New rules for managing the EU external fishing fleet [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Irina Popescu (4th edition),

fishing fleet

© David Monjou / Fotolia

Following trilogue negotiations, the Parliament is to be asked to approve in plenary a revised system of issuing and managing fishing authorisations, intended to improve monitoring and transparency of the EU external fishing fleet. The new legislation will replace the current ‘Fishing Authorisations Regulation’ 1006/2008, and will cover all EU vessels fishing outside EU waters, as well as third-country vessels fishing in EU waters.

The current scope of the authorisation system would be extended to include practices poorly monitored so far, such as private agreements between EU companies and third countries and abusive reflagging operations. Member States would authorise fishing vessels using common eligibility criteria, complemented by specific conditions depending on the nature of the authorisation. Part of the electronic fishing authorisations register, showing who fishes what and where, would for the first time be publicly accessible.

 

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/07/26/new-rules-for-managing-the-eu-external-fishing-fleet-eu-legislation-in-progress/

Ukraine and the EU [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

Ukraine and EU puzzles from flags, 3D rendering

© alexlmx / Fotolia

Relations between the European Union and Ukraine have been improving since the Maidan protests ousted President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014, leading to the election a pro-Western Petro Poroshenko as Head of State. At their meeting on 12-13 July, EU and Ukraine leaders welcomed the completion of the ratification of the EU-Ukraine association agreement and the recent entry into force of visa liberalisation for Ukrainian citizens. However, Ukraine’s security situation remains precarious following Russia’s annexation of Crimea and an armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, in which Russia’s role is unclear. The EU is also urging Ukraine to fight corruption with more determination.

This note offers links to recent commentaries and reports published by major international think tanks on the situation in Ukraine and its relations with the EU.

Twelve myths about change in Ukraine
Atlantic Council, July 2017

Can Macron reload the Minsk process?
Carnegie Europe, July 2017

How to achieve a Ukrainian success story
Carnegie Europe, July 2017

The EU’s Association Agreements and DCFTAs with Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia: A Comparative study
Centre for European Policy Studies, June 2017

The great unravelling: Four doomsday scenarios for Europe’s Russia policy
European Council on Foreign Relations, June 2017

The Donbas Blockade: Another blow to the Minsk peace process
Centre for European Policy Studies, June 2017

War in Ukraine 2.0
Atlantic Council, July 2017

Getting beyond Minsk: Toward a resolution of the conflict in Ukraine
Transatlantic Academy, May 2017

The two parts of Ukraine’s Donbas
Carnegie Europe, May 2017

Défense ukrainienne: Une réforme difficile face à des défis multiples
Institut français des relations internationales, May 2017

Oligarchs in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia as key obstacles to reforms
Expert Group, May 2017

Energy, Russian influence and democratic backsliding in Central and Eastern Europe: A comparative assessment and case studies from Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Hungary, Romania
Expert Forum, May 2017

Ukraine reform monitor: April 2017
Carnegie Europe, April 2017

The Ukraine crisis: Why everyone loses
Rand Corporation, April 2017

New “borders” in Eastern Europe: Ukraine since the annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of the conflict in the Donbass
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, April 2017

Ukraine’s unimplemented anti-corruption reform
Centre for European Policy Studies, February 2017

The EU advisory mission Ukraine: Normative or strategic objectives?
College of Europe, February 2017

International peacekeeping and the war in Eastern Ukraine: Are there any points of contact?
International Centre for Policy Studies, February 2017

Guiding principles for a sustainable U.S. policy toward Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia
Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, February 2017

Frontiers of democracy: Embedding democratic values in Central and Eastern Europe, good practices and limits of transferability
Center for European Neighborhood Studies, January 2017

The European Union and Eastern Partnership: Crises and strategic assessment
EUROPEUM, January 2017

Ukraine: Waiting for Donald, worrying about the EU
European Council on Foreign Relations, January 2017

Pre-emptive compromise would imperil Ukraine
Chatham House, January 2017

Three years after Euromaidan: Is Ukraine still on the reform track?
Finnish Institute of International Affairs, December 2016

Heavy metal diplomacy: Russia’s political use of its military in Europe since 2014
European Council on Foreign Relations, December 2016

Ukraine’s rising Euro-scepticism
European Council on Foreign Relations, December 2016

Has Ukraine scored an own-goal with its transit fee proposal?
Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, November 2016

“Deoligarchisation” in Ukraine: Promising visions, murky realities
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, November 2016

The Glazyev Tapes: Getting to the root of the conflict in Ukraine
European Council on Foreign Relations, November 2016

Full disclosure: Tackling public corruption in Ukraine
Chatham House, November 2016

Keeping up appearances: How Europe is supporting Ukraine’s transformation
European Council on Foreign Relations, October 2016

Reporting on the Minsk II agreement: The effect of Russian narratives in French and German media
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Institute for European Studies, October 2016

What Ukraine urgently needs to defend itself
Rand Corporation, October 2016

Transatlantic relations after the Russia-Ukraine conflict: Assessments and expectations of the expert communities in Poland, Germany and the US
Institute of Public Affairs, September 2016

Key actors in the EU’s Eastern neighbourhood: Competing perspectives on geostrategic tensions
Finnish Institute of International Affairs, September 2016

Ukraine and Europe: A short guide
Centre for European Policy Studies, August 2016

Deepening EU-Ukrainian relations: What, why and how?
Centre for European Policy Studies, August 2016

The European Union in the OSCE in the light of the Ukrainian crisis: Trading actorness for effectiveness
College of Europe, August 2016

Lessons from Ukraine: Why a Europe-led geo-economic strategy is succeeding
Transatlantic Academy, July 2016

How can NATO contribute to Ukraine and Georgia’s border security?
Polish Institute of International Affairs, July 2016

The far right in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine
Institut français des relations internationales, July 2016

Not frozen! The unresolved conflicts over Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh in light of the crisis over Ukraine
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, July 2016

Where Putin’s Russia ends: “Novorossija” and the development of national consciousness in Ukraine
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, July 2016

Ukraine, Russia and the EU: breaking the deadlock in the Minsk process
Centre for European Policy Studies, June 2016


Read this briefing on ‘Ukraine and the EU‘ in PDF.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/07/26/ukraine-and-the-eu-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

Drinking Water Directive

Written by Ivana Kiendl Kristo,

Drinking Water Directive

Drinking Water Directive

The Drinking Water Directive (DWD) sets quality standards for drinking water and requires that Member States ensure monitoring and compliance with these standards. By and large, it has been successful, best exemplified by the high, and increasing, levels of compliance across the European Union (EU) with the microbiological, chemical and indicator parameters and values set in the DWD.

Notwithstanding this overall success, evidence collected over the past years, most notably through evaluation as well as public and stakeholder consultation, confirm the existence of challenges. These include an outdated list of parameters and parametric values; over-reliance on compliance testing at the end of the water supply chain (at the tap) and related lack of a risk-based approach to managing water quality; problems related to water quality in small water supplies; lack of connection to public water networks for many citizens; problems related to water contact materials; as well as a lack of information for citizens.

Although European Commission Directive 2015/1787 recently introduced elements of a risk-based approach, the current text of the directive does not appear to integrate the World Health Organization guidelines on drinking water quality sufficiently, both in terms of parameters and parametric values (which have not been updated in the DWD since 1998), as well as the lack of a comprehensive risk-based approach in water quality management that would systematically address potential risks throughout the water supply chain.

The European Commission is expected to make a proposal to amend the directive in late 2017.


Read this briefing on ‘Drinking Water Directive‘ in PDF.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/07/25/drinking-water-directive/

Passenger rights in the EU [What is Europe doing for its citizens?]

Written by Damiano Scordamaglia,

Business People Corporate Marketing Connection Teamwork Concept

© Rawpixel / Fotolia

Over the past 20 years, EU passenger transport has been growing. With a much wider choice of transport operators, passengers should benefit from the same standards of treatment across modes and EU Member States, and clearly understand their legitimate rights and how to exercise them.

Context

The EU has adopted a common set of basic rights to protect and assist passengers, regardless of how they travel. Passenger rights, including special provisions for persons with disabilities or reduced mobility, facilitate mobility and support an internal market for transport. In 2004, air transport was the first mode to have regulated passenger rights, followed by rail (with national exemptions), waterborne transport, and finally bus and coach services in 2011. Additional rights derive from EU consumer protection rules, package travel provisions, applicable international conventions and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The core of passenger rights

Core passenger rights focus on three main aspects: non-discrimination, information and assistance.


Main passenger rights

  • Equal access to transport for all passengers: any discrimination based on nationality, place of residence or disability is prohibited, for instance denying boarding or access to travel operator websites.
  • Mobility and assistance for travellers with reduced mobility: disabled passengers and those with reduced mobility can get assistance in accessing transport means and on board at no additional cost.
  • Information: passengers must have transparent information on the cost, features and rights included in their ticket, as well as on progress before and during their trip. Passengers must be notified of disruptions as soon as possible in rail, and at latest 30 minutes after scheduled departure in waterborne and bus transport.
  • Reimbursement, rerouting or rebooking: in the event of cancelled or delayed travel (1 h in rail, 1.30 h in waterborne, 2 h in buses for services longer than 250 km, and 5 h in air) or denied boarding, passengers may choose between reimbursement, rerouting to the final destination at no extra cost or rebooking at their convenience. If they cannot fulfil the purpose of their journey, passengers may also get a free ticket back to their departure point.
  • Adequate care: in case of cancellation or long delays (1 h in rail, 1.30 h in bus and waterborne, 2 h in air), passengers are entitled to meals, refreshments and, where necessary, accommodation (up to 2-3 days depending on transport mode). Care must be provided in stations/terminals and/or on board.
  • Compensation: in the event of long delays at arrival and depending on the mode used, the ticket price and the distance travelled, passengers may get financial compensation to reduce the inconvenience suffered.
  • Liability towards passengers and luggage: passengers are entitled to compensation for luggage or belongings lost or damaged in an accident involving the travel mode they are using. In case of passenger injury or death, compensation is also provided for, and in some cases, also an advance payment on this.
  • Complaint handling: passengers my lodge a complaint with the carrier. If they are dissatisfied by the carrier’s answer, they can turn to the competent national enforcement body.

EU passenger rights laws are being updated or modified: a revision of passenger rights in air is being discussed, and new proposals on rail are expected in 2017. For 2018, the European Commission plans an initiative to give adequate protection to the rights of passengers using two or more modes on segments of a single journey.


This note has been prepared by EPRS for the European Parliament’s Open Days in May 2017.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/07/24/passenger-rights-in-the-eu-what-is-europe-doing-for-its-citizens/

Studying abroad with Erasmus+ [What is Europe doing for its citizens?]

Written by Denise Chircop,

Promoting EU student mobility

© Gennadiy Poznyakov / Fotolia

The European Union’s Erasmus+ programme is best known for subsidising study periods abroad and other forms of learning mobility for individuals, including volunteering and cross-border professional experiences for teaching staff. Studies show the benefits and limitations of learning mobility and after 30 years, the programme continues to evolve.

Erasmus+

Erasmus+ is the EU funding programme dedicated to education, training, youth and sport. Member States are solely responsible for these areas, but the EU supports cooperation, policy innovation, cross-sectoral projects and mobility. The student-mobility programme Erasmus (now under the first pillar of Erasmus+, Key action 1) is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2017.

Beneficiaries and budget

The programme’s target is that more than 4 million individuals experience mobility between 2014 and 2020. This figure includes approximately 2 million higher education students, 650 000 vocational education and training (VET) students and 800 000 lecturers, teachers, trainers, education staff and youth workers. More than 500 000 young people are expected to take part in youth exchange or voluntary schemes, more than 200 000 to receive a master’s loan and more than 25 000 students to take up joint master’s degrees.

The financial envelope of €14.7 billion represents 1.36 % of the European Union’s spending between 2014 and 2020. At least 63 % of the budget dedicated to youth, education and training, is earmarked for ‘Learning mobility of individuals’. The European Commission’s work programme for 2017 allocated over €1 billion for the mobility of students and staff, €54 million for the student-loan guarantee facility, around €140 million for degrees and programmes, and a further €150 million for youth mobility. Funds for the loan guarantee are still under-used as not enough banks are participating in the scheme.

Effects and developments

A study, carried out in 2014, looked at the effects of learning mobility on students, staff and higher education institutions. The study asserted that Erasmus alumni made huge gains in soft skills that significantly enhanced their employability and career progression 10 years on. On the other hand, financial constraints and an unwillingness to leave one’s immediate surroundings were cited as the two main barriers to participation. In an attempt to overcome one of the obstacles, supplementary grants are given to students with a disability, for which 1.4 % of beneficiaries applied. The study also noted that staff mobility had a clear impact on the internationalisation of higher education institutions, yet staff claimed that their mobility experience did not receive sufficient recognition while support structures were not as advanced as those for student mobility.

New initiatives include the extension of the Mobility Scoreboard, a monitoring tool, to cover vocational education and training (VET) and the piloting of badges to improve the transparency and recognition of newly acquired skills. The Commission also recently announced the setting up of a European Solidarity Corps, offering volunteering opportunities or apprenticeships to young people, and Move2Learn, Learn2Move, a mobility initiative for school classes that presents the best eTwinning (school networking platform) projects.

In its February 2017 resolution on Erasmus+, the European Parliament recognised the difficulties of the first phase of implementation but also acknowledged the efforts made to improve the user-friendliness of the programme. It recommended increasing the mobility of school pupils and exempting mobility grants from taxes and levies. The Parliament’s Committee for Culture and Education expressed its reservations on the use of Erasmus+ funds for the ‘European Solidarity Corps’, as a separate budget is more likely to yield added value.


This note has been prepared by EPRS for the European Parliament’s Open Days in May 2017.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/07/21/studying-abroad-with-erasmus-what-is-europe-doing-for-its-citizens/

How is the EU reforming air passenger rights?

Zaventem Airport

Copyright European Parliament

Citizens recurrently turn to the European Parliament to request information about their rights as passengers. Ongoing legislative framework reform intends to clarify certain aspects of air passenger rights, to ensure a better application of the regulation.

Two sets of legislation set out EU air passenger rights. Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, indicates the minimum rights for passengers when they are denied boarding against their will, their flight is cancelled or their flight is delayed. Council Regulation (EC) No 2027/97 determines air carrier liability in the event of accidents, (amended by Regulation (EC) No 889/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council), in respect of the carriage of passengers and their baggage by air.

Reform of air passengers rights legislation

That grey zones, gaps in the current text, and varied enforcement in the Member States, led to different interpretations of the provisions of Regulation 261/2004 was highlighted in a European Commission communication of 11 April 2011. Furthermore, the communication revealed that it is difficult for passengers to assert their individual rights.

On 29 March 2012, the European Parliament adopted a resolution in response to this communication. The Parliament highlighted the measures that it considered essential to regain passengers’ trust, in particular proper application of the existing rules by Member States and air carriers, enforcement of sufficient and simple means of redress, and providing passengers with accurate information on their rights.

The European Commission therefore launched a proposal in March 2013 to review these rules on air passenger rights, with the aim of improving passenger information in the event of delays and clarifying the rules on compensation, as well as updating these rules to give air carriers more certainty as to the law.

As part of the EU ordinary legislative procedure, following discussions in the Council and a debate in the European Parliament, the Parliament adopted a resolution on 5 February 2014, in which the Parliament asks for additional provisions such as:

– an airline contact person present at the airport in the event of problems,

– further cabin luggage allowances,

– higher amounts of compensation in the event of delay,

– an exhaustive list of extraordinary circumstances in which compensation does not have to be paid, and

– guarantee mechanisms against air carrier bankruptcy.

Further details on this resolution are available in a European Parliament press release and a background note of February 2014. The vote on 5 February 2014 constitutes the European Parliament’s first-reading position, which the Council of Ministers may accept, or adopt its own common position for further debate with Parliament. As yet, no common position has been adopted by the Council, as there are areas where further work is needed, including thresholds for compensation and compensation for missed connecting flights. More information is available on the dedicated Council website.

Information concerning the next stages of this procedure is available in the procedure file 2013/0072(COD) of the Legislative Observatory, the European Parliament’s database for monitoring the EU decision-making process.

Parliamentary questions

MEPs have put several parliamentary written questions [type ‘air passenger rights’ in the search field] to the European Commission on air passenger rights. In its answer of 30 June 2017, the Commission underlines that, in case of an unsatisfactory reply from an airline, passengers should contact the national enforcement bodies in the Member States directly.

Further information

More details are available in the EP fact sheet on passenger rights, on the dedicated website on air passenger rights (on Your Europe), and in the briefing ‘Strengthening air passenger rights in the EU‘, published by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) in May 2015. The Commission published interpretative guidelines on the two main regulations in June 2016.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/07/19/how-is-the-eu-reforming-air-passenger-rights/

Workers’ rights in the EU [What is Europe doing for its citizens?]

Written by Monika Kiss,

Workers rights

Copyright Tribalium. Used under licence from Shutterstock.com

The 1957 Treaty of Rome gave the European Community competences in certain areas of labour law. Subsequently, the EU has acted to facilitate the free movement of workers, introducing common measures on working conditions, information and consultation of workers, and gender equality at work. In other areas of labour law, the EU has limited power to legislate, but it engages employees and employers in social dialogue.

Working mobility

The Treaty of Rome enabled European citizens to live and work in another Member State. Workers and their families have the right to reside in the host country and to be treated on an equal basis to its citizens. The latest action of the European Commission in this field, the 2015 labour mobility package, aims to support labour mobility and tackle abuse by means of better coordination of social security systems, a targeted revision of the Posting of Workers Directive and an enhanced European Network of Employment Services (EURES). The first two are under discussion in the European Parliament’s Committee of Employment and Social Affairs.

Working time

The Working Time Directive requires EU countries to guarantee specific rights to all workers, such as minimum periods of rest, annual leave, maximum weekly working time and limits to night and shift work. It also sets specific rules on working hours in certain sectors (for instance, offshore work). In 2017, the Commission will review the Working Time Directive. This initiative is linked to the consultation on a European Pillar of Social Rights. The Parliament has repeatedly emphasised the importance of regulating labour standards.

Working conditions

Improving working conditions has been a concern of the EU for a long time. Recent developments include the 2016 Regulation on personal protective equipment, laying down rules for designing and manufacturing personal protective equipment to ensure a high level of protection of human health and safety and to simplify the regulatory environment, as well as the revision of the Written Statement Directive, obliging employers to inform employees of the conditions applicable to their contract or employment relationship, planned for 2017. Parliament has called on the Commission to assess and, if necessary, to take steps at EU level to supervise companies’ activities so as to prevent abuse of any kind with prejudicial effects, particularly on workers.

Equal opportunities

For decades, EU institutions have sought to ensure equal pay for male and female workers, as laid down in Article 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Equal pay for equal work and work of equal value is one of the key areas for action in the Commission’s strategic engagement for gender equality 2016–2019. Actions to reach this objective include improving implementation of the equal pay principle, along with various ‘soft’ measures, such as strengthening pay transparency. The Parliament is actively working to decrease the persistent gender pay gap and to carry out regular wage-mapping in support of this aim.

Reconciling work and family life

In recent years, European institutions have been working to modernise and adapt the EU’s legal and policy framework to meet the current needs and challenges of working parents (for instance, seeking more balanced participation of fathers in childcare). The package of actions to follow up on the Social Pillar consultation also includes an initiative on work-life balance. The EP considers that achieving genuine work-life balance requires robust, cross-cutting, structural, coherent and comprehensive policies, and points out that reconciliation of professional, private and family life needs to be guaranteed as a fundamental right for all people.


This note has been prepared by EPRS for the European Parliament’s Open Days in May 2017.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/07/19/workers-rights-in-the-eu-what-is-europe-doing-for-its-citizens/

Ten more technologies which could change our lives

Written by Christian Kurrer, with James Tarlton

Ten more technologies which could change our lives

©LiuZishan/Shutterstock

Technological developments, even those still at an early stage, could massively impact our lives in the very short- or longer-term future. To draw attention to ten specific technologies, but also to promote further reflection about other innovations, EPRS is publishing ‘Ten more technologies which could change our lives‘ – a follow-up to its 2015 ground-breaking publication ‘Ten technologies which could change our lives – potential impacts and policy implications‘. Each chapter highlights a particular technology, its promises and potential negative consequences, and the role that the European Parliament as co-legislator could, and should, play in shaping these developments.

Ten more technologies which could change our lives‘ presents ten additional technologies that increasingly require policy-makers’ attention. This report, like its predecessor, feeds into the work and priorities of the Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel and parliamentary committees. The topics chosen for the new publication:

  1. Electric cars
  2. Intelligent urban transport systems
  3. Maglev transportation
  4. Wood
  5. Precision agriculture
  6. Quantum technologies
  7. Radio frequency identification tags
  8. Big data and health care
  9. Organoids
  10. Genome editing

illustrate the wide range of EPRS and STOA’s focus on techno-scientific topics in the first half of the EP’s 8th legislative period; including eco-efficient transport and modern energy solutions, sustainable management of natural resources, the potential and challenges of the information society, and new technologies in the life sciences.

Tell us what other important technological developments you see that might have a significant impact on the way we live in the future, and that would require European policy-makers’ attention, by leaving a comment below or completing our feedback questionnaire.

To keep up-to-date with STOA activities, follow our website, the EPRS blog, Twitter, You tube and Think Tank website.

 

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/07/18/ten-more-technologies-which-could-change-our-lives/

Structural funds – Investing in people [What is Europe doing for its citizens?]

Written by Christiaan van Lierop,

House on banknotes

© tunedin / Fotolia

Accounting for over one third of the EU’s budget, structural funds (ESIF) have helped to transform Europe. From motorways to wind farms, airports to urban regeneration schemes, structural fund investments are a tangible expression of the EU’s promise to develop infrastructure and generate economic growth. Yet beyond these very visible construction projects, the EU is also building bridges of a different kind, too: among people, helping to break down barriers and promote social inclusion.

Delivering the Europe 2020 strategy

During the 2014-2020 period, the five EU structural funds (see box) have been closely aligned to the headline targets of the Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, focusing action on 11 goals, the thematic objectives. A blueprint for EU growth, this strategy also has a social dimension, aiming among other things to take at least 20 million people out of poverty and raise the employment rate of people aged 20 to 64 to 75 %. As structural funds account for as much as 40 % of the public investment budget in half of all Member States, they are contributing significantly to improving the wellbeing and quality of life of EU citizens.


The five ESI funds – European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), European Social Fund (ESF), Cohesion Fund (CF), European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EARDF), and European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) – provide a total EU budget of €454 billion of funding for projects in the Member States, with countries drawing up partnership agreements and operational programmes that identify how the structural funds will be allocated to the thematic objectives. Member States must earmark at least 20 % of their ESF allocation to thematic objective 9 (TO9) on promoting social inclusion, while ESF should account for at least 23.1 % of each country’s total ESIF allocation. The total amount of structural funds allocated to TO9 is €44.5 billion for 2014-2020, with Poland the largest recipient (€6.87 billion), followed by Germany, Italy and Spain, whose combined total is over €12 billion.


Using structural funds to invest in people

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund, European territorial cooperation is helping to build bridges by bringing Europeans closer together, with a total of €10.1 billion being invested in cross-border, trans-national and inter-regional cooperation projects such as the operation of joint cross-border facilities or the rollout of common environmental programmes. Yet structural funds are not only helping to break down barriers between different nations but also within society at large by supporting groups in need. During 2014-2020, people with disabilities are a specific target group for ESF support, with operational programmes focusing on promoting deinstitutionalisation or improving access to social and health services. Marginalised communities such as Roma are given new attention thanks to a specific ESF investment priority allocating €1.5 billion to promote their integration, while migrants are also a priority, with the ESF funding many projects to support their inclusion within society. Tackling social exclusion is a key focus, with ESF helping to combat poverty by funding active inclusion programmes and training schemes to get people back to work.

Challenges to the effective use of structural funds

Stakeholders have highlighted several obstacles to the effective use of ESIF for promoting social inclusion, including the existence of overly complex procedures for accessing funding, a focus on indicators rather than on results, a failure to identify key target groups and a lack of coordination between ESIF measures and national strategies. Similarly, numerous obstacles to closer European territorial cooperation remain, such as divergent national rules on employment, healthcare and social security, with stakeholders also drawing attention to the low level of funding for European territorial cooperation. Current discussions on cohesion policy post-2020 provide an opportunity to address these questions, but in a context of increasing budgetary pressure, questions remain as to whether future funding will be sufficient.


This note has been prepared by EPRS for the European Parliament’s Open Days in May 2017.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/07/17/structural-funds-investing-in-people-what-is-europe-doing-for-its-citizens/

EU and UK positions on citizens’ rights: First phase of Brexit negotiations

Written by Eva-Maria Poptcheva and Laura Tilindyte,

EU and UK

© European Union , 2017 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Mauro Bottaro

Negotiations on the arrangements for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU started on 19 June 2017, with citizens’ rights being one of the top priorities. However, the EU and the UK positions differ considerably. The EU aims at a withdrawal agreement which safeguards the existing right to residence as well as to equal treatment with nationals, including access to social security, for EU-27 citizens who have moved to the UK and for UK nationals resident in an EU-27 Member State prior to the withdrawal date. By contrast, the UK’s intention is to create new rights, detached from EU law, whose conditions will be governed by UK law.

The EU and UK positions also differ regarding the cut-off date which would govern the status of citizens. According to the EU, this should be the date of the UK’s actual withdrawal from the EU, whereas the UK has proposed to agree on an earlier date. Differences between the two positions can also be observed with regard to the conditions for family reunification and access to social security benefits.

Furthermore, whilst the EU proposes that the European Commission and the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) oversee compliance with the withdrawal arrangements by both the UK and the EU-27 Member States, the UK seeks enforceability of the citizens’ rights through the UK judicial system and rejects the jurisdiction of the CJEU.

Read this complete briefing on ‘EU and UK positions on citizens’ rights: First phase of Brexit negotiations‘.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/07/16/eu-and-uk-positions-on-citizens-rights-first-phase-of-brexit-negotiations/