| A NEW SOLUTION TO AN OLD PROBLEM: NATURAL DRINKING FOUNTAINS WITH LIFE WATER WAY
Newly installed drinking water fountains along the Camino of Santiago are proving a hit with long-distance hikers whilst dramatically reducing the use of plastic water bottles.
LIFE WATER WAY- a six-year, EUR 761,000 project covering 143 km of the ancient pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain – provides drinking water from traditional fountains.
Walkers can now refill their reusable bottles at 28 new ‘micro-supply points’ – approximately one every six kilometres – fed by wells and natural springs. The fountains use a specially designed purification system to ensure the supply of water is available for pilgrims walking the ‘English Way’.
‘When you’re short of water, and you see a spring, you don’t know if it’s safe to drink,’ says one thirsty pilgrim interviewed by the project. In the old days, you would drink it anyway, but nowadays, you think twice about it.’
LIFE WATER WAY has become a model of responsible water consumption, involving 18 municipalities and water and health experts who devised a sustainable and cost-efficient treatment system for the water fountains. This new water treatment system is expected to recover 100 m3 (about the volume of a one-car garage) of drinking water each year from natural springs.
Every year, huge numbers of pilgrims walk the popular ‘English Way’. Around 25,000 tread the route in Galicia alone – so it’s not surprising that one of the main achievements of the project has been a striking reduction in the use of disposable bottles. So far, more than one million single-usage disposable half-litre bottles have been saved, preventing 12 tonnes of plastic residues and 841 tonnes of CO2.
‘As the mayor of a rural community, I’m pleased to have contributed to the recovery of our natural resources, a treasure without which Galicia would not be as we know it,’ says José Antonio Santiso Miramontes, Mayor of Abegondo and President of the Mariñas Coruñesas e Terras do Mandeo Biosphere Reserve.
‘The Life Water Way is an excellent example of cooperation among different local authorities to offer their citizens a great service,’ agrees Valentín González Formoso, President of the A Coruña Provincial Council.
To mark the end of LIFE WATER WAY in June 2023, the project produced a Good Practice Guide for promoting public drinking fountains and organised a technical conference to share the results. The initiative has already attracted interest from countries all over the world hoping to set up similar schemes.
‘Treated natural springs are the solution for micro-supplying drinking water along routes where it isn’t possible to connect to controlled water supply networks,’ notes Teresa Guiérrez López, Director of Augas de Galicia, a publicly owned water company.
| EU COUNTRIES SIGN UP TO EDA’S JOINT PROCUREMENT FOR CBRN AND SOLDIER EQUIPMENT
Several EU Member States have signed the European Defence Agency (EDA) project arrangements for the collaborative procurement of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) equipment, and for soldier equipment.
The signing of the two project arrangements in late July – by eight EU states in each case – allows them to come into effect. They lay the basis for Member States to buy together such CBRN equipment such as masks, filters and suits, and also to jointly purchase soldier equipment such as helmets and ballistic vests. EDA’s project arrangements, and Member States’ interest, send an important signal to industry about the European Union’s commitment to meeting critical military needs. Following competitive tendering, companies or consortia will be able to bid for contracts.
The two new project arrangements follow the signing in March of EDA’s arrangement for joint procurement of 155mm ammunition, which was based on the work of the Defence Joint Procurement Task Force – composed of EDA, the European External Action Service, the EU Military Staff, and the European Commission – along with Member States, to identify critical shortfalls.
The procurement process, where EDA will act as the contracting authority, management body and ordering entity in the context of collaborative procurement procedures, should culminate with the first framework contracts with industry, allowing Member States to place orders from then on.
Collaborative procurement is the best option to achieve cost reduction from economies of scale, while allowing Member States to purchase ammunition and military equipment according to their national needs and supporting Ukraine. The arrangements, which are flexible and inclusive in nature, allow all Member States to join the initiatives at a later stage.
EDA’S wider role
EDA supports all EU Member States in improving their defence capabilities through European cooperation. Acting as an enabler and facilitator for Ministries of Defence willing to engage in collaborative capability projects, the Agency has become the hub for European defence cooperation with expertise and networks spanning the whole spectrum of defence capabilities.
Member States use EDA as an intergovernmental expert platform where their collaborative projects are supported, facilitated, and implemented.
| BULGARIA: THE EUROPEAN PUBLIC PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE CARRIES OUT SEARCHES IN PROBE INTO RAILWAY WORKS WORTH OVER €241 MILLION
The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Sofia (Bulgaria) carried out searches at numerous locations, in an investigation into two projects for the modernisation of the railway infrastructure, worth over €241 million in EU financing.
More than 100 police officers and agents from Bulgaria’s National Police General Directorate (ГДНП) and Bulgaria’s State Agency for National Security (ДАНС) participated in the searches, carried out at 28 locations in the districts of Sofia, Burgas, Varna, Stara Zagora, Smolyan and Pazardzhik.
On the radar of the EPPO are two projects for the modernisation of the railway infrastructure. The first concerns the section between the cities of Kostenets and Septemvri of the Sofia-Plovdiv railway line, financed by the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) – previously INEA –, to the amount of more than €130 million. The second involves the modernisation of the railway section between Orizovo and Mihaylovo – part of the second phase of the rehabilitation of the Plovdiv-Burgas railway infrastructure –, financed by the Cohesion Fund, under the Operational Programme Transport and Transport infrastructure, to the amount of over €111 million.
The beneficiary of both projects is the National Railway Infrastructure Company of Bulgaria, and the construction contracts were awarded to two private companies with international participation.
The works on these two sections of railway tracks are still ongoing, but several payments have already been made by the beneficiary to the contractors.
The investigation uncovered facts that could constitute criminal offences, including misuse of EU funds and money laundering. The contractors are suspected of having made, in a short period of time, fictitious money transfers to a chain of hollow companies, which ultimately led to the withdrawal of cash amounts of more than €2.5 million (BGN 5 million) by individuals with criminal records.
During the searches, carried out at the suspects’ homes and at the premises of the companies under investigation, two individuals were arrested. In addition, public officials from the National Railway Infrastructure Company will be questioned, regarding the disbursement of EU funds.
The investigation is ongoing, in order to ascertain the nature and extent of the suspected criminal activities.
All persons concerned are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in the competent Bulgarian courts of law.
The EPPO is the independent public prosecution office of the European Union. It is responsible for investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment crimes against the financial interests of the EU.
| MERGERS: EU COMMISSION OPENS IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATION INTO THE PROPOSED ACQUISITION OF FIGMA BY ADOBE
The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess, under the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed acquisition of Figma by Adobe. The Commission is concerned that the transaction may reduce competition in the global markets for the supply of interactive product design software and for digital asset creation tools.
Adobe is a global software company offering, among others, creative design software tools (e.g., Illustrator and Photoshop) and an interactive product design tool (Adobe XD). Figma is a provider of a web-based collaborative tool for interactive product design (Figma Design) as well as a whiteboarding tool.
The Commission’s preliminary competition concerns
The Commission’s preliminary investigation indicates that the transaction may allow Adobe to restrict competition in the global markets for the:
- Supply of interactive product design tools given: (i) that Figma is the clear market leader and Adobe one of its largest competitors, that Adobe and Figma are close competitors and that the transaction would remove an important competitive force, and (ii) the unlikely timely and credible entry of other players in the market.
- Supply of digital asset creation tools by: eliminating Figma’s current constraining influence over Adobe’s digital asset creation tools, and preventing Figma’s potential growth into an effective competitor to Adobe’s asset creation tools, absent the transaction.
Furthermore, the Commission will further investigate whether the transaction may foreclose rival providers of interactive product design tools by bundling Figma with Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite.
The Commission will now carry out an in-depth investigation into the effects of the proposed transaction to determine whether its initial competition concerns are confirmed.
The Commission closely cooperated with other competition authorities during the initial investigation and will continue such cooperation during the in-depth investigation.
The proposed transaction was notified to the Commission on 30 June 2023. The Commission now has 90 working days, until 14 December 2023, to take a decision. The opening of an in-depth inquiry does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.
| OLHA KHARLAN, A FOUR-TIME INDIVIDUAL WOMEN’S WORLD SABRE CHAMPION AND A FOUR-TIME OLYMPIC MEDALIST, IS MEMBER OF THE UKRAINE SECRET SERVICE
On July 27, Olga Kharlan defeated a fencer from Russia under neutral status at the start of the individual tournament at the World Fencing Championships. She refused to shake hands with her Russian competitor Anna Smirnova after their match after the fight, holding her sabre out in front of her pointing her sabre toward the Russian.
She was disqualified from the world championships and the International Fencing Federation (FIE) did not allow her to continue in the tournament.
The next day, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach guaranteed her a spot at the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics. Bach, who is a former fencer, said he thought Kharlan was treated unfairly. The International Fencing Federation (FIE) announced afterwards it was reinstating Emmanuel Katsiadakis, the President of the FIE, said the decision had been taken “after consultation with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).”
Back in Ukraine, Olga Kharlan, proudly revealed to the press that she was a SSU (Ukraine Secret Service employee) employee, in particular the SSU National Academy. “I am proud to be an employee of the Security Service of Ukraine, in particular the SSU National Academy. I am proud that Russians know that I work for the SSU. Let them be afraid!” said the fencer.
The SSU National Academy Rector Andrii Cherniak presented to Olha the highest award of the institution – the Badge of Honour. “Olha Kharlan has demonstrated the main Ukrainian message on the world sports arena: no handshakes with Russians – only weapons! And only Victory! This is a decent and strong act of a representative of the SSU, for which, Ms Olha, the entire Ukraine is grateful!” Andrii Cherniak said.
| HYDIS² CONSORTIUM PROJECT FOR HYPERSONIC DEFENCE INTERCEPTOR PROPOSED FOR FUNDING BY THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION
In May 2023, the HYDIS² consortium, composed of 19 partners and more than 20 subcontractors across 14 European countries, submitted a proposal for a concept architecture and technology maturation study of an endo-atmospheric interceptor against new high-end emerging threats, in the framework of the European Defence Fund 2023 work programme. On the 12th of July 2023, following a positive evaluation, the European Commission proposed the project for funding.
The consortium, coordinated by MBDA, proposed HYDIS² (HYpersonic Defence Interceptor Study), a project that brings together Defence groups, institutions, SMEs, mid-caps and universities. It gathers the best competences in the domains of missiles from across the European Union. France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands have already confirmed their support and commitment by signing a Letter of Intent and agreeing on Initial Common Requirements.
The objective of HYDIS² is to study various interceptor concepts and bring to maturity the associated critical technologies to deliver the best counter-hypersonic and anti-ballistic interception solution that fulfils the four Member States needs and addresses the needs of the European PESCO TWISTER capability programme. This is a central element of the contribution of European states to the mission of defence of populations and armed forces, in particular against the emerging hypersonic threats that constitute a radical change from ballistic ones.
The HYDIS² consortium brings together 19 partners and more than 20 subcontractors in 14 European countries. The partners are ArianeGroup, AVIO, Avio Aero, Bayern-Chemie, CIRA, DLR, GKN Fokker, LYNRED, MBDA España, MBDA France, MBDA Germany, MBDA Italia, OHB System AG, ONERA, ROXEL France, THALES LAS France, TDW, THALES Netherlands and TNO.
HYDIS² contributes to the AQUILA interceptor project, proposing the most valuable counter-hypersonic interceptor concepts for European nations, alongside a global area defence portfolio with other MBDA air defence products.
Eric Béranger, CEO of MBDA, said: “This project offers a significant European benefit, contributing to European resilience and technological sovereignty by enhancing co-operation and interoperability between EU countries. This project will also contribute to reinforcing the sovereign missile systems industry in Europe, by sustaining and developing critical expertise, technologies and materials; thus boosting European industrial competitiveness. The technologies in the hypersonic domain are evolving, and it is a priority for MBDA to remain at the forefront of innovation, guiding Europe towards the most efficient solution to counter hypersonic threats.”
MBDA is a unique multi-national European group, a world-leader in the field of complex weapon systems, playing a key role in keeping nations safe. Created in the spirit of international co-operation, MBDA and its more than 14,000 employees work together to support the national sovereignty of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, and other allied countries worldwide. As an accelerator for innovation, MBDA is the only European group capable of designing and manufacturing complex weapons to meet the full range of current and future operational requirements of the three armed forces (land, sea and air). MBDA is owned by Airbus (37.5%), BAE Systems (37.5%) and Leonardo (25%).
| IMF : THE GLOBAL RECOVERY IS SLOWING AMID WIDENING DIVERGENCES AMONG ECONOMIC SECTORS AND REGIONS
Global growth is projected to fall from an estimated 3.5 percent in 2022 to 3.0 percent in both 2023 and 2024. While the forecast for 2023 is modestly higher than predicted in the April 2023 World Economic Outlook (WEO), it remains weak by historical standards. The rise in central bank policy rates to fight inflation continues to weigh on economic activity. Global headline inflation is expected to fall from 8.7 percent in 2022 to 6.8 percent in 2023 and 5.2 percent in 2024. Underlying (core) inflation is projected to decline more gradually, and forecasts for inflation in 2024 have been revised upward.
The recent resolution of the US debt ceiling standoff and, earlier this year, strong action by authorities to contain turbulence in US and Swiss banking reduced the immediate risks of financial sector turmoil. This moderated adverse risks to the outlook. However, the balance of risks to global growth remains tilted to the downside. Inflation could remain high and even rise if further shocks occur, including those from an intensification of the war in Ukraine and extreme weather-related events, triggering more restrictive monetary policy. Financial sector turbulence could resume as markets adjust to further policy tightening by central banks. China’s recovery could slow, in part as a result of unresolved real estate problems, with negative cross-border spillovers. Sovereign debt distress could spread to a wider group of economies. On the upside, inflation could fall faster than expected, reducing the need for tight monetary policy, and domestic demand could again prove more resilient.
In most economies, the priority remains achieving sustained disinflation while ensuring financial stability. Therefore, central banks should remain focused on restoring price stability and strengthen financial supervision and risk monitoring. Should market strains materialize, countries should provide liquidity promptly while mitigating the possibility of moral hazard. They should also build fiscal buffers, with the composition of fiscal adjustment ensuring targeted support for the most vulnerable. Improvements to the supply side of the economy would facilitate fiscal consolidation and a smoother decline of inflation toward target levels.
| LAMBORGHINI UNVEILS THE LANZADOR : ITS FIRST ELECTRIC MODEL
Lamborghini chose Monterey Car Week to debut its concept car Lanzador, a visionary preview of the future fourth model announced by the company and planned for 2028. As part of the brand’s Direzione Cor Tauri strategy, this concept marks a significant step towards the decarbonization and electrification announced in 2021.
With an innovative Gran Turismo 2+2 concept, the Lanzador stands out for its design that is rebellious and futuristic yet retains Lamborghini’s unmistakable DNA, characterized by uncompromising charisma and sportiness, anticipating a truly unique experience aimed at a new generation of technology-forward customers. Stephan Winkelmann, Chairman and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini, remarked: “With this concept, we are ushering in a new car segment, the Ultra GT, which is poised to offer customers a new and unparalleled driving experience, one that’s quintessentially Lamborghini, thanks to groundbreaking technologies.”
The Lanzador is equipped with two electric motors, one for each axle, providing all-wheel drive and efficiency in all driving conditions, on all surfaces, and in every driving style. The system delivers a peak power that exceeds one megawatt.
The driver can independently adjust the control systems while on the road via controls on the sports steering wheel, actively modifying the car’s behavior and creating their own individual profile to best express their driving needs and ensure unimagined emotions.
The new version of the driving dynamics control system, Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Integrata (LDVI), will set another benchmark for the House of Sant’Agata Bolognese, in terms of both concept cars and future production cars. This control system gives drivers the utmost freedom of customization, allowing them to modulate the active control systems to best suit their driving needs.
Active Aerodynamics is another key feature of the Lanzador, employed in the front and rear to maximize aerodynamic efficiency in the different driving modes. This technology enables the car to regulate airflow precisely, increasing the range in Urban mode and increasing downforce in Performance mode.
In addition, thanks to its steerable rear axle and air suspension, the Lanzador adapts flawlessly to any surface and to driver-defined settings, which can be adjusted quickly and directly while on the road via steering wheel controls.
With the Lanzador, Lamborghini looks to the future and anticipates upcoming new styling solutions not only on the exterior but also in the interior, offering an entirely new experience in terms of spaciousness and comfort.
The interior is a truly futuristic space, incorporating Lamborghini’s “Feel like a pilot” approach. The driver and passenger are accommodated in an ergonomic environment, with a light, slim control panel that makes it possible to actively modify the car’s behavior while driving. The sustainable materials used for the interior, such as merino wool and regenerated carbon fiber, demonstrate the company’s commitment to reducing its environmental impact without sacrificing the luxury and comfort typical of a Lamborghini. Some of the non-visible plastic elements, such as the foam in the sports seats, are made from 3D-printed recycled fibers.
Lanzador represents a true milestone for Lamborghini as the company continues actively working to electrify its entire range of vehicles and to achieve decarbonization. The new concept car is part of a broad strategy to reduce CO2 emissions and embrace a more sustainable vision for the future.
A future of electrification: this is the direction Lamborghini is headed in, while holding firmly to the brand’s hallmarks of performance, cutting-edge technologies, exclusive design, and its position as a leader in the luxury automotive sector.
| NATO INNOVATION FUND CLOSES ON EUR 1BN FLAGSHIP FUND
Twenty-three NATO Allies have officially become Limited Partners of the NATO Innovation Fund (NIF), which is preparing to make its initial investments later this year. The Participating Allies¹ have also welcomed Sweden’s interest to join the NIF. Sweden’s participation will take effect upon its accession to the North Atlantic Treaty.
Sweden’s contribution will add to the current EUR 1 billion venture capital fund, boosting the investible capital of the NATO Innovation Fund and bolstering innovative capacity across the Alliance.
“As a member of NATO, Sweden will contribute to the strength of the Alliance, not only through our geo-strategic location and military capabilities, but also through a vibrant security and defence industry that promotes innovation and development of cutting-edge technology. This is further enabled through participation in the NATO Innovation Fund,” said Pål Jonson, Minister of Defence, Sweden.
Mr. David van Weel, NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, welcomed Sweden’s future participation, “This year’s Summit set Sweden further on track to becoming the 32nd country to join our Alliance, and this historic step will make way for Sweden to participate in the NATO Innovation Fund and to contribute to its important mission.”
The NATO Innovation Fund is the world’s first multi-sovereign venture capital fund and will invest in start-ups developing cutting-edge technological solutions, leveraging the potential for commercial innovation to address critical defence and security challenges. The Fund’s Limited Partners include 23 NATO Allies at the highest levels of government, venture capital, innovation and defence. The Fund will make direct investments into start-ups located in any of the 23 participating Allied nations, as well as indirect investments into deep tech funds with a trans-Atlantic impact. It will provide patient capital to meet the needs and timelines of deep tech innovators and to secure an enduring future for the Alliance’s 1 billion citizens.
- *Participating NATO Allies: Belgium; Bulgaria; Czechia; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Iceland; Italy; Latvia; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Slovakia; Spain; Türkiye; United Kingdom
| THIS AUTUMN, SOTHEBY’S NYC WILL SELL A 1962 FERRARI GTO OWNED BY CAR FANATIC JIM FOR AN ESTIMATED $60 MILLION
One of only 34 specimens ever produced, a 1962 250 Ferrari GTO will be auctioned off by Sotheby’s in New York this autumn for an estimated $60 million.
Jim Jaeger, 75, of Ohio purchased it in 1985 for about $500,000 (about $1.4 million today).
The car, with an estimated $60 million price tag, was first sold in 1964 for $6,000, or roughly $59,000 today.
The most expensive vehicle ever sold at auction was a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR coupe, which Sotheby’s sold last May for $142 million.
The is the only factory-owned Series I GTO raced by the Scuderia Ferrari
- Class win and 2nd overall finish at the 1962 Nürburgring 1,000 KM
- Driven by Mike Parkes and Lorenzo Bandini for the Scuderia Ferrari at the 1962 24 Hours of Le Mans
- 1965 Sicilian Hillclimb Championship runner-up
- Formerly owned by a chairman of the Ferrari Club of America
- Benefits from 38 years of fastidious care under current ownership
- Winner of an FCA Platinum Award and the Coppa Bella Macchina at the Cavallino Classic
- 2nd in the GTO class at the 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, among 23 total GTOs • Best of Show at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance
- Blue Ribbon winner at the Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance
| WHATSAPP HACKING VIA VOICEMAIL
The Swiss National Cyber Security Centre NCSC has published a warning about Cybercriminals targeting WhatsApp accounts.
Attackers are pulling out all the stops to obtain the PIN code for resetting an account and they particularly appreciate having the code read out over the phone. If this is done at night, the code usually ends up being sent to voicemail, which is then hacked to obtain the information. The NCSC is currently receiving a lot of reports of hacked WhatsApp accounts.
Two years ago, the NCSC already reported on the possibility of WhatsApp accounts being taken over through a hacked voicemail account. The NCSC is again receiving an increasing number of reports of this kind.
NCSC’s own tests showed how the hackers proceeded. In a first step, the hacker passed off the number to be attacked as his own on his WhatsApp. A code was then sent to the email address stored on the account to check its authenticity. If this method does not work, it is possible to be called and have the code read out. This is also done if the call goes to voicemail. Many voicemail accounts still have a password that has not been changed since it was set up. This means that the default password, e.g. the last four digits of the telephone number, is still valid. Hackers take advantage of this and use it to access the message with the saved password reset.
After the hackers have taken over the WhatsApp account, they immediately activate two-factor authentication to prevent the victim from easily recovering their account. Afterwards, the hackers often try to attack accounts from the friends list as well.
The NCSC sis giving the following advice:
- Change all default passwords as quickly as possible. Do not choose trivial combinations that are easy to guess.
- Use two-factor authentication whenever possible.
- If you receive suspicious messages from your telephone provider, you should report the incident to them as soon as possible.
- As a general rule, PIN codes should be treated in the same way as passwords. Under no circumstances should such information be passed on to third parties or entered on insecure websites.