterways
  • maritime and inland ports
  • road safety
  • rail-road terminals
  • multimodal logistics platforms
  • multimodal passenger hubs
  • smart and interoperable applications for transport
  • safe and secure mobility
  • infrastructure resilience
Who can apply?

Applications are welcome from:

  • One or more Member State;
  • International organisations or public or private bodies established in an EU Member State, with the agreement of the Member State(s) concerned..
Who decides which projects will receive grants?

Proposals will be evaluated by the European Commission/CINEA, assisted by external experts drawn from an independent expert database

Applicants will receive the evaluation results no more than six months after the submission deadline, and grant agreements will be signed within nine months after the submission deadline.

To expand its database of experts, the Commission has launched a call for experts in a range of fields. To be considered as a proposal evaluator, applicants should sign up via the Participant Portal and send an email to CINEA-CEF-Transport@ec.europa.eu.

Background

The CEF Transport programme is the key EU funding instrument for the development of high performing, sustainable and interconnected Trans-European transport networks, with a focus on the nine Core Network Corridors

The programme co-finances projects that enhance multimodality, improve infrastructure and advance innovation and new technologies.

Under the CEF programme, EUR 25.6 billion is available for grants from the EU’s 2021-2027 budget to co-fund Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) projects in the EU Member States. Since 2014 the CEF programme has supported over 1,300 projects with a total of EUR 29.8 billion in the transport sector.

The call for proposals supports projects under the General and Cohesion envelopes of the CEF Transport programme.

The European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) is managing the promotion and evaluation of the call and supervises the implementation of projects.

| SPAIN DISMANTLES TOP RUSSIAN-SPEAKING ORGANISED CRIME NETWORK THAT HAD INFILTRATED PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS

Seized weapons and car by the Policía Nacional © Policiá National

With Europol’s support the Spanish National Police (Policiá National) took down a large Russian-speaking high-risk organised crime network involved in corruption and money laundering in Spain. The large-scale criminal network, implicated in a number of other criminal activities including murder, drug trafficking, arms trafficking, trafficking of human beings and extortion was active across Europe, South America and the United States. Given the high hierarchical position of those investigated, this operation, which began in 2013, is the largest against the Russian-speaking top-level organised crime in Spain in the past 10 years.

The operation led to:
  • 23 arrests
  • 18 house searches
  • 10 weapons seized
  •  23 properties, 16 high-end vehicles, diamonds, and virtual wallets seized
  • bank accounts and property assets worth millions of euros blocked
  •  €300 000 and $35 000 cash seized

The large-scale criminal network managed to infiltrate various Spanish public institutions. One of the main targets was able to carry out philanthropic activities in these public institutions, which allowed the criminal group to penetrate the administration. This enabled the network to carry out their business with impunity, overcome legal obstacles and receive a series of administrative favours including protection from police and judicial investigations and facilitation of the acquisition of Spanish residence for the clients of the criminal organisation. Among those ‘investing’ in the group’s activities were eastern European criminals of the highest authority in the underworld – known as ‘thieves-in-law.’ Lawyers, officials, politicians, businesspeople and hackers were connected to the network, increasing their operational capabilities.

State infiltration and control over the tourism sector

The investigation uncovered how the criminal leaders contacted the investigated individuals to carry out money laundering operations. These activities included various investment projects such as land acquisition to develop luxury real estate projects, and purchasing restaurants, industrial warehouses, plots and boats. To launder the foreign assets the group used a network of bogus companies established in different counties, including South America. The criminals used advanced technologies, such as cryptocurrencies. They were planning to purchase one of the main nightclubs on the island of Ibiza and to take over the nightlife and catering sector, both on the Levantine coast and in the Balearic Islands. This is a clear indication that this dangerous Russian-speaking organised crime network was planning to control key sectors of the Spanish economy, such as the tourism sector, and to infiltrate state institutions.

Europol supported the investigation since its very beginning as a high priority case. Europol facilitated the information exchange and provided analytical support. During the action day, Europol deployed experts on the spot to cross-check operational information in real-time against Europol’s databases and to provide technical support with digital forensic capabilities.

Due to the increased threat posed by the high-risk organised crime groups, Europol is strengthening its activity by delivering agile operational support to the EU Member States or third operational parties, building the strong operational coalitions to tackle top-level organised crime actors.
Headquartered in The Hague, the Netherlands, Europol support the 27 EU Member States in their fight against terrorism, cybercrime and other serious and organised forms of crime. Europol also works with many non-EU partner states and international organisations.

| FIFTH POLICY LEARNING FORUM (PLF) ON UPSKILLING PATHWAYS: A VISION FOR THE FUTURE

In February 2024, Cedefop and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) are organising the fifth Policy Learning Forum on upskilling pathways: a vision for the future.

The event will take place at EESC premises in Brussels, on 06/02/2024 (09.30–17.00 CET) and on 07/02/2024 (09.00–13.00 CET).

Policy Learning Fora (PLF) on upskilling pathways are a series of policy learning events on the topic aimed at providing a platform for countries to come together to learn from one another and explore common challenges in upskilling adults.

The Fifth Policy Learning Forum (PLF) on upskilling pathways is aimed at discussing support to lifelong upskilling pathways for all adults, also by exploring and discussing findings from Cedefop Thematic Country Reviews on Upskilling Pathways.

| A NEW UKRAINE BUILD GAME-CHANGING PUNISHER DRONE BECOMES OPERATIONAL

The Cosmolot Punisher drone © Cosmolot

The Ukrainian company COSMOLOT reported on the transfer of the first 15 Punisher attack UAVs to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Another delivery of 50 drones is expected very soon.

The main feature of the new drones is its innovative technology that is resistant to electronic warfare, allowing them to attack the enemy deep behind the front line.

This new type of small fixed-wing reusable UAV aircraft is able to strike ennemy targets at distances as far as 45 km. It has a maximum speed of 198 km/h. The estimated accuracy of hitting from the heights of 200 / 300 / 400 m is – 4 m from the aiming point in ideal wind conditions.

Ukraine had been using various types of drones in its military operations, including domestic and imported drones for reconnaissance, surveillance, and other purposes.

| A STAPLE ON THE EUROPEAN AUCTION CALENDAR

2017 Bugatti Chiron ‘La Mer Argentée’ Simon Clay ©2023 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s €2,750,000 – €3,500,000 EUR

A destination for fashion and the spiritual birthplace of bespoke coachbuilding, Paris is a natural home for an auction that has become a highlight for RM Sotheby’s. In 2024, a superior selection of supercars, past and present, as well as notable examples of modern motorsport, will be offered under the French city’s famous lights.

For Sotheby’s eleventh anniversary Paris sale, RM Sotheby’s will return to the Salles du Carrousel in Louvre Palace. A destination venue for clients across Europe and set in the “Golden Triangle” of Paris, steps away from the Place Vendôme, this location is sure to make RM Sotheby’s Paris 2024 auction an occasion not to be missed.

With grand hotels and fine dining that define cosmopolitan, Paris presents the ideal background to offer 38 collectors cars for sale.

1929 Packard Deluxe Eight Tom Gidden ©2023 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
AUCTION LOCATION

Les Salles du Carrousel
99 Rue de Rivoli
75001 Paris
France

PARKING

“Carrousel du Louvre” car park
Entrance from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. – no exit closure.
Other car parks: Parking Saint-Germain, l’Auxerrois car park, Saint-Honoré car park, Vendôme car park.

Schedule (CET)

Tuesday, 30 January 2024

10:00 am – 7:00 pm

PUBLIC PREVIEW

Admission is open to the public

Wednesday, 31 January 2024

10:00 am – 3:00 pm

PRIVATE PREVIEW

Admission is for consignors, qualified media, registered bidders, and catalogue holders only

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

COCKTAIL RECEPTION

Please note this event is for invited guests, qualified media, registered bidders, and catalogue holders only

4:00 pm

AUCTION

| RISING RATES OF SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS ACROSS EUROPE

Pap smear showing chlamydia in the vacuoles (membrane-bound cell organelles) © Nrf

The latest ECDC reports on chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) highlight a sharp increase in reported cases of these STIs across 27 European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) countries, and collectively reveal a dynamic and challenging landscape. This rise in numbers is similar to the increase in syphilis cases previously reported by ECDC and illustrates a decade-long trend of growing STI rates across Europe despite a dip in numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic, likely due to changes in access to testing and reduced social mixing.

The number of reported gonorrhoea cases has continued to increase, as they had done before the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021 alone, there were 46 728 confirmed cases of gonorrhoea, surpassing pre-pandemic levels. Though the data reveals substantial variations across the EU/EEA, men who have sex with men (MSM) accounted for more than half of reported cases. Amid the rise in cases, concerns about antimicrobial resistance (AMR) are particularly pronounced in the context of gonorrhoea. The European Gonococcal Antimicrobial Surveillance Programme (Euro-GASP) reports increasing resistance to two particular antibiotics, azithromycin and ciprofloxacin, emphasising the need for vigilant monitoring and robust response strategies.

The report on chlamydia reveals a similar picture with increases from 2012 to 2019, a decline in 2020 likely due to the impact of the pandemic followed by an increase again in 2021. Rates continue to be highest among young adult heterosexual women. Gender disparities in chlamydia testing, with young women receiving the most testing, means chlamydia may be underdiagnosed among men.

The escalating numbers of reported STIs pose a significant public health challenge. ECDC recommends the following actions:

  • Urgent Strengthening of Prevention Activities: Enhanced prevention activities are crucial, focusing on increased testing, targeted messaging, and tailored interventions for specific risk groups. Social media and dating apps should be considered for prevention campaigns, in addition to traditional approaches.
  • AMR Monitoring: Ongoing monitoring of antimicrobial resistance is imperative to inform treatment strategies and address emerging challenges.

Recent reports on syphilis and congenital syphilis show a steadily increasing trend despite a temporary dip in 2020. In 2021, 25 270 confirmed syphilis cases were reported in 28 EU/EEA Member States, which represents an increase over 2020 when cases had declined for the first time in 8 years. Notably, MSM bear a disproportionate burden, constituting 77% of cases. In 2021, around one-third of MSM with syphilis were HIV positive. While there was a dip in cases among MSM between 2020 and 2021 and a minor upswing in male heterosexual cases, women exhibited consistently low rates of syphilis infections in 2021.

The total number of congenital syphilis notifications in 22 EU/EEA countries that consistently reported data for 2012-2021, showed a peak in 2013 followed by a decrease between 2014 and 2017, and a second high number of reported cases in 2019.  The number of congenital syphilis cases decreased again in 2020 and 2021. To achieve the 2030 target for the elimination of congenital syphilis, challenges in surveillance, diagnosis and treatment for pregnant women need to be overcome.

Altogether, these reports signal a critical juncture in the battle against STIs in Europe. Collaborative efforts among public health authorities, healthcare providers, and communities are essential to curb the spread of these infections and mitigate their impact on individuals and public health systems.

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