A round-up of UK-focused European Commission events and activities for the next week:
Monday 24 January
Fisheries Council being held in Brussels
Committee stage of the European Union Bill (also 25 January) in House of Commons
Tuesday 25 January
Harriet Harman, deputy leader of the Labour Party and shadow Secretary for International Development is due to meet Commissioner Piebalgs in Brussels.
Wednesday 26 January
Commission is expected to adopt policy papers on resource efficiency and raw materials.
High Representative/Vice-President Ashton meets the Foreign Minister of Brazil in Brussels.
Oral question on the European Arrest Warrant in the House of Lords
Thursday 27 January
Commission launches a consultation on modernising public procurement.
Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik visits London. He will make a speech at Chatham House, have meetings with ministers and NGOs and visit the International Maritime Organisation.
One of the things we do a lot of in this office, and more so since the new government came into power, is talking to people about what they could expect from a career working for an EU organisation. I’ve written about some recent events such as the FCO’s launch event in October last year, our Q&A webchat on the Guardian site, the language careers event in June 2010, and a week of several events in March. Last week I was filmed for a site that the FCO are creating and will be launched in early February – I’ll blog about that when it goes live. Now Boris Johnson’s economics adviser, who I knew when he was a correspondent in Brussels, plows in to the debate with a piece in City AM. And then I come across this from the Europe Minister and European Commissioner Sefcovic, which I do like.
Here’s the text of a note we sent to newsdesks at the end of last year, which bears repeating:
Information note to Newsdesks: European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is not part of the European Union (EU)
Newsdesks and subeditors are asked to note that decisions of the European Court of Human Rights should not be referred to as EU decisions, and the judgements should not be attributed to “EU judges”, or any similar language. The European Court of Human Rights is part of the Council of Europe, a completely separate organisation to the European Union. The UK is a founding member of the Council of Europe, which was created in 1949 by the Treaty of London.
Council of Europe website: http://www.coe.int
Membership of the Council of Europe is now a precondition of EU membership, but the UK was a member of the CoE long before it joined the Common Market/ECC/EU and if it left the EU, I very very much doubt it would leave the CoE, and certainly wouldn’t do so automatically.
Our monitoring of Parliamentary Questions spat this one up today. Self-explanatory really.
Mr Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the letter from the Minister for Europe of 11 November 2010, on the European Union Bill, for what reasons his Department believes that the present terms of UK membership of the EU are in the national interest. 
Mr Lidington: There are many things about the EU we would like to change. However, membership of the EU gives UK business full access to the world’s most important trading zone, comprising 500 million consumers without the barriers of customs or tariffs. This is of great importance to the UK’s prosperity. 10% (3.5 million) of UK jobs are reliant on exports to EU member states, the beneficial effect of EU trade on UK households is estimated at between £1,100 and £3,300 per year, UK exports to member states are worth more than £200 billion, and EU Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) comprises 49% of overall FDI to the UK. Under the present terms of membership the UK plays a strong and active role in influencing and shaping developments within the EU, allowing us to further goals essential to the national interest, such as strengthening and expanding the single market, delivering growth, and promoting a resource efficient, low carbon EU economy. The European economic area (EEA) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) members, in contrast, have to contribute to the EU budget without being able to negotiate the detail and content of EU legislation, and without receiving benefits such as the exemption from customs requirements and costs.
In addition, EU membership gives the UK better leverage and negotiating power on the global stage, allowing us to better achieve our international objectives on issues such as freer international trade, conflict prevention, stabilisation, climate change, human rights and development. There are also wide-ranging benefits for UK individuals, such as the right to study and work within the EU, and to receive free or reduced cost health care on temporary visits within EU member states.