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EU policies – Delivering for citizens: The fight against unemployment [Policy Podcast]

Written by Marie Lecerf,

Stressful people waiting for the job interview

© ty / Fotolia

By promoting a high level of employment, the European Union (EU) has been fighting against unemployment since as long ago as the early 1950s.

The fight against unemployment was brought to the top of the European agenda with the onset of the 2008 economic and financial crisis, and the consequent rise in unemployment rates in all European Union (EU) Member States. In its Europe 2020 strategy, the European Commission set a target to get 75 % of 20 to 64 year-olds into employment by 2020.

EU labour market conditions have significantly improved in recent years, and most labour market indicators have strengthened steadily. Since mid-2013, the unemployment rate has continued to decline, and the EU is back to its pre-crisis level (6.8 % in July 2018). Despite the recovery in economic growth and its positive impact on the labour market, the EU has still to face unemployment challenges, particularly concerning differences between Member States, youth unemployment and long-term unemployment.

Since 2014, efforts have been made in a number of areas, including to help young people enter the labour market, to combat long-term unemployment, upgrade skills, and facilitate workers’ mobility in the European Union.

The improvement in labour market indicators has been reflected in citizens’ improved evaluation of the EU’s involvement in the fight against unemployment, but there is still a very high demand for even more EU intervention in this policy area (76 % of EU citizens).

In the future, new or updated legislation relating to employment could modernise work to help in adjustment to a digital world, support sustainable transitions from unemployment into employment and between jobs, increase labour mobility and create closer coordination between economic and social policies.

Read the complete briefing on ‘EU policies – Delivering for citizens: The fight against unemployment‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/12/06/eu-policies-delivering-for-citizens-the-fight-against-unemployment-policy-podcast/

CAP strategic plans [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by James McEldowney and Patrick Kelly (1st edition),

Agriculture Farm Crops Production Plants Concept

© Rawpixel.com / Fotolia

The Commission’s legislative proposals on the future of the common agricultural policy (CAP) were published on 1 June 2018. They comprise three proposals: a regulation setting out rules on support for CAP strategic plans; a regulation on the single common market organisation (CMO) and a horizontal regulation on financing, managing and monitoring the CAP.

The proposal for a regulation on CAP strategic plans introduces a new delivery model, described by the Commission as a fundamental shift in the CAP, involving a shift from compliance towards results and performance. It includes a new distribution of responsibilities between the EU and Member States. A new planning process is proposed which will cover both Pillar I (direct payments) and Pillar II (rural development) of the CAP.

EU Legislation in progress timeline

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/12/05/cap-strategic-plans-eu-legislation-in-progress/

Reconsidering the General Food Law [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Tarja Laaninen (1st edition),

Interesting samples. Calm busy professional eco engineers sitting at the table and holding the best samples of seeds for their new modern garden

© Viacheslav Iakobchuk / Fotolia

On 11 April 2018, the European Commission published a proposal to review the General Food Law Regulation and amend eight legislative acts dealing with specific food chain sectors: GMOs, feed additives, smoke flavourings, food contact materials, food additives, food enzymes and flavourings, plant protection products and novel foods. The proposal follows-up on the European Citizens’ Initiative on glyphosate; and especially on concerns regarding the transparency of the scientific studies used in the evaluation of pesticides. The proposal also responds to a fitness check of the General Food Law, completed in January 2018. The proposal’s objective is to increase the transparency and sustainability of the EU scientific assessment model, and other aspects such as governance of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). In the European Parliament, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) adopted its report on 27 November 2018 by 43 votes in favour, 16 against, with one abstention. A vote in plenary to finalise Parliament’s position is expected to take place in December.

timeline-10 steps-voted in plenary

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/12/04/reconsidering-the-general-food-law-eu-legislation-in-progress/

Enabling SMEs’ access to capital markets [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Ioannis Zachariadis (1st edition),

Financial growth

© andranik123 / Fotolia

Making it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access financing through public markets lies at the heart of the capital markets union – the plan to mobilise capital in Europe. Among the various reasons for going ahead with this union is the fact that existing requirements and listing costs in both regulated and multilateral trading venues continue to be disproportionate to the size and level of sophistication of SMEs. To further respond to this situation, the Commission has proposed adopting a regulation to address the administrative burden placed on SMEs when listing or issuing equity and bonds, with the aim to increase liquidity on SME growth markets. The latter are a new category of multilateral trading facilities, which was established under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II. To this end, the proposal provides for targeted amendments to two key pieces of financial services legislation, namely the Market Abuse Regulation (MAR) and the Prospectus Regulation.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/12/04/enabling-smes-access-to-capital-markets-eu-legislation-in-progress/

COP 24: Making the Paris Agreement operational

Written by Gregor Erbach,

COP24 logoThe 24th UN climate change conference (COP24), which starts today in Katowice, Poland, is focused on the full implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the adoption of the operational ‘rulebook’. In the political phase of the Talanoa dialogue, initiated by the Fijian presidency of COP23, high-level representatives of the Parties will discuss collective efforts to meet the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement, guided by the questions Where are we?, Where do we want to go? and How do we get there?

A number of difficulties will have to be overcome at COP24. Some major economies have weakened their commitments: the United States plans to withdraw from the Paris Agreement as soon as possible, and Brazil has retracted its offer to host the COP25 conference in 2019. Despite new pledges from funders like the World Bank, the provision of finance to support climate action in developing countries remains a major stumbling block in the negotiations. Countries’ commitments to emission reductions would need to be strengthened, as the current pledges would result in around three degrees of global warming, according to the 2018 UN emissions gap report. The International Energy Agency reports that energy-related carbon emissions have been rising again since 2017. In Brazil, deforestation of the Amazon has greatly increased during the last year. These worrying trends are in sharp contrast with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report on global warming of 1.5°C that calls for ‘rapid and far-reaching’ social and economic transitions to limit the impacts of climate change and meet the targets of the Paris Agreement.

The EU has adopted comprehensive policies to meet its pledge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40 % below 1990 levels by 2030. Legislation on the emissions trading system (ETS), effort sharing for non-ETS sectors, land use and forests, energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable bioenergy, and buildings has been agreed recently. Policies for sustainable mobility, including emission targets for cars, vans and trucks are still under negotiation. The EU has been a global leader in the fight against climate change, but lately struggles to keep up the pace of emission reductions, as reported by the European Environment Agency.

The European Parliament advocates a more ambitious EU target of a 55 % emission reduction by 2030, and a delegation from the European Parliament will attend COP24. Last week, the European Commission adopted a long-term strategy for emission reductions, requested by the Parliament in October 2017. The strategy, entitled ‘A clean planet for all’, outlines pathways to reach the aim of net zero greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by 2050. With these strategic targets, supporting policies and contributions to international climate finance, the EU is well positioned to play a leading role in bringing the COP24 negotiations to a successful conclusion.

Visit the European Parliament page on ‘Climate change‘.


Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/12/03/cop-24-making-the-paris-agreement-operational/

International Day of Persons with Disabilities – Leave no woman behind

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Written by Ingeborg Odink and Rosamund Shreeves, 

According to the UN, an estimated one in five women worldwide live with disabilities and the prevalence of disability is actually higher among women than men (19.2 versus 12 %). Women and girls with disabilities are also among the most vulnerable and marginalised, because of the multiple and intersecting discriminations they face based on their gender, age, disability and other factors, as the UN rightly and alarmingly pointed out in its 2017 Resolution on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

As we celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December, one cannot but conclude that for women and girls with disabilities in Europe full inclusion is also still a distant aspiration. Political awareness, however, is rising, and initiatives are being taken to empower these particularly vulnerable women and girls and protect their rights to enable them to fully and equally participate in society.

The prevalence of disability in the EU is higher among women than men. Women are the majority (54 %) of people with disabilities and are more likely than men to report a basic activity difficulty (15.1 % versus 12.9 %) or a disability (14 % versus 11.7 %). Considering the increase in the number of elderly people and longer female life expectancy, this number is expected to increase.

Legal and policy framework

Under the 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), often described as the ‘international bill of rights for women’, and the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which sets out a worldwide agenda for women’s empowerment, all EU Member States are committed to upholding and protecting women’s rights and eliminating the additional barriers some women, e.g. women with disabilities, face in achieving full equality and advancement. The EU itself is not party to CEDAW, but gender equality, non-discrimination and protection of human rights are established general principles of the EU.

The 2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is the first human rights convention to which the EU has become a party, and is the first international legally binding instrument setting minimum standards for rights for people with disabilities. The CRPD not only introduces a human rights based approach in disability policies (moving away from medical and charity models), it also explicitly recognises discrimination on the ground of gender and disability (Article 6) and calls on State Parties to take measures ensuring women with disabilities full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Optional Protocol to the CRPD allows for submission of complaints to the CRPD Committee by individuals and groups of individuals, or by a third party on behalf of individuals and groups of individuals, alleging that their rights have been violated under the CRPD. For the EU, the CRPD Convention entered into force on 22 January 2011. In addition, all the EU countries have signed and ratified the Convention, and 22 EU countries have also signed and ratified its Optional Protocol.

The international community’s commitment to advancing the human rights of women with disabilities was also strengthened with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (A/RES 70/1), which pledges to ‘leave no one behind’. While not explicitly mentioned under Goal 5, ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’, women with disabilities are included in target 5.1, ‘End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere’.

The European disability strategy 2010-2020 (ESD) is a key tool to fulfilling the EU commitments under the CRPD, the CEDAW and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The strategy entails actions in eight priority areas (accessibility, participation, equality, employment, education and training, social protection, health, external action) for the active inclusion and full participation of disabled people in society. However, the European Parliament and women’s rights organisations have criticised the lack of a gender perspective in the EDS, and that, despite progress in some areas, much more still needs to be done to improve the situation of both men and, especially, women with disabilities in the EU.

The 2017 EIGE Gender Equality Index (GEI) shows that women with disabilities in the EU score lower when it comes to access to the labour market, earnings and education level. Women with disabilities have a particularly low employment participation, with a FTE employment rate of only 19 %, compared to 28 % for men with disabilities, and the gender pay gap is similar to those who do not have disabilities. People with disabilities also face a higher risk of poverty and social exclusion than the general population. Here too, the poverty rate is slightly higher for women with disabilities compared to men with disabilities.

No less worrying is that women with disabilities indicate a higher prevalence of various forms of violence (see FRA 2014 EU-wide prevalence survey on violence against women). The biggest differences are found in terms of physical or sexual partner violence: 34 % of women with a health problem or disability have experienced this during a relationship, compared with 19 % of women who do not have a health problem or disability. Women with disabilities are also often denied equal sexual and reproductive rights. At the beginning of this year, the European Disability Forum (EDF) and CERMI Women’s Foundation released a comprehensive report denouncing the practice of forced sterilisation, which, under certain circumstances, is still carried out in some EU countries on women with (intellectual and psychosocial) disabilities.

EU accession to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) in this context is an important step towards better protection of these rights. It is the first instrument in Europe to set legally binding standards to prevent gender-based violence, protect victims of violence and punish perpetrators, defining and criminalising various forms of violence against women, including physical, sexual, and psychological violence, stalking, sexual harassment, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, forced abortion and forced sterilisation

Action taken by the European Parliament

  • The European Parliament has a cross-party Disability Intergroup, whose 188 members actively work on promoting disability policy and advancing the rights of persons with disabilities in their work at the European Parliament as well as at the national level.
  • As a guardian of human rights, Parliament consistently raises gender and disability issues. In its resolution of 29 November 2018 on the situation of women with disabilities, it reiterated its call for gender and disability mainstreaming in the gender equality and disability strategies and all other strategies, policies and programmes of the EU and its member states, and called for concrete measures, in different areas, including positive measures, to protect the rights of women and girls with disabilities.
  • The European Parliament has also consistently taken a strong stance on the issue of violence against women, including women with disabilities, and has repeatedly called for EU accession to the Istanbul Convention (the EU signed the Convention in June 2017) and for its ratification by individual Member States.

For further reading:

On equality

On inclusiveness and technology

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/12/03/international-day-of-persons-with-disabilities-leave-no-woman-behind/

Global and regional trends [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

Connections system global world view 3D rendering

© sdecoret / Fotolia

The European Union’s key institutions held a joint conference on 28-29 November entitled ‘Global trends to 2030: Shaping the future in a fast-changing world’. The annual event was organised under the auspices of the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS), which is a framework for cooperation between the administrations of the European Parliament, the European Commission, Council of the European Union, European External Action Service and other bodies to work together on medium- and long-term trends facing or relating to the European Union.

This note brings together commentaries, analyses and studies by major international think tanks and research institutes on longer term trends – global and regional, with a focus on Europe. Some reports listed here were presented at the conference, some others can be found in the ESPAS repository of strategic studies, named Orbis.

Digital revolution

Global trends to 2030: The future of work and workplaces
European Political Strategy Centre for the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS), November 2018

Global trends to 2030: Identities and biases in the digital age
European Political Strategy Centre for the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System, November 2018

Révolutions en orbite: L’espace au XXIème siècle
Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique, November 2018

Comment l’intelligence artificielle va transformer la guerre
Institut français des relations internationales, November 2018

The future of jobs report 2018
World Economic Forum, September 2018

L’Europe face à la numérisation du travail
Institut français des relations internationales, September 2018

The digital enterprise: Moving from experimentation to transformation
World Economic Forum, September 2018

The European answer to the digital revolution: How to ensure Europe’s competitive advantage?
Jacques Delors Institute, September 2018

The future of work: Robots cooking free lunches?
Wilfried Martens Centre, July 2018

Audiovisual media in the digital era
European Policy Centre, July 2018

No middle ground: Moving on from the crypto wars
European Council on Foreign Relations, July 2018

Living with uncertainty: Social implications of precarious work
TASC, April 2018

The Internet and jobs: Opportunities and ambiguous trends
Centre for European Policy Studies, February 2018

Stealing thunder: Cloud, IoT and 5G will change the strategic paradigm for protecting European commercial interests
European Centre for International Political Economy, February 2018

Society and economy

Global Trends to 2035: Economy and Society
Centre for European Policy Studies for the European Parliamentary Research Service, November 2018

Global trends to 2030: The future of migration and integration
European Political Strategy Centre for the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System, November 2018

What is globalization? And how has the global economy shaped the United States?
Peterson Institute for International Economics, November 2018

Towards a “senseable city”: Technology, trial and error to make a city really “smart”
Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale, November 2018

Are sound democratic and legal institutions necessary for growth?
Peterson Institute for International Economics, November 2018

The quality of democracy is declining in many industrialized states
Bertelsmann Stiftung, October 2018

Is globalisation dying?
European Centre for International Political Economy, October 2018

Migration and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
Oversees Development Institute, October 2018

Regime change? The European economy to 2030
Centre for European Reform, October 2018

The next wave of global LNG investment is coming
Institut français des relations internationales, October 2018

A vision of Africa’s future
Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale, October 2018

New trends in identity politics in the Middle East and North Africa and their impact on state-society relations
Barcelona Centre for International Affairs, October 2018

Harnessing the fourth industrial revolution for water
World Economic Forum, September 2018

The future of international trade and investment
European Political Strategy Centre for the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS), September 2018

The nature of democratic backsliding in Europe
Carnegie Europe, July 2018

In Eurasia new financial centers are in offing: Is Shanghai ready for prime-time?
European Centre for International Political Economy, July 2018

How the baby boomers’ retirement wave distorts model-based output gap estimates
Kiel Institute for the World Economy, June 2018

Africa’s future is urban: Implications for EU development policy and cooperation
Overseas Development Institute, June 2018

How the US lost: China’s growing foothold in Africa
Cingendael, June 2018

The digital revolution is transforming energy: Whether it slows climate change is up to policymakers
Council on Foreign Relations, June 2018

10 trends shaping innovation in the digital age
European Political Strategy Centre, May 2018

Digital Australia: An economic and trade agenda
Brookings Institution, May 2018

Can Europe save the world order?
European Council on Foreign Relations, May 2018

The future of Arctic cooperation in a changing strategic environment
Rand Europe, May 2018

The phase zero digital toolbox: Visualizing global security, state instability, climate change, and vulnerability of natural resources
New America Foundation, May 2018

Coal exit or coal expansion? A review of coal market trends and policies in 2017
Institut français des relations internationales, May 2018

Chinese investment trends in Europe
Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics, May 2018

Discontinuities and distractions: Rethinking security for the year 2040
Rand Europe, April 2018

The geography of future water challenges
Clingendael, April 2018

Migration through the Mediterranean: Mapping the EU response
European Council on foreign Relations, April 2018

MENA stability in a changing climate: A transatlantic agenda on preventive investment
E3G, March 2018

Abusing the people: Global challenges of authoritarian populism
Libertarian Club, March 2018

Italy is the West’s future
Chatham House, March 2018

Income convergence in the EU: Within-country regional patterns
Centre for European Policy Studies, February 2018

Recession and renewal in European democracy
Carnegie Europe, February 2018

The EU battery alliance: Can Europe avoid technological dependence?
Institut français des relations internationales, February 2018

Creditworthiness trends of Eurozone countries
Centrum für Europäische Politik, January 2018

Electric vehicles for smarter cities: the future of energy and mobility
World Economic Forum, January 2018

Analysis of development in EU capital flows in the global context
Bruegel, January 2018

Electric vehicles for smarter cities: The future of energy and mobility
World Economic Forum, January 2018

Defence and foreign policy

The demise of the international liberal order and the future of the European project
Istituto Affari Internazionali, November 2018

New realities in foreign affairs: Diplomacy in the 21st century
Stiftung Wissenschalft und Politik, November 2018

The erosion of strategic stability and the future of arms control in Europe
Institut français des relations internationales, November 2018

The uncertain future of warfare
East-West Institute, November 2018

Rebuilding strategic thinking
Center for Strategic and International Studies, October 2018

UN reforms for the 2030 agenda
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, October 2018

Will international institutions fail again? International power shifts and the future of global cooperation
Finnish Institute for International Affairs, October 2018

China expands its global governance ambitions in the Arctic
Chatham House, October 2018

Trends in women’s participation in UN, EU and OSCE peace operations
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, October 2018

Global trends to 2035: Geo-politics and international power
Oxford Analytica for EPRS, September 2017

The uncertain trends in the “wars” on terrorism
Center for Strategic and International Studies, September 2018

Opposing trends: The renewed salience of nuclear weapons and nuclear abolitionism
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, September 2018

Balkan futures: Three scenarios for 2025
European Union Institute for Security Studies, September 2018

The future of warfare
EPRS for the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS), September 2018

The rise and fall of EU trade law: Narratives on quantitative trends
Lueven Centre for Global Governance Studies, September 2018

Taking stock of a shifting world order
Rand Corporation, August 2018

Climate and security revisited
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, August 2018

With “strategic partners” like this, who needs competitors? Europe needs to change its military to military relations with China
German Marshall Fund, July 2018

Remaking the case for NATO: Collective security and the British national interest
Policy Exchange, July 2018

China in the era of ‘Xi Jinping thought’: Five key trends for Africa
South African Institute of International Affairs, March 2018

Towards Putin’s last presidency?
Istituto Affari Internazionali, March 2018

Terror overseas: Understanding the GCC counter extremism and counter terrorism trends
Henry Jackson Society, February 2018

Indian investments in Africa: Scale, trends, and policy recommendations
Observer Research Foundation, February 2018

Between change and continuity: Making sense of America’s evolving global engagement
Finnish Institute of International Affairs, January 2018

Europe is back: Economic, financial, social and technological trends in a changing world
European Political Strategy Centre, January 2018 (on top)

Testing the value of the postwar international order
Rand Europe, January 2018

Europe’s defence train has left the station: speed and destination unknown
Centre for European Policy Studies, December 2017

Creditworthiness trends of Eurozone countries
Centrum für Europäische Politik, January 2018

Analysis of development in EU capital flows in the global context
Bruegel, January 2018

Military factors in the MENA Region: Challenging trends
Egmont, November 2017

Smart logistics for future armed forces
European Union Institute for Security Studies, November 2018

Read this briefing on ‘Global and regional trends‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/12/03/global-and-regional-trends-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

Digital democracy in the age of new technologies

Written by Zsolt G. Pataki with Riccardo Molinari

© plotplot /shutterstock

Technologies permeate all levels of modern society and economy, the internet and electronic devices are basic tools in our everyday lives; we are increasingly dependent on technologies. Some of these technologies – such as quantum technologies, artificial intelligence and blockchain, to name the newest and most dynamic – are now entering the democratic processes. However, none of this will benefit society unless we know whether regulation is necessary. How can we ensure that this immense potential does not damage our democracies, as well as attain a higher level of cybersecurity?

Assessing the impact of these new technologies on our democratic processes and institutions is truly relevant in the context of our ‘post-truth society’, where facts seem to be less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief. This is a challenge for scientists, experts, the media, and also for policy-makers and society as a whole. Science and technology are crucial to democracy and there is a clear need to create the conditions for a vigorous dialogue between scientists, politicians and the public.


Democratic institutions must therefore face both the positive and the negative side of technological evolution that, on the one hand increases transparency and strengthens democratic processes, but on the other, facilitates the proliferation of illegal activities. These characteristics allow state and non-state actors to be both victims and perpetrators. Theft of data, fraud, industrial espionage, as well as terrorism and trafficking, are just a few examples of threats coming from the web, where technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain or quantum technologies are used to implement criminal intentions.

EPTA Conference 2018 - PosterIn this context, the European Parliament’s Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) is organising two highly relevant and interesting events on 4 December 2018:

The EPTA Conference 2018, scheduled for the morning and entitled ‘Towards a digital democracy – Opportunities and challenges’, will focus on the topic of democracy in the era of breakthrough technologies. This event takes place in the framework of STOA’s presidency of the European Parliamentary Technology Assessment (EPTA) network in 2018.

Following the opening by European Parliament Vice-President Ramón Luis VALCÁRCEL SISO and an introduction by STOA Vice-Chair Paul RÜBIG, representatives of EPTA members from different countries will present their contributions and share their experiences, mainly from the point of view of the impact of these new breakthrough technologies on our societies and political systems. Panel discussions will follow the individual presentations, grouped in three sessions, and opening the floor to questions from the public.

The 17th STOA Annual Lecture, which takes place in the afternoon, is thematically linked to the EPTA Conference and is entitled ‘Quantum technologies, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity: Catching up with the future‘. This event will focus on the opportunities and challenges created by greatly enhanced computing power, as well as other applications of quantum technologies, touching upon issues of cybersecurity and data protection at a time of widespread use of big data, artificial intelligence and data analytics.

© geralt / Pixabay

The speakers are world-renowned personalities of great authority and influence on these developments: Professor Anton ZEILINGER, Professor of Physics and President of the Austrian Academy of Sciences; and Esther WOJCICKI, American technology educator and journalist at the Palo Alto High Media Arts programme.

Technologies evolve and, with them, our vulnerabilities; measures to protect us must keep up. The very experienced and committed speakers at this year’s Annual Lecture will share their valuable insights into the development of these technologies and their impacts on our societies.

Interested? Register for the Annual Lecture and join the debate. To keep up to date with STOA activities, follow our website, the EPRS blog, Twitter and Think Tank pages.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/11/30/digital-democracy-in-the-age-of-new-technologies/

Discontinuing seasonal changes of time [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Ariane Debyser (1st edition),

clock face and calendar sheet with numbers closeup

© mizar_21984 / Fotolia

To end the biannual change of clocks that currently takes place in every Member State at the end of March and the end of October, on 12 September 2018 the European Commission adopted a proposal to discontinue the seasonal changes of time in the Union.

The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, presented the initiative in his State of the Union address as an issue of subsidiarity, underlining that ‘Member States should themselves decide whether their citizens live in summer or winter time’.

The initiative, which would repeal existing provisions governed by Directive 2000/84/EC, proposes a timetable to end seasonal clock-changing arrangements in a coordinated way, in order to safeguard the proper functioning of the internal market and avoid the disruptions that this may cause, for instance, to the transport or communications sectors.

Stage: EESC

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/11/30/discontinuing-seasonal-changes-of-time-eu-legislation-in-progress/

Plenary round-up – Brussels, November II 2018

Written by Katarzyna Sochacka and Clare Ferguson,

Debate with Lars Løkke RASMUSSEN, Prime Minister of Denmark on the Future of Europe

© European Union 2018 – Source : EP

The highlights of the November II plenary session were the debate on the future of Europe with the Prime Minister of Denmark, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, and the discussion on the Council and Commission statements on UK withdrawal from the European Union. Debates were held on a Commission statement on the single market package and the long-term strategy for reducing EU greenhouse gas emissions. Members debated and adopted reports on five Western Balkan countries, as well as a report on the way forward for the World Trade Organization (WTO). A number of legislative reports were voted without debate, including on trade in goods that could be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel treatment or punishment, the temporary reintroduction of border controls at the internal borders, and common rules for the operation of air services.

Statements on United Kingdom withdrawal from the European Union

In advance of the European Parliament vote on the withdrawal agreement expected in early 2019 (pursuant to Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union), Parliament heard a statement from the Council, and Michel Barnier as chief negotiator, on the conclusions of the special European Council meeting of 25 November. While regretting the UK decision to leave the EU, Heads of State or Government backed the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration regarding future relations with the UK, negotiated respecting the ‘red lines’ set down by both the UK and the EU. Noting that the withdrawal leads to losses on both sides, the political declaration nevertheless provides for ambitious future cooperation with the UK.

World Trade Organization: the way forward

A strong supporter of the multilateral trading system, the Parliament supports WTO reform. Responding to serious challenges to the body’s legitimacy and effectiveness, Members debated and voted (by 471 to 80 with 86 abstentions) to approve an INTA committee report on an approach to keep the WTO relevant and efficient. Of particular concern is US blockage of new appointments to the Appellate Body, which fulfils a key role in the WTO dispute settlement system. This impasse could paralyse practical enforcement of multilateral trade rules, undermining the rules-based system. Other issues include the lack of possibilities for recourse against contentious trade practices and uneven compliance with transparency rules.

Country reports – Western Balkans

Parliament debated and adopted resolutions on five enlargement reports from the European Commission on Western Balkan countries: Albania (459 votes to 112, with 62 abstentions), Montenegro, (484 to 80, 63 abstentions), the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (470 to 116, 46 abstentions), Serbia (503 to 85, 47 abstentions) and Kosovo (393 to 139, 71 abstentions). Members endorsed the process to open EU accession negotiations with Albania in June 2019, once conditions are met. Members called for more progress in Montenegro on outstanding border disputes. Members expect the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to progress on implementing the Prespa agreement with Greece. While Serbia’s accession process shows progress, Members consider the country should align itself closer to EU foreign and security policy, and normalise relations with its neighbour, Kosovo. Limited success on EU-related reforms in Kosovo itself mean progress on the conditions for visa liberation is an urgent step in moving closer to the EU.

Opening of trilogue negotiations

The decisions of nine parliamentary committee (ECON, EMPL, IMCO, ITRE, JURI, LIBE and PECH) to enter into interinstitutional (trilogue) negotiations were confirmed. Two further decisions, of the EMPL committee, will be the subject of a vote during the December session.

Read this ‘At a glance’ note on ‘Plenary round-up – Brussels, November II 2018‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/11/30/plenary-round-up-brussels-november-ii-2018/