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South Korea’s presidential election: Potential for a new EU role in the Korean Peninsula

mar, 09/05/2017 - 08:30

Written by Enrico D’Ambrogio,

© Rawf8 / Fotolia

South Korea has been shaken by a succession of corruption scandals involving politicians, judges, senior officials, businessmen and even academics. Impeachment of the country’s first female president, the conservative Park Guen-hye, was confirmed by the Constitutional Court, and snap Presidential elections take place on 9 May 2017.

Moon Jae-in, a liberal politician and a leading Minjoo (Democratic Party) personality, leads the polls and is the prospective next President of South Korea. Whoever will run the country is expected to launch an era of political and constitutional reform, as well as reducing the power of the chaebol, business conglomerates which enjoy outsize influence and impunity. Moon and the Minjoo are critical

of deployment of the US-developed anti-missile shield, Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). A new direction to relations with North Korea is also expected, with a shift from military deterrence to an engagement attitude.

This new course could favour stability in the region, paving the way for a new role for the European Union, which could offer its experience in dialogue and integration to engage in a possible future denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

Read the complete briefing on ‘South Korea’s presidential election: Potential for a new EU role in the Korean Peninsula’.

Map – Central eastern Asia


Filed under: International Relations, PUBLICATIONS Tagged: Asia and Pacific, briefings, Enrico D'Ambrogio, EPRS briefings, EU relations, national elections, political situation, South Korea
Catégories: European Union

European business statistics [EU Legislation in Progress]

lun, 08/05/2017 - 18:00

Written by Angelos Delivarios (1st edition),

© Rawf8 / Fotolia

In the context of the work of reviewing the fitness of current regulations (REFIT), the Commission has decided to amend Regulation (EC) No 184/2005 and repeal 10 legal acts in the field of business statistics. The aim is to reduce the administrative burden for businesses, especially SMEs, and to put an end to legal fragmentation in the field of European business statistics. The Commission is proposing to establish a common legal framework for the development, production and dissemination of European statistics related to business structure, economic activities and performance, as well as on international transactions and research and development activities in the EU economy; and for the European network of national statistical business registers and the EuroGroups Register. The regulation includes provisions covering business registers, the data sources to be used, and the exchange of confidential data for the purpose of intra-Union trade in goods statistics. It is expected to reduce red tape for businesses by at least 13.5 % annually.

Versions Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council on European business statistics, amending Regulation (EC) no 184/2005 and repealing 10 legal acts in the field of business statistics)
Committee responsible: Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) COM(2017) 114

Ordinary legislative procedure (COD) (Parliament and Council on equal footing – formerly ‘co-decision’)

Rapporteur: Not yet appointed Shadow rapporteurs: Not yet appointed Next steps expected: First exchange of views

Filed under: Economic and Social Policies, PUBLICATIONS Tagged: Angelos Delivorias, briefings, EPRS briefings, EU Legislation in Progress, EU statistics
Catégories: European Union

Extension of the European statistical programme (ESP) to 2018-2020 [EU Legislation in Progress]

lun, 08/05/2017 - 14:00

Written by Angelos Delivorias (1st edition),

© Maxim_Kazmin / Fotolia

The ESP 2013-2017 is ‘the legal framework for the development, production and dissemination of European statistics’. The European Commission is of the view that the current statistical infrastructure is not flexible enough and that the European Statistical System partnership does not yet deliver sufficient cost savings because of lack of investment. That is why, in line with the ten priorities of the Juncker agenda, it proposed an extension of the current programme, additional funding, and modifications to the main text of Regulation (EU) No 99/2013 and its annex. The European Parliament and the Council also inserted amendments – mainly to the annex of the regulation, which sets out the statistical infrastructure and objectives of the ESP – to enrich the statistics used for the implementation of the programme with statistics capturing employment, quality of life, gender inequality, the situation of migrants, education and healthcare.

Versions Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 99/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European statistical programme 2013-17, by extending it to 2018-2020
Committee responsible: Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) COM(2016) 557

Ordinary legislative procedure (COD) (Parliament and Council on equal footing – formerly ‘co-decision’)

Rapporteur: Roberto Gualtieri (S&D, Italy) Shadow rapporteurs: Gabriel Mato (EPP, Spain)

Bernd Lucke (ECR, Germany)

Enrique Calvet Chambon (ALDE, Spain)

Miguel Viegas (GUE/NGL, Portugal)

Sven Giegold (Greens/EFA, Germany) Next steps expected: Vote in plenary

Filed under: Economic and Social Policies, PUBLICATIONS Tagged: Angelos Delivorias, briefings, EPRS briefings, EU Legislation in Progress, EU statistics
Catégories: European Union

EU social policies [What Think Tanks are thinking]

ven, 05/05/2017 - 18:00

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

© viking75 / Fotolia

On 26 April, the European Commission presented a European Pillar of Social Rights, which is a package of legislative proposals and recommendations aimed at enhancing work-life balance, fostering equal opportunities and better access to the labour market, as well as improving working conditions. Under the proposal, for example, new fathers would receive 10 days of paid parental leave, and parents of young children would be entitled to flexible working arrangements.

The plan, generally welcomed by trade unions but criticised by employers’ organisations, forms part of a wider Commission drive to strengthen the social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union. This can be seen in the context of declining trust for the EU by citizens, in the wake of the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

This note offers a selection of recent studies, reports and commentaries by some of the major international think tanks and research institutes on EU social policies. More studies on the subject can be found in a previous edition of ‘What Think Tanks are thinking’.

Saving the French social model at the expense of the EU?
Clingendael, April 2017

The global decline in the labour income share: Is capital the answer to Germany’s current account surplus?
Bruegel, April 2017

Investments in green and social sectors can create 2.8 million jobs in the EU
Fondation Européenne d’Études Progressistes, April 2017

The effect of income distribution and fiscal policy on growth, investment, and budget balance: The case of Europe
Fondation Européenne d’Études Progressistes, April 2017

Social investment first! A precondition for a modern social Europe
European Policy Centre, March 2017

Closing routes to retirement: how do people respond?
Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, March 2017

The role of aggregate preferences for labor supply: Evidence from low-paid employment
Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, March 2017

Social harmonization and labor market performance in Europe
Center for Social and Economic Research, March 2017

Social harmonization in the eyes of Polish stakeholders: in search of consensus
Center for Social and Economic Research, March 2017

Listened to, but not heard? Social partners’ multilevel involvement in the European Semester
European Social Observatory, March 2017

Social policy in the EU: Reform barometer 2016. Social inclusion monitor Europe
Bertelsmann Stiftung, European Bureau for Policy Consulting and Social Research, University of St. Gallen, February 2017

Promouvoir l’Europe sociale: La quête du progrès pendant “l’ère Delors”
Notre Europe, February 2017

Women’s economic empowerment at international level
Overseas Development Institute, February 2017

Ambiguities of social Europe: Political agenda setting among trade unionists from Central and Eastern Europe and Western Europe
Max Planck Institut für Gesellschaftsforschung, February 2017

Feasibility and added value of a European unemployment benefits scheme
Centre for European Policy Studies, February 2017

Design of a European unemployment benefit scheme
Centre for European Policy Studies, February 2017

Europe’s new social reality: The case against universal basic income
Policy Network, February 2017

L’introduction du salaire minimum en Allemagne: Un premier bilan
Institut français des relations internationales, February 2017

Les clés d’un nouveau modèle social: La révolution du revenu universel
La Vie des Idées, February 2017

Comment financer le revenu universel?
La Vie des Idées, February 2017

Les jeunes, ces citoyens de seconde zone
La Vie des Idées, February 2017

Should pensions be redistributive? The impact of Spanish reforms on the system’s sustainability and adequacy
Fundación de Estudios de Economía Aplicada, February 2017

British business strategy, EU social and employment policy and the emerging politics of Brexit
Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute, February 2017

Social Policy in the European Union: State of play
European Trade Union Institute, January 2017

Towards a European pillar of social rights: Upgrading the EU social acquis
College of Europe, January 2017

The free movement of people: Principle, stakes and challenges
Fondation Robert Schuman, January 2017

Contextual determinants of citizens’ support for gender equality in leadership positions across Europe
Mannheimer Zentrum für Europäische Sozialforschung, January 2017

Effectiveness of early retirement disincentives: Individual welfare, distributional and fiscal implications
Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, January 2017

Why is it so hard to reach the EU’s ‘poverty’ target?
Bruegel, January 2017

A European unemployment benefits scheme: Lessons from Canada
Centre for European Policy Studies, January 2017

Will a European unemployment benefits scheme affect labour mobility?
Centre for European Policy Studies, December 2016

Personal pensions in the European Union
Lithuanian Free Market Institute, December 2016

The future of work: Challenges for men and women
Research Institute of the Finnish Economy, November 2016

Rethinking the EU’s investment strategy: EFSI 2.0 needs a Social Pillar to address economic insecurity
European Policy Centre, November 2016

What is the cost of total pension provision and who pays the bill? Cross-national comparison of pension contributions
Finnish Centre for Pensions, November 2016

The reform of the posted workers directive
Fondation Robert Schuman, October 2016

An anatomy of inclusive growth in Europe
Bruegel, October 2017

Chances and risks of a European unemployment benefit scheme
Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung, October 2016

Paternity and parental leave policies across the European Union
Rand Europe, October 2016

Maternity leave policies: Trade-offs between labour market demands and health benefits for children
Rand Europe, October 2016

What role can minimum wages play in overcoming the low-wage model in Central and Eastern Europe?
European Trade Union Institute, October 2016

Is there such a thing as “Social Europe”?
Notre Europe, September 2016

Automatic stabilizers for the euro area and the European social model
Notre Europe, September 2016

Social Europe at a crossroads
Clingendael, September 2016

The stabilisation properties of a European unemployment benefits scheme
Centre for European Policy Studies, September 2016

Equal rights for all families: Applying human rights principles in national and EU policy-making
Foundation for European Progressive Studies, September 2016

Social Europe, but how? A view from Sweden
Clingendael, July 2015

Labour mobility in the EU: Addressing challenges and ensuring ‘fair mobility’
Centre for European Policy Studies, July 2016

A web tool-based equal gender pay analysis for a competitive Europe (equal pacE): Overview, elements and lessons learned
Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Köln, July 2016

Labour market and social policy in Italy: Challenges and changes
Bertelsmann Stiftung, June 2016

The European pillar of social rights: Critical legal analysis and proposals
European Trade Union Institute, June 2016

Too little, too late? Evaluating the European Works Councils Recast directive
European Trade Union Institute, June 2016

Access to social benefits for EU mobile citizens: “Tourism” or myth?
Notre Europe, June 2016

Social benefits and cross-border mobility
Notre Europe, June 2016

Filed under: Economic and Social Policies, PUBLICATIONS Tagged: briefings, economic and monetary union (EMU), labour market, Marcin Grajewski, social policy, social rights, what think tanks are thinking, work-life balance
Catégories: European Union

What is Europe doing for its citizens? European Parliament Open Days 2017

ven, 05/05/2017 - 14:00

Written by Etienne Bassot,

Has the European Union made a difference to your life? If you are an EU citizen, the answer is certainly ‘yes’. The European Union is constantly working to improve the lives of European citizens. More than 500 million people in the EU Member States see their work, study, leisure and family lives benefiting in many ways, large or small, from the policies and legislation of the European Union.

The European Parliament makes an essential, and often decisive, contribution to shaping those laws and policies. Parliament’s 751 Members represent each and every European citizen, ensuring that decisions which affect them are taken not by unknown officials but by the democratically elected representatives of the citizens of all Member States. Members of the European Parliament continue today to focus on closing any gap between their constituents’ expectations and what the EU delivers.

Download our compendium of At a glance notes prepared for these open days (available in DE, EN, FR and NL)

The ideals behind the European Union: human dignity and human rights; freedom and democracy; and respect for the rule of law; underpin all its actions, and with these values firmly in mind the European Parliament makes, debates, revises or rejects, EU laws and policies. Parliament works with Council and Commission to seek consensus between all Member States on the best way to ensure all citizens enjoy the protection of their rights and the opportunity to live their lives in freedom and prosperity.

On 6 May 2017, the European Parliament is holding its annual Open Days, giving European citizens the opportunity to visit their Parliament to see what it does and how it works. A second Open Days event is planned in Strasbourg on 14 May 2017. If you are unable to travel to Brussels or Strasbourg, why not take a look at our briefing notes? These give a small sample of the many areas in which EU action has helped to improve – and continues to benefit – the lives of men and women, young and old across the European Union.

Filed under: BLOG Tagged: At a glance, citizens, Etienne Bassot, EU institutions
Catégories: European Union

Outlook for Brexit negotiations

jeu, 04/05/2017 - 18:00

Written by Carmen-Cristina Cîrlig,

© vchalup / Fotolia

On 29 March 2017, Theresa May, the UK Prime Minister, officially notified the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union (EU), following the previous year’s referendum which resulted in a narrow vote to leave the EU (by 51.9 % to 48.1 %). Despite the EU and the UK being about to start negotiations, with a common aim of delivering an orderly withdrawal and minimising the negative impact on citizens and businesses, many issues remain far from clear.

Withdrawing from the EU: Article 50

The Lisbon Treaty introduced for the first time in the EU’s history the explicit possibility for a Member State to withdraw from the EU – a possibility open to some doubt prior to Article 50 being added in the Treaty on European Union (TEU). Article 50 now offers the only legal way for a Member State to exit the Union.

There are no substantive conditions in the EU Treaties relating to a Member State’s right to withdraw, apart from the procedure set out in Article 50 TEU:

  • The process starts when the withdrawing Member State (the UK) notifies formally the European Council of its intention to leave the EU; the European Council, meeting as 27, then issues guidelines for the negotiation and conclusion of an agreement on the withdrawal, which should take into account the framework for the future relationship between the EU and the UK.
  • The UK and EU have two years to negotiate a withdrawal agreement; if such an agreement cannot be reached within that timeframe, UK membership of the EU comes to an end, unless the period is extended by common accord of the UK and the European Council, acting unanimously.
  • The withdrawal agreement is negotiated by the EU, in accordance with the procedure set out in Article 218(3) TFEU and in the light of the European Council’s guidelines. On the basis of recommendations from the European Commission, the Council adopts negotiating directives and appoints the Union negotiator (which will be the Commission).
  • The Council concludes the withdrawal agreement (with a ‘super qualified majority’ among the 27 remaining Member States: 72 % of the participating Member States, comprising at least 65 % of their population) after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament (EP) with a majority of the votes cast.
  • Ratification of the withdrawal agreement by the remaining EU Member States is not required.
  • Any subsequent international agreement(s) on the future relationship between the EU and the UK would also have to go through Member States’ national ratification procedures, unless it or they falls completely under the EU’s exclusive competence.

During the exit negotiations, the UK will not take part in discussions within the Council and the European Council related to withdrawal, but Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) elected in the UK – as representatives of all EU citizens – will be able to take part in all EP debates on the withdrawal process and vote on the eventual deal. For issues not related to Brexit, the UK will continue to enjoy all the rights and obligations of an EU Member State until the withdrawal takes effect. Once the UK leaves the Union, EU law will cease to apply to the UK and its overseas countries and territories. International agreements between the EU and third countries will also no longer apply to the UK. The Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) could be called upon to rule on various aspects of the withdrawal, including a withdrawal deal’s compatibility with EU law.

Recent developments

On 29 March 2017, the UK Prime Minister notified the European Council of the UK’s intention to withdraw from the EU, in accordance with Article 50 TEU; the UK will also withdraw from the Euratom Treaty (covering cooperation in nuclear energy). Furthermore, the UK government clarified that it would not seek continued membership of the EU Single Market, but rather rely on a comprehensive free trade deal with the EU. On 30 March 2017, the UK government published a White Paper on its planned Great Repeal Bill, which would revoke the 1972 European Communities Act, which gives effect to EU law in the UK, as from the day of the withdrawal, as well as transpose most existing EU law into UK law.

Meeting at a Special European Council on 29 April, the 27 Heads of State or Government adopted the political guidelines which will form the basis for the negotiations with the UK, in line with Article 50 TEU. Accordingly, the EU will conduct the negotiations with the UK in unity, in transparency, and as a single package (nothing is agreed until everything is agreed). Any deal with the UK must be based on a balance of rights and obligations, while the integrity of the Single Market, the EU’s decision-making autonomy and the role of the CJEU will be preserved. The guidelines set out a phased approach to the negotiations: in a first phase, the negotiations should aim to provide clarity and legal certainty to citizens, businesses and international partners on the immediate effects of Brexit, as well as to disentangle the UK from its commitments as a Member State; in a second phase, if the European Council decides sufficient progress has been achieved on the withdrawal deal, preliminary discussions could take place on the framework for the future EU-UK relationship (any agreement(s) would be finalised and concluded once the UK becomes a third country), as well as regarding any possible transitional arrangements following the withdrawal. The 27 EU leaders reaffirmed that the first priority for negotiations was to safeguard the status and rights of EU and UK citizens derived from EU law, and sought a single financial settlement to ensure compliance with the obligations resulting from the entire duration of the UK’s membership of the EU. The procedural arrangements previously set out in the statement of 27 Heads of State or Government of 15 December 2016 were confirmed.

On 5 April 2017, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the negotiations with the UK, setting out the EP’s priorities and red lines for the future talks, with citizens being the main concern for the EP. The integrity of the Single Market and the EU’s fundamental freedoms, settling financial matters, the issue of Northern Ireland and its peace process are other priorities for Parliament. The EP also stated its wish for fair and close future relations between the EU and the UK, after Brexit.

Potential timeline

Following the UK notification and the European Council guidelines, the Commission made its recommendation to the Council on 3 May that talks be opened with the UK. The General Affairs Council should then, on 22 May 2017, adopt the negotiating directives and appoint the Commission as the Union negotiator. The Commission has already nominated Michel Barnier as its chief negotiator. According to the Commission, the actual negotiating period would only be around 18 months, to allow time for the conclusion of the withdrawal deal (EP consent, and conclusion of the agreement by the Council) to be completed in time for the 29 March 2019 deadline for UK membership of the EU to end (if the negotiating period is not extended). The UK government has committed to submitting a final deal to the UK Parliament for a yes or no vote, before the EP votes on the matter. It is unclear what would happen if the UK Parliament were to vote to reject a final deal.


The future EU-UK relationship

The withdrawal agreement is expected to address issues concerning acquired rights, including the legal status of British and EU citizens; the phasing-out of EU programmes and funding; UK disengagement from the EU budget; border issues; the relocation of the UK-based EU agencies; and EU international agreements to which the UK would no longer be party. The negotiations on the future EU-UK relationship will touch upon many more dimensions. Besides the future trade and economic relationship, parameters for cooperation will need to be established in various fields, such as foreign policy, security and defence, police and judicial cooperation, freedom to travel and immigration, environment and climate change, transport, agriculture and fisheries, higher education and research. Both sides have expressed the wish for a close future partnership.

Read this ‘At a glance’ publication on ‘Outlook for Brexit negotiations‘ in PDF.

Filed under: Institutional and Legal Affairs, PUBLICATIONS Tagged: At a glance, Carmen-Cristina Cîrlig, EU situation, European political Union, european treaties, european union membership, Lisbon Treaty, United Kingdom
Catégories: European Union

EU support for media freedom – looking East: Turkey, Western Balkans, Eastern Partnership, Russia

mer, 03/05/2017 - 17:00

Written by Naja Bentzen, Velina Lilyanova, Philippe Perchoc, Martin Russell, with Clare Ferguson

Each year, on 3 May, UNESCO reminds the world of the importance of press freedom to creating peaceful societies which value justice and human rights. This year’s World Press Freedom Day takes the theme of ‘Critical Minds for Critical Times’, underlining the growing role of misinformation campaigns and ‘fake news’ in today’s global political landscape. While UNESCO highlights the fundamental principles of press freedom around the world, and the challenge to democracy posed by attacks on the media and journalists themselves, the EU also acts to support media freedom, particularly in its Eastern neighbourhood.

See also our topical digest on:
Truth, the media and the public sphere

Following the failed military coup of July 2016, media freedom in Turkey has deteriorated dramatically. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Union and the Council of Europe have all raised concerns regarding the number of media workers imprisoned. The European Parliament condemns the rising number of arrests of journalists, and is concerned by the ‘backsliding in democratic reforms, and in particular the government’s diminishing tolerance of public protest and critical media’. Of the 130 journalists, media workers and writers arrested following the coup, only 64 have been released. Calling for the immediate release of journalists held without proof of criminal activity, Parliament also notes that journalists are detained in deplorable conditions, and that the closure of many media outlets leaves many out of work. The Turkish government’s repressive measures have led Parliament to request that ‘the Commission and the Member States … initiate a temporary freeze of the ongoing [EU] accession negotiations with Turkey’.

How to spot when news is fake

Media freedom is a core EU value and a cornerstone of democracy, and thus a priority reform area in the Western Balkans’ EU accession agenda. Nevertheless, in spite of a certain level of preparedness and a broadly developed legal framework, media freedom in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo continues to face systemic shortcomings that require long-term sustained efforts. These efforts have stalled in recent years. Transition to media freedom in the region remains incomplete and ‘no progress’ has been made in improving the overall environment. Intimidation of journalists continues, and the political grip on public broadcasting is matched by the opacity of funding in private media. As media freedom is an enlargement priority, Parliament is increasingly concerned by the lack of progress on media freedom in the Western Balkans.

Media freedom also has high priority in the EU’s political dialogue with the six Eastern Partnership countries. Since the 2015 Eastern Partnership Media Conference, media freedom has seen limited changes in these countries. While Ukraine has made progress, for example, Moldova has slipped in the international media freedom rankings – and the Kremlin’s increasing information activities present a difficult challenge to media freedom policies. The EU East StratCom Task Force publishes a weekly newsletter exposing disinformation published in Russia and elsewhere by pro-Kremlin media. The task force also produces a Russian-language website with information and infographics on the EU targeted at readers in Russia and neighbouring countries.

In Russia itself, the state controls strategic media (such as national TV) and restricts independent media and the internet through increasingly repressive legislation. However, scope for media pluralism remains, with a few outlets openly criticising the authorities. Current tensions between the EU and Russia make direct EU support for Russian media difficult. Recent financial support within Russia has been limited to two projects, funded by the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights. The EU also provides regular seminars for Russian journalists explaining the priorities of each new Council presidency. Some EU funding for independent media is also channelled through the European Endowment for Democracy.

Sustainable changes in media freedom do not happen overnight. But beneath the surface, EU-funded projects and programmes are contributing to changing media landscapes. The European Parliament consistently promotes and supporting freedom of the press and freedom of expression in its Eastern neighbourhood.

EPRS Publications
Filed under: BLOG Tagged: Clare Ferguson, freedom of expression, Martin Russell, media, Naja Bentzen, Philippe Perchoc, press freedom
Catégories: European Union

Reduced VAT rate for e-publications [EU Legislation in Progress]

mar, 02/05/2017 - 18:00

Written by Cécile Remeur (1st edition),

© Vincenzo De Bernardo/ Fotolia

The fact that print and digital publications are currently subject to separate value added tax (VAT) rates essentially means that products that are considered to be comparable and substitutable are being treated differently to one another. This situation results from rules which, on the one hand, allow Member States to apply reduced rates to printed publications, but on the other exclude this possibility for digital publications. In addition, the recent evolution in the VAT framework means that VAT on digital services should be levied in the Member State where the consumer is based (thus protecting the single market from application of different rates within a Member State because of the different location of providers).

The question of broadening the possibility to apply reduced rates to all publications, be they print or digital, is addressed in the proposal presented as part of the VAT digital single market package, and adopted by the European Commission on 1 December 2016.

Interactive PDF Proposal for a Council directive amending Directive 2006/112/EC, as regards rates of value added tax applied to books, newspapers and periodicals
Committee responsible: Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) COM(2016) 758

Consultation procedure – Parliament adopts a non-binding opinion)

Rapporteur: Tom Vandenkendelaere (EPP, Belgium) Shadow rapporteurs:





  Mady Delvaux (S&D, Luxembourg)

Bernd Lucke (ECR, Germany)

Cora Van Nieuwenhuizen (ALDE, the Netherlands)

Paloma López Bermejo (GUE/NGL, Spain)

Molly Scott Cato (Greens/EFA, UK)

Barbara Kappel (ENF, Austria) Next steps expected: Committee vote

Filed under: Economic and Social Policies, PUBLICATIONS Tagged: book trade, briefings, Cécile Remeur, culture, electronic document, EPRS briefings, EU Legislation in Progress, publication, taxation, VAT rate
Catégories: European Union

Revision of EU financial rules [EU Legislation in Progress]

mar, 02/05/2017 - 14:00

Written by Rafał Mańko (1st  edition),

© iQoncept / Fotolia

In September 2016, the Commission tabled a proposal for a new Financial Regulation which would replace the current one (together with its Rules of Application), as well as amend 14 other sectoral regulations and a decision each also containing financial rules. The Commission justifies its proposal by the need to simplify EU financial rules and make them more flexible. The proposal was submitted within the framework of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) mid-term revision package. However, the Court of Auditors, in its Opinion No 1/2017, identified a number of shortcomings in the Commission proposal, especially with regard to its own financial governance standards.

Versions Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and amending Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002, Regulations (EU) No 1296/2013, (EU) No 1301/2013, (EU) No 1303/2013, EU No 1304/2013, (EU) No 1305/2013, (EU) No 1306/2013, (EU) No 1307/2013, (EU) No 1308/2013, (EU) No 1309/2013, (EU) No 1316/2013, (EU) No 223/2014,(EU) No 283/2014, (EU) No 652/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Decision No 541/2014/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council
Committee responsible: Budget (BUDG) and Budgetary Control (CONT) – jointly under Rule 55 COM(2016) 605

Ordinary legislative procedure (COD) (Parliament and Council on equal footing – formerly ‘co-decision’)


  Ingeborg Gräßle (EPP, Germany)

Richard Ashworth (ECR, UK) Shadow rapporteurs:






  Petri Sarvamaa (EPP, Finland)

Inés Ayala Sender (S&D, Spain) / Vladimír Maňka (S&D, Slovakia)

Nedzhmi Ali (ALDE, Bulgaria)

Liadh Ní Riada (GUE/NGL, Ireland)

Bart Staes (Greens/EFA, Belgium) / Indrek Tarand (Greens/EFA, Estonia)

Marco Valli (EFD, Italy) Next steps expected: Vote on draft report in committee

Filed under: EU Financing / Budgetary Affairs, PUBLICATIONS Tagged: briefings, EPRS briefings, EU budget, EU Legislation in Progress, European Union, financial regulation, implementation of the EU budget, Rafał Mańko
Catégories: European Union

Using technology in the fight against drug addiction

mar, 02/05/2017 - 14:00

Written by Gianluca Quaglio and Amr Dawood,


Disorders due to the abuse of licit and illicit drugs are a major public health concern in the EU, with considerable interpersonal, physical and societal consequences. In the EU, 23 million people are affected by alcohol-related disorders, 24 % of the population smoke, and more than 16 million Europeans (aged 15–34) have used cannabis in the last year. It is estimated that about 2.4 million young adults have used cocaine in the last 12 months.

The sheer magnitude of the problem calls for wide-ranging and effective mitigation and prevention strategies. As part of this response, technology-based interventions for substance-use disorders include computer-assisted behaviour therapies, education, prevention and information interventions, recovery support programmes and wellness monitoring.

A study published by STOA in March 2017, provides a critical literature review on the efficacy of technology-based interventions for drug addiction management. A survey among European experts in the field of addiction was also carried out for the purposes of the study. The study shows that new technologies have the potential to provide parallel or alternative instruments of information, prevention and treatment in the addiction field.

Read the study on ‘Technological innovation strategies in substance use disorders‘ here.

The widespread and growing availability of new technologies presents an opportunity for broad dissemination and increased access to treatment. This opens up enormous possibilities, as a great number of people with substance-use disorders do not seek treatment at present. This means that existing treatment options are not suitable or sufficiently interesting for all subjects with addiction-related problems, and new modes of therapy should be considered and explored.

The number of technology-based interventions applied to substance use disorders has increased greatly in Europe over the past decade. With the development of new internet-based treatments worldwide, knowledge in this specific field is growing steadily. Despite encouraging progress, computer-based treatments for substance-use disorders need to be evaluated with caution. Across research studies, there are methodological difficulties, such as a lack of common definitions, selection biases, inappropriate research designs, difficulties in mounting randomised clinical trials, and uncertain conclusions drawn from findings. There is, however, sufficient evidence to continue to investigate the benefits, but also the limits, of new technologies for substance-use disorders. The evidence gathered to date emphasises the potential of this approach to affect, and perhaps, in the near future, to deeply transform, existing models of health care delivery in the field of addiction.

To keep up to date with this project and other STOA activities, follow our website, the EPRS blog, Twitter and Think Tank pages. We would be grateful if you would also complete the feedback questionnaire on the STOA website (on the list of studies first click on the title of the study and then on the link ‘Your opinion counts for us. Click here.’).

Filed under: BLOG, Economic and Social Policies, Institutional and Legal Affairs, PUBLICATIONS Tagged: Amr Dawood, drugs, Gianluca Quaglio, illicit drugs, public health, STOA, technology
Catégories: European Union

Reducing air pollution: National emission ceilings for air pollutants [EU Legislation in Progress]

lun, 23/01/2017 - 11:00

Written by Didier Bourguignon (6th edition)

© daizuoxin / Fotolia

Despite significant progress in recent decades, air pollution levels in the European Union still have adverse impacts on the environment and on health. The European Commission estimates that health-related costs of air pollution in the EU range from 390 to 940 billion euros per year.

The proposed directive, which would replace the current National Emission Ceilings Directive, sets binding national reduction objectives for six air pollutants (SO2, NOx, NMVOCs, NH3, PM2.5 and CH4) to be met by 2020 and 2030. It will also implement the Gothenburg Protocol as amended in 2012. The European Commission estimates that implementation costs would range from 2.2 to 3.3 billion euros per year.

After completion of the legislative procedure at first reading in the European Parliament and the Council, the presidents of the co-legislators signed the final act on 14 December 2016. Member States are required to transpose the new directive into national law by 1 July 2018.

Versions Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the reduction of national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants and amending Directive 2003/35/EC

Committee responsible:


Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI)

Julie Girling (ECR, UK)

COM(2013)920 of 18.12.2013

procedure ref.: 2013/0443(COD)


Ordinary legislative procedure

Procedure completed: Directive (EU) 2016/2284

OJ L 344, 17.12.2016, p. 1


Click to view slideshow.
Filed under: Economic and Social Policies, PUBLICATIONS Tagged: air quality, briefings, CO2 emissions, Didier Bourguignon, environment, EPRS briefings, EU Legislation in Progress, pollution

Reviving risk capital: The proposal to amend EuVECA and EuSEF [EU Legislation in Progress]

lun, 23/01/2017 - 10:30

Written by Angelos Delivorias (2nd edition),

© duncanandison / Fotolia

The European Venture Capital Funds (EuVECA) and European Social Entrepreneurship Funds (EuSEF) are collective investment schemes that have been harmonised at European Union (EU) level since 2011 by means of two Regulations: (EU) No 345/2013 (EuVECA) and (EU) No 346/2013 (EuSEF). In its 2016 review, the Commission noted that these funds remain small and concentrated in a few Member States and that, while the take-up of EuVECA could be considered successful, the EuSEF results have been disappointing. Three main obstacles to further growth have been identified: limitations imposed on managers; product rules; and the (varying) application of regulatory fees in Member States with regards to funds’ marketing and management. To overcome those obstacles, the Commission has identified some measures that − by removing limitations on larger managers managing EuVECA and EuSEF funds, decreasing costs for EuVECA and EuSEF funds, and broadening the range of eligible assets EuVECA funds may invest in − should increase investment into these funds.

Interactive PDF Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EU) No 345/2013 on European venture capital funds (EuVECA) and Regulation (EU) No 346/2013 on European social entrepreneurship funds (EuSEF) Committee responsible:


Shadow rapporteurs:



  Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON)

Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP, Finland)

Andrea Cozzolino (S&D, Italy)

Syed Kamall (ECR, UK)

Cora Van Nieuwenhuizen (ALDE, the Netherlands)

Marco Zanni (EFDD, Italy)

COM(2016)0461 14.07.2016, 2016/0221(COD)

Ordinary legislative procedure (COD) (Parliament and Council on equal footing – formerly ‘co-decision’)

Next steps expected: Vote in Committee



Filed under: Economic and Social Policies, PUBLICATIONS Tagged: Angelos Delivorias, briefings, capital markets, EU Legislation in Progress, social venture capital

EU budget reform [What Think Tanks are thinking]

ven, 20/01/2017 - 14:00

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

© kemaltaner / Fotolia

A long-running discussion on reforming the European Union’s budget gained momentum when the High-Level Group on Own Resources, led by former Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, presented its report in January 2017. The report proposes simpler methods for funding the EU, to make it less reliant on direct contributions from Member States, and recommends that spending be focused on areas where the highest European added value can be achieved, now, for example migration and security emergencies.

The report, entitled ‘Future financing of the EU‘, lists and examines several options for new own resources, such as a reformed VAT-linked resource, an EU corporate tax, a financial transaction tax or taxes linked to efforts to fight climate change. It also proposes to explore other revenue sources stemming directly from the EU policies and programmes. The report will be taken into consideration by the European Commission and EU Member States when they work on the EU’s next long-term budget after 2020.

This note offers links to reports and commentaries from some major international think tanks and research institutes on the EU budget. Some papers also discuss whether the euro area should have its own, dedicated budget.

Brexit et budget de L’UE: Menace ou opportunité
Jacques Delors Institute, Bertelsmann Stiftung, January 2017

The future of the EU budget: Between dream and reality
Clingendael, December 2016

Reforming the EU’s Budget Revenue: The case for a visible VAT-based resource
Centre for European Policy Studies, November 2016

The multiannual financial framework post-2020: Balancing political ambition and realism
Centre for European Policy Studies, November 2016

The EU Budget’s mid-term review with its promising reform proposals the Commission lays the groundwork for the next, post-2020 budget
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, October 2016

A sustainable finance plan for the EU
E3G, October 2016

What are the prerequisites for a euro-area fiscal capacity?
Bruegel, September 2016

Can the EU spend more green? The CAP and the environment in future EU budgets
Policy Network, September 2016

The Impact of Brexit on the EU budget: A non-catastrophic event
Centre for European Policy Studies, September 2016

Is Horizon 2020 really more SME-friendly? A look at the figures
Centre for European Policy Studies, September 2016

Keeping Europeans together: Assessing the state of EU cohesion
European Council on Foreign Relations, September 2016

The potential and limitations of reforming the financing of the EU budget
Centre for European Policy Studies, CATT/UPPA, University of London July 2016

Brexiting yourself in the foot: Why Britain’s eurosceptic regions have most to lose from EU withdrawal
Centre for European Reform, June 2016

EU budgetary responses to the ‘Refugee Crisis’ reconfiguring the funding landscape
Centre for European Policy Studies, May 2016

The budget of the European Union: A guide
Institute for Fiscal Studies, April 2016

The economic strategy of stateless nations in the framework of the European cohesion
Centre Maurits Coppieters, March 2016

Which fiscal union for the euro area?
Bruegel, February 2016

Federalising the Eurozone: Towards a true European budget
Institute Affaire Insternazionali, December 2015

Flexibility in the EU Budget: Are there limits?
Clingendael, December 2015

The political economy of the 2014-2020 Common Agricultural Policy: An imperfect storm
Centre for European Policy Studies, August 2015

Reforming the financing of the European Union: A proposal
Centre for European Economic Research, May 2015

Filed under: EU Financing / Budgetary Affairs, PUBLICATIONS Tagged: At a glance, EU budget, financing, Marcin Grajewski, what think tanks are thinking

Digital skills in the EU labour market

ven, 20/01/2017 - 14:00

Written by Monika Kiss,

© kantver / Fotolia

Information and communications technologies (ICT) play an increasingly important role in our professional and private lives, and digital competence is of growing importance for every individual. In the future, nearly all jobs will require digital skills.

However, European Commission figures show that two fifths of the EU workforce have little or no digital skills. In addition, despite continued high levels of unemployment, there could be 756 000 unfilled jobs in the European ICT sector by 2020.

This situation is even more challenging in certain geographical areas (such as south-eastern Europe), among socially vulnerable groups (in particular, the unemployed and the disabled) and the elderly. Despite favourable developments in the digital literacy of citizens, the digital gap needs to be narrowed further.

Digitalisation has several impacts on the labour market. On the one hand, new business models, products and machines create new jobs, while on the other hand, automation contributes to the elimination of jobs or their relocation to countries with lower labour costs. To remedy this situation, developing the digital skills of the EU workforce is essential.

Reducing the mismatch between the skills available and those demanded for the digital transformation of the economy has been a key EU-level priority over the past decade. For instance, a 2008 communication entitled ‘New skills for new jobs’ emphasised the increasing need for digital skills in the shift to a low-carbon economy. Furthermore, the 2010 Digital Agenda recognised the need for indicators to measure the extent of digital competence in the EU. This was implemented through the development of the Digital Competence Framework (‘Dig Comp’), enabling citizens to evaluate their digital skills, and the Digital Economy and Society Index (‘DESI’), summarising relevant indicators on Europe’s digital performance and tracking the evolution of EU Member States in the area of digital competitiveness.

The Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs, a multi-stakeholder partnership created in 2013, aims to facilitate collaboration between business and education providers, and between public and private actors, and has already created 60 functional pledges in 13 countries.

The 2016 New Skills Agenda aims to improve the quality of skills training and to make the skills acquired more visible and comparable from one country to another. Data on ICT skills should also be improved in order to better anticipate developments and help people make better career choices. Skills acquired in non-formal ways should also be assessed and validated.

Possible solutions developed in the EU Member States include encouraging and enabling people to acquire the skills needed, enhancing the labour mobility of digitally skilled people and promoting cross-border skills policies. Improving skills supply can be done by encouraging people to offer their skills on the labour market and by retaining skilled people in the labour market. Putting skills to effective use by creating better matches between skills offered and demanded, and by increasing the demand for high-level skills can also contribute to improving the situation.

Read the complete in-depth analysis on ‘Digital skills in the EU labour market‘.

Filed under: Economic and Social Policies, PUBLICATIONS Tagged: digital skills, employment and work, In-depth analysis, Information Technology, labour market, Monika Kiss

EU pledges further aid to Jordan [EU Legislation in Progress]

ven, 20/01/2017 - 08:30

Written by Krisztina Binder (3rd edition),

© boldg / Fotolia`

Since 2011, Jordan’s economy has suffered from the negative spill-overs of the on-going regional conflicts and the Syrian refugee crisis, weakening the country’s fiscal and external financing position. In line with the EU’s objective to support the stability and development of Jordan’s economy, the European Commission has presented a proposal to grant the country a second package of macro-financial assistance (MFA). Amounting to a maximum of €200 million, the assistance would help the country cover a part of its external financing needs. The first MFA package, worth €180 million, was approved in 2013 and fully disbursed in 2015. In addition to the significant resources mobilised by the multilateral and bilateral donors, this second MFA, adopted in December 2016, will, by strengthening the economy, contribute to Jordan’s overall stability, which is a high priority for the EU. The Commission will, if appropriate, put forward a new proposal in 2017 to extend and increase this MFA to Jordan. EU aid will complement the International Monetary Fund’s new programme of about US$723 million, focusing on the country’s economic and financial reform programme.

See also our at a glance note
Parliamentary elections in Jordan

Versions Proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council providing further macro-financial assistance to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan Committee responsible:


Shadow rapporteurs:





  International Trade (INTA)

Emmanuel Maurel (S&D, France)

Salvatore Cicu (EPP, Italy)

Sander Loones (ECR, Belgium)
Marielle de Sarnez (ALDE, France)

Lola Sánchez Caldentey (GUE/NGL, Spain)

Klaus Buchner (Greens/EFA, Germany)

David Borrelli (EFDD, Italy) COM(2016)431 of 29.6.2016, 2016/0197(COD)

Ordinary legislative procedure (COD) (Parliament and Council on equal footing – formerly ‘co-decision’) Procedure completed Decision (EU) No 2016/2371

OJ L 352, 23.12.2016, p. 18

Filed under: International Relations, PUBLICATIONS Tagged: briefings, EU Legislation in Progress, European neighbourhood policy, Jordan, Krisztina Binder, Mediterranean and Middle East

Making difficult decisions in agriculture: STOA Workshop

jeu, 19/01/2017 - 18:00

Written by Mihalis Kritikos and Nera Kuljanic,

Sergey Nivens / Fotolia

Scientists have new technological answers to the twin challenges of limiting emissions and feeding a growing population which is simultaneously shrinking the space left for cultivation. However, these answers in turn pose their own ethical and risk management questions. Societal actors and a wide range of stakeholders have long sought to broaden the scope of authorisation and regulation of agricultural biotechnologies to take into account the relevant socio-economic impacts. Assessing the socio-economic sustainability, societal benefits and ethical acceptability of agricultural biotechnologies in the frame of the established risk assessment procedures has, for a long time, been debated at both EU and international levels. However, the increasingly rapid developments in the field of genetic engineering and synthetic biology trigger a need to re-examine the traditional risk assessment model and explore the deployment of methodologies that may further reinforce the responsiveness and inclusiveness of the current framework.

On 25 January 2017, STOA is organising a workshop to discuss these issues, continuing STOA’s practice of discussing the socio-ethical dimensions of techno-scientific developments. The workshop will be chaired by Marijana Petir, MEP and STOA Panel member. Former President (2010-2016) of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE), Julian Kinderlerer, will give the opening presentation on innovation and bioethics, and will moderate the event.

What to expect from the event?

The workshop will provide space for a debate on this challenging aspect of public policy and will offer the opportunity to analyse the feasibility and necessity for inclusion of socio-economic considerations into the current framework.

The various methodological options for assessment, the role of participatory involvement in risk governance and the practical steps and indicators that could be introduced in risk assessment and decision-making related to synthetic biology and genetic modification in agriculture will be discussed by Helge Torgersen, of the Institute of Technology Assessment, Austrian Academy of Sciences, and Anne Ingeborg Myhr, of the Genøk-Centre for Biosafety, Tromsø, Norway. For example, in Norway, sustainability, benefit to society and ethics are important criteria in GMO assessment prior to cultivation, import, and use as food or feed. The workshop will look at how this has evolved.

Put simply, if a measure, an action or a policy could harm the public or the environment, and there is no scientific consensus that it is not harmful, then one willing to act must prove the absence of danger. This is known as the precautionary principle, which belongs to the domain of risk management. However, there are differences in the way this is defined and applied across the world. Amir Muzur, from the School of Medicine, University of Rijeka, Croatia, will speak on the comparison between application in the EU and the USA.

How could policy-makers in the EU deal with socio-ethical considerations, as well as the regulatory challenges raised by scientific uncertainty, the speed of technological advance, technological complexity and issues related to public perception? How is this shaping decision-making in the field of agricultural biotechnologies? Register for the workshop before 20 January 2017 and take part in the discussion.

Filed under: BLOG, Events Tagged: agriculture, events, Mihalis Kritikos, Nera Kuljanic, STOA

Crowdfunding in Europe: Introduction and state of play

jeu, 19/01/2017 - 14:00

Written by Angelos Delivorias,

© blende11.photo / Fotolia

Crowdfunding is a relatively ‘young’ form of financing – especially for SMEs and start-ups, but also for not-for-profit projects – that is developing fast in Europe. While researchers point out its benefits, among them the fact that project owners have greater control, and financial risk is spread among a larger number of people, they also note its drawbacks. The latter include a high cost of capital, occasional displays of a ‘herd mentality’, capable of depriving potentially worthier projects of adequate funding, and risks for investors from incompetence or fraud on the part of the project owners, and unclear regulations.

The European Commission (through a communication and two reports) and the European Parliament (through three resolutions) have taken an active interest in this form of financing. As a result, the Commission recently conducted a study on the state of the European crowdfunding market. It found that, while crowdfunding is developing fast, it is still concentrated in a few countries (the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands), which have introduced tailored domestic regimes, and that it remains, for the time being, a national phenomenon with limited cross-border activity. The study therefore concluded that for the moment there is no strong case for EU-level policy intervention. Nonetheless, given the encouraging trends and the potential of crowdfunding to become a key source of financing for SMEs over the long term, the Commission noted that it will maintain regular dialogue with European supervisory authorities, Member States and the crowdfunding sector to monitor and review its development.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Crowdfunding in Europe: Introduction and state of play‘.

Filed under: Economic and Social Policies, PUBLICATIONS Tagged: Angelos Delivorias, briefings, credit, crowdfunding, EPRS briefings, financing, investment, small and medium-sized enterprises

Fostering social innovation in the European Union

jeu, 19/01/2017 - 08:30

Written by Nora Milotay and Giovanni Liva,

© laufer / Fotolia

Strengthening the social dimensions of European Union policies, in general, and of the economic and monetary union, in particular is an increasingly important discourse across the Member States, particularly since the 2008 financial crisis. Social innovation, which is gaining increasing importance in the public, private and third (i.e. voluntary, non-profit) sectors, can greatly contribute to addressing the growing challenges, such as migration, poverty and global warming. The European Union particularly promotes social innovation through employment and social policies as well as policies on the single market.

The main initiatives explicitly target the governance and funding mechanism of social innovation, including its regulatory environment, powering public-sector innovation, the social economy, as well as providing policy guidance and fostering new policy practices. Due to the complexity of the concept and ecosystem of social innovation and its very diverse contexts in the Member States, European Union policies have varied impact: regulations can have controversial effects in terms of visibility of initiatives, and many organisations still cannot access sufficient funding. To make these initiatives more effective it is important to know more about the impact of social innovation, including its social and environmental value and the importance of these for the economy.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Fostering social innovation in the European Union‘.

Filed under: Economic and Social Policies, PUBLICATIONS Tagged: briefings, EPRS briefings, Giovanni Liva, Nora Milotay, social innovation, social policy

With a unified approach, the EU could boost its global role – EPRS conference

mer, 18/01/2017 - 18:00

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

EPRS – EP-EUI Policy Roundtable: Global Economic governance: what role for the EU ?

Economic decisions taken at inter- and supranational level have recently come under fire from populists and protectionists. However, with better coordination between Member States, the European Union could play a stronger role in representing the needs of its citizens in global economic governance. Concerted pressure from EU and euro area countries acting together in fora such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), or the G20, would help to make the world’s economic decision-making system more transparent and accountable, according to politicians and analysts speaking at a conference organised by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS). The event, entitled ‘Global economic governance: what role for the EU?’, took place in the European Parliament Library Reading Room on 12 January 2017.

The damaging financial crunch of 2008 and the ensuing recession have forced the IMF, the G20 informal group of the world’s biggest economies, the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Basel Committee of central banks, and other institutions, to act urgently to try to restore economic growth and ward off any repetition of such economic disaster. But the crisis, which has destroyed tens of millions of jobs and thrown millions into poverty, has undermined popular trust in traditional elites. The conference heard that public opinion has turned against globalisation and in favour of trade protectionism.

Sylvie Goulard, MEP (FR/ALDE), Member of the EP’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs

Sylvie Goulard, member of the EP’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, said citizen’s growing distrust in the economic governance system has been exacerbated by its confusing and complicated nature. ‘I was not in a position to tell my voters: who decides on the economy, who is really taking a decision. Is it parliament or is the financial industry itself that frames the activity? Many citizens in the EU and elsewhere feel that they do not choose the people who are making decisions.’ Sylvie Goulard added that the IMF, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Basel Committee, and the World Trade Organization (WTO) all have a different status, based on different governance powers – while the G20 is not very democratic. ‘When the system is complicated, it should at least be transparent.’

According to many analysts, some of these global institutions could be more effective if reformed, notably to reflect the growing role of emerging markets, such as China or India, in the world economy. However, Elena Flores, Director for International economic and financial relations and global governance at the European Commission, pointed out that some EU and euro zone countries are sceptical of such reforms. The Member States also often fail to act together, weakening Europe’s hand in international negotiations. ‘The EU could really play a much stronger role than the one it plays today if it were more unified,’ Flores said. The Commission has long advocated a single representation for the euro area on the IMF board, but without success to date. Flores remarked that the euro area’s global role could also be boosted if internal reform led to the completion of economic and monetary union. Flores added that, when the EU and euro zone countries act together, they are more successful in promoting their ideas, such as economic policy coordination, economic peer review or combatting macroeconomic imbalances at the international fora.

Difficulties in global decision-making may grow after the inauguration of Donald Trump, an advocate of economic protectionism, as US President in January, remarked Bernard Hoekman, Robert Schuman Chair at the European University Institute in Florence. Hoekman noted that ‘we are heading towards an administration in the US, which is much less inclined to pursue (…) multilateral cooperation’. Hoekman added that populism and protectionism are also fuelled by the pressure that technological change and innovation is putting on many traditional jobs.

Joachim Koops, Dean of Vesalius College Brussels and Director of the Global Governance Institute

Speaking on the EU’s track record in economic decision-making, Joachim Koops, Dean of Vesalius College Brussels and Director of the Global Governance Institute, said the Union, along with the IMF, should critically examine its role in imposing reforms on crisis-stricken Greece. ‘For the first time, the global and regional organisations worked together in an unprecedented way … They had divergent views on how to handle the economic crisis and rebuild the Greek economy,’ he said. ‘That has had an impact on populist movements and knock-on effects on elites in other countries. Many discussions in the previously pro-EU elites in Britain referred to Greece as one element in their shift in opinion in favour of Brexit’, he added.


Click to view slideshow.
Filed under: BLOG, Events Tagged: EPRS Events, events, global governance, international relations, Marcin Grajewski

Plastic bags: EU’s response to reducing consumption

mar, 17/01/2017 - 14:00

Citizens want to know what the EU is doing to reduce the consumption of plastic bags given the negative impact on marine wildlife and the environment.

In the EU, plastic carrier bags are considered as packaging under Directive 94/62/EC. The use of plastic carrier bags result in littering and an inefficient use of resources. Moreover, the unmanaged disposal of these bags leads to environmental pollution and aggravates the widespread problem of litter in water bodies, threatening aquatic eco-systems worldwide.

Legal framework

Richard Carey / Fotolia

The Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packing waste, and the successive amendments, aim to harmonise national measures concerning the management of packaging and packaging waste in order, on the one hand, to prevent any impact thereof on the environment of all Member States as well as of third countries or to reduce such impact, thus providing a high level of environmental protection, and, on the other hand, to ensure the functioning of the internal market and to avoid obstacles to trade and distortion and restriction of competition within the Community.

Directive (EU) 2015/720 amending Directive 94/62/EC, defines measures to reduce the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags, including imposing charges or setting national maximum consumption targets.

Objective of EU directive on lightweight plastic bags

Directive 2015/720 entered into force on 26 May 2015 and deadline for transposition in Member States was by 27 November 2016.

The objective of the directive on lightweight plastic bags is to limit negative impacts on the environment, in particular in terms of littering, to encourage waste prevention and a more efficient use of resources, while limiting negative socio-economic impacts. More specifically, the proposal aims at reducing the consumption of plastic carrier bags with a thickness of below 50 microns (0.05 millimetres) in the European Union. There is an exemption for very light bags, intended for the protection of fresh produce.

The measures must include either one or both of the following:

  1. defining a maximum annual consumption level of:
    • 90 lightweight plastic carrier bags per person by the end of 2019 (a 50 % reduction compared to 2010) and
    • 40 lightweight plastic carrier bags per person by the end of 2025 (an 80 % reduction compared to 2010)
  2. ensuring that, by the end of 2018, lightweight plastic carrier bags are not provided free of charge at the point of sale of goods or products.

By 27 May 2017, the Commission should present a report to the European Parliament and to the Council, examining the impact of the use of ‘oxo-degradable’ plastic carrier bags on the environment and present a legislative proposal, if appropriate.

Parliamentary questions

MEPs have put several parliamentary written questions to the Commission on plastic bags. In its answer of 16 June 2015, the Commission stated that the ‘directive requires Member States to implement a predefined maximum national consumption objective and/or to put in place instruments ensuring that lightweight plastic carrier bags are not provided free of charge. The measures adopted by Member States have to be proportionate, non-discriminatory and non-protectionist.’

In its answer of 13 June 2016, the Commission sets out that it ‘is preparing an implementing act laying down the specifications for labelling or marking home-compostable lightweight plastic carrier bags. Furthermore, studies are being carried out on behalf of the Commission on the impact of the use of oxo-degradable plastic carrier bags on the environment and on the life cycle impacts of alternatives to very lightweight plastic carrier bags. Results are expected in the second half of 2016’.

In an answer of 1 July 2016, the Commission also explains that ‘Measures to be taken may involve the use of economic instruments and marketing restrictions. Measures may vary depending on the environmental impact of the lightweight plastic carrier bags when they are recovered or disposed of, their composting properties, durability or specific intended use’.

Further information

More details on packaging and packaging waste is available from the European Commission. The European Parliamentary Research Service keysource product highlights links to the views of stakeholders entitled ‘Plastic Bags, Forever?’.

Do you have any questions on this issue or another EP-related concern? Please use our web form. You write, we answer.

Filed under: BLOG, EP Answers Tagged: Citizens' enquiries, consumption, EP answers, Online publications, plastic waste